Warnings and Disclaimer: This story deals with heavy subject matter and may not be suitable for all readers.
This was my entry for the Season of Our Discontent contest. I didn't place or anything, but I loved writing this.
I met Isabella Swan when we were both ten years old. It was easy for us to become attached to each other since we were both going through similar situations. If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn't change a thing. It made me the person I am today. I'd still want to meet the beautiful girl with the big brown eyes who would change my world completely.
10 years old - 1992
"Edward, could you please come down to the common room. We have a new arrival today and as usual, everyone needs to be there to greet her," Mrs. Cope said from the hallway.
I had been at the St. Nicholas Orphanage for only a few weeks myself. My parents were both murdered and I had no other family to speak of. It was the only place I had to go.
I remembered the lady from the hospital driving me there that day. The large white house sat at the end of the long winding road, looking like something out of a nightmare. I was scared to death.
I had never been outgoing and was very shy. Even with the kids I had been going to school with my entire life, I had no friends. No one would miss me in my old life. Walking into that room full of people staring at me and sizing me up was the scariest thing I had ever been through. I wondered if it would be the same for the new kid.
I slowly walked down the steps and saw that everyone else was already waiting in the common area. They were used to this, but this was the first new arrival since I'd come here. I walked over and stood next to Tyler, one of the guys here closest to my age and my roommate.
The front door swung open and the same lady who had driven me here stepped inside and shut the door behind her. I could see a small pair of feet behind the lady's, but the girl had yet to show her face.
"Isabella," Mrs. Cope said, "why don't you come here and say hello to everyone?" A small girl, probably around my age, stepped out from behind her. She had dark brown hair and big brown eyes. Her cheeks were tinted pink and she nibbled on her bottom lip as she stepped over to stand beside Mrs. Cope.
"Hi," she said softly as she lifted her hand up in a small wave. Quiet 'hellos' rose up from the group and the girl smiled slightly. I hadn't said anything yet because I couldn't drag my eyes away from her face. I might have only been ten years old, but she was surely the most beautiful girl I would ever lay my eyes on.
"Everyone, this is Isabella Swan," Mrs. Cope announced to us. Isabella reached over and tugged on Mrs. Cope's dress and she bent down to listen to her. She laughed slightly and Isabella's cheeks turned pink again.
"Isabella has requested that you all please call her Bella. Bella is ten years old and she'll be staying with us from now on. I'd like everyone to make her feel welcome here because you all remember how it was to be the new kid," Mrs. Cope said, smiling at us all. Leah, one of the few girls here, stepped forward and offered to take Bella on a small tour of the house. The two girls walked away from Mrs. Cope, hand in hand, toward the kitchen.
"Okay everyone. I know it's unusual to get a new arrival so late at night so thank you for being on your best behavior. Bed time now," she said, clapping her hands and rushing us all upstairs. As I got to my room I looked over to the one across from it. The door was open and there were some suitcases sitting on what used to be an empty bed. Evidently that bed would now be Bella's.
I walked inside my room and sat on the end of my bed. I hated bedtime. That was when the nightmares would come. That was when I felt like I was all alone and no one was there to save me. That was when I relived everything that happened the night my parents were killed.
The next few days were filled with everyone getting to know Bella. I had learned a little more about her than I probably was supposed to though. I had been walking down the hall one day and noticed the library door was open. Mrs. Cope was inside talking to someone about her.
Bella's parents had been killed in a car accident. She was with them and had been in the hospital herself up until a few days ago. Her father and mother were only children so she also had no other family to take her in.
Knowing Bella and I were kind of in the same boat made it a lot easier for me to talk to her. I felt like we had some kind of connection or something which was probably stupid for a ten-year-old to think. I walked over to her and sat next to her on the couch, while she watched an episode of Scooby Doo. Together we bonded over our love for the large brown Great Dane, who liked to solve mysteries with his gang of humans.
While my days were definitely made better by Bella, my nights still sucked. Every night I woke up, my pajamas soaked with sweat, my face wet with tears and my throat sore from screaming.
"Edward, I need you to run! Go hide somewhere! Somewhere they won't find you!" my mother screamed at me as she shook me by the shoulders. She let me go and I ran upstairs, bypassing my room and heading straight for my father's office.
He was a lawyer and had a huge desk that I figured would be perfect to hide under. Settling myself, I crouched down and hid in the corner under the desk. I could still see out into the room and saw that I left the door open. Before I could leave my hiding spot to go and shut the door, I heard heavy footsteps coming upstairs.
My mother and father entered the room and were followed by a man who was pointing a gun at them. I placed my hand over my mouth and tried not to scream.
"Mr. Volturi, I understand you're upset about your case, but I don't think that is any reason to go to these extreme measures," my father said, his hands raised. My mother had tears running down her face as her body trembled in fear.
"I don't give a fuck what you think, Mr. Masen. I paid you a hell of a lot of money to make sure that bitch didn't take my kid. You failed, Masen. You let her take my kid and now you have to pay," he yelled as he turned and pointed the gun at my mother.
"No, wait. Please no. Don't do this," my father pleaded with the man. My mother started to back away and I wanted to reach out and grab her and pull her under here to hide with me.
A loud noise suddenly filled the air and I watched my mother's body fall to the floor with a loud thud. Bright red blood stained the front of her dress and her head fell to the side, facing me. I looked at her face and her eyes met mine. Her mouth silently said 'No' as tears streamed down my face.
I looked back to where my father and the man were standing and saw that he had fallen to his knees, sobbing. The man raised his gun to my father's head and fired.
"Nooooooooooooo!" I screamed as I woke up. My breathing was heavy, but I didn't feel alone. I opened my eyes and saw that my hand was being held tightly in someone else's. I looked up and locked eyes with Bella.
"I'm sorry. Is this okay?" she asked. I nodded my head and squeezed her hand in mine.
"Yeah, it's fine. It's good actually," I told her honestly. She smiled at me and didn't let go of my hand.
"I just hated to hear you crying all alone. It's happened every night since I've been here. I just figured that maybe I could help you. You know, not let you be alone," she whispered into the dark room.
"Yeah, it helps. Thanks," I said. We continued to lay beside one another on the small twin bed, our hands clasped together between us.
"Can you talk about them? The nightmares?" she asked quietly. I took a deep breath and nodded my head, unaware if she could see it or not. I hadn't spoken with anyone except the one doctor at the hospital and the police officers.
"It's about the night my parents were murdered. I was hiding under the desk in my father's office and saw the whole thing. I've dreamed about it every night since then. It really sucks," I told her.
"But waking up and not being alone definitely helps," I said and squeezed her hand again.
13 years old - 1995
"I don't wanna do this, Bella. I can show my ass and make them leave me here," I told her as we sat together on the bed in my room. What little belongings I had were packed in boxes around me, waiting to be carried downstairs.
"You can't do that, Edward. They were so nice. They love you already," she said, gripping my hand tightly. I knew she was scared too, but she was putting on a strong face for me.
We'd had these conversations daily since finding out the Cullens would be adopting me. I was happy on one hand. I'd finally be getting out of this place and going to a real home. I'd have two people who loved me and would do anything for me.
On the other hand, I was angry. I was pissed that Bella had to stay here. I'd be all alone at night again. I had just gotten to where I could sleep all night, with her beside me of course.
I couldn't be too pissed though. The Cullens were great. Since the first day I met them, I could see myself living with them. Mr. Cullen, Carlisle, seemed like he'd be a great dad. He'd hung out with me outside, tossing the football back and forth in the backyard. And Mrs. Cullen, Esme, was also great. They'd come to visit me several times since the first meeting, and each time she'd brought me homemade cookies that I shared with Bella. She hugged me before she left every time. I hadn't realized that I hadn't been hugged since my mom and dad died. Except for Bella.
They were supposed to be here any time now. We were spending our last few minutes alone together. I didn't know what I was going to do without her in my life.
"I'm gonna miss you so much, Bella," I said, tears filling my eyes. I knew it wasn't very manly to cry, but we were alone and I didn't care.
"I know. I'll miss you too. We'll write each other all the time. I can call you when I get a chance and you can call me too. I'm sure you'll have much better luck at it than me," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. I finally let the tears fall from my eyes as I wiped hers from her face with my finger tips.
"I don't know what to do without you. You've always been here for me and I don't know how I'm gonna do it without you," I said, my voice shaking. Bella smiled behind her tears and reached up, cupping my cheek.
"I'll always be here for you, Edward. Always," she whispered before leaning forward and touching her lips with mine. I'd never imagined my first kiss, but this was definitely a good thing. She pulled away from me after a bit, and placed her forehead against mine.
"Thank you for being my first kiss," she said quietly. I smiled widely at her and reached down, grabbing her hands in mine.
"Thank you for being mine too," I whispered.
I had been living with the Cullens for six months and I could still remember the look on Bella's face as we drove away in the fancy black car. Everyone was gathered at the bottom steps of the house and she stood off on her own, away from the other kids. Tears streamed down her face as she smiled sadly at me.
As we began to drive off, I turned around in the back seat, looking out the rear glass. Our eyes were locked the entire time, though I could barely see her through the tears. I kept watch of her until we turned at the end of the drive and she disappeared from my sight.
I had thought about her every day for six months, mostly at night when I'd wake up from my nightmares. I wished that she was there beside me, soothing me back to sleep in the way that only she knew how. I'd written her lots of letters, some babbling on about crap I did here, some telling her that I'd wait forever to be with her.
The thing was, in the entire six months that I had been away from St. Nicholas', I hadn't heard from Bella. She hadn't responded to any of the letters I had sent. I had tried to call her a few times, but I was always told she was busy and that she would call me back. She never did.
So after who knows how many unanswered letters and unreturned phone calls, I decided I was finished with girls. Maybe not with all girls, but with at least one girl in particular. I decided I wouldn't waste one more minute thinking about Bella Swan. While she would always be my first kiss, I knew there would be plenty more. She wanted nothing more to do with me, so I shouldn't bother thinking of her.
18 years old- 2000
I sat on the bed in my room, looking at the empty space around me. Shelves were empty, but boxes were filled with all my belongings. Each box was labeled with some sort of hint at what was inside. 'Edward's books' or 'Edward's music' was on most of the boxes. I couldn't bear to part with any of my favorites deciding that my dorm room would be filled with books, music and little else.
The scene caused me to remember another time all my belongings had been packed up, ready to be moved. I hadn't thought about her in a while and couldn't believe that today of all days she would pop into my head.
"Come in," I answered to the knock on the bedroom door. Carlisle poked his head inside, a smile across his face.
"Hey, Dad," I said as he came inside and sat on the bed beside me. It had taken me a while to start calling them Mom and Dad. I knew they loved me, but somehow in my young mind I felt like I was betraying my real parents. They completely understood and thought that maybe I should bring this up with my therapist. After a few sessions and many tears I realized that my parents would understand. While I didn't immediately start calling them Mom and Dad, it didn't take too long.
"Nervous?" he asked me when I stood up and began to double check all the boxes already packed.
"Yeah, a little," I told him honestly. This would be the first time I would be completely alone, not knowing anyone around me. Thankfully, the nightmares didn't come quite as often. And I had learned to control the screaming, so I wouldn't have to worry about waking my roommate and embarrassing myself by crying.
"Everyone usually is when they go off to college, son. But I want you to know that even though you're going to a school on the other side of the country, your mom and I will still be here for you. You are never alone," he said before standing up and walking over to me.
"Thanks, Dad," I said, fighting the emotion in my voice. He hugged me tightly, gave a manly pat on the back and then released me.
"We better head downstairs. I don't think your mom's goodbye will be quite as easy," he said before we both started laughing.
I loved college. Yeah, I had only been there a week, but I really loved the freedom. I didn't have to worry about telling anyone when I would be home. If I didn't want to go to class, I didn't have to. I could drink a beer on a Tuesday night if I wanted to and didn't have to explain.
I also had a great roommate named Ben. We were both taking classes to become doctors so we had a lot in common. His girlfriend spent a lot of time in our room and I was okay with it. Although it made me wish I had someone. They set me up a few times with some of her friends, but nothing had ever come of it.
"I'm gonna head over to the library," Ben said, grabbing his messenger bag and heading for the door.
"Alright. I'll catch up with you later," I said, not bothering to look up from my laptop. I was finishing up a paper that was due next week, hoping to give myself a worry-free weekend.
"Hey, someone's here to see you, Ed," Ben said from the doorway before walking out. I saved my work, setting my laptop on the small coffee table in front of me.
Looking up at the person standing in the open door, my mouth dropped open in shock. I stood up and walked slowly over to her, unsure if she was real.
"Bella?" I whispered as I stood in front of her. A small smile graced her face as one single tear rolled down her cheek.
"Edward," she sighed before I pulled her into a hug. I kicked the door shut with my foot and walked us further into the room, never letting go of her. If I had my way, I'd never let her out of my sight again. It was amazing how all the anger and disappointment from five years ago evaporated with only one look at her.
I let go of her body, but still held on to her hand as I led us over to the couch. Sitting down, I turned and faced her and saw that although she had a huge smile on her face, tears were still falling from her eyes.
"What's wrong, Bella?"
As we sat on the couch that afternoon Bella told me all about what happened when I left St. Nicholas'. Most of her story was very tough to hear.
A few weeks after I'd left, Mrs. Cope retired and the home was taken over by a younger woman. Bella said the woman was pure evil. Victoria Hunter had made Bella's life a living hell. She wouldn't allow her to make any phone calls and confiscated the letters I sent to her before she could even open them. All these years I had been angry at Bella, when really my anger should have been aimed at someone I didn't even know.
Seeing as Bella and Leah were the only two girls at the home, they hoped Miss Hunter would protect them from the older boys like Mrs. Cope had, but that didn't happen. She didn't know if the woman was blind or if she was just turning the other way, but Bella blamed everything that happened to her after I left completely on Victoria. Personally, I blamed myself. If I had begged Carlisle and Esme to take Bella with us that day, those terrible things never would have happened to her. Paul, Sam and Embry never would have had a chance to touch her. She would never have even known of the existence of Victoria Hunter.
I held Bella in my arms for a while after she told her story, listening to her quietly cry. I'd do anything to take her pain away right now. I swore to myself that if I ever saw any of those guys again, they would definitely pay. After a while, Bella pulled away from me and leaned back against the couch.
"So, how did you even find me?" I asked her, honestly curious. We hadn't been in contact for years and I had no idea how she could have found me.
"I feel horrible about it now, but I had to find you. I knew what town you moved to with Carlisle and Esme because Mrs. Cope told me before she left. Once I turned eighteen, I left St. Nicholas' and made my way there. I asked around town and found out that Carlisle worked at the hospital. I hung around outside of his office at the hospital for a few days and tried to find out where you lived, but I heard some talk that he would be taking his son to college in a few days. I knew immediately they were talking about you because you were always so smart and I knew you'd go to college."
"Anyway, deciding that I didn't want to confront Dr. Cullen, I sorta broke into his office when he left one afternoon and found out what college you were going to. And, here I am. I would have been here a lot sooner, but hitchhiking across the country kinda takes some time," she told me, shyly laughing at the end.
"You're telling me that you hitchhiked all the way across the country on your own? Are you fucking crazy, Bella?" I practically yelled at her. She closed her eyes and shook her head smiling.
"All that I just told you, and of course that's the thing you react to," she said. I pulled her into my arms again and hugged her tightly to me, never wanting to let her go.
"I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you. Never again. I will always be here for you. No one will ever hurt you."
23 years old- 2005
Since that day in my dorm room, Bella and I had been together. She had no other place to stay, so during my freshman year she had to hide out in my room. She found a job working at some bookstore close to the campus, and was able to walk to work while I attended classes.
During my sophomore year we decided to get an off campus apartment together and we had been there ever since. I was working toward get my medical degree and was hardly ever at home. When I was at home I wanted to spend time with Bella, but that rarely happened.
She'd began to hang out with a very different crowd. They drank a lot and did all kinds of drugs. While both Bella and I had dabbled with smoking weed, we never ventured to anything more hard core. At least I thought we hadn't.
I drug myself upstairs to our apartment and opened the door. I had been in classes all morning and afternoon and was ready to lie down and sleep. Tossing my messenger bag on the couch, I made my way to our bedroom. I was surprised to find Bella there, but even more surprised at what lay in her hand.
"What the fuck are you doing?" I yelled at her as I slung the door open so hard it hit the wall. She immediately jumped up and tried to hide the evidence of what she'd been doing.
"What are you doing home?" she asked me, stuffing the needle and rubber band under the pillow. I shook my head and snatched the pillow out of her hand.
"I'm home because I fucking live here! What the fuck, Bella? How long has this been going on? Why are you doing this?" I ask her, pacing back and forth across the bedroom floor.
"Maybe if you were home you'd fucking know how long this has been going on!" she yelled back at me, standing up from the bed.
"Oh, don't give me that bullshit. I'm going to school, becoming a doctor, trying to make something better of myself. Meanwhile, you sit on your ass and do drugs! What else have you lied to me about?"
"Well excuse me for not being perfect! I can't be the perfect girlfriend for you! I'm sorry that getting high is the only time I can clear my head. When I'm high is the only time that I can forget about what happened to me. It's the only time that I can forget that I was gang raped by a bunch of teenage boys while the one person who should have protected me wasn't there!" she yelled at me as tears streamed down her face. I couldn't believe she was bringing that shit up now.
"I can't believe you! You can't pin that shit on me now! You've never blamed me before, so why start now? Or have you been lying the entire time? You know what, that was years ago so you need to get the fuck over it!" I yelled at her and immediately regretted it. I knew that what had happened to her wasn't something you just got over. That kind of shit stuck with you for the rest of your life.
"Look, I shouldn't have..." I started, but she interrupted me.
"Get out! Get the fuck out!" she yelled at me as she pushed my chest.
"Baby, I'm sorry. I was pissed, but..." I said.
"Just leave! I'll be out of here by the time you get back. Leave, please," she said as she slid to the floor by the bed.
"I don't want you to leave, Bella. We're both overreacting. Look, we'll talk about this," I said, trying to reason with her.
"Leave me alone, please," she cried. I slowly backed out of the room, hating myself as I left her alone. I grabbed my keys from the side table and walked back out of the apartment.
I came back to the apartment a couple of hours later to find most of her stuff gone. I had no idea where she'd gone because I had no idea who these new friends of hers were. Her cell phone was lying on the counter, leaving me no way of even contacting her. She was gone.
I sat at home for a week straight, waiting for her to come back. I skipped all my classes and did nothing but sit in the quiet apartment, not wanting to miss a single knock at the door.
I started going crazy. Every time I heard footsteps outside the apartment door, I would run to it and swing it open. It was always our next door neighbor, who surprisingly hadn't yet called the cops on me yet for being some kind of peeping tom or something.
I heard yet another set of footsteps outside the door and raced to it, swinging it open. We both jumped back, Bella's hand raised in the air as if she was getting ready to knock. Her eyes were puffy and she looked horrible.
"Please, Edward. I need help."
26 years old- 2008
When Bella showed back up at the apartment that day two years ago, I knew she needed me. I thought it was just her drug problem, but it turned out to be more.
She'd been having medical problems for months and hadn't told me. She was scared she was dying and turned to drugs and alcohol rather than to me. That was something we needed to work on still. Bella wasn't the type of person who liked to burden anyone with her problems, especially me. I tried to tell her that I loved her and she could tell me anything. I still didn't think she understood.
I stood by her side through countless doctor's appointments. I stood by her and let her scream at me and throw things at me, taking her anger out on me because she didn't know who else to be angry at.
After months of worry, Bella's health was given the all clear and we were doing great. We'd flown back home last year and spent the holidays with Mom and Dad. Although they were a little leery of Bella's presence again in my life, by the end of the vacation, they'd accepted her fully. I even planned to ask her a certain question that evening at dinner and was positive she'd say yes.
"Bella? Baby, where are you?" I called out into the apartment. I looked around for her as I walked into the bedroom, but evidently she wasn't home. I opened up the closet door to grab some clothes to change into after my shower and was puzzled.
Bella's side of the closet was completely empty. All her clothes and shoes were gone. I walked back into the living room and looked at the bookshelf. All of Bella's favorite books were gone as well.
Bella was gone.
29 years old- Spring 2011
Over the past three years, I floated through life. I had an amazing job at a great hospital. I had good friends. I owned my own home. I had a dog. But something was missing. I knew exactly what that something was, but had no way of finding it.
After Bella left, I searched for her everywhere. It was like she had fallen off the face of the earth. I was close to dropping out of medical school to search for her full time, but Dad came and stopped me. He told me that if she left me the way she did, I was better off without her in my life. He was probably right, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt to hear.
I was a twenty-eight-year-old single doctor without someone special in my life. All my college friends were married and most had a child or one on the way. I had no one. My co-workers continually tried to set me up on dates, but I always turned them down. However, one night I finally relented.
Lauren was the cousin of one of the nurses at the hospital. She was extremely beautiful, with blonde hair and blue eyes and thankfully held none of the physical qualities of a certain other person I would undoubtedly compare her to.
I pulled the sheet back up to cover her naked back and slipped my pajama pants on. Although I hadn't planned on sleeping with her, the three year drought I was on ensured I wasn't going to turn down an offer.
Just as I cut the coffee pot on and was about to start breakfast, there was a knock at the door. I sat the frying pan back down on the counter and wondered who was at the door that early on a Sunday morning.
Opening the door, prepared to tell whoever it was to go away, my heart stopped beating. Her brown eyes were just as big and beautiful as ever. Her dark brown hair was hidden by the scarf she had tied around her head. She looked as if she had lost a lot of weight, but she was still just as beautiful as she always was.
"Bella," I sighed, stepping forward to pull her into my arms. She smiled widely at me, but then her smiled dropped suddenly.
"Edward, who was at the door?" Lauren asked from behind me. I turned around to find Lauren standing there wearing only my black button up from last night. It would be clear to anyone what exactly had went on here.
"I'm sorry," Bella said, slowly backing away as she shook her head. "I'm interrupting. I should have called first or something. I'm so sorry." I saw the tears pooling in her eyes before she turned around and quickly made her way back to her car. I stood there frozen, unable to move. I didn't know whether to turn around and face Lauren, or run down the street chasing after Bella's car that had driven away.
29 years old- Fall 2011
I didn't chase after Bella that day, nor did I even search for her. I figured if she really needed to speak with me she would find me. Lauren and I hadn't gone out again since that day. I shared with her a little about Bella and me and she knew that deep down I still had feelings for her. I couldn't lie to her and tell her it wasn't true.
I didn't know if Bella and I would ever get back together, but I knew that deep down a part of me would always love her. We'd been through so much together in our lives and that wasn't something a lot of people could compete with.
"Dr. Cullen, you're needed at the 4th floor nurses station. Dr. Cullen, 4th floor nurses station," announced the voice over the intercom.
Oncology floor? Who would be calling me from the oncology floor?
I stepped into the elevator, pressed the button and took the short ride up to the fourth floor. Stepping out and turning toward the nurses station, I noticed a woman standing off to the side. She stepped forward as I neared and I assumed she was the reason I was paged.
"Dr. Edward Cullen?" she asked me. I held out my hand and she shook it. I had no idea who the young girl was or why she wanted me.
"Angela Weber," she replied and began to walk down the hall. Not knowing what else to do, I simply followed her.
"I was told only to call you when it got to this point," she said as she pushed open one of the patient rooms and we stepped inside. Angela stayed in front of me, but as she stepped off to the side, my knees nearly buckled.
Laying in the hospital bed in front of me was my Bella. She had tubes and wires coming out from everywhere. Despite being a doctor for years, it is traumatic seeing someone you love lying in that hospital bed. I felt for the chair beside me and lowered myself down, not taking my eyes off of her.
She looked so fragile. All her beautiful hair was gone and face was so thin. I wanted to touch her, hold her, but I was afraid I would break her.
"What happened?" I quietly asked.
"Stage Four Ovarian Cancer. She fought and fought and fought and then one day, it was just like she'd given up. She said she was going to talk to someone about something very important and when she came back, it was like the light in her eyes had just gone out. She hasn't been the same since that day," she said quietly, as she held Bella's hand on the other side of the bed.
I leaned forward and gently picked up her other hand, holding it as tightly as I could without hurting her.
"Why didn't she tell me? I would have been there for her," I said, tears running down my face.
"I'm only supposed to give you this and tell you that I will answer any questions you have after you read it," Angela said, handing over a very thick envelope to me. I start to open it, but she stopped me.
"I'm also not supposed to let you read it here. She said to make sure you went home," she said, smiling a little.
"She's always so bossy," I told Angela and she nodded her head, smiling. I stood up from my seat and bent over Bella's fragile body on the bed.
"I love you. I'll be back soon," I whispered before gently kissing her forehead.
I made myself comfortable on the couch and finally opened up the envelope to read. Some of it looked to be some sort of legal document. I sat those aside for the time being and focused on the handwritten pages I held. I took a deep breath and began to read Bella's words to me.
I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am. I know you must hate me right now, but I have to get this out. As you already know, I don't have much time left and I cannot leave this world without telling you.
I love you so much. I always have and I always will. When I left you that day, it nearly killed me. You see, I found the ring in your underwear drawer and knew I had to leave. I had been having more medical problems and knew that I couldn't marry you knowing that I was dying. So, I left. I was a coward who couldn't face you and burden you with my problems so I took what seemed to be the easy way out.
When I left, I went back to the same horrible crowd I was with before. I went back to the drugs and alcohol and I swear to you, if there was one thing in my life that I could change, it would be that. I've never hated myself for anything in my life as much as I hate myself for those actions.
Because I wasn't actually sick Edward. It turned out I was pregnant. I had similar symptoms, so I automatically assumed I was sick again and I wouldn't put you through that. But my stupid, insane actions caused me to lose the baby. I was pregnant with your baby and my getting drunk and high caused a miscarriage. I am so sorry. I wish I could rewind time and take it back. I want nothing more than that.
After I found out about the miscarriage, I went right back and did the same crap all over again. The only way I could forget the pain was to numb it and the drugs and alcohol helped with that.
About eighteen months ago, I found myself in a horrible situation I couldn't get out of. I got myself into some trouble and ended up pregnant again. I knew I needed to take care of myself this time around, so I checked myself into rehab.
Angela, the wonderful person who gave you this note, was my roommate at the facility. Together, we've fought the addiction and won.
I just wish I could win this battle. But once the words stage four came out of the doctors mouth I knew my fight was up. I still fought, but it wasn't for myself, it was for my son, Anthony, and for you.
Angela convinced me that I needed to tell you about the pregnancy and why I left you and the fact that I was sick again. I found your address and decided to pay you a visit on a bright Sunday morning. I'm sure you remember this very well. It turned out you weren't alone. I was so hurt and embarrassed. I just pictured the whole thing very differently in my mind. I knew you wouldn't be alone forever, but to actually see you with someone else with my own eyes nearly killed me.
That's when I finally decided I was done. My body was so tired and all I wanted to do was rest. But I knew I needed to take care of one more thing... Anthony.
My nine-month-old son Anthony will be all alone in this world. He has no other family. I know you remember what it's like to have no one. Angela can't take care of him because she has two small children herself. And as you know, I have no other family. His father isn't in the picture, so there's no one there either.
So, Edward, I'm begging you, please take care of my son. Please don't let him end up in the system like us. I know that you remember exactly what happened to me back then so I am begging you, please, please don't let it happen to him. Please.
Enclosed you will find all legal documents you need to make Anthony legally yours. All I ask of you is that you don't let him forget me. Make sure he knows all about me. Make sure he knows how much his Mama loved him and wanted him. Make sure he is loved, and kept safe, and has the most wonderful life possible. Please do this for me, Edward.
I love you so much and I truly am so sorry for all the pain I have caused you in your life. Please don't forget about me.
I stood up and wiped the tears from my eyes and rushed back out the door. The entire ride to the hospital I kept repeating Bella's letter in my head. I needed to make sure she knew I loved her too.
I ran up the steps to the oncology floor and skidded to a stop in front of her room. The door was open and the room was empty. I turned around and came face to face with Angela. She had tears streaming down her face as she shook her head sadly.
Five Days Later
I stood outside the small apartment building sweating my ass off. It wasn't hot outside, but I was nervous as hell. I'd known this day was coming since I'd read her letter. I'd really known this day was coming as soon as I signed the adoption papers.
I was now a father to a bouncing baby boy, Anthony Charles Swan Cullen. I couldn't completely wipe out Bella's name from his so I decided to keep it. I hadn't spent any time with him and had only seen pictures. After sharing Bella's story with my mom and dad, they were thrilled to fly over and help me out. I figured I would definitely need all the help I could get.
I finally got the nerve up and rang Angela's doorbell. She'd been taking care of Anthony for me until I could get all the legal stuff settled. I was here to finally take him home. My mom and dad were back at my house finishing up the last minute touches on his nursery. I wouldn't be surprised if there was more stuff in it than when I left.
Angela opened the door, smiling widely. I immediately looked down and knew I was looking at my new son. His hair was the exact shade of brown as Bella's and was sticking up everywhere. His big brown eyes stared back at me and it was like looking into Bella's eyes. I knew those similarities would be difficult to look at every day, then I also realized having him in my life would be like always having a piece of her with me.
I reached out and gently took Anthony from Angela's arms, cradling him in mine. I ran my finger along the apple of his cheek as he stared at me with wonder.
"Good morning, Anthony. I guess you can call me Daddy."