Ch 1

"Thanks Charlie, I'll let you know when I get into town and have settled into my place."

Charlie and I seemed to always have an understanding as father and daughter. Unspoken, of course. Nothing had to be planned and nothing had to be formal. Just the occasional checking in, home-cooked meal, and stolen hug when no one was looking. Even if we hadn't seen each other for a few years. We'd just pick up where we left off.

On the flight into Seattle from Arizona, I had the sinking feeling of having made a terrible mistake. I was leaving the large city of Phoenix to work as a physician's assistant in Forks, Washington. I just had to keep reminding myself that I might be working in Forks, but I'd be working beside THE Carlisle Cullen – one of the most respected cardiac specialists in the country. Just to be offered this position was a dream come true. After all those years of school and preparation in hospitals and clinics in Phoenix, I knew I had earned this.

But it was Forks.

My inner monologue was a battlefield. I needed a drink. Flight attendant?

I landed at the airport, got my bags, picked up a rental car, and was on my way to Forks in record time. And without serious harm or injury! It was like the universe wanted me to get there as soon as possible. Had the universe been tuning in to my internal monologue? The universe just might be on crack.

Probably so – the rental company gave me a Dodge Challenger. Apparently, that's all they had. I cried when I had to leave my Jetta back in Phoenix. That Jetta was my baby. This thing – a disaster waiting to happen like on a global scale! And if anyone could figure out how to cause that much damage with one car from a small town in Washington, it would be me.

Once at my new apartment, I decided to leave all the major unpacking to tomorrow and through the weekend. It was Thursday which meant, Chinese take-out and a new episode of Archer. That show could always make me laugh and put me in a good mood. And that's exactly what I needed after this whirlwind. Just me, teriyaki and orange chicken, chow mein noodles, peach iced tea, huge tumbler of ice water, and my little Yorkie, Walter. I'm convinced Walter has a crush on Lana from Archer. Honestly, who wouldn't? She's totally worthy of a girl crush for ME even if the show is animated. Don't judge. Poor Walter. I think she might be out of his league though…

)))))))

The wind was blowing furiously from the blades of the helicopter as Terry marched toward it in his dirty camoflage pants, sweat soaked black tank top, and Ranger boots. He paused, turned and walked toward me with purpose. I had always wanted Terry but he was leading the search for my kidnapped husband, didn't think that would be appropriate. But Terry stalked toward me like a predator but with caring eyes. He brushed my cheek with his fingers and I couldn't help but lean my head into his touch. He noticed my reaction so he moved his hand behind my neck up into the back of my hair just feeling it's softness then much heavier and with more need. He stepped closer to me, I could feel his heat, the smell of moist earth used for cover and him underneath. His smell was intoxicating. He noticed this reaction as well and used his hand at the back of my neck to hold me in place while he came close to place the sweetest and most gentle kiss on my lips that was so contrary to his appearance. He pulled away and looked me in the eyes. I couldn't take my eyes off those impossibly soft lips, confused also because of what this man did for a living. My hands met his chest, he looked down to watch my movements and then returned his gaze to my eyes. His eyes had an urgency in them as did mine. I brought one hand around his back to feel the skin just above his pants and underneath his tank top. It was soft and sleek with a sheen of sweat because of the humid Columbian weather. My other hand ventured up to behind his neck slowly and into his hair. He closed his eyes and slightly tilted his head back when I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled slightly. All this causing his other hand to reach around to the small of my back to pull me close to him. I gasped uncontrollably at the strength of his center. He lowered his head toward my lips never breaking eye contact with me. He kissed me again, a solid kiss but one that grew in intensity and passion. Our breathing increased, his tongue entered my mouth and pulled my hips harder into his, a growl escaped his chest which made me gasp and move both my arms around his neck to prevent a break to this amazing kiss. While one hand held my pelvis steady so he could grind into mine, his other arm wound it's way up my back and into my hair. I couldn't help but break the kiss and let out a moan when he had grabbed a fistful of my hair and tugged on it slightly. Then he stiffened at the sound of his partner, "Terry, it's time to go, man. Let's go get these guys!" Terry kissed me gently on my forehead before taking a slow step away from me, turned to look at the chopper, looked back right into my eyes and said, "Don't worry Alice, we'll bring your husband back to you alive…"

The shock of my Gladiator leaving me woke me early in the morning. Earlier, of course, that my alarm was set. By an hour! I wanted to punch the alarm in the throat anyway just for being there. I wanted to try to go back to sleep to relive that recurring dream I have about Russell Crowe in "Proof of Life." Complete with Van Morrisson's "I'll Be Your Lover Too." Wonderful to think about, of course, but not necessarily wonderful when you wake up in an empty bed in an empty apartment.

Ah well. I figured I'd use this time to check out the hospital on my own before I formally met up with Dr Cullen this evening. I grabbed my usual breakfast of Raisin Bran, coffee, and a banana and headed out of the house wearing my classic low-profile uniform: jeans with rips at the knees, my lucky seriously broken-in green and grey checkerboard Vans, oatmeal thermal long-sleeved shirt under my Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt, and my super comfy corduroy jacket. Fly under the radar, blend in, and see what the place is really like without my badge and power wardrobe identifying me.

I slipped into the Challenger, prayed I wouldn't do anyone any harm, and headed for the hospital. I had to admit, Forks was beautiful. Definitely a small town but the massive forests surrounding it actually made the place seem endless. Almost ominous. Like you were being watched, somehow. It seemed like this place had it's soundtrack created by a combination of Bat For Lashes, Maynard, and Massive Attack. Definitely a good vibe. For now.

The hospital seemed nice, definitely small, but the facilities were modern and state of the art. Turns out that the Cullen family donated about half of the money to fund the updating of this place. The other half coming from donations given on behalf of close friends and business associates of Dr Cullen. Interesting. I knew Dr Cullen was rumored to be loaded but I had no idea as to the actual extent. This would be one of the first things on my list to dig up dirt on.

I took the elevator up to the fourth floor where I would be spending most of my time and just started to wander. I looked out of the corner of my eye into patients rooms and into supply closets with windows as well. I guess my presence was noticed and a gorgeous, short, freakishly energetic pseudo-midget practically bounced up to me with the warmest and welcoming smile. Yes, I was afraid.

"Hi! I'm Alice, Nursing Coordinator. You're Bella Swan, aren't you?"

How did she know this? How did she see through my low-profile uniform? I must be losing my touch.

"Yes, I'm Bella. How did you know it was me? I didn't think anyone knew I was coming!"

"Oh, honey, we've been expecting you and have been on the look-out. Believe me! Ever since Dad said you were coming, I figured you'd come early to check the place out on your own. He gave us a basic description but left out the GORGEOUS FACTOR! How are you finding Forks? Would you like a tour of the hospital? Dad's in meetings all day, pretty much. But I could give you the unofficial version!"

I had to take a breath after her speech but she didn't seem the least bit strained. Wait. Did she say "gorgeous?" This girl must be certifiable. And… Double wait! Did she say, "Dad?" What the what?

"Alice, did you say 'Dad?' Is Dr Cullen your father?"

"Oh yeah! Our whole family is pretty much tied up in this place. My boyfriend, my two brothers, and my oldest brother's girlfriend. It's kinda nice actually. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll run into them on our tour!"

She linked elbows with me - really, like Wizard of Oz and the yellow brick road style and started to pull me down the hallway.

"Is there anything you'd especially like to see? Probably the cafeteria, but I'd avoid the salad bar," she whispered. "Everything else is fine but I think they're having a temperature control problem at the salad bar…"

Alice kept talking at an amazing speed. I didn't manage to throw in any comments – I was fascinated by the speed of her thought process she must have, and I probably would not have been able to get a word in edge-ways anyway.

Alice and I turned the corner from the main nurse's station on that floor toward one of the other units and she got caught talking to one of her nurses who had filed a vacation request. This left me to take in the immediate surroundings on my own. Break room, equipment closet, laundry closet, examination supply closet, the Pyxis, and then my jaw dropped. Coming towards us in one of those time-standing-still moments was the most delicious man I had ever seen. Tall, pale but perfect skin, gorgeously shining copper sex hair, black dress pants that hung perfectly from his hip bones, and a crisp white dress shirt with a loosened moss-colored tie. The end of the tie was tucked into the shirt between the buttons and the sleeves of the shirt were rolled up to about mid-forearm revealing his muscular arms. It made me wonder if the rest of him was lean but muscular like that – it was definitely getting warm in that hallway. And the shoes. Oh, the shoes – I have a thing for shoes and I was rooted to the floor unable to speak. He was looking out the long line of windows facing east letting the light from the sun come streaming into the hallway. As he got closer, the light caught his glimmering and deep-as-the-ocean green eyes. After passing the last window, he turned his head toward me, looked me straight in the eye and said, wait for it…

"Hey!" The most beautiful word ever spoken.

The naughty part of my internal monologue screamed, "Oh thank you, Jesus! Hair, eyes, clothes, SHOES, voice – check x 5. That's it! He's it! I want that! C'mon please? I've been a good girl! I really have! And it's been SUCH A LONG TIME! Just once. I know where the supply closet is now, just give me 5 minutes!"

All I could manage was a severely muffled mixture of a groan and the words, "Mmm… pretty." My legs would not allow me to turn around or move at all, for that matter. Stuck like glue.

He looked a bit confused but, thankfully, assumed he hadn't heard me correctly. And then my ass almost let loose when I heard Alice practically squeal behind me, "Edward! Bella, meet my brother Edward!"

Forks just might be the armpit of hell. And I start bright and early Monday morning! Super.