Chapter 8: Take Things As They Come
Carlisle came into the room two hours later and found Edward and Bella curled up together, Bella sleeping peacefully in Edward's arms.
"Son, what if I had been Charlie walking through that door?"
"Screw Charlie. He practically throws her away, I don't care what he thinks!"
"Well, Bella may care."
"She's the one who asked me to get in next to her so she could sleep."
"OK, but we have to wake her up now. With a concussion like hers, it isn't a good thing for her to sleep more than a couple of hours. She should try to eat some broth and Jello while she is up." As if on cue, a nurse came through the door with a tray and sat it down and began opening containers.
Edward sighed and started to shift his weight so he could see Bella's face and stroke her cheek lightly. The cold usually woke her gently.
"Bella? Bella, honey?" She stirred but shrank down into the covers with an irritated pout that made him grin. "Bella, you've been sleeping for a while and you need to wake up for the nurse to check your vitals." Her eyes popped open and she looked guilty, as if she had been caught doing something she shouldn't have been, practically tossing him out of the bed.
"Sorry, forgot where I was for a little while."
"That's a good thing, baby." And then Edward stopped and mentally kicked himself for calling her 'baby'. What was he thinking? He wasn't thinking, he was feeling, that was the problem. Bella just grinned at him and flushed a bright pink.
The nurse declared her fit to eat her dinner of chicken broth and Jello and left the room.
"Ugh, Carlisle, why don't I get a real meal? Something in the salad family, perhaps?"
"You have a pretty bad concussion, Bella, from not wearing your seatbelt and hitting the steering wheel head-on. That tends to cause nausea, especially when you eat and with that bruised sternum, vomiting anything with more texture than water would be incredibly painful. So we start slowly. Maybe a salad for dinner tomorrow night if you hold down your broth meals until then, ok? Breakfast just may be oatmeal!" He said brightly, as if that could make her feel better.
"I took it off." She whispered, almost inaudible.
"You took what off, Bella?" Carlisle asked as she stared at her hands, obviously upset.
"The seatbelt. Just before the truck hit the pole, I took my seatbelt off."
"So it wasn't an accident, then." Carlisle prodded.
"No. It wasn't. I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I wasn't thinking. I was reacting." Then something dawned on her. "Oh God! The package! Charlie will find the package with…with…my—"
"No, Bella, he won't. Alice picked it up right after you were brought in here. She did some mental investigating as to why you would purposely want to ram your truck into a pole and discovered the package and its contents. I'm sorry that you had to face that alone, but you won't be going back to Charlie's for now. You will be staying with us. So no more worries about opening packages on your own."
"I wasn't dreaming, then? My Dad really did kick me out?" She stirred her broth, never taking a sip and watching it cool as she moved it around.
"He didn't kick you out, baby, he just thinks that maybe the two of you need some space for a while, that's all.
"Did he tell you that?" She asked, hopefully.
"No, he just threatened to shoot me and left, but it was implied, I'm sure of it." That earned a small giggle and a small sip of broth. She made a face and put her spoon down.
"Go after that Jello. I hear red is the best flavor!" Edward encouraged her to eat something.
"How would you know? You don't even eat! Of course you would think blood red anything would be the best flavor." Bella teased and Carlisle chuckled.
"True, true. But eat it anyway." Edward picked up a spoon and scooped up the Jello and gave Bella a big bite. She laughed behind her hand as she attempted to chew the huge amount he had given her and he was grateful for her seemingly improved mood.
"Come on, there's plenty more where that came from!" Edward smiled as he threatened her with another overflowing spoonful of the jiggling goo.
"No, no more! Please!" Bella pleaded as she laughed. Edward loved to hear her laugh. He realized it had been a long time since he had heard that delicious sound.
"Take it easy on her, son, she needs to go slowly." Carlisle interjected.
"Alright, Carlisle, take all the fun away!" Edward said, mocking dejected as he put the spoon down and Bella continued to giggle.
"I think you two have this under control! I will leave you to it, but you also need your rest. So don't keep her up too long, Edward. She needs those two hour naps." Carlisle chided as he placed Bella's chart back in its place on the end of the bed and walked out of the room.
"I can feed myself, you know." Bella finally managed after swallowing the mammoth-sized bite of Jello. Edward looked embarrassed and handed her the spoon. "But that was more fun." And she giggled again. It was a welcomed sound, it had been awhile since he'd heard her giggle.
"Finish this gourmet meal, then it's lights-out for you!" Bella got a sad, scared look on her face, though she tried to hide it from him.
"Are you leaving, then?"
"No way! I'm here as long as you are here!" And he leaned down and gave her a sweet kiss that tasted like strawberry Jello.
"What are we doing, Edward? What is this for you? I know what I'm feeling, but I'm confused about so many other things. I'm not confused about you, though."
'I think we are falling for each other.' Edward thought before giving her a long, lingering kiss. "I've never felt this way for a girl before." He finally finished.
"I've never felt this way for a guy before." Bella whispered.
"So how about we skip labels and just let things happen as they happen?" Edward suggested and Bella looked relieved. "No expectations, no pressure. Just enjoying each other's company."
"That sounds like a plan." Bella smiled and instinctively curled up on one side of the bed, making room for him on the other side.
"I love watching you sleep, sweet Bella." And they fell into a passionate kiss, their tongues playing the timeless dance of budding lovers. Finally Edward pulled away.
"Almost as much as I love kissing you, but sleep must come first or my father will have my head!"
"Alright, alright!" She relented, hands raised. She turned her back to him and snuggled against him, quickly falling into a sound, peaceful sleep.
There was a knock at Charlie's door. He wasn't in the mood for visitors. He had just gotten off the phone with a hysterical Renee who was convinced that Bella's life had gone to Hell because she'd moved to Forks and "what else is there to do in Forks but drugs or have sex?" Charlie just rubbed the bridge of his nose as the knock sounded again. This time more forceful. As he pulled open the door, he found the Cullen women on his front steps.
"Great, Cullens, just who I want to see."
"We've come to get some of Bella's things. Carlisle tells me that you want Bella to come stay with us for a while. At least while she heals." Esme said curtly, not really in the mood for small talk but ever the level-headed one in the room, trying to ignore his rudeness. Alice and Rosalie stood by in silence, obviously seething.
"Fine, go. Take whatever you want. Alice knows the way." And Charlie opened the door wider, letting them enter with their empty suitcases. Alice and Rosalie stomped upstairs to Bella's room while Esme watched Charlie flop onto the couch and, judging by the number of cans on the coffee table, pop open his 7th can of beer. Rather large cans, at that. She walked into the living room and sat on the chair opposite him.
"Drowning your sorrows isn't going to help Bella. She needs you, you know. Now more than ever."
"Bella got herself into this mess, she can get herself out of it. And you Cullens knew what was happening and didn't say a word!"
"Don't go accusing people of something unless you know it's true, Charlie Swan. We had no idea Edward was going to share the news that he was the father. We heard it for the first time when you did. But we don't abandon our children in their time of need and how you can is beyond me. Stop drinking your beer and go talk to Bella when you're sober. I think you'll find that she is a scared little girl with a huge problem on her hands that she doesn't know how to face and has little in the way of a support system to face it."
"What do you mean you didn't know, either? So Edward being the potential father was news to you, too? And yet you remained so calm? How? I know how. It's your SON. Not your DAUGHTER. Your son can walk away. Throw a little money at the problem and not be responsible for anything else. It's Bella who has to face the world with a growing belly, with a kid on her hip at 17."
"How dare you accuse Edward of such a thing. You don't even know Edward!" Esme was losing her cool, which rarely happens.
"Yeah? Well whose fault is that?" They just stared at each other for a long, tense moment. A mama bear and a papa bear, both angry, both defending their own, when Esme simply got up and ascended the stairs to help the girls.
When she arrived in Bella's room, Rosalie was taking the clothing out of the closet and Alice was focusing on the chest of drawers.
"Is there anything in here that Bella might want to comfort her?" Esme asked.
"No, I don't think Bella will find much comfort at home for a while." Alice replied.
"So is her dad still being a dick?"
"Rosalie! Language! And yes, he is still being a particular part of the male anatomy. Why can't he see how much she is suffering?" Esme scolded and then mused.
"To be fair, he doesn't know what happened. Maybe if he did, it would make a difference." Rosalie responded.
"It shouldn't make a difference. I don't care if Bella had sex with the entire football team, she would still deserve his support and love at this trying time. Not his judgment and hatefulness." Esme grew more frustrated by the second.
"Let's just finish this up and get out of here. We will have Edward's room all set up for her when she gets out of the hospital. I think she will find comfort in that." Alice said.
"Bella, honey, it's time to wake up again." Edward stroked her cheek and she stirred. He loved the way she pouted when he had to wake her. But then again, he loved everything about her.
"Come on, baby, it's time to wake up…the nurse is here to take your vitals again and they've brought more yummy gourmet food!" Bella's eyes snapped open as she came to the realization that she was still in the hospital and still clinging to Edward in front of a nurse. She tried pushing him out of the bed but he just laughed and slowly unfolded himself into an upright position next to her bed at his own pace.
"I don't suppose there is a veggie burger in there, is there?" Bella asked, hopefully."
"Sorry, kiddo. Broth, Jello, and coffee." The nurse responded, sympathetically.
"Coffee? I can't have a veggie burger but I can have coffee? Thank God for small miracles!"
"One cup a day is safe for the baby." The nurse said off handedly as she fluffed Bella's pillows and busied herself about the room. Edward saw Bella visibly shift from a good mood to one of shock and horror. She didn't speak until the nurse finally left.
"I knew it wasn't a dream, but I didn't want to talk about it until I HAD to." Bella whispered to Edward, her eyes downcast and her tray untouched. He gently grabbed her hands in his, sitting next to her on the bed and pushing the tray out of the way with his shoulder. She silently laid her head on his chest and they sat like that for several minutes before Edward spoke.
"Baby, I know you don't want to talk about the fetus. I can't begin to understand what you are feeling, I'm not trying to say that, but I understand why you would want to hide from the situation and pretend it doesn't exist. But, Bella, it does exist and you have precious little time to decide what you are going to do, how you are going to proceed. Maybe we do need to talk about this. After all, I'm in this with you, now. I'm here for you every step of the way, no matter what you decide to do.
"Abortion makes sense. I know that it does. How could I look into the face of a child born to a rapist and love it? And how could I carry that child for nine months knowing that the product of that rape grows inside of me, feeds off of me and then give it away? But if I choose to abort the…fetus…then the whole town will know. I don't know what to do, Edward. I just don't know what is best for everyone."
"Bella, forgive my language, but fuck everyone else and what they think. You need to do what is best for you and your sanity right now and if they can't handle that, then it is their problem. I heard what Charlie said, that he wouldn't call you his daughter anymore if you had an abortion, but he was just angry. I'm sure he would change his mind eventually." Bella just shook her head against Edward's chest.
"No, Edward. My Dad doesn't say things he doesn't mean. He meant it. I would no longer be a part of his family. I would probably have to leave Forks and go stay with Mom and Phil in Florida. But I couldn't bear to leave you. Not now. Maybe not ever." Bella finished with a whisper.
"Then you would stay with us!" Edward exclaimed. They continued to discuss their options, not knowing that Esme and Carlisle were listening from the hallway.
"Poor Bella. I don't envy her choice." Esme said as she shook her head sadly. "I still can't believe she was raped, and now this?"
"I know, Esme, darling. It's too much for any human girl to handle. You remember Rosalie, nearly sickened with rage and hatred? I expected that from Bella but I suppose she isn't Rose, is she?"
"Not by a long shot! Bella internalizes things, pretends they don't exist. It's how she has always handled everything. She just goes about her daily business just like it is a business and tries not to feel. But when she finally feels, finally lets it in, she feels so deeply that she does things like crash trucks into poles and consider taking painkillers to overdose because she just can't handle those deep emotions on her own. She isn't like our Rosalie at all. You always know what Rose is feeling."
"Did you get her all moved into the house?"
"Yes, we put her in Edward's room. We thought she might like it best in there." Esme mused.
"Yes, you are probably right in that assumption." Carlisle agreed.
"I'm really worried about her, Carlisle. If it was just the baby she had to deal with, I think she could handle that and come through the other side wounded but whole. But she hasn't even had time to deal with the rape, her father throws her out, the entire town thinks that Edward got her pregnant and now she has to decide what to do about that pregnancy. We will have to keep a close eye on her." Esme's forehead wrinkled with concern.
"I think you are right. Legally, I'm supposed to report the suicide attempt, but I'm playing ignorant and pretending that I don't know whether it was an accident or not. The police are assuming that she fell asleep. I hope I'm not doing her a disservice, but if they find out the truth, it's a mandatory 72 hour psych hold and I don't want to put Bella through that if I can help it."
"That's good of you, Carlisle. You are a good man." And Esme stood on her tiptoes to give him a chaste peck on the lips before declaring herself late for her errands and leaving him standing in the hallway alone to ponder everything that had happened in less than two weeks. Carlisle stood, shaking his head, afraid to think of what could come next.