A/N: First of all, I have to thank Mizzdee, my beta and cheerleader for standing behind me on this fic and seeing it completed in time for the compilation. This was probably the hardest time I've ever had writing a fic, mainly because I know non-canon pairings are harder to accept, so I wanted it to be perfect. Secondly, to Rosalynn, my banner maker and dear friend. This was originally for the Fandom 4 LLS and is now free to post!

SM owns Twilight, I'm just giving the good doctor some young blood. I hope you enjoy.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

It seemed like an eternity ago that Bella and Carlisle stood on the Brooklyn Bridge after she ran from his mother's ring; but as she looked down at the heirloom that sat firmly on her ring finger, she couldn't fight the smile it brought to her face.

Life was happy and Bella had everything she could want. Carlisle was still the doting and devoted man she'd met on that fateful night three years ago, and last year they'd made it official.

Now the wife of her darling doctor, Bella was working full-time on her writing, hoping to one day make that dream come true and contribute a bit more financially. The familiar jingling of keys alerted her to the time and Carlisle's arrival from work. Walking out of the kitchen to great him, she laughed as he threw his bag down and swept her into his arms.

"I've missed you," Carlisle whispered into her hair. "All of these extra shifts after we lost the interns for their vacation are killing me. Is it August 1st yet?"

Bella squeezed him tighter as he sat her back on the floor. "Soon enough, sweetheart. Now, go get cleaned up, I have been waiting all week to have dinner with my husband."

"You're so patient with me, marrying you was the smartest thing I've ever done," Carlisle remarked as he walked down the hall.

"I'm not that patient, Carlisle," Bella yelled after him, "and there's something else that will have to wait another month."

Carlisle reappeared back in the great room a few seconds after she spoke. "When did it start?"

"Tuesday, right after you left." Bella's eyes fell to the floor and she once again felt Carlisle's arms embrace her.

"I'm sorry; I wish I had been here for you more. If I had known, I wouldn't have crashed at the hospital. You shouldn't have had to face it alone."

Bella scoffed, "Sweetheart, I've been getting a visit from Aunt Flo since I was twelve. I think I'm able to cope with the cramps and you're better off not having to deal with my bitch-on-wheels impression."

"This isn't just your period, and we both know it. We'll have our baby when the time is right." Carlisle could see that he wasn't getting through to her, so he switched tactics. "It took your parents a few years after they were married to have you, didn't it? And if it takes a little longer to have a child as special as you, it is well worth the wait. Six months isn't cause for concern."

Sighing, Bella relented and kissed Carlisle's cheek. "Okay, I won't worry…yet. Please go and get ready, the timer will be going off any minute."

"Yes dear."

After dinner, when they sat together watching TV, Carlisle brought up something he'd been meaning to tell Bella about since he heard the news. "Bella, Jasper is moving here with Alice before the end of the month. He's been offered an attending position in the psychiatric ward at the hospital."

"That's amazing," Bella gushed. She'd met most of Carlisle's remaining family at their wedding and his cousin Jasper and his now-fiancée were two of her favorite people. "When did you find out?"

"I knew about it a month ago, but he had a few other offers. In the end, Alice's excitement over the potential for her to showcase her artwork in a New York gallery and their desire to be closer to family made NYU the clear choice."

"Why hasn't Alice called me? There's so much to do. They need a place to live and furniture and…" her sentence died off as she noticed the amused look on Carlisle's face. "Don't look at me like that, Carlisle Cullen, or you'll be taking matters into your own hands tonight."

"You wouldn't do that to me?" Carlisle asked. "Darling, I've been doing that all week. Every time I went to nap in the on call room, I'd think about how much I wanted you with me and I'd have a very persistent problem to take care of."

"Poor baby," Bella yawned and Carlisle took that as a hint to take his wife to bed.


A week after her phone call to Alice about their move, Bella was picking her friend up at the airport so they could begin their search. Alice's clear instructions gave Bella the parameters to find several luxury apartments and condos in the area around the hospital.

With jetlag a joke to someone as energetic as Alice, the girls grabbed some lunch and went to the first place on the list. Two days of searching later, Alice had a bunch of pictures attached to an email to Jasper, proclaiming the condo four blocks from Bella and Carlisle's place to be perfection. With Alice and Jasper's living situation on hold for the moment, Alice and Bella returned home and Bella started to prepare dinner.

"So what's it like being married to your own Dr. McDreamy? I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that next year, Jasper and I will finally be taking the plunge." Alice was bouncing while Bella continued to work on the dinner prep.

"I love it. Carlisle is the most loving and compassionate man I've ever known. He is the only person who makes me feel completely safe." Bella gushed at the thought of her husband.

"Has he said anything about plans for your birthday? Because you know I am going to take you out to celebrate you like the diva you are."

"I'm the furthest thing from a diva and you know it," Bella quipped just as the door opened.

"That smells delicious, love." Carlisle walked into the kitchen and caught Bella around the waist. "See any places you liked, Alice?"

"Only my dream home! I'm waiting for Jasper to call me and-" 'Sweet Home Alabama' started to blare out of Alice's purse and she hopped off the barstool. "Oh, that's him now, excuse me."

Carlisle and Bella both laughed at her behavior before he turned her to face him. "I took off next Thursday, and I have an idea about how we could spend it."

"Why do I have a feeling clothing will be optional?" Bella teased, but before they could go any further, Alice returned to the great room.

"So, Jasper agreed that it was exactly what we're looking for. He's calling to have them draw up the paperwork and overnight it to him once everything is set and then we'll be ready to look for furniture."

Alice's enthusiasm became contagious, and soon the three of them were joking about Bella being close enough to make to-go orders for Alice and Jasper so their condo wasn't burned down by Alice's cooking.

The weeks leading up to Jasper's flight to New York and their official move were hectic, but Carlisle and Bella still made plenty of time for each other, including one very lazy day spent in bed during the middle of the month.

As October began, and another monthly visit dampened Bella's spirits, she tried to focus on other things. Her manuscript, which she had only been researching when she met Carlisle was now being shopped around by her literary agent and she was hoping for good news to arrive any day.

With the condo officially theirs, Bella was helping with paint chips, furniture sets, and fabric swatches while the men-folk worked hard at the hospital.

On one such day, Bella and Alice were driving to look at a dining room set when the comments from the DJ on the Top 40 station they were listening to caught their attention.

"We're moments away from premiering the first single off of Edward Masen's sophomore album, Lethal Weapon, and let me tell you, this one is sure to be a hit."

"Oh my God, I love Edward Masen! I swear if I ever met him, I would totally do him," Alice fangirled beside Bella, who felt like she might be sick.

"What about Jasper?"

"Edward is my freebie," Alice explained.

"Trust me, he isn't worth it," Bella muttered as they stopped at the light, gaining Alice's full attention.

"What did you just say?"

"What," Bella feigned ignorance, "I'm just saying there are way better guys to have be your freebie."

"I'm calling bullshit," Alice announced. "That wasn't a 'he's not that cute' kind of a comment; you said that like you knew from experience."

Bella was silent for a minute and then Alice gasped. "Wait a fucking minute. Are you telling me that the wannabe rock star that you broke up with before you met Carlisle was Edward Masen?"

"Will you please stop saying his name like you just came," Bella groaned. "And to answer your question, yes. The scumbag that wanted to take a break to bang random chicks while on the road and then made it big and thought I'd follow him to LA is none other than Edward Masen. But believe me, for all his smooth moves, he's a snake and a rat bastard."

Bella was about turn off the radio when the DJ came back on.

"As if you didn't need another reason to love your Sirius satellite radio, we're giving you another exclusive sneak peek. So here's the moment you've been waiting for, Edward Masen's newest single, 'Plain Jane.'"

The honk of the horn behind her shook Bella from her daze just as the song began.

You said my love wasn't enough
That I was never around much
But it was you that stayed behind
I couldn't hold my dreams for you
Until you reached yours too

Ya found my replacement fucking fast
Swear up and down that we're the past
I guess the old man's got you bad
I won't let it get me down
I'll just hit the town

I can't find it in me to miss you
I'm so much better now that you're gone
I've found someone who really gets me
And all that's left of you, Plain Jane, is this song

I'm sure you claim you're satisfied
Bet his money keeps you happy
But does he make you scream like me
Or is that just another lie
You say to get by

I'm immature and you're a bore
I drank to excess then ripped your dress
You never bitched about it then
Yet now I'm too wild for you
Well screw you too

I can't find it in me to miss you
I'm so much better now that you're gone
I've found someone who really gets me
And all that's left of you, Plain Jane, is this song

My new lady understands
She can live with my job's demands
And there's no doubt about my love
My baby's all I want

I can't find it in me to miss you
I'm so much better now that you're gone
I've found someone who really gets me
And all that's left of you, Plain Jane, is this song

By the time the music had faded out, Alice had the radio off and hugged Bella to her chest. With the shopping trip forgotten, they pulled over and switched seats and Alice started driving back to the apartment just as Bella's phone rang.

"That evil little sniveling bastard!" Esme's voice echoed through the car. "If I wasn't in Washington taking care of Mom and Dad, I would be on a plane to LA to fuck that little shit up."

"Es, I don't need Mama Bear to show her claws…because then I'd have to admit to the fact that I thought it was about me." Bella was trying to hold it together, but it wasn't working too well.

"Bella, you used to always call yourself a 'plain Jane' and he's making it clear that it's about his last serious girlfriend, so unless he dumped that skanky model, I think it is safe that he's looking for some free publicity."

"Can we please just drop it?" Bella pleaded.

"Esme, I'll take care of Bella and you look after Mama and Papa Swan. Our shopping day will wait until another time, so we're heading back to her place." Alice tried to end the call, knowing that Esme sometimes had the tendency to do more harm than good when she was on a warpath.

"Call me if you need to talk, B," Esme implored.

"I will," Bella whimpered out before she started crying again.

Alice hung up the phone and as soon as Bella had it together, they made their way inside the building. Once upstairs, Bella asked to be alone, so Alice closed the door as Bella headed to the bedroom to thoroughly cry her eyes out.

An hour and a half later, the distinct slamming of the front door was the first sound Bella heard over her hoarse cries. She looked up to see Carlisle in the doorway like a man possessed, instantly beside her as he held her close.

"Bella what is it? Esme called me and-" The rest of that sentence never came out as Bella screeched as best as she could.

"I am going to kill my sister! I didn't want you to see me like this, and she sends you over here like I'm trapped under one of the bookshelves and I need to be rescued." Bella grumbled, but then saw Carlisle's expression and realized she would have to tell him what caused the breakdown.

"Edward's new single was released this afternoon," she started. "It's about me."

Carlisle's features darkened. "What do you mean it's about you?"

"He took things that happened between us, and a nickname I always hated because of how true it was, and wrote a song about how happy he is now that I'm gone." Bella curled back in on herself and Carlisle climbed in beside her and pulled her close.

"He's an idiot, Bella. And you're well rid of him."

"I just don't understand why he had to be so hateful about it. He was not this way when I first started dating him, but the touring and the little bit of fame he had from the internet and everything made a completely different person." Bella sobbed, leaving Carlisle feeling helpless at how to make this better. Physical ills were easy for him, but his wife crying over her ex was not something he was used to.

"How about I order some Tai food in and we can just shut out the world tonight?" He was trying, but Bella was too upset.

"I'm not that hungry; I think I'm just going to nap for a while." Bella yawned, leaving little room for argument as Carlisle left her alone.

As soon as he was sure that she was asleep, Carlisle went to his office and loaded up YouTube, happy that someone had already used the new song to make a fan video. Plugging in some headphones, he listened to the song and was irate at what he said about Bella. Though he couldn't fathom how she was a 'plain Jane' in anyone's eyes, he saw the similarities to their situation and instantly wished he knew where to find the scoundrel so he could lay into him how he nearly did the last time they had been face to face.

Bella never stirred, so after making a sandwich and trying to watch some TV, Carlisle went down the hall to curl up with his wife. Hoping his arms could bring her some comfort.

The next two weeks were busy for Bella, she and Alice were finishing the decorating on the condo and Carlisle spent every minute showering her with love and attention.

A few things had changed since the single dropped; mainly that Bella had a top of the line iPod mount in her car now and rarely turned on her radio when driving. Bella was also in constant contact with Garrett, her literary agent, about the response to her book. He was used to nervous new authors, so handling her wasn't anything new for him, but he promised that once he knew anything, she would be sitting in his office, getting the news in person.

Esme's vacation in Forks, tending to a bit of their parents' business along with some of her own was over and she was at Bella's apartment within hours of her plane landing at JFK. Although she wasn't about to mention his name, she wanted to see how Bella was really doing after the song had been out in the world for a while.

"Thank you for checking up on me, Es, but I'm fine," Bella assured her sister.

"Are you sure, because I could still kick his ass?" Esme joked, earning a glare from Bella.

"I really do love the Mama Bear routine, but I have a husband now to avenge me." Bella sighed, thinking about the words Carlisle muttered when he didn't realize she was within earshot.

"How is my dear friend?" Esme said, hoping to change the subject.

"Wondering when his favorite baker is going to be back in town…you know that he still loves your desserts better than anything I can cook up."

"That's crazy talk, little sis. That man loves your goodies," Esme couldn't hold in the snicker any longer.

"You're seriously perverse; did Mom reveal any stories of dropping you on your head this trip?"

"No, but Charlie wanted to strangle Mom when she asked about what methods of conception you had tried?" Esme offered with a smirk. "After that, the only topic of conversation was their legal paperwork and Caffeinated Confections."

Bella grumbled, "Mom does realize that we've only been trying for about six months, right?"

"Yes, but with our family history, she doesn't want it to take you as long as it did for her. Or worse, end up how I did." Esme was quiet for a moment, never one to talk about her personal tragedy, especially when her sister was stressed out enough.

Just as Bella was about to say something in the way of comfort, her phone rang. She dug through her purse and smiled when she saw the caller ID. "It's Garrett; this has to be news on the manuscript."

Bella answered the call, quickly agreeing to meet him in his office in an hour. Hanging up, she walked out with Esme and shot a quick text to Carlisle, in case he was home before she was.

Walking into the stylish lobby, Bella got in the elevator and pressed the button that would deliver her to her fate. After a few minutes of the elevator seeming to stop on every floor, Bella exited and slipped through the glass door and up to Kate, Garrett's wife at the reception area.

"You can go right back, Bella, he's expecting you." Kate's smile was genuine and bolstered Bella's feeling of hope as she knocked on the office door, Garrett opening it and offering her a seat.

"Thank you for meeting with me so quickly, Bella. I know that you've been anxious for news on your manuscript, so I called you as soon as I received the first letter."

Bella shifted in her seat, needing to know her fate. "Don't keep me in suspense, Garrett, what did they say?"

"The first reply we got was from Random House, which surprised me. They decided to pass on the manuscript. I'm sorry." Bella could see in Garrett's eyes that he genuinely wished he had better news for her, but this was to be expected. "I honestly think that it's a blessing in disguise. We'll have a smaller company that will focus on this book come back to us and we'll be for them what that teen vampire series was for its division of Hachette. We couldn't expect everyone to be interested. Now, is the time when we stay the course."

Bella nodded, and thanked Garrett for his time, barely making it back to her car before she climbed in and let the tears fall. The drive home was short and she parked next to Carlisle, knowing her husband would be home to comfort her as soon as she made it through the door.

That elevator ride was much quicker, and her smile was restored at the site of her latest bouquet.

"Bella, baby, is that you?" Carlisle called out.

"Yeah, Carlisle, it's me," her voice wavered, a silent curse escaping her lips before her husband was in the hall.

"Where'd you go? I wasn't expecting you to be out when I got home."

"Garrett called." She didn't elaborate, but Carlisle wasn't going to leave it at that.

"Bad news?" he asked.

"Random House passed on the manuscript," was all she said before the tears started again.

"Oh Bella. It just means you weren't meant to be handled by some mega-company. I'm sure someone will make an offer soon."

"I just didn't expect it to hurt so badly," Bella wailed. "I put my heart into this book and I really want to see it do well, but how can it do that if it hasn't gotten past the first reader at the company. If the coverage person doesn't think it's worth his boss's time…"

"Stop that!" Carlisle quietly demanded. "Your novel is amazing and when it's on the New York Times Bestsellers List, then the person who passed it over will be kicking himself."

Bella shrugged, but didn't respond. That only motivated Carlisle even more to bring a smile back to his wife's face. Leaning in, he placed a sweet kiss on her lips, before trailing across her cheek, along her jaw and down her neck.

Moving towards her shoulder, Carlisle swept Bella into his arms and carried her through the apartment to their bedroom. Sitting her on the bed, Carlisle pulled his shirt over his head and undid his pants, leaving only his boxers on for the moment. Carlisle moved to the bed and ran his hands along the side of Bella's legs and up her sides before moving to peel off her clothing. When only her underwear remained, he moved to place his hands on her hips, playing with the elastic of her panties as he took them off her. The front-closure bra was unceremoniously thrown across the room and Carlisle covered his wife's body with his own.

"You're perfection, my love. Do you know how much I think about you?" His voice was hushed as he traversed Bella's body with his mouth.

A moan filled the room as Carlisle's mouth covered her nipple. "You're always on my mind, my beauty. I think about you when I'm at work, in the middle of my workout, while I'm running errands…you're always there, proving just how lucky I am to have you."

Carlisle continued his worship, both with his words and his body, until Bella was wound tight. Slipping off his boxers, he entered her, the relief of him finally filling her sending her over the edge. Continuing his steady pace, Carlisle stoked the fire in her belly, never letting her completely come down until he felt his own climax approaching.

His hand trailed between them until he found the sensitive flesh just above the place they were joined, stroking it and bringing her to another climax as his own caused a guttural growl to escape him.

Collapsing beside her, Carlisle watched Bella as she drifted off. Allowing his wife to rest, he reheated leftovers from the day before for them to eat.


Once the first rejection letter arrived, it seemed to open the floodgates as another four came in ten days. Having just left Garrett's office after the latest letdown, the call from Alice was a welcome distraction.

"Hey Bella," Alice's voice sounded sad, something Bella immediately noticed.

"Alice, what's wrong?"

"It's nothing, I'm just out a bunch of money and I'm annoyed at myself about it."

"Shopping spree the day before a big sale, or something?" Bella joked, hoping to get her giddy best friend back.

"No, I spent $250 a piece for two floor seats to the concert for tonight, and I don't have anyone to go with. So the tickets are going to go to waste because I don't want to go alone."

"Alice, I'll go with you-" Bella began, but Alice quickly cut her off.

"I couldn't ask you to do that." Alice's voice was firm and it was then that Bella knew why she hadn't asked her to go originally.

"Edward's show is at The Garden tonight, isn't it?"

"Yes," Alice admitted, but quickly added, "But I got the tickets during the presale, thinking I'd surprise you with a visit before we even moved here. I didn't know about him and the fact that he was the jackass you dated before Carlisle. After I knew, there was no way I could ask you to go."

Bella sighed into the phone, "I'll go with you. But I'm going to look like a million bucks doing it, so you better get over here early so we can get ready."

A squeal erupted through the phone as Alice promised to be there soon. After saying good-bye, Bella jumped into the shower while waiting for Alice to arrive. Bella put on a pair of dark skinny jeans and a brown low-cut V-neck top, with a belt that sat right below her chest, putting her boobs on full display.

When Alice got there, the girls got to work painting, polishing, and styling until they were both fully done up. With one last look in the mirror, the girls grabbed their purses and headed out. Bella wasn't entirely sure why, but she wanted to look amazing if she was going to be mere feet from her ex as he sang for thousands of screaming fans.

The girls took the subway to Penn Station, getting off and fighting the crowd, making their way up to Madison Square Garden. Edward's face was everywhere, posters, t-shirts, programs. There were flashing rings and glow sticks, lanyards, dog tags and huge buttons.

Bella steered clear of the counters and instead went for the concession stand that sold the beer, because tonight would require alcohol. Alice came back, a bag of goodies in her hand and a sheepish look in her eyes.

"I'm really sorry, but he's my John Mayer … I can't stand the man, but I can't hate his music. With one exception," she added quickly.

"Alice, I'm not going to punish you for liking his music. But just know, you may be carrying me home tonight." Bella raised one of the two beers she'd just bought, taking a huge swig before passing Alice her water.

They made their way to the seats, settling in just as the opening act started. It was some totally weird chick, that made both Alice and Bella feel old and out of the loop, but it was entertaining. Something Bella knew the two hours to follow wouldn't be.

After the opening act cleared the stage, Bella moved onto her second beer, wishing she could have gotten something stronger without paying $20 for it. The wait for Edward to take the stage wasn't long, only about twenty minutes, but the moment the lights dimmed, the place erupted.

Using all of his charm and sex appeal, Edward flirted with all 18,000 people in the crowd like he was sitting with them one on one in a club. It was one of his many talents, even if he was predictable to a fault.

With his predictability, it gave Bella enough time to get out of the arena and onto the concourse before "Plain Jane" started, knowing she wouldn't be able to handle seeing him perform it live. The rest of the concert was a wash of screams and bass, but luckily, Bella had remembered her earplugs. Ironically, that was something Edward always insisted on so she wouldn't go deaf with all of the shows she went to.

Alice and Bella walked up to the subway, but at the last minute, Bella decided not to go straight home.

"Are you sure?" Alice asked, concerned.

"Positive, I'm going to head up to see Angela at her boyfriend's bar. She's been begging me to come down and catch up," Bella half-lied.

"Okay, have fun." Alice said good-bye and headed for the subway that would bring her downtown, while Bella went uptown.

She was drinking with Angela for an hour before her fingers began to itch. Edward was a creature of habit; he had proved that tonight with his set list. After Angela went to the bathroom, Bella pulled her phone out and dialed 411, getting the numbers for a few of the higher end hotels in the city. She knew the districts that Edward would avoid from their time living in the city, so with her list narrowed down she began calling.

It took three no's before she struck pay dirt. "Thank you for calling W New York, how may I help you?"

Bella swallowed at the cheery front desk employee's voice. "Yes, I need to speak to one of your guests, Mr. Martin Riggs. I know he has a do not disturb on his phone, but it is an emergency."

The tension in her voice obviously convinced the woman of something, because she asked for Bella's name, she almost gave her real name, before offering "Janie," hoping to hint to who was keen enough to know that Edward's album was named after his favorite movie franchise and not his badass persona.

There were a few minutes of soft classical music before the line began to ring, Bella's heart in her throat. She was really doing this.

"Hello?" His voice was the same, the cigarettes still wearing on what used to be a velvet voice.

"Martin, you should never push the person who knows your secrets. It was entirely too easy to find you."

"I was wondering when I would hear from you, although I expected it to be a lawyer making contact." Edward kept his voice even, probably trying to keep the others around him from picking up on the conversation.

"Meet me at The Hole in the Wall; I'm not going to wait longer than forty-five minutes, so you better ditch the entourage quick. If I see anyone else, I'll leave before you'll even know that I was there in the first place." Her heart was pounding, astonished that she was pulling this off.

"I'll see you there," he said before the line went dead.

Bella paid the tab, catching a cab as soon as she got out to the street. The ride was anxiety-ridden, but twenty minutes later, she was showing her ID to the bouncer and scanning the dive bar that she and Edward had practically lived in back in the good ole days. A quick trip to the bathroom to touch up her makeup and she was settled into the booth in the back, another beer in her hand as she eyed the door.

Forty minutes after she'd last talked to him, Edward walked in, a baseball cap hiding his hair and face from the other patrons.

"Reminiscing?" he asked, settling in and looking at the rum and coke that she had waiting for him.

"No, I just assumed that no one would know to look for you here, so you'd be more likely to show."

"You act like I'm that predictable," Edward scoffed.

"Well, Martin, your current single was between your second single off the first album and the sleeper track off of your new album, so I'd say that's a big fucking yes." Bella sneered, taking another sip of her beer.

"You were at the concert? And here I thought you were here to ream me out for the song."

"I hate you for that song, and the concert was a favor for a friend, I just wanted you to tell me to my face why you did it?" Bella took a deep breath, watching as Edward shifted in his seat, leaning most of the way over the table.

"You dumped me for your perfect doctor, the good guy. You had it in your mind that I was a no good, bad boy, why are you surprised that I'm exactly what you thought I was? Are you embarrassed that he knows just what I think of you, or are you and him ancient history?"

"We're married and trying for a baby. Carlisle has nothing to do with this." Bella seethed.

"He has everything to do with this. It's after midnight and instead of warming his bed and making another go at a baby, you're here, talking about shit that is already history. Unless grandpa can't knock you up? Is that why you're here? You need a deposit in the sperm bank from big Eddie? Because for old times' sake, I might just do it."

"You're unbelievable," she hissed starting to stand before he grabbed her hand.

"Seriously. The fairytale isn't what you thought it would be, is it? Your name isn't on a bestseller's list, your uterus is empty, and you're regretting treating me the way you did, but unfortunately, it's too late. I'm happier without you."

"You're the most despicable person I've ever had the displeasure of knowing. I hope you enjoy the warm weather, because you're going to rot in Hell for all of the things you've done."

Bella stood up, pushing through the crowd and onto the street, not knowing where to go. All she knew was after what had just happened, she couldn't go home to Carlisle and act like everything was okay.

Wandering outside the bar, Bella went back to the only place she could think of. Getting on the subway, she thoroughly scared the shit out Esme as she walked inside.

"Why in the hell are you here at three am? Is Carlisle all right?"

Bella sobbed, ending the inquisition as she pulled her sister into her embrace. "I couldn't … go home … not after Edwar-"

"What does that scum have to do with anything?" Esme screeched a little too loud for Bella's beer-soaked brain.

"I may have seen him after going to see his show." Bella heard the growl from Esme but she continued. "I had to know why he did it, but it was a giant mistake and I couldn't go back home. I feel like a fool."

"Well you are," Esme told her, "but you're Carlisle's fool and he loves you. So crash here tonight and we'll get you home tomorrow so you can have a heart to heart with your hubby."

"Thanks, Es," Bella said, wiping at her ruined eye makeup.

"No problem, Bell."


Noon came far too soon for Bella, who was feeling the worst hangover she had in years. Of course, the crying hadn't helped, but there was nothing to do about it now. After washing her face and straightening the clothes she'd rather burn than wear home, Bella got in a cab and made her way back to her apartment.

The apartment should have been empty in the middle of the day, so the sight of a disheveled Carlisle rounding the corner as soon as she came in the door caught her off guard.

"Oh thank God you're alright! You have no idea how worried I've been. Where did you go last night? I know you were with Alice for a while, but when I called her she mentioned Angela. Why didn't you come home?"

Bella took a deep breath and walked with Carlisle into the living room. "Did Alice tell you where we went last night?"

Carlisle nodded, "I don't know why you went, but I'm not upset."

"Well I was with Angela and when she stepped out for a bit I did something that was really stupid." Bella looked down, steeling herself for the rest of the story. "I found out where Edward was staying and I told him I wanted to talk. We met at some bar where we used to hang out and it turned into a huge fight. I was stupid and drunk and when I got out of there I was too ashamed to come home. I stayed at Esme's and just woke up. I'm so sorry that you were worried."

"You went to talk to him? After everything he said last time, and all that he's done? How could … why would you … I can't even form the words right now." Carlisle stood up and rounded the couch. "I have to head into the hospital, I'll see you later."

Bella watched in horror as Carlisle almost ran from their home, leaving her alone in the living room. Not knowing what else to do, she called Esme, who made a failed attempt at consoling her. Hoping that a nap to cure both the hangover and the heartache, Bella went to lay down after having some toast for dinner.

When she woke the next morning to see that Carlisle hadn't come home, she tried calling him, but it went straight to voicemail. Alice was able to relay that Jasper saw him when he left the hospital, offering to cover for one of the other ER doctors who had called in sick.

The avoidance was killing her, but she knew better than to push him. Bella used the time she had to herself to clean, yet when the apartment was spotless and he still wasn't home, Bella called Alice and the two of them met at the local Whole Foods.

"So he hasn't called you back at all?" Alice asked as we started to pick out some produce.

"No. Making that call could have ended my marriage," Bella told her friend solemnly.

"Don't say that. He's upset, but Carlisle loves you. I think the fact that he waited up all night for you to find out you spent part of it with Edward is what is keeping him from letting it go so fast. But he will soon, I promise."

"I hope you're right," Bella said, looking up when she felt a pair of eyes on her. The girl quickly walked away, but it had Bella confused. "Did you see that?"

"Yeah, weird."

The girls finished shopping and as they approached the checkout they noticed a lot more looks from strangers, then Bella saw the cover of one of the magazines that was on display. "Oh my God. I'm going to kill him."

"What?" Alice asked, clueless.

Bella pulled down the magazines and threw them on the conveyer belt, loading her food next, but never once looking up at the people staring holes into her skull. It wasn't easy, but they loaded her personal cart up and they headed back to Bella's wordlessly, hoping the magazines would hold some answers beyond the possible life-altering reality of the world knowing who you are, and exactly what your ex thought of you set to music.

Alice put away the food while Bella poured over the magazines, mortified at all the things they eluded to, how they painted her and worse, how it would reflect on her and Carlisle. The tears started as magazine after magazine talked about the possibility of Edward dumping his supermodel girlfriend for Bella, or her doctor husband leaving her because of infidelity.

Bella tried to call Carlisle again, but he wasn't answering. Had he seen it? Did he believe their lies? She suddenly felt sick.

Alice found Bella's sleeping form on the living room floor surrounded by the magazines and did the only thing she could think of. She called Esme.

It was a short trip downtown, but after surveying the scene, Esme decided to nip this in the butt. Heading to the hospital, she quickly found a nurse that said Carlisle was taking his lunch in the cafeteria, so that's where she went.

"Esme, don't start with me, not today." Carlisle's face was a cold mask.

"Carlisle, I love you, but she's my sister. If you make me choose, it will be her. She's hurting right now—"

"She's hurting, that trash is everywhere, and my co-workers know that she went skulking around to see him while I was home scared to death. I appreciate your loyalty, but I'm not susceptible to your guilt." Carlisle crossed his arms as he stared down his friend.

"You know the saddest part of this whole thing? When that song first came out, I wanted to kill that punk, but she told me that I didn't have to fight her battles anymore. She told me that she had you to avenge her honor. Her pride in how much you love her is boundless, and yet you've been avoiding her, making any possible rumors worse, while she cries herself to sleep every night." Esme eyed her friend before pushing back from the table. "That's what she's doing right now; she's sleeping on your living room floor, having cried herself into unconsciousness. Bella is terrified that you're going to leave her over this, and if she's right, then she's better off without you."

"I'm not going to divorce her, but I'm also not ready to forgive her," Carlisle said in a hushed voice. "I'll go home after my shift so it appears that we're not taking the reports seriously. Tell her I'll see her around seven."

Esme nodded in response and then left, hoping the news would cheer Bella up. She was surprised to walk into the apartment and find Bella in the kitchen surrounded by oversized muffins and batter.

"Bella, are you planning on feeding an army?" Esme joked, only to see the broken look in Bella's eyes as her arms swept the counter, pushing all of the muffins in her reach into the trashcan.

"No, I'm attempting to bake something that doesn't taste like shit."

Sighing, Esme rounded the counter and immediately saw the reason for the problems. "Sweetie, you're using baking soda, the recipe calls for baking powder. Between that mix up and adding in salt the recipe calls for, it's going to come out tasting off."

"I'm a disaster, no wonder Carlisle won't come anywhere near me."

"Bella, we'll clean all this up, I'll run and get more of the ingredients and then you can try again in the morning. How does that sound?"

Bella pouted, but agreed with her sister. "Fine, I'm going to start the laundry, can you manage in here."

"I've got everything under control, don't worry," Esme winked, getting started on the task at hand.

Bella started the first load of Carlisle's clothes when her phone rang. Needing to see who was calling, she was happy to find that it was Garrett. After telling him the whole story, Garrett told Bella that he would handle it, and look into anything they could do to squash the story. There still hadn't been any more rejections, so he could focus on keeping the story from giving publishers an easy out. Taking his advice, and setting the answering machine to pick up immediately, she said her good-bye and went back to the laundry.

At seven-thirty, Bella was hanging up the last of her husband's pants when the front door opened, the man himself coming home. He walked around the apartment before seeing the light under the bedroom door, revealing his wife hard at work in his closet.

"Bella," he spoke, spooking her as she whirled around, his trousers falling to the floor.

"Oh, Carlisle, thank God," she sobbed as he approached, collecting her into his arms.

"Shh, I'm here, Bella." Carlisle pulled her closer, missing the feel of his wife against himself.

"Carlisle, everything they said was lies. That night was the only time I'd spoken to him and nothing happened, at least the photos show that much. I don't know how they were able to dig all of this up, but Garrett's looking into how to play down the story so we can put this ugliness behind us."

"Bella," Carlisle whispered, bringing her to the bed with him.

The couple fell together, lying side by side as they explored each other's mouths. The need was there, but there wasn't a rush. Both were content to reacquaint themselves with their spouse. The pants and moans became more pronounced as a beep sounded, bursting their bubble.

"Bella, Carlisle, it's Edward. I'm sorry to bother you, and I'm really sorry that all this has happened. If I had never written the song then this wouldn't be newsworthy, and that is my fault. I've talked to my lawyers and for me to go after them wouldn't do much good beyond dragging this through the news for even longer, but if you decide that you'd like to file a cease and desist or any type of suit against the magazines or anything, let me know. If I can be of use, I would like to at least do that. I'm sorry, again, that you got pulled into this circus."

Carlisle froze through the entire message, pulling away when it was over and sitting up on the edge of the bed. "I'm gonna call in something for dinner, you in the mood for anything?"

Bella's eyes found the comforter as she traced a random pattern, "I'll eat whatever you're getting."

"Okay," he said as he stood up and walked into the kitchen.

Bella silently went back to doing laundry, the only interruption being a painfully quiet dinner. Carlisle wasn't speaking again and Bella was scared that anything she said could make it worse. She'd made enough stupid choices in the last month to last her a lifetime, so she decided to quit while she still had a husband.

The night of Edward's call began a pattern for the couple that lasted much of the month of November, Carlisle would work, come home with some form of take-out and then when it was time to go to bed, they slept together, but the space between them felt as large as the Grand Canyon. Carlisle wouldn't even hold her like he used to, instead turning his back to her. There had been callers and nagging photographers in the first few days, but the interest seemed to fade pretty quickly as there wasn't much to see.

As Thanksgiving approached, Bella wondered if the meal she normally cooked was even worth the trouble, but a quick call from Alice ended the debate.

"Jasper and I will come over, and I'm sure Esme will too. In fact, I'll tell Jasper that you guys invited us, he'll thank Carlisle when he sees him and that will be something that will insure that he is there for it."

"Alice, I'm not trapping him into dinner," Bella told her. "You're both welcome to come and whether or not he begs off work it is his decision."

"Bella-" Alice began, but it was a moot point in Bella's eyes.

"No, I'll mention it tonight when he comes home. Talk to you soon."

Bella made a quick call to Carlisle, letting him know that she was cooking dinner and then got to work. Now that Bella had a purpose, she set about making dinner, hoping that they could really talk. It took her a few hours, but the meal was nearly ready when she heard the front door opening, her smile turning into a frown the moment she saw the bag from an Italian place a few blocks away.

"You didn't get my message?" Bella asked, trying to keep the accusation out of her tone.

"No, my phone's been off most of the afternoon. Do you want to stick this in the fridge and we can have it tomorrow?" Carlisle offered, wishing he'd checked his phone.

"If you'd rather eat what you picked up, this can be packed up-" Bella's offer was ended with Carlisle's move to put the bag in the refrigerator.

"Do I have time to take a quick shower before dinner?" Carlisle asked.

"Sure, everything will be ready when you come back," Bella smiled and started plating everything and moving it to the dining room.

When Carlisle returned, Bella looked a little pale to him, but when he sat down to eat with her and saw how little she was eating, he became worried. "Are you feeling sick, baby?"

Bella's head snapped up, the tears starting to form at his question. "My stomach's been bothering me, it's nothing serious."

"Then why are you crying?" he asked as he brushed away the first tear to fall.

"Because you haven't used a single term of endearment for me in weeks."

Carlisle's eyes grew wide, thinking over the last few weeks and realizing that she was more than likely correct. He'd never meant for the distance he used to sort through his own issues with recent events to cause Bella any pain, but now he knew that was naïve on his part. A fact he needed to rectify.

"Bella, come with me." Carlisle offered Bella his hand and the two of them went into the gallery, where among the art, one of their wedding pictures was displayed. "You made me the happiest man in the world the day that picture was taken and even if I've been a bit thick-skulled lately, I love you just as much, if not more than I did that day."

Bella sobbed, which only made Carlisle more determined to make sure she knew just how important she was. "When that song came out, I was angry for you. I thought we were done with Edward Masen and then he found a way back into our lives. The night of his concert, I was so scared to come home at midnight and not know where you were, so finding out you were with Edward hurt. That man still has power over you and I'm terrified that one day, no matter how cruel he's been, you'll pick him over me."

"Carlisle, I could never even think of being in any type of relationship with him. I love you," Bella told him emphatically.

"In my head, I know that. But my heart was just filled with this nagging doubt … then the magazines came out and they were talking about how he'd proposed before and you were being called a gold digger and they were insinuating that you were sneaking around together. They knew everything and all of a sudden all my coworkers knew about that part of our lives and I was trying to work through the anger and the hurt." Carlisle scrubbed his hands across his face for a moment. "That was why I was so distant. It wasn't because I gave any serious consideration to those things, I just didn't want to get pissed and say something that would hurt you. I guess I did that anyway."

"Sweetheart," Bella said as she took Carlisle's face in her hands, "I was hurt so badly by everything that happened, and it came at a really shitty time in general. My book hasn't gotten any interest, I'm not working, so I don't have anything but housework to fill my day when I'm not writing; but having you shut down like that … I can't even -"

Bella stopped to take a deep breath before looking back into his eyes, "I can't survive losing you, so to have you not home at all and when you were you wouldn't even talk to me was so much worse. Yell, scream, throw things, but just be here, fighting with me for us."

"I will," Carlisle vowed. "I promise you that I will never let it get like that again. I love you, Bella."

"Can we go to bed? I miss having your arms around me," Bella asked her eyes hopeful.

"How can I refuse a question like that?" Carlisle swept Bella up and carried her back to their room, where the night was spent reconnecting in every way.

The next morning, Carlisle left his sleeping bride to head in for his twelve-hour shift, determined to get home at his normal time. He had a lot to make up for.

Bella rolled over a few hours later, the absence of strong arms was noticeable immediately. Taking a quick shower, Bella sat down to plan out her Thanksgiving dinner, realizing that she hadn't told Carlisle about their guests. Suddenly nervous about breaking the peace they had realized the night before, Bella bit the bullet and called him.

"Hey, Baby, what's up?" Carlisle sounded upbeat, so she decided to get to the purpose of the call.

"I forgot to mention last night that Jasper and Alice will be coming over for Thanksgiving."

"Okay, I'm working the morning, so I can be there for dinner, let me just check to see what time my replacement will be in. It shouldn't be later than four or five, so give me an hour or so between then and dinner to get home and clean up. Sound good?" Carlisle asked.

"Yeah," Bella exhaled. "Sounds great. I'll see you tonight."

After hanging up, Bella went towards the kitchen, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. Surprised to see her sister there, she let Esme in, following her to the kitchen.

"I got in a shipment of Kona coffee, so I had to bring you over a bag. Where should I put it?" Esme asked.

"Stick it in the freezer for now, we still have a little of the last bag left."

"Perfect, mind if I make a cup? I'm closing the bakery tonight, so I haven't had my second cup yet." Esme was already moving around the kitchen.

"Of course you can. Oh and I need to know what kinds of desserts you're bringing for Thanksgiving." Bella asked, returning to her list.

"Well, who's coming? I have to make sure everyone has their favorites represented." Esme teased her sister, but Bella didn't respond, the strong scent of the coffee grounds going straight to her uneasy stomach. "Bella?"

"I'm going to be sick," Bella moaned as she dashed to the bathroom, emptying her stomach of its contents.

"Sweetie, are you okay?" Esme called through the door.

"Yeah, the coffee completely flipped my stomach, it was the weirdest thing," Bella replied.

Esme came in, going straight for the drawers on the right side of the vanity. Finding what she was searching for, she turned to Bella, thrusting the box in her face. "I think this might explain a few things."

"No," Bella said, shaking her head adamantly. "Esme, I can't."

"Why not?" Esme pushed. "Would you rather wait for Carlisle to get home?"

"No, I can't take the test and face another disappointment. I'm not sure how much heartache I can take."

"Okay, let's think about this logically. You are suddenly sick at the smell of coffee, you're overly emotional and your last period was when?"

Bella thought about it for a minute, realizing it had been almost two months. Taking the test from her sister, she followed the instructions and then waited anxiously for the results.

"What does it say?" Bella asked. "I can't look."

Esme picked up the stick and squealed, "It says that I'm going to be an aunt."

"Really?" Bella asked, taking the stick from Esme. "Oh my God. I can't believe it."

"Carlisle is going to be beside himself when he hears this. How are you going to tell him? Oh, you could do it on Thanksgiving. After we leave you could tell him that what you're most thankful for is the little miracle on the way. It's only three days from now, he can stand to wait that long."

"No, I think I'm going to tell him now. I don't think I could wait that long." Bella reached for her phone, just as it began to ring.

"Carlisle," she answered.

"Bella, I was just calling because there was a bus accident. We're getting in fifteen victims at least, on top of an already full ER, so I'm probably going to be late. I'm sorry, love, but I may not be home for dinner."

She heard the chaos of the hospital behind him, sighing at the news. "Of course, Carlisle, I understand. The ER has to come first."

"Bella," she heard the change in his voice and the noise got quieter, "You're my priority, but this can't be helped. I did talk to Alec, and he's coming in at three, so by the time I run through the patients and leave it will be almost four. So Thanksgiving dinner at five-thirty would be perfect. Is that okay with you?"

"Sure, I'll see you tonight."

Bella hung up the phone, not really sure what to do. Keeping the news from Carlisle seemed petty, but then she reasoned that waiting until she knew for sure was a good idea. No need to get his hopes up for something that isn't confirmed yet.

"Bella, what's wrong?" Esme asked as Bella scrolled through her contacts, finding her doctor's number.

"Nothing, I'm just making an appointment so I can give Carlisle the news on Thursday. You're right, that's a cute way to tell him." Bella smiled before making her appointment.


Tuesday Bella did all her shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, so that she would be able to do her prep work after her appointment Wednesday morning. The nurse drew blood and took all the normal measurements before she was left to wait on her results.

Finally, Bella was escorted back to the doctor's office and took her seat in front of the desk.

"Good morning, Bella. How are you feeling today?" Dr. Lee greeted her.

"Okay, a little nervous," Bella admitted.

"Well, let me give you the good news, then. You are pregnant."

"I am," she whispered.

"Yes, now I'd like to do a quick exam and ultrasound now that the blood test has confirmed it, so the nurse will take you to an exam room and I will be in as soon as the ultrasound tech is finished."

"Thank you so much, Dr. Lee."

Bella was so happy; it was finally real for her. But as the excitement waned, her mind went to her family history and how difficult this pregnancy could be for her.

She remembered her Freshman year of college for many things, but nothing was more memorable than the few weeks she spent living with Esme after her ectopic pregnancy. It wasn't Esme's first miscarriage, or her last, but the fact that she had emergency surgery to prevent her fallopian tube from rupturing had been traumatic for them both.

Dr. Lee was well aware of this history, so when they did the exam and she saw the tiny blip on the ultrasound, right where it should be, Bella breathed a sigh of relief. With the image of their child securely in hand, Bella left the office to get everything ready for what would be a very long Thanksgiving.


Nausea woke Bella just before six am, giving her yet another clue to her condition. Carlisle was already at the hospital, working through the Thanksgiving prep to field all of the burns and wounds that came along with cooking one meal a year, while his colleagues would get the results of too much family togetherness and alcohol.

With her sleep disturbed, Bella got into the kitchen and looked over her lists. The turkey would take four and a half hours, and Carlisle wanted to eat at five-thirty, so the turkey didn't have to go in until after twelve, but she had so much prep still to do.

The morning passed with plenty of peeling, cutting, cooking, and mashing, leaving a few dishes ready to be warmed in the last minutes of cooking. As noon approached, Bella preheated the oven and finished her work on the stuffing so the turkey would go in on time.

The next two and a half hours were a dance, Bella would work on the side dishes, stopping to baste the turkey and then return her attention to the other food. This was where she thrived, in timing food down to the minute and having the entire meal come together at the same time.

The timer went off just before three, signaling another trip to the oven, but this time, as Bella turned the turkey, her hand jerked up and came in contact with the top of the oven.

Bella screamed as she fell to the floor beside the open oven, clutching her hand to her chest. She registered the sound of her name and the two pairs of feet pounding the floor as Alice suddenly came into view above her.

"Bella, are you all right?" Alice asked, unprepared for the tidal wave of emotions that question would unleash.

"No! I burnt my hand and now I've ruined dinner, I feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and Carlisle's never here when I wake up, and I just don't know what I'm doing anymore." Bella's rambling caught the couple off-guard, but Jasper was quick to respond.

Turning off the oven and burners, he gestured towards the door with a jerk of his head. "Alice, I think we should take her to get that burn looked at."

"Come on, sweetie," Alice cooed. "We're taking you to the hospital."

"Okay," Bella sobbed as they made their way out of the apartment and to the elevator.

The drive was short and as Bella walked into the ER to check in, the nurse recognized her immediately. "Bella, sweetheart, is Carlisle expecting you?"

"No, Shelley, I burnt my hand cooking dinner," Bella replied sheepishly.

"Oh dear, let's get you checked in, so that handsome hubby of yours can fix you up." Nurse Cope said as she started filling out the form.

A few minutes later, Bella was sitting on a gurney waiting for one of the doctors to see her.

"Hello, Mrs. Cullen … oh, we have a doctor here with the same last name-" the young doctor, likely an intern began to speak, before the curtain was pulled back, revealing the man in question.

"I've got it from here, Stanley," Carlisle excused her, holding his hand out for the chart.

"Are you sure, Dr. Cullen? I could -" Dr. Stanley stopped short and handed over the chart the moment she saw the look on Carlisle's face.

"Bella, what on earth happened to you?"

"I was turning the turkey and my hand slipped," Bella admitted.

"I'm sorry it took so long, Dr. C," another nurse said as she set up the table so he could examine the burn. "Are there any drug allergies or conditions – pregnancy, etcetera, or can I set up the rest of the medications according to procedure?"

"No you can -" Carlisle began before Bella interrupted.

"Actually, I'm pregnant," Bella spoke.

"You're … did I just … really?" Carlisle sputtered before he moved to stand directly in front of Bella, his hand on her stomach.

"I found out a few days ago, I was going to tell you tonight, but it seems plans change." Bella blushed, embarrassed that her news was revealed the way it was.

"Oh Bella, you have no idea how thrilled I am," Carlisle gushed. "We'll get your hand taken care of and then I'm taking you home. This is something to be celebrated."

Before she could react, his lips were on hers, soft yet persistent. His hands trailed over her back and she moved to thread her fingers through his hair, but her hand protested.

"Ow, shit," Bella hissed.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart. Let me clean that up and get that bandaged before we get carried away." There was a glint in Carlisle's eyes; one Bella had missed seeing there lately.

Carlisle personally tended to his wife's injury and then found one of the residents, telling them that he was leaving.

"Try not to burn down the hospital, Alec will be here in forty minutes," he joked as he guided Bella to the waiting room.

"Bella, how are you feeling?" Alice hopped up, anxious for her friend.

"I'm fine; luckily my husband has had plenty of experience treating my many ailments." Bella joked as Carlisle's lips pressed to her temple. "I'm sorry that dinner was ruined."

"Don't worry about it, we'll get together for dinner soon," Jasper soothed. "Oh, and Esme knows. She called wondering where everyone was."

"Great, she'll lecture me about not being spastic while I'm pregnant."

"She knows?" Carlisle asked.

"Yeah, I got sick with her there so she told me to take the test. I made her swear to keep her mouth shut until I told you," Bella looked at Carlisle, who still had that dreamlike look in his eyes.

The four of them said their good-byes and Carlisle walked Bella to his car. They got in and drove the short distance to their apartment. Once inside, Carlisle turned to Bella, kissing her forehead. "I'm going to put the rest of the food away for another day. You can lie down and I'll be in there in a minute."

"Carlisle, I can help -" Bella started, but her husband was quick to shush her.

"I know, but I want to do this. We can reheat something later for dinner, but I want to spend some quality time with you first."

"Okay," Bella agreed.

She got into bed as Carlisle banged around in the kitchen for a few moments before returning to his wife. Stripping down to his underwear, Carlisle climbed in beside her and held her close. "Other than the morning Esme got you to take the test, have you had any morning sickness?"

"Yeah, it's been every morning this week."

"Any soreness or fatigue?" Carlisle questioned.

"Not really, I don't do much these days to over-exert myself."

"You do more than you give yourself credit for, plus you've been under a lot of stress the last few months." Carlisle's lips danced across her shoulder, causing a shiver to run through her. "What a blessing that in the midst of all that drama, we were able to create this miracle."

"I have the ultrasound, if you want to see it," Bella offered, reaching into the nightstand and pulling the tiny printout from her book.

"Look at him," Carlisle whispered in awe as his finger traced the tiny change in coloring that was their child.

"Him?" Bella asked.

"Or her. The only thing that matters is that mother and child are healthy." Placing the photo on the nightstand, he continued to make his intentions known to his love.

Bella yawned, killing Carlisle's advances for the moment, but he was content to simply have her in his arms and revel in their news.


For the first few weeks after Bella shared the happy news with her husband, Carlisle was more than attentive. He brought home food on days she wasn't feeling up to cooking, he took some of the artwork that was in the gallery and hung them around the house, converting the space into the new library. What had been the library would become the nursery, which was perfect as it was the closest room to the Master Bedroom.

Bella watched idly, answering when asked a direct question, but took no part in actively planning. At first, Carlisle thought she was still in shock, or adjusting to the idea of having a baby, but as she withdrew more and more with each day, he truly started to worry.

Christmas was fast approaching, so he thought that the best way to help her out was a little retail therapy. Esme and Alice picked Bella up, and soon after, Jasper and Carlisle were walking through aisle after aisle of the BuyBuy Baby on 7th Avenue, hoping to finish some of his Christmas shopping before the girls might show up here.

"When you say withdrawn, do you mean quieter than usual, or truly closed off?" Jasper asked as they looked at all the little appliances that were available to help with a baby.

"I mean she won't discuss telling people beside you three, we can't talk about baby names, and she told her parents that my work schedule made the trip to Washington impossible this year. She even made Esme swear to keep the fact that I already took the week off a secret." Carlisle huffed as he sat down the floor model for the bottle warmer.

"Maybe she just wants to wait until she's further along before she tells people. You have said that Renee can be oddly perceptive of things like this." Jasper laughed at the scowl that Carlisle shot him after his comment and revised his comment. "Or, maybe she's just scared. It's been a tough year and you've both wanted this for a long time, so the reality that it's happening could be overwhelming. I'm sure it doesn't help that every time you turn around her ex is on the cover of some damn magazine."

Carlisle bristled, "What does he have to do with anything?"

"He just married his supermodel girlfriend. She's about to gain a bunch of pregnancy weight while photos of her replacement in a bikini that wouldn't fit a two-year old are online and in every magazine at the grocery store," Jasper said as he moved on to the bathing section. "Who seriously uses all of this shit? Our parents didn't have a third of this when they raised us."

"You think this is something to do with Edward?" Carlisle whispered, ignoring Jasper's attempt at levity.

Jasper shrugged. "Alice was. That was her rant when she got her copy of Entertainment Weekly yesterday."

Carlisle sighed to himself, wondering if they'd ever be rid of that man. However, there was one thing he was sure of, he wouldn't ruin this time for them. Carlisle would find a way to reach out to his wife.

They continued to the furniture department and Carlisle looked at the selection and found the model that Bella had mentioned was a favorite of hers months ago when they first started talking about having a baby.

"Do you think it's the best idea to get the baby furniture without talking to her?" Jasper asked, worried about Bella's reaction.

"It isn't as though it's the only thing I'm getting her. Besides, I think once she's a little further along, she'll be far more excited. Hopefully this will be a step in that direction."

Carlisle ordered the furniture and snapped a few photos of the display model for the card, as the furniture wouldn't be available for a few weeks.

When Carlisle got home, he booted up his office computer and searched for news on Edward's marriage. He was still in his office when the front door slammed shut.

"Bella?" Carlisle called out.

"Hi," she said as she poked her head into the office.

"Can we talk?" he asked.

"Sure," she responded, feeling the tension between them as she sat down on the loveseat in the room.

"I've noticed that you've been a little distant recently, and I wanted to talk to you about it," Carlisle started.

"I'm sorry if I've seemed that way, I've just been so anxious and I feel like I have no control over anything anymore," Bella spoke to him through her hands.

"I'm sure hearing Edward's news -"

"Edward's news? What does he have to do with us? I don't even know what news there is about him." Bella stared at her husband in disbelief.

"His marriage to Makenna," Carlisle stated plainly. Bella stood to see the gossip site still open on his computer.

"So the only time I get upset now is over him, is that what you're getting at?" Bella growled. "My life hasn't turned to shit enough, so I have to be sick over the fact that he married that tramp? I don't give a crap about him anymore! The last time I did it almost cost me our marriage. I'm done worrying about anyone outside of this apartment and I really wish you would stop throwing him in my face every time I'm upset."

"That wasn't what I was doing," Carlisle said as he rounded his desk, settling on the couch and holding out his hand for Bella to join him. "I couldn't understand the way you were pulling away from me, so I looked outside of us, hoping that the fault isn't with me. But if you think our life has turned to shit …"

"Not our life together, my life," Bella tried to reassure.

"Your life is my life, Bella. How could I not know that you were in this much pain?" The first tears slipped passed Carlisle's closed eyes and Bella reached up to wipe them away.

"I've kept it hidden; I didn't want to disappoint you. My book isn't getting any positive response; I don't feel like I'm contributing to anything, and you've been at the hospital so much with everything that's happened … I don't know how to get back to where we were." Bella slumped against the couch and Carlisle moved swiftly, lifting her into his lap.

"First, tell me about this anxiety. Is it what you were just telling me? Or is it something else?"

"I'm afraid of losing the baby," Bella whispered.

Carlisle looked into the tear-soaked eyes of his wife. "Why would you think that was a possibility?"

"My family history," she told him.

"That doesn't mean that it will happen to you. You are your mother's daughter, just like Esme, but you are also Charlie's and he comes from a big family. Plus, you have me and if anything feels the least bit off, tell me and we will have it checked out immediately." Carlisle thought for a moment and then spoke his realization. "This is why you told Renee I hadn't been able to get off work to come for Christmas?"

"My parents may still need Es and I to make sure certain things get done throughout the year, but the one thing that my mother never misses a beat on is when something is going on with us. She would have known and then if something happened later and I had to look her in the eyes … that would have been too much."

"We will get through this, Bella. I promise you that we'll continue to find our way back to the way we were in the spring. Look at us right now; we're openly discussing things that we had been bottling up a few months ago. I'd say that's progress." His arms hugged her a little tighter as they moved to the bedroom to rest together.


The last week before Christmas was the best Carlisle could remember since before the Fall and all their troubles began. He came home to Bella and they would eat before cuddling together to watch TV or read a book. Every night he held her body against his, reveling in how perfectly she fit there.

While Carlisle was blissful over the connection he felt growing stronger between himself and his wife, Bella was left with a sense of dread. It seemed too much to hope that she would have an easy pregnancy with her luck. Carlisle's hand rested possessively over her flat belly and she was plagued with worry over how he would feel if she wasn't strong enough to give him the child they both wanted so desperately.

Carlisle has the old library painted a pale yellow, but no other preparations for the baby had been made as of yet, to Bella's relief.

It was Bella's whispered prayer early on Christmas morning just as Carlisle returned from the bathroom that confirmed that his present would be well received. He hadn't heard much, but the girl's name his wife whispered as she caressed her stomach was enough for him. He climbed back into bed, excited for their quiet Christmas together.

A few hours later, Bella rolled out of bed, managing to do so without waking Carlisle. She showered and changed into something comfortable before padding down to the kitchen to make breakfast.

The smell of bacon and coffee woke Carlisle, causing him to head straight for the kitchen and his wife. She was blotting the bacon of excess fat when he walked over to the coffeemaker to pour a cup. "Merry Christmas, my love."

"Merry Christmas, Carlisle."

Carlisle noticed the water boiling, so he took it off the burner and poured it into the mug Bella had prepared for her tea. Walking into the dining area, she followed him a few minutes later with their breakfast.

"How are you feeling this morning?" Carlisle asked Bella the question every morning, and the smile on her face warmed his heart.

"Fine," she answered as she started to eat her own breakfast.

The meal passed quietly and when it was done, Carlisle went into the kitchen to clean up. When he finished, the couple went into the living room together, Bella settling onto the couch as Carlisle moved to the tree, digging out both of their presents and moving them to where they were sitting.

Carlisle watched as Bella opened her gifts, seeing her face light up over the bottle of perfume and the new books she'd been eyeing. She had noticed the envelopes still tucked amongst the ornaments on the tree, but she decided that he was doing this his own way and she would let him.

Next, it was Bella's turn to watch Carlisle open his gifts. She hoped that he enjoyed the computer games she got him, along with the jeans and thin sweaters she bought because she loved how they showed off his muscles. As he stacked up his presents in a neat pile, Bella moved to the back of the tree to dig out his last present.

"What do you have there, sweetheart?"

Bella blushed, "It's your birthday present; I hope you like it."

Carlisle tore at the paper and then gasped when he saw the painting. "Did Alice paint this?"

"Yes. We went to the bridge so she could take a picture of the bridge behind me for perspective, but I sat for the painting." Bella's eyes fell to her folded hands as she finished, not sure what Carlisle's reaction to it was.

"I'm going to hang this in my office, that way I will always have your smiling face to look at. I couldn't think of a more perfect present." Carlisle was beaming at his wife, blown away by the beautiful and thoughtful gift.

Bella was so thrilled that he liked it. Shopping for Carlisle was hard enough, but doing so when his birthday and Christmas were the same day made it even more difficult. She watched as he stood up and pulled the two envelopes off the tree. He walked back to her and handed her the gifts. "Here are the last two."

Bella opened the envelope and smiled at the spa day that he had gotten her. Alice and her went there a few times and she knew they had maternity massages, so it was something she could enjoy whenever she wanted. Excited to see the other gift, she tore at the paper and read the handmade card. It wasn't until she opened it and saw the pictures of the furniture inside that she felt the tears well up.

"I told you not to do this," she whispered.

"But sweetheart, you've been doing so much better. You aren't shutting yourself away as much and I heard you whispering to our baby. I think Deena is a lovely name -" Carlisle was cut off by the closest thing to a roar that Bella could manage.

"Deena is not a name for our baby, she was my sister."

"Your sister? But your mother -" This time Carlisle cut himself off as the realization hit.

"That pregnancy went so well for her, she didn't have the spotting or the complications that she'd had with her earlier ones and everyone was so excited that it was finally happening. My mom and dad named her and my grandparents went overboard. Everything was monogrammed, done up in pinks and greens." Bella sucked in a staggered breath before she continued. "My mom was two weeks from her due date when she went into labor. There was a complication … they didn't know if it was something that happened during the labor, or just before and that is what brought it on, but she was a stillborn. My parents gave up after that, I was an accident. One they cherished, but they stopped planning after Deena."

Carlisle wiped away his own tears before pulling Bella into his lap and rocking her carefully. "You were praying to her, asking her to watch over our child."

Bella nodded, as more tears came, "I don't want you to ever feel that kind of pain, Carlisle. I know that after all the things I've done and all the pain I've caused that it would serve me right to suffer that kind of devastation -"

It was Carlisle's turn to cut her off this time, "Don't you ever say that. We've both made mistakes this year, but you don't deserve that kind of pain. You are the most precious thing in my life, Bella."

"Even if something were to happen to the baby?" Bella whispered.

"If, God forbid, something happened to the baby, my sole concern would be making sure that you were all right in mind, body, and spirit. I would never blame you for something that was beyond your control. But I will do everything in my power to make sure that you have a healthy pregnancy and that we have a baby that is as brilliant and good-looking as their mother."

"I love you, Carlisle Cullen," Bella whispered into her husband's neck as she clung to him.

"I love you too, Isabella Cullen."

The remainder of their Christmas was happily uneventful. They spoke to Bella's family just before dinner and that night when they went to bed, Carlisle held Bella as she asked Deena to watch over their baby.


The New Year was a busy one for the couple, making the second trimester of the pregnancy speed past in comparison to the first one. Bella and Carlisle spoke to her doctor and she now had more frequent appointments, with Carlisle there for everyone.

The day they found out it was a girl Carlisle was on cloud nine. Bella was slowly opening up more when it came to the planning and although she refused to have a baby shower, they did register for gifts so their loved ones could get them something for the baby.

The furniture that Carlisle got Bella for Christmas was now in the nursery and that was the room Carlisle most frequently found Bella in when he came home at night.

At five months along, Bella got the news that seemed to give her the confidence boost she so desperately needed.

It was the evening before Valentine's Day and Carlisle came home to an empty house. He had everything arranged for their date tomorrow, but the fact that his wife wasn't home surprised him. It wasn't that she stayed in like she had a few months ago, but she usually called if she wasn't going to be there when he came back.

Ten minutes later, the door flew open and Bella walked in, a beaming smile on her face and a bag of take-out in her hand.

"Sorry, love, I didn't think you'd beat me home," Bella said as she sat the food on the table.

"That's fine, sweetheart. What's going on that you've got a smile like that on your face?"

Bella blushed as she yelled out, "My book's getting published!"

"It is? Oh my God, Bella that's amazing!" Carlisle swept his wife into his arms, kissing her soundly.

"Garrett called this afternoon, and evidently it took a while to work through the food chain and get to the head of the right division, but they made an offer and Garrett was really pleased. We looked over everything and he sent them the revised contracts from the lawyers. With edits and everything the book should come out this summer."

"This is something worth celebrating," Carlisle said as he went to the kitchen to get the plates and utensils while Bella picked out their drinks.

They sat down to dinner and Bella couldn't hide her excitement, which seemed to flow into every topic. Bella was her old self in that moment and Carlisle couldn't have been happier.

Their date the following day was a beautiful night, and it reminded the couple of some of their first dates. With their troubles in the past, they began the third trimester of Bella pregnancy on sure footing.

Bella spent her days at the apartment, working on her edits so that they would be done before the baby was born. She was worried about how everything would work with the promotion they wanted her to do, but Garrett assured her they wouldn't push her too much with the new baby.

Esme was in full "Auntie Es" mode, as Bella called it, and there were more than one occasion where a single look from his wife prompted Carlisle to lovingly kick his best friend out of their home. They had been able to put off a visit from Bella's parents, telling them to save their vacation until they could see their granddaughter with their own eyes, saving Bella further coddling.

Carlisle knew when to push and when to back off, and it seemed to be working wonders through all of Bella's hormones. She still wouldn't discuss baby names, but Carlisle knew that would come in time.

April turned into May, which soon became June. In all of the book prep and doctor's appointments, Carlisle found out that the NYU mentoring program was honoring him, for his work with the interns and residents.

The ceremony was being held at an annual fundraiser that was scheduled for June 26th, just three days after Bella's due date. Carlisle attempted to beg out of it, but Bella told him that it was fine. She would attend it if she was able, but if not; he should still go and let them celebrate him.

Alice and Esme helped Bella find a dress for the occasion, but Bella prayed that she wouldn't have a need for it. Bella was all for celebrating Carlisle, but knew the chances of her being cheerful if she went past her due date was unlikely.

However, as her due date came and went with no sign of her daughter being ready to make her grand entrance, the doctor advised that Bella could go to the Gala, as long as she didn't overdo it. The pregnancy hadn't been too terrible on Bella, but there was no need for her to push her luck.

The afternoon was filled with pampering at the hands of her sister and best friend while Carlisle played a round of golf with Jasper. Bella was miffed that he got to have fun and then come home for a quick shower before getting dressed and walking out the door.

Esme was rubbing cocoa butter on Bella's rotund belly while Alice pinned the last of her curls into place as the sound of Carlisle's arrival could be heard. He walked to the door of the master bathroom and stopped, speaking to Bella through it.

"I'm going to use the spare bedroom; I'll pick you up at our bedroom door in forty-five minutes, is that enough time?"

"God, I hope so," Bella responded, earning a hearty laugh from her husband.

The time sped by now that he was home and with five minutes to spare, Alice and Esme left. Bella didn't understand why she went anywhere considering she and Jasper would also be in attendance, but she suspected that Carlisle wasn't planning on staying any longer than necessary tonight.

Bella was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, readjusting her now-ample cleavage when Carlisle knocked on the door. She walked into the bedroom, taking the clutch that matched her red strapless dress that gathered over her bump before flowing to the ground, and opened the door.

"My word," Carlisle breathed out, "you are truly stunning."

"And you are a sentimental fool, Carlisle. You didn't have to pick me up at the bedroom door."

"Very good things happened that night, I wanted to recapture a little of that magic. Now, shall we?"

Bella took her husband's arm and walked with him to the door. After the short elevator ride, they exited to a waiting town car. The ride to the hotel where the fundraiser was being held was short and by six forty-five, they were walking into the ballroom and finding a table. Luckily, Carlisle and Bella found Alice and Jasper, who had saved two seats for them.

Dinner came out just after seven and conversation seemed to flow around the room. Carlisle's eyes traveled over to Bella every few minutes and he smiled. If there was a better way for him to receive an honor than having his wife at his side, he couldn't think of one.

After dinner, Carlisle left to sit on the small stage they had set up for those staff members that were being honored. Just before they started the speeches, Bella felt the sudden urge to go to the restroom, so with Alice in tow they left, hoping to be back before Carlisle spoke.

Yet when Carlisle looked to his table as the Chief of the ER spoke about the program and the exceptional work of the attending doctors at the NYU Medical Center, Bella's seat was empty. As Carlisle's name was called, he still saw no sign of his wife.

"Thank you, for bestowing me with this honor. As someone who went through the program here at NYU it was the teachers I had in the field that helped make me the physician that I am today …"

Carlisle was stopped mid-sentence as he saw Alice waving her hands wildly to get his attention. They made eye contact and she began mouthing something that he couldn't understand. Smiling politely, he shot her a look until finally she pantomimed a belly and then pushed her hand downward, finally getting her message across.

"… As much as I would like to take the next few minutes to finish my speech, it seems my wife has just gone into labor. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your evening." No sooner had the words left his mouth than Alice grabbed him by the elbow. "Where is she?"

"Jasper went to get her after going to the valet to get our car."

They made it out to the car and Carlisle climbed into the back seat to sit with his wife.

"Carlisle, I'm scared," Bella moaned out when a contraction hit.

"Sweetheart, you're going to be fine, I promise you."

The car drove the final blocks to the hospital and then Bella was whisked to the maternity ward while Carlisle filled out her paperwork. As soon as he was done, he went up to her room and got the news from the doctor.

"She still has a ways to go, but everything looks good." Her doctor smiled and exited the room.

"Did you hear that? Everything is fine." Carlisle pushed Bella's hair off her face as he sat on the edge of the bed.

"Carlisle," Bella whispered, "I had a long talk with my parents and Esme … if everything goes okay with the birth I want to name our daughter Deena. I just feel like without her watching over our baby … it just feels right."

Carlisle smiled a watery grin at Bella and kissed her forehead. "I think Deena is a wonderful name for a little girl. Now you just try and relax before the next contraction hits."

It was six am when Bella was finally told that it was time for her to push. Carlisle stood beside her, whispering encouragements as she bore down and tried to deliver their daughter. Almost an hour later, Bella and Carlisle heard the sweetest sound imaginable, their daughter's first cry.

She was quickly whisked away to be cleaned up, and Bella had to be taken care of, but the family was reunited just in time for Deena's first meal. The nurse handed the tiny infant to Bella and she immediately latched on and began to feed.

Carlisle watched in awe until Bella handed her over to her father for the first time.

"Hello my sweet girl," Carlisle cooed. "You have been a long time coming for your mommy and me, but I guess perfection can't be rushed. I love you and your mommy so much."

"We love you too, Daddy," Bella said, her eyes filled with emotion.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we really need to get her back to the nursery. They'll bring her back in a while." The nurse smiled as she took the baby from her father and left the couple alone for a minute.

"You did a wonderful job, sweetheart."

Bella leaned up to kiss her husband just as he settled next to her on the bed. "I couldn't have done any of this without you, Carlisle."

"Well don't worry, my love, because you'll never have to try." Bella yawned and with a chuckle, Carlisle let his exhausted wife get some rest, because they were going to need it.