So many tears for Oscar and his Beaker... thank you. We will carry on now.
That was the only time I broke down. When Emmett and Rose returned, I was sitting, stroking Bella's cheek, holding her uninjured hand, and telling her about the antics of the idiot co-star I had been working with, assuring her he was even more of a fuck up than me. "Hard to believe, right, Beaker?" I chuckled in to her hand as I held it against my cheek with mine covering it gently.
When I saw Rose and Emmett watching me, I forced a smile and got to work.
"I want Jenks and Felix." I paused. "And figure out how to get Carlisle and Esme in here."
Rose arched an eyebrow at me, no doubt wanting to know what my plan was. I shrugged at her. She'd know soon enough.
I turned back to Bella.
The next two days were one surprise after another for them all. Including myself. Leaving a sombre Esme to sit with Bella, since I refused to leave her alone for even one minute in case she woke up, I appraised her quietly before I left the room. "They just moved her, Esme. And checked her drip. She should be okay while I'm gone. But I'm only down the hall."
"We'll be fine, Edward."
"She likes it when you talk to her."
"I will," she assured me.
It took all I had to leave her. This meeting was going to be quick.
I walked in the room, looking at the faces waiting for me. Emmett and Rose looked as tired as I felt. Carlisle was pacing, looking anxious. Jenks was his usual business-like self, but he was also anxious. I started right away.
"Jenks, I want a cash reward offered. No questions asked. I want the location of James Swan and once we have it, I want him arrested."
"Which charges do you want me to start with—" His voice trailed off at my angry glare.
"Figure it out!" I snapped. "He stole everything of value that belonged to Bella and he deserted her! He caused this entire fucked up situation! He's going to be held responsible for a lot of shit. Pick one. Pick them all. Just do it!" I pulled a hand through my hair. It needed a trim again. I would have to remind Bella of that when I went back in her room. "I want him found—now—before the fucker gets his money and leaves town again!
"And I want a class action launched against that rag. Throw everything at them. Everything. I want them out of business. Fast."
Turning to Rose and Felix, I frowned. "Use your contacts. I want the names of the paps in that crowd. There were so many cameras going off, someone captured what happened. I want to know exactly who fucking put their hands on Jake and Bella."
I had already read the reports and heard the stories from eyewitnesses on the news. There was also a grainy video a bystander had taken. Someone had grabbed at Bella as she tried to get to her car, throwing her off balance and causing her to stumble in to oncoming traffic. Jake had lunged at her, grabbing and spinning her away, taking the brunt of the car hitting him directly and catching her. The impact threw him forward, taking Bella down as well, caught under his substantial weight. Her body had slammed in to the concrete, her arm twisting and breaking as her head caught the fender of another parked car, tearing open and causing blood to drip down her face. When I had seen the video close-up and caught the expression of fear on Bella's face, I was physically ill. Emmett had the same reaction.
"What are you planning, Edward?"
"I'm taking them down. The police are looking for them, but they'll take too long. The paps won't talk to them willingly. I saw lots of familiar faces in that crowd. Even some legit journalists. Offer enough cash, one of those fuckers will give up their competition no problem. I want all the pictures and proof." I drew in a deep breath. "And as added incentive whoever gives me what I want gets a one-on-one with me." I paused. "No holds barred."
Everyone stared at me as if I lost my mind.
"In fact, call a press conference. Now. Today. I'll issue the statement myself about the reward. I have a few things I want to get off my chest."
Rose frowned. "Edward—"
I held up my hand. "No. Don't say it." I ran my hands through my hair and scrubbed my face roughly. "If this had happened to anyone else, and a child had been walking past and gotten hurt, there would have been a huge outcry and an immediate investigation. But because it was the girlfriend of a celebrity—of mine—it's no big deal? They're dragging their feet! She's in a fucking coma because of them! Jake will never walk properly again! Someone needs to be held accountable for this fucking atrocity!" I slammed my fist in to the wall. "Fuck!"
Suddenly I was exhausted. Leaning against the wall I just hit, I let my head fall to my chest. I sighed deeply and lifted my chin, meeting Emmett's eyes.
"I can't let them get away with this, Em. You know I can't."
"Edward, you don't talk about your personal life," Emmett stated as he frowned at me.
I leaned forward, my hands braced against the small table in the room, ignoring the throbbing of my knuckles. "I will give and do whatever it takes to make sure these bloody fuckers get what is coming to them—especially criminal records. If giving up a few personal details will make that happen, then so be it." I shook my head. "I'll read whatever statement you prepare, Rose. But I want it good. Plain. Honest. You got me?"
"I can do that." She nodded. "I'll handle the questions after though, all right?"
Nodding, I turned back to Jenks. "Once we have the names, I want restraining orders against all of them."
"That's always tricky, Edward."
I shrugged. "It'll send a message. Make life hard for them, at least for a while. I am through playing and being nice. They fucking hurt the most important person in the world to me. It's time they paid."
"Emmett—cancel everything. Appearances, interviews—everything. Tell the studio I'm on hiatus. Taking a personal leave of absence. I don't care how much they bitch or what they threaten to do. Until Bella is home and well I am not going anywhere."
He nodded, his eyes watching me with unguarded admiration. I knew he wasn't used to seeing me like this, but it was high time he did.
"Felix, I want extra security. Someone by the elevator. Outside Bella's door. Twenty-four seven. No one gets near her room that shouldn't. I've already cleared it with the hospital."
He nodded. "Done."
I turned to Rose. "Any word on Jake?"
"I got him the private room, as you requested. He's still coming out of the anesthesia." She paused. "His leg and hip were crushed, Edward. Badly. With all the damage, he'll probably never work security again. If he can work at all."
I frowned at the news. "I'll take care of him."
From the corner, Carlisle spoke up. "I can help. You concentrate on Bella and I'll run point for you, Edward." Drawing in a deep breath, he continued. "Let me handle the press conference. I'll speak on your behalf and for Bella and Jake." He turned to Emmett and Rose. "Let my staff help you. I'll tell them to give anything you need top priority so you can spend your time with her as well." He chuckled darkly. "My lawyer is a right arse and I'm sure he'd love to pitch in with the lawsuit. He loves taking down those wankers. I'll call him in to help you Jenks."
Our eyes met across the room. He projected the same calm, cool exterior all those who knew him would recognise. But for someone like me, who knew the real person, I could see how upset he was. His hands that normally would be resting calmly beside his legs were clasped in tight fists, while a beating pulse erratically jumped at the base of his throat. He already cared for Bella and he wanted to help. He was family and his words carried a lot of weight here. He was as private as me, so for him to offer to do all this was a huge thing. From the expressions on Emmett and Rose's faces I knew they thought it was a good idea. He would be far calmer than I would be, and although part of me wanted to be the one saying the words, I had to do what was best for Bella and Jake. His voice and leadership would be seen as a statement to many. "Let me do this, Edward," he asked quietly. "I want to do this for you, and for Bella."
"Thank you, Carlisle. I accept your offer."
"Good. It will happen tomorrow."
Emmett stood up. "Okay. Let's go over this. Edward—go back to Bella. I'll ask someone to come in and look at your hand."
I nodded, not really caring about my hand; only about Bella. I was already feeling anxious being away from her even though she was only a couple doors down and Esme was with her. I wanted her to hear my voice and feel my presence beside her.
Selfishly, I wanted to be the first person she saw when she woke up.
"I also want to check on Jake."
Rose smiled at me. "I'll check on him and let you know when he's awake."
I paused at the door and looked behind me. They were all looking at me with new expressions, ones I had never seen before. Maybe it was respect. Or relief that I had finally grown up.
I nodded at them. "Thank you."
And I went back to Bella.
I pressed Bella's small hand in to my forehead. "Please, baby. Wake up. It's been days. I need you."
She slept on. My fingers ghosted over her cheek as I kissed her palm. "Beaker, I'm getting desperate. I swear I'll send Rose to the house and get me every baked good you have in the freezer. My pants will explode I'll get so fat. You don't really want that to happen do you?"
I buried my face in her palm.
I needed her to come back. I wasn't sure how much more I could take.
A hand settled on my shoulder. "Edward. Take a break."
"You've hardly left her side. Rose says Jake is awake and his wife is there. He's finally coherent enough for visitors, and he wants to see you. " Emmett's voice was weary. "I want to sit with my sister for a bit. Go see Jake and then Carlisle will catch you up."
I looked up in to his exhausted face. Neither of us had left the hospital, taking turns napping briefly. Rose and Carlisle were both working tirelessly on my instructions. Watching Carlisle address the press yesterday was astounding. He was articulate, cool, and fierce. There was no doubt of his contempt for what had happened and his stern and unflappable demeanor was exactly what was needed, given the situation. I would have been too emotional, no matter how hard I tried. I owed him a huge debt of gratitude.
I was rarely out of the room, Emmett stepping away only on occasion. But I made sure everyone else was being looked after. A huge donation to the hospital made sure the quiet room was ours for the duration and they agreed to my security people. An extra bed was wheeled in so anyone needing it could sleep. I made sure food was delivered and they all ate. But I had barely moved from the spot beside Bella, sleeping in the chair and choking down a sandwich when I was forced to. The only time I left her was for a quick update from someone or run to the bathroom. I hated even leaving her that long. I felt better when I was beside her, holding her hand, stroking her arm and talking to her quietly. It was only in the deep of the night, when the entire hospital was silent and we were alone, that my fears overwhelmed me and I gave in, laying my head beside hers on the pillow, my lips close to her ear, begging for her to wake up. Otherwise I remained steadfast in my determination to be strong.
I wasn't sure, though, if I was fooling anyone.
James Swan was now in police custody. The owner of the cheap motel he was staying at was only too happy to give him up for the reward offered. The charges levelled against him were long and deviously clever thanks to Jenks' and Aro's legal minds. The one thing he had that we wanted, and could help him, was his signature on divorce papers. I knew they would get it too, and his reward for doing so would be very little. He hadn't realised that part yet. He was done.
He nodded. "Carlisle wants to tell you." He sniffed, trying to lighten the atmosphere. "You need a shower, too. Alice was by again and brought you some stuff to change in to."
I noticed his hair was damp and he had changed. Looking down, I realised I was in the same clothes I had arrived in, unable to bear the thought of leaving her for that long. Emmett was right. I needed a shower and to go see Jake. My eyes fell to Bella.
"You don't want her waking up to see you looking like this, Edward," he urged. "You're a wreck. She'll kick both our asses."
I chuckled, because he was right about that, as well. Standing up, I pressed a kiss to her cheek. "I won't be far, Beaker. Promise."
I swore I felt the flutter of her eyelashes and I pulled back quickly, but her face remained serene and motionless. I was imagining things again. Earlier, I thought I felt the press of her hand in mine, but had finally put it down as my imagination when I tried to get her to do it again. Her hand remained unresponsive.
I was beyond exhausted and strung out. I kissed her one more time. "Come back, Bella. I need you, baby."
The hot water felt good pounding on my back. I let it run over me as I washed my hair, soaped up and shaved thanks to Alice's thoughtful supplies. She'd been here often, bringing items and dispensing hugs. She went daily, checking on the house and Thor, feeding him and making sure he was okay, knowing how much Bella loved him. She sat beside Bella, chatting about the red dress she had found she knew I would love for our next big night. She winked at me across the bed as she whispered she also knew how much I would love what she had found to go under the dress. I had smiled, grateful for her friendship and care of Bella.
Dressed in fresh clothes, I sat with Jake and Leah, listening to his broken apology. I held up my hand, interrupting him. "You saved her life, Jacob. You owe me nothing. I owe you. I will forever owe you." I looked between him and his wife Leah, a pretty woman who looked nervous, worried and troubled. Her husband was hurt; facing months of physiotherapy to be able to walk again. The fact was he would never be a body guard again—the pins and plates that now held his leg and hip together would never allow him the flexibility or strength he would need to do that job. I knew she was worried about him and their future. I knew what I had to do, what Bella would want me to do.
I sat back and smiled at them both. "Jake, you have nothing to worry about. Either of you. Your hospital bills and any physiotherapy are covered. Anything else you need as well. You will be kept on my books as an employee for as long as you want to be. No lost wages."
He shook his head, even as Leah's eyes widened and began to fill with grateful tears. "I can't accept your charity."
I chuckled. "It won't be charity, Jake. I plan on you sticking close to Bella and me. Felix needs help with scheduling things and I need someone with your tactical background on my team. I've already had Jenks draw up the papers. It's not up for discussion. You're covered."
"I don't know what to say."
"You risked your own life to protect the woman I love, Jake. You showed both of us true loyalty. That deserves a reward." I stood up, not wanting to be away from Bella for too long. "Don't worry about money or the future. Just… get well, Jake. A job is waiting when you're ready."
After a tight hug from Leah, I left the room, feeling better. Bella would be pleased. I could hardly wait to tell her how much better Leah looked with those few words.
I studied the pictures Carlisle handed me. "We're sure?"
He nodded. "Felix confirmed it. Like you suspected, those tossers threw their so-called colleagues under the proverbial bus, and fast. Demetri and Caius were definitely the ones pushing."
I grimaced, just thinking about the second part of the offer I had made. I didn't care about the money, "Who gets the reward?"
Carlisle smiled. "Well, you got lucky, Edward. A reporter from Features was on the edge of the crowd, but not part of it. He and his cameraman happened to be at the right angle and got these." He motioned to the stills I was looking at. "The magazine wants the money donated to a charity, but they do want the interview." He grinned. "We got a lot of offers from tons of rags and paps with pics, but these were the clearest," he shrugged, "and they were among the first to arrive."
I nodded with a huff of relief. They were, at least, a reputable publication.
I pointed to the two faces on the picture, my finger stabbing the paper hard. "I want them punished."
"The police already have copies. Charges will be laid, as soon as they finish their investigation." He held up the pictures. "But these helped tremendously. Jenks and Aro have a huge list of restraining orders they will try and put through. All the pictures we collected showed many names you would like to see kept away." His hand squeezed my shoulder. "A lot of your friends are taking up this cause, Edward. Other celebs are speaking out about the paps and their intrusiveness. Maybe with many voices we can effect change."
I nodded, even knowing how difficult a fight this would be. "That would be good." I drew in a deep breath. "I know I said it before, but you were bloody amazing yesterday, Carlisle. This is all moving so quickly because of the press conference."
He waved my thanks aside. "Your idea, Edward. I was only the calm voice." His patted my shoulder. "How are you holding up?"
I met his eyes, allowing my pain to show through. "I need her to be okay." I rubbed at my chest, pushing on the ache that persisted. "I can't be okay without her anymore."
"She will be. She's strong, Edward. Her body needs a chance to heal." He paused. "I spoke with Aunty Liz today. She, ah, wants to come and be here with you. I told her I thought that was a good idea." He watched me for my reaction. "She'll be here tomorrow."
I blinked. My mum would be here tomorrow. I hadn't even thought to ask. I knew Carlisle was keeping her updated, but the thought of having her close was pleasing and brought me some much-needed comfort. Being a retired nurse, she could help me when Bella came home.
Because Carlisle was right. She was strong.
And she would come home.
She had to. There was no other acceptable option.
Emmett listened as I filled him in, standing on opposite sides of Bella's bed. He shook his head when I finished telling him everything Carlisle had said. "You, ah, you've been amazing, Edward. I'm proud of you."
I ducked my head at his praise. Lifting Bella's hand, I kissed the skin softly. "It's all her."
He grinned. "Told you she was the right person for the job."
I kissed her fingertips again. "Bloody perfect actually."
A soft flex against my lips had me freeze. My eyes flew to Bella's face. "Beaker?"
Her eyes moved, fluttering so quickly if I hadn't been looking I would have missed it. Emmett and I shared a glance. We had both seen it.
He bent lower, his voice almost commanding. "Bella. Open your eyes for me."
We both watched anxiously and were rewarded with another flutter. Then another. I pressed my lips against her palm. "Bella, baby—please." My voice caught.
Slowly, so slowly I wasn't sure it was happening, her eyes opened. Closed. Opened. Blinked. For a brief moment they were unfocused and bleary. She blinked again, this time frowning as her head tilted toward Emmett.
Her voice was so quiet and rough it was like a tiny fragment of an echo in the room. "Em?"
His shoulders bowed in relief as he nodded. "I'm right here, Bella."
She stared at him for a minute, licking her dry lips. I grabbed the jug of water and ice chips they refilled constantly and pressed a small chip in to her parched mouth. "This will help," I whispered, unable to make my voice any louder with the lump currently residing in my throat. She was awake. She was talking.
Bella's huge eyes regarded me as she sucked the ice chip in, her eyes falling shut as she sighed and smiled softly. "Good," she breathed.
I kissed her hand, wishing it was her sweet mouth. "Do you want another one, Beaker?"
Her brow furrowed as she nodded, accepting the chip, and then looking at Emmett questioningly. "What? What do you need?" he asked gently.
Her eyes moved back to me briefly before she spoke again, this time her voice a little louder. "Who is that? Why is he holding my hand and calling me Beaker?"
My heart plummeted. My panicked eyes met Emmett's. She didn't know me? I struggled to remain calm.
"That's Edward, Bella."
"Oh." She looked at me again, and then motioned for Emmett to come closer. He bent down, and she whispered at him. "Is he your lover?"
He straightened up quickly, shock written in his startled expression. I looked around wildly.
What? Did she …
Then it happened.
The most endearing, soft squeak of a noise.
I gaped at her.
She winked at me, her eyes closing again. "You're not the only one who can act, Britboy."
Her shaky hand slipped from mine, cupping my cheek, her fingers restlessly moving on my skin; her eyes so warm when she reopened them and gazed at me, her love shining through her tired gaze. And in the middle of one of the most poignant moments in my life, I started to laugh.
My girl was back.
Okay. You can all breathe again. And our boy has grown up some I think. His Beaker has returned to him.
Next update Sunday.
My Heart ~My home is up for a couple awards at the Fanatic Fanfic Awards The link is in my group since ffn deletes all links here. It is Fanatic Fanfic Awards dot blogspot - the first 3 words with no spaces. I am also nominated in a few other categories if you want to vote. My beta Midnight Cougar, Beffers87 who does my banners, and one of my prereaders Trina Smusic Patterson are also up on the poll.