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Third Time's the Charm Part 2
Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.
On Sunday, I woke early and took a run through the park, feeling pretty good at how Bella and I were becoming friends. I'd sent her flowers again on Friday, still yellow ones for friendship because if she ever looked up the meaning, I didn't want her to think I was a creep.
Mom greeted me at the door with a hug, pulling me through the house and out to the deck where Dad had fired up the grill. Garrett and Demetri were standing on either side of him, watching him as he skillfully flipped steaks, burgers, and hotdogs.
Kate and Heidi Denali were sisters and along with their parents, Carmen and Eleazar, had long been friends of our family. Kate was married to Garrett and they had two little girls, Senna and Zafrina, and although they were a year apart, they looked like twins, both having inherited Kate's long blond hair and blue eyes.
Heidi and Demetri had a son, Liam, and a baby girl, Chelsea, who was only three months old. When I'd told Bella I had experience with babies, I hadn't been kidding.
Irina Denali was a daughter from Eleazar's previous marriage to Sasha, who'd died in a house fire when Irina was four; Carmen had adopted her soon after. She was here with her partner, Laurent. With the number of people present, I thought I'd lucked out and Mom wouldn't get on my case about Bella. I should've known nothing stopped Mom, and she followed me down to the cellar when Dad asked me to fetch a few bottles of wine.
"Your father told me about Bella being one of his patients. He wouldn't tell me anything else, though."
"She was—is—brave for going it alone. She's been on her own since the baby's father disappeared when she told him she was pregnant. Most of her friends live too far away to visit often, and her dad lives in a tiny town called Forks, in Washington State."
"What about her mother? Does she live close by?"
"She hasn't said much, just that she isn't in contact with her. I took it to mean her mom's alive, but they're estranged. I didn't want to pry."
"That's such a shame. A girl needs a mom at this time of her life. Someone to go to for advice about baby things. So you were on duty when the service called it in; is that right?"
"Yes, me and Seth. Bella never would've made it to the hospital. In fact, for a first baby, Emily's birth was very quick."
Mom busied herself choosing white wine while I chose a couple of bottles of red. She hadn't looked at me, but I knew there was more coming. After she was happy with our selections, she led the way back upstairs to the kitchen, placing the white in the fridge and the red on the counter.
She turned to face me and leaned against the counter. "And you volunteered to collect her things and then take her home. That was nice of you, dear."
"She didn't have anyone else," I said, slightly defensive. "Mom, I couldn't let her take an Uber home; that would have been wrong when I had the time to help. Anyone else would have done the same."
I knew from that sound she hadn't yet finished.
"Would you get out enough wine glasses for the girls and me? I expect you boys would prefer beer. Oh, and the children's glasses for juice, too."
While I did as she asked, she gathered salad vegetables from the refrigerator, placing them on the counter. It was usually my job to chop those, and today was no different. I could hear the sounds of the kids playing in the pool, but the kitchen was silent for a moment.
"It sounds as if you really like this girl, Edward. Are you sure this isn't just a product of being so involved in the delivery? I wouldn't want you to get hurt."
"Yes, I do really like her, Mom. I'm completely aware of my own feelings for babies in general; you know I love them all." I held up my hand to preempt the next question. "And, yes, I do know that she's vulnerable right now," I said quietly. "For now, I just want us to be friends. She needs someone, Mom; why not me?" I shrugged, not wanting Mom to delve any further into what else it was I was feeling.
"I'm not questioning your motives; I know you're an honorable man. Just be careful of your feelings and hers."
"All I know is I've never felt as strongly about anyone else, ever. She's brave, and beautiful, and funny. And Emily, she's just so gorgeous and sweet, and I want to be there for her, too."
The rest of the afternoon passed in good conversation, wine, and food. The children, of course, protested at having to come out of the pool for lunch, and again for having to stay out until their lunch had been digested. Garrett, Demetri, and I changed into board shorts and spent a couple of hours in there with them while the girls, Laurent, and our parents chatted and watched.
It was an enjoyable day and Mom hadn't made too much fuss about Bella or how drawn I was to her; although no doubt she saw a lot more than I spoke about. The others had left earlier once their respective children became crabby and overtired. Carmen and Eleazar were the last to leave.
"I perfectly understand, Edward."
I looked over at Mom to find a smile on her face, confused at what she might be talking about.
"You do? About what?"
"About Bella, of course. When you know, you know. I want to meet her and the—how did you put it?—the prettiest baby in Chicago, and her beautiful mom. Why don't you ask her to dinner next weekend, or if that's too soon, the one after?"
"Erm, okay. I'll ask her."
"Oh, and I wondered if you'd like your old crib. It's up in the attic, and I thought you could clean it up and paint it. You know, in case Bella was at your place?"
I wasn't quite sure what to say. It wasn't as if I hadn't pictured Bella at my apartment; I just wasn't sure when, or even if, that might happen. I ran my fingers through my hair, thinking of the implications, deciding it would be a just in case scenario and couldn't hurt.
"Yeah, sure, I'd love it. Thanks, Mom."
"Okay then, I'll get your dad to fetch it from the attic before you go."
Dad was standing right behind her, but only raised his eyebrows and smiled, choosing not to say anything. He'd already given me his opinion and wasn't one to rehash things. Instead, I broached the subject of my thoughts about perhaps giving med school a try.
"You seem happy with your choice of paramedic, Edward. I'm not sure how much, if any, your current qualifications would give you for med school. It's tough, even without any possible concessions. Why? What are you thinking of doing?"
"You know how much I like the whole baby thing, so I was contemplating the idea of going into obstetrics."
"If you're prepared for the upheaval that would bring, then I'd say go ahead, but it would mean a lot of years studying. I know you have your inheritance to fall back on, but the cost would make a sizeable dent in it. Of course, your mom and I would be only too happy to fund you as we would've done if you'd chosen this right out of school."
"I'll give it some thought, Dad, thanks."
~ oOo ~
I spent the next few evenings doing exactly what Mom had said and cleaned up the crib. It was still in very good condition, having been handmade, and only needed a little touching up of the paintwork. I dreamed of Emily asleep in it and hoped I'd have the opportunity to see it happen.
I felt like an idiot, doing all of this without speaking to Bella or even knowing what she may or may not feel toward me, but I couldn't help myself from purchasing a new mattress, stopping short of buying anything else. I was afraid of jinxing myself, too.
Visiting Bella and Emily became the highlight of my week, or day, arriving with dinner or dessert, sending flowers when I couldn't be there. Bella was always happy to see me, and I tried not to second-guess myself all the time. Emily was such a gorgeous baby, and I loved that she was starting to recognize me, giving me what I considered a smile, though it could have been gas. She cooed at me and kicked her arms and legs until I picked her up for a cuddle, and each time I had to go, I felt as if I'd left a piece of myself with them.
I had noticed there were no pictures of Tyler anywhere in the living room. A part of me couldn't understand how a man could walk away from his child, and even more why he wouldn't stay for Bella. She was everything I wanted in a woman: kind, thoughtful, loving, and sweet-natured. I loved to watch her interact with Emily, and it was clear she was completely head-over-heels for her baby. So, eventually, I plucked up enough courage to ask Bella about him. She explained how she met him and what had happened between them.
"He's long gone, Edward. He was very clear; he wants absolutely nothing to do with Emily. I'm not even sure he knows she's here or even if she's a girl or a boy. But honestly, it makes no difference to me. Good riddance."
I was relieved to hear the truth in her voice, though it did worry me what would happen if he returned. Would she go back to him for Emily's sake? For now, the only thing I could do was to find ways to show Bella how much I thought of her and her sweet baby. There were moments when I thought I saw a flash of reciprocal feelings in her eyes, but because she never acted on it, I didn't want to push until I was sure she was ready.
~ oOo ~