A/N:

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This one-shot was written to be included in the Fandom against Domestic Violence Compilation which raised funds for the National Coalition against Domestic Violence last month.

An enormous thank you to my WC Ho0rs for keeping me on track with making the deadline for the compilation and most of all to the lovely Albymangroves for her amazing work beta'ing this sucker…at the last minute and with my little problem with tenses. Love ya Alby.

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Heart of Glass

Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Much of mistrust, love's gone behind

(Lyrics from Heart of Glass by Blondie)

Summary:

Two shattered hearts. Bella is lonely and scared after escaping a violent marriage with two children and a mountain of debt. Edward is jaded and lonely after a stinging betrayal. Can caring for a sick little boy be the glue that puts them back together?

1 April 2010

-Bella-

I hold my breath, my whole body frozen in shock as I'm frog marched up the hallway then jerked around as he reaches the walk in closet. He shakes me. "What is wrong with this picture?"

I feel sick. I don't know what he's talking about. I scan the rows of neatly washed and pressed shirts and trousers. Then the meticulously arranged briefs, socks and ties. His t-shirts and jeans are neatly folded in the drawers. His shoes have been shined to within an inch of their lives. I turn to face him. "I don't…"

His fingers dig into my chest as he jabs at me until he slams me up against the closet door. He pins me there with this thick muscular forearm jammed under my chin, against my throat.

His sneering face is uncomfortably close as he grinds his teeth and yells scant inches from my face, "You stupid…useless...fat…bitch! I go to work to support your lazy ass; the only thing I ask for is a clean home and dinner on the table when I get home from work. Is that too hard to comprehend? Well…is it!"

His arm presses harder against my throat and I struggle uselessly against his bulk pressing me into the wood, angering him even further. I can't answer him and as a business shirt is yanked off the hanger and shoved into my face, I finally notice it was missing a button. "What the fuck is this then? Huh"

His fist draws back and I can't help but flinch and wonder if this time he will finally follow through and hit me. I wonder if this time I have angered him too much. His eyes are dark with fury, his jaw is clenching and I can see the vein in his temple pulsing.

Thwack!

And the wood splinters right next to my ear. I sigh in relief.

I lurched awake, sweat pouring off me in the airless room, completely disorientated. My first action was to jump out of bed with my heart racing and look at the time on the alarm clock, fearful that I had slept in and would run late with his coffee and breakfast. I was halfway to the kitchen before I realized I was in a different house, he wasn't in my life to threaten and harass any more. I was safe.

I stopped dead right in the middle of the hallway, and sagged against the wall in relief. I even managed a weak little laugh at how stupid I felt right now. Slowly, very slowly, my heart rate came back to normal.

How long was I going to keep waking up from these dreams? How long would it take me to stop tensing up when I saw something around the house that I knew he would get upset about and automatically straighten it, wipe it, tidy it or wash it? At least I had the cleanest, tidiest apartment of anyone I knew. Even he, if he was still around, would find few things to find fault with.

I rolled my eyes at that internal thought. I had eventually realized that James would always find fault with something, anything at all, because that was his way of controlling me and keeping me off balance. It took me a while in therapy to work that one out.

When I finally felt able to move, my legs still a bit shaky, I made my way to the kitchen at a more leisurely pace and switched the jug on. I only had a few minutes of peace before I needed to wake the children to get ready, and as I slowly sipped my hot coffee, probably the only one I'd manage for hours, I planned my day.

Soon, I heard a giggle from Bree's room and the day started like every other day - rushing to get the kids ready for school, uniforms pressed, lunchboxes filled and teeth brushed. It was all squeals and complaints and smiles and frowns. Absolute noisy, bustling chaos and I loved every minute of it.

The sound and the activity drowned out the heavy weight that had settled into my stomach over the last six months. My finances were steadily declining, while bills and commitments were climbing and piled up. Staying in this house as long as I had to try to keep the normalcy alive for my kids had really caused me problems financially. Moving into the two bedroom apartment in Lincoln Park in a few weeks should help a little with the financial situation, but Riley's medical bills were mounting fast and I was worried that any saving I made would be gone.

No! No time to think about that. I had things to do and people to see; I had kids to get to school, and then I had to get across town to my low paying but necessary job as a clerk in a stationery wholesale outlet. I closed my eyes for a brief moment to catch my breath, push away the panic and gird myself for another day.

Yes…denial was a river in Egypt and I was sailing straight down the middle with a ripped sail and a leaky boat.

-Edward-

I slouched on the couch and looked around the nondescript apartment I temporarily called home, with the taupe walls, taupe carpet and taupe everything. Well, at least it was meant to be temporary, but could a couple of months still be classed as just a place to crash until I got around to finding larger and better digs?

I'd moved here to Chicago from Seattle six months ago after severing all connections to my life on the west coast. I'd had big plans for my life here in Chicago but other than working my butt off almost 24/7, there had not been time for much else. This place I stayed was meant to be short term, a place to lay my head while on the way to somewhere bigger and better…and not taupe.

Somehow, my life had degenerated into working too long, staggering home exhausted only to sleep for a few hours, before getting up and starting the whole thing over the next day. I knew starting my own practice would be time consuming and gruelling but maybe not quite this much. I had thought I might have some downtime, but when I wasn't seeing patients, I was working with the health insurance companies on the credentialing process, doing my own books and keeping up to date with the latest articles and professional development courses.

The television was on, showing a repeat of a sitcom I'd seen many times but I was too exhausted to move and change it. My pizza would be delivered soon and I could kill two birds with one stone and change it then. It was almost ten at night but luckily, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria down the road delivered. This was the third time this week I had ordered from them, same as last week and the week before that. I no longer needed to detail my order; I was a creature of habit and ordered the same thing each time – classic sausage deep dish with a butter crust. My mouth was watering just thinking about it.

I heard movement up above me, heavy footsteps, loud voices and then the annoying bass beat of some techno music pouring through my open windows. Fucking excellent! My neighbours were holding yet another party midweek. I was going to need the heavy duty earplugs to sleep tonight.

The buzzer sounded signalling someone on the street below, so I dragged myself to the intercom to let the pizza delivery guy in. As I waited at my open door, Eric Yorkie, a photographer for the Chicago Tribune and also my next door neighbor, walked out of his apartment with his camera gear and an overnight bag in hand. As he reached my door, he stopped briefly.

"I can't wait until these guys move out later in the month." He said to me while nodding his head upwards, "Thank God, they've found someplace else to inflict their fucking awful taste in music, eh?"

"They're moving? I didn't know that. Do you know who's moving in when they leave?" Fuck…knowing my luck a single barracuda mom with bratty kids might move in and that would be infinitely worse!

Yorkie shook his head. "No. But, whoever it is, they couldn't be worse than this lot." He replied.

"These guys party all night every night, they have the most shittastic taste in music ever and worst of all – they wear….plaid!" Yorkie actually shuddered at that last thought while I mentally noted to never wear my plaid shirts in front of him.

The elevator doors opened, disgorging the delivery guy along with the aroma of the best kind of pizza I'd ever eaten. I was feeling greedy, but having been brought up with manners, I offered to share with Eric. He grimaced in disgust and said that he hadn't eaten pizza since 2005, it did not fit within the low cal, low carb, low fat diet he followed. And no taste, I added silently. It was my turn to shudder. "Anyway, I'm on my way to the airport – catching a late flight over to New York for a long weekend of fun and debauchery."

Yorkie bid me good night as the delivery guy arrived on my doorstep, and a few minutes later I was back in front of the television, beer in one hand and pizza in the other, watching a White Sox game I'd recorded earlier. If memory served me correctly, this was an exact repeat of what I'd been doing at ten pm two nights ago.

It was times like these (let's face it - most nights) that I missed the friends that I'd left behind in Seattle: Emmett and Jasper. We'd gone through residency together in Seattle and although we'd worked some tough shifts there was always someone to unwind with afterwards. Jasper had specialised in Child Psych, Emmett had branched into Obstetrics and before I'd left Seattle I had been working in Paediatrics.

We always joked that Emmett birthed them, I nurtured them and Jasper fixed them up after the world had fucked them up.

Neither understood my desire to leave the city where I had grown up and where my career was skyrocketing, but then again I hadn't told them all the reasons I made the move. I did remind them that neither of them had to work in the shadow of their fathers like I did. My father was the hallowed Carlisle Cullen, youngest Chief of Staff ever at Northwest Hospital, and my boss.

Naturally, jealousy had been rife amongst many of the interns and residents; accusations abounded of nepotism within the hospital. My father was also extremely conscious of being my boss, and in fact, told me that he held me to a higher standard than my fellow residents to try and avoid these issues.

Mind you, the experience I received then as well as the exposure to visiting paeds specialists, had benefitted me here in Chicago, even though it wasn't contrived that way to start with. When Dr Marcus Volturi, a colleague from Chicago General, had to take some personal time when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, he asked me to locum for him for a few months. The timing had been perfect, and when he returned to work, I had stayed in Chicago to start up my own practice.

I hadn't made any new friends exactly, but I had acquired a lot of acquaintances and work colleagues. I could also have dated every night of the week, what with the interns who would dog my steps on my rounds at the hospital, or the occasional forward moms who spent more time making sure I could see down their shirts than worrying about their children. Most women, in my experience, were only out for what they could get and as a supposedly rich, young doctor I was often in their sights. What was written on the piece of paper in my fortune cookie from the Chinese takeout I ate the other night?

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.

14 April 2010

-Bella-

Riley had been in the bathroom again for the better part of an hour, telling me he couldn't do his 'business' and that his tummy hurt. He wouldn't leave the toilet though and just as well, because soon I heard him crying together with the unmistakable sounds of an upset stomach emptying itself. These episodes had increased in frequency of late, however our regular GP had yet to discover what was causing the illness. Test after expensive test and two medical specialists later and we still had no answers.

Today we were visiting specialist number three, Marcus Volturi, MD. He was rumored to be the top paediatric doctor in Chicago and I sure hoped he could help my poor little boy. Riley looked younger than his six years and was so skinny, my heart broke to see his suffering. He was a little trooper though and tried not to let me see how sick he was. He was looking out for me, trying not to worry me.

That had always been the case though. Riley had tried to be the man in the house for the last six months when it was just the three of us, on our own. Before that, when his father was still around, it pained me to see the knowledge in his eyes of what was going on around him. Riley and Bree were now unnaturally tidy children, always picking up after themselves. They never left a dirty plate on a table or a toy on the floor.

They had seen James on his rampages, and although he had never raised a finger to them, they had seen firsthand what made him angry. Like me, they were finding it hard to break years of habit overnight. I often wondered if a part of what Riley was going through now harked back to those days of stress and worry. The doctors seemed more concerned on finding the clinical causes first; maybe this one might really listen to my worries about the longer term mental effects of our experiences with James and look outside the box for ways to help Riley.

Later, as we walked out of the hospital after seeing Dr Volturi, my emotions were swinging wildly. They alternated between elation that we'd finally found a doctor who wanted to go the extra mile in search of a solution, and sheer panic at the expense of the tests and treatments not covered by the health system - WHAT health system, some might say.

"Mom, why are you crying?" Riley whispered, bringing me back to earth with a thud. I hadn't even realized that I had stopped dead in front of the car and just stood there, my emotions all over the place. For so long I felt the doctors believed that there was nothing wrong and I had been wasting their time. None of the tests ever showed anything conclusive. But I knew. And it was a relief when Dr Volturri said he had several ideas and that he was confident that he could fix the problem.

"They're happy tears, sweetheart. I'm so excited that Dr Marcus thinks he knows how to fix things."

I would do anything to help Riley get better, to end his cycle of pain and illness.

I felt like I already had done everything I could, but then when more money was needed, I went one step further.

The tests were exorbitantly expensive and my meagre wages barely covered our rent and our everyday living expenses. I had nothing left to sell either. The marital home had been sold along with the bulk of the contents to pay James' debts and I had just taken the bare essentials to the new rental house after James had passed away.

Passed away. It sounded so peaceful, as if he floated away on a cloud. Maybe it was like that for some people, but not for James. He died as violently as he had lived. One minute he was there, larger than life, and the next he was gone. The car accident that had claimed his life, and that of his passenger, Tori Masen, was horrific.

The police claimed that he had been speeding, under the influence of alcohol, and drug traces had been found in his system. His flashy black Porsche was a mangled wreck and wrapped around the tree that had ultimately killed them. The life insurance company did not pay. What I was not told officially, but overhead a few cops talking about it at the hospital, was that James was found with his trousers unbuttoned and Tori almost completely naked. I had met her once, very briefly, at a restaurant owned by a friend of James, Laurent's, where she was a waitress.

I played the part of the mourning widow, but really deep down inside, I was not mourning James. Instead I felt free for the first time in ten years, as if a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders. I definitely felt guilty for feeling this way, but I couldn't help that for the first time in a long time I felt safe, that my children were safe. I had already decided to leave him the weekend of the accident, but fate intervened before I could take the steps to do so. I had finally worked up the courage to go. His temper explosions had become more frequent and more violent as time wore on and I was worried that one day, he would not be satisfied with just intimidating me.

He was gone and had been for more than six months but his lifestyle was still causing me problems. He had earned good money, but had frittered his way through my small inheritance from my parents and our savings on the flashy lifestyle he maintained. There had been nothing left over after his estate had settled all his debts from the sale of our assets.

As planned, we would move into the smaller two bedroom apartment the next week to cut costs but it still wouldn't be enough. Being a single mom, I couldn't work outside the home in the evenings so I took a second job that I could work at night and from home. I wasn't proud of the job that I took, but the alternative if I couldn't come up with the money to pay for these tests and the subsequent treatment, was not an option.

Things weren't going exactly to plan, but so far my fingers were plugging the holes in the dam wall and the flood was being held at bay.

-Edward-

My practice was starting to gain momentum, slowly but surely. The credentialing process with the health insurance companies was finally completed so that took care of future patients, and in the short term, I was asked to locum for Dr. Marcus Volturi again. His wife had now been in remission for six months and he had decided to take her away for an extended holiday to visit her family in Italy.

We spent the latter half of Marcus' last day going over his patient case notes. I was particularly excited about one new patient of his, who had a range of conflicting symptoms, which a number of different doctors had been unable to diagnose to date. I was quite looking forward to working on this case and seeing what the results of the different tests would be. Marcus was of the view, based on the tests conducted already, that there were a range of issues rather than one health problem.

The only sour note to the day came at the end of the meeting with Marcus when he asked after my family, my father in particular. I mumbled the standard platitude that they were all fine, but truly I had no clue. I hadn't spoken to anyone in my family for more than six months, not since before I moved here to Chicago. Jasper and Emmett would say something vague about my father on the odd occasion, but I usually managed to tune out until the topic was changed.

My family was dysfunctional. Although, I had no idea how truly fucked up it was until Tanya Denali transferred in to Seattle from Alaska about fifteen months ago. Or so I told myself. On some level, I probably recognised it before then, but quite frankly I was too busy proving myself to my overachieving father to notice.

Tanya Denali was the catalyst who helped cement my opinion of women in general, and several women in particular, from that point on. Before that I was pretty much oblivious.

I'd dated a little in high school and college but I had always been pretty focussed on my future and yes, to be completely honest, to live up to the glowing example of my father. That is to say I wasn't a complete virgin when Tanya, a fellow resident, started to seriously pursue me, but I'd never really been in a meaningful relationship and I was as green as they come.

I was so naïve that I did not second guess Tanya's motives, not even once. At first she seemed to share a lot of the same shifts that I did, meaning that we would finish at the same time and drift to the local bar with a group to wind down. Somehow she often ended up in the seat next to mine, getting closer and closer, until finally she made the next move and placed her hand on my thigh and squeezed.

I remember gulping the rest of my drink down and quickly ordering another to calm my nerves. I hadn't been sure that Tanya was hitting on me, after all she was a stunner with long strawberry blond hair, perfect features and full pouty lips; but a little bit of Dutch courage never hurt anyone…right?

As it turned out she had been hitting on me, and quite literally swept me off my feet. That night she had invited me back to her apartment where she proceeded to show me all the right moves and in the morning, invited herself to my parents' regular Sunday lunch. At the time I was happy to indulge her, unknowing of the dramas that would follow the seemingly innocent invitation.

Sunday lunches with my parents were what one might call uncomfortable. My mother, Esme, had been brought up in boarding schools and even went to finishing school in England. As a consequence, we had to dress up in suit and tie, in the case of my father and I, while Esme and my older sister, Victoria, would wear tea dresses. At least Mother had expected Victoria to wear a tea dress. About a year before she took off to New York, she would rebel by coming to lunch in all black gothic gear with black fingernails and lipstick, if she bothered coming at all.

My mother would act as if there wasn't a problem. When my father and Victoria had their last all out screaming match at the table and Victoria slammed out of the house, vowing never to return, Tanya was there to witness it. Esme continued on as if nothing had even happened, as she had been taught to do. The hostess must always carry on, you know. Tanya and my father resumed their discussion about the hospital, as Tanya now scrubbed in regularly when he had surgery. I had returned to my seat and sat there in stunned silence ruminating over the last words Victoria had said to me as I had followed her to the door.

"Get out while you can, Edward, before they suck the life out of you!"

That was the last thing she said to me, to any of us. I had tried calling her many times but her cell was disconnected when she left. When we hadn't heard from her for a month, I tracked down a few of her friends. Lauren said that Victoria had called her a few weeks earlier saying that she was heading to New York to get into serious dramatic acting. The first holiday I was due, a month after that conversation, I flew to New York and scoured the theatre district for any sign of her. I showed her photo around but no one had recognised her.

Finally, at a little Italian restaurant tucked into a corner of Broadway, a waiter had recognised her photo that I was showing around everywhere. Apparently she had worked there as a waitress in the evenings while going to auditions during the day. Sadly, she'd upped and left a few weeks earlier as she had heard of a part in a play opening in another city. He hadn't been able to remember where.

Dejectedly I returned home from New York, anxious to find some comfort with Tanya, even though she wasn't the sympathetic type. I hoped to find a little forgetfulness in her arms, even if only for a little while. Unfortunately, Carlisle had obviously had the same idea, which was apparent when I walked in on him and Tanya, mid coitus in our bed. With Tanya, Carlisle had managed to forget he had a wife and that the woman he was currently banging was his son's girlfriend.

Needless to say, I had moved out and bunked with Jasper while Tanya continued to bonk my father in our former bed. Quite serendipitously, that was when I received the phone call from Marcus Volturi to come to Chicago.

I think what affected me more than Tanya's betrayal though, was that my mother refused to listen when I tried to tell her, instead acting as if nothing had happened and that all was right with her world.

I think she took Kipling, her favorite poet's line – If you keep your head when all around you are losing theirs - a little too literally.

28 April 2010

-Bella-

Today was not going to be a good day. To start with, my employers at the stationery wholesale outlet were not very happy that I was taking another half day to take Riley to see the Paediatrician for more tests. It's not like I didn't have the time up my sleeve, and I was taking the time as part of my vacation time, which I was fully entitled to.

On top of that, Dr. Volturi had called me to say that he was taking a six months sabbatical to Europe with his wife, and that he had organised a locum to take over his patients for the duration of his absence. He assured me that the locum was highly qualified and that he had gone over Riley's case file very meticulously with the new doctor. I knew I shouldn't be worried but I couldn't help it. Finally I had found a doctor I could put faith into and now he was gone.

I worked the morning at the office, run off my feet, trying to fit a full day's work into four hours and then after picking up Riley from school, barely made it to the hospital in time for our appointment to see the new doctor. Dr Cullen I think his name is.

The Doctor's receptionist and her assistant seemed all aflutter, and the mood, although usually upbeat anyway, was positively electric today. From thinking I was going to run late, to cooling my heels in the waiting room for what seemed like forever, I started to notice the odd behaviour of some of the moms exiting the doctor's office. Was I the only woman not wearing a low cut or partially unbuttoned shirt and an itty bitty skirt today?

Finally it was Riley's turn, and I could see what all the fuss was about as soon as the receptionist showed us into to the Doctor's office and introduced us. Edward Cullen was the most singularly attractive man I had ever seen, and he had eyes for no one but my son. Even though this was the same office where we had met Dr Volturi, it felt different with the presence of a different doctor. Nothing was out of place or changed from when I was here, but I felt different. Now, instead of worry for my son, I felt uncomfortably aware of the attractiveness of the good Doctor with his distinctive shock of bronze-colored hair and the most unusual green eyes.

As soon as we were settled in the comfortable chairs next to the Doctor's desk, Dr. Cullen turned to Riley and said. "Now, Riley, what seems to be the problem?"

I started to list all the symptoms but Dr Cullen raised his finger to his lips and shushed me. Yes…he damn well shushed me.

I opened my mouth to express my displeasure when he leaned closer to Riley and faux whispered, "Oh dear, your mom thinks her name's Riley. I think she has a case of mistaken identity, what do you think?" and wiggled his eyebrows.

Riley burst into a fit of giggles and nodded his head. Dr Cullen picked up a mini stethoscope from his desk and draped it over Riley's shoulders.

"What's this for, Dr Cullen?" Riley asked in complete awe.

Dr Cullen wiggled his eyebrows again and this time I was hard pressed not to laugh (and swoon). "Dr Riley, I thought you might like to listen in while I check you out. Is that okay?" Riley nodded so enthusiastically I thought his head might come off.

"Now before we begin, I think we need to straighten things out and introduce ourselves properly so we don't get confused again. Okay, I will start first. Hello, my name is Dr Edward and I'm twenty nine." Dr Masen then nodded to Riley.

"Hello, my name is Dr Riley and I'm almost seven." Dr Cullen nodded and then they both looked at me, expectantly.

I wanted to roll my eyes but I hadn't seen Riley this animated in quite some time, and decided on playing the straight guy to these two goofballs. "Hello, I'm Isabella Anderson. I mean, Bella Swan and I'm not Riley."

Dr Cullen smiled at me and then turned back to Riley. "Your mom is still a little bit confused. Now where were we? Oh yes, Dr Riley, can you tell me why you have come to see me?

Riley looked to me, and then back at the Doctor. Dr Edward nodded and said, "How have you been feeling lately?"

"Sick." Riley, the king of one-word answers responded.

"Uh-uh," Dr Edward replied and then waited.

"Um, I have to go to the toilet a lot and my stomach hurts all the time. Sometimes it won't come out and then other times it comes out too fast and I make a mess. Mom doesn't get upset though; she just puts me in a warm bath and gives me new pyjamas."

"If you come over to the bed here, I think we should listen to your tummy…okay?"

Riley nodded and went over to the bed and lay down. Wherever Dr Cullen placed his stethoscope, Riley placed his next to it and the concentration on his face as he listened to the sounds of his body was priceless.

After the examination had finished and both doctors were back at the desk, Dr Cullen clarified a few points with me, such as severity and frequency of episodes, when they had started and if I was aware of any foods that caused a bad reaction. He then explained the results of the blood tests originally ordered by Dr Volturi and outlined tests that would be done to narrow down the cause of Riley's illness.

"How much will the tests be?" I asked him, afraid of the answer.

His face underwent an almost imperceptible transformation at my question and I could feel the contempt dripping off his tongue when he replied, "I'm not sure of the exact cost of each of the tests but surely nothing is too expensive when treating your child."

I was mortified and angry at the same time. "Of course not, I just need to know how much, so I can budget accordingly. I would never deny my children the tests or treatment they need."

I wasn't sure but I thought I saw a trace of remorse cross his features and he mumbled out his apologies as we walked, or rather stalked, towards the door. I was surprised when he called out, before I'd put my hand on the door handle, that he would organise a costing of the proposed visits, tests and potential treatments and email them to me by the end of the day. I turned briefly; feeling vindicated, and thanked him sincerely.

As the door closed behind us, I saw that the waiting room was empty and realized that we were Dr Cullen's last appointment for the day. I felt an unusual urge to break out into the Carlton Dance…so, I did. Riley laughed and joined with me and we swung our arms and swayed to the imaginary beat. I was over the moon - not only did Dr Cullen have a list of treatment possibilities for Riley, I felt like I had won a little victory by putting him in his place about the costs of the tests.

Not everyone has a trust fund, Dr Edward.

-Edward-

Today was an interesting day. Well, my final appointment of the day was very interesting, and not just in terms of the patient's case file. It had been a long morning and Riley Anderson was my last patient of the day here in Volturi's rooms. I'd blocked out the rest of the afternoon to head over to the wards to check on a few touch and go patients.

All morning, I'd been bombarded with a few moms sneakily unbuttoning top buttons on their shirts as I examined their children. Two of them had even asked me outright for a date. While technically it was true that they were not my patients, I refused to get involved with the mother of one of my little charges. I could not understand how they could even consider flirting, let alone some of the outrageous offers made to me over the years, while their son or daughter was unwell.

When Mrs Cope, Volturi's middle aged receptionist, introduced Riley and his mother to me I was prepared for more of the same. A just-as-cute-as-a-button kid walked in the door wearing jeans and a striped t-shirt and a cap on backwards. He was holding onto his mom's hand as he walked into the office, but he wasn't timid or shy. Riley was leading her into the room and looking at me as if I was some sort of suspicious character.

After noting Riley's physical characteristics, my attention then moved to his mother and I received quite a shock. After my experience with Tanya, and too many barracuda moms to mention, I hadn't been interested in a woman in a long time. On first sight of Riley's mom, certain parts of my anatomy stirred and were definitely interested.

Isabella, as Mrs Cope had introduced her, was gorgeous and I was struck dumb at the sight of her entering my office behind Riley. Her chocolate brown hair fell in a sheet of silk down past her shoulders and she had the deepest, warm, brown eyes I have ever seen. She was wearing a very conservative, almost ankle length, black skirt with a white button up shirt and a black blazer. The suit was so severe but it fitted her to perfection, hugging her curves gently.

Not once did she stare at me with calf eyes, or start to unbutton her shirt to show off her cleavage. I felt momentarily bad about shushing her but in my experience moms tended to take over the initial meeting and I actually did learn a few things from listening to the kids talk in their own words.

The only part of our meeting which jarred with me was her concerns about how much all the tests were going to cost. I admit that I might have come off sounding a little superior and condescending, but I was sick to death of parents putting themselves before their children. I felt extremely bad when Riley's mom, Bella, was so passionate in her response to my sarcasm and her declaration that she would do anything to help her son get better. I couldn't help myself and rushed to let her know that I would find out the information she needed.

She and Riley didn't know it but I had opened the door to speak to Mrs Cope, when I saw the two of them do the Carlton across the waiting room and out the door. Riley's mom sure had a fine ass and she knew how to shake it!

There was something about her that was vaguely familiar but I was yet to put my finger on it. However, I was almost positive we had never met before, I was sure I could never forget someone as beautiful as she.

My pager went off and all thoughts of the lovely Ms Swan vanished as the summons to the wards captured my attention for the rest of the day. I had my hands full, that was for sure, but keeping busy took my mind of the fact that every night I went home to an empty apartment to wallow. Until ten pm every night, that is.

It was completely ridiculous, but for the past week at ten pm each evening, I would settle myself on my bed with the sliding door to my balcony wide open and listen to my new mystery neighbour talking on the phone. Her husky voice mesmerized me, fascinated me and frustrated me. I was torn. I longed to find out if the person matched the beautiful husky tones of her voice or whether it was just an illusion and the woman with the voice of sex was a frumpy Martha Stewart type.

This enigma had moved in just over a week ago, taking over the apartment of the former party mad, techno loving geeks upstairs. The day that the geeks moved out I gleaned some information from the doorman; apparently the new neighbour was a single mom with two kids. I thought he must have made a mistake.

I cast my mind back but couldn't recall the sound of little feet running above me and I definitely couldn't remember the sound of little children. Maybe I had just become desensitised to the sound of children, my practice filled to the brim each and every day with the little angels and a few who could give Dennis the Menace a run for his money.

I arrived home just after eleven and wolfed down the pizza I had picked up on the way home. I was exhausted and home later than planned, as an emergency had cropped up at the hospital. As I jumped into the shower and washed myself quickly, I felt myself hardening at the mere thought at what awaited me in my bedroom. Normally, I would linger in the shower to relax but as had happened pretty much every night since I had discovered her, I was anxious to get into bed.

I turned off the lights, and slid open the glass door which opened onto the balcony, to allow a cool breeze and her voice to float into my room. As I settled myself in bed, I could hear the steady cadence of footsteps pacing back and forth, and a low murmuring which got steadily louder as the woman neared her own balcony. She stopped by the door and I imagined her leaning against it looking out into the city skyline in a flowing white diaphanous robe…well a guy could hope, couldn't he?

Logically, I knew that the likelihood of the owner of the sexy voice on the other end of the phone line, wearing sexy lingerie, or nothing at all, was slim to none. She was probably wearing old sweats and hadn't washed in a week. But every time I heard this husky voice I couldn't help but imagine her wearing something from Victoria's Secret.

As usual, the voice didn't disappoint. It was husky and sensuous and wove through my senses like a mist. I closed my eyes in order to heighten my other senses and tonight I was sure that I caught the scent of strawberries on the breeze.

"…oooh, baby, I'm so wet right now, it's all for you, baby…" she crooned and I was instantly hard as if she were talking to me. As I listened to her exhortations to her boyfriend or husband (and unknowingly, to me) to touch myself, I wrapped my fingers around my pulsing length and stroked slowly up and down and palmed the head of my cock.

"…are you doing it, baby? Are you touching yourself for me?" I nodded and whispered "yes" in reply, squeezing a little bit tighter and moving my hand a little bit faster.

"I wish I was there with you right now…I would treat you so good. I would lick your tight little nipples and then take them in my teeth and tug on them until you can feel it in your balls…would you like that…hmmmm?"

My nipples tightened with her words and I could almost, almost, imagine her tongue laving me and then her teeth teasing me and the imagined sensation was so intense, I called out "fuck" before I realized what I was doing. She stopped talking and I could barely breathe with the fear that I'd freaked her out and she would stop for good.

A few moments later, I could hear her voice resume its teasing. "Do you have lube, baby? Good. Now pour some into your hand and coat yourself with it, make your cock nice and slippery for me." Gah! I felt like I was close to coming and I'd barely even touched myself. But I did what she said anyway and coated myself with the slippery substance. "That's right, baby. Now wrap your hand around your cock…tight. Are you ready to fuck me?" I was nodding almost frantically, my hips pushing down into the mattress in an effort to wait as she had asked.

"Flex your hips now and don't move your hand. Can you feel me all slippery for you and tight around your cock?" Fuck yes! My hips were flexing and pumping into my hand and with my eyes closed and her voice urging me to go faster and harder, I couldn't hold back and came in thick spurts all over my chest and stomach. My heart was racing and my dick was still throbbing with little aftershocks.

Holy hell. I came so hard tonight, and if truth be told, the voice had a face for the first time in a week. Tonight as I was fucking my fist, all I could picture above me was the beautiful Bella. The mother of my latest patient, and by my own rules, strictly off limits.

I didn't know what it was about this situation that was making me so goddamned crazy. Her voice and the words, the illicitness of eavesdropping or just the fact that it was free phone sex? Maybe all three.

Or maybe it was the thought of Riley's mom, and a little light appeared in the dark tunnel that had been my personal life.

29 May 2010

-Bella-

It had been four weeks since our first visit to Dr Cullen and today would be the third time we sat in his waiting rooms since that time. Riley was already starting to look like a different little boy and it was all thanks to Dr Cullen. Apparently one of Riley's issues turned out to be allergies to a range of foods like carrots and pumpkin, tomatoes and strawberries. He also had severe allergies to cow's milk and as soon as we took him off those foods he had markedly improved. Now that was resolved, Dr Cullen was concentrating on other areas.

Riley was still getting tired very easily and his iron levels kept dropping. At the moment I was giving Riley supplements but if he stopped, the iron levels would drop dangerously low again. That was what happened today - he had collapsed at school -so I had left work, and after ringing Mrs Cope to check that it was okay, I brought him straight to Dr Cullen.

Mrs Cope had paged him and he was on his way back from the wards now. My phone chirped to say that I had a missed call and when I checked the register I saw that it was from my place of employment. Curious, I pressed the button to listen to the voicemail and nearly passed out listening to the message I received.

"Bella…Bella! Are you alright? Can I get you a drink of water?" I dazedly tried to focus and my eyes landed on Edward's face, or rather Dr Cullen's face.

"I'm okay." I mumbled, still stunned by the message I had received.

Dr Cullen took my elbow, escorted me into his office and poured me a glass of water from the cooler. I sipped it gratefully while holding onto Riley's hand tightly and trying to keep the devastation I was currently feeling off my face. Riley had enough to worry about without worrying about this as well.

"Well then, Riley. I have some good news. I am 90% sure that I know why you are getting tired all the time." Dr Cullen stated, smiling at Riley and then at me. I smiled tentatively back, which was rather difficult to do right at that point in time.

"The bad news is that we need to be 100% certain before I prescribe the treatment, as it is quite expensive and not to be undertaken lightly if there is a chance that I'm wrong. One more test and then we can start the treatments."

"Doctor Edward, does that mean I won't miss out on any school any more and I can play sports like my friends?"

"Yes, Riley. I am 100% confident that if this is what I think it is, the treatment would be very effective and you will be up to full speed again." Riley couldn't contain himself and was doing his version of the Carlton dance around Dr Cullen's office.

While Riley was entertaining himself, Dr Cullen leaned over to explain the details of the test and the costs involved. When he got to that part, my insides clenched with the fear of how the hell I was going to pay for this, but I didn't say a word. When the Doctor got to the treatment part of the plan I was completely flabbergasted at the cost of the medication.

I couldn't help it. I just lost it right there and then. One tear welled up in my eye and escaped down my cheek and soon my eyes were awash and my cheeks smeared with water. I sat there like stone, facing away from my son so he wouldn't see the evidence of my distress. Dr Cullen jumped up and walked Riley out to Mrs Cope with the promise of finding some toys to play with.

I was barely cognitive of his return until he slid into the seat beside me and gathered me into his arms and hugged me tight. Did doctors do this for their patient's moms who were losing control? I didn't care. I hadn't been hugged for a very long time and all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and cling to the firm, masculine shoulders enveloping me, and the steady heartbeat pressed against my ear, grounding me.

"What's wrong, Isabella?" he whispered, rubbing my back soothingly. "Riley is fine, he just forgot to take his iron and his levels dropped suddenly. The tests are good news and the treatment is 99% effective."

I couldn't get the words out, remembering his scathing comment about putting kids first when it came to funding the tests. I shook my head. "I'm fine." I managed to whisper.

"No, Isabella. You are not fine. Please tell me what's wrong." Did Edward…I mean Dr Cullen, just kiss my hair?

All the fight went out of me. He would know soon enough how lacking I was as a mother, when I couldn't pay for the tests or the treatments. "I just lost my job. I got sacked for leaving work without approval. I was reconciling accounts when I got the call from Riley's school and I told my supervisor where I was going. I don't know why they are doing this; I couldn't not go and pick Riley up from school, could I? Dr Cullen, I can't pay for the tests or for the treatments unless I get another job, my night time job doesn't pay all that well."

I sucked in a breath…please God don't ask what I do in my night time job! I risked a glance up at Edward…Dr Cullen, and found him to be unexpectedly close. I gasped and he took a deep breath in. I stared up at him and he stared down at me. He was licking his lips and I was mesmerized by the action. I wanted to lick them myself. I gasped again, and moved back out of his arms to get a little perspective. I took another breath, but it was no use, his scent gathered around me and I sucked it in deeper.

Edward…Dr Cullen stood up suddenly and returned to his chair in front of his desk. He sat there for a moment and then a light came on in his eyes as he smiled widely at me. He looked like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

"You are a life saver!"

What?

"This couldn't be more fortuitous for both of us. Mrs Cope is retiring next week and I haven't yet found a replacement, and here you are, absolutely perfect for the job, and in need of employment." Edward…did a fist pump worthy of him solving world debt and I couldn't help but smile.

"Dr Cullen, how do you know I'm perfect for the job? You don't even know what my old job was or what skills I have." I hated to burst his bubble but I was trying to be realistic.

"As a matter of fact, Ms Swan, I do know what your last job entailed as you inadvertently mentioned it when you told me you got the sack. And Riley is quite the chatterbox in our sessions too. So would you prefer I interview you for the position, Ms Swan?" He was all smug now.

I thought I was going crazy. Edward had just offered me a job and I was trying to talk him out of it. "Well, I'd like to take the job for sure, but in the interests of your practice I really think you should interview me." I sighed, shaking my head at my stupidity.

"Alright then, Ms Swan. Are you familiar with any programs that involve appointments and scheduling?

"Yes…" and I detailed the systems I had used.

"Are you familiar with various business bookkeeping programs and fee reconciliations?"

"Yes…" and again I provided more detail.

By the tenth question, I was convinced I was right for the job. Apparently, so was Edward, as he asked a little wearily if I was now ready to take the job.

I accepted his job offer, even though I was a little suspicious of the timing, and hoped he was not taking me on simply because he felt sorry for me. Edward didn't give me a chance to raise my concerns though, as he took my arm and lead me out to the waiting room.

"Mrs Cope, good news, you can book your cruise with your sister after all. Bella meets the criteria for the position perfectly, and as it happens, she is able to start on Monday."

Mrs Cope turned to me and a smile brightened her face. "Bella, oh my God, I have to ring Betty right now! We are planning on a cruise around the Greek Isles. This is such wonderful news. Dr Volturi had so much on his plate, what with his wife being sick for so long, that he hadn't got around to advertising for my replacement. And Dr Cullen here has been a little pedantic with all the candidates who have applied thus far."

Once Edward had given her the details, Mrs Cope happily booked the appropriate tests for Riley and I left the hospital with a spring to my step that had been missing for many years.

That night as I prepared myself for my night time job, thoughts of Edward filled my mind. To be honest, they had done so since I first met him and felt an immediate attraction to him. Tonight I felt so light and happy, that after my shower I dressed in a sheer, pale blue baby-doll nightie, with tiny, matching panties and kitten heels. Obviously I didn't need the heels, but slipping them on I felt sexy.

James had never let me buy anything frivolous or expensive for myself, and he never indulged me either, even on my birthday. His gifts had always been practical kitchen items such as a slow cooker. One year he had splurged and bought me a stainless steel kettle and a stainless steel toaster for the one occasion. I had loved them at first but they required constant cleaning and I began to loathe them with a passion for providing even more work for me.

I liked to wear something pretty or sexy when I was performing this job. It helped get me into the right mood for the calls. I thought I would hate this phone-sex job; but it had actually helped me gain back my confidence. After being called frigid and sexless by James for so many years, being able to satisfy these men on the phone, even if it was just verbally, made me feel young and sexy. And, thanks to my mystery man downstairs, it gave me physical pleasure as well.

Listening to my mystery man pleasure himself and knowing it was brought on by my voice and my words was such a huge turn-on, unlike the men who called me for the phone-sex service. It didn't bother me to speak to them, but they did not excite me the way he did.

I was not exactly sure why he so intrigued me, but he did. According to Alice who lived next door to me, and who had actually seen him, he was drop dead gorgeous, always seemed to keep to himself and she thought he looked a little lonely when she passed him in the foyer. I wondered what his story was, although it didn't really matter, because in my head the shadowy features of my mystery man seemed to have taken on those of Edward.

There was no time to ponder, as the special line I had installed in my bedroom began ringing and I took a deep breath to get into my "naughty" persona before taking the call. I paced the floor as I talked, cajoled and pretended to come until I heard the telltale signs of the shower turning on downstairs and pictured the mystery guy naked and wet. By the time he had relocated to the bed I was dripping wet, so I didn't need to lie about it on the phone. When I heard the pop of the cap on the lube bottle and then the rhythmic slapping, my moans were not faked nor were the fingers buried inside me as I pumped to the rhythm I heard below. When I came, shuddering and quivering on my fingers, I could almost, almost, feel Edward's cock spurting into me and pulsing as he came, shouting his release.

Oh my God! I just came so hard thinking about my son's doctor and my new boss. That would not make things awkward on my first day tomorrow!

-Edward-

When I saw Bella crying, so stoically and so quietly, my heart crumbled into tiny little pieces. I wanted to be the only one to comfort her and never let her feel so helpless again. I acted without thought when I swooped into the seat next to her and took her into my arms, as if by enveloping her I could keep any hurt at bay.

The feel of her in my arms was unlike anything I'd ever experienced and when she'd eventually pulled back from me I almost reached out and grabbed her back again. When she had lifted her head and I saw her looking at my lips through her wet lashes it took all of my self control not to dip down and kiss her sweet cherry red lips. But I couldn't take advantage of her situation; she had been almost catatonic for a moment there after she had received the text.

When I had finally cajoled the reason for her breakdown from her, it was incredible, but I was immediately able to provide a solution which would benefit us both. In fact, this was only the second solution I came up with, but I didn't want to offend her with the first thing that sprang to mind, which was to offer to pay for Riley's medical bills. I didn't want her to think she was some kind of charity case.

This woman had been on my mind constantly ever since our first meeting. Riley and I had spoken about his father's death, and he had let a few things slip. These things only made me respect Bella more, for being so protective of her children, and coming through the crisis as well as she had. She was a proud woman, and I didn't want to offend her with my offer.

I wondered if my rules might be bent or relaxed regarding the possibility of dating my receptionist (Bella was not just a patient's mother anymore). Normally, I would have no hesitation in saying that this was a no-go area, but now that I had held Bella in my arms, my barriers were falling like a ton of bricks. I was probably getting ahead of myself, anyway. Bella may not be interested in me in that way.

I didn't think I was wrong though. I felt the spark when we touched and when we looked into each others' eyes, I saw fireworks in hers.

I supposed I should be feeling a little bit guilty about getting off on the voice of the woman in the upstairs apartment, but since I did picture her with Bella's face, I figured it was no different than fantasising.

I wasn't positive at first, but after the last few nights, I was pretty sure of two things about the woman upstairs. The calls that she was receiving were not from a boyfriend or husband, as she received calls for several hours each night and I am certain that I heard her say different names. The other thing I was certain of was that the woman could hear me too. Knowing that she could hear me, made me come so hard last night that I couldn't help shouting out, and it was Bella's face I pictured as I came.

I was so excited that Bella was going to be working with me that I couldn't sleep and rocked up to the office an hour before I was due in. Mrs Cope just shook her head and then smirked as she gathered the paperwork Bella would need to sign, once she arrived after dropping her kids off to school. I found it hard to concentrate all morning with Bella so close, and once Mrs Cope was on her lunch break, I finally called her in to my office. I was about to do the most impulsive thing since offering Bella a job without knowing her qualifications.

Bella sat in the chair closest to me, watching me expectantly. I was confident, a hard worker, supposedly okay looking and good with kids. I was a good catch, right? How hard could it be to ask someone out?

"Bella, this may seem fast and completely inappropriate given our new working relationship, but I've never met anyone like you before. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since the first time you brought Riley to see me and you stood up to me like a lioness protecting her cub. Is it too forward to ask you out on a date?"

I finished the last words in a rush and then looked down at the desk worried about what Bella's reaction would be. She didn't say anything for a while and I was too afraid to look at her, which was why I was now staring at her paperwork in disbelief.

"You live at Park Towers?" I finally looked at her and saw the confusion on her face.

She nodded and then told me that she lived on the 6th floor in Apartment 6C. I wasn't sure how I felt right now. I lived in Apartment 5C, directly below her. Bella was mystery girl. Oh my God! Bella was MYSTERY GIRL. I wasn't sure what to do.

I immediately realized who she was and what we had already shared, albeit unknowingly. My dick hardened, and now I was in an even bigger predicament. I could not drop my eyes to my lap, or hers would follow and see the tenting in my pants. I could not move my hands to cover my lap for the very same reason.

Bella was still eyeing me quite suspiciously and then answered me. "Yes, Edward. I would love to go out with you. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you either."

I released the breath I didn't even realize I had been holding in anticipation of her answer and immediately looked down. Then looked up. It was too late, Bella was now staring at my very large, very leaky erection straining against my pale linen trousers. In a weird case of verbal incontinence I blurted out that I lived in Park Towers too…in Apartment 5C, and watched slowly dawning horror move across Bella's face.

"Oh my God!" she whispered, "I guess this means that I can't work here any more. I am so sorry, Edward. I should have told you what my second job was. I quit yesterday when you offered me this job. I didn't think I needed it anymore since I was going to be working here full time. I'll pack my things and go now."

I sat stunned at what she was saying. She thought I was mad at her for what she did to get by to support her family and pay her son's medical bills. She was halfway out of her seat and crying softly by the time I had come to my senses and stopped her by pulling her back onto my lap and kissing her tears away.

"Bella, my love, I would never find fault in you doing what you had to do to support your family. You are a wonderful mother and a sensual, loving woman. You are not resigning and we are going on that date. But there is one very important thing that I need you to do for me."

Bella had stopped crying and was instead smiling at me. "Anything, Edward."

"Kiss me, please kiss me, Bella!"

And she did, most thoroughly. Until Mrs Cope walked in about ten minutes later and reminded me that I had a patient due any minute. She sounded very abrupt and annoyed and Bella blushed profusely. But I knew better. Mrs Cope was secretly delighted. For the entire time she had worked for me, she had nagged me to get a life.

30 August 2010

-Bella-

I stood at the window in a diaphanous white robe, which rippled in the breeze and brushed against my hard, pink nipples. The sensation caused me to arch into the silk and moan at the sensation of the fluttering material on my aroused skin.

"Are you hard for me, baby?" I crooned to him, waiting on his grunted affirmation before continuing. "Pour the lube into your hands and then cover your throbbing cock for me, baby. I want it nice and wet and slippery. You know how I like it." I whispered, and moaned as I heard his hands working the slippery surface of his cock faster and faster with his fist. Who would have thought that I could go from being afraid of mess, to love getting all messy and slippery with Edward?

"Are you ready for me, baby?" I pleaded with him. "I need you inside me now. I want that slippery hot cock all up inside me, pounding me." I heard him moan and knew that it was time.

I climbed onto the bed and straddled Edward who was splayed out and ready for me. His erection was so hard and slippery that I slid right down and ground onto his pelvis. "Oh fuck, Edward, baby, you feel so good." I leaned down to kiss him, deeply and with all the passion I felt for this man, my heart. He lifted me up slightly and parted my robe before sucking first one nipple into his mouth and then the other as he held my hips in place. He rolled his hips and ground up into me while biting gently on my nipple and it was his turn to ask if I liked it. I could only nod my agreement as Edward chose that moment to slam up into me and my breath left my body as my first orgasm for the night flared to life.

I shook and shuddered and clenched around him and once I was calm, Edward secured my hips above him and fucked me hard and fast, just the way I loved it. I was so open and ready for him, he had spent hours preparing me for this, constantly bringing me to the brink only to slow down and then start all over again. I came again from the constant pressure on that special spot and Edward just flipped me over and pulled my knees up.

When he entered me this way, he was so fucking deep and it felt so fucking good. He whispered sweet nothings in my ear about how perfect and tight I was and how he would never be able to get enough of me. How much he loved me. His words were perfect, and combined with the constant slide of silky hardness against my sensitive skin; I knew that when I came I would see stars. And I did. "I love you, Edward." I whispered.

2 October 2010

-Edward-

Bella and I walked slowly through the gardens of the cemetery, each carrying a bunch of flowers. I held her hand tightly and she squeezed it back, giving me all of her love and support, as I gave her mine.

I had finally found my sister, Victoria Masen Cullen, in Chicago of all places, but I was too late to save her from the downward spiral her life had taken after leaving Seattle. In a twisted coincidence, she had died twelve months ago, along with Bella's husband, James.

It was a difficult time for us when Bella had seen the picture of Victoria I kept in my apartment. Our relationship had been going so well when Bella inexplicably became distant and I would often find her in tears. When she eventually broke down and told me that she knew where my sister was, I was at first elated, and then crushed as she explained what she knew.

I blamed myself for not trying harder, for not looking further than New York and I took the news quite hard. Of course, I never blamed Bella but I knew she blamed herself for not being a good wife to James. Her reasoning was that if she had done a better job as a wife, then he would not have looked elsewhere and Victoria would not have been in the car.

Eventually, after some couples counselling sessions, we both worked out that only James and Victoria could take the blame for what happened to them, brought on by their drinking and driving. There had been nothing either of us could have done and we both came out of the sessions determined not to let anything, let alone the past we had no control over, ruin the relationship we were building.

I liked to think that Tori did, in the end, save me. I didn't think it was a coincidence that brought Bella, Riley and Bree into my life. I believed that she had a hand in it somehow, she had saved me from a life lived without love.