I felt weird...different...warm.
The last thing I remembered was walking with Anthony and I started coughing and then we ducked into an alley and that's it.
I opened my eyes slowly, my head and chest feel heavy.
I'm inside - how did that happen? And this isn't the shelter, this place is nice. As my eyes moved around the room I saw a man sitting in the corner of the room.
Where the hell am I and where was Anthony?
I tried to sit up but I felt a tug on my arm that made me yelp in pain. The man's eyes flew open and their startling green depths focused on me.
I tried to scoot up to a sitting position but I was too weak, I couldn't manage it.
"Don't try and sit up - you're too weak," the man said to me, his voice was soft and impossibly beautiful but I don't know him.
"I'm Edward, I'm a doctor, you're safe," he said holding his hands up and walking slowly.
"Where's my brother?" I asked, sinking into the pillow and pulling the covers up further as he approached me.
"He's safe, he's sleeping in the next room, I'll get him."
He left the room and I tried to sit up again but he's right I just can't do it, I'm too weak.
Moments later Anthony came rushing into the room and sat on the edge of the bed I'm in.
"Bella," he said as he took my hand.
"Where are we? Who is that guy?"
"We are at Edward's. He's Santa from the mall, remember," he said softly.
"He said he's a doctor - is that true?" I asked after a coughing fit.
"Yes. He's going to help you get better."
"But I can't pay him," I said.
"He said he doesn't want anything, just to help," Anthony said, his voice hopeful.
"Anthony, no one does anything for nothing these days," I whispered.
"Bella," the man said as he came back in the room carrying a plate and a glass, "I just want to help and I want nothing in return."
Anthony looked at him and smiled, "You remembered."
"Of course, buddy. I told you we'd save her some."
"We'll see," was all I said to him.
"Eat," Anthony said as he took the plate from Edward.
I looked down at the plate and there was pizza cut into small triangles.
I looked back up at the man, and I didn't understand why he doing all this stuff. There had to be something in all this for him.
"Edward, may I go play those video games now?" Anthony asked.
"Sure, buddy. I'll stay with your sister."
"Is that okay, Bella? If I go play," he asked.
I nodded as I took a bite of the pizza.
I watched as he ran out of the room and I turned my attention to Edward.
"Thanks for letting him play...he never gets too," I said quietly and then my cough hit again.
He moved slowly behind me and gently patted my back.
His touch was gentle and it sent tingles throughout my body.
"It's not a problem," he said softly.
"Thank you for helping me, I'll do whatever I can to repay you... somehow."
"You don't owe me anything, Bella. I want you to heal, that's all."
"But.. you're caring for my brother as well as me. Plus you work," I stopped as I coughed again as he gave me some tissues to spit the mucus out.
Yeah that's attractive.
He felt my head and brushed the hair from my eyes.
"You're still clammy. You need rest and have three good meals a day."
"I can't stay here. You're wife might get mad," I said as I moved from his touch.
"No wife, no girlfriend...just me."
Dang did I say that out loud. Me and my big mouth.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
"Just haven't found the right girl, you know, someone kind that cares about other people. I don't know, someone demure who doesn't want something from me..who knows who she is. Sorry I'm babbling...let me get you some more to drink."
I nodded as he left the room.
What the hell was that? Is he nervous around me? I'm nothing. He's a doctor, he could have anyone.
I'm so not in his league.
He walked back in carrying a bowl in his hand, as I was looking out the window.
"This should help your throat feel better," he said as he handed me the bowl.
"Hold this and I'll help you sit up."
He slid his arms under mine and around me and pulled me up to a seated position and moved a pillow behind my back.
He remained seated on the bed and took the bowl from my hands and spooned a bite.
"Open," he said looking me in the eye.
I slowly opened my mouth and Edward slid the spoon in.
I can't help a small moan, the ice cream felt so good on my raw throat.
Edward's face turned pink and so did mine as he spooned another bite.
"That's umm, the ice cream is good," I told him.
"I'm glad you think so," he said with a smile.
"This is a great looking place you have, or at least the bedroom is." I told him.
"It's a house, but thank you."
"I can't thank you enough for letting Anthony be a kid - he's missed so much," I told him, my voice dropping.
"Glad I can help. He's a good kid and he cares about you alot."
"Yeah, he's all I got," I said as my voice cracked and the tears fell.
To my surprise he put his arm around me and pulled me against him.
"You have me now, you and Anthony can stay as long as you want."
It's weird that it felt comfortable in his arms - I should be ashamed of myself, but it does feel nice.
As he held me, I couldn't help but imagine what his lips would feel like against mine and I may or may not have whimpered.
He smelled so good and I really wanted to keep hugging him, but I had to stop this - he was going to get the wrong idea.
I pulled away quickly and he looked down at me.
"I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable," he said.
"You didn't. Thank you," I said and we both smiled at each other as Anthony came running in the room.
He stopped when he saw Edward's arm around my shoulder.
He broke out into a goofy grin, not the reaction I thought he'd have.
"Edward, can you come play for awhile?" he said excitedly.
It was nice to see his smile again, he's missed out on so much.
"Sure as long as Bella doesn't need anything else."
"I'm fine," I said quietly.
"Just call if you need anything at all. Oh and if you need it there's a bathroom through that door, just be careful. Call one of us to help you walk - I don't want you to fall," he said as he rose and grinned at me.
I let my head fall back against the pillow - Edward made me so confused.
I've always been shy and didn't make friends easy - when I had time for friends, it's been years since I had time for anything but surviving.
I had never had a boyfriend nor had I ever wanted one, until now - I wish I was worthy of someone like Edward.
I have nothing to offer him. Just me and Anthony, and what would a doctor want with that.
Most doctor's had beautiful, successful wives, they didn't have wives that barely finished high school.
I managed to graduate, but that was it.
What was I even thinking? Besides being no one I was just plain, nothing extraordinary - I'm sure he wouldn't even want me.
I laid there thinking of what I could do once I got better, maybe I could cook for Edward.
I must have drifted off because I jerked awake suddenly when I heard a rattling noise.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, I was just bringing you some dinner for whenever you wake up," Edward said settling a tray on the nightstand.
"Oh wow, thank you," I told him.
"It's not much, canned soup and some tea."
"Anthony?" I asked.
"He already ate and is taking a shower," he said with a smirk.
"What?" I asked.
"He was just so excited to take a shower, and then he wanted to get ready for bed."
I just smiled and looked down at my hands.
"Hungry?" he asked me.
"Ummm...I kinda need to use the bathroom."
"I can help you with that," he said softly.
Edward slid his arms around me and helped me to the edge of the bed.
"Put your hands on my arms - I'm going to help you stand now," he said.
I placed my hands on his arms and he lifted me up.
"You doing okay?" he asked.
He guided me slowly toward the bathroom - supporting me with one arm around my waist while I took slow shuffling steps and he held my IV bag in his other hand.
He walked me all the way inside the bathroom and laid my IV bag on the counter.
"I'll leave you to it," he said letting his hand slip from my waist slowly.
I nodded as he closed the door behind him.
When I was finished I shuffled to the door and opened it, Edward was standing right there waiting for me.
I felt really tired from that little bit of moving.
Edward lifted me up into his arms and carried me back to bed.
I felt horrible that he felt that he had to carry me.
He sat me back in the bed and put the tray in my lap.
"Eat, ba.. Bella," he said as his ears started to turn pink.
I felt my cheeks heating up as I realized what he was going to say.
I started to eat my soup and sipped at my tea.
I put my spoon down and looked over at Edward, "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Would you like anything else?" he asked as he checked the IV bag and fluffed the pillows.
"No. I think I'm good," I said softly.
"Okay. I have an early call at the hospital tomorrow, but I will make sure that Anthony knows where everything is and I should be home after one."
"Night Edward," I said as he turned the light off.
I laid back against the pillows and thought about things, why would he want to call me baby.
Maybe he didn't mean to, that had to be it.
I drifted off to sleep with thoughts of Edward running through my head.
The next few days dragged by as Edward had to work at the hospital, I saw him around dinner time each night and a few times in the morning before he left.
I was starting to feel better so I could get out of bed more and tonight I actually ventured down the stairs.
He truly had a beautiful home, and Anthony was right that I'd love the kitchen.
It was so huge and everything looked so beautiful.
Edward called earlier and said he'd be home at five instead of one, so I had enough time to make him a special dinner.
I decided I would make lasagna and a salad.
Anthony helped make the salad as he sat the table.
I wanted everything to be ready when he walked in the door.
We've been staying with him a little over a week now and he's done so much for us, even bought us some clothes which I grouched about.
But he wouldn't hear of it.
I felt well enough today that I actually took a long bubble bath, and changed into one of the dresses that Edward bought for me.
As I stood before the mirror, I almost felt pretty. But then I remembered that I was just plain Bella.
I heard his keys in the door as I took the lasagna out of the oven.
I hoped that he liked it.
"What's that wonderful smell?" he said as he walked in.
"I...I made a lasagna...I hope that's okay."
"It's perfectly fine, Bella as long as you're feeling okay."
"I do and thanks for the dress, it fits great."
"It looks beautiful on you. You look beautiful," he said as he leaned in and moved a strand of hair from my face.
"You don't have to say that," I said as I turned around to get the wine I had on the counter.
"I said it because I meant it, you're a lovely woman, Bella."
"Would you like wine with your dinner?" I asked avoiding what he said.
"Sure, that would be nice."
"It's ready if you want to sit down."
Anthony was already at the table with a huge grin on his face.
I brought the glasses of wine I had poured and sat down across from Anthony on Edward's other side.
"Company and a home cooked meal - this is a real treat for me," Edward said, flashing a smile at me.
I can't help the blush that crept across my face at his compliment.
We ate in relative silence except for Anthony chattering on about Christmas.
I was not excited about Christmas at all since I didn't have any gifts to give to either Edward or Anthony.
"I made dessert too if you're interested," I told him.
"I love dessert," he said, his eyes twinkling.
I cleared our plates and brought out dessert plates, a knife and a chocolate pie.
"Wow, a guy could used to this," Edward said.
"She cooks more than lasagna and pie, you should keep us around - I could help around here too," Anthony said.
"Anthony," I hissed at him, wishing I could sink through the floor.
"I love having you both here - it's starting to feel like a home, not just a house. You guys can stay as long as you want, really."
"See Bella, he likes having us here," Anthony said.
I cut them each a piece of pie and handed it to them as I cut myself a small piece.
Edward took a bite of the pie and moaned loudly as he closed his lips around the fork.
His eyes locked onto mine as he ate his dessert and I didn't know what this feeling was that I was feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"Go and watch TV or read, we'll do the dishes," Edward said as he went in the kitchen with Anthony.
I went and sat on the couch and looked at a book as I heard Edward and Anthony laughing in the kitchen.
It was a nice sound to hear as I leaned my head back against the couch and just listened.
It was a few minutes later when Anthony came out to tell me good night and then Edward came out after him holding a cup of tea out to me.
"Thank you so much, for dinner, Bella, that was wonderful - I can't even remember the last time someone made dinner for me," he said sitting down next to me.
"I wanted to do something for all that you have done for me and Anthony," I said softly as I took a sip of tea.
"You don't owe me anything, I really do like having you both here."
"You keep saying that."
"And I mean it, you and Anthony are great," he said, as his hand covered mine where it rested on my knee.
I wasn't sure what I should do.
My hand was trembling beneath his.
"Are you afraid of me, Bella?"
"No, I just don't understand why you would put your hand on mine."
"I told you earlier, Bella, you're a lovely woman."
I scooted away from him quickly, did I miss judge him?
"I'm not going to sleep with you as pay back."
"I would never ask that of you, Bella. I just want to get to know you better."
There was genuine hurt in his eyes at my words.
I felt embarrassed, of course he doesn't want me that way, why would he.
"I'm sorry, Edward, I didn't mean that. I'm just not used to people being nice to me and wanting nothing in return. All your compliments just threw me off, I'm not used to being around nice people. Please don't feel you have to compliment me though, I know you can't mean it."
"I would never patronize you by lying to you, Bella. I'll be honest with you, I do find you attractive and I...I feel something when I'm around you, I can't even explain it."
"Wh...what? Why would you be attracted to me? I'm plain...nothing special. You're tall and smart and handsome - you must have to beat women off you."
"Oh, Bella," he said, slipping one hand into my hair. "You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you?"
He leaned in closer to me his hand sliding around to cradle the back of my head and slowly he brought his lips to mine.
His lips were soft but firm on mine and I can't help but bring my hand up to rest on his arm - to feel him - to make sure he was real.
His other hand slipped around my waist, pulling me closer to him until my body was almost flush to his and his hand on my head tilted it back slightly as his tongue brushed across my lower lip.
I moaned at the feel of him and my lips parted, giving him the chance to slide his tongue in my mouth. I have never been kissed before and my body feels on fire.
I hoped that he couldn't tell that I've never been kissed before.
His hand on my waist began to move up my side until it brushed the edge of my breast and I moaned into his mouth.
He stopped immediately and pulled his mouth from mine.
"I'm sorry, Bella...I...I lost control a bit there...you're intoxicating."
"Umm...it's ok...it was nice...I...I liked it," I whispered softly, feeling my face flame with color.
"It was nice," he said with a grin.
I was still in his arms and I really didn't want to leave them. I felt safe and wanted there.
We both just looked at each other, each of us grinning. His cheeks looked a little flushed and my whole body felt like it was glowing.
"I suppose I should let you get some sleep - you did a lot today with dinner. I don't want you
overdoing it," he said, brushing his fingers over my cheeks.
I nodded, not really wanting to be away from him.
He helped me stand up even though I didn't need the help. He seemed like he didn't want to let me go because he kept his arms around me.
He walked me up stairs to my room and he opened the door for me.
"I don't work tomorrow, so I was thinking of maybe taking you and Anthony to Shedd Aquarium, if you'd like to go," he said as he shifted his feet.
"Oh, ummm, I don't want you to feel like you have to entertain us."
"Bella, I wouldn't ask if I didn't want to spend time with you. I don't kiss every girl I meet...I like you and just want to spend the day with you and Anthony."
"Okay, that would be nice, neither of us have ever been there."
"Great, I haven't been in a long time either. I'm looking forward to it," he leaned in and kissed my forehead. "Goodnight Bella."
"Night Edward," I said as I went in my room and closed the door.
As I was getting changed for bed, I looked in the mirror and ran my fingers over my bottom lip.
I could still feel Edward's lips there.
They were soft and warm, and when he slipped his tongue in my mouth I felt other things, that I've never felt before.
It scared me and excited me at the same time.
I slipped my pajamas on and crawled into the bed and snuggled under the blankets.
I know this won't last forever and we'd have to leave here.
I know that will be hard for Anthony but we can't live here forever, no matter what Edward says.
He has family somewhere, I've seen their pictures in his library and in the living room.
What will they think? He doesn't really know us, they will think he's crazy for taking in two homeless people.
I'm afraid of falling for him, and then having to leave.
I could feel the panic beginning in my chest and I felt the tears slipping down my cheeks.
I must have made some sound because I heard a knock at the door.
"Bella," he whispered as he opened the door.
I wiped my face as I sat up.
"Sorry, if I woke you," I murmured.
"You didn't. I was coming to check on you and then I heard you. Were you crying? What's the matter? Does something hurt?" he asked concern lacing his voice.
How did I tell him my heart hurt? That I want to stay here forever but knowing that I can't.
"Just feeling sorry for myself," I told him.
"What about?" he asked looking at me as if he didn't believe that was what was bothering me.
"I was just thinking that one day me and Anthony will have to leave here. We can't stay forever, your family will clearly think you are insane for having two homeless people you don't know in your house and I don't want to cause any problems with your family. I don't want to get too attached to you and then have to leave. It will be so hard, Anthony already loves it here and I'm afraid that I do too. I like you and it scares the hell out me. I've never felt this way before, and I've never been kissed before you. I just don't want your family to be upset. I'm scared."
I sucked in a deep breath and waited for him to speak.
"Bella my life is my own - I love having you and Anthony here, I feel more alive than I've felt in years and I don't give a damn what my family thinks about it. I'm a grown man I don't owe my parents an explanation for who lives in my house. And I meant it when I said you and Anthony can stay forever - I don't want you to leave here. I don't want you to leave me."
I threw my arms around him and hugged him to me.
"This is so crazy, but I don't want to leave you either."
"Then don't," he said as he looked into my eyes.
I licked my bottom lip as I looked at him.
His eyes flicked down to gaze at my mouth and back up to my eyes - like he was asking permission.
I smiled at him, hoping he takes the hint.
He lowered his lips to mine, this time slipping his tongue right into my mouth.
I pulled him with me as I leaned back on the pillows, his lips were soft and firm against mine as his tongue slid against mine.
His hands held my waist and he pulled himself gently away.
"I better stop before I get too carried away," he said and I could see a difference in his eyes, they looked a little wild and hungry, I think.
"I don't want you to go," I said pulling him to me slightly.
"I can stay here with you if you want me to."
I slid over, making room for him and he crawled in next to me. He slipped his arm around me and pulled me close to him, cradling my head against his chest.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"You're welcome, Bella. I'm always here for you, for anything you need."
I snuggled into his chest and I felt him kiss the top of my head as I drifted off to sleep in the warmth that was Edward.