Stephenie Meyer created Twilight and its characters.
I'm just trying to purge a plot bunny.
Restless is dedicated with fond affection to my friends, who read a drabble and encouraged me to explore it further.
(Here's hoping you enjoy it!)
It never failed.
More often than not, I would be halfway to the break room to retrieve my overdue cup of coffee when I heard the distinctive ringing of the phone in my office.
That particular morning, I was sorely tempted to let the caller be redirected to my voicemail. It wouldn't have been the first time I choose my caffeine addiction over a phone call, but something stopped me in my tracks.
I turned around and walked hurriedly back to my desk, managing to pick up the receiver right before it could go off for the fourth and final time. I didn't even bother to sit down in my chair. I stood facing the window overlooking Elliott Bay, impatiently tapping my foot. It was a typical Pacific Northwest morning. The winds had not yet arrived to strip away the marine layer of clouds that covered the city in its monochrome colored blanket, making it impossible to distinguish the border between the grey water and the grey skies that rested above. Despite the lack of sunshine, everything was calm.
One glance at the message screen on the phone told me it was a call being transferred from the main reception area. Thankfully, it meant I could save myself a few extra words on my greeting.
"Good morning. This is Bella Swan."
I glanced at the clock on the lower right hand corner of my computer monitor. I began to wonder how I had lost nearly an hour of the morning when I heard my mother's voice come through the line.
With that one word, I could decipher the emotion from the tone of her voice. It was shaky.
My mother sounded like she had been crying or was frightened. Or both.
"Mom? What's the matter?"
My unease escaped through my fingers as they anxiously wound their way around and around the spiraling phone cord. I felt a small tinge of guilt as I recalled how an irritated IT tech had painstakingly unwound the unnatural kinks in that same cord just the week before, annoyed that any piece of office technology would suffer such ill-treatment. His careful work had just been undone.
"It's your father."
I knew then something was terribly wrong. My parents had been divorced for years and even though they had stopped fighting a long time ago, I was usually the one communicating to one parent about the other. The fact that she had heard something about my father before I could didn't make any sense at all.
I felt my face wrinkle in frustrated confusion as I asked the unavoidable question.
"What is it?"
I heard my mother's deep intake of breath before she began speaking. I recognized her protective maternal side taking over and it scared the hell out of me.
"I just received a phone call. He was in a car accident this morning."
"How bad is it?"
My mother sighed once again and I realized these were the words she dreaded saying the most.
"I don't know yet. He's being life-flighted right now to Harborview Medical Center. But…but I have to warn you, Bella. It was the chaplain who called me. They don't know if he's going to survive long enough to reach the hospital."
I was unwilling to let her words soak in and evaded acknowledging what she had told me.
"I don't understand. Why did you get the call?"
"Your dad was trying to stay awake at the scene. He told the EMTs to call me, not you, and then gave them my phone number. Once he knew they had memorized it, he lost consciousness. The chaplain called me and asked if he should call you. I told him no, I would tell you."
"Did this happen in Forks?"
"It can't take that long to fly him from there to here. I'll leave for the hospital right now."
"I'll talk to Phil. We'll be on our way as soon as we can."
"Call me if you hear anything else. I have my cell."
"Be safe, Bella. You can't change anything by speeding to the hospital. Promise me."
"I promise, Mom. I'll call you as soon as I can find out what's going on."
"I love you, Bella."
"I love you too, Mom. Bye."
I hung up the phone and the tears I had been holding back escaped from my eyes without warning. I tried to compose myself and focused on the clock once again.
It read 8:51 AM.
I had been impatiently sitting in the hospital's waiting room, having been directed to a chair by the admitting clerk.
There were a few others occupying the space, apparently all from the same family, but we were all consumed in our private worries and the room was completely silent.
My hands gripped my BlackBerry and my eyes remained trained on the view screen in case I somehow missed an incoming call from my mother. Maybe she would hear an iota of news before I could and I couldn't risk letting the phone go unanswered.
As I sat there waiting for word on my father's condition, I thought about him. About us. Our relationship had never been secure. We had let years pass by when we barely acknowledged one another's existence. The foundation of our relationship had been fractured by the breakdown of my parents' marriage and had nearly broken completely under the strain of their divorce. If not for my mother's insistence, two very stubborn Swans would have likely distanced themselves irrevocably over the years.
My mother had sent me to live with my father the summer I turned fourteen. I had left her house enraged and angry, feeling forced, but in the end Charlie and I had mostly found how to enjoy one another's company again. The anger and tension between us began to subside.
Our relationship had never fully healed, however. There continued to be an even mixture of bad times and good times. But he was my father and from the moment I had hung up the phone in my office, I was determined to do whatever was necessary to help him.
A doctor entered the waiting area, commanding the immediate attention of everyone. After receiving a quick confirmation from the woman behind the desk, he approached the other family and began speaking quietly with them. He spoke low and I tuned out his words trying not to eavesdrop on the family's moment, but there was no denying their collective relief once their hoped for news was delivered. After a few minutes, the doctor smiled and left the area, disappearing down the corridor. Once the others had collected their belongings and left the waiting room in much lighter spirits, I was left all alone.
The vigil continued. There was a television in the corner of the room but I could not focus on the program. There were magazines all around me on the tables but nothing they offered was of any interest. My BlackBerry remained quiet in my hands and it felt like centuries were passing as I watched the minutes advance slowly on its display.
I had convinced myself to call my mother, wondering why she hadn't checked in with me since she called my office nearly three hours before. I was agitated and needed to vent my impatience to someone. I brought up her number, and as I pressed send, a different doctor entered the waiting room. As there was no one else waiting for word on their loved ones, he walked directly to me. I quickly cancelled the call and focused my undivided attention on him.
He was middle-aged, but appeared to be slightly older and was more elegant looking than my father. His hair was still blond but slowly giving way to its inevitable shade of grey and his face was among one of the kindest I had even seen. I was immediately grateful he had been charged with treating my father's injuries.
"Miss Swan?" I immediately sensed the compassion in his voice.
I nodded mutely, confirming my identity. In that moment, I was conscious of all my tell-tale physical signs of worry and stress and kept tight control over them all. In my attempt to remain calm and collected, I only succeeded in holding my frame unnaturally still, allowing only the slightest amount of oxygen into my lungs.
"I'm Dr. Cullen. Will you come with me, please?"
The blood in my veins filled with an icy dread. We were the only people in the waiting room. Why did we need to leave the area? I had been waiting hours for one word about my father's condition and I was not interested in waiting one second more. Why was he insisting on drawing out my torture?
But instead of voicing my concerns, I simply stood up and followed him a short distance down the hall to an office door. Dr. Cullen opened the door and quietly held it for me. I stepped past him and entered a smaller, more private version of the waiting room. After he followed me inside and closed the door behind him, he indicated for me to sit down.
"I understand you're Charlie's daughter?"
I maintained my silence and nodded once again, convinced my lack of talking would move the conversation along quickly.
"Is anyone else here with you or are you alone?"
The ice in my body had gripped me so tightly, I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I was full of terror. The doctor waited patiently for my answer and after several rapid blinks, I found my voice.
"I'm alone. My mother and step-father live in Phoenix. They'll be here later today."
It was Dr. Cullen's turn to nod silently. He paused briefly before speaking.
"Bella. Please." My voice was no louder than a whisper.
"Bella, as a result of the crash, your father sustained serious injuries to his abdomen and most of his internal organs. He suffered massive internal bleeding. We don't know for sure how long he was sitting in the wreck before he was found. From what he told the paramedics at the scene it sounds like he might have been there for close to an hour."
"He usually leaves home around 7:00. He stops for breakfast on his way to the station." I offered up the information, hopeful it would somehow assist the doctor with my father's treatment.
"I understand you were told that he lost consciousness before reaching the hospital?"
"Yes. Well, I heard that from my mom. You're the first person from the hospital I've really spoken to about what happened."
Dr. Cullen grimaced slightly before continuing.
"We did our best to stabilize your father in the ER but we knew he had to be taken to the operating room as soon as possible. Unfortunately, your father suffered cardiac arrest during surgery and, despite our efforts, we were unable to save him. I'm so sorry, Bella."
I should have been stunned by the news. I should have broken down in tears upon hearing it, but I just sat there, letting the doctor's words sink in. As they did, my heart began beating erratically in my chest and my stomach twisted into heavy knots. I kept my focus on calming my body's reaction. I felt terrible for the doctor who sat in front of me, having to deliver the news that a daughter had just lost her father. I was determined not to fall apart on him. I opened my mouth to speak, wanting to thank the doctor for doing all he could to help Charlie, but I felt an overwhelming sob forming and instead bit my lip hard to keep my composure.
Dr. Cullen reached over and took my hand in his.
"When will your mother arrive, Bella?"
As I spoke, my tightly held control began to slip.
"Um. I don't know exactly. Just sometime today." My voice, my entire body was trembling.
"Is there a friend I can call for you? Someone to pick you up and take you home?"
There was but I couldn't form a single word around my tears. Dr. Cullen reached across the table with his free arm and pulled a box of tissue toward me. I gratefully took several from the box with shaking hands, thankful for something to do. I needed something to distract me from the fact that I would never speak to Charlie again.
After another minute or two, I asked him to contact my best friend, Alice. Dr. Cullen pulled a prescription pad from his white doctor's coat and jotted down the number, and then he looked up to speak to me once more.
"I'll call her myself, Bella. She'll be here for you soon. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
I shook my head. I had no idea what he could do for me but in that moment I had no doubt he would help me if it was in his power.
"I'll return in a few minutes. Alright?"
I was back to nodding mutely.
Dr. Cullen rose and opened the door. As soon as he stepped back into the hallway, I heard a man's voice travel down the corridor.
"Oh! Hey!" I heard footsteps approaching, his shoes squeaking slightly with a sudden movement.
I couldn't stop myself from looking up and noticed the doctor's body tense in response. Dr. Cullen turned his head slightly back toward me before he returned his attention down the hallway.
"Edward." He spoke the name quietly.
I barely glimpsed the man's tall figure and bronze colored hair before Dr. Cullen pulled the door toward him. Just before it closed, I heard the only sentence capable of destroying my fragile hold on my false sense of control.
"Hi, Dad. I'm glad you're here…"
Upon hearing those words, the dam burst and I surrendered to the pain, giant sobs engulfing my entire body.
It was only mid-afternoon but the combination of the damp, chilly weather of Forks and the physical exhaustion the past two days had brought on were intolerable. As soon as I could excuse myself from my mother's company following an incredibly long and ultimately untouched lunch, I drove back to my father's house. I immediately climbed the staircase and entered the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. Before I could even drop my purse or remove my coat, I turned the faucet on to draw a long overdue bath. I didn't stop to undress until after I had added my treasured Japanese cherry blossom scented bubble bath to the steaming, hot water.
Impulsively, I pulled my cell phone from my jacket pocket and rested it on top of the wicker laundry hamper resting next to the tub before stepping in and submerging as much of myself as possible into the liquid heaven. I closed my eyes, eager to welcome the small bit of paradise.
But I couldn't relax.
I let myself glide down the back of the tub, my bottom drifting closer to one end as the back of my head went underneath the water. The liquid rushed into my ears and I was overcome with the roaring sound of my own life. I began counting heartbeats and by the time I reached sixteen, I sat back up. In that moment, all I could think about was how my father's heart would never beat again.
I was overheated and lightheaded so I drew my legs up and rested my forehead against my knees. As I regained my bearings, I realized just how much I hurt. My spine, my legs, my shoulders, and my jaw – they were all throbbing with stress and grief. I desperately needed to dull the pain so I stretched my body back down into the bath, willing myself to find relief. I crossed my feet at the ankles and gently placed my arms behind my head to cradle my neck. My eyes were drawn to the bubbles clinging to my legs and I followed the trail as it progressed upward from my thighs, across my belly and in between my breasts before allowing my heavy eyelids to close. I began drawing in deeper breaths and knew I was finally at ease.
The heat of the bath had barely taken the edge off my aching body when my BlackBerry began to ring. My eyes opened slowly and narrowed dramatically as I turned my head toward the hamper.
I sat up just enough to be able to view the name flashing across the display screen. I changed my attitude when I recognized the caller.
I quickly grabbed a hand towel off the rack above the hamper and wiped my fingers dry before grabbing my BlackBerry to answer.
"Hello, Bella. Is this a good time or should I call back later?" Jasper's slow Texan drawl was always welcome although I was suddenly too nervous to sit up fully.
I was slightly worried Jasper would realize he was hearing the sound of his wife's best friend naked in the bathtub.
"This won't take long, I promise. I just wanted to let you know that I found your men."
I breathed out a huge sigh of relief upon hearing Jasper's words, and also felt a new round of tears threatening to spill over. During the planning of Charlie's funeral, I had run into an unexpected problem. His fellow officers at the police station would be in charge of the limited amount of pomp and circumstance the chief's final wishes would allow. As a result, I realized that my father did not have enough close friends in Forks to spare for the six pall bearers needed to carry his casket.
Besides Phil and Jasper, I had asked Harry Clearwater and had named Billy Black as an honorary pall bearer since he was wheelchair bound and physically unable to participate. Billy's son, Jacob, a childhood friend of mine, had also been recruited. But I still had two more spots to fill and no one left to approach. When I had called Alice the night before and told her I didn't know what do to, Jasper had graciously offered to find the other two for me. It was difficult to admit, but Jasper's news that he had solved the biggest dilemma involving my father's funeral brought a smile to my face.
"Thank you so much, Jasper. I'm so grateful for your help. I don't know how I'll pay you back but I'll think of something."
"No need to pay anything back, Bella. I'm happy to help."
"Can you give me their names so I can add them to the program? I have to deliver the text to the funeral home tomorrow morning."
"Sure. I'll give you a second to grab a pen."
I smirked and silently counted to five, still careful not to give away my true location.
"Ok. Go ahead."
"I called Emmett first and he dropped everything for you." I had met Emmett and Rose McCarty through Alice and Jasper, and even though I didn't know them well, Emmett and I had bonded like siblings. I would always think of him as an ideal big brother. His inclusion at my father's service was a great comfort to my wounded heart.
"That's perfect. Please tell him how much I appreciate that."
"No problem. I hope it's ok that the other person I asked is someone you don't know. He's a colleague of mine and when I saw him right after your phone call yesterday, I knew he would do this for you. He's a good man."
I was moved by a stranger's generosity and the tears began flowing once again.
"That's wonderful to hear. Who is he?" I sniffled and Jasper spoke quietly. He was noting my grief but moving forward with the conversation. It was an ability I greatly admired in my best friend's husband.
"His name is Edward Cullen."
I recognized the name of the doctor's son and I quickly rose up in response. If Jasper heard the water swooshing around me in the bathtub, he chose to ignore it.
"His father treated Charlie at the hospital, Jasper."
"Oh? I didn't realize that. Do you want me to find someone else?"
I took a moment to think about it, but when I recalled the doctor's compassionate and kind manner and considered how his son had offered to help a total stranger, my decision was made.
"Absolutely not. I would be honored to have Edward there. Please tell him thank you."
Welcome to my writing debut. I appreciate you taking a few minutes of your time to read.
I've been more than comfortable in my own beta existence so taking on the role of author has been a bit overwhelming. All I'm really hoping to do is give a little gift back to those who have been brave enough to share their stories with me. It seems only fair.
Many thanks to my Betas, Gothic Temptress and Ishouldntbehere, and also to my dear husband, MOG. They've all been very patient with my what if's, should I's and what do you think's?
I also wish to thank my friend, India Rose, who created a banner for this story while it was still only a drabble. I'm not planning on publicizing Restless but if you'd like to show off her work, you can access the banner via the link on my author's page.
I intended this as a one shot but quickly discovered I'm a little too wordy for that, so this will be a short story instead. I'm predicting a prologue, five chapters and an epilogue.
I don't have much free time for writing so it could take me a while to complete this, but I'm excited to tell the story. With any luck, I'll write and post it all over the course of the summertime.