Chapter 1 Beginning at the End
A/n: I know that this story will not be well received by everyone, and I'm resolved to that. However, please know that this story is very, very personal to me. In this story, I am Bella, in so many ways.
We'll talk more about the story at the end, but please, just at least give it a try. It's different, but then again when aren't my stories outside of the box. There is NO slash in this one. But there is a character death and infidelity. Just try this chapter and if you can't deal with it in the end, leave me a review and let me know that you at least tried it, please?
I have to say a HUGE thank you to Massy (reyes139) and my Twifey (lvtwilight09) for walking me through the steps to get this one out. I wrote the first five chapters of this story in a frenzy of 18 hrs on Saturday. It's just been pouring out of me and they were there, holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way. I love you both more than words can ever say.
Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer. I'm sure she would absolutely cringed at what I'm about to do to her beloved characters. But I'm doing it anyway, my soul needed cleansing.
I stood there and watched all the family members grasp her hands, say soft words of condolences, hug her tight and give her looks of sorrow. Her eyes are hidden behind giant blacked out lenses but the tension is evident all over her body.
She looked radiant, as always, with her honey blond hair pulled back in a chignon, black form-fitting dress and Laboutin black peep toes. Not even her husband's funeral could crush her fashion sense.
Her children, his children, flank her sides, wives and husbands, grandchildren as well, all in attendance to honor the man they adored and are here to honor.
And then there's me.
I stood alone, in the back of the crowd; hidden from view, as best as I could. Unable to stay away as the love of my life is laid to rest six feet in the ground.
The sun is barely shining through the clouds but thankfully a light mist is all that hangs in the air on this solemn day. The day my heart officially died and the beats wore on, only because my body forced them too.
He was never to be mine….regardless of the love we shared.
You see, I have loved this man for more than half my life….and he loved me. Or so he said.
Forty-Two years ago
I met Edward Cullen the day he started his residency at Seattle General where I was a nurse on the oncology floor. He walked onto the floor and it was like my world suddenly tilted upright on it's axis.
I was twenty-six years old and single. My last relationship had lasted a year, three years ago. I didn't date much, nor go out partying, much to my best friends chagrin. I didn't want a man-whore or a party-guy. I wanted to find 'the one'.
Edward was everything I'd ever dreamed about; good-looking, self-confident, family oriented and he was a Doctor. I had tried to ignore him and just be cordial professionally at first, but he soon broke through my tough exterior and we became friends.
Then I met her, his wife, Tanya. She hadn't remembered me, but we'd had classes together in college. I reminded her when we were introduced, she acted like she recalled a memory of me and gave me that fake smile and arm pat, like we were old chums.
I hated her. I envied her. I wanted to be her.
Edward and Tanya had been married for about six months when he started working at the hospital. They were still in that 'honeymoon' phase of their relationship where she would stop by the hospital for quick lunches or to say hi. It made me sick to my stomach to know they were together, in this hospital, somewhere nearby, having sex. She didn't deserve him.
But then again, I was the plain, mousy girl that no one ever noticed. I certainly didn't deserve him or his attention. So imagine my shock when one day he asked me if I had plans for lunch.
"No, um, not really. I brought my lunch, I was just going to sit in the quad and read." I stammered out, flustered by his sudden attention.
"Would you care if I joined you?" His soft voice sent a wave of tingles throughout my body.
"Um, not at all." I said as I made quick eye contact with him before looking away when the blush crept up on my now beet-red cheeks.
He let out a small laugh, "I'll met you at the lift in ten minutes, okay?" His eyes sparkled as he waited for me to nod in agreement.
I was a nervous wreck. Why did he ask me to lunch? He could have gone with anyone, he's popular, he's a doctor….I'm just a nurse, who comes in and does my job and goes home, alone, every night.
We meet at the elevator and he smiles that crooked grin at me, "I've got to run to the cafeteria and pick something up, do you want to go with me or just meet me in the quad?"
"I'll go with you, since it's on the way," I managed to get out, trying to stop the blush from creeping out again.
The door dings open and we both walk on at the same time, our arms brushing and a row of goose bumps break out across that skin on my arm. We each move to the back of the elevator carriage in separate corners and take turns stealing glances at once another. He catches me and smiles, "It's nice to see you smile a little, Bella. You are always so serious on the floor."
"Oh well, it's hard to be happy and smiling when there are so many sick cases waiting for attention." I ramble off, embarrassed that he might think I think he doesn't take his job seriously.
"Yeah, I know but still, there have to be moments in the day when a smile is warranted, right?" He pokes at me with his loose humor and attempts to make me ease my steely exterior.
"I guess, but I'm not really a social person." I mumble as the door dings to the let us out at the cafeteria on the third floor.
"I'll just wait here while you get your food," my voice a little weaker as I notice people staring at the two of us.
"Okay, I'll hurry." He said as he heads to the food line, picked up a tray and started to fill it with who knows what. I pull my book from my pocket and sit on the bench by the elevator doors. I attempt to read but realize that all of my thoughts are focused on Edward and the fact that he asked to have lunch with me.
"Ready?" His voice startled me as I looked to see him with a loaded down tray and that signature smirk of his.
"Sure," I say as I hit the down button on the wall.
Once again, we pile into the elevator, retreating to separate corners, continuing with this little eye flirting thing we're both doing.
The door dings signaling we've reached the bottom level and we move to get out and into the small amount of sunshine beaming from the normally grey sky. "Where do you prefer to sit?" Edward asks as I look around for an open table.
"It doesn't really matter, but I usually try to stay away from the noisy tables so that I can read." I tell him, realizing how anti-social that I sound.
"Let's go back there, then. I don't want to totally disrupt your routine." Edward said with a head nod toward the table he was referring to.
Once we sat down and started preparing our food to eat, I blurted out, "Why did you want to have lunch with me?" My hand immediately flew up and over my mouth, my eyes wide and that damn blush of mine sure to color me the hue of a tomato.
He looked at me, gave a soft smile, "Because I think you are an amazing person that keeps yourself a little closed off, from what I've seen. I wanted to get to know you better, that's all." His eyes held nothing but honesty.
"Okay," I squeaked out. "I'm rather boring, though, you should know that now."
He brought his eyes up to mine, stared at me for a long minute, like he was choosing his words carefully, "Somehow, I doubt you are boring at all." There was a seriousness that over took him for a moment before that smile spread across his face. "Tell me all about you."
It had been so long since anyone had wanted to talk to me about anything, let alone about myself, I wasn't even sure what to say. "I'm not sure what you want to know."
"Let's start with where are you from?" Edward's eyes held mine for a second before I looked down to my sandwich for the answer.
"I'm from Forks, Washington, moved here for College, graduated and started to work here at the hospital." I shrugged my shoulders and took a drink of water.
"Does your family still live in Forks?" He asked between bites of his hamburger.
"Oh, um, my dad does. He and my mom are divorced. She moved to Florida after she got remarried a few years ago." I replied.
"So you are an only child?" Edward asked while wiping his mouth.
I nodded my head in response as I chewed up the apple I had just bitten into.
"Lucky you." He chuckled.
"You have siblings?" I asked, wanting to know everything about him.
"Oh yeah, I have a sister and a brother. I'm the middle child." He grinned like the cat that ate the canary.
"So you were the brat?" I teased him. His eyebrows waggled at me as he chuckled and nodded as he chewed his food.
He wiped his mouth again and said, "I was...am, still." His head fell back with laughter.
I quirked an eyebrow at him, "That I believe."
We laughed for a minute or two then settled back into our food before he spoke again, "So no boyfriends or husband?"
I lowered my eyes, feeling ashamed of my single status and the lack of socialization in my life. "No." I quietly answered.
"I'm sorry, if I hit a nerve." He seemed completely sincere.
"No, it's okay. I just keep to myself, really. I don't go out much." I answered flippantly.
"Why? You are a young, beautiful woman." He stated as he stared at me, his eyes drinking me and making me a little uncomfortable.
I knew my cheeks were heating up and that just pissed me off, which caused me to snap, "What does it matter?"
His green eyes went wide as he shook his head, "I'm sorry, Bella, I shouldn't have asked that. It's none of my business."
I fought to keep my tears at bay, "It's alright, Dr. Cullen, it's just a sensitive subject for me."
"Edward, Bella...when it's just you and I, please call me Edward." He gently placed his hand on mine and gave it a gentle squeeze.
My eyes instantly went to his hand on mine, as his touch seared my skin and goose-bumps formed again. He quickly retracted his hand, picked up his drink and took a sip from the cup.
"Edward, it's just that I don't date a lot and my friends are constantly trying to set me up. I'm not a party or club girl so it makes it hard for them to understand how I'll ever meet someone." I softly answered and twirled my napkin through my fingers.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know. I just wondered about you and wanted to get to know you." Edward said full of sincerity. "You are also so quiet, you hardly ever smile and you have these soulful eyes that look like that have stories to tell."
"Edward, really, there's nothing to tell." I paused. "But I have two cats, London and China." I smiled as I thought about my two fluffy loves at home.
He sat there with a serious look for a second before his face broke out into a smile, "Ah, a crazy cat girl, now I get it." He laughed and I laughed right back at him.
We chatted through the remainder of our lunch about nothing of consequence and seemed a little sad when our time was up.
"I'd like to have lunch again with you sometime, if that's okay, Bella." He said as he gathered his tray and trash.
"I'd really like that, Edward." And it was the truth, it had been nice having someone to talk to and to actually laugh with.
Our lunch dates became a regular thing a few days a week over the course of the next month until finally one day it was raining to hard for us to eat outside, "Join me in my office?" He softly asked.
My heart was trying to beat through my rib cage it was speeding so fast, and my palms instantly got sweaty...alone in his office. Just the two of us. The door closed.
He'd starred in every fantasy I had for the past three months. He'd consumed every dream, constantly playing on a reel in my mind, professing his love and showing me with affection.
And now, he wants to eat alone in his office. I kept trying to remind myself that he was a married man and that he wouldn't try anything inappropriate because he was a gentleman.
"Okay." I finally managed to say and was rewarded with the beautiful smile, I'd come to love as if it were only for me. We agreed to meet there in fifteen minutes, giving him enough time to grab some food before meeting me.
I grabbed my lunch and headed to the sixth floor where Edward's office was. It really wasn't much of an office, more like a closet that had room enough for a mini-fridge, desk and chair and in this case a small loveseat. Tanya's influence was all over this room as she'd had the walls painted, artwork hung on the walls and the furniture was definitely not standard hospital issue.
I knocked on the door as he yelled, "Come in," as though his mouth was stuffed with food. I pushed the door ajar to find him with half a cheeseburger stuffed into his mouth, I couldn't stop the giggles that erupted from me.
"Were you that hungry you had to eat it in one bite?" I joked as I sat on the small loveseat and started to unpack my lunch.
His eyes looked apologetic as he nodded his head vigorously, searching for a napkin to wipe his lips and chin. "Yes!" He exclaimed before I finally handed him a napkin from my own lunchsack.
"I didn't have time to fix anything this morning and Tanya doesn't 'do' breakfast at five am so I've only had coffee today. I'm starving." He said as he waved around his tray covered in greasy cafeteria food that was enough for at least four people.
I just laughed and filed away that tidbit about Tanya not fixing him breakfast. "Well, then by all means, eat. A growing man and a busy surgeon must have grease and animal fat filling his system to keep him going." I taunted him.
"And if you want, I make some mean muffins, I can start bringing a few extra with me in the mornings, so you can have something of substance besides coffee. Well, I mean, if you'd like that." I mumbled, realizing that I'd just offered to make him breakfast.
"Bella, you don't have to do that for me." Edward's voice was gentle and settled over me like a warm blanket.
"I don't mind. I mean, I usually make enough in the mornings that I have a few left over anyway. It wouldn't be any trouble at all." I replied, hoping he'd take me up on my offer, so that it would mean I could spend a few private moments with him each day.
"I'd really like that, Bella." Again, he spoke with a softness and when my eyes met his, there was this small light of fiery yellow burning amidst the green, that I hadn't noticed before.
"Okay then." I said, trying to stave off the blush that was sure to give me away as I broke his stare and looked away.
"Bella, I've really enjoyed getting to know you these past few weeks. You are truly like a breath of fresh air in the smog of life, ya know?" His voice had taken this heaviness and suddenly my heart was racing again. I was falling for this man, this married man, this married doctor that I worked for.
I smiled, "I've enjoyed getting to know you, too, Edward."
"There it is...that beautiful smile. God, I love it when you smile." He let his words hang out there, swirling in the air as he held my eyes with almost a hint of pleading.
"Thank...Thank you, Edward." I stuttered, embarrassed, "It feels nice to have a reason to smile again." I broke my eyes away, suddenly finding the pattern on the loveseat very interesting.
He turned back to his food, looked back at me as our eyes met once again, both looking away as we caught the other, "So do you have plans for this weekend?" He asked, trying to sound casual.
"Not really, just the usual errands and chores around the house." I replied, trying to keep it light and casual as well. But something has shifted between us, I could feel it in that moment. There was more emotions floating in that small little office than I knew what to do with.
"Well, I have tickets to that benefit at the museum this weekend, if you'd like to go with me." Edward said with his eyes darting between me and his food. "I mean, you had mentioned that you enjoy going to the museum and well, I have the tickets and I don't want to go alone, so I just thought, I mean," He was stumbling and uncertain, so unlike him.
"I'd love to go." I quietly interrupted his rambling.
"You would?" He questioned.
"Sure, I mean, if it's okay with your wife and she doesn't mind me using her ticket. I'd love to go with my friend to the museum." I tried to sound confident and not like the curious snoop I was trying to be.
"Tanya hates the museum." He said with a sag to his shoulders. "Besides, she's off to New York on a girls weekend. So I'll be left to my own devices, anyway."
"I'm sure that you'll manage," I let out a small laugh, trying to lighten the air between us.
"Well, I don't know about that but at least I'll have a little fun, right?" He gave me a small smile, his eyes clouded with something sad and unsettling.
"That we will." I smiled and finished packing up the remaining contents of my uneaten lunch. "It's time for me to head back to the floor," I reminded him, trying to keep the disappointment out of my tone.
"Already?" He whined. "Time always go so quickly when I'm with you."
He picked the rest of his trash, as well, dumping it in the trashcan. "Let's get to it, sick people need our help." He said and placed his hand on the small of my back as we walked out of his office.
He's touching me. My skin is tingling again. He isn't removing his hand.
We stood there, waiting for the elevator. His hand on my lower back. Me trying not to pant out loud. And something definitely changed between us. And my heart was stammering to the beat of a conga drum.
"I'm so excited for Saturday to get here, now." He quietly spoke in my ear as we settled in the elevator, standing side by side, his hand still resting on my back.
"Me, too." I managed to whisper, unsure if he even heard it as the door dinged to the tenth floor where we both worked.
"I'll, um, call you Friday night and we can make arrangements, okay?" He asked as his hand dropped from my body and we made our way back to the nurse's station.
"Sounds good." I said, trying to hide the disappointment I was experiencing now that he was no longer touching me.
He smiled that special smile and got back to work.
Leaving work that day, I was drained, emotionally, mentally and physically. We lost Mrs. Harper today. She was one of my favorite patients and she had fought hard to beat the cancer, but lost the battle in the end.
Days like this just crushed my heart, add to it the anxiety that I was feeling over having accepted Edward's offer and I was just exhausted.
When I got home, fed the cats, I checked my messages noticing that I actually had three on the machine. I hit the button as I walked around picking up a few things.
'Bella, it's your mom. I haven't heard from you in a month. What's going on, baby girl? Are you seeing someone new, is that why you are to busy to check in with your dear old mom? I mean, not that I'm old but you know what I mean. CALL ME! Love you, bye.'
'Bella, it's Ang, I haven't heard from you all week. I have tickets to that weekend festival in the market and thought it might do good for you to get out. Call me, sweety, I miss you.'
Ugh. I didn't want to talk to my mom right now. She doesn't understand my need to work with sick people and she certainly doesn't have the emotional capacity to understand my sorrow at their deaths. And Angela, well, she means well but she's got a husband and just doesn't understand why I don't date. I'm sure there's a catch to her offer but I have to call her back because I need her help.
Then the last message starts to play, pulling my thoughts to the voice on the machine.
'Bella, it's Edward. Um, yeah, I looked up your number in the system, I hope you don't mind. I kinda forgot to ask you for it earlier. Um, yeah, well, I was thinking if you wanted, maybe we could um, get something to eat before going to the museum. I mean, oh shit, fuck...I sound like a dumbass. Just call me or talk to me tomorrow or you know, don't ….okay, I'm hanging up now before I continue to ramble on and fill up your machine. Have a good night, I know you took Mrs. Harper's death pretty hard, so I hope you are alright. You care so much for the patients.
I hear a heavy sigh on the recording before he continues...
'You are to good for the world around you, do you know that? Well, anyways, I hope you have a good night and I'll just talk to you tomorrow. But ya know, if you want to talk, you can call me, 555-096-1970 is my number. I'll be up for a while. Bye, Bella.'
The click of the machine rang through the emptiness of my apartment.
He's worried about me? He thinks I'm to good for the world around me?
This man has me utterly confused by his actions. He's married. He's asked me on a date.
And I'm completely and unabashedly in love with him.
She sees me, I know, even though her eyes are hidden. Her head is fixed in my direction as her son, Masen, whispers something in her ear.
He is as beautiful as his father was at that age. I wipe the tear that has fallen down my cheek.
His granddaughter, Lilly, walks toward the casket and slides a piece of paper under the bouquet of flowers on top of the casket. She was always his favorite with her bright bronze hair that curled and swayed, unruly, like his.
His family. His life. His wife.
And I stood here alone, the remains of my heart hanging together with the miniscule threads woven through them, as she turns her head back towards his casket.
She made sure that he would never leave her. She made sure that I always knew she came first.
He was never to be mine, even in death.
A/n: Still with me? -hides behind the couch-
I told you it wouldn't be for the faint of heart...if you need to flounce, I understand. But please leave me a note telling me what you hated the most.
I won't post the next chapter until I've completed Love & Anger, which should be a little shy of two weeks. I hope you will rejoin me then.
BIG HUGGLES to all that made it all the way through the first chapter...and buy stock in the tissues, you'll need a box for each chapter, I can assure you.
Love and tootles,