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The morning after Emma's arrival.
The alarm clock buzzes on Edward's bedside table and I blindingly reach for the snooze button, hitting it. I refuse to open my eyes so early. I have the day off and I fully intend on enjoying it. I'm Edward's arms. My fiancé. As of last night, he is my fiancé and I'm ready to lie in bed just a little while longer, possibly will myself back to sleep, just to be in his arms.
Then I remember her and spring up, jolting Edward awake in the process.
"Shit! Fuck!" I curse as I scramble out of bed. What am I thinking? Lying down and enjoying the day? I have to get my ass in gear. There is someone else here. How could I forget her?
"Huh? What?" Edward asks as he looks around in confusion through half opened eyes.
I don't answer him. I'm too busy rummaging through the drawers I have here, looking for something to wear. I settle on a pair of jeans and a fitted t-shirt to go with the pair of sneakers I got over here. I don't want to walk out there in the same clothes from last night. It would be inappropriate. What kind of message am I sending the poor little girl?
Wait. What am I thinking about? Emma and I just met. She doesn't even know Edward long enough to think anything about me and what I'm supposed to be wearing the morning after sleeping over at my fiancé's place. Then again, what if she is Edward's child? What if Tanya isn't lying? I will be his wife in the near future so I have to set good examples.
God, I feel so confused right now. Maybe I got up too fast. My head is spinning.
"Bella, what?" Edward yells, getting my attention as I trip over my own feet on the way to the bathroom.
"Emma!" I yell back at him and disappear in there.
I run through my morning routine fast. There is no time to waste. She's probably so hungry. Or is she too nervous to eat? Being in a new place probably scared the crap out of her last night. Did we do the right thing telling the social worker we would keep her for the night?
Of course we did. I adamantly believe it was the right thing to do. There was no way I was about to watch the woman take Emma away. Even though we just met, and I'm worried sick at the moment about what she might think about everything that's happening to her, I also feel very protective of her. I feel like my heart is going to stop if I don't get out of this bathroom fast enough and head out to the living room to see what Emma is up to. Is she up? Is she asleep? I won't know until I head out there.
I dash out of the bathroom as fast as I had gone in, almost bumping into Edward. He grabs me by the arms, stopping me. I feel like a ball of nervous energy. How long have we been asleep? Was the poor thing up and hungry and we weren't there to feed her? Was she afraid? My god, what if she has been up all this time, whatever time it is, and afraid to come and knock on the door to wake us up? Who knows what kind of fear Tanya instilled in her. When I think about rough and short Tanya was with her last night, I want to slap the senses out of that woman. How dare she treat a child that way? If I ever heard about anybody treating my god kids like that I would be in Forks so fast making that person's life a living hell!
"What's going through your mind?" Edward asks with a chuckle.
"What?" I say, looking at him confusedly.
He smiles. "A million emotions just passed over your face."
"Huh?" I'm truly lost. What does he mean a million emotions just passed over my face?
"Bella." He sighs. "You went from looking worried to looking happy to looking sad and then you settled on anger," Edward explains. "What's wrong?"
"I think we overslept and I want to get out there and see if Emma is up," I say. "And if she is, what didn't she come and call us? Is she that afraid? And if she is, is it because she's in a new environment or did Tanya instill that much fear in her that she's afraid of all grownups?"
Edward is running his hands up and down my arms. It's calming me but not enough to make me stay and wait on what he has to say. "I'm going out there." I break away from him after a quick peck on his lips and head for the door. He tells me he'll be out there in a minute and I think I nodded. I'm not sure. I'm already out the door and looking around the living room. I don't spot anyone on the couch so I go to Edward's guestroom or more like the second bedroom in his place to look for Emma. She's not in there but I have to wipe the fallen tears away and sigh sorrowfully.
I have to build my wall.
I learned to build a wall from my god kids. It was on the advice of their dad, Jake. He told me you can't show kids your weakness or sadness in moments when they are depending on your strength to get them through.
So I build my wall as I look at the perfectly made up bed. The bed in this room is twice Emma's size and she made it up immaculately. Yeah, this kid has dealt with something before. My anger drifts to surface and flares a little as I think about what I want to do to Tanya for making Emma like this, but I push it aside. I don't need to think about that bitch right now. Emma is all that matters.
I head back to living room, walking further into the room and spotting Emma sitting in front of the couch on the floor, staring at the blank TV screen. I know when she spots me in the blank screen because her little head turns so fast I immediately worry she might have given herself whiplash.
"I'm sorry!" she says in a panic as she scrambles to get up from the floor. I notice a slight hint of pain on her face when she does. But she hides it. "Was I supposed to stay in the bedroom? I'm sorry," she repeats, not giving me time to answer her immediate need to apologize. "I woke up and I couldn't go back to sleep. So I brush my teeth and came out here. I wanted to watch cartoons but I didn't want to wake you or Mr. Edward." Her eyes go wide and I feel him behind me before he laces his fingers through mine while I remember to build my wall. I don't want Emma to see my sadness or the anger I feel toward her mother.
I plaster a smile on my face. "First thing, good morning," I say.
She looks even more fearful. "I'm sorry. I should've said good morning." She looks down at her feet sadly.
"No!" I jump and say, making her pop her head up with wide eyes. "I mean, I'm saying good morning to you, Emma. It's no big deal to say it back to me yet." I shrug, trying to show her I'm okay. I'm cool. Even though I'm nervous as hell.
"Good morning to you both," Edward says with a small smile as he lets go of my hand moves away, heading for the kitchen. "I feel like a big breakfast. Who wants waffles and bacon? Maybe some cereal?"
Emma is watching him as he walks away. She has a small smile on her lips and it's really cute. "I like cereal and I like waffles," she says so quietly I almost didn't hear her.
Edward gets to the kitchen and starts taking out what he's going to use. Then he comes and stands at the kitchen island, looking at us expectantly as he waits for requests. "Cereal and waffles and bacon does sound good," I offer and my heart skips a beat when Emma smiles broadly at me.
"It does," she says to us.
I offer my hand for her to take. "Shall we?"
She looks at it and then at me and smiles and takes it.
Breakfast passes with ease. I had no reason to be worried. Emma was happy and engaging with Edward and me as we talked to her. She would freeze up a little, mostly out of fear when Edward casually brought Tanya into the conversation, but she otherwise answered our questions. Then again they're just safety questions like what's your favorite color or your favorite cartoon and so forth. Things to make her know she can talk to us without fear.
After breakfast, I said I'd clean up the dishes and Emma surprises when she offers to help.
"Can I help you?" she asks.
"Sure." I smile.
We work together great. She is so helpful and it makes me wonder how she got so good at cleaning up after herself.
A simple moment and an almost mistake explained it to me.
A plate is about to fall from Emma before she can place it in the dishwasher and the look of horror on her face told me she can't let this possibly happen. And the look of utter relief when she catches it in time spoke in volumes to me.
Wherever she was before, she couldn't make mistakes or have accidents like any other person or else there would be consequences.
Once we're through with the dishes, we leave the kitchen. Edward is on the phone with Emmett. They're no doubt discussing Emma and what will happen today when Edward and I seek out Edward Sr. Alice will be coming over to stay with Emma as I don't think she needs to be there for the meeting. If she doesn't know Edward Sr., I don't want to expose her to his crassness.
"Ms Bella?" Emma says, breaking through my thoughts.
"Yeah?" I say with a smile.
"I want to take a bath." She whispers it like it's a secret.
"Okay," I say with a small laugh, making her feel comfortable enough to smile back. "Let's go do that."
We go to the guestroom and gather her things. She tells me she doesn't want to get dressed in the bedroom for the fear of Edward walking in. I want to know why, but I'm afraid to ask.
Emma looks nervous about something so I ask what.
"What's wrong?" I have already filled the tub with enough water for her and I'm ready for her to get undressed and climb in, but she seems scared.
She looks down at her hands and I begin to see a similarity in the move as I've seen Edward do this when he's nervous. I sigh as I think about what it could mean and again ask Emma what's wrong.
"I want you to stay with me, but I don't want you to see me," she says.
It's a riddle that makes my heart heavy. I know what this is about. Working in the ER opens your eyes to lots of different types of situations. And some of these cases burn you to the core.
Emma's body has marks she wants to hide.
I put on a brave face. Neutral. I want her to trust me. To see that I won't overreact and I won't run away or pity her so much it scares her away from me.
I smile and she smiles back. "Did I tell you that Edward and I are doctors?"
"You are?" she says in amazement. "Is it cool?"
I laugh a little and get an excited look on my face to make her feel at ease as I kneel down to be eye level with her. I take her hands in mine as I tell her about all the cool things about being a doctor.
"Did you always want to be a doctor?" she asks as we slowly get her undressed.
"Always." I tell her and then solemnly add, "My mom is in heaven."
"Really," I say. "But before she went there she was really sick so my dad and my stepdad…" she smiles when I smile and I take a deep breath and try not to cry when I see the scars on her upper arms and on her back as I help her into the tub. She sits and waits for me to continue talking. I hand her the washcloth and soap and she starts to get clean. I sit on the closed toilet and speak. "Yeah, we took her to the hospital and I got so inspired by all the doctors and nurses willing to help her, it made me want to be just like them."
"That's great," she says softly.
We talk some more as she bathes and then I assist her in getting out of the tub because her hips are hurting. There are bruises there. Edward and I will have to talk once I'm out of Emma's earshot.
Once she's dressed, we leave the bathroom and head back to the living room where we find Edward and Alice and Jasper.
"Hey, guys," I say to them.
Alice takes one look at me and after introducing herself to Emma properly, because last night was a bit chaotic, then she tells Edward and Jasper and Emma to go and watch cartoons. Jasper smiles as he looks at me knowingly. He can probably see the pain in my eyes as I try to keep it together long enough to leave the room. As a distraction and to be polite Jasper introduces himself to Emma by telling her he's a big fan of Scooby Doo. She smiles and tells she is too.
Alice pulls me to Edward's room and closes the door. I trudge to the bed and throw myself down on it, breaking down in tears. Alice comes over and holds me without asking for an explanation. My heart is breaking for Emma. It's sad. I feel so much.
I don't know when I changed hands but I know Edward is holding me after a while and Alice is gone from the room.
"It's okay, love." He coaxes.
"It's not." I cry. "She's been abused. There are scars on her," I say in his chest. He's breathing heavily. No doubt his temper is flaring and I shouldn't be unburdening this on him but I can't help it. I need to get this out. "Her hips are hurting. There are bruises there. We'll have to get her examined. She's afraid of men. She wanted to get dressed in the bathroom because she was afraid of you walking in on her if she had done it in the bedroom after her bath." I get up and say as I sniffle and look Edward in the eye. "Why? Why would someone do this? If it's Tanya, why would she do this? Whenever I see cases like this, that's always what I ask. What could be going on in your life that you would want to fuck a kid up?" I say angrily.
"I don't know," Edward looks deep into my eyes and says. "But she's not going back. I won't let it happen."
No. As much as I'm willing to help Emma, I can't let Edward stop his life. He has a great opportunity coming up. It can develop his career as a cardiologist. It shouldn't be willing to pass it up. "Edward, there is a chance coming up for you," I tell him, reminding him of his own career path and the chance he has to decide on. "You can't deny it."
"Yet, I won't let Emma go back to whatever hell she's coming out of!" He says harshly.
I nod in agreement. "We won't."
He chuckles darkly. "That's right. We won't, my fiancée."
He pulls me back into his arms and lets me stay there until I have calmed down.