I guess I'm back again with another one-shot. I have this obsession with music as background for a story and I thought this contest was a perfect for me and the song I have chosen for it. Actually, we have to choose from the list that the contest organizers provided us, there wasn't much left when I found out about the contest but it seems to me that it all went well. The story got the 1st place winner People's choice award. So yipppeee, I am very happy and proud to share this story with you guys. Visit my profile and listen to the song by 10cc-I'm not in love and check out the banners for this story.
Thanks to Wendy for getting this story back to me in such a record time. I appreciate all her help and suggestion. Thanks to SK, Jells and Tygs who pre-read for me. Awesome people. I *heart* you all.
Summary: Edward and Bella were thrown together by an irreversible act of fate that could alter their lives forever. Both deny their feelings for each other. How far would they go to keep their emotions hidden?
****First Place winner People's Choice at Jukebox One-shot contest.****
Headlights were barreling from my left, closer they came and not a second to react; I braced myself for the inevitable impact. Four, three, two, one….slam! Deafening crash of metal to metal reverberated in my ears. I couldn't move a single muscle and pain…just pure unadulterated pain, my eyes wouldn't open…. painful….everything…went…dark.
"Edward… Edward…can you hear me?" The comforting voice of my mother attempting rouse me.
Lights flooded my heavy lids when I finally opened my eyes. I was lying on a bed of sweat. I tried to open my mouth, but no sound came out. Instead, a hoarse sounding groan escaped when I tried to pull myself up. My arms barely moved. I knew they may have been weak from the accident, they felt almost like jelly. My head felt heavy, like it was filled with explosives ready to go off.
"Son, stay still…don't move." My mother's hands pressed firmly on my shoulders stopped me from my movement and gently eased me back to a lying position. She gingerly lifted my arms, one at a time, and laid them on my side.
"What's going on? Where am I?" My voice sounded foreign to me, my throat felt like it was on fire as I tried to swallow repeatedly.
"You don't remember what happened? The accident?" My mother's voice was shaky. Her eyes showed signs of distress on her tired face; the redness from crying was evident.
Little by little, memories came back to me…the errant pick-up truck that came out of nowhere. It was obvious that the driver had no control of the vehicle as it T-boned the left side of my car. I shuddered as the barrage of memories assaulted me. Instinctively, I lifted my hand to touch my head that was covered with what felt like a thick wad of bandages, but I couldn't get them to move at will. My arms were the color of purple, bruises in varying shades marked my upper limbs as I did a quick inspection.
"I…remember now Mom." I managed to say while she picked my hand up and kissed the back of my palm tenderly. It felt odd that I didn't feel her touch as expected.
"Oh Edward, I thought we'd lost you." My mother finally broke down, sobbing uncontrollably as she covered her face with her hands.
"Mom…don't….cry please." My voice rebelled against me barely croaking out the words. My throat was parched and I needed to get up and walk around. I can't just lay there and do nothing.
I tried swinging my legs to get up but nothing happened. I tried again and still, nothing happened. My eyes grew wide as the reality hit me.
"Mom, why can't I move my legs and my hands don't have much feeling in them?" The questions needed answers, but I feared that truth might kill me.
She continued sobbing without answering me, not even looking at me. She buried her face on the side of my bed, close to my body.
"Mom, please answer me." The hysteria was bubbling on the surface and I could feel that I was about to wake up to a nightmare. "Mom….please, please, answer me." I whispered, fearing the answer that I already knew to be true.
"Edward….." more tears followed as I felt my own tears slowly spilling over and running down my cheek soon after. Did I even want to hear it?
Tears streamed relentlessly and I felt helpless, unable to wipe the tears from my eyes. I tried lifting, moving my hands, but they only responded partially. They felt as heavy as lead and the effort left me feeling breathless, and very frustrated. I told myself, Big boys don't cry! Damn it!
"I can't…." She cried in anguish, still refusing to look at me. Instead, she pulled the call button and pressed it. Within minutes, an elderly looking nurse in a starched uniform walked in from the door.
"Can I help you?" She said and her eyes widened when she looked at me. "Oh, you are finally awake." She muttered more to herself, but I heard what she said.
"Can you call Dr. Hale, please." My mom's voice barely rose above a whisper. She kept her face buried, barely acknowledging the nurse as she adjusted my pillow, checked the IV in my left arm that I just realized was even there and used a tissue to wipe the tears from my cheeks that had pooled in my ear.. She was swift, but gentle.
"Sure Mrs. Cullen," The nurse's head disappeared after a quick glance at the monitor as she turned the sound down. Silence filled the room soon after my mother stifled her sobs as much as she could, but held my unfeeling hand the whole time.
After 30 minutes or so, we heard a light tap on the door and a young looking gentleman, seeming a few years older than me, came striding confidently next to my bedside.
"Mrs. Cullen… Edward, I am happy that you finally awoken. I am Doctor Jasper Hale, your attending doctor here at Forks Community Hospital."
"Dr. Hale, can you tell me what's wrong with my arms and legs. Why can't I move them?" I hated being rude, but I didn't want to bother with pleasantries when I all I cared about at the moment was to be given an answer.
The doctor looked at my mother momentarily, as if requiring a confirmation before he returned his attention back to me. "Edward, you have been in a car accident. Do you remember that part?"
I nodded my head tersely.
"You were pinned inside your car and the emergency personnel had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate you out of your vehicle."
"I figured that much out, but why can't I move?" For a laid back type of guy who rarely raised his voice, I could see that my tone and impatience surprised my mother immensely.
"I'm sorry Edward, but because of the trauma your body went through, you sustained some damage to your spinal cord resulting in paralysis." Dr. Hale seemed relieved that the news was finally out in the open.
"Am I ever going to walk again?" I felt my voice quiver at the very thought of not ever walking again. This wasn't right. Nothing about this whole goddamn situation was right.
"Your exact injuries as I saw from the results of several x-rays are on the Thoracic division of your spine, Level 2 and incomplete. Injuries at or below the thoracic spinal levels result in paraplegia, function of the hands, arms, neck, and breathing is usually not affected. We call it T-2, which results in the inability to control the abdominal muscles. Accordingly, trunk stability is affected. The lower the level of injury, the less severe the effects would be."
"Then why in the hell can't I move my arms?" I screamed as Hale's words settled in my head. I wouldn't walk anymore. The truth rang hard and painful.
"It's temporary Edward. Your body took a lot of beating from the trauma. A therapist will be working with you shortly, to help you regain control and movement in your arms again. And hopefully, we can work on your legs too, your mobility." Dr. Hale didn't seem the least bit upset with my outburst. I really didn't give a fuck at the moment anymore.
After hearing my eventual fate, I tuned Dr. Hale out and refused to participate in the conversation about my rehabilitation potential. Hearing how lucky I was that I escaped with less injury considering the immensity of the situation I was in was a complete joke. Fucked is fucked… and not being able to walk again, is definitely fucked.
For me at that very moment, my life as I knew it was over.
The following days were a script taken out of a horror film. My dependency on every little thing that I needed was downright humiliating. I needed help from eating, pissing and relieving myself. My hands and arms were still close to useless, even though I had been working with a Physical Therapist already. The slow progress was killing me, little by little, and I found myself disinterested in all things that used to give me pleasure. All that I did was stare outside the hospital window and thought about being a prisoner in a wheelchair at the ripe age of 22 for the rest of my miserable fucking life.
My parents stayed with me in the hospital almost all day and after a few days, their attempts in making me feel less anxious and depressed finally got to me. I ordered them to go home and do what they were doing before my accident. One person was tied to the chair, not three.
After spending 3 months in the hospital and going through the initial therapy program, the rehabilitation department felt that I was ready to go home. With movements and functions restored in my arms, they felt that I would be able to thrive much easier in a home setting. Arrangements were made for me to attend a daily therapy program at the Rehab Center but my father would rather have someone come to our house and provide the daily therapy for me. He willingly offered to buy all the necessary therapy equipment needed for my use. Being a Doctor at the hospital with great connections, my dad was able to hire a Physical Therapist who agreed to be my personal therapist for the duration of my treatment.
Who was I to say no to such a great offer? The idea of not leaving the house in a wheelchair left me feeling a bit relieved. Who would want to be seen in a disabled van being chauffeured around anyway? The pain had subsided but was later replaced by a nerve wracking spasm that completely took me by surprise. Some spasms last for a few seconds while other's lasted for over 10 minutes. The doctor explained to me that this was a good sign because it meant the nerve endings were trying to heal. The involuntary movement of my legs during these episodes left me more embarrassed and angry than anything.
"Edward, the physical therapist will be coming today. She agreed to stay here 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, and she will be your in-home care provider too when your mom and I aren't home." My father, Carlisle, said one morning after breakfast. He had been the one who had been helping me with most of my personal needs like bathing, going to the bathroom. My mom, Esme, provided my other needs. No grown man wanted his mother sponge bathing or wiping his junk and she was gracious about it, though she would laugh and say 'it's nothing I haven't seen before young man'. Yeah, that made it all better, NOT!
"Okay," I answered curtly, wanting to be left alone.
A light tap on the door alerted me of company which I didn't seek at the moment. "Edward?" A low and sweet sounding voice called out my name.
"Yes." I grunted my reply.
I heard footsteps advance in the room after the door closed. "Hello, I am Bella Swan, the therapist who will be working with you."
"Okay, whatever." I responded without peeling my eyes from the window where I had been gazing out for the last hour.
"Umm, okay? What does that mean? Are you ready? Aren't you even going to say Hello to me?" The woman asked without humor.
"Yes, I am ready."
"I think we need to have a better means of communication here before we get started. First of all, you have to look at me when I am talking to you. You know, the normal way of talking. Adult to adult, eye contact with a touch of respect. You respect me and I will respect you, it will make our time together much more pleasant Edward."
I wasn't in the mood to be lectured especially coming from someone on our payroll. With an extreme burst of anger, I swiveled my chair to see who the overbearing, assuming woman was and to put her in her place.
"I know how to communicate, so do not lecture me…."
What greeted me was a girl, too young, maybe not even older than me. She was beautiful, in a girl next door type of way. Her chocolate brown eyes held a look of contempt as they stared back at me. Her hands were on her hips, as if challenging me, telling me that she would be running the show and not me. Her long brown hair was tied in a ponytail and her slender figure was hidden beneath a blue and ill-fitting scrubs.
I met her challenge with equal intensity, aiming to establish that I was the boss and I wouldn't take shit from anyone.
"That's better…now I have a face to go with the name." She stated with mock pleasure.
"The face is not important to me." I retorted back.
"Well, I am glad we are clear on that. Shall we start?" She motioned her hand towards the door. Her behavior and tone of voice were infuriating. Without giving her any reply, I began wheeling myself however awkward, to the door. She held my chair by the push handle and halted my forward movement.
"I will push you to the gym." She said flatly.
"No need for that, as you can see, my hands aren't paralyzed." I barked at her.
"You can save your energy for the therapy session, Edward. By the time I am done with you, you will thank me for sparing you the effort of wheeling yourself there." She chuckled and began pushing my wheelchair out the door.
"There is so much you need to re-learn as far as utilizing whatever usable muscles you have left. We will start with the basics today." She said conversationally as we made our way to the gym.
My parents had basically rearranged our house for my homecoming. What used to look like a house straight from an Architectural Digest magazine was now in shambles. Wooden ramps took over the area rugs lining the wooden floor. The months following my accident threw them into a revision frenzy. They altered my bathroom to accommodate my wheelchair, handle bars were installed by the toilet and inside the shower. A trapeze was attached to wall behind my bed so I could lift myself up from bed independently. The price one had to pay in order to get some sort of independence was underrated until I got in the situation myself.
Bella continued to talk and I stayed silent. I didn't feel the need to respond to her babbling. It seemed to me that she could talk for the both of us. Instead, I sat in my chair and looked straight ahead.
She pushed my wheelchair to the end of the room next to the exercise bed. My Dad outdid himself this time. Every piece of equipment imaginable that I needed to use for rehab were purchased and waiting for me.
"Today, we will start with leg and hip exercises. You have done this before, but I need to see for myself how much damage you have and what I can for you."
The word 'damage' rang hard in my ears. I flinched at the very thought of what it would be like for the rest of my life. That's what I was-damaged goods. And that's all I'd ever be, echoed in my head.
Bella stopped in front of the exercise bed and applied the wheel brakes and turned to me, accidentally brushing her arms against mine. I shivered at the feel of her skin and I pulled my arms away instantly.
"Let's get you over to the bed shall we? Are you confident on doing transfers Edward?
"I think I can do it." I replied grimly. I could feel my insides churning at the thought of Bella watching me make a fool of myself, while I put on a freak show.
She folded her arms across her chest to watch me. I was not at all confident with transferring myself, my arms were not very strong yet but I wasn't about to admit that I was a pussy. I pushed myself up with my knuckles and swung the dead weight known as my lower trunk onto the bed, nearly missing it by a few inches. I felt my butt hanging halfway from the bed before Bella walked over and expertly lifted me by my armpit and placed me on the bed to a more secured position. The lifting did not seem to bother her at all. She was a small girl, but she lifted me like I didn't weigh anything at all.
To say that I didn't feel embarrassment or humiliation was laughable. I've never felt so helpless and utterly hopeless in my life like I did at that moment.
I could barely sit up without having to lean on something. I was told that my trunk muscles need strengthening and that's what I would need to work on if I even have hopes of ever walking again. If my trunk cannot stay upright unsupported, there was no hope of ever walking again, even with crutches or a walker.
Bella was holding my back as she laid me supine. She sat on the opposite side of the bed, closer to my legs where I watched her, in utter fascination, assessing my legs and my lower body.
"Okay, during the first two weeks, I will do most of the exercises for you. I will bend, stretch and extend your legs, thighs and hips. I must warn you that it will be painful…..but I believe in the saying, 'no pain no gain'." Her warning came a bit too late as she started with my left leg and bent it slightly. The pain that followed with every bending, extending and stretching was excruciating.
"Fuck!" I heard myself say as she worked on my legs, lifting it sideways. Bella gave me a satisfied look. I ignored her and tried my best to keep myself from hollering. I told myself repeatedly, Big boys don't cry!
I had to bite my lips to keep from screaming like a girl. I laid there for over an hour, helpless and in agonizing pain. We took a few minutes in between before we started over again. I was drenched with sweat by the time the morning session ended.
"Do you want me to bring your lunch to your room, or do you want to get to know me better?" Bella asked as she wheeled me back to my room.
"I would rather eat alone," I spat out.
"Suit yourself." She retorted before she left the room. I grabbed the bottle of water on my nightstand and threw it at the door just as she was closing it. That woman was infuriating. She made me want to get up and lock the door so I wouldn't have to see her face again.
After 15 minutes or so, she came back with a tray filled with food. I was still on my chair, the exercise session left me so incredibly tired and physically drained that I didn't even dare try to lift myself for transfer. Bella set the tray on my bedside table and as if reading my mind, she positioned my chair next to the bed and began lifting me.
"You don't have to do that, I can do it myself." I roared at her, but she ignored me and continued with the transfer.
"I don't think you have the energy right now Edward, and besides, I don't want you sitting too long in one position, we don't want you to develop skin redness which may lead to skin breakdown or ulcers.
I clamped my mouth to keep myself from screaming, instead, I balled my fist on my side. This woman was definitely getting on my nerves. For a small thing, she was a cocky SOB. She lifted my dead legs on the bed after she propped my back with a bunch of pillows. She set the tray of food in front of me and started for the door.
"I will be having my lunch too. Go on and eat and I'll be back to take you to the bathroom."
I stared at my tray and pushed it aside, still seething. I can't imagine being at the mercy of that woman, that girl. What was her problem? Couldn't she just do her job and not talk? I didn't need company and I damn well did not need a friend; I needed someone to help me walk again.
I must've dosed off because the next thing I knew, Bella was standing next to my bed with a disapproving look on her face.
"What?' I asked in a contemptuous voice as I wiped the sleep from my eyes.
"If you plan on getting stronger, you have to eat." She said pointing at my tray, still untouched and the food uneaten.
"Why do you care?" I retorted, not even thinking of what I was saying.
"Why do I care? Well, let me give you the reason." She stuck her fingers out, "Number one, I am getting paid to help you get the most use of what you have left functioning in you. Number two, you are my patient and I am going to make you do things whether you like it or not, because that is my job. Do you want to hear number three?" She chided as she watched my face broke into a nasty smirk.
"No, I don't want to hear anymore, just shut up will you? Do you just enjoy the sound of your own voice?" I lifted my face defiantly.
"Eat and I will shut up." Bella pushed the tray back in front of me and walked over to the recliner and sat. Her eyes never leaving my face, she was watching me like a hawk watching a prey down below.
I grudgingly picked up the sandwich and took a few bites. It tasted like paper; nothing seemed to taste good for me these days. I took the glass of juice from the tray and down it in one gulp.
"Happy now?" I asked as I put the glass down on the tray with a loud clank.
"Not quite but that's a start." She came over and took the tray away and placed it on the bedside table. "Now let's get you to the bathroom." She announced. She waited for me to do something, but I was honestly very tired. I gritted my teeth and tried to steady myself in a sitting position. I scooted over to the edge of the bed with my back first, using my hands to push myself as my legs dragged behind. I didn't have the strength to transfer myself with the fear of falling flat on my face.
"I think you need some help," Bella said after watching me struggle for a few minutes.
"Yes…" it was difficult for me to admit it, but I had no fight left in me. I just wanted to relieve myself, be left alone and go to sleep. I had no idea that my day involved going to hell and back.
"Okay, here we go." Bella effortlessly lifted me again. I felt her body rubbed against mine in the process. It was a nice feeling to be able to feel, to have sensation. I reasoned with myself, it wasn't because I wanted to feel her body against mine.
After helping me settle on the commode, Bella left me alone to do my business in the bathroom. Why couldn't my father hire a male therapist and caregiver for me? Why did it have to be a female, and not just a female, but one with a big mouth and an overbearing attitude?
After my Ambien-induced afternoon nap, Bella took me back for my afternoon rendezvous in hell. The session left me in a great deal of pain and in a very bad mood. Even though she told me that it was a productive session, I doubted her. I couldn't feel a damn thing except exhaustion, how could that be labeled as good?
One month had passed and nothing seemed to have improved. Although I can sit without using a chest harness, my improvements came very slow, too slow for me. I hadn't even had a chance to stand up yet. Bella on the other hand, seemed very pleased with my progress. I would catch her nodding and smiling at every little thing that I would accomplish. Our relationship did not improve over time, she would order me around and I usually would snap at her. She would push me to my limits every single time.
The therapy sessions were grueling and felt like an utter punishment. It left me drained and grumpy at the end of the day. The spasms continued to hound me and every attack was worse than the first. Days dragged on as I sunk deeper into depression, nothing could seem to lift the clouds that latched on and engulfed me. The only respite came in the name of Valium and Vicodin; my anti-depressant and pain medicine. My parents kept a happy face, a front around me with hopes that I would snap out of it. I felt myself detaching from everyone around me. As much as I tried, I kept being reminded of the things I could no longer do: school, driving, running…even the thought of not being able to have sex or even children in the future made me cringe and spiral deeper and deeper into oblivion.
My cell phone rang as I was listening to my iPod. I groaned at the caller ID. It's been a while since I last spoke with my buddy Emmett, but I wasn't in the mood for his happy attitude and jokes. I left the call unanswered and let it go directly to my voicemail.
After a few minutes, I punched the message button of my iPhone and listened to Emmett's message. Dude, I know you're there. You can't hide from me Ed. I am in town and I will call you again in a few minutes…better answer me!
Sure enough, Emmett's call came within a few minutes.
"What do you want?"
Who are you and what have you done to my friend? Emmett chuckled on the other end of the line.
"Emmett, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in school?" I ignored the joke. I wasn't in the mood for his humor. Hell, I wasn't in the mood for anything anymore.
Some shit came up so I am off to do whatever I want for the rest of the week. I am about three minutes away so open the door for me. The line went dead even before I had the chance to respond, to tell him that I was not in the mood for company.
"Shit!" I groaned before I scrambled to roll my wheelchair to answer the door. Bella was due anytime now, and I didn't want any audience during my therapy session. Emmett's timing sucked, but he was my best friend, so I'd have to endure his wisecracks for the time being.
I heard voices laughing outside even before I got to the door. It was apparent that Emmett and Bella had already met outside. I bet Emmett already turned on his charm and Bella would be a target for him right now. Bella's voice was as soft as the first day I heard her speak. Her laughter was pure and genuine, something I haven't heard before. I felt a pang of jealousy ripple from within but I hastily brushed it aside. I was being foolish. I had no time for such nonsense.
Bella was already inserting the key in the door when I swung the door open. Her big smile was immediately replaced with a more subdued one when she saw me. She briefly assessed me before looking at Emmett.
"It was nice meeting you Emmett. I will see you around." She turned towards me, "See you in the gym in 10 minutes," before she walked away to the direction of her room.
"The pleasure is all mine, see you around Bella." Emmett had a stupid grin on his face that made my blood boil. As soon as he walked in, I slammed the door shut and started wheeling myself back to my bedroom as Emmett followed closely behind. He was lugging a duffel bag and it made me suspicious if he was planning to stay the night. Emmett had spent countless nights with us during our summer and winter vacations from the university.
"Hey Buddy, what's up with the long face?" I could detect the laughter in his voice and it irked me that I was ready to lash out at Emmett. He really wasn't trying to be annoying, he just was.
"Nothing, just tired, is all." I stated curtly. "Are you staying for the night?" I eyed his duffel bag with open disdain which Emmett didn't seem to notice. He was one of those people who were dense when it came to subtlety or not-so-subtle hints.
"In fact, I might stay for a whole week. Your parent said it was okay. Yah know how they love me!" He gave me one of his toothpaste ad smiles and I just shook my head at him.
"Fine, since you have invited yourself already, take the upstairs room because Bella is already using the guest bedroom down here."
"Oh but, I didn't invite my….Bella stays here?" The look in his face when he heard Bella's name was almost comical but I didn't laugh. I didn't like the fact that he was showing interest for Bella. I fought the urge to say something so I stayed quiet. Why in the hell did it feel like I was a green eyed monster? I didn't even like the woman.
"Listen, I will leave you here while I go to therapy. Make yourself at home." I wheeled my chair towards the door when I felt a tug from behind.
"Here, let me take you there." Emmett started pushing my chair without even waiting for my answer. I pulled my arms in and seethed quietly. I couldn't understand why the thought of him and Bella in the same room threatened me when I disliked the woman with the motor mouth with a passion.
Bella was already in the gym when Emmett and I got there. There was a slow lazy smile that graced her face when she glanced at me.
"Here we are," Emmett said as he pushed me towards the exercise bed and walked to the opposite end of the room. He then sat at on the little sofa with a loud flop and turned the TV on.
"Edward, move right here next to the ultrasound machine." I wheeled myself closer to where the machine was located and I transferred myself onto the exercise bed with more ease and confidence this time. I could see Emmett out of the corner of my eye, watching me intently. I lay down on my back while dragging my dead and useless legs with me.
"Let me do some bending exercises and stretches on you before we start the ultrasound therapy." Bella began with my left leg, bending it towards me. The shooting pain that radiated from my legs caught me off guard. "What the fuck are you doing? That hurts like hell." I screamed at her while I took a hold of her arm in an effort to stop her.
Bella threw me a threatening look as I kept my hand on her arm. "Please let go of my arm Edward and stop acting like a child. I am not hurting you. You know this is something I have to do stimulate your muscles. If I don't do this, your muscle will atrophy and all your hopes of ever walking again won't even be a possibility." Her voice rang loud in my ear as she looked at me straight in the eyes. I don't see anger at all. In fact, I saw kindness in them and something else…I couldn't place it. I let go of her arm, slowly dropping my hand to me side. She continued doing the exercises while I suffered in silence. I restrained myself from cursing and kept my mouth shut despite the pain that each bend, stretch and flex elicited.
The ultrasound therapy was heaven sent. Every single vibration brought forth relief to some muscles that I could feel. It was surprising that I had some feelings on some parts of my legs. That little sensation gave me hope, hope that I dared not speak with anyone.
Bella moved the little gadget in a circular motion on my skin gently. Her hands moved with meticulousness and I could see the compassion in her actions despite her brusque mouth and attitude.
I felt a bit better after the afternoon therapy was over. I wheeled my chair to my room after the session was ended to Bella's satisfaction and left Emmett, who chose to linger around Bella. I needed to get away fast but not fast enough. I could hear the easy banter between them as I made a turn to my room. I slammed the door as hard as I could; hoping to drown the voices away. Despite the animosity that I felt towards Bella, I couldn't ignore the other nagging feeling that kept creeping up on me.
"Ed, would you like to join Bella and me on a night out on the town? Your parents cleared us for the night and they said that it'll be good for you to breathe some fresh air…."
I cut him off in mid-sentence with a resounding, "No!"
"Why not man? Don't tell me that you are aiming for hermit hood?" Emmett said as he playfully slapped me on my shoulder.
"Why do you need a third wheel? It's obvious that you have the hots for Bella. This will be your chance to be alone with her, and you just might get lucky." I retorted bitterly.
"Whoa, is that what you are thinking? Is that why you are in a bad mood?" Emmett sat on my bed and propped my pillow behind him, his eyes scanning my face for any hint of an answer.
"I am not in a bad mood!" I nearly screamed the words out. "I am annoyed and in pain. I am stuck in this damn wheelchair all day. Stuck with the drill sergeant who doesn't understand my pain."
"Ohhhhhhhhh shit Ed, you're in big trouble man!" Emmett began and I glared at him. What was this blabbering idiot up to now?
"Emmett, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about."
"Ed, you may have damaged your legs from the accident, but I don't think it affected your brain at all." Yeah, that's Emmett alright, forget tact and sympathy. He'd say things that would shock people. He called it speaking his mind. I called it moronic. "I think you have fallen for her man!" Emmett said dramatically.
I stared at him in horror. "What the fuck are you talking about? Why would I fall for her?" I asked incredulously.
"Dang, and you are blind too! Can't you see that Bella digs you too? And I thought you were good with body language? You guys were practically doing foreplay. I saw you both in action with my own eyes.
Emmett was getting on my last nerve. I took my iPod and headphones from my drawer hastily. I was ready to tune him out. He wasn't making any sense. Me, in love with Bella? Bella liked me too? That was ridiculous. What do I have to offer her, or anyone for that matter, at this point in my life? The whole idea was absurd. Emmett just didn't know when to stop.
"Emmett, I am done talking. Go if you want and leave me in peace, will you? If you like her, go for it but don't even begin to mess with me." I slapped the headphones in my ears, turned the volume up and closed my eyes, hoping that would shut him up.
Emmett took the headphones from my ears, "Hey, I'm not done talking to you. Whether you like it or not, you are coming with us tonight. If I have to carry you to the car, so be it." He snapped the headphones back in my ears and strode out of my room.
"Fuck you!" I shouted above the blaring music in my ears.
True to his words, Emmett practically carried me out of the house. His big and burly physique enabled him to carry me like I was a ragdoll. As much as I tried to fight him off, my disability prevented me from taking a hard aim at him. Emmett merely laughed it off and slung me over his shoulder like I weighed nothing. Bella pushed my empty wheelchair in Emmett's waiting truck as he deposited me in the front passenger seat. Bella took the seat behind me for a short five minute ride to town.
We entered the dingy bar a few minutes later with Emmett clearing the way for me. Bella followed behind me and hadn't said a word to me at all. We found a booth at the end of the room where there was enough space to maneuver my wheelchair.
"Do you want to sit on the booth?" Bella asked me as soon as Emmett left to get our drinks from the bar.
"No," I replied tersely. Bella's lips thinned as she looked at me. I braced myself for a barrage of insults like we normally throw at each other but none came. She looked away and I sat in my wheelchair waiting for the damn drinks to come. Neither one of us said a word as we waited for Emmett. I watched Bella as she drummed her slender fingers on the table while she was scanning the room. Her body was moving to the beat of the music, oblivious to everything else around her.
Emmett came back juggling six little shot glasses between his massive fingers. Bella helped him unload the glasses on the table as Emmett took the seat opposite of Bella.
"Here," he handed me and Bella a glass each. "The last one to finish will drink the remaining shots right away.
"Ready, set, go….." We downed our drinks fast, but I heard Bella thud her glass on the table first followed by Emmett.
"Damn," I cursed under my breath as I picked up the shot glasses and downed the first two without any difficulty. I was picking up the third glass when Bella held my hand to stop me.
"Let me get that for you." She offered gently, but I shook her hand off.
"I am not a child, I don't need a babysitter." I said before I chugged the tequila down.
"You are acting like a child. Do you know that? All pouty and angry. If you have a problem, deal with it." Bella retorted, her face suddenly close to mine.
"I am dealing with it, can't you see? Although, there's one that I can't deal with right now."
"What would that be?"
"You and your bossy attitude!" I screamed on the top of the blaring music from the speakers hanging on the wall behind us.
"Well, that's one thing you have to live with Edward. You don't have a choice in the matter; your father hired me to get you to your fullest potential. So deal with that. You can't get rid of me just yet." Bella glared back at me. Emmett sat there looking back and forth between me and Bella.
"We'll see about that." I said and turned my wheelchair around so I was facing the stage. By this time, the karaoke session started and I pretended to listen intently. Still seething inside, I decided to wheel myself to the bar and ordered three more shots for myself. I quickly drank each one and stayed away from Bella and Emmett as long as I could. This night was turning out the way I pictured it. A total fail.
The effect of the alcohol finally reached its desired level as I felt a little calmer. My body started to loosen up and I felt more relaxed. I wheeled myself back to our booth to ask Emmett to take me home when I found a man bending on our booth and talking to Bella, and Emmett was nowhere in sight. Judging by their body language, I could see that Bella was trying to push the guy away but the man appeared a little persistent.
Without thinking, I halted my wheelchair next to the man, the wheel narrowly missing his foot by a mere inch.
"Honey, what's going on here?" I called out loudly and Bella looked at me with a mixture of relief and disbelief. The man turned to me and I could see that he was sizing me up. I wouldn't amount to much if a fight broke out.
"Nothing, I was just telling this gentleman that I came here with my boyfriend." Bella replied pointedly.
"Come here then and let's look for Emmett so we can go home." I pulled her hand to help her out of the booth. I wrapped my hand around her waist and pulled her back to sit on my lap.
"Oh…." Bella gasped as she found herself sitting on me.
"This is just for show. Don't get me wrong. Don't think you've got it made." I hissed in her ears but tried to appear like I was saying something funny to her, just for the show I decided to put on for the man's sake.
"I am not holding my breath sweetie," Bella giggled and snaked her arms around my neck as she planted a kiss on my lips.
"Damn!" The man cursed before he walked away, shaking his head.
"I'm not in love, so don't forget it." I pushed her off my lap, but not before I whispered in her ears the words that I regretted the moment they left my mouth.
"You're an asshole, Edward Cullen." Bella smirked and turned to leave.
"Bella, Edward… what was that about? What's with the lip-lock?" Emmett was grinning widely as he came bounding to our booth.
"Nothing, can we go home now?" I was already wheeling myself out. I could feel the sweat running down the side of my face. The bar was too crowded and I was feeling claustrophobic, I had enough of it for one night.
Another month had passed and my development was at a snail's pace. Bella and I never mentioned anything about the incident in the bar. She drilled me every single day during my therapy, pushing me to my limit. She would always say, No pain, No gain, which irritated me to no end. She kept mostly to herself when she didn't have to work with me. I would see her reading a book or listening to her iPod in the garden as she passed the time.
I couldn't bring myself to apologize for the things I'd said that night. I felt like an ass that put his foot in his mouth. I couldn't deny that I enjoyed the kiss immensely, but who was I kidding? What would Bella possibly have to do with me? I attributed the feelings as a silly phase I was going through. I was not in love with Bella Swan, I told myself repeatedly.
Sure, I needed the money so I took on this job that many of my colleagues thought was madness. Why would an accomplished Physical Therapist work as a care giver on the side? The almighty dollar was the driving force behind my decision. I had loans that needed to get paid before I took another plunge towards another career that I had been aiming for. I promised myself that I would pay off my student loans before I head to get my master's degree in Physiotherapy. Dr. Cullen's offer was far too great to ignore and this I thought would be the answer to my prayers.
Little did I know that I would be dealing with an angry and self-absorbed individual, a far cry from his laid back and accommodating parent. I have always dealt with my patients with care, sensitivity, patience and respect. That was the very reason that I came highly recommended by the head of the Rehab Department. But Edward Cullen was testing every bit of my patience and resilience. His I don't care attitude was getting to me. He had so much potential for improvement but his depression was getting the best of him. I could only help him as much as he wanted to help himself. I found myself being the opposite of how I usually treat my patients. Instead of caring, I would throw him some insults to get him to move or do something. Instead of guiding, I found myself pushing. I have grown to loathe myself for the past three months, but it seemed like this method was the only thing that would work.
I couldn't admit to myself that I was silently attracted to this infuriating man. The kiss that I gave him was to show that I didn't care at all, but the realization hit me that I do care. I feel threatened every time I see him, every time I hold him. It felt like I would unravel in front of him. I caught him several times watching me and that was enough to make me want to run away…. I didn't need this in my structured life at the moment.
A loud slam took me out of my quiet reverie. The sound came from somewhere in the living room, or did it? Dr. and Mrs. Cullen were attending a fund raiser and I doubt that they'd be back so soon. I got up quickly and retrieve the baseball bat I found inside the closet and wrapped my robe tightly before I peeked out my door. The house was quiet and dark, and I assumed that Edward would already be in bed sleeping. I walked the hallway on tiptoes, trying not to make even the slightest noise. I held the bat close to my chest, ready to swing at a moment's notice.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as I checked the front door and the windows. I made my rounds in the entire house. I was walking back to my room when I heard Edward moans from his bedroom. Against my better judgment, I opened his door as quietly as I could, to check if everything was alright. His bed was empty and it seemed like he hadn't even made it to his bed yet. I walked forward cautiously when I reached his bedside and found Edward on the floor. His head was bleeding and he obviously couldn't pull himself up, an almost empty bottle of scotch was lying next to him on the floor.
"Edward, are you okay?" I rushed to his side and struggled a little trying to help him into a seating position. What would normally be an easy task was proving difficult because of the fact that he was drunk.
"Angel?" He opened his bloodshot eyes briefly and tried to focus on my face. He smiled a little but fell to the floor again.
"What are you doing to yourself, getting all drunk like this?" I heard a little sob escape me while I tried to help him up again. His dead weight was a bit too much for me after all; I was almost half his size.
"I'm not in love with my angel, and I think she hates me."Edward said through slurred speech and he was reeking of alcohol.
"Who is your angel Edward? Tell me." I wanted to keep him talking while I helped him up, but the more I tried to help, the more agitated he got. I needed to get the first aid kit so I could clean him up too.
"Bella's my angel but I told…." He hiccupped and my heart skipped a beat. "But I told her that I am not in love with her…no…no…" he waggled his finger at me. "But I think I am… I am so foolish…"
"Why do you say you are foolish?" At that point, I managed to get him up on his wheelchair which would make it easier for me to transfer him to bed. I made a quick check on the bleeding area but found that the wound wasn't deep enough to require stitches. I held him upright with one hand as I pulled back the bed cover.
"Because…I am foolish to have fallen in love with my angel…" he coughed a little, seeming like he was going to throw up. I wanted to run to the bathroom but I couldn't leave him unsupported while seated on the wheelchair. "She won't love me back…I have no feelings in my legs…I don't even think I am….."
"Edward, go on… keep talking." With one swift move, I got him on the bed but his arms snaked around my waist, effectively pinning my body against his.
"I'mmmm not capable of making love…anymore…. I don't think I can…." His voice sounded pained and my heart went out to him.
"You won't know it unless you try, Edward." I heard myself say without thinking. I should know better. This was a part of our training in school. This was one of the biggest problems that spinal cord injured patients faced.
His hand tightened around me even more and he pulled my body impossibly closer to him.
"Edward, please let me go. I have to check your forehead, you are bleeding." I asked him gently, not wanting to get him agitated. I suspected that he may have mixed his pain medication with the alcohol which was a big mistake.
"No, stay with me because my angel won't." He begged, his eyes were closed but his hand began to slip into my robe. I held his hand to keep them from touching me.
"Edward, listen to me. Please let me go. I need to cleanse your wound and put a bandage on it." I tried to pry his hand from me that was wrapped around my waist but he struggled with me. He kept both arms around me thus making it difficult to free myself from his embrace. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I didn't like the feel of his arms around me. This was all wrong. I couldn't possibly allow myself to fall in love with him, or have I already? I needed to stay focused. Have I lost my mind?
"Tell my angel that I love her, will you? I thought it was a silly phase I was going through…. Hmmmm…you smell like my angel."
I love you too, Edward. I replied under my breath. Before I could say anything aloud, I felt his arms relaxed around me and soon after, his even breathing was all I could hear. I took the moment to look at his face up close. Although I've been around him for over three months, this was the first time I really saw him, his face at peace. He was gorgeous and looking at him made me ache. I tried to memorize every single line and plane, to commit it to memory.
After an hour or so, I heaved myself out of his embrace and got out of bed. I wrapped my robe securely around me before I proceeded to search for the first aid kit to cleanse his wound and put a bandage over it. I removed his shoes and positioned him comfortably in bed before I placed a blanket over him. I gave him a kiss on the lips, ever so lightly, so as not to wake him up.
I walked quietly out the door after I gazed at him for one last time.
I stayed up all night tossing and turning. I knew what happened to me. My worse fear had been realized. I had fallen in love with Edward, fallen deeply in love with him. This was wrong! Not because he was paralyzed, not because he wasn't sure if he could ever make love to a woman. It was because I breached the promise that I made to myself. I allowed my personal feelings to get the best of me. Work and personal feelings didn't mix. I let my feelings affect my work and it wasn't fair for Edward to have to be trapped with me.
With tears in my eyes, I pulled a piece of paper from the desk and scribbled my letter of resignation.
I had to go; they needed to find someone who could help him better than I could. A professional who knew what propriety meant.
Dear Dr. and Mrs. Cullen,
It is with a heavy heart that I am tending my resignation from my position as your son's personal therapist and caregiver. I feel that I am not serving his best interest when I let my own emotions take over and got the best of me. It wouldn't be fair to you, and especially to Edward, if I stay. I am sorry for the short notice. I will have another of my colleagues fill in for me as to not impede Edward's progress. Please tell Edward that I felt the same way. He will know what I mean.
Thank you for the opportunity that you have given me. I have no regrets.
A/N: Well what do you guys think? I have several requests to turn this into a full story and I am glad to say that I am writing the next chapter already. It may take some time before I post but I will. Please put me in your author alert or story alert if you want an update when I finally post. Thanks for reading. Leave me some love on your way out.