Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 31

Disclaimer: None of this mine, nor do I claim to be Stephenie Meyer. I just like to dabble in the playground that she created with Bella, Edward and her Twilight characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

We’re also getting close to the end of this story, too. I’m thinking we’ve got two, maybe three more chapters. We do have to wrap up the drama between Grinchward and Angelella … that will be addressed in the next chapter. We’re also going to find out what happened with Lauren and the home sale and what will happen with James?

Chapter Thirty-One

Bella

By ten o’clock, the doorbell rang and I shot up. I told him not to ring the doorbell. I threw open the door, ready to ream him out, but I saw Deputy Mark Burke darkening my doorstep. His eyes were impossibly sad.

“No …” I croaked. “Not again …”

“Bella, I need you calm, sweetie,” he breathed. “My wife is in the cruiser and will stay with Katie.”

“What happened?” I asked, trying to keep my tears at bay.

“There was an accident,” he explained. “You were listed as Mr. Cullen’s emergency contact. He’s been taken to Olympic Medical Center. I’ll drive you there.”

“Let me grab my coat,” I said shakily, swiping my rain coat and purse. Mark’s wife, Melinda hugged me as she walked passed me. “Do you need my number? When Katie wakes up, she’ll be confused.”

“Mark gave it to me,” she said.

I nodded stiffly. Mark gestured out to idling cruiser. I followed him into the rain and got into the cruiser. He backed out of the driveway, heading toward town to Port Angeles. “What happened, Mark?”

“The rain has been awful and you know how people don’t really care or pay attention,” Mark grumbled. “Well, this time it was one of the logging trucks.”

“Mark,” I choked. “Is he dead?”

“No, Bella,” Mark breathed. “He’s in bad shape, but still alive. Several logs smashed against the driver’s side and he was pinned. He managed to call 911, but when emergency personnel arrived, he was unconscious. They got him out, airlifting him to Olympic Medical Center.”

I wiped my tears away, my heart breaking as I listened to Mark describe the accident. He also drove on the curving roads to Port Angeles with practiced ease despite the slick conditions. We arrived at the medical center and ran into the emergency room. Mark took charge. “I have Edward Cullen’s fiancée. She’s here to make medical decisions.”

The nurse nodded, opening the sliding doors into the treatment rooms. A nameless, faceless doctor approached us and he explained that Edward was stable, but needed surgery to correct a broken hip and leg. I wasn’t hearing the doctor. I was just staring at Edward on the gurney. His pale skin was even more pale, almost grey, covered in scratches, cuts and bruises. He had a tube breathing for him along with several other tubes coming out of his body.

“Can I touch him?” I whispered. “Does he know I’m here?”

“He’s heavily sedated and he does have a significant concussion,” the doctor said. “You can hold his hand.”

I walked over to his right side since the damage to his body was on the left, on the driver’s side. I sat down on the stool, taking his hand into mine. It was cold, limp. I let out a sob. “Edward … come back to me … please?”

“Miss Swan? Do we have your permission to perform the surgery?” the doctor pressed.

“Yes,” I nodded, kissing his torn up knuckles. “I love you, Grinch. I’m sorry. Please … I can’t lose you.” I stood up, nodding to the doctor. He sprang into action and within a few moments Edward was being rolled to the surgical suite. I sat back down on the stool, feeling completely lost.

Mark crouched in front of me. “Does Edward have any other family? Besides you?” I nodded. “Do you want me to call them?”

“No, I’ll do it,” I whispered. “Is there a place where I can fall apart?”

“Come on, Bella,” he said kindly. “There’s a conference room around the corner.”

He led me to the conference room and I thanked him before he left. I slid down the wall and finally allowed myself to completely shatter. I sobbed for me, for Katie, for Edward. When I was sufficiently cried out, I pulled out my cell phone. I found the number I needed. I pressed the name, shakily holding my phone to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Esme … it’s Edward …” I sniffled. “He’s been in an accident.”

“What happened?” Esme breathed.

“I don’t know exactly, but he’s been brought to Olympia Medical Center. His entire left side is beat to hell,” I cried. “He’s going in for surgery because his left leg was pinned or something. He put me down as his next of kin. I should have called you. I’m sorry.”

“Bella, honey, you need to breathe,” Esme said. “You’re getting hysterical.”

“This is all my fault, Esme. My fault. All of it. He’s in here because of me,” I sobbed. Esme did her best to calm me down over the phone. “I’m sorry, Esme. You shouldn’t have to deal with my bullshit.”

“It’s not bullshit. You’ve been through hell and back. So has my son,” Esme said soothingly. “It’s understandable that you’re overwrought. When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?”

“Not since before I left,” I said.

“Sweetheart, that’s over a week,” Esme chided.

“Look, I wanted to let you know that Edward was in a car accident,” I sighed. “I’m going to stay here at the hospital …”

“What about Katie?”

“The police chief, Mark, his wife is watching over Katie,” I explained. “I’ll probably go back when Mark drives to Forks. I … I just wanted you to know.”

“I’ll call you when we get our travel plans finalized,” Esme said. “Bella, please, take care of yourself. I love you and Katie as much as I love my son.”

“Let me know if you need me to pick you up,” I murmured.

“We’ll make arrangements for everything. Thank you for calling, Bella,” Esme whispered.

We said our goodbyes and I curled up in the conference room. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I allowed myself a few moments of grief. Mark poked his head in the conference room, giving me a sympathetic look. “Are you okay, Bella?”

“Today has been a banner day. First, I get fleeced by Lauren Crowley, my boyfriend with whom I had a huge disagreement blind-sided me and my heart was cracked into a million pieces when you were on my doorstep tonight. I can’t take anymore,” I sniffled.

Mark sat down next to me, taking my hand. “I know I’m your least favorite person,” he said.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” I snorted humorlessly.

“I hated walking up to your door when I got the call over dispatch,” he sighed. “I do have some good news for you.”

“What’s that?”

“Lauren will be going to jail for a long time,” he snickered. “You’re not the only one who got fucked over.”

“Beverly said that she’s going to try and pay me back all that Lauren stole from me. She gave me a $25,000 check today,” I mumbled. “The rest she’ll pay back in installments. Beverly also said she’d sell my home, without me having to pay for commission.”

“Beverly is good people. Her son and daughter-in-law? Not so much,” Mark sighed. “She’s washed her hands of both of them. They were both sent to county lock up, unable to pay the bail set forth by the judge at arraignment.”

“I’m shocked that they were arraigned so quickly,” I said.

“They got what they deserved,” Mark shrugged. “I checked with the nurse and Edward’s being prepped for surgery. Do you want to go up to the surgical floor?”

“I should head back for Katie,” I muttered.

“Melinda just checked on her and she’s asleep. When she wakes up, Melinda can bring her to the hospital …”

“I don’t want her here,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t want her to know what happened. Not yet. Not until Edward and I get a chance to talk.”

“What happened?” Mark asked.

“It’s a long story,” I sighed. “Very long and I don’t have the energy to explain it right now.” I got up, groaning as my back cracked audibly. “I’m too old to be sitting on the floor.”

“At least you can get up,” Mark snorted, holding up a hand. “Help out this old fart.” I chuckled, heaving Mark off the ground as he moaned. “Just you wait, Isabella.”

“My apologies,” I said.

“Don’t worry about it. Let’s get some coffee since it’s going to be some time before I take you back to Forks,” he sighed.

“I can get a taxi,” I argued.

“Over my rotting corpse,” Mark deadpanned. “Bella, you need a friend right now. I know that I’m probably the furthest thing …”

“You’re a friend, Mark,” I breathed. “Thank you for being here with me and for … everything you’ve done.”

He smiled, guiding me to the small café across the street from the hospital. We got our coffee to go and settled in the waiting room on the surgical floor. Once I sat down, my exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks.

xx FFADS xx

“Bella, wake up, honey.”

“What?” I mumbled, cracking my eyes open. My contacts were dry as a bone and my head was splitting. I’d spent too much time crying. I sat up quickly. “I’m sorry for using you as a pillow, Mark.”

“It’s okay, Bella,” he chuckled. “As soon as we sat down, you were out. I’m the one who moved you. If not, your neck would have had a horrible crick.”

“Thank you,” I said, rubbing my eyes and stretching my body. “What time is it?”

“A little after six in the morning. The nurse came out here and said that they were finishing up Edward’s surgery. The doctor will be out once he’s done to go over Edward’s injuries and plans for recovery,” Mark explained. “Do you want some more coffee?”

“I need coffee, a shower and my glasses,” I sighed. Mark arched a brow. “Coffee sounds great.”

“I’m certain that one of the nurses may have contact solution or eye drops,” Mark suggested, getting up.

“Thanks, Mark,” I said, walking to the bathroom. I splashed my face with water and did my best to rinse out the funk in my mouth. Tossing my hair into a sloppy bun, I made my way back to the waiting room. There was a nurse waiting for me and she held up a bottle of eye drops. “Did my friend tell you?”

“Yes and your eyes are really red,” she said. “I can see if I can rustle up a contact lens case if you want to take them out.”

“If I do that, I’m blind as a bat,” I snorted. “Thanks for the eye drops.”

“Dr. Torres will be out in a few moments. He’s settling your fiancé into recovery,” the nurse said, taking back the eye drops. “If there’s anything else, just ask for me. I’m Rhonda … I worked with your stepfather.”

“You knew Phil?” I asked.

“He was a great man and we miss him deeply,” Rhonda breathed. “He spoke of you and Katie all the time. He adored you, both of you.” She gave me a sympathetic grin. “If you excuse me, I need to check on a few other patients.”

“Thank you,” I said, sitting back down in the waiting room. Mark came back a few moments later with coffee. I took a sip, humming at the warmth and caffeine sliding down my throat. The doctor who was in the emergency room walked into the waiting room.

“Ms. Swan?” he asked.

“Yes,” I nodded. “How is Edward?”

The doctor gestured to a small conference room, inviting me to sit down. I twisted my hands anxiously, looking up at him. He sat down and gave me a sympathetic look. “I should have introduced myself last night. My apologies. I’m Dr. Torres. I was in the emergency room when Mr. Cullen was brought in. He has some pretty significant injuries to his left side, as you saw last night.”

“Will he make a complete recovery?” I asked.

“He was banged up, but he will make a complete recovery. I performed surgery to stabilize his femur and we had to completely replace his left hip joint. It was shattered from the power of the accident,” Dr. Torres explained. “He also has some cracked ribs. The rib injuries appear to be from previous accidents?”

“Edward was abused as a child while he was in the system and he was hurt by his foster families,” I explained. “I don’t have his complete medical history, but he did tell me that he’d had his ribs broken several times.”

“Well, those previous injuries will lengthen his recovery time,” Dr. Torres sighed. “He also has a pretty severe concussion. We have him in a medically induced coma to help his body to heal.”

“But, he will heal, right?” I sniffled.

“It’ll take time, but yes,” Dr. Torres explained, taking my hand. “He’ll need help and it will be some time before he can travel back home. You’re both from Chicago, correct?”

“Yes. I flew out here to deal with some personal issues,” I explained. “I’m trying to sell my home in Forks.”

“That’s why you look so familiar,” Dr. Torres chuckled. “You’re Dr. Dwyer’s daughter, yes?”

“Stepdaughter,” I replied.

“He never thought of you that way,” Dr. Torres said. “He was the surgeon who hired me for this position. He was amazing.” He waved his hand. “Anyway, Mr. Cullen will be asleep for some time. He’ll be in recovery for most of the day and will be moved to an ICU bed later this afternoon.”

“Is that a subtle hint to say that I should go?” I asked, arching a brow at Dr. Torres.

“You can stay, but you won’t be able to see him until much later in the afternoon,” Dr. Torres explained.

“I do need to get back, Bella,” Mark said. “I can drive you back.”

“Okay,” I nodded. “At least this way I can have my own car. Or rather, Linda’s car.” I blanched at the prospect of driving, but I’d do it.

“You can also get some more rest,” Mark nodded. “You slept from the moment we sat down, but it was far from restful.”

I agreed with both of them. I gave the hospital my cell phone number and to call me if anything changed. Mark and I got back into the cruiser. He drove me home, picking up his wife. Melinda said that Katie woke up with the sun, confused and upset, but managed to calm her down.

After removing my contact lenses, I checked on my sister, who was curled up on my bed. I hugged her, kissing her forehead. “Bella?” she croaked.

“I’m here, Kit Kat,” I yawned, snuggling around her.

“Where were you?” she mumbled.

“I had to go to the hospital,” I whispered. “Edward flew out to Forks, but he was in a car accident …”

“W-W-What?” Katie cried, sitting up and looking at me with tears in her eyes. “Did he die? Is he with Mommy and Daddy?”

“No, Katie. Edward’s okay, but he’s been hurt,” I explained. “Nana Esme and Papa Carlisle are on their way. I also will need you to stay with Miss Linda while I drive back and forth to Port Angeles.”

“Can I see him?” Katie asked.

“Not yet, Kit Kat. He’s in a special room and he’s asleep,” I said.

“Will I be able to see him?” she sniffled.

“Eventually,” I yawned. “I’m going to call Miss Linda. You may be spending a lot of time there. As soon as Edward is able to see you, I’ll bring you to visit him.”

“Are you still fighting?” she asked.

I don’t know. I didn’t respond, kissing her forehead and sending Linda a text. I knew she’d be up. She was a notoriously early riser, usually doing inventory before we opened at the store. When Linda called back, Katie was already back asleep and I was nearly down for the count. “Hello?”

“Is everything okay, Bella?” Linda asked in lieu of a greeting.

“Not really. Edward’s here,” I mumbled. “He came to talk to me yesterday and I went off on him. I told him to come back after Katie was asleep … you know how it was yesterday. It was raining like crazy …”

“Oh, no. Is he okay?” Linda breathed.

“He’s at Olympic Medical Center,” I yawned. “I’ll need some help with Katie. He’s in the ICU and …”

“Say no more,” Linda murmured. “I’ll be over in a half hour to pick her up.”

“Thank you, Linda. I’m sorry about burdening you with all my problems,” I sniffled, my heart clenching beneath my ribcage.

“Bella, my sweet girl, you’re family. We take care of our own,” Linda argued. “Pack a bag for Katie. She can spend some time with Auntie Linda while you take care of Edward, okay?”

“Will do,” I replied, leaving Katie’s side and packing an overnight bag for her. I woke her up and explained to Katie that she’d be spending time with Linda until Edward was out of the ICU. She seemed upset that she couldn’t see him right away, but accepted my reasoning. If she’d had a tantrum, I probably would lose my cool. I was barely hanging on. I was beyond tired, emotionally spent, and confused as fuck.

Linda picked up Katie. I hugged my sister, telling her that I loved her. My sister wiped my tears away, saying that she’d send positive thoughts to Edward. With a kiss to Katie’s forehead, I sent her with Linda. I slumped against the door frame and went up to my bedroom. I stripped off my jeans and t-shirt, finding one of Edward’s button-downs I’d pilfered. I wrapped myself in his shirt and I cried myself to sleep.

I probably could have slept straight through the following day, but I got a phone call from Carlisle. “Hello?” I said, sitting up and rubbing my face.

“Bella, it’s good to hear your voice,” Carlisle said gently. “We just landed at SeaTac. We’re going to try to make our way to Port Angeles, but according to the weather, there’s supposed to be another storm.”

“The roads will be flooded, Carlisle. The storm yesterday drenched the area,” I explained. “I’d rather you stay in Seattle and drive up tomorrow. I don’t know if I could handle …” My voice cracked. “I can’t lose you, too.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Carlisle cooed. “Esme and I will make arrangements to stay in Seattle and drive up tomorrow. Have you heard anything about Edward?”

“The doctor pretty much told me that Edward would remain in recovery until this afternoon. Mark, the deputy who told me about the accident, drove me back home. I was going to drive back, but with the news of the incoming storm …” I mumbled.

“Well, I spoke to Dr. Torres on the phone. Edward is still sedated, but has been moved to the ICU. He’s stable and as comfortable as he can be,” Carlisle said.

“I should be by his side. It’s my fault that he’s in that bed,” I muttered.

“Bella, listen to me. It’s not your fault that he got into that car accident. It’s not your fault that all this happened,” Carlisle breathed. “It all began the moment that his parents died from a drug overdose and the foster system failed him so phenomenally that it broke his spirit. I never thought I’d see true happiness in my son’s eyes, Bella. You and Katie are the cause for that happiness.”

“But, he ended it with me,” I cried. “He said he was done. He called me a cheat and a liar because of some asshole didn’t understand the whole concept of no means no.” I blew out a breath. “My apologies. I’m just overtired and an emotional wreck.”

“It’s understandable, Bella. You and Edward have a lot to talk about, but I know for certain that he still loves you,” Carlisle murmured. “He stayed with us before he left for Forks and I heard him talking in his sleep. He dreamt of you. Despite our trepidation, he flew out here to try to fix your relationship. It was a fluke that he was in that car accident. It’s not your fault.”

“I’m so sorry for unloading on you. You have bigger things to worry about and I’m complaining about trivial matters,” I muttered.

“Not trivial to you and you have every reason to be upset,” Carlisle said. “Esme and I are at the car rental kiosk. We’re going to get a hotel room and we’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Okay. Thank you, Carlisle,” I said. “I’m glad you got in safely. Call me if you get lost.”

“Will do, Bella. And as much as you want to be there for Edward, you also need to take care of yourself,” Carlisle chided gently.

We ended the call and I fell back on the bed. I blew out a breath before checking the weather. Despite Carlisle’s advice to take care of myself, I just couldn’t stay at home. I had enough time to drive back to Port Angeles. I got dressed hastily and ate a quick snack. Swiping my cell phone, its charger and purse, I got into Linda’s SUV. Without a second thought, I drove back Olympic Medical Center. Katie was safe with Linda and I needed to be by Edward’s side, even if I was in the waiting room.

xx FFADS xx

“You are one stubborn woman, Isabella Swan,” I heard. Jerking awake, I saw Esme standing in the waiting room with a wry smirk on her face.

“I could say the same,” I mumbled, scrubbing my face and blinking at them blearily. “I thought you were going to stay at a hotel.”

“We did. It’s about nine in the morning. The nurse, Rhonda, said that you just crashed here,” Esme said, brushing my hair back. “She put a blanket over your and tried to keep everyone quiet to not disturb you.”

“I couldn’t not be here,” I mumbled. “Have you seen Edward?”

“Carlisle is speaking with the doctor about Edward’s injuries,” Esme said, sitting down next to me. “Have you been in with him?”

“Not yet. When I got here, visiting hours were over. Rhonda tried to get me in, but the charge nurse on the floor was a stickler for the rules,” I sighed. “She also didn’t believe that I was his fiancée. She kept scowling at my left hand.”

“Come on,” Esme said, reaching out her hand. “We can go see him now.”

“Let me go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. I feel like I licked the bottom of a muddy shoe,” I grumbled.

“That’s quite a description,” Esme chuckled.

“Sorry, I’m not firing on all cylinders,” I said, standing up and groaning as my bones cracked. “I’ll be right back.” I padded to the bathroom and took care of my morning routine, as best as I could. I knew I’d have to drive back to Forks to shower and check on Katie, but I’d do that tonight. I walked back out, smiling weakly when I saw Carlisle. Both of them hugged me and I walked down the hallway with Esme to Edward’s room.

He looked slightly better than when I saw him in the emergency room. His skin wasn’t gray, but he was still very pale. His chest rose robotically with the life support being provided. He had a cast on his left leg, from toes to thigh. He was unnaturally still and I wanted nothing more than to see his emerald green eyes. I sat down next to him, taking his right hand. It was still cold, but not frigid like when I first saw him. I lifted his hand and I kissed his knuckles. “Hey, Grinch. The doctors said that you’ll be okay, in time. Your parents are here. I’m certain that Carlisle knows all the ins and outs of your treatment …”

“Or, he’s taken over,” Esme chuckled, brushing her fingers through Edward’s hair. “But, he knew of Dr. Torres. He’s really good at his job.”

We stayed in the ICU until shift change. That’s when Esme encouraged me to go with her to the cafeteria. I wasn’t hungry, but from her stern look, I knew she wouldn’t take no for an answer. We got something to eat, but I just picked at my sandwich.

“You need to eat, Bella. You’ve lost weight,” Esme chided.

“I’ve been struggling,” I frowned. “On top of Edward’s car accident, I discovered that my real estate agent was fleecing me. I was paying an arm and a leg to encourage the sale of my home when it wasn’t even listed. The agent was taking my monthly payments to pay for her mortgage. I’ve pressed charges and things are being pushed forward in regard to the sale to the home. I’m also out a large chunk of money thanks to … that situation. It’s unlikely I’ll get all of it back.”

“I’m so sorry, Bella,” Esme frowned. “When did you find out about the situation with the house?”

“The same day that Edward had his accident,” I said. “But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s small potatoes. I’m more concerned about Edward, and our relationship. That’s all in a holding pattern if and when he wakes up. I love him very much, but he hurt me very deeply.”

“He hates himself for what happened,” Esme said. “I’ve never seen my son cry.”

“What?”

“Edward never let himself become vulnerable, or to grieve his lost childhood. He kept those walls firmly in place. He only lashed out in anger and plastered on fake smiles. Only when you entered his life did he begin to truly open up. You and Katie … you both gave him unconditional love,” Esme murmured. “Anyway, I’d never witnessed my son cry. It broke my heart to see him so shattered.”

“And that’s my fault,” I muttered, pushing my food away.

“Bella, you may think that it’s a bad thing, but in reality, it’s proof that he has finally started to heal from his childhood,” Esme breathed. “Now, do I think that you and my son will magically go back to what you were before? No, I think you will be better in time. You both need to talk with each other.”

I idly spun my coffee. “When he wakes up and when he’s stronger,” I whispered.

We went back up to the ICU and took turns sitting by Edward’s side until visiting hours were over. Carlisle and Esme left the hospital, driving to the Olympic Lodge. I left as well, driving back to Forks. I called Linda, explaining that I was coming back and she told me to come over to her house. I argued against it, wanting to just crash. But, Linda said that I needed a friend, a home-cooked meal and to spend time with my sister. After a shower and a change of clothes, I drove over to Linda’s home.

Despite my exhaustion, it was nice to be around Katie, Linda, her husband George and oddly enough, Mike. Mike did try to flirt with me, but I promptly put him in his place, as did Linda.

The next three days were the same. I arrived early at the hospital while Katie stayed with Linda or Mrs. Cope. I would spend time with Katie at night, but she’d sleep at Linda’s since I was usually up with the sun, driving to Port Angeles and Olympic Medical Center.

Though, with each trip to Port Angeles, I grew more and more anxious to drive. It also didn’t help that the weather had been atrocious. I also had to drive past the section of road where Edward had been in his accident. I saw the tire marks where he’d spun out and the gouges in the road where the logs had crushed the car.

On the fourth day, Dr. Torres lessened the medical sedation. While Carlisle and Esme went back to the hotel since they were tired, I was sitting next to Edward. I held his hand, watching his face intently. His eyes moved underneath his eyelids and his heartbeat was speeding up.

“Edward, I’m here,” I murmured. “Squeeze my fingers if you can hear me. The doctors said they lessened the medications keeping you asleep. I guess your body is not ready to wake up. Your parents are here. They just went back to the hotel to get some rest. I should do the same, but I’m an anxious mess. I can’t drive. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I miss you, but I’m so fucking angry at you for thinking …”

My voice cracked and I looked up at him. His brows were pulled together. It was like he was trying to wake up, but his body would not cooperate.

“I love you so much, Edward. I hate that your past made you so distrustful and that you automatically assumed that I’d hurt you like that,” I sobbed. “Especially with James. Ugh, he’s a toad. I can only imagine what things he’s riddled with. He’s diseased or something. Yuck!” I shivered and tried to brush off the overall feeling of disgust from my body. “We have so much to move past if you want us to be an us again …”

Edward’s eyes fluttered opened, but firmly clamped shut. A few moments later, he opened his eyes, finding me. Tears welled in his eyes as he stared at me.

“Edward,” I breathed, sitting down and brushing my fingers down his scruffy cheek. He weakly gripped my hand. I smiled as tears fell down my cheeks, unabated. He tried to talk, but reached for the tube down his throat. “Don’t try to talk, Grinch. They still have a breathing tube. Your lung collapsed and you needed some help.” I reached across his body, pressing the nurse’s call button.

A few moments later, a doctor and a couple of nurses came in. “It’s nice to see you awake, Mr. Cullen,” the doctor said. “I’m Dr. Torres and I’ve been on your case since you came into the ED. We’re going to get that tube out of your throat, okay?”

Within ten minutes, Edward was free of the tube and had a nasal cannula placed around his face. He tried to talk, but the doctor shook his head. “Don’t talk yet, Mr. Cullen,” Dr. Torres said. “You were intubated for over five days. Your throat will be raw.” Edward’s shot to me, confusion in his eyes. I took his right hand. I gently massaged his palm, trying to calm him down. “How’s your pain?”

Edward shifted on the bed and his eyes teared up. He looked over his body, seemingly taking inventory of his injuries. Pain radiated through his expression and a low moan emanated from him. He looked at me, his green eyes bleary and questioning. I squeezed his fingers, threading my hand with his.

“Your car was hit by a logging truck, driving too fast for conditions. You have a broken femur, cracked ribs, collapsed lung and your left hip joint had to be replaced,” Dr. Torres explained.

“How long?” he choked out, sounding like a pack-a-day smoker. “Recovery?” He coughed and it wracked his frame. I picked up some water, putting a straw between his lips. He took a few hesitant sips, looking at me gratefully.

“You’re young and healthy. Once your femur fracture has recovered, you can begin physical therapy. You should be up and about in three months, six months at most,” Dr. Torres said. “Do you want some medication for the pain?”

He gulped and nodded. The pain was apparent in his gaze. The nurse walked over, injecting something into his IV and they left shortly afterward. He blinked to me, tears welling in his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Bella. I’m so, so, so sorry.”

“I know, Edward,” I sniffled. I gently wiped his tears away. “I’m sorry, too. I should have followed you.”

“Don’t leave me,” he choked out, gripping my hand. “Please, don’t throw me away.”

“I won’t, Edward,” I breathed, kissing his forehead. “We have a lot to talk about, but not while you’re as high as a kite.” I gently brushed his messy hair back and gave him a tender smile. “Just rest, Grinch. I’ll be here. I promise.”

“I love you, Bella,” he sighed. He blinked at me, slow and sleepy. However, he was determined to keep his eyes open as he drank me in.

His eyes eventually slipped shut. I leaned forward, brushing my lips against his temple. I murmured, “I love you, too.” With a sigh, he relaxed and fell back asleep.

xx FFADS xx

The next day, Edward was moved to a regular room. He was still in and out of consciousness, but more alert than yesterday. I also gave him time to spend with Carlisle and Esme. They flew out to be with him. I spent the morning with Katie, playing with her on the playground at Forks Elementary. I told her that Edward was awake. She begged to see him, but I told her that we needed to give him time to heal.

My phone rang as Katie swung on the swings with a couple of other kids. “Hello?” I answered.

“Bella, it’s Beverly. I know that you’ve been dealing with some craziness, but you had a couple of showings,” she said.

“Oh, I hadn’t noticed,” I yawned. “I’m sorry that I fell off the face of the planet. I should be paying closer attention to what’s happening with the house, but with everything that happened with Lauren and then Edward coming to Forks.”

“I heard all about it. Mark told me briefly what had happened,” Beverly said. “Anyhow, I’ve got some really good news.”

“Really? I could use some good news,” I sighed, sitting down on one of the playsets.

“I’ve got several offers on your home, Bella. All of them are above asking,” Beverly explained.

“So quickly?” I breathed.

“Bella, I don’t want you to have to deal with more bullshit like you did with Lauren,” Beverly said. “I’m extremely motivated to sell your home and for the best possible price.”

“It’s not your fault that Lauren is a lying, deceitful bitch,” I snorted humorlessly.

“But, it was my fault to foist her on you when you were dealing with so much confusion and grief. I thought that since you and Lauren were relatively the same age, you’d work well together,” Beverly grumble. “Boy, was I mistaken. For that, I will be forever sorry.”

“I forgive you, Beverly,” I said. “I also appreciate all the work you’re doing on trying to sell my house. Now, with the offers that were made, which one would be the best option?”

“There’s a young family, with a little boy who is about Katie’s age and a newborn girl,” Beverly said. “The couple is willing to pay almost $50,000 over market value. They’re looking to move in relatively quickly. The mother was hired as a teacher at Forks High School and the father will be working for the hospital as a nurse.”

“I want a family to live there. Contact them and say that I accept their offer,” I said. “Do I need to sign something?”

“I’ll contact them. Once they do, you’ll need to sign some paperwork and I would have an attorney look over the sale documents,” Beverly said. “Who did you use for the purchase of your brownstone in Chicago?”

“I didn’t,” I snorted. “But, I have an attorney in the city that I can have look over the paperwork. How quickly do they want to move in?”

“Before the end of the summer,” Beverly explained, shuffling through the papers.

“Then, make it happen,” I said. “Thank you, Beverly. I appreciate this.”

“Do you have your attorney’s email address? Once we get the paperwork, I can directly send it to them.”

“I’ll text it to you. His name is Jason Jenks,” I murmured. “Let me know if you need anything else from me.”

“I know that you will need to sign over the home, but that’s further down the road. You will also need to testify against Lauren, if she doesn’t accept a plea deal,” Beverly sighed. “I’ll get the ball rolling on this and I’ll give you call once I need you. Congratulations, Bella!”

“Thanks, Beverly,” I smiled, ending the call. “Hey, Kit Kat, you want to get something to eat? Go to the Lodge?”

“Can I have a grilled cheese?” Katie asked, running to me. “With cheese curds?”

“You’re going to turn into a cheese curd, brat,” I snorted. “Come on. You can have either the grilled cheese or cheese curds, not both.” We drove to the Lodge and ate lunch. I managed to get Katie to eat a grilled cheese with tomato soup. I ordered a salad with a serving of cheese curds, giving my sister a few bites. As I was paying the bill, Esme texted me and asked me when I was planning on coming to the hospital. I responded that I was heading that way once I dropped off Katie at Linda’s.

My anxieties of driving were growing worse. I barely handled the drive to Olympic Medical Center. After I’d parked, I sobbed in the car. My heart was stammering and I could barely keep in control. “Pull yourself together, Swan,” I hissed, wiping my tears away angrily. I swiped my purse and walked into the hospital on shaky legs.

I found Edward’s new room. Esme was reading a magazine next to him while Carlisle was flipping through Edward’s chart. Edward was snoozing, but when I walked in, his eyes flew open and his entire face lit up. Carlisle gestured to Esme, who closed the magazine and stood up. She kissed Edward’s cheek, murmuring something to him. “We’re going to get something to eat, Bella. If you need us, call my cell phone,” Esme said, giving me a hug. “Edward, we’ll see if we can smuggle in some contraband.”

“Thanks, Mom,” he said, his voice sounding gravely. Esme and Carlisle left and I hovered by the door, nervously fiddling with my strap of my purse. “Are you okay, Bella? You look pale.”

“I’m okay,” I muttered, moving to take the seat that Esme had vacated.

“Bullshit,” he snorted, arching a brow at me. “I have a broken leg, not damaged eyes. I know that I fucked things up with us, but I … I still love you and I’m worried about you.”

“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” I asked, putting my purse down. “You’re the one in the hospital.”

“Angel …” he grimaced, shaking his head. “Apologies, Bella.”

I felt my tears prick and fall down my cheeks. I looked away, trying to hide how much I was struggling. “Edward, I know we have a lot to talk about.” My voice cracked and blinked up at him. He was shifting on the bed, staring at me. I could see how much he hated what had happened between us.

“We do, Bella. But, the most important thing that needs to be said is that I’m truly sorry,” he breathed. “I know those words mean little, but it’s the best that I can do. When I saw James and you … I just reacted. It all imploded. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I also know that fucked up.”

“You’re not fucked up, Edward,” I chided.

“No, I am. If I had a modicum of normalcy, I would have talked to you as opposed to jumping to conclusions. James told me what he’d done and he was a monster. It was a huge mistake to hire him,” he sighed. “Bella, I know I said some hurtful things to you. In my mind, I knew you were none of the things I called you. You were are the embodiment of goodness and I will never stop loving you, even if it means that you hate me.”

“I don’t hate you, Edward. I love you, too, but we need to work things out. I can’t have my integrity questioned,” I explained, my voice cracking. “I’ve never cheated on anyone I’ve ever dated, nor have I ever lied to you or to anyone else. My parents, yes, but that’s before I grew up. I was an idiot kid who thought that stealing a twenty dollar bill from my mom’s purse would go unnoticed.”

“I think everyone has done that at one point,” he chuckled, but grimaced. “Damn it. I can’t laugh. My ribs don’t like that.” He looked up at me. “Bella, I know that you’d never hurt me like that. Now … I know that now. Fuck, I even knew that when I saw you with James. Is there any way that you can ever forgive me? I know that we may never be a couple …”

“I never said that,” I argued.

“You said that we have a lot to talk about if there is to be an us again,” he said. “I agree with that. I want there to be an us. Bella, you have been my light and with you, I feel not so broken.” He grimaced, his right hand reaching toward me. I shifted closer, running my finger along the top of his hand. He slid his palm under mine, threading our fingers together. I whimpered, feeling my heart beat again. Tears fell down my cheeks. “Bella, angel, please don’t cry. I hate to see you cry and knowing that I was the cause of your tears …”

“It’s just a lot of things, Edward,” I sniffled, wiping my tears away. “I’m just torn. I want things to be the way they were, but I know that they won’t be.”

“It will take time, but things could be better,” Edward murmured, raising our hands to his lips. “Don’t give up on us, Bella. I will forever be sorry for what happened. I wish I could go back in time and change what happened.”

“Alas, unless you have a time machine in your cast, we can’t go back in time,” I quipped sadly. “I think … we start again, as friends and go from there. We need to rebuild the trust between us.”

“It’s not what I was hoping for, but it’s a start, Bella,” he sighed. “Now, as a friend, I’m concerned about you. You’ve lost a ton of weight and you look haunted.”

“Let’s just say that I hope that I don’t have a Forks police officer on my doorstep again,” I cried.

“Shit,” he breathed. “Bella, I’m so sorry.”

“It was my worst nightmare … again,” I sniffled. “Edward, I can’t lose you, too. I’ve lost so much, with my parents. Then, the drama surrounding us, it was all so much. I’m a mess. I’m overwhelmed. I want nothing more than to …” I struggled to breathe.

“Bella, love, please, look at me,” Edward said. Tears were streaming down my cheeks and I couldn’t catch my breath. His fingers tightened around my hand and I couldn’t stop hyperventilating. Blackness surrounded my vision. It was all too much. “Bella!”

A/N: Bella’s having some issues. Can you blame the poor girl? First, her boyfriend decides to freak out. Then, she gets a flash drive tossed at her, giving her stitches. She’s getting fleeced by an old high school acquaintance and lost over $75,000. Finally, the aforementioned boyfriend is in a car accident …

Cut the girl a break! It’s not a shocker that she had a panic attack.

Up next will be Edward, picking up where we left off with Bella. How long do you think they’re going to stay ‘friends’? They truly love each other, but they do need some help. We’re also going to be flying back to Chicago in the next chapter, as well. And, who’s ready for a Katie/Edward reunion?

Leave me your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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