Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer still owned Twilight the last time I checked. I own this story line because it came from my twisted little mind, but her stuff, is alas, still hers.
A/N: I'm ba-ack! Is that ominous, or what? I've finally finished my first full length original novel and I wanted to get this little thread out of my head before I start on the next one. I don't think it's going to be as long as the other two, but what do I know? It's not like I outline or anything. Thanks to Jenny Cullen for beta-ing. On with the show!
"Bella, honey, you have to push for me now," Dr. Gerandy instructed from between my legs. I was covered in sweat, and my entire body hurt.
"Please," I begged, "you have to give me something. It hurts so bad."
"It's too late to give you anything else, Bella," Mrs. Mallory said from her position by my side.
"But the drugs you gave me before didn't do anything," I wailed.
Mrs. Mallory gave me a small, sad smile and wiped my forehead with her hand.
"Bella, when this next contraction hits, I need you to push. The baby's head is crowning, and we need to get him out now," Dr. Gerandy instructed.
The pain peaked, and I pushed for all my small body was worth. I barely heard the doctor say that the head was out and to hold so he could unwrap the cord before I was pushing again. As the baby's shoulders pushed from my body, black spots dotted my vision, and I panted, trying to hang in there. The sweetest sound in the world, my baby's first cries, met my ears, before everything went black.
I woke with a start, just like I did every time I had that dream. Cold sweat poured down my back, making my tank top stick to my skin, and I struggled to rein in my tears. The dream was always the same, and I'd had it several times over the years. Each time, I talked to my therapist about it, wondering if it was a memory rather than a dream, but they always concluded that it was most likely my subconscious mind's way of dealing with my loss. If I couldn't accept that he'd been stillborn, then perhaps it wasn't true. I knew that my planned return home this weekend had brought it back, but knowing that didn't make me feel any less unsettled.
The heavy arm around my waist pinned me to the bed. Behind me, Edward slumbered, unaware of my turmoil, and I was loathe to wake him. He didn't get much sleep as it was. Carefully, I extracted myself from his embrace and padded to the bathroom. I tried dousing my face in cold water to wash away the dream. It didn't work. My mind still whirred around the images in my head, and my racing heart hadn't slowed much.
Instead of crawling back into bed, where I knew I'd only lay awake, I slipped out of the room and walked to the kitchen of my apartment. Pre-dawn light streamed through the large windows, highlighting the remnants of the meal Edward and I had shared before practically attacking each other. I smiled at the memory, my heart racing for other reasons now. Over the intervening years, our passion for each other hadn't waned; if anything, it'd only gotten stronger.
"Gah!" I shouted as I turned the corner into the kitchen. My roommate was sitting at the kitchen table in her bathrobe. We'd been best friends since I moved to Forks just before my freshman year of high school, and after college, we'd just stayed together. "Allie, what are you doing up already? It's barely five in the morning!"
"I could ask you the same thing, missy," Alice teased. "Don't you have a hot man in your bed right now?"
"Couldn't sleep," I mumbled, pouring myself a cup of coffee and inhaling the rich aroma. The final fog of my dream was being pushed aside by the strong smell.
Alice looked at me critically. "Hmm. The dream again?"
I nodded. Alice had comforted many times over the years when I woke up alone and crying. "I haven't had it in so long, but with Edward back in my life, it's brought it all up again."
"Have you talked to him about it?" Alice asked.
"No." I shook my head. "It was almost ten years ago, Allie. We're both trying to find each other again, and that's a part of our past that needs to stay there. I will always love Ryan, and I will miss him until the day I die, but I can't let what happened intrude on what we have now. We're both finally starting to move on. We need to move on."
Alice hummed, indicating that she'd heard me but didn't necessarily agree. After I brought Edward home for the first time, Alice had expressed her concern that we had never dealt with our history together and that it would cause issues later. She'd firmly told me many times that shoving Ryan's birth and death aside wouldn't do much for either of us. I'd insisted that Edward and I did talk about him, but that we wanted a fresh start and to get to know each other as the people we are now.
"Well, I needed to read through these contracts again before my meeting at nine," Alice finally declared, changing the subject so as not to start a disagreement. Alice read in silence for a few more seconds, and then turned to me as I sat down at the table. "What do you think, Bella? You've seen the designer and his clothes. Angel says they'll fit right in with the rest of our lines, but I think they're a little . . . out there."
I laughed. "You know me, Alice. I think everything in your shop is a little 'out there.' Paul's clothes scream 'Look at me, I'm a weirdo,' though. You'll sell them to those spoiled rich girls that are trying to be avant-garde, but no normal person would wear them. If you choose to carry his line, don't buy too many pieces. They won't sell quickly, and you'll have capital tied up in merchandise that you'll have to discount later."
"Remind me why you didn't get your business degree and run this store with me?" Alice asked, still scanning the document in her hands.
"Because high end fashion doesn't help anyone," I teased. "I, on the other hand, make people's lives better every day by letting them get out all their petty problems." I didn't really see my patient's problems as petty—on the contrary, some were fairly serious—but it was fun to tease Alice.
"You love listening to those petty problems, though," a gravelly voice said from the doorway. "Gossip girl."
I blushed, but couldn't contain my grin. When we were in high school, I had been the girl that ate up the gossip about everyone in school. I never repeated it, except to Alice, especially once Edward and I started dating during our sophomore year of high school. I'd loved to hear what people said about my new friends and me. The petty rumors were usually pretty damn funny.
When I looked up at him, I felt the familiar flutters in my stomach. Edward's broad shoulders and defined muscles never failed to make my body stand up and take notice. Heck, his body had done that when we were in high school, and he didn't look half as good then as he did now.
"Good morning, Edward," Alice sang, her voice cheerful as she gathered up her papers to make room for him at the table.
"Is she always like this in the morning?" he asked as he plopped down in the chair next to me with his coffee cup firmly in hand.
"Pretty much," I told him ruefully. "Usually, I just avoid her until dinnertime."
"Bitch," Alice teased, throwing a crumpled up napkin at my head. "You know you love me."
"Alas, it's true," I said with a fake sigh. "Sorry, Edward. Alice here has stolen my heart from me."
"Well, she'll just have to give it back to me," he answered. "I don't recall letting you have it back in the first place." He winked at me and kissed the side of my head.
Inside, I swooned like I did every time this big strong man made sweet little comments like that. I laughed at his corny line to keep the mood light. It was a testament to how far we'd come that mentions of when he'd taken my heart before didn't send us both spiraling downward. My fingers tangled with his underneath the table and squeezed, though, in happiness. He grinned at me and took a sip of his coffee.
"Okay, you two," Alice said. "I'm going to get ready for work. And I don't want to have to sanitize the kitchen tonight!" Her cackles could be heard trailing behind her as she made her way to her bathroom down the hall.
"Speaking of work . . ." Edward said.
"You have to go in already?" I asked, whining slightly.
"If I'm going to take tomorrow off for the reunion, I have to get some stuff done," he answered. "Jasper brought in a new government contract last week."
"That's what, the fourth one this month?" I asked, impressed.
Edward shrugged. "They like to hire their own, and for better or worse, Jazz and I are still their own." He kissed the top of my head as he stood from the table. "Do you still want to head up to Forks tonight?"
"That was my plan, but call me when you get done today. My last appointment is at two, so I should be home by four." I watched in disappointment as he threw on his old, ratty, Army t-shirt and grabbed his laptop case. "If we have time, I'll make dinner before we head out."
"Sounds great, babe." Edward leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. "I love you," he whispered.
"Love you, too," I responded with a small smile.
To anyone watching, it might have seemed like a normal parting for a couple of lovers, but to us, to be able to say the words to each other again face to face, it was the world. After the worst moment in our lives, we'd been forcibly separated and had remained that way for ten years. With him in front of me again, I vowed to never let that happen again.
This is the shortest chapter. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of my returning readers that I'm a wordy mo-fo, so don't get used to this. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll do my best to answer! Thanks for reading!