Refraction

Isabella listened in on today's session from her office.

"What color light do you want?" Cassie, the technician asked. She was cute; young, fair haired, thin and had a decent enough voice.

All the customers loved this technician. Isabella hired only the best.

"I already told you . . . I want to see Isabella. I'll pay the extra cost," the customer said.

Isabella smiled. She'd heard other customers say that before. She rolled her eyes and went back to her work.

Cassie huffed. "Ms. Swan is very busy. She doesn't do heliotherapy anymore."

Isabella glanced up at the screen and saw him cross his arms over his chest, refusing to move. "Just tell her Edward Cullen's here. She knows me."

The young lady left his box, frustrated and murmuring something to herself through her grinding teeth.

Isabella's breath caught in her throat. Couldn't be Mr. Cullen. She figured she'd never see him again.

She had dealt with this type before: arrogant, wealthy elitists, thinking they were above everybody else and demanding as hell. Once they thought they were cured, they never came back. Only . . . Edward never acted like a snob; he barely said much at all.

Her employee's walk was determined. Isabella could read that body language; Cassie thought her boss would fix him; tell him exactly what he could do with his overinflated ego, that Isabella would give her permission to kick him out.

The young woman stopped at her station and pressed the button they never used.

"Yes?" Isabella's raspy voice answered over the small discreet speaker. She was having a hard time breathing when she thought about how Edward had always made her feel during their sessions. Her eyes shifted to her outfit, and she was gaping at herself. She looked less than her best.

"There's a Edward Cullen, demanding to see you. He won't let me treat him. I've been trying to help him for the last fifteen minutes. Should I go ahead and give him a refund and send him on his way?" Cassie asked.

"Oh . . . No, that's unnecessary. Send him up to the second floor. And don't bother to escort him, Cassie. He knows the way," her boss answered.

"Yes, Ms. Swan. What about payment? Should I triple charge him?" Cassie smiled.

It was obvious the thought of somehow punishing him via his wallet for being such a jackass, gave her a thrill.

"No. In fact, his service is free from now on. I'll make sure it's noted in his file. Send him up," she replied. "And, Cassie?"

"Yes, Ma'am?"

"Call me Isabella or you're fired."

The speaker crackled then turned off.

Isabella Swan made it clear her employees were not to call her Doctor or Ms. Swan from the day they were hired.

The same went for her clients in regards to what they called her.

They were all on the same team—using a holistic approach through the replenishment of the body, mind and spirit.

She disowned the traditional model of doctor to patient hierarchy. It was an outdated model she tossed in the garbage with her golden nameplate.

She recognized a long time ago, the moment she acted like she was an expert, hoarding her knowledge as power above the person in need of help, it set them at odds.

They resisted the repair process because fear, adrenaline, and even skepticism clouded their mind, getting in the way of the body's natural ability to heal.

No, no. Isabella was their friend; a mentor. That's all she would ever be.

She stood up from her usual midmorning meditation position from her cushioned carpet. That was her version of work after dealing with some banking issues earlier this morning.

The split hexaprawn position was her favorite. Thank goodness she hadn't been in that position though when she realized Edward was here. She probably would've fallen and broken something. It required balance and dogged concentration. It stretched the inner thighs and expanded the mind.

She always felt invigorated after she spent a good ten minutes in that position.

Her head tingled a little, but that was normal, right? Even if she hadn't just been in that pose?

It had nothing at all to do with the man about to pay her a visit.

What could he possibly want anyway?

Ten years had passed without a word since she last saw him, but she never forgot him.

How could she?

He was her most complex, not to mention most devastatingly handsome, client ever.

Those chiseled cheek bones, deep dark green eyes, and his rough, bass voice were imprinted in her mind.

Looks she could get past and forget over time, but the reason for his initial visit was what kept him dear to her.

She paced around the room, her fingers flexing and fisting.

Two weeks after his first scheduled and canceled heliotherapy session, he was hit with another dose of MORD—right before Christmas too.

Her heart ached for him before she even met him.

She tipped her head back.

"Please don't tell me he's been struck again!" she moaned to herself.

She closed her eyes and when they opened back up, she walked quickly to her desk and pulled out his file before she could change her mind. Her fingers shook a little as she pulled it free of the drawer.

She had read his file so many times, almost memorized all the reasons he gave for needing to work with her. There was no reason really to review it once more, except that reading his words always brought her a sense of belonging to something and a resultant peace.

It was unheard of in this time period, but somehow Edward found a way to have the worst luck known to man.

After the tragedies from the war, strict obedience to laws was adhered to.

They had to be, otherwise the entire country would be in a disastrous civil war as factions fought for dominance and control.

Citizens banded together to battle the enraging chaos and find order once again. Government was disbanded, but the police force kept everybody in line.

It was understood by all, if the law was broken, that person was dead. Simple rules for base, crude societies. It was an imperfect system, but for now it worked.

Isabella was in the business of patching people back together.

It was her passion to see smiles on peoples faces and a light in their eyes.

She offered hope in a place once dessicated.

Isabella pulled open his file after briefly glancing down the front of the green folder—the color signifying a healed patient—she had at one time scrawled the words: Mortified Order Response to Death.

The MORD cases were always the hardest, and he was definitely in a state of severe trauma when he came to her.

She blinked; breathed slow and deep.

Then below the words, she had written a giant two.

Twice.

Her hands ran along the top paper, smoothing it down. She licked her now suddenly dry lips and braced herself.

He was out there. He'd be seeing her soon.

So much pain for this man. His life had been one big walking season of death.

First his wife and child had been murdered by a thief that broke into their home, then his parents died two weeks later in a fatal car collision.

He was as close to catatonic as possible when he landed himself in her healing box.

The sound of his voice from moments ago ran through her head. He was speaking. This was a good sign that her healing effects had lasted for him over the years.

She wanted to smile, but her chest was tight at the thought he didn't actually need her anymore.

So why's he here?

Her arms tensed as she read about her treatment she'd given him a decade ago.

She'd stabbed his arm with a needle within five minutes of their first visit without preparation or warning. It was standard procedure to check the level of impurities in his blood before she could start the journey with him. The man failed to flinch or even have a spike in his breathing.

It was the saddest thing she ever saw and extremely abnormal.

Her throat constricted and her eyes welled with tears. What if he was hurting again?

Most people she dealt with had extreme, heightened responses from the fallout. When tragedy struck them they were hysterical.

This man was the exact opposite. Oddly, it was very draining to help bring him back to life again.

She had to give herself a hefty dose of heliotherapy after her sessions with him.

Did she have it in her to go through that with him again? It about sliced her soul open last time . . .

Isabella rifled through the rest of his file quickly, noting his response to different types of light and various ways she'd administered it.

The pictures jarred her memory worst of all.

His eyes were dead; lifeless, and his whole frame curled in on itself.

Chills broke out across her upper back and shoulders. Her hands were numb as she recalled how icy his skin always was and how pale he looked. He was in shock for so long.

She remembered in a fraction of an instant how different he looked by the end of their ten weeks together. It was astounding the way her heart would swell when he would finally squeeze her hand back when she held his, with some heat to his flesh and life in his eyes.

She never did tell him it wasn't protocol to touch the clients while the light filled them up. But then she didn't note in his files either how her stomach would fill with butterflies if he looked at her at all.

In fact, she broke all sorts of rules with him she never documented—calling him during the week to check on how he was feeling mentally, emotionally. There were times she didn't charge him when she stayed much longer to give him extra doses of helios.

Her hands flexed. She'd never touched a client before him, and she hadn't touched one since.

It had potential to skew the results.

But he was special.

Or that's what she told herself at the time.

There was something so sad, yet completely enticing about him. It was more than compassion on her part. He simply enthralled her.

Everything about him radiated mystery and sensuality.

Even when he first met her and could barely show any emotion at all—she was mesmerized.

She cried after he left their final session. It broke her apart, dealing with his deep, jagged wounds for those long arduous weeks, but losing him when it was all over, was heart wrenching.

There had been no reason to see him anymore. She had to let go.

Their clinic psychologist gave him the "Heliotherapy Healed" approval for release, and Isabella was a professional.

She wavered for a few moments that day, debating on going against Doctor Greenty's diagnosis, but Isabella had a reputation to uphold as the founder, owner and operator of Heliotherapy.

Doctor's backed each other up.

And that's what she did.

She pulled her shoulders back and tried to compose herself by evening out her breathing and swiping the sweat off her chest.

Why was it so hot in here?

She went over to the window and opened it, waving her hands from outside the window, trying to bring fresh gusts of air in.

The lump in Isabella's throat wouldn't go away no matter how hard she swallowed. She tried to clear it over and over, but nothing happened because there was nothing there. Her throat was constricting, she was flushed and scrambled.

What was wrong with her?

She walked back over to her desk and grabbed her water bottle off it and took several swigs.

Was Edward here to see her today as a social call?

Did he remember with fondness their time together as she did?

Was he finally going to ask her out on a date?

Ten years was more than enough time to grieve the death of a spouse. Or, maybe not?

It'd been ten years since she'd seen him, and she still wasn't over him.

She hung her head and shook it.

Stop this! He's not here to date you. There must be some other reason he's here.

Isabella ignored all reason—quickly ran over to her locked desk drawer, pulled out her purse and reapplied some of her makeup. Her hair looked fairly boring, but then, she wasn't expecting Edward Cullen—gorgeous God and subject of many of her dreams—to show up in her office, now was she?

She coughed and cleared her throat once more to no avail.

The sound of impending footsteps sent her into a full panic cycle.

She threw her purse in the drawer and locked it up, then threw her keys into her planter on her desk.

Unsure of how she should act or look when he stepped in, she opted for leaning casually on her desk.

Then when the door handle jiggled but the door remained closed, she fell off the edge of the furniture she was leaning on.

The accursed door was locked—she chastised herself for being such a spasmodic moron.

Of course the door was locked.

She always did that to ensure privacy when she was meditating.

Isabella's head was doused in fuzz—unclear and float-worthy.

Why did she feel this way?

He was probably fat and balding by now. The guy was in his mid-thirties when she saw him last. There was no way he still looked like a model.

"Calm down, Isabella. You own this place," she reminded herself.

She walked with a steady gait to the door, and tried to open it.

Locked. Forget so soon?

"Superb," she snapped at herself.

She padded her pockets down; nothing there.

Where were her keys?

Did she leave them in her purse?

She tried to open the desk drawer, but it was locked too.

What the everloving flatlight was going on?

She jiggled it with more force, but the drawer felt impenetrable; soldered shut.

"This isn't happening!" she hissed.

She ran around the room, searching all over for those stupid keys.

When she knocked into her desk in a clumsy attempt to bend over and peek under it, the planter fell over.

The keys gleamed as they tumbled across the throw rug.

Her expensive, designer throw rug was now covered with potting soil.

Even better!

She tried to scoop it up and toss the mess into the garbage, but now the flooring looked worse.

The cream carpet with detailed beams of artistic fashioned light now looked like a muddy fat truck tire repeatedly ran over a first grader's art work.

She sighed, got up off her knees and raced over to the door.

By now she was panting, her hair was falling in her sweaty face, and she soiled her white tee shirt with her grubby hands.

This was not how she imagined their reunion over the last ten years when she fantasized about him.

She rolled her eyes at herself, said a silent prayer, and opened the door.

On the other end was somebody completely different than she expected.

This man was confident, smooth, and alarmingly sophisticated.

He was ten times as polished and gorgeous as the man she met ten years ago.

Her heart rate spiked astronomically, and her palms were sweating right away.

She attempted a smile, but it most likely resembled a grimace since her jaw was so tight.

He smirked. "Isabella?"

Great. She looked like a homeless person, so he didn't recognize her and had to ask if it was her.

"Yeah, hi, Edward," she said, waving him in.

She stepped aside, tripping a little on her own feet.

Every angle of him was more edible than the last.

He worked out, that was certain. And his hair showed no signs of gray, but was a little lighter in color. It was a light brown with red highlights in it.

They were natural.

Isabella was an expert.

She understood the sun's benefits better than anybody and could spot their impact with impeccable precision.

Her fingers curled into her palms so she could keep herself from running her hands through his hair.

"You look . . . uh, good," she said, voice shaky. She gulped.

It was ridiculous he reduced her to a stammering, simpering fool in such a short amount of time.

After all, she was thirty-two now. It was plenty of time to capture herself and prove she was a genius.

She did that. Her establishment of Heliotherapy Forums and Heliotherapy Clinics grew exponentially each year. There were chains of them through what was left of all fifty states.

Soon she'd be a global company.

For now, she settled for her base of operations, and her original location, in the Valley of the Sun: Phoenix.

It made sense for her to stay true to her roots and remain where it all began.

"Thanks. I took your advice, and it really worked for me," he said. His genuine smile gave her the chills.

Oh, that smile . . .

It was capable of giving her kneecap injury—she figured she'd fall to them in worship after he left the room. Most likely she'd stay there until she absolutely had to move.

Her kneecaps were already twitching in anticipation of the torment she'd put them through.

She cleared her stupid, scratchy, dry, lumpy throat, and croaked, "What advice was that? To visit your wife and daughter's graves at least once a month?"

She picked at her right thumb nail. Fidgeting like this was rude.

It appeared she was bored with him.

She was attempting to stop bumbling around and allowing every old tic she ever had to reemerge.

After glancing up at him, she tucked her hands behind her while gripping them together tightly.

Memories barraged her mind of helping him and being emotionally invested in all his set-backs and successes.

Assisting him to go visit their graves was one of the first things they did together outside of the clinic and one of the most significant moments they shared together.

It was part of his therapy that was essential. And it was incredibly rewarding for her.

Her heart filled with sympathy for this man, and her eyes misted as she brought up visions of his agonized face as he stood there, motionless at their headstones.

Isabella had bought a beautiful bouquet of black calla lilies for his wife; he told her that was his wife's favorite.

Then for Sarah, his daughter, she bought some large, exotic red and white striped amaryllis mixed with a cute bouquet of white daisies.

It reminded Isabella of sunshine.

Every description Edward gave of his rambunctious and bright daughter reminded her of a tropical ray of sun.

She tied them both off with a yellow satin ribbon and laid them at the head of their graves.

Edward was unaware she went back a week later and planted some amaryllis bulbs on either side of Sarah's gravestone.

She idly wondered if they were still there and if they continued to grow and bloom each year.

Edward's pointed stare was disarming. In that moment, Isabella was a twenty-two year old inexperienced kid with a school-girl crush—it was as if those ten years since she last saw him never happened.

She smiled enough to be polite, then looked away.

In order to keep up a professional facade, she moved to go sit at her desk, but having a barrier between them seemed wrong.

Instead she opted for sitting on the edge of her desk.

Edward's eyes sparkled at her.

His breath caught when she crossed her legs.

He smiled bigger as she caught him staring in a place he really should avoid looking at. Neither of them said anything for a long moment.

"So, did you? Visit their graves?" She blinked. "Follow that advice?"

"No. Not that one. Though, I do visit them about every other month. I follow two other pieces of advice you gave me. One of them is to use the sun to keep my heliocentric aura healthy."

She grinned.

"You do have a great tan, and your skin has a healthy glow," she said. Her cheeks heated.

She was flirting with a man thirteen years older than her, uninterested in her. Intelligent . . .

"So, what can I do for you, today? Do you need a topper? I can of course do that free of charge for you," she offered.

"Well, the other piece of advice you gave me is the reason I'm here . . ." he hesitated ". . . dating."

Was she imagining him sounding out of breath when he mentioned dating?

She swiped her hair behind her ears to make sure nothing was obstructing her hearing.

"Oh?" She barely blinked. Her voice went up an octave when she said that one tiny word and she gripped the edge of the desk so she could lean toward him without falling down since her balance seemed off ever since he arrived at her center.

"Yeah, well . . . I started dating about a year after our sessions ended. And stupid me . . . I got my girlfriend pregnant. I wasn't quite ready to be a father again, but Jamara was so excited. So we moved in together, but she miscarried."

Her right hand flew to her heart, and her mouth popped open. "I am so sorry," she said, her eyes softening.

She meant it. Nothing pained her more than knowing he was hurting inside.

He nodded. "She was pretty shaken by it. So we figured we'd wait a few years before we tried again. We got engaged last fall, and we were going to marry this December, but I guess she felt she was getting too old to wait any longer. I didn't know she stopped using birth control, so she got pregnant again."

Isabella failed to breathe. This was unexpected; she was devastated for him and for herself.

This was purely a business call. Her heart plummeted. How many sessions of heliotherapy would she need to use on herself to recover?

More than she could count . . .

"I can of course go through as many sessions with you as you want," she volunteered.

Edward smiled briefly then waved his hand in the air. "No, no. Not for me. It's for her. She miscarried about a month ago, and she's . . . it's bad. I don't see how we can celebrate a union if she's so despondent. She needs help; you're the best. Of course I'll pay anything you want."

She bit the edge of her lip, contemplating how she could survive this.

It would be sheer torture to look in the eyes of the woman that captured his heart.

"O-of course. Anything for you, Edward, you know that. I consider you a treasured friend."

"Great." His features livened up. "I'll go get her right now."

"Oh . . . okay, I'll clear my schedule. So, I'll see her in about an hour?"

He lived an hour away, or used to.

She drove by his housing subdivision more times than any healthy, sane person would, especially one that was supposed to be his helio technician.

"Actually, I was hoping you could do it now. She's out in the waiting area."

Isabella's face froze and she could feel the blood draining from her head.

"S-sure," she stammered. Her hands were squeezing the edge of the desk again, her nails almost embedding into the thick, birch wood.

"I'll take her in room twelve downstairs." Her stomach tightened. This was her sanctuary. It would remain that way. No way was Jamara, entering her office.

Edward waltzed right up to her and kissed her right on the lips.

It was a small peck, but Isabella's arms automatically hugged tight around him.

He did the same.

"Thank you," he breathed.

"You're so very welcome. If I can help you to be happy, then that's what I want to do," she said.

He smiled, his eyes misting over, then left the room with a pep in his step.

.

.

.

Isabella's hands shook as the inevitable door knock came from room twelve

She opened the door and her face dropped. Isabella expected Edward to do the introductions and escort his distraught fiancé in.

The only person at the door was a frightened looking woman.

She was a classic beauty; regal, tall, and statuesque. This woman was athletic looking with fine toned calves that flexed as she walked. There was no trace of fat on her.

Isabella was frumpy in comparison. Her hips flared out, her backside was overly round, and her chest was ridiculously large.

All the same, she plastered a smile on and welcomed her in.

"I'm sorry, but Mr. Cullen failed to tell me your name," Isabella lied. For some reason, she didn't want this woman to think Edward gushed about her when she wasn't around. Wait . . . Edward hadn't exactly bragged about his fiancé; he only seemed concerned for her well-being.

"Oh, sorry about that. He's so rude. I'm Jamara Zahns." Her posture was stiff, unfriendly.

Isabella did her best to be cordial by extending her hand to shake, but Jamara made it difficult by keeping a distance and barely leaning forward to take her hand back.

Once contact was broken, Isabella sighed to herself.

"And what color of light would you like today?" Isabella asked, motioning over to the table.

"I don't know. I've never done anything like this before," Jamara said, her tone testy.

"Did they show you the video in the waiting room and go through the samples with you?" Isabella helped her up onto the helio table.

"They did. I didn't notice a different between any of them. I rather doubt this works at all. I'm sure he told you I'm a skeptic." She eyed Isabella speculatively.

Isabella nodded and affirmed, "He did, but I'm sure he told you, he was once an unbeliever as well. One of my most trying cases."

"No. He said he had no doubts at all from the very beginning. But maybe you're so persuasive," her eyes rolled up and down Isabella's body, "he was distracted from what was really going on."

Isabella's eyes narrowed infinitesimally. "He did have a lot of obligations and distractions in his life, but I helped him to simplify and prioritize so he could find his radiant light."

Jamara rolled her eyes.

"Use the flatlight I suppose. It's the least invasive on the tissues, right?"

Jamara's insinuation it was painful or somehow harmful, made Isabella's jaw flex and her nostrils flare.

"None of our light therapies penetrate the tissues. They merely—"

"Yes, yes, I know. Get on with it so I can get out of here and tell him it didn't work," Jamara snapped.

Isabella ripped a roll of cotton sheath off more forcefully than necessary. It was unavoidable.

This woman's caustic attitude was making Isabella think she might take the therapy in Jamara's stead.

Isabella placed it over the grumpy woman's genitals.

"What's that for?" Jamara asked.

Isabella did her best to avoid glaring and calling her a bitter cow.

She swallowed and spoke in a soft, kind tone, "It's to send light and energy into the surrounding tissues. If we try to heal the tender portions too quickly it will backfire and can cause scarring." She went to lower the top handle of what she figured Jamara considered nothing more than a glorified tanning bed.

"Forget it! Nobody told me that part. You're trying to make sure my uterus and tubes get completely blocked and screwed up. No thanks!" Jamara pushed Isabella aside and got off the bed. "I told Edward you were in love with him! This is sick! Nobody charges next to nothing for the amount of helio essence you used on him, not to mention you made his sessions stretch out much longer than was required!"

She marched straight out the door, and Isabella stood, jaw agape.

How? How the hell did this wonderful man wind up with Satan's evil step-daughter? And how on earth did he have the bravery to copulate with her?

Isabella sighed, rested her forehead in her chilled palm for a moment, cleaned up the room and headed back to her office.

Instead of pretending to work, she grabbed her stuff and left for the day.

Her phone rang incessantly, so eventually she turned it off.

If she had to hear about how Edward was now suing her, she'd explode into a rage and strangle his undeserving fiancé.

.

.

.

"Where did she go?" Edward barked in the phone.

This was his fifth time calling the office.

"I'm sorry, sir, we can't tell you that. It's not permitted, but I can put you through to her personal line," the receptionist said, her voice hollow and her tone insincere.

"I've been calling that line. Nobody's answering."

"That's because she left for the day as I already told you."

Edward hung up. This was getting him nowhere.

Jamara was livid with him. He tipped his head back to let his face soak up the sunshine. He needed some morsel of Isabella to feel okay again. He hoped she'd have seen how miserable he was, and show him some hint of interest so he could once and for all, find the nerve to get rid of Jamara.

As it turned out, the couple fought all the way home, and she left.

He was so light inside after she was gone, he wondered how he'd managed to breathe for the entirety of their relationship.

It was nothing like when he was around Isabella—the woman that saved him so long ago. If she hadn't been thirteen years younger when he'd met her, he would've pursued her once his healing process was complete. But she needed time to mature, not be stuck with a broken old man with so much past trauma, he realistically should've died from the weight of it all suffocating him.

He dropped his head and looked at his phone. A picture of her—Jamara: a blackhearted, jealous woman, stared at him.

Nothing he did was good enough for her. She never had any empathy when he brought up his deceased wife or daughter. Nothing at all would move her, but he'd been so lonely, he thought himself lucky to have any woman around him at all.

If she hadn't miscarried recently, the wedding would've been off a long time ago, and he would've pursued his interest in Isabella.

He should have done it years before now.

But what would Isabella, a beautiful, successful, well-put-together woman like her, want with a decrepit widower like him?

His heart constricted. Dammit. He didn't care anymore. She was everything he ever wanted.

He no longer concerned himself that she deserved a virile young man—spirited with a sense of adventure.

It bit into his heart to think of her with some other good looking guy.

He groaned and gripped into his hair with his free hand.

"Call her again," he told himself, but his hand was shaking and they'd only tell him the same thing at her office.

Rhinos rampaged through his gut at the thought of confessing his desires for her. He had no right to feel this way, but it always happened.

It was one of the reasons he cut their sessions short from twelve to ten when he was seeing her ten years ago.

He paid the psychologist to pronounce him well. Doctor Greenty, her fellow co-worker, was romantically interested in her.

Edward found himself meddling, saying snide, false things to the guy about Isabella to scare the handsome Doctor away from her.

It worked.

Edward never forgave himself for ruining something for her that might've been good. And he was not that man. Never had he been so sick with jealousy.

His final reprieve from the guilt was realizing he was still in a traumatic place from the deaths and his confusion with an overwhelming attraction to a much younger woman made him do unthinkable things.

Well, his life was different now.

He was whole, or as whole as he'd ever be.

His career was back to where it was before the deaths happened.

He had a nice home, and fabulous car, friends he enjoyed and a sizable bank account.

The only missing piece was his personal life in regards to love.

He tapped his finger on his phone. Possessed, he dialed up his now ex-fiancé and left Jamara a cold message, "Hey, it's Edward. It's over. I'm setting up an apartment for you across town in your old complex. Go there tonight, and I'll make sure they give you the keys. I'll set you up for three months, but after that you're on your own. The engagements off in case you haven't figured this out. I'll have your stuff boxed up tomorrow and sent to you. I hope you get the help you need, because, Jamara, you are a sad, sad woman. I hope somebody else can love you, because I sure as hell can't."

He hung up the phone, grabbed his keys and drove off to find the woman he was dying to see again.

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.

.

Isabella placed the flowers on their graves and let the tears spring forth.

She liked to imagine his daughter a pre-teen, going out with friends and driving her dad berserk.

Heliotherapy was for families.

Heliotherapy was for hearts.

Heliotherapy was for heartbroken men like Edward that deserved better.

Isabella pulled her helioglasses out of her bag. She slid them on then closed her eyes, tipped her head back and flipped the switch on.

This was by far her favorite method of relief.

Orange.

She needed happy, glowing orange to infiltrate through her eyes and warm her senses.

The light funneled through the corners of her eyes and she smiled.

It was a relief, but still not enough.

She reached up and heightened the wave so it would be a continuous stream of joy.

Her neck strained to hold this position, but a weightlessness took over, and she imagined his hands cushioning her head, supporting it.

A few stray tears traced down the sides of her cheeks, but it was good.

The sooner she let them fall, the less she'd shed.

Her diagnosis was off. She needed the amethyst wave. That purple light was meant to sharpen aura and bolster feelings of self-worth.

Her heart fluttered as her hair shifted about in the breeze.

It felt so real, like his hands were entwined in her locks, caressing her scalp with tenderness.

Amethyst was what she used on Edward from the start. In the beginning of the sessions, he'd be tightly wound, his hands in knotted fists, his jaw tense, his eyes crinkled at the corners. By the end, his fingers were loose, pliable and limp. His full masculine lips were parted with a gentleness about them, and his eyes were deep, thoughtful.

"Oh . . . Edward," she whimpered.

Burning tears rolled faster down her cheeks.

The helio fixator must be broken; she should feel better by now.

She ripped the glasses off, flung them behind her and heard an, "Ow!"

Her eyes popped open, and she turned in horror to find Edward's hands disentangling themselves from her hair and his face in a state of utter chaos.

"Wh-what are you doing here?" she asked.

She swiped the tears away quickly.

Dammit! She was a mess.

"I could ask you the same," he motioned his head to the flowers, then continued, "but it's not hard to figure out." He rubbed the spot where her thick, metallic glasses glanced off his well-muscled shoulder.

She dropped her eyes, her face heating for staring at him that way. "I . . . I thought I'd say bye to them."

"Why? Are you done being my friend?" he asked. He stepped dangerously close to her.

His breath fanned across her cheeks. She leaned in to feel more of it.

It was intoxicating to be this near him again. He smelled better than she remembered and each inhalation, made her legs weaker so they could barely hold her up.

"N-no. I juuuust thought that . . . Jamara disliked me so much, I figured you'd never want to see me again," she said. She shoved her hands together so she would keep from picking at her cuticles or something equally disgusting and ill-mannered.

"I kicked her out." He paused and a thoughtful expression crossed his eyes. "Well, she left, but she's done that before to get me to grovel and beg her to come back. This time I called her and said it was over. I'm shipping her all that stuff she has, and I want nothing else to do with her."

"I . . . sorry," she offered.

She wasn't sorry. Not. At. All.

But seeing Edward hurt was unacceptable. She was sorry for his pain. Sorry she had selfish reactions when it came to him.

He smiled. "I'm not."

"But . . . you're engaged. I'm sure it was painful to end it," she said.

"Not as much as you'd think. She was so nasty and mean anymore, honestly, it wasy a relief to do what I should've done a few years ago." He took a shuddering deep inhale then his hands brushed across her cheeks and plunged into her hair. Her eyes went wide, and a moment later . . . his lips descended on hers.

She gripped his shoulders and she tasted the salt from her tears on her own lips.

He kissed it away, and as he did, something happened to her.

She inhaled as if coming up for air after being held under water for an interminable amount of time.

He pulled back, peered into her eyes like he was checking to see if she was okay.

"More, Edward. Oh please!" she whispered, and pulled him back to her.

She took the initiative this time, rather than merely reacting—opening his mouth with hers and carefully testing him.

"Hhhhhooooohhhhh, Bella," he panted.

A rush of fire slid down her belly.

His arms wound tightly around her. She molded into him, and vibrated with ecstatic energy.

He moved her backward, into the shade of the grove nearby.

They moved fluidly; their minds and bodies attuned.

Edward pressed her up against the thick trunk of a tree and kept kissing her until they heard movement nearby.

"Go home with me?" she asked softly, worry tightening her chest, making it hard to breathe.

He shook his head slowly no.

Sharp, monstrous rejection stabbed at her heart.

"Oh . . . o-okay. I'm sorry I . . . I didn't mean to take advantage," she said, wiggling out of his hold while her chest curled in on herself.

Edward grabbed her by the upper arm before she left. "Hey . . ."

She looked up through half-concealed eyes. The right one twitched, barely holding tears back.

"It's okay," she said, ducking her head back down. She wished her hair and shoulders would swallow her stupid brain up and never show her shameful face again.

He gingerly gripped her chin, tipped it up and smiled in a reassuring manner. "I didn't mean it like that. I was hoping you'd come home with me."

She gulped a little and nodded.

They walked hand-in-hand back to the parking lot.

Edward dragged her over to his car. "If you want to leave after I show you something at my place, then I'll bring you back here so you can get your car and leave."

"Something like what?" This sounded worrisome—loaded even. She shifted away from him a little, bracing herself from some devastating news.

"Something I've wanted to show you for a long, long time," he said in a soothing tone.

She agreed and he helped her into his car.

They drove in silence, but Edward's hands never left her skin.

He linked his hand in hers the second he sat down and caressed the back of her hand with his thumb.

As the driving time progressed, it seemed he grew bolder, unlatching their fingers and working slow, erotic patterns into her wrist and forearm.

He was driving her insane with need.

Isabella's breathing was shallow, pressured. Her legs trembled slightly as she pushed them together.

Everything intensified with his touch. Her vision was clearer—she noticed every tiny detail like the pores on the back of his hand, the muscles shifting with each movement in his arm and the way the light reflected off his sun-kissed, marvelous skin.

Please, don't let this be a dream . . . she chanted in her head repeatedly.

As soon as he parked the car and turned it off, he turned to her and leaned over, making a line of velvet textured kisses from her cheek, down her jaw to her clavicle.

Her long hair was in the way; he brushed it over her shoulder. She gasped as his fingers ghosted over the bare flesh of her neck.

He grinned then sucked a little at that spot his fingers had almost singed, and pushed at the collar of her shirt to make room so he could forge a new path.

Her skin was on fire. Oh, how she burned. Her moan was obscene and louder than she intended, so she muffled the next one by assaulting his mouth with hers.

Her hands fisted in his shirt, balling it up, wishing it was gone.

He slid into her seat and hovered over her as he continued to extend his tempting tongue into her mouth.

She was frantic now, yanking at his shirt.

"Can you take this off?" she asked, pulling harder.

"Come inside with me," he said. He rested his hands on hers, stilling her movements then settled his forehead on hers as he waited a moment.

Was he giving them both a chance to get their heart rates and breathing to slow down?

This was all new.

"Will you kiss me once we get inside?" she asked, cheeks blazing at her boldness. How could she not ask? She needed him more than she could've ever believed.

"Try and stop me, and I may have to be restrained," he teased.

She laughed, and he slipped off her and got out of the car.

He ran around the other side and let her out.

She abruptly hugged him. He startled but chuckled like he loved the way she assaulted him as a woman clearly out of control.

It was perfect.

Edward took her hand again and studied their clasped fingers. A warm look crossed his features and he tightened his grip on her then pulled their locked hands up to his lips, pressing tiny kisses all along her knuckles without letting go.

Isabella beamed at him.

Edward opened the door and led her inside.

She gazed around the room; her wide brilliant brown eyes sparked with interest.

"You have a beautiful, elegant home, Edward. I love it. It has a tremendous aura about it. Similar to the pulse the amethyst light emits." She wrapped her free arm around her own waist and continuously scanned the room.

Her heart enlarged and pulsed hard at how inviting his home was. She could live here every day of forever and be content to never leave.

"Thank you." He tugged on her hand to get her to follow him. "It's this way . . ."

Her stomach clenched a little; nerves thrumming.

What could he possibly want to show her?

"I want you to know I'm really nervous to show this to you, so please . . . just be gentle with me when I show you this . . ."

He brought her into his bedroom. Her breath caught on the boulder sized lump in her throat.

He stepped back, hiding away into his closet a moment later.

He returned with a black hardbound leather book. It had a lock on it.

He pressed a small key into the locket and then pocketed the key.

After exhaling, he laid it carefully in her lap.

"Open it. But I warn you . . . it might scare you some," he said.

Then he stopped all blinking and breathing. He simply stared at her like he didn't want to miss a moment of her reaction. He even shifted back a little as if to give her room.

She opened the book and on the very first page was an old faded newspaper article.

After several blinks, she brought it up to her face and skimmed through the contents.

Miss Isabella Swan, founder and touted medical genius, has opened her first official clinic to aid the afflicted population from the after-effects of PLO bombs dropped in the region two years ago. Her revolutionary heliotherapy is also purported to heal the grieving souls, having lost loved ones through the war and the devastation of disease spread by unsanitary conditions.

The article went on and on about how simple her methods were, yet had a greater impact than any other pharmacological methods combined.

There was a picture of Isabella smiling brightly over the shoulder of her mother she was hugging.

Her breath hitched, and she was choked up. Her mother died shortly after this picture was taken. She closed her eyes for a second to keep from crying.

Her mother was the reason Isabella developed the heliotherapy in the first place. Burns from the bombs plagued her aging mom. She did what she could to relieve her suffering.

But as soon as her father succumbed to his more severe burns, her mother took her own life.

The heliotherapy was incomplete, and her mother gave up trying.

With tears overwhelming her eyes, blurring her vision, Isabella turned the page.

There was another picture of Isabella, but this time it was unaccompanied by a newspaper blurb.

In fact, this one looked like a candid snap-shot taken by an amateur.

Her hands shook a little as she turned the page.

Page after page of close-up photos of her graced the album.

Finally she hit some writing.

It appeared to be either a letter or a journal entry.

December 25, 2051

This marks my first Christmas alone. My entire family has left me. It's been three months, but I'm struggling to deal with it.

I've found myself increasingly obsessed with a gorgeous young woman with a promising future before her. At first I thought I was fixated with her because of what she does—her healing arts.

It's more than that.

I feel compelled to meet her.

I've gone to her clinic several times, and each time I lose courage and leave. But tomorrow I'm determined to meet her.

I have taken these pictures of her while there when she was unaware.

I observed her interacting with clients and she's the gentlest, kindest woman I've ever had the pleasure to be around. I feel better when I'm there. Merely being around her saves me from the dread I'm constantly immersed in.

Can she be the reason I've been spared?

I almost died when my home was broken into. The perpetrator killed my wife and child, but failed to kill me, though not for lack of trying. They stole all my possessions, but I was spared somehow.

Then I was with my parents in their fatal car crash.

Again . . . still alive.

She has to be the reason why.

The only time I feel alive is when I see her picture or when I'm near her.

I love this woman that's a stranger to me.

Am I insane?

Isabella looked up at him, tears soaking her cheeks.

"Stay with me . . . ?" Edward said, voice tremulous and loving.

"Yes," she said without hesitation as she wrapped her arms around him.

"I don't need the heliotherapy—I never did. I only ever needed you," he said. "You're the reason I'm alive and my heart beats. I love you."

"I love you too, Edward; I did from the moment I met you."

He took her hand and placed it over his heart. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," she replied and kissed him like the world could end this very moment and it wouldn't matter.

That's because it wouldn't break her now. She had him, and he was also all she ever needed.

The warmth he created in her body was stronger than eleven shots of amethyst rays of heliotherapy. She'd never need those healing effects again.

She had him, and he was her light.

THE END

This is a little one shot I wrote months ago for a couple that wanted to do an audio recording of this. It didn't wind up happening, and last night, it struck me that it was gathering dust, and I felt compelled to share it all of the sudden. The funny thing? I had forgotten about his past tragedies in this story happening around Christmas time. Must've been fate it suddenly entered my mind.

When I wrote this, it wasn't intended to be a Twilight fan fic, but it seemed to fit for me, so I made a few tweaks.

Merry Christmas. This is a little gift from me to you, to show how much I appreciate all of you that take the time to read and review.

Thank you!

Scarlett