Okay, I know I'm still working on People Will Talk, and I promise to have another chapter up soon, but I've been excited about writing this story as well and wanted to get the first chapter up. I hope you enjoy.
'It hurts.' My brain informed me helpfully as I regained consciousness. But it did…it hurt so badly that I couldn't focus on anything else for a moment. I heard a noise; a loud, constant sound, like a horn…it was a horn, I realized. A car horn, like someone was sitting on it. 'Stop.' I wanted to yell at the person blaring their horn. 'Its hurting my head. Please stop.' Opening my eyes, I was surprised to find myself slumped forward and staring at a dashboard…a vaguely familiar dashboard…but why was I asleep in the car? And why did my head hurt so badly…or my leg for that matter? My ankle felt trapped, and when I tried to move it, I nearly blacked out again. 'Car crash.' My brain was really on top of things, I thought sarcastically, using all of my concentration to think at all.
Turning my head a little, I bit back a scream. Charlie's eyes were staring at me, his lips turned down in a grimace as his head rested on the steering wheel. I choked on a sob, shock running through me. I hadn't seen my dad in two years…now after a half hour, he was…
No. I couldn't think about that. Not now. I needed to get out of the car. He was fine. He would be fine. He was just…unconscious….with his eyes open. It didn't matter. I would call 911 and some doctor would help him and we'd be okay and I'd pretend to love being here for him…I'd do anything if he'd just be okay, I promised whoever was listening. "Ch…" I coughed, ignoring the way it made my head pound. "Charlie? Dad?" I gasped, reaching out for him, but my hand wasn't responding, and it fell a few feet short. "Hand on, Dad." I muttered, somehow managing after several attempts to unbuckle my seatbelt, my fingers numb and cold. Clutching the car door, I forced it open, noticing for the first time that I'd been leaning against it and that the hood was wrapped around a tree. The driver's side seemed to be crushed.
I pulled myself from the car and collapsed, screaming in pain when I hit the ground, my voice drowned out by the car horn. I didn't have a cell phone. I had no idea where we were…I hadn't been to Forks in too many years to remember how to get to a hospital, and even if I could, I couldn't even stand…I wondered why I'd thought to come here in the middle of winter. 'Please.' I thought desperately. 'Please, someone. God, please, help me.' I sobbed, tears falling down my face and dripping onto the cold grass in the dim light. Opening my eyes, I realized that there was blood mixing with the tears on the grass and wondered where I was bleeding from, too shocked to feel any sickness I would usually feel.
"Oh god…" I opened my eyes at the voice, soft and melodic and…pained. A figure stepped into my line of sight, a pair of nice shoes stopping a few feet away. "Oh god…" This time it was a groan…an agonized sound that surprised me. The feet moved closer and I glanced up to see the figure crouch a little, the body angled toward me. Closer and closer it came, finally kneeling a foot away. I met bright, butterscotch eyes, and my breath hitched.
"Please." I choked on the word, new tears falling from my eyes, and he paused, his own eyes widening in surprise. "Please…help Charlie." I begged, crying as I pleaded with him.
"Charlie?" His voice was just loud enough for me to hear over the horn that continued to blare.
"My dad." I tried to reach out to the man….well, he was about my age if I thought about it…maybe seventeen or eighteen…but my hand refused to move. "Please help him." He suddenly looked so torn…so pained and…almost pitying, that I bit my lip. His teeth were…bared? His entire body seemed to shield me from the world, but I didn't feel like he was protecting me. He leaned toward me, then stopped himself, reaching out, then clenching his fist and covered his mouth. "Please?" I asked in a small voice, not entirely knowing what I was asking…but there was something about his eyes…I was in some kind of danger.
Suddenly his teeth clenched and he stood, turning abruptly, striding off and speaking in a normal tone of voice. I closed my eyes for a minute, and the horn stopped blaring, the sound of screeching metal hurting my head even more, and then there was a brief silence. "Emmett! C'mon, Em, I need some help." I had no idea who he was talking to, and for a second my eyes drifted shut, the cold threatening to overtake me, but I forced them open.
'A phone? Help? Is he calling for someone?
"Sh*t…what happened? Is that Charlie Swan?" A deep voice asked from the same direction he'd walked.
"And his daughter." The boy's voice was strained.
There was a pause and the voice turned a little softer. "Edward, what's wrong?"
"Her blood…oh god, Emmett it's not like anything I've ever…" My brain had no idea what to do with that, so it let the statement slip away as I felt the cold water from the grass seep into my clothing.
"Oh…" The one he called Emmett sighed loudly, his breath gusting in the forest, his voice sympathetic for some reason. "Go call for Carlisle. I'll…stay here."
"Go! Hurry, before you can't. I'll be fine…we just hunted." There was a soft rustle and I must have blacked out for a second because suddenly there was another figure beside me, and I heard him kneel beside me. "Da*n girl. You're a mess." The voice…the one that apparently belonged to Emmett, was close, and if I'd been able to move without screaming I might have jumped. Instead I looed up at him, realizing that I was lying on my side and that the pain was moving toward unbearable. A hesitant hand touched my shoulder and I relaxed a little, the bit of human contact grounding me. "Just hang on a minute, kid. Help's comin'."
"Charlie? Is he okay?" I managed to ask again, each breath painful. The guy…Emmett…sighed again, then flinched, turning his head away from me slightly.
"No…sorry kid. I think he went pretty quick though." He assured me, his voice turning gentle. Shock ran through me. My dad was really dead. I'd only been here for a few hours and my dad was dead. A sob ripped through my throat and the hand on my arm tightened a little. The hand moved then and for a second I thought he'd left, but then I was on my back and the ache in my side had let up a little, although the pain in my ankle made me groan. "There you go. Better?" The tears ran down the side of my face now and Emmett wiped at my cheeks. "Hey, shh. It's okay, kid." He sighed when I didn't stop, my breath hitching as I cried painfully, and he squeezed my shoulder. "Hey, what's your name?"
Taking a shuddering breath, I tried to stop the trembling that made my teeth chatter. "Bella."
"Ah. So you're the one he hasn't stopped talking about. Everyone in town's been waiting for you…" He broke off suddenly at the end, but I couldn't help the small shaky smile, even if my eyes continued to leak tears. Opening my eyes, I was able to make out his face, large and round, boyish but still older than I was by a few years probably. His cheeks dimpled a little when he smiled at me, and his curly brown hair was cut short. "There you go. It's okay." He frowned for a moment, then pulled away, removing the jacket he wore. "I don't have anything else." He spoke apologetically, covering me with the garment that was somehow chilled despite being on his body a few seconds ago.
I glanced up at the police cruiser, the shock preventing me from feeling the amount of grief that was sure to come, and he touched my shoulder again. I wondered if he was getting cold or if my body was just so cold that I couldn't feel warmth….did it work that way? Had he been warm a few seconds ago? Thinking was oddly difficult. "Cold?" I managed to ask, looking up into his eyes, and they turned a little sad in the dim light.
"Yea I know. Give it a minute. I know you're cold on that wet grass…but I'd better not move you too much, just in case you've hurt your neck."
"You?" I tried again, my voice shaking. "Cold? Your jacket?" He puzzled over my words for a second and then smiled a little, his eyes curious.
"Are you asking if I'm cold without my jacket?"
"Mmhm." He chuckled softly, moving a lock of hair from my face.
"Don't you worry about me, kid. I'm fine." He assured me, then grimaced at something as the wind blew. I trembled, unable to suppress a sob and was crying once again, my body reacting to the pain and cold and helplessness I felt. His posture shifted and he moved to block me from the wind, sitting on the ground beside me, his jaw tight. "I'm Emmett, by the way. Emmett Cullen. My dad's on his way, Bella. He's a doctor, you know. A really good one…a medical genius and all that. You couldn't ask for a better guy to help you." He paused for a moment, then continued in a less strained voice. "That guy that found you…that's my know it all kid brother, Edward." I had to smile a little at his light tone. "And I've got a little sister too, Alice. She's a weirdo, but you'd probably like her. She loves shopping." He told me dryly, then laughed aloud when I grimaced. "You don't like shopping?"
"No." He chuckled again, his booming voice seeming to send vibrations through my body.
"We're all adopted by Carlisle, our father, and our mom Esme." His voice continued on then, soothing me as I lay on the wet grass. "And I've got a foster brother, Jasper, and a foster sister, his twin, Rosalie." I opened my eyes again to look at him, suddenly realizing that I'd let them close. "Hey, stay awake, Bella." I trembled again violently as the wind roared and a raindrop fell from the sky. He grumbled for a second then leaned over me, shielding me from the worst of the light mist. "What about you, Bella? You got any brothers or sisters?" He was speaking urgently, trying to get me to talk, and I shook my head a little.
"No." I whimpered, trembling again with the cold. "So cold." I sobbed, knowing there was nothing he could do about it but also unable to help myself. "Please…" My voice trailed off, as I had no idea what to ask of him. "Cold." I told him again feebly, and his cold hand touched my shoulder as my head throbbed. "Hurts."
"Shh, here's Carlisle. He's a doctor. He's going to help you, kid. Okay?" I cried, hot tears running down my face as I was unable to stop. "Carlisle! You've got to help her." He told someone urgently, and another voice, this one softer than the other two, spoke up.
"Good job, Emmett. I'm proud of you. You saved this girl." I had no idea what he was talking about, but another figure, a blonde man with a face that I could only describe as something out of a mythology book in its perfection, hovered over me and two fingers touched my wrist.
"Her name's Bella." I heard Emmett mumble before moving away, and the blonde man released my wrist to put two fingers against my neck.
"Hello, Bella. I'm Carlisle. I'm a doctor, alright?"
"Emmett's dad?" I asked weakly, and he paused, smiling a little, his eyes gentle.
"Yes. I am. And you're…" He glanced up at the car and sighed. "You're Isabella Swan, Charlie Swan's daughter." I bit my lip, suppressing another sob.
"He's dead?" I asked in a small voice, and although I knew the answer, I felt new tears fall from my eyes when he answered.
"Yes, I'm very sorry Bella. He is. He probably died on impact." He was silent for a moment, moving his hand to the top of my head, gently probing, then pausing when I cried out. "Sorry." He moved his hand to cup my cheek. "I believe you'll need stiches…you cut your head open pretty badly, but it isn't a deep cut. Can you look at me?" I winced when a bright light was shone in my eyes, making the ache in my head intensify. His hands moved down to my neck again, gently touching the sides and back, then pressing against the base of my skull. "Here." He placed his hand in mine. "Can you squeeze my hand, Bella?" I did, weakly, and he repeated the procedure with my other hand, smiling a little when I clutched at his hand, and I felt him rub his thumb over the back of mine.
"Can you tell me where else it hurts, Bella?" He asked, his soft voice soothing.
"My leg." I bit my lip, taking a shuddering breath as I shook from the cold. His hands were cold as well, and I wondered if I'd ever be warm again. "Left…my ankle." I clarified, and his hands were on my leg then, gently feeling along my shin and ankle.
"I think it's a bad sprain…luckily you didn't break it. Anywhere else?"
"Head. Sides." He moved the jacket over me and pulled the shirt up a little, sighing when I shook harder.
"I know you're cold, sweetheart. Just a second." He carefully pressed against both sides and mumbled to himself. "Okay. I think you have a few broken ribs, but you're going to be okay." He placed the jacket back over me, and then removed his own sweater to fold under my head. "An ambulance is coming…I'm going to ride with you and get you something for the pain, okay?"
"Thank you." I managed, hating the way my head felt fuzzy as my eyes shut. He responded but I didn't catch what he said, only coming back to awareness when someone moved me onto a hard board, then lifted me into an enclosed space.
"Blankets. She's freezing." Carlisle's voice faded in and out. "Morphine. Yes… with her. No…my son. I need…probably…" I steady beeping filled the little area, followed by a siren that could have been in my head…no one else seemed to react to it. "Better…heart rate…no, her father. Yes." I shook under the blankets, still crying, and I felt a cold hand wipe at my face.
"It's going to be okay, Isabella."
"Bella." I corrected, somehow managing to sound both irritated and pained. He chuckled softly, his hand moving to rest on my shoulder.
"My apologies. Bella."
When I woke it was to a persistent beeping. Keeping my eyes closed, I tried burrowing deeper into the blanket that covered me. I wasn't cold anymore thankfully, and my head felt little less fuzzy. My ankle felt tight, and when I moved it I realized it was wrapped in some kind of bandage. I finally managed to open my eyes, glancing around the room and confirming my suspicion that I was in the hospital. As soon as I acknowledged that, my brain supplied the memories, and I realized that I was alone….in a hospital…in Forks. Unable to stop the sob, to stop picturing Charlie's face staring at me from the driver's side of the crushed police cruiser, I brought my hands up to cover my face and cried, biting my lip to keep quiet and ignoring the building headache and the way the needle in my arm pulled.
"Bella? Bella are you alright?" The voice coming from the doorway was familiar but I didn't bother looking toward it. It was a man. If my father and step-father had taught me anything, it was that men were uncomfortable with tears and would probably leave if I pretended they weren't there. So that's what I did. Turning a little, I leaned back against the slightly elevated bed and cried; wishing whoever it was would go away.
The man sighed softly and I managed to be grateful for men's inherent inability to deal with crying teenage girls for about two seconds before a hand touched my shoulder. I stiffened in surprise…I hadn't heard him approach the bed or…sit down on the edge as he was doing now. "I know it hurts, Bella. We're trying to reach your mother, okay? We'll keep trying. You'll be okay."
'Carlisle.' I realized. The doctor I could vaguely remember from the scene of the crash. 'But wasn't there someone else there? Or two people?' The crash itself was impossible to remember, and the time I'd spent escaping from the car and lying on the ground were like fuzzy dreams. 'Someone rescued me though…someone must have heard me scream or maybe heard the crash?' The doctor moved a little closer as I cried, and I realized that my sobbing had me gasping for breath.
"Bella? Calm down, sweetheart." I leaned forward a little, covering my face with my hands, and his hand hesitantly moved to my upper back, moving in soothing circles. Turning a little, I leaned my head on his shoulder, ignoring the fact that he stiffened for a moment. After a second, his hand wrapped around me and I realized that one thing from my memory of that night had been accurate…he was cold. His body was hard like stone as he held me close, but I didn't care…I was too busy crying on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Bella." He murmured, bringing up another arm to hold me, and it reminded me of when I was little and hurt, and Charlie would pick me up and hold me. Crying even more painfully, I slumped against him, not caring that I was probably making an idiot of myself…he'd been the one who hadn't left the emotional teenage girl to cry alone. So he could pay the consequences.
I was surprised to find myself waking up. I hadn't even realized that I'd fallen asleep, but here I was again, opening my eyes to an empty hospital room. "Hello, Bella." Oh…not empty then. "Are you feeling any better?" The voice was gentle and I turned to find Carlisle still in the room, sitting on a chair beside the bed. And then I realized that I must have fallen asleep on the poor man.
"Oh…I…I'm sorry." I felt my face heat up and stared down at the blankets, humiliated. 'How could I have done that? First I cry all over him and then I use him as a pillow…and I've known him all of…' My thoughts came up short on that one. I had no idea how long it had been.
"You have nothing to be sorry for, Bella." He assured me kindly, touching my arm for a brief second, the cold somehow failing to surprise me this time.
'Someone else was cold.' My brain tried to tell me, but I didn't care at the moment. "What…what day is it?" I asked hesitantly, glancing around the room until his eyes captured mine and he answered all of the questions I'd really wanted to ask.
"You arrived on a Sunday. My sons found you at around 6 o'clock in the evening. You slept for four days, waking occasionally for a few moments but then falling asleep again without saying anything…I had to monitor your concussion, but thankfully it wasn't severe. Last night you woke briefly and were lucid…it's Friday now…around noon." I swallowed hard, unable to remember any but the last time I'd woken. "It's normal not to remember." He reassured me soothingly. "Can you tell me the last thing you can remember?"
"Um…I remember waking up last night." I mumbled, hating the blush that rose to my cheeks.
"Alright. Before that?"
"After the crash…lying on the ground…it was cold." He frowned a little.
"Yes, my son tried to help you, but there was little he could do without moving you. You were lucky to escape hypothermia…or pneumonia for that matter. I've checked your lungs and I believe you're out of danger. My only concerns are your head injury, which seems to be healing fine, and your ribs. You'll need to keep still for a while…it would be easy for you to puncture a lung if you fell again. And be careful when walking. The sprain is still healing."
"Your son…" I only half listened as he spoke, looking at him strangely. "Emmett?" He nodded.
"Yes. He and Edward found you."
"Edward found me…" I frowned a little at the memory of the handsome boy who'd stared at me so strangely, then of the larger man who'd sat with me. "Emmett told me about your family." It was probably my imagination that he stiffened but I clarified anyway, not sure why he would have that reaction. "That he was adopted? And about his brother and sister…and his foster-sister and brother."
"Ah, yes. We have a large family." I had to smile at that. Five children certainly was a large family. "Well, would you like to eat something? I've had you hooked to an IV for a while, but I think it would be safe to remove now. Are you having any pain in your head? Blurred vision? Trouble speaking?"
"No…I'm fine." He gave me a strange look and chuckled.
"Alright. I'll have them bring you something to eat then. Try and stay still, Bella. If you need anything, here's the call button for the nurse's station, and if you need me, just ask one of the nurses." He smiled kindly at me, touching my hand, then stood. I was about to thank him when something occurred to me.
"Wait!" I started to sit up straight but froze when that became impossible. He turned his concerned eyes onto me. "Charlie?" His own eyes widened, then turned gentle.
"Bella, Charlie was killed in the crash." He reminded me, his voice soft.
"No…I mean…his funeral? Or…something? Do I…" I stared at the blanket frowning…I had no idea how to plan a funeral or any money to do so. Carlisle moved back to my side and crouched beside my bed.
"Don't worry about any of that Bella. The men at the police station are already taking care of it. And we're trying to contact your mother." I nodded, leaning back against the pillow once more.
"Thank you." I mumbled. He nodded, then left as a nurse entered.
Carlisle stepped into his house, dropping his black bag on the bench by the front door, just in case he needed to get to it in a hurry, and sought out his wife, who greeted him in the doorway. He wrapped his arms around her, lips finding hers, and smiled when she tucked her head under his chin. "How was work?" She asked softly, although he knew exactly what she was really asking.
"She woke up this afternoon." She smiled a little in relief…she had grown attached to the girl, even though she'd never met her. "I'm afraid she hasn't eaten anything though…she's basically refused food all day, according to the nurses. And she's barely spoken. We can't get a hold of her mother…I tried calling myself once or twice. Her answering machine is full. Honestly we're not sure if we've got the right number on file…a nurse tried to ask Bella, but the poor girl said she didn't know…her mother gave her the same phone number we have on file, and I believe she's too upset to remember…" He shook his head. "She's not coping well at all."
"And she doesn't know anyone in town?"
"Apparently she was born here, but her mother and father separated when she was barely five, and her mother moved them around…they finally settled in Arizona. I believe there are a few people in town she's met, but she hasn't been to Forks, from what I can tell, in…six years? Maybe seven. I'm not sure she'd remember anyone in town." Esme bit her lips, crossing her arms and looking at him in distress.
"Isn't there anything we can do? Her father was so kind…he always advocated for us…you know, I believe he was estranged from his friends on the reservation because of it." Carlisle nodded.
"He was. He was once close with Billy Black...the chief's descendent. But of course they have their legends…not that they're wrong. Still, he was able to convince some from the reservation to continue coming to the hospital." He sighed. "I've taken care of the bill, or whatever Charlie's insurance wouldn't cover. Of course, Bella's inherited everything he had, so the house is hers now, along with everything he owned, and whatever money he had...life insurance."
"She can't stay in that house alone, Carlisle. She's only seventeen." He nodded.
"I know." He murmured.
"Are you talking about Bella?" Carlisle looked up with a small smile at Emmett's head as he peeked around the door.
"Yes. She's woken up." He'd been just as surprised as everyone else when Emmett had seemed taken with the human girl, but no more surprised than when he had arrived on the scene of the crash to find Emmett, with blood dripping onto his hand as he wiped at the terrified girl's tears, speaking gently to the girl, keeping her as calm as he could and assuring her that she would be okay. He'd been worried for the girl all week, asking his father again and again if she'd woken yet. But Carlisle couldn't have been more proud of his usually almost annoyingly cheerful and careless son. Edward had impressed him as well. He'd not only stumbled upon the girl covered in blood, but had found a person whose blood smelled better to him than anyone else's…his 'singer' as his old friend Aro called them. Carlisle had faced several people like this, and it had been the closest he'd ever come to breaking his self-control.
"She won't eat?" Emmett asked solemnly.
"No…not more than a bite or two, and her body needs the nutrition to heal. Nor could we reach any of her family." Emmett sighed, crossing his arms and Carlisle smiled faintly. "She remembers you." His son looked up in surprise. "You and Edward both." His oldest son was in the living room from what he could hear, his fingers tapping absently against the keys as he listened to both their conversation and their thoughts. He'd been a bit more moody than usual the last few days, but no one was sure why. "She said you told her about our family." Emmett grinned ruefully.
"I didn't really think she'd remember…I think she hit her head pretty hard. But I told her that we were adopted…just the cover story." Carlisle nodded.
"Yes, that's what she said."
"Do you think she'll be okay?" Emmett asked softly.
"If I can get her to eat, I think she'll stand a better chance of recovering fully." He said carefully. "I'm more worried about her mental state, however. I'm afraid her grief is contributing to her withdraw. She's only spoken to me…the nurses all say she's mostly silent when they try to engage her, and she won't ask for anything."
Edward stared down at the piano keys, his fingers absently tapping against them, the music that it would have made sounding in his head. He'd nearly killed that girl. He'd heard her scream and immediately ran toward the source, remembering his days on his own when he'd chased down killers and rapists. He might not kill humans anymore, but he'd help the girl if she needed it.
And then he'd smelled the blood…the most wonderful, enticing scent he'd ever come across. If he had known that something like this existed…well he probably wouldn't be a vegetarian. His body had moved into a crouch before he knew what he was doing, stepping closer to the girl, groaning as he tried to resist. 'I can't do this…' He'd told himself. But even the thought of his father's disappointed gaze hadn't stopped him…he'd moved to the girl's side, belatedly noticing that she was crying where she lay crumpled on her side. Her wounds weren't fatal, so he couldn't comfort himself with that though. But rational thought had gone out the window when the breeze had blown her scent at him in full force. 'I'll kill her quickly.' He'd told himself. 'I won't let the poor girl suffer anymore than she has to. I'll break her neck as quickly as I can…she won't even feel it.' He'd thought as he'd knelt beside her.
And then she'd looked up at him, her large brown eyes making him pause as they all but pleaded with him, and he couldn't move. "Please." She begged in a broken voice that called to him as much as her blood. "Please, help Charlie." He'd felt his eyes widening.
"Charlie?" He'd asked, then immediately realized that she was the police chief's daughter.
"My dad." She told him in a broken voice. "Please help him."
And instantly he'd known that he couldn't do this…he couldn't kill the crying girl begging for him to help her dead father, no matter how painful it was going to be to walk away. She tried to move, tried to reach out to him, but he realized that she must have hit her head, as she didn't seem to understand that her arm was pinned underneath her. "Please?" She'd asked one more time, but this time there was something else in her eyes…fear maybe? At least wariness. He was scaring her…he wondered what his face must look like. But he had to get away…at least find fresher air, and he would call Carlisle. His body moved even as he thought it, moving him away from the wonderful smelling human girl he left sobbing in the grass and calling for his brother who he could trust to restrain him if necessary, distracting himself by stopping the horrible noise of the horn that must have been killing her head.
Even now he felt guilty. Emmett had been incredible, soothing the crying girl with a gentleness usually reserved for his sisters and mother as she lay shaking and bleeding on the ground, and all Edward could do was stand on the sidelines, begging Carlisle to hurry and listening to Emmett's struggles to resist her spilled blood. Now as he listened to his brother and father, he felt worse. He'd been completely useless. But more than that, he couldn't stop thinking about the girl that begged him to help her father…her large brown eyes, her soft voice. Edward sighed and began playing an old piece of music absently, unsure of why he was thinking about her. She was just some human girl…but he knew that if he could sleep, he would have been dreaming of her far too often for the last few days.