Truth & Lies
After a couple of days, I finally returned Esme's call. We were meeting for lunch on Saturday in Olympia. She had said only that she wanted to speak with me in person, but didn't give any details. It wasn't hard to figure out what we would be talking about. I agreed to the lunch prior to discussing it with Edward because I felt like I owed it to his mother for the way I showed up on her doorstep saying what I said.
It was Friday evening and I was in Edward's room with the nurse on duty. Edward was still in physical therapy in another part of the hospital.
"So, physically, he's improving slowly, but as expected. Emotionally, it sounds like everything is really taking a toll on him. His doctor has requested a psychiatric evaluation. In these cases, they usually just recommend speaking with a therapist or psychologist."
I nodded my understanding. "Has he still been really grumpy and mean?"
She looked up at me from the computer perched next to his bed. "Of course. Today he hates the food."
I laughed. It was always something with him. The food was really good at first, considering it was the first taste of food he had eaten in months. Before I responded to the nurse, Edward was being brought back into the room in a wheel chair. His nurse and the orderly got him situated in bed. I could tell by the look on his face that he was in a bad mood, but I had put off the topic of lunch with his mother as long as I could.
Edward had been in a bad mood for days, ever since he started physical therapy. I guess in his mind he expected to be able to do things like he used to, or that he would learn quickly, or feel better, but his physical therapy was daunting and painful to say the least.
All of his bandages were gone. His hair was buzzed. The only cast that remained was a partial one with some splint like thing around his right leg and hip, although he could now maneuver to and from the bathroom with the assistance of a nurse and a walker. He told me he'd rather shit in his bed pan, that he wasn't using a walker.
Needless to say, the past few days had been difficult, but I was trying to be patient with him.
After the nurses cleared out, I greeted him. "Hi, how are you doing?"
He huffed, "How does it look like I'm doing?"
"Well, you look better to me."
He rolled his eyes. "I don't really feel like visitors today, Bella."
I instantly felt my cheeks burn, grateful he wasn't looking in my direction. My heart raced and then my stomach turned. "Don't do this, Edward," I said quietly.
"Do what?" he asked, sounding annoyed.
"Push me away."
He took a deep breath and blew it out. "Call it whatever you want. I just feel like being alone. You should leave, now, before I say something I'll regret."
I felt the hot tears instantly pool in my eyes. I stood quickly, and knocked the chair I was sitting in backwards a few inches across the floor. I walked over to his bed. "Look at me," I demanded.
He wouldn't look. He didn't move. He didn't even blink. "Look at me, Edward!" I nearly screamed. When he still didn't budge, I placed my hand under his chin and gently turned his face towards me. I almost lost my nerve when I saw how red and moist his eyes were. "I fought every day to be here. I lied for you. I nearly lost my job for you. I skip classes for you. I do everything I can to make sure I'm here nearly every single day so that you feel like someone's here for you, so you know you're not alone. I've given up entirely too much of myself and my life to be here with you all the time, and you are not going to push me away! Do you understand!" I yelled at him and then felt my tears spill over, one dropped onto his hospital gown before I abruptly turned to leave. I didn't want to hear his response.
I turned back around just before I walked out the door. "And I'm having lunch with your mother tomorrow. Goodnight, Edward."
As soon as I heard the door slam I somehow felt relieved. Relieved that she was gone, that I could be alone with my emotions and thoughts.
I wasn't expecting what she said. I wasn't expecting her to call me out on my shit and to basically say she wasn't giving up. She deserved so much better than me. I would never amount to even half of the average man. I can hardly feed myself, I can't walk, I can't wipe my ass, I'm thin and weak and just drained. Sometimes I wished I had of just been killed like the other officers.
Physical therapy was grueling; jaw exercises, memory exercises, stretches, lame attempts at putting weight on my good leg again. It was so time consuming and frustrating. My body didn't work. I felt pain like I'd never experienced. Simple, menial tasks felt like huge hurdles I'd never get over.
Bella was young and beautiful and had the entire world ahead of her. She didn't need me to hold her back. She was worth so much more.
I fell asleep that night disappointed in myself and conflicted. Part of me felt certain that I should make Bella move on, forget me and my problems, but the other part of me was too fucking selfish to let her go and felt horrible for the way I treated her earlier in the day. After all, she was the only one who cared.
I got to the restaurant a little early on Saturday. I at least wanted to try to make a good impression, although I knew in the back of my mind it was entirely too late for that.
Esme's sheer beauty was enough to make me fumble with my words and worry about how I was dressed. I was just wearing jeans and a nice long sleeve blouse, but she was wearing a dress, heels and her hair and makeup were immaculate.
She smiled when she sat down, that warm welcoming smile I first saw when she opened the door to her home, before I turned her world upside down.
I was speechless for a moment. How could anyone not want this woman as their wife? She oozed perfection.
"Oh, hi." I stumbled, as I reached my hand out to shake her extended one.
"Thank you for meeting with me."
I smiled and nodded. The waiter placed our napkins in our laps and took our drink order. The restaurant, which I'd never been to before, was pretty fancy for lunch.
"How is Edward?"
I was relieved that she asked. She did care. "Well, to be honest, he's struggling."
I saw her brows raise and the look on her face turn to one of concern.
"I mean, he's fine. Ugh. I mean, physically he is recovering. He will recover. Emotionally, it's really taking a toll on him. All of it."
She nodded and looked out the window. I thought I saw moisture pooling in her eyes. "I don't even know anything about his condition. Carlisle told me it was just a concussion and broken leg and that there was no need to be concerned or make the trip to Seattle."
My mouth was hanging open when she turned back to me. She looked embarrassed. "I think I may have been a terrible mother, Bella, to Edward."
I nodded at first, then quickly caught myself and started shaking my head, but really I had no idea. "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say. I don't know all the details."
She nodded her understanding. "How long have you and Edward been together?"
"Oh, um, we're not really together, I don't think."
"Oh, I guess I just assumed. You're just friends, then?"
Ugh. I had no idea how to answer this. Am I supposed to tell her we just fucked, and then fucked each other over, but I think we both secretly care about each other? I take that back, I know I care about him. "I'm not sure to be honest. Edward, he's, sort of complicated."
She giggled. She fucking giggled. "Yes, he is. He always has been."
There was a moment of awkward silence between us, as she clearly reminisced about her son.
"So, Bella. I'd like to know what you do know. I have a feeling I've been in the dark about a lot of things and I think you may be able to shed some light."
I fidgeted with my cloth napkin in my lap and took too many sips of water. I didn't know what to say or how much to say or . . . I just didn't know. This wasn't my family or my story and these weren't my issues. They were Edward's.
I took a deep breath and started. "I'm sorry for what happened, at your home, for what I said. I was so out of line, I just couldn't understand and I wanted to get your attention."
"So were the things you said true?"
"Oh, yes, of course, I didn't mean that. I just shouldn't have gone about everything like that."
She nodded. "Has Edward talked to you about this before?"
"Well, at the time, when I was at your home, no he had not. Since then, however, he has."
She reached across the table for my hand. "Please, Bella. I need your help. I don't know who to believe, or what is real anymore. I've learned recently that Carlisle is an excellent liar and manipulator."
"Maybe you just ignored the truth," I offered, before I slapped my hand over my mouth.
"It's okay, Bella. You may be right, and now I'm quite afraid of the truth and I think you, Edward and Carlisle are the only ones who know it, and Carlisle isn't talking."
My leg bounced anxiously under the table. I felt like I needed Edward's permission first. I was skating on such thin ice with him as it was, that I really didn't want to screw anything else up. "Right. Um, will you excuse me for a moment? I need to use the restroom."
"Of course," she smiled.
I went to the rear of the restaurant and stood in the hallway to use my phone. I got connected to Edward's room, but it just rang over and over until it went back to the nurses station. Eventually I got a nurse that I knew and she assured me Edward was in his room, there was no PT today. She did me the favor of telling him it was me and that I really needed to speak with him. The next time I called, he answered.
"Bella? Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I just needed to ask you something real quick."
"I'm at lunch with your mother. She wants to know the truth. Would you rather I tell her, or do you want to?"
He laughed. He actually laughed. "Bella, she's dead to me, as I am to her. Do whatever you want. She knows the truth, I told her years ago, she just refused to believe it."
"You are not dead to her, and maybe now she's more willing to listen."
"Like I said, do whatever you want. It doesn't affect me."
I groaned. "Okay, Edward."
"How are you feeling?" I tentatively asked.
"I don't know. I feel okay. I think they increased my pain medication, I really don't give a shit about anything right now."
I tried not to laugh, because he did sound fairly relaxed. "Okay, well I'm glad you're feeling better. Um, I've got to work tonight, when I get back, so I likely won't get to stop by today."
"Oh," he said solemnly.
My heart broke a little at the tone of his voice, it almost sounded like disappointment. "I mean, I can try. Maybe if I don't hit any traffic getting out of Olympia I can stop by for a just a couple of minutes."
"No, Bella. Don't worry about me. Just go to work and I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
But I always worry about you. "I'll see you tomorrow," I confirmed, and the line went dead.
. . .
Author's Note: Finally starting to make some progress! Thank you all for reading and reviewing and hanging in there. Many of you have complained about my update schedule, or lack thereof, so now that the holidays are over and things are back to normal, I'm going to try to get back to weekly updates. :)