I must again thank StoryPainter. Her beta reading is invaluable, and she accomplishes it with unparalleled accuracy and grace.


The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephenie Meyer, Summit Entertainment and anyone else who may legally claim ownership. No copyright infringement is intended.


WARNING:

This chapter includes a graphic discussion of medical and police procedures that are normally employed after a sexual assault or rape.

There is also mention of a pharmaceutical abortifacient, although, no abortion takes place in this story.

Finally, Ted's unfounded belief that his mother was raped comes up in conversation briefly.

If any of these themes will be disturbing for you, simply stop reading when you get to the third scene break.

Then, resume reading when next chapter is posted.

Although, these themes were included for a reason; hopefully, when the next chapter is up you will be able to follow the rest of the plot without missing too much.


Tortured screams rent the air causing Bella to wake with a start. In an instant she realized the screams were coming from her. In her nightmare Ted had been brutally assaulting her. She still felt the pain in her stomach. She realized that the pain must have prompted her nightmare. It was excruciating. She curled into a ball, it followed her. Her heart beat a faster pace than if she'd been running for hours. Her headache fought for dominance with the searing pain in her lower abdomen. She felt the wetness then, on her thighs. She couldn't remember ever feeling so hot; yet, she was shivering uncontrollably. She pulled herself to her knees and barely got her head over the side of the bed before she began to vomit. She continued to retch long after her stomach was empty, causing petechia to form around her eyes. All she could hear was the ringing in her ears.

As soon as Ted opened the door, he heard the sounds of Bella's distress. He rushed to the bedroom where he'd left her. What he saw made him take a step back. He froze as he watched Bella. He saw the blood and vomit. Bella was clutching her chest; her face, especially her forehead, was bright red. Her eyes were pained and confused.

"Bella, what's wrong?"

Her voice was weak and distorted from her pain. "I can't… I can't see right…"

She stopped speaking. Her eyes rolled as she began to seize. Ted watched in horror as her teeth bit through her lip. Blood poured down her chin. He had no idea what to do for her. He had wanted to protect her not hurt her. He made a decision. He picked her convulsing body up in his supernaturally strong arms and raced to his car. He lay the front passenger seat back and put her on it. He ran to the driver's side and started the old orange Gremlin. He pushed it as fast as he could towards one of the last places he ever wanted to set foot, Forks Community Hospital.


Bella had stopped convulsing on the drive to the hospital, but she began again as soon as Ted parked the car. He lifted her up and carried her seizing form to the reception desk in Emergency.

Dr. Snow, who had been talking with a patient's family, noticed Bella and rushed over. "Bella? What's happened?"

Ted spoke briefly. "I don't know, I found her beside the road."

A nurse pushed a gurney over. Ted placed Bella on it. He watched as they pushed her through a set of swinging doors. He spoke to the receptionist. "I'll go get her bag from the car, she probably has an insurance card in it." He disappeared into the night.


Charlie and the Blacks were the first to arrive at the hospital. They had been at the coffee shop half a mile away when Charlie got the call. Charlie had not been allowed to see Bella. He'd been told that she was being taken care of and that he needed to wait. He looked completely overwrought. He'd clearly not been taking care of himself during the time his daughter was missing. His face was deeply etched with fear. He glanced up as a group of Bella's friends from school rushed in. The one in the middle, the Newton boy, Charlie realized, was bleeding from his nose. He heard Jessica Stanley insisting that he be seen immediately. The receptionist would not be moved. She informed the group that the doctor was with a real emergency and instructed them to sit quietly and wait.

Jessica was about to argue, but Charlie caught her eye. At the Chief of Police's stern look, Jessica complied. The outer doors opened again and some of the boys from La Push approached them. It was Seth who spoke. "Hey, Jake, what happened? Did they find Bella?"

That drew the attention of the large group from Forks High. The whole town knew Bella was missing.

"She's here. The hospital said someone found her on the side of the road. I'd bet you anything that it wasn't a random passerby like they believe. Whoever took her, dumped her here when they were done with her. They won't tell us what he did to her. They say they're still examining her and they'll tell us as soon as they know anything."

A tense hush settled over the Emergency Department.

The receptionist came out from behind her counter with a clipboard. "Chief Swan?"

Charlie, his mind obviously on Bella, answered absently. "Yeah?"

"Admitting brought this paperwork up for you, so you won't have to go down there. I need you to fill it out. Bella's unresponsive, so as her next of kin, you need to sign the consent to treat her."

"I can't."

"It will only take a second, Chief." The receptionist said kindly, as she pressed a pen into Charlie's hand.

He gave the pen back and refused the clipboard. "I can't because I'm not her next of kin anymore."

Just as several sets of puzzled eyes focused on Chief Swan, Dr. Cullen rushed in, his overcoat billowing behind him as he moved. He barely kept his speed human. He looked worse than Charlie. The expression on his face was tormented; the dread in his eyes was clear, the fear and desperation that emanated from him was heartbreaking to behold. He was followed closely by his family, they stayed back as he rushed straight for the swinging double doors leading to the emergency examination area. He had to stop when Charlie reached out and grasped his arm. Carlisle spared Charlie a brief glance and spoke almost too quickly to be understood. "As soon as I know anything..."

Charlie didn't release him. "Carlisle you've got to sign." He took the papers and pen from the receptionist and handed them to Carlisle. Carlisle shook his head. "No." He looked at the receptionist and spoke with authority. "Get me an AMA form, now."

"I'm sorry Dr. Cullen, you can't sign. Bella's next of kin-"

Carlisle's voice was soft but no less authoritative. It carried in the silent room. "I am Isabella's next of kin. I am her husband. If you want anything signed you have until I leave with her to get me an AMA form."

Charlie turned to Carlisle. "AMA? You're taking her out of the hospital?"

"With or without the form." He shook Charlie off as gently as he could, and disappeared through the swinging doors.

Billy Black's voice was enraged as he shouted at the closing doors. "You know the consequences Cullen!"

"Dad!" Jacob was horrified. He turned to look at Sam, lowering his voice so only those near him could hear. "As rightful Alpha I take my place. I speak now with that authority." He moved to the doors, opened them and shouted. "Carlisle, you have the tribe's approval to use any means necessary. Don't let Bella die!"

Carlisle had immediately assessed Bella with the aide of his vampiric senses. He was bent close to her prone form, his eyes intent on her face. Without removing his hands from where they cradled one of Bella's against his chest, his eyes flicked to the doors. His voice carried to waiting room. "That won't be necessary, Jacob." His gaze moved to Charlie. "She's going to be okay, Charlie. I'm going to stay with her." Carlisle raised his voice and spoke for the receptionist to hear. "Janice, I apologize. The way I spoke to you was inexcusable. Please, bring the consent for treatment and the other admitting forms, I'll sign them." She nodded, smiled and began to move away, she turned back when Carlisle spoke again. "And, Janice, you've got my wife's name wrong. It's Isabella Cullen."

"I'll change Bella's last name from Swan to Cullen and bring you the forms, Dr. Cullen."

Carlisle nodded his thanks. "We're going to be running some tests. I shall remain with my wife throughout. You will find me wherever she is."

Janice had always liked Carlisle. She saw him for more than just his good looks and medical expertise. She was a little taken aback that he had married someone so young, but she trusted him to always do the right thing. She smiled at him. "Don't worry, I'll find you, Doctor."

Carlisle looked at Charlie again. "She hasn't regained consciousness; yet, but she's going to be all right, Charlie."

Charlie nodded. The lump in his throat was too large to allow for speech.

Jasper looked around at all the people that were gaping at Carlisle, Bella Swan's new husband. He leaned over and whispered to Alice. "You mailed those weddin' announcement and reception invites, didn't you, darlin'?"

Alice nodded. "I got the wedding photos to put in them Monday and mailed them. Everyone should get them in tomorrow's mail."

"Well good. That'll explain a bit of this little show, so we don't have to say anythin' now." He chuckled.

Stop reading here and go directly to the next chapter if a graphic discussion of medical and police procedures that are normally employed after a sexual assault or rape, a pharmaceutical abortifacient (although there is no abortion), or a Ted's unfounded belief that his mother was raped will trigger or offend you.


Bella was in a private room. She still hadn't woken. Carlisle sat beside her, holding her small hands in both of his, thumbs tenderly caressing the top of her battered fingers, as he waited for her eyes to open. He wanted desperately to hold her. Instead, he had to make do with what little comfort he could give that was appropriate to their surroundings. He didn't take his eyes off her face. He barely remembered to appear human for the sake of the others in the room around them. The hospital showed Carlisle great deference. Deference that he would rather they withheld in this instance. If Bella were any other patient, at this point he would be the only one allowed in her room. Instead, the hospital bent their rules. He and Bella were surrounded by their family, even the Blacks were allowed in the room. Were he not so completely focused on Bella, he would have noticed that Charlie had left the room a few minutes ago. Instead, he was surprised by his return with Dr. Snow.

"Carlisle." Charlie's voice and face were pained.

Carlisle forced himself to look at Charlie; although, his attention obviously remained on Bella.

"Carlisle, there's one more thing that needs to be done for Bella."

Carlisle shook his head in the negative. "All the tests have been run. Isabella will recover. She should wake very soon." He looked at Dr. Snow, who stood behind Charlie with an apologetic look on his face. Carlisle directed his next comment to him. "There is nothing more that needs to be done, you know this."

Dr. Snow stayed back, near the door, and responded quietly. "The Chief of Police has requested that a SANE be brought in. One is on the way from Seattle."

Carlisle stood abruptly in response to that piece of information. Even in his agitation he couldn't bring himself to lose his connection to Bella, keeping one of her hands held gently but securely in his own. He looked at Charlie. He opened his mouth, then closed it again. He knew he was reacting too emotionally. He had to struggle for the calm that was his usual nature. The thoughts, which until this moment he had refused to entertain, filled him with an anger that could spiral out of control were it not tempered by an overwhelming concern for Bella. He had no idea what his innocent bride had endured over the past few days. The savageries he now imagined she might have suffered threatened to break him. He had to gain control of himself before he could trust himself to speak. The horror on his face was clear to all in the room. No one spoke.

It was Jacob who finally broke the silent standoff. "What d'ya mean, sane?"

No one answered him.

"Charlie, he said you asked for it, what's a sane?"

His reluctance to answer was obvious in his voice, as Bella's father spoke to the floor. "It's just someone who will examine Bella."

"The doctors here have examined her. What kind of doctor is a sane?"

Charlie rubbed the stubble on his face in agitation. "SANE is an acronym."

Jacob was getting frustrated. "Come on, Charlie, what does it stand for?"

"Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner."

"You think someone… did that to Bella?"

"We don't know, that's what we need to find out, Jake."

"Well, why can't he," Jacob gestured to Dr. Snow, "do it? Why do you want this sane person from Seattle to come here?"

Charlie sighed. His voice was a monotone. His words didn't seem like his own, it almost sounded as if he were reading from the police manual. "The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is trained to keep any evidence safe from contamination and protect the evidential chain of custody."

"What will they do to her?"

Charlie didn't answer.

"Come on, she's my best friend. Tell me what's going on. What will this person you're bringing in do to her. It can't be good if he," Jacob pointed his finger at Carlisle, "doesn't want it done."

Charlie sounded tired. "Let it go, Jake."

"Charlie, no, I'm not gonna let this go. Tell me what you want to do to Bella."

Charlie was angry now. He looked up from the floor and his livid eyes burned into Jacobs. His tone was vicious, as if he wanted to hurt Jacob for making him speak the words. "They will take Bella's clothes, they will take samples of her blood, urine, hair, saliva and... other more personal bodily fluids. They will examine Bella's entire body under a special lamp and they'll take photographs. They will examine her internally, they'll give Bella an intense pelvic exam and they will examine every single orifice on her body. They will-"

Carlisle's usually pleasant voice was appalled, his eyes were hard as they shot to his father-in-law. "Enough!"

Charlie relented, and fell silent.

Jacob wasn't silent. "No. No way are you doing that to her. I hate to agree with… Dr. Cullen, but I do. You can't do that to Bella."

Charlie looked at Jacob sadly. "It's necessary." Charlie took a deep breath, his gruff voice seemed to reverberate in the still room as he turned from Jacob to look at his daughter. "Carlisle, we need you to sign to authorize a sexual assault exam."

Carlisle was calm, but his eyes remained hard. "I'm sorry, but no. I will not authorize that." It was clear that his answer did not go over well with Charlie.

Secrecy. It all came back to secrecy. Carlisle longed to take Bella in his arms and run home with her, to protect her and care for her, away from prying eyes and ears. He only half heard Charlie making his arguments. He was asserting that the longer they waited the less evidence there would be if Bella had been sexually assaulted. Carlisle couldn't care less. He had the scent of the one who took Bella now, it had been on her. Bella had met him, and Demetri was in his house. All Demetri would have to do is speak to Bella and whoever did this to her would be found. He was glad he had asked Demetri to come.

He had known that Demetri couldn't track Bella, but Demetri could track Alistair. Alistair could track Bella. The only problem with Alistair's gift for tracking was that it could take time. Bella had been left at the hospital before Alistair had made any headway.

Charlie was still talking about DNA, and justice for the man who took Bella. In his mind Carlisle gave a feral snarl. There would be justice, but there would be no trial. Whoever he was, he would be dead before the humans could even have any evidence logged. In the meantime, he would protect Bella from any further upset, she needn't be subjected to that indignity. As a caring doctor and a scientist, Carlisle understood that in many cases these exams were absolutely necessary. However, the one thing all those cases had in common was the lack of a vampire tracker to bring swift and sure justice to the correct offender, with no need for the collection of DNA.

Carlisle was forced to answer Charlie's most recent plea that he sign to authorize them to do the exam on Bella. He voiced a firm rebuff. "No, Charlie, we don't even know that Isabella was hurt in that way. Wait until she wakes up. Then, she can tell us. There is no need to put her through any more medical procedures, especially as they are probably entirely unnecessary."

Charlie nodded. "I don't want to think of that happening to her either, son." Charlie continued his plea, too focused on Bella's wellbeing to notice the Black's negative reactions to the fact that he addressed Carlisle as his 'son'. "But, if it did happen to her, the sooner she's examined the more evidence we'll have on the bastard who took her."

Alice's subdued voice joined in. "Charlie, you know it was one man?"

Charlie looked confused. His brows furrowed. "No. We don't know who did this to her, Alice."

Carlisle sensed that Bella was getting close to consciousness and sat beside her again. He drew both of her mangled hands to his mouth and brushed them softly with his lips. Feather light touches that would convey comfort and love without causing pain. He watched her eyes intently. He saw her deliberately take a deep breath. She had come to awareness. His voice was as soft as a caress. "Isabella."

"Carlisle?" She still didn't open her eyes.

"Yes, sweetheart."

"Are you really here? Did you find me?"

"You're in Forks Hospital, my dearest."

She opened her eyes. She saw everyone around the room watching her. Her throat was scratchy but she managed to project her displeasure. "Or for God's sake. Then the conversations I heard were really happening?" It was rhetorical, she didn't wait for an answer. "No, Dad, I wasn't raped. I wasn't beaten, either. Te… touched, I was never touched."

"Mrs. Cullen." Bella smiled and squeezed Carlisle's hands at the form of address Dr. Snow had chosen. "When you were brought in you had an alarmingly high fever and dangerously high blood pressure. You were having seizures. You had been vomiting and were having difficulty breathing. Do you know the cause of these things?"

"I think it was the injection."

Carlisle's eyes never left Bella's. They widened at her father's agitated response. "You said you weren't touched, Bella!"

"No, I said he never touched me. He didn't. A syringe did."

"Bells, thats-"

She cut her father off even though her voice was still weak. "When I woke up you were talking about me being assaulted. When I said he didn't touch me, I meant he didn't touch me violently, or sexually."

Charlie's voice was strained. "Come on, Bells, you've got two black eyes."

Carlisle's voice was soft and caring. He gently brushed the hair from Bella's forehead. He answered Charlie for her, his eyes never straying from his wife. "That's petechia, Charlie. Isabella vomited so violently that the small blood vessels around her eyes burst." He smiled softly at Bella. "And her lip, I am certain that was a result of one of her seizures."

Charlie wasn't convinced. His voice was pleading as he spoke to his daughter. "Bells, just look at your hands."

"I did that to my hands, Dad. I was left alone, locked in, I did this to my hands trying to pull the boards off the windows. I wanted to get out," she choked on a sob and turned to Carlisle, "to get home to you."

She reached for him. He bent to accept her tight embrace. She buried her face in the crook of his neck. "I couldn't do it. I couldn't get out."

Carlisle encircled her with gentle arms. "It's all right, sweetheart, you're with me now and I'll never let you go."

She tightened her hold on him. "Carlisle… promise… I can't… I can't be without you… I was so scared I'd never see you again. Promise me, Carlisle."

Careful not to hurt her, he tightened his embrace. "I promise, sweetheart. I swear it."

"Forever." She clung to him even more tightly.

"Forever."

Jacob shuffled his feet nervously making Bella remember that she and Carlisle weren't alone. She pulled back and looked at her lap. "Sorry." She still clung to one of Carlisle's hands with both of her own. She had no care for the pain it caused her, holding on to Carlisle was her priority.

Dr. Snow was the one to answer her. "You don't need to apologize, Mrs. Cullen. You've been through quite an ordeal."

Bella looked up at Dr. Snow and her father. "Before you mention my bruises, I tried to force the door open, too. Apparently, I don't weigh enough to do that."

Dr. Snow spoke carefully. "Mrs. Cullen, if you were given an injection you may not remember everything that happened. A simple test can tell us what you were injected with, and if it may be affecting your memory. I'll send for the lab, they can draw your blood-"

Bella's breathing neared hyperventilation, her voice was thick with emotion. "No. Please. I need to talk to Carlisle alone for a few minutes." A tear escaped from her left eye. Her voice now no more than a whisper. "Please."

Charlie looked torn, but Alice took his arm. She spoke for the room. "Of course, Bella, it was thoughtless of us not to give you privacy right away." She began to pull Charlie towards the door as Emmett slung an arm over Dr. Snow's shoulders and complimented his medical skills while steering him into the hallway. Billy Black, of course, followed Charlie. Jacob hung back.

"Bella." Jacob's voice was filled with sadness. "I'm sorry. Can I see you," his gaze took in Carlisle, "both later?"

Bella's voice was a whisper. "Yeah, of course, Jake." She began to shake.

Jacob was concerned. "Bella, do you need a doctor?"

Bella looked at Carlisle, her absolute love for him shining in her eyes. "I have one."

Jacob laughed nervously. "Oh, yeah, I guess you do." Jacob took a deep breath. "You're happy, right?" Jacob didn't wait for an answer. "If he makes you happy, then I'm happy for you, Bella." Jacob was anything but happy. However, his love for Bella was more important than his feelings of loss and anguish. She'd been hurt and he would do anything to ease her pain. He forced a smile that looked genuine. "Congratulations."

Bella looked at Jacob skeptically.

"No, I mean it. I don't like it, for obvious reasons, but it's not me living with the undead. If he makes you happy, well that's all I want for you. I want you to be happy, Bella." He realized that he meant it. He would do anything to see her happy. Including pretending to be okay with her marriage. He hadn't imprinted on her; but he loved her, he would be there for her in whatever way she needed. He looked at Carlisle. "Take care of her."

Carlisle took him seriously. "I will, Jacob, and thank you."

Jacob nodded to Carlisle and turned to Bella. "I'll see you later, then?"

"Yeah, Jake, later."

When the door closed Bella reached out to Carlisle. He moved to her and gracefully took her in his arms, holding her to him. She shivered in her thin hospital gown and clung more tightly to him, afraid that he would push her away for the sake of her warmth. He didn't. He held her as he removed his overcoat and wrapped her in it. It was too big for her, but it was warm, the lining was soft, and it retained some of Carlisle's wonderful scent. He held her even more closely. She buried her face in his neck. She spoke into his skin but he heard her perfectly. "I thought I'd never see you again."

"That would never have happened. I would have found you. I will always find you."

Bella nodded silently into Carlisle's shoulder. Tears filling her eyes.

"I need to ask, before the others come back. Why do I smell an abortifacient in your blood?"

"Abortifacient?"

"Carboprost Tromethamine, it must have been close to an overdose, there is so much of it still in your bloodstream. That's what made you so sick. It's an abortifacient."

Bella shivered again. Carlisle pulled back, so he could tuck the blankets around her.

Her reaction was instant and unexpected. "Carlisle, no! He didn't touch me! I swear he didn't touch me. No one has ever touched me but you. I swear to God! You're the only one who has ever touched me. He didn't. He didn't. I swear he didn't!" Tears ran down her face. "Please..." She folded in on herself and sobbed. She had always known that she was unworthy of Carlisle. He was perfect in every way. She never understood what he saw in her. She was glad for whatever it was because she loved him with her whole heart, mind, body and soul; but, she couldn't imagine why he loved her. If he thought she had been touched by another man...

Carlisle interrupted her thoughts as he sat on the bed with her and drew her close. A look of deep concern settled on his face as he held her. He nudged her chin so she would look at him. "Isabella, do you think so little of me?"

"No! Carlisle, no. That's just it. You're perfect. God, you're even more than perfect. You wouldn't hate me for being attacked if I had been. I know that. I just… I just…"

Carlisle made a soothing, quieting noise and rocked her. "I'm sorry. You've been through so much. Of course you're afraid, even of me."

"No! Carlisle, no! I'm not afraid of you, I could never be afraid of you."

"Perhaps not physically, but you feared that I would reject you if you had been hurt." Carlisle's eyes swam with pain. "Nothing could ever change the way I feel about you. Absolutely nothing. I thought you knew that. I thought you knew me."

Bella put her hands on Carlisle cheeks, her voice held the utmost honesty. "I do know that. I know that's not the kind of man you are. I don't know why I said that. I didn't mean it. I would never even think that about you. I was just-"

He tightened his embrace and spoke quietly. "It's all right, sweetheart. I understand. You've been through a trauma, and you aren't at all well. The Carboprost Tromethamine is probably effecting your thinking. I know that you know me. I know you know that I would never forsake you.

"My love for you, Isabella, is unconditional. If you were ever to be assaulted in any way, including sexually, it would not make me desire you any less. Nothing could. But, I promise you that you needn't worry about being hurt again. You won't be. I. Will. Protect. You."

"I love you so much. I trust you. I trust you completely, Carlisle. I don't know why I said that. I'm a horrible person."

His voice was filled with understanding and compassion. "Isabella, you aren't horrible. You couldn't be. You say I'm perfect. I'm not, I'm not even close. But you, you are everything that is perfection. Never think that you are horrible. Nothing you say or do has ever been horrible. You only said that because you've been traumatized, you've been gravely ill, and your mind and body are beyond exhaustion. I know you wouldn't think that I would reject you for being hurt if you were yourself. I love you. Rest. I will not go anywhere. I will hold you safe in my arms until you awaken. Rest now. Sleep."

"Don't I need to-"

"You don't need to do anything, sweetheart, just rest. You are safe in my arms. I'm going to give you some more muscle relaxant now, what I already gave you will wear off soon."

"Muscle relaxant?"

"To counteract the drug you were given. Dr. Snow couldn't treat you because he couldn't smell the chemicals that are in your blood. I have been treating you," he gave her a disarming smile and winked, "too fast for anyone else to notice what I was doing." He injected muscle relaxant into her central line.

She nodded knowingly. "You couldn't explain how you knew what I'd been given."

"Exactly. Now, I do believe you are under doctor's orders to rest in my arms."

She smiled, her first real smile in days. "Yes, Dr. Cullen."


"As I said, not half an hour ago, if the paperwork is brought here, I'll gladly complete it."

Bella looked up to see Carlisle attempting to speak quietly on his phone.

"I am not comfortable leaving my wife alone at this time." He sighed in frustration. "I know she's in a hospital."

Carlisle noticed Bella was awake. "Hold a moment, please." She saw him press mute on his phone.

Bella placed a hand on Carlisle's chest and smiled. "This reminds me of the hospital in Seattle."

"This is nothing like that." Carlisle disagreed lightly. "I'm not even sure how much danger you are still in. I-"

Bella smiled. "I'm in no danger. Go do what you have to do."

"No, sweetheart, please, I-"

Bella smiled, plucking his phone out his fingers. She took it off mute. "Dr. Cullen will be right with you." She ended the call.

Carlisle looked displeased. However, he kissed her quickly. "I'll be right back." He was already by the door. "I've just got to sign the paperwork for my leave of absence."

"You're taking another leave from the hospital?"

He was gone before she had begun her question; he briefly clasped Jasper's shoulder in a gesture of trust as he passed him in Bella's doorway. She shook her head, looked at Jasper and smiled nervously.

Jasper looked at Bella and gave her one of his charming crooked smiles. "May I?" He indicated the bed beside her.

"Of course." Bella smiled at his manners as he sat beside her, above her covers, and mimicked her position. Leaning against the headboard beside her, he stretched his legs out and crossed his designer western boots at the ankle. He put a comforting brotherly arm around her shoulders and looked into her eyes.

"Now, Bella, honey, are you gonna talk to me about why your emotions are in such a twist? I know the only way the person who took you physically harmed you was by givin' you some medicine." Bella's eyes widened. "Don't you worry none. Carlisle's bein' tight lipped and won't tell us what it was. I'm guessing that's because you don't want to talk about it. But, I don't think that's what's causin' the way you're feelin' right now."

She looked down at her lap and bit her lip.

"Are ya gonna talk to me?"

Bella hesitated.

"Don't you worry, the others won't hear if we keep our voices down. They're all on the first floor arguin' about how to keep you safe. It'll take 'em a while." He smiled at Bella and asked her a question, in an attempt to put her at ease. "You wanna know what will be decided?"

Bella looked up and nodded.

"Well now, Alice has seen the outcome but she's keepin' it to herself, to give us time to talk. In just a short while, you'll have Carlisle in your bed, where he belongs, I'll be in a chair on the other side of your bed," he tipped his head toward the window, "Emmett will be at your window, and Edward will be right outside your door. Esme and my Alice will patrolling outside."

"That's completely ridiculous. I don't need protection."

"Well, now, seein' as you were held captive all that time and weren't hurt, I'm pretty sure you don't. It's Carlisle that needs this. Bella, honey, you should have seen him. I've never seen a man so torn up and I've fought in human and vampire wars. I've seen men suffer horrific trauma. I've seen 'em lose men that were closer than brothers, I've seen 'em lose friend after friend. I've even seen vampires lose their mates. Still, I've never seen anythin' the like of what Carlisle went through while you were gone."

Bella's face crumpled in regret over what Carlisle must have gone through.

"Hey, now." Jasper tweaked her chin affectionately to get her to make eye contact. "Your Carlisle is a strong man. One of the strongest I've ever known, and with you by his side, he's even stronger. Don't fret, he'll be jus' fine. We only wanna show him that y'all aren't alone. We've got your backs, always."

Bella gave Jasper a tremulous smile.

"That's my girl." His eyes filled with approval. "Now, what were we talkin' about?"

"My nightmare."

"Nightmare?"

"Yeah, I'm guess that's what's causing the emotions you're being bothered by."

"Bella Cullen!" Jasper snapped.

Her eyes widened in response to his tone. Jasper had never spoken to her like that.

"You stop that right now. We all love you, nothin' about you is a bother. Nothin'." He shook his head. "How come you don't know that by now? You're family. We protect our family, in every way. What's more, we love you. Bella, honey, ya gotta start realizin' your own worth." He sighed. "But, that's a conversation for another day. Right now I want to know what this nightmare of yours was, and why it's still botherin' ya."

It was a good thing that Alice planned to intercept Carlisle as he headed back to Bella's room, because it took quite a while for Bella to tell Jasper about her nightmare. With much gentle encouragement from Jasper, she eventually managed to share every sick and twisted facet of her dream. The only things she withheld were Ted's identity and the fact that he's Carlisle's son. She thought Carlisle deserved to learn that first.

While she had been speaking, the arm Jasper had slung loosely across her shoulders tightened in reassurance. When she finished her tale, Jasper gave a low whistle. "It's no wonder that dream is hauntin' you. 'Specially as it's obvious you're only seeing the horror of it. There's something much deeper in that dream than that."

Bella gazed at Jasper with wide eyes. "There is?"

"There sure is. You can't see it because you're so scared; which is completely natural considerin' all you've gone through. Now I'm not sure why rape was the theme, except that violation of that kind tends to be most women's greatest fear. I-"

"My captor had been talking about rape."

Jasper's voice was stricken. "Your… your captor planned to rape you and he told you?"

Bella quickly shook her head. "No. No. He was just talking about someone in his family. He'd thought that she was raped, but it turned out that she wasn't."

Jasper's brow was furrowed, but he didn't push Bella for details she wasn't ready to give. "Well then, that topic was on your mind, so naturally it made it into your nightmare."

Bella looked thoughtful. "Yeah."

"As for this man in your dream having Carlisle's legs 'n' arms in his car and tellin' you he was goin' to burn Carlisle; I'm guessing that was because you were scared you'd never see Carlisle again, right?"

Bella's voice was barely a whisper. "I was terrified that I'd never see Carlisle again."

"Well then, that explains that part of your dream."

Bella nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, I guess it does."

"It does. And I can tell you why you dreamed that this man did so many unspeakable things to Carlisle."

"You can?"

"Easily. You imagined Carlisle being tortured and humiliated in the worst possible way because you know that Carlisle would do anythin' and everythin' to save you from harm."

"I don't ever want Carlisle to be hurt, or worse, because of me."

"I know you don't." Jasper tapped her temple lightly. "But your mind and your heart know that Carlisle would sacrifice everything for you." He smiled. "You even know that when you're asleep."

Bella hid her face in Jasper's shoulder and cried. "I can't lose him, Jasper, I can't." She didn't hear the door open or notice Jasper shooing Carlisle out and mouthing for Carlisle to give them a minute. "Carlisle is everything to me, Jasper." She cried harder. "I can't lose him. I can't… I can't see him get hurt." Her breathing was labored in her distress. "I can't let him get hurt ever."

"Bella, honey," Jasper's voice was low and soothing, "Carlisle's fine, it was just a nightmare. A bad dream."

It's just… I just… I'm not... I couldn't take it if Carlisle was hurt, or worse."

"He's not gonna' be hurt."

Bella's voice was a whisper. "It was just a dream."

"That's right, darlin'. It was nothin' but a dream." Jasper could feel Bella's emotions lightening.

She pulled back and looked up at him sheepishly. "I'm such an idiot."

"Now, I won't hear that. With everythin' you've been faced with since you met our family, I think you're holdin' up real well. Most wouldn't have made it past knowin' we're vampires, say nothin' of all the danger and drama you've had to live through. You're are a strong, loyal, wonderful woman, Bella Cullen."

She smiled through her tears. "Thanks, Jasper, for listening."

"Think your nightmare will stop distressin' you now?"

Bella couldn't tell Jasper that her captor was Carlisle's son, who thought Carlisle had raped his mother, and had been bent on avenging her. Just knowing that Ted had attempted to murder Carlisle at the Inn on Olympic Drive, and had almost succeeded, was too much. She really wished she could talk to Jasper about all of it. Instead, she nodded and forced a smile. "Yeah, I think I can forget my nightmare now."

"Good." Jasper gave her his sweetest southern smile and gently wiped away her tears with his cuffs. "I know you don't want Carlisle seein' you like this an' he should be back anytime. Want me to go see what's holdin' him up?"

Bella gave Jasper a genuine smile. "Yes please."

Jasper gave Bella a brotherly hug and tucked her blankets around her before he left to talk to Carlisle. He'd take Carlisle downstairs so the family could tell him about their plans to guard Bella. On the way down, he'd explain what had just gone on in Bella's room. He knew Carlisle would be worried about her.


"Bella?"

She swallowed a startled shriek. "How did you-"

Ted jerked his head toward the window. Bella looked and saw that it was open.

"All of the Cullens are on the first floor, I couldn't just walk in. They know my scent now."

"What are you doing here?"

"I needed to make sure that you are going to be okay." He looked very sad and contrite. "I never meant to hurt you. I didn't know the medicine would make you sick."

"I know. I'm fine now."

Ted smiled. "Good, that's good. I wish you'd never met him. But the past can't be changed. You love him. I know that you always will. I've done the best I can do. I've made sure that in your ignorance you didn't ensure your death with an unexpected pregnancy. I've told you the consequences of having marital relations with him. Now it's up to you to make your own choices."

He moved to the side and dropped something in Bella's bag of 'Patient's Belongings'. "I just put a month's worth of birth control pills in your bag. I've seen to it that you can't be pregnant now. But, I'm pretty sure that you aren't going to abstain from marital relations with him, so you need to prevent a future pregnancy. Take them. Protect yourself."

He sighed audibly. "I'm going to leave you to see to your own safety now, Bella." His voice was sad. "I like you, Bella. I wish we could be friends." He sighed. I know that you must loathe me-"

"I don't hate you, Ted." She heavily emphasized her next statement. "You're completely wrong about Carlisle." She paused and softened her tone. "But, you only wanted to help me. I can appreciate that."

She coughed violently. In a moment Ted vanished and returned with a cup of fresh water for her. Ted helped her to sit straight. She drank gratefully.

"Please, Ted, promise me you won't hurt Carlisle."

He laughed bitterly. "I was only going to hurt him if he approached a woman. He did. You. Now, I see that I don't need to end him. I have protected you without that. I never wanted to kill him." He smiled ruefully. "Well, I suppose part of me didn't hate the idea of ending him." He paused in thought then spoke in a penitent tone. "I've been thinking about all that you've said. I've been replaying all that I witnessed of your relationship with him in my mind.

"I'm not stupid. I realize now that my mother probably went to him willingly. My grandmother just couldn't accept that. I know he didn't realize that he could make my mother pregnant. It was all a horrible accident.

"You are the first woman I've ever seen him approach and he respected you by not taking you without marriage. He married you before he touched you. From what my grandmother always said, I didn't think he was the kind of man who would do that. Of course, I don't really know him. I thought he was selfish and… Well, I judged him without knowing him. I still blame him. If he'd never approached my mother she wouldn't have fallen in love with him and died giving birth to me. But, I know now that he wouldn't force himself on a woman. If you are that kind of man, you can't just change, and I saw how he was with you. Kind, considerate, respectful, loving...

"When I took you away from him, I only wanted to prevent my mother's fate from happening to you. I have, I've seen to it that you can't be pregnant now, and you have all the knowledge you need to protect yourself. No, Bella, I won't kill him."

Bella reached out and took Ted's hand in her weak one. She gave it a grateful squeeze.

"I don't want to hurt any creature. Not even vampires, not now that I've seen there are some that live peacefully and don't hurt anyone. I was too quick to judge. Now, I don't even understand how I thought I had the right to judge."

"You are a good man, Ted. Carlisle, your father, would be proud to know you."

"Someone's coming. Good bye, Bella. Keep yourself safe." Ted ran to the window and disappeared just before Jacob knocked and entered Bella's room.

Bella had been thinking ever since Ted had told her of his origins. She'd come up with a plan and she realized now that Jacob was the perfect person to help her with it. She smiled beguilingly at him. "Jake, hey, can you do me a favor?"

"Sure, anything."

"I need you to break into the pharmacy and get me a drug called Clomiphene. I'll give you the money to leave in the cash register for it."

"If you have the money, why am I stealing it?"

"Because I asked you to."

"You don't want your bloodsucker to know you're getting it, do you?" Jacob narrowed his eyes. "What's it for?"

"You don't want to know, Jake. It's an embarrassing female thing." She couldn't tell Jacob that she wanted a fertility drug. She didn't even know how she'd keep it from Carlisle. She knew she had to; she hoped he wouldn't be able to smell that drug in her bloodstream too, or if he did smell it, she hoped he wouldn't recognize it. She would deal with that when the time came. She had to get the drug first. She knew that if Carlisle learned what she was up to, he wouldn't want her to risk her life with a human-vampire pregnancy. She needed to become pregnant quickly, before he realized it was possible and tried to talk her out of it; she also had to make sure it happened before she was changed, and it became impossible.

"And you don't want your husband knowing?"

"Don't speak of Carlisle in that tone! Never mind Jacob, I'll-"

"No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. If you don't want anyone, including Carlisle, to know, I'll help you. Especially if you don't want Carlisle to know, I'll help you." Jacob's grin bordered on evil. Bella ignored it.

"Thanks, Jake."

Bella frowned as she thought about deceiving Carlisle. She wasn't sure if she could. She'd always been a bad liar. She wasn't sure if she should. Although, she knew that hiding the truth and taking fertility drugs was the only way to be sure that she would become pregnant in the short time she had left as a human.

She was sure that she didn't want to deceive him. The very thought made her sick. She couldn't break his trust like that. Her frown deepened. She steeled herself. She had to break his trust. She couldn't tell him that he was able to father children until she was already pregnant; and she certainly couldn't tell him that she planned to take fertility drugs to ensure that she would give him a child.


Bella's door swung open and Carlisle strode in. He went right to Bella's side. He took her hand and smiled softly. "How do you feel?" He suddenly stiffened and looked at Bella. "He was here."

Bella's voice was tentative. "Yes."

"My God, are you all right?"

"I'm fine."

Carlisle moved to the window at vampiric speed and called Jasper. In less than a moment Jasper was in the room. Carlisle looked at Bella and began to speak as he made ready to jump from the window. Somehow Bella beat him to it.

"No, Carlisle! Please, stay with me."

Carlisle looked torn. It lasted only a moment before he was back at Bella's side.

"I'm on it, Carlisle." Jasper jumped from the window without another word.

Carlisle gently embraced Bella. "Sweetheart, if you had called out for me, I would have heard you."

"I know."

He pulled back and looked at her incredulously. "You thought of that? Then why didn't you call me?"

She wouldn't meet his eyes. "There was no need. He didn't mean any harm."

Carlisle's voice was fraught with worry. "What did he do to you? What has he said to you?"

Bella still refused to look at him as she answered in a small voice. "I'd rather not talk about it right now."

Carlisle's phone beeped. He quickly read his text.

Trail ended at the road. Must have had a car waiting. -Jasper

Carlisle's brow furrowed. "Sweetheart, please. I need to keep you safe."

"I am safe. He won't hurt me."

Carlisle was confused. "I don't understand."

"I know, and I want to tell you. I just don't know how to tell you."

Carlisle spoke earnestly. "Isabella, you can tell me anything."

She nodded. "I know, and I will. I'm just so tired. I will tell you everything. Just not right now. Can you wait?"

It was the last thing Carlisle wanted to do. He had an urgent need to know exactly what was done and said to Bella. He had to fight down his primal urge to protect her. "Are you all right?"

She looked at him then. "I'm fine, Carlisle, really. I'm just too tired right now."

He nodded stiffly and pulled her gently to him, cradling her lovingly to his chest. He sighed and calmed himself. "All right, sweetheart, whatever you need." He tucked her head under his chin. He kissed the top of her head softly before resting his cheek there. He held her in his arms and whispered of his love for her as she drifted to sleep.


AN: I somehow doubt that we've seen the last of Ted. Ah well, he should leave Carlisle and Bella alone for a little while, at least.

Author's explanation: To me Bella's horrific dream had precedent and moved the story along. In canon Bella was prone to bad dreams and night terrors. In this story Bella had a nightmare at the end of chapter twelve and the beginning of chapter thirteen. That nightmare was about her fear of something horrible happening to Carlisle and Carlisle being taken from her. The night terror she woke from at the beginning of this chapter is again centered around her fear for Carlisle's safety and her fear of him being taken from her. This dream is more horrific because she's been, and at that point is still being, held captive by someone who has stalked Carlisle for decades with the real intent to harm him. In this night terror she felt that she would be attacked as well because that would hurt Carlisle and because she was feeling physical pain from the drug she was given. Her mind included that physical pain she was feeling in her dream.

I actually considered removing the night terror because some readers ignored my warning and sent me messages about how much it disturbed them.

In the end, I chose to leave the night terror in and make the chapter warnings less easy to ignore. I made that choice because not only does Bella's night terror highlight her state of mind, it moves the plot along.

The theme of Bella's nightmare and night terror, that of her fear of Carlisle being taken from her, will become somewhat ironic in chapter twenty-five.