This is different from the norm. In all of the stories that I’ve read or that I’ve seen, all of the characters are disgustingly perfect unless they are written with very clear flaws. This story is about love (um, duh! Look who’s writing it. I’m the queen of romance), and finding it in the least likely place with the least likely person.
Now, this story is based in a hospital. My medical training comes from…WebMD. I’m not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. I’m a music teacher who has a wild imagination and a penchant for all things Twilight (and with this story, added in a mix of ER! I loved Luca Kovac…) Which brings me to my disclaimer: None of this is mine. I’m not, nor ever will be, Stephenie Meyer. If was, I’d be rolling in the dough from her insane imagination that gave us Bella and Edward. No copyright infringement is intended.
I guided Bella into my office. She was shaking like a leaf. Tears were falling down her cheeks and blood was trickling down her neck from the quarter sized bald spot in the back of her head. I swiped a chart and Carmen on the way to my office. I could faintly hear Charlie bitching and moaning about having his civil liberties taken away. The security guards were ignoring him as they frog marched him to the elevators.
Well frog marched him as best they could with Charlie using crutches.
I sat Bella down on the couch once I removed her coat and looked at her injury. I pulled on a pair of gloves and gently dabbed at the base of her neck. She hissed quietly. “Sorry,” I murmured as I cleaned the wound. “Are you okay?”
With a brusque shake of her head, she indicated ‘no.’
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not right now,” she said wearily. “How much did he get?”
“About the size of a quarter. If you wear your hair down, it should be fine,” I said as I finished cleaning and sterilizing the section of her head that was now bald. She sighed. “After you speak with the police, do you want to see if Michele is available?” With a broken sob, Bella nodded emphatically. “Okay. I’ll make a call up to her office. Carmen, can you clean and dress Bella’s wound?”
“Sure, Dr. Cullen,” Carmen said softly. I kissed Bella’s forehead. She flinched as if I was going to hurt her. I frowned. My girl was terrified because of what her douchebag father did to her. I left my office and rode up to the fifth floor where Michele’s office was located. I strode in, speaking briefly with the receptionist before walking into Michele’s office. She was seated behind her desk, reading some emails.
“Dr. Palmer?” I asked.
“Hello, Dr. Cullen,” she said with a warm smile. She stood up and I shook her hand. “What can I do
“Do you have any availability this afternoon? Any free time for a client?”
“For you?” she asked, arching a brow.
“No. For Bella,” I replied. “I know that you see her. We’ve talked briefly about your sessions on a personal level and well, something happened today that she’s going to need you. She’s going to need all of us, really.”
“Of course, Dr. Cullen,” she said. “Can I ask what happened?”
“Her father attacked her in the ambulance bay,” I grimaced. “She’s getting treated downstairs for getting her hair pulled out before speaking with the police.”
“Oh my,” Michele gasped. “When she’s done, send her up to my office. I’m just catching up on some dictation and such. No patients today. I’ll let Shelly, my receptionist, know to send her back.”
“Thanks,” I said with a sad smile.
“Dr. Cullen, do you want come up with her?” Michele asked kindly.
“If she wants me here, then yes. If not, then I’ll abide by her wishes. I appreciate your flexibility,” I replied. She nodded, giving me a little wave. I left her office and rode down to the second floor, reaching the conference room where the security guards were holding Charlie. The head security guard was standing outside of the conference room. Inside, Charlie was ranting and raving. “Did he put up much of a fight?”
“Yes, Dr. Cullen,” the guard said. “He’s blaming Nurse Swan for this whole mess, despite the fact that he attacked her. We’ve already pulled the security tapes and have them for the police.”
“Thank you. Can I speak with him?”
“Make it brief, Dr. Cullen. The police are on their way,” he replied. “We don’t want you to get arrested for anything.”
“I will,” I said, my eyes turning to the doorway. The guard let me inside and Charlie was seated at the table, mumbling angrily. His hands were in fists, causing the skin to tighten around his knuckles.
He looked up at me and his eyes hardened. “Are you here to tell me that my bitch of a daughter decided to not press charges?”
“No. The police are on the way,” I answered. “We’ve got video surveillance of the attack and you’re in a great deal of trouble. She wants a restraining order and based off the nature of your attack, it will be granted.”
“She’s such an ungrateful wench,” Charlie muttered.
“No, she’s the opposite, Mr. Swan. She’s an amazing woman who is beautiful and so loving. She’s also very loyal. Despite your cruel ways, she was still determined to pay your medical bills and care for you. But, you fucked yourself when you kicked her out. Now, you’re on your own. Heed my words, Mr. Swan. Stay away from her. As she said outside, she is no longer your daughter.”
“Are you fighting her battles for her?” Charlie sneered. “Is she too afraid of me?”
“No. I’m not fighting her battles,” I replied calmly. “It hurts me to see someone who I love more than my own life to be hurt and belittled by the one person who should give their love and affection without question. But your display in the ambulance bay indicates that you have a black heart and are not worthy of Bella. You call her worthless offspring? Well, you’re a worthless parent. A bum on the street would be a better choice as a parent than you.” With that, I turned on my heel and left the room, listening to Charlie’s angry rants.
Back in my office, Carmen was almost done dressing Bella’s injury. With a sympathetic smile, Carmen left. I sat down next to Bella and looked at her. Her eyes were vacant and so sad. “Sweet girl?” I murmured, taking her hands in mine. She turned toward me, but not really looking at me.
“How’s your head?”
“Hurts,” she mumbled. “Carmen took pictures with the camera for the police.”
“Good,” I said as I tried to move her closer. She wouldn’t budge, though. “Bella, please, baby. I want to hold you.” She woodenly moved closer, putting her head gingerly on my shoulder. I felt her face screw up and a fresh set of tears soak through my lab coat. My arms were wrapped around her broken form, trying to soothe my love. Carmen came back into my office and handed me the photos. I took them appreciatively. She also informed us that the police where here for our statements. Bella untangled her arms from my torso and looked at Carmen. They left and I followed at a safe distance.
I was led into once conference room while Bella moved to another. I gave my statement to a young cop, telling him what had happened between Bella and her father. He asked me a few questions and then he thanked me for my time. Handing me a business card, he said that this case was open and shut and that Bella would get her restraining order along with the possibility of jail time for the assault. There would be a trial, but the timeline wasn’t solid.
I finished up in the conference room. Bella was still talking to the officer taking her statement. From what I could gather, she was going to be in there for awhile. I stepped away and walked toward the circulation desk. I went about my day, treating the few patients in the ER. Towards the end of my shift, I got a text from Bella saying that she was done with the cops. I darted to the conference room and checked on her. The two cops were standing outside of the room, talking quietly. “Is she still inside?”
“Yeah, doc,” the cop that interviewed said. “She’s a bit of a mess, though. I was called into the interview because she was inconsolable.”
“Thanks,” I said curtly. I pushed into the room and found Bella in a ball on the floor. She was crying. Her whole body was shaking. “Bella,” I whispered. “Talk to me, baby.”
“I feel so worthless,” she sniffled.
“You’re not, Bella,” I said fervently. “Your dad is an asstard.”
“I know that,” she snarled. “But, he’s supposed to love me, Edward. He doesn’t! Why doesn’t he love me?” Her body collapsed and she let out a guttural scream, breaking my heart. I gathered her in my arms, sending a text to Michele. I held her against my body as she crumbled.
Ten minutes later, Michele came into the room. She saw Bella in my lap and her face fell. I picked up my girlfriend, following Michele toward the elevator. Eventually, we got to her office and I put Bella onto the couch. I went to leave but she grasped at my shirt. “Don’t go,” she pleaded.
“I’m not going to go, sweet girl,” I answered, sitting next to her. “I’ll stay.”
“Bella, tell me what happened downstairs,” Michele said quietly. “What did your dad do?”
“Edward, you tell her,” Bella whimpered.
“No, Bella. I want to hear it from you,” Michele said firmly.
“Why? So I can relive the bullshit that my dad spewed? So I can feel the emptiness when my dad kicked me out of the house? So I can feel like the worthless offspring I am?” Bella screamed. “HE’S THE FUCKING REASON WHY I HATE MYSELF! HE’S THE REASON WHY I DON’T FEEL WORTHY OF ANY LOVE. HIM!”
“Bella, you’re not worthless,” Michele said.
“Bullshit,” Bella spat. “I am. Why can’t my dad love me? Why can’t he…? Why can’t he respect me? For once, I want him to say that he loves me. He did, years ago but after my mom died, he hated me.”
“Do you want your dad to love you?” Michele asked.
“A parent is supposed to love their child. My mom loved me,” Bella sniffled. “Edward’s parents adore him. But, my dad? I’m nothing more than a fucking meal ticket. Am I so hard to love?”
“No, Bella,” I answered, looking at her. “You’re easy to love. I love you more than my own life.”
“Why?” Bella countered, looking into my eyes. “Why do you love me?”
“I love you because you’re amazing, beautiful, funny, smart, compassionate, generous and perfect.” She scoffed. “Why are you scoffing? You are! For me, you are everything that I ever wanted in a woman. In a girlfriend. In someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with. What I feel for you is NOTHING compared to what I had with my ex-wife. I want everything with you, sweet girl. I want to give you everything. I would do anything for you.”
“How do you feel about Edward’s declaration?” Michele asked, taking Bella’s hand.
“I can see that he’s sincere but since everything’s that happened, I’m hesitant to believe him,” she whispered.
That hurt. A lot. I felt like I had part of my soul stolen from me. I know that she was in pain but to hear that she didn’t believe me made me so upset. Empty.
“Dr. Cullen, do you mind if I speak with Bella?” Michele asked.
“Sure,” I said, my voice cracking slightly. I got up from the couch and walked toward the door. Michele followed me out into her reception area.
“Edward, I know that you’re hurt,” she said. “Bella is coming to grips with the fact that her dad doesn’t care about her and she feels unworthy.”
“She’s not,” I said.
“You know that. I know that. But that woman in my office, she doesn’t believe it,” she said ardently. “Let me work with her.”
“I want to help her, Dr. Palmer,” I frowned.
“So do I,” she answered. “Bella loves you, Dr. Cullen. But right now, she’s very confused, hurt and upset about what happened today. She’ll probably pull away from you, but you have to know that it’s you that’s pulling away from. It’s all of this.”
“I know,” I sighed.
“Go home, Dr. Cullen. Your shift is over and it’s been a trying day,” Michele replied. “I’ll work with Bella.”
I closed my eyes, pinching my nose with my fingers. I had a killer migraine and this was only exacerbating the pain. “Thanks, Dr. Palmer,” I choked out. “Can tell Bella that I love her?”
“Sure, Dr. Cullen,” she replied with a sad smile. I left Michele’s office and to mine. I took off my lab coat, putting on my winter jacket. Slinging my satchel over my shoulder, I walked out of the ER through the ambulance bay. Charlie was being placed in a police cruiser, handcuffed and scowling. I smiled briefly before I turned on my heel to walk to my car to drive home.
xx APFL xx
Bella was a ghost for the next two weeks. I’d see her briefly at work but she wouldn’t really talk to me. The only time we’d exchange words was if we shared a patient. Her eyes were empty, vacant and incredibly sad, like when I first met her. Her behaviors freaked me out and I was afraid that we were over. Despite her actions, I didn’t want to be. I still loved her. I wanted nothing more than to hug and comfort Bella.
Angela was also pissed off at Bella. They were fighting in the lounge one day when I went to get a cup of coffee. Bella left in a huff, exiting the other door of the lounge. “Everything okay?” I asked.
“No,” Angela grumbled. “I love that girl but she’s been a mess. I understand why, but snap out of it already! Has she said anything to you?”
“We haven’t spoken since that day,” I frowned.
“Shut the fuck up! Really?” Angela squeaked. “I’m so staging an intervention.”
“Ang, Bella is trying to come to grips that her father doesn’t really care for her. I get why she’s falling apart. I hate the fact that I haven’t spoken to her in two weeks, but she needs this,” I muttered.
“Edward, I can see it in your eyes that you’re just as bereft as she is,” Angela said quietly, putting her hand on my forearm. “You hide it better than her, but your eyes are just as empty as hers.”
“Her reason is legit. Mine? Not so much,” I snarled. “I just miss her. I’m afraid that she’s going to tell me to fuck off. I laid myself bare in front of her and Michele and she didn’t fucking believe me, Angela. Why? Because of the acidic thoughts of her fucking sperm donor who made her feel like she was fucking nothing.”
“Fuck this shit,” Angela said. “You, be at our apartment by no later than seven tonight. We’re all going to talk some sense into this girl. Call your sister, too. She’s been ringing the house phone on a daily basis but Bella’s been ignoring her.”
“I’ll be there,” I said with a brief smile. “Do I need to bring anything?”
“Just your sexy ass,” Angela giggled.
I rolled my eyes as she left. I pulled out my cell phone, dialing up Rose’s number.
“Eddie!” she sang into the phone.
“Hey, Rosie,” I chuckled, falling on the leather sofa inside of the lounge. “Are you available tonight?”
“Is the sky blue?” she snorted. “My social calendar is pretty empty. Bella’s been blowing me off.”
“That’s why I need you,” I sighed.
“What’s wrong, Eddie?” she asked. I briefly told Rose what had happened and what we were planning. Rose was definitely willing to help out. I gave her the address to Angela and Bella’s apartment, along with the time to be there. We hung up and I went back on the floor. The day went by very, very slowly. A snail’s pace would have been too fast. After what felt like an eternity, my shift was over and I was at home, changing into a pair of jeans and a hoodie.
I drove to their apartment, parking on the street. I sent a text to Angela after I parked my car, saying I was here. Ang responded that Bella was in the shower. Everyone, except Rosalie and me, were in the apartment. I happened to see Rose parking behind me and we headed upstairs together. James was watching from his partially opened door while Rose and I walked to their apartment. His one eye was dilated and the smell of body odor and nastiness filled the hallway. It’s called a shower, buddy. Rose moved closer to me as we walked past James’ place. I glowered at him which caused James to slam his door shut.
Knocking lightly on the apartment door for Ang and Bella, we were ushered in and pushed into the living room. “She’s almost done with her shower,” Angela hissed. “Sit down and don’t make a sound.”
“Are you trying to scare the poor girl?” Rose asked, arching a brow. She sat down next to Alice and her sister, Cynthia, who both hugged my sister. Ben was on the couch, chatting with Jasper. On the floor, Emmett was munching on some pizza. Why was Emmett here? I sat down on the huge chair in the corner, nervously fiddling with the strings of my hoodie.
“Bella, you have to eat,” Angela grumbled. “Come on. Let’s have pizza or something.”
“I’m not hungry, Angela. Just let me be,” she snapped.
“Fuck, Bell. You haven’t had a real meal in two weeks,” Angela growled. I heard them scuffle and Angela was physically pulling Bella into the living room.
“What the fuck, Angela?” Bella yelled.
“Put your ass onto the couch and listen, Bella,” Angela said as she pushed her to the seat next to Ben. “All of these people here fucking LOVE YOU! They’re worried about you and are over your brooding.”
“I know that I’m battling some significant demons, Angela…”
“So do all of us, Bella,” Alice chirped. “But, battling the demons on your own is obviously not working. You’ve shut out every one in your life. You’ve become a shadow of yourself, barely eating, snapping at patients and ignoring us.”
“You’re also not sleeping, Bella. I hear you roaming around the apartment at all hours of the night,” Angela sighed.
“What do you want me to do?” Bella spat.
“Talk to us,” I said. I looked at her and saw her sad brown eyes. Her face fell when she saw me, undoubtedly upset that she had alienated everyone who cared about her. Just like her father had alienated her. “Let us in.”
“Why did you turn your friends away, Bella?” Rose asked quietly. “Your boyfriend?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t feel worthy of anything. I still don’t,” she whispered. “Why should I receive anything good? I’m not worthy of anything.”
“Bella, I’ve learned one thing from my issue…you need everyone’s support. Now, you weren’t raped or attacked like me, but you were hurt, irrevocably, by your father. I pushed everyone away once I was released from the hospital. The only person I trusted was Eddie. He was the only man I felt comfortable touching me. He still is. But, it was Eddie who helped me when I first was attacked and again when he moved back to Chicago. It’s also because of my big brother, that I was able to open my mind to my family and now, some new friends.”
“Do you all hate me?” Bella asked, the fight left from her voice.
“No, we don’t hate you,” Angela sighed. “We’re frustrated and pissed off. But no hate. Quite the opposite, Bell. If we didn’t love you, we would have left you to wallow in your sea of self-hatred and worthlessness.”
“Bella, I may not know you, but from the few times that I’ve spoken to you, I’ve seen a funny, endearing, spunky girl,” Emmett said quietly. “Your dad is a fucktard of the highest order and honestly, it’s HIS loss. Why do you need his approval when you have all of these people sitting around you who love you? Who approve of you? Who see this wonderful girl who is worthy of everything under the sun?”
“My padawan,” Cynthia said as she walked toward Bella. “I love you. You need to pull the head out your ass, but I love you. Daddy dearest is moron who lost his brain when he lost his leg. On top of that, he’s a hateful, spiteful human being who is acting like a spoiled brat as opposed to the nearly sixty-year old man that he is. And you know what? He’s sitting in a jail cell because you pressed charges against his sorry ass. How do I know that? My neighbor is a deputy for the Cook County Correctional Facility and well, your dad’s attorney couldn’t get him out. Arraignment is coming up soon, according to my neighbor. He’s been tortured by his fellow inmates because he’s a former police officer.”
“He hasn’t been hurt, has he?” Bella asked.
“He’s been roughed up but his ass is still unclaimed,” Cynthia snorted.
“Cyn!” Alice laughed. “TMI!”
“What?” Cynthia asked, arching a brow. “Bella, you don’t have to worry about sperm donor. He’s no longer your concern. The only person you need to worry about is you. And well, that sullen doctor in the corner.” Bella looked at me and her eyes filled with tears. “On that note, we should let the lovebirds hash out their issues.”
“I agree,” Rose said. “There’s a pizzeria around the corner that looks good. Who wants some?”
All of the guys raised their hands and everyone left the apartment, talking excitedly about the pizza. Emmett was chatting with Rosalie, obviously excited about talking to my baby sister. The door clicked shut and the silence left behind was tense and uncomfortable. I stayed seated on the chair, leaning forward on my knees. My jaw was clenched and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
“I don’t know what to say,” Bella whispered.
“I’m sorry seems appropriate but empty,” she sighed. “I’ve been horrible to you, Edward. I’ll understand if you want to end this.”
“Is that what you want, Bella?” I asked, staring at her. “Do you want our relationship to be over?”
“I don’t want it to be over, either, but what you said in Michele’s office…after I laid my heart on the ground to you…hurt. A lot,” I said angrily. “I understand that you were upset by your dad’s actions, but it doesn’t change how I feel for you.”
“I’m sorry, Edward,” she murmured. “So sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I just needed time to wrap my head around it all. Please, don’t hate me.”
“I don’t hate you, Bella. I never could,” I said. “I wish you would have spoken to me before you ignored me. Michele told me that you’d pull away but I’d never thought it would be this bad. Two weeks with no contact except work discussions. Talking about patients or treatments. Getting lab results.”
“There’s no excused for that,” Bella sniffled. “I’m a horrible person, Edward.”
“You’re not, Bella,” I soothed.
“I am! The one person who was on my side, and I pushed you away,” she sobbed. “What can I do to make it right?”
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “Bella, I love you. The depth of my feelings is to my very soul, but your actions indicate that perhaps you don’t care as much about me as I do about you.”
“Edward, I do love you,” she cried. “I know that how I’ve behaved the past few weeks hasn’t been a clear indicator, but I do. So much. What can I do? Tell me!” Bella’s face was flushed and tears were spilling over her cheeks. Her body was shaking in anxiety. “I can’t lose you. Everything I’ve done has pushed you away. I’m such a fucking failure.”
I hopped up from the chair and crossed to the couch where Bella was obviously beating herself up. I sat down, pulling her against my body. She stiffly leaned against me before she collapsed. Her body was wracked with screaming sobs as I held her tightly. I don’t know how long we sat on the couch while she cried, but she eventually calmed down. When she was quiet, I kissed her temple. “You’re not a failure, Bella. You were hurt. I get that.”
“So were you,” she mumbled against my now soaked hoodie. “And I was the cause. Will you ever be able to forgive me, Edward?”
“I already did, Bella,” I said as I gently forced her to look at me. “I’m going to be honest, though. In order for our relationship to work, we have to be able to talk. You can’t just shut me out. If you need space, I’m willing to give it to you. You have to talk to me prior to that. Tell me that you’re backing away. These past few weeks, I was unsure of our status since you just stopped talking to me.”
“I’m sorry, Edward,” she sniffled. “I was so inside of my head that I wasn’t even thinking how it was for you.”
“I kind of gathered that. Angela approached me after your tiff in the lounge about this ‘intervention,’” I chuckled nervously. “Now that you’re out of your head, what are you going to do?”
“I have a lot of apologies to make,” she said, looking at me. “And a lot of thinking to do.”
“Have you spoken with Michele?”
“Either in person or on the phone,” Bella answered. “I’ve spent a lot of time writing in my journal, too. Tomorrow is my dad’s arraignment, though. I’m so afraid that they’re going to grant him bail and deny my request for a restraining order.”
“Do you want me to come with you?” I asked.
“You’d do that for me even though I was an epic bitch towards you?” she answered.
“Of course, Bella,” I said. “You need support in that courtroom and I’ll be there.”
“Can you stay the night?” she begged.
“What time is the arraignment?”
“Nine, I believe,” Bella replied. Her brown eyes were filled with uncertainty as she pleaded with me.
“I’ll need to go back to my house to grab a suit, but I can stay with you,” I murmured, pulling her closer to my chest.
“Can you kiss me?” she whimpered. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to…” I broke her off by placing my lips on hers. We collapsed on the couch while I hungrily kissed the shit out of her. We made out on the couch until we heard the lock disengage. We scrambled off the couch and into Bella’s room.
As we undressed for bed, I knew that we were better but still had a long way to go to heal in our relationship.
xx APFL xx
“Bella, you have got to stop shaking,” I said as I took her hand in mine. She was a nervous wreck. Her hair was curled and was lying over her shoulders. She was wearing a deep purple blouse and a pair of black dress pants. She also wore my jewelry that I had gotten her for Valentine’s day.
“I’m so afraid, Edward,” she squeaked.
“No fear. Bella, he can’t hurt you,” I whispered, kissing her temple. “Even if he gets bail and is you’re denied a restraining order, I’ll still protect you. Your dad has to know that I won’t stand for the same actions from two weeks ago. He can be banned from the hospital…”
“Edward, County is the only hospital he can go to,” Bella explained. “With his medical issues and lack of insurance, county is the lone hospital that would accept him. He can’t be banned.”
I sighed and twined our fingers together. We waited until the courtroom opened up for all of the arraignment cases. Based off the computer screens with the schedule of the cases up for arraignment, Charlie would be up relatively early. Bella and I took seat in the rear of the room, hiding behind the crowds of people.
Three cases were up prior to Charlie’s time in front of the judge. Bella was pressed against me while we waited for Charlie’s case. Two of the cases were drunk driving and one was child abuse case. The two drunk drivers were granted bail. The child abuse case was remanded to the Cook County Jail.
“Next case on the docket is the people of the state of Illinois versus Charles Thomas Swan. Charges include assault, battery, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, public drunkenness, and harassment.”
“My name is Emanuel Schwartz, representing the state of Illinois,” said the prosecutor.
“Richard Potts, public defender for Mr. Swan,” said the defense attorney wearily. Charlie was leaning heavily on his crutches, looking a little worse for wear.
“What does the state want?” the judge asked.
“$500,000 with a restraining order for his daughter if he’s released,” Mr. Schwartz said succinctly.
“Your honor, Mr. Swan is an injured ex-police officer,” Mr. Potts countered.
“Who attacked his daughter in the ambulance bay of Cook County Hospital,” Mr. Schwartz argued.
“There’s been a long-time history of abuse and neglect from Mr. Swan. His daughter feared for her safety when she spoke with the police.”
“This is for trial, gentlemen,” the judge grumbled. “$250,000 bond with a restraining order. Trial date will be determined at a later time. Next case!”
The bailiff poked Charlie and he growled at the man in the uniform. However, when he saw Bella and I in the gallery, his eyes grew colder. Bella cowered against me. “He can’t hurt you, sweet girl,” I cooed against her hair.
“Look at him, Edward,” Bella squeaked. “Even while he’s crutching away, he’s giving me the evil eye.”
“Bella, what’s the probability of Charlie getting $250,000 in cash or bond? Slim to none,” I said. “If he’s released, you have the restraining order. If he comes close to you, you call the cops and he’s back in jail.” I shot a look at Charlie’s retreating form and helped Bella to stand. We left the courtroom and met up with Mr. Schwartz. He handed Bella a copy of the restraining order and gave her a card if there were any more problems with her dad.
I took Bella out for an early lunch after our time in court. I took her Frontera Grill and we settled into a corner table in the bustling restaurant. Bella was very quiet, biting down on her lip. We ordered our meals and an uncomfortable silence covered our table.
“I hate this,” Bella said.
“Talk about awkward,” I said at the same time.
We both laughed nervously but I gestured to her. “I hate that there is this distance between us. I mean, last night was nice but even though we fooled around, it wasn’t the same as before.”
“I know,” I sighed. “You’re protecting yourself, Bella. Subconsciously, so am I.”
“I’m a fool,” Bella mumbled sadly.
“No, you’re not. I understand, perfectly, why you backed away. Michele warned me before I left the session with the two of you,” I said as I leaned forward, putting my elbows on the table. “It’s obvious that we can’t go back to what we had…”
“WHAT?” Her brown eyes filled with tears and her face shattered.
“Let me finish,” I said, taking Bella’s hand. Tears fell down Bella’s cheeks as I stroked her hand. She was mumbling that she hated herself that she deserved to be alone. I got up from my chair and wrapped my arms around her. She gripped my lapels of my suit and sobbed silently against me. The waitress was not happy when she delivered our meals, hissing that my companion was causing a disturbance. I glared at her. I’ll deal with you later, wench. “Bella, calm down. Please, sweet girl.”
Her sobs were bordering on hysteria and her breathing was shallow. I could feel her pulse race under my fingers. I pressed my lips to her temple. “I don’t want to have to sedate you, Bella. Your heart rate is moving too fast.”
She took a shaky breath and wiped her tears. “Sorry,” she rasped out. Her eyes were trained on the table, not meeting my gaze at all.
Gently cupping her chin, I raised her face to look at me. The sadness in her eyes from when I first met her had washed from her eyes to her entire being. She had given up. Fuck. I motioned for the waitress and asked to get our meals wrapped up. Bella’s defeated posture troubled me. I paid the bill and helped Bella into her coat. Keeping her vertical with one hand and carrying the bag of food with the other, I walked us back to my car, driving to my brownstone. A steady stream of tears fell down Bella’s cheeks.
When I pulled up to my house, Bella looked at me in surprise. “Why didn’t you take me home?” she asked.
“Because we’re not done talking, Bella,” I said, cupping her cheek with my hand.
“Why prolong the inevitable?” she asked. Her voice was dead. No emotion. “Charlie’s right. I am worthless. I’m a fuck up.”
“Bella, stop it,” I snapped. I loved her so much and it fucking killed me to see her so broken. How can I get through to her? How can I show her how much I love her?
Getting out of the car, I jogged to Bella’s side. I opened it up and Bella just sat there. I was cold and honestly, getting cranky. This shit needed to be stopped now. So, I bent down and threw Bella over my shoulder. “EDWARD! PUT ME DOWN!” she screamed.
She wiggled on my shoulder until I dropped on her my couch in the living room. I walked to the medicine cabinet and picked up a bottle of xanax. I cut a pill in half and grabbed a water bottle. I wanted to be prepared if Bella started having a meltdown. I removed my suit coat and loosened my tie. Bella was curled up against the arm of the couch. “Bella?” I asked, touching her knee.
She glanced at me but didn’t say anything.
I rubbed my face and sat back. “This isn’t going to work if we don’t talk, Bella,” I murmured. “Do you want our relationship to work?”
“I do. But do you?” she asked, her brown eyes looking at me, still filled with sadness, dejection and loneliness.
“More than anything. Back to what I was saying in the restaurant,” I began. “This distance put a kink in our connection and we have rebuild it. I understand that you are hesitant to trust me. Again. But, I get it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m in this for the long-haul.”
“This is my first real relationship, Edward. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m failing left and right at this,” she grumbled.
“No two relationships are the same, Bella. Ours has had some bumps and bruises, but if we can get past this, I’m certain we’ll be unbreakable,” I said. “I hope, at least. Do you think that I question my decisions?”
“You’re so confident, Edward. If I had an ounce of your self-esteem, I’d be a changed woman,” Bella sniffled. “All of the confidence that I had built up prior to all of this has disintegrated. I feel like I’m nothing.”
“Then, it’s my job as your boyfriend to make you feel like you’re worth a million, no, a billion dollars,” I said as I reached for her. “You’re not nothing, Bella. You’re my whole world, sweet girl. There are three things that I value above all else: my job, my family and most importantly, those that I love. I told you in Michele’s office how I felt and that hasn’t changed.” Her body sagged against the couch as new tears fell down her cheeks. “Don’t cry, Bella. It kills me to see you cry. I want to see a smile on your beautiful face. Laughter. Orgasms.”
Bella blushed and shot me a look.
“What? You’re the most beautiful when you come, sweet girl,” I purred.
“All of this has set me back, Edward,” she sniffled.
“I know. We’ll get there. Even now, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try anything physical. I think that’s why it was so awkward last night,” I answered. “I also think that we may have to seek out a couple’s counselor.”
“Money’s tight for me, Edward. I can’t afford that and Michele…” she frowned.
“I’ll cover that couple’s counselor. It’s an investment in our future, sweet girl. I want a long one with you,” I said, smiling at my girl. She opened her mouth, obviously trying to argue with me. “No arguments, Bella. I love you and I want to do this.” She nodded, slumping against my couch. I reached for her hand and laced my fingers with hers. I gently tugged on her arm. She looked at me. “Rebuilding the intimacy, Bella. We need to cuddle.” I gave her my crooked grin. “It’s where this all started…cuddling.”
“If we’re going to cuddle, can we at least do it on your bed and not on this tiny couch?” Bella asked, cracking a half grin.
“Your wish is my command, Miss Swan,” I said, kissing her lips briefly. I got up and held out my hands to her. She stood up on shaky limbs and we climbed the stairs to my bedroom. We changed into something more comfortable and snuggled under the covers in my bedroom. Bella’s head was right above my heart and I was holding her to my body. “I do love you, sweet girl. Even if we don’t work out, I’ll always love you.”
“Edward, I love you, too. I’m sorry for hurting you and I don’t want to lose what had. I want to move forward,” she whispered.
“And we will,” I said, tightening my hold on her. “Together.”
A/N: Yeah, that was a rough chapter to write. Bella is a hot mess. (Can you really blame her? Charlie is a douche and a half.) Edward is confused by Bella’s actions, but not. Now, before those haters who LOVE to rip me apart get their word in, if a guy is willing to make a relationship work, it will. Yes, Bella is not the most confident; she’s chubby; and well, she is in need of some major counseling (I love Michele…). But, a kind-hearted, good-looking man, like Edward, will be patient enough to want to be with her, if he sees something worth waiting for. That was stated while Edward was in the appointment with Michele. So, NO HATING! If you don’t like the chapter, don’t flame me. Just don’t continue reading.
Anyhow, since the past chapter was kind of angst-filled, the next chapter will be more fluffy. I may be using a date idea from a friend that includes a kitchen (and you’ll get your shout-out in the next chappie, my dear). We’re also going to get some possible resolutions with James? I’m still trying to figure out the storyline with him. We will be moving forward a few months in the story. So, an FYI there, too.