The constant drone of the machines continued to echo through my psyche as the evening street lights casted shadows through the hospital room. Rene refused to leave Bella's side for any period of time. I let her have my seat next to Bella but continued to stay in the room, sitting in the corner quietly listening to Rene's thoughts whirl through her child like mind. She was unlike Bella in every way; she even sensed danger when it came to the Cullen's, unlike Bella.
My poor baby...what time is it? She looked towards the clock. Eleven. Charlie should be here shortly. I'm going to have to have a talk with him. Her thoughts then became a little disjointed in anger as she thought of her daughter falling down two sets of stairs because she had run away from Forks. Forks, she scoffed internally. I knew this wasn't a good idea. I warned her. I told her she didn't have to leave. What kind of mother am I to condemn my child to a place like Forks?
Ignoring her constant prattling, I continued to stare, fixated on Bella, waiting for her eyes to open, willing them to just flutter. I couldn't see the clock that was over my head, but I was counting every second as they passed. It was easy to keep track because my only focal point was Bella and how long she had been devoid of consciousness. It had now been exactly 39,982...83...84 seconds since we arrived at the hospital.
Her heart thrummed evenly as her scent was beginning to slowly return to her. The sweet nectar that was her life filled the room with the delicious aroma. Craving the sweetness, I brought the scent into my lungs, letting my throat burst into flames.
It was only two hours ago that she finished her second blood transfusion and I was afraid her scent would forever be a pitiful imitation of the luscious blood pulsating through her body. It felt like my body was undergoing physical suffering owing to her condition. Her blood deficient was because of me; a creature so monstrous that I preyed on this innocent creature by allowing her to become a part of my life. More than that, she was my life.
My phone lightly vibrated in my jeans pocket Cdistracting me from my internal torment - and I pulled it out to read a message from Alice.
Just picked Charlie up from the airport. Will be there in fourteen minutes.
Snapping my phone shut, I got up to move to Bella's other side. With her mother here, I kept my distance, not wanting to over step my bounds with a parental authority that I so recently met...and especially under these circumstances.
"Charlie will be here shortly. Carlisle and Alice just picked him up from the airport," I said lightly.
It's about time. "That's good," her eyes never left Bella's face.
For over an hour before now I was struggling to come over and talk with Rene. I wanted to flush out a good story to tell her about why we were here in the first place. She got the gist of the story from the doctor about her going through a window after falling down two flights of stairs, but that was all.
"Mrs. Dwyer," I began.
Such a gentleman...Mrs. Dwyer. Her penetrating gaze moved from Bella's face to mine. Her eyes widened a little at my appearance. It always caught humans off guard, the little indications they didn't comprehend, no matter how many times they'd seen one of us before. She studied my face for only a brief second before she saw the grief that was displayed squarely on my face. Ignoring her senses she brought her thoughts to my expression. He really cares for her. He looks like he is going to cry.
"Rene," she corrected me.
"Yes, of course, Rene. I wanted to apologize for this whole incident," I used my smoothest voice to ease her stress, one I retained for not alarming humans.
"This isn't your fault...," she began, but her thoughts caught up to her mouth. What was he doing down here anyways? He didn't...follow her did he? He's not a stalker...is he? She tried to smile politely but even without her thoughts as a guide I could have guessed what she was currently thinking.
Her thoughts weren't far off base. I was her vampire stalker, watching her sleep every night. I continued, not wanting to think that once she recovered, this would be the end...no more stealthily hiding in her room.
"Yes, it is my fault. I really care about your daughter, so please understand that I want the best for her..."
"Why are you here?" She blurted out.
"When I brought her home after playing baseball with my family she became upset. She really misses Arizona and after I confessed my feelings for her she became angry." The memory of her yelling at me flashed through my mind. Though she was acting, it burned to hear her say goodbye and slam the door in my face which is ultimately my worst fear.
His feelings? Hum, I wonder how much he actually cares for her...I hope her actions aren't because of me...my past...because of my fear of her staying in Forks. Nope, not his fault...mine, all mine. She stared at me with her eyes filling with the sorrow of her thoughts, so I went on, trying to distract her from her mental images. It was entirely my fault, not hers.
"When I found out she had run off to Arizona...from a call she made to Alice, I had to fix it. Carlisle and Alice came with me to try and convince her to come back to Forks; that we all loved and missed her."
We all love her? Their relationship is a little more intense than I realized. Rene speculated.
"She agreed to meet us at our hotel room but she never made it. Carlisle was actually in the hallway getting ice when he heard a loud crash. Alice and I heard it also," The look on my face showed pure agony at the thought, though this wasn't acting, this was how I truly felt. "It was Bella; she had tripped and gone through a window. We rushed to get Carlisle but he was already there. All three of us helped stop the bleeding and get her to the hospital."
Poor child. He must have been scared out of his mind. Rene reached over to place her hand over mine. "Thank you for saving her."
"Thank Carlisle. He's the doctor,"
"Yes, but without you, he might not of been able to stop the bleeding in time," a tear slid down her face and the white blanket covering Bella now had a wet spot from the droplet.
Edward, we're here. Alice called out to me through her mind. I have to warn you, he's not happy. You might want to get out of there before...
The door to the room flew open as Charlie came marching in, livid. His face was so screwed up in anger that all the blood had rushed to his face, covering it purple, like a radish with a sun burn.
"This is all your fault," he pointed a finger at my chest, coming closer and closer.
I backed away from him, "I'm sorry." It was a pathetic attempt, but it was all I could think to say with him advancing on me. I nearly knocked over my tray of food; nothing more than a prop, really, but my mind was in such anguish that I wasn't paying attention.
No, this is my fault, Rene thought while stepping in between us. She placed her hands on Charlie's chest and began to push him towards the door.
"Mr. Swan, I..." I began.
"Charlie, that's enough. Let's talk outside," she commanded sternly.
"You won't ever see my daughter again. Do you understand?" Charlie continued to shout at me as Rene continued to heave against him until he was outside of the door.
His threat was unnecessary because I had to leave her to let her live a peaceful life without all the peril. I backed slowly into the corner, sitting down on the chair again. Bella's breath had picked up slightly; the tempo of her heart increasing, like she could sense the tension in the room.
Watching her small chest lightly rise and fall with each breath, seeing the blood flow seamlessly through her translucent skin, listening to her heart which was echoed perfectly with the monitor all just emphasized how delicate and precious she really was. I had to save her from the nightmarish creature I feared and loathed that finally made it to the surface when I tasted the rich flavor of her blood. I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough discipline left to be around her forever. Would all my efforts fail?
Pushing my ever growing thoughts of leaving from my mind C fighting tooth and nail against what I didn't want to be - I opened my mind to the conversation that was now being shouted in the hall. Listening in on their conversation wasn't difficult in the least. They were barely standing outside the door and with their raised voices it was loud enough that even the humans could hear it.
"Charlie, calm down right this instance!" Rene yelled at him.
"You left him in there with our daughter. She left because of him," he growled furiously with the protective concern, emitting a possessive edge in his thoughts.
I could witness his livid expression through Rene's human eyes. Not the best vision, but it would work. He was right, though; she did leave because of me, because of the danger I placed her in. Looking at her limp form on the bed, her brown hair surrounding her glorious bruised face only brought more fear rippling and quivering through my still form. I was gasping at the air like I'd been suffocated.
"No. She left because of me! If she wasn't so scared to fall in love in Forks than she wouldn't have run away in the first place. This is my fault, not his. If you want to blame someone, blame me," she retorted.
"You didn't hear the way she yelled at him." I flinched at the memory, my nerves stretching tight C guitar strings, tensed to resonate at the gentlest of pressure. "She was so angry and upset," his voice had lowered some, noticing all the attention on them. Charlie hated attention as much as Bella did. "Wait, did you say love?"
Rene eyed the door automatically, picturing my tortured face in her mind. "Yes. I believe he loves her," she murmured.
"Well..." he stuttered. "That still doesn't matter!"
"They were trying to help. You know our daughter, she is very clumsy. If it didn't happen now it probably would have happened in the future. It's better if it is when a qualified emergency room doctor is around," Rene rubbed his shoulders. I could hear her impatience at her ex-husband.
Dr. Jones was still on duty and over heard part of the conversation in the hall. Must be her father the way he was yelling. He walked towards them. "Hello, I'm Dr. Jones. I am the one who worked on your daughter this afternoon."
A nurse had followed behind him and entered the room. She began taking Bella's vitals, not even realizing I was sitting in the corner. Her thoughts concentrated on the information she was writing down on the chart.
I continued to listen to the conversation outside the door. "Oh, hello, yes...I'm Charlie, her father. Dr. Cullen told me she was in a medically induced coma?"
The light rhythmic movement of Bella's heart continued at a steadied beat, a little faster than when she was in a peaceful sleep. Again, I was counting the seconds.
"Yes. She is healing nicely. Once her swelling goes down around her brain we will try and wake her, but it is strictly up to her body to decide when she is ready to awake from this coma," he stated firmly, yet in a tone that would help ease his stress.
"Yes. Of course. I understand," Charlie rubbed his temples.
"I'll leave you alone. Let you have some time with your daughter," he murmured before walking away.
"Thanks," Charlie barely spoke.
When the nurse swiveled around she finally saw me sitting there. Her heart jumped and began beating wildly. I didn't even see him sitting there.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm just leaving now," she began to walk towards the door. Now that I think about it... she glanced over her shoulder. He is hot! I might have to volunteer to come back in here tonight. She finally opened the door nearly knocking over Charlie who had reached for the door at the same time.
Standing, I opened my mouth to apologize again. Charlie held up a hand. "No need."
Rene continued to stand in the hall, uncertain if she needed to enter or not, worried that Charlie might decide to release some more of his fury on me.
"I'll leave you two alone," I mumbled while walking out of the room.
Rene turned to get dinner, taking deep breaths while her thoughts were grumbling in complaint at Charlie's behavior. And he's such a nice boy...I just don't understand.
As soon as the door clicked shut Alice was at my side.
I see he calmed down. He was in a white rage in the car on the way over here. I thought I was going to have to restrain him he was so angry.
I nodded, not speaking. I was still burning from the pain.
I know what you're planning.
I ignored her. Curiosity continued to eat at her as she walked next to me down the hall which was rich with the scent of bleach and plastic. She looked at me inquisitively, wondering what I was thinking that was making the visions in her mind flash. My thoughts were burning, wishing I could know what was going through Bella's mind right now. Her mind was closed to me, and now her eyes were too, the one link I had left to her internal knowledge.
Everything is going to be okay, I can see it. She tried to comfort me.
Still, I continued to walk silently next to her. Bella's oddly deep brown eyes were fixated in my irises which were crimson with fresh human blood. My contacts were beginning to burn away. Before I could ask Alice, she had another box placed in her palm.
Here, let's not give Charlie any reasons to hate you more.
"Thanks," I replied dully.
If I thought going on a single hunting trip - leaving Bella behind, vulnerable - was excruciating, the next twelve hours were worse. The extreme and generally prolonged pain and mental suffering were the most constant of my torments. But, the most painful of my torments was Charlie's possessive nature over his daughter. With him here, I was basically kicked out of her room, Rene constantly apologizing for his poor behavior.
During the afternoon hours Alice and Rene would converse about everything from style to yoga classes, even though Alice has no need for yoga. Though I sat there, listening to their conversations, they continued to become aware of how tightly wound I was, feeling the stress emanate out of me without the special gift that Jasper has.
Edward, Alice called from her mind around two in the afternoon. Charlie is going back to Forks. The officers...well, he is the police force, they need him back. He already received that call and will be on a plane by five.
This was the first decent news I had heard in days. Regardless, today would be a hard one. Harder than the day before because each second that I continued to count added to the time that her deep depths were closed, her mind locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Like Alice had predicted, Charlie came strolling around the corner to give us the news about his departure. He completely ignored me, but in his mind he was thinking daggers towards me. Daggers that would never pierce my cold, steel skin.
Rene walked with Charlie out of the hospital, leaving Alice and I alone together.
Let's go see Bella.
Without answering her, I rose, walking quicker than human speed towards the room. Whenever Charlie wasn't taking up all of Bella's coma time, I was there, by her side. When I got the chance, I was holding her. Rene had stayed the night, and was planning on doing it again C something I wasn't terribly excited about.
When we reached the door I opened it and was instantly hit with a spectacular scent wafting through the room. Each breath was full of fire which was also full of her life. I ignored the burning, pushed it in the back of my mind.
There was a newspaper on her bedside table. I picked it up to the page that was left open. It was a story that covered the arson of a ballet studio and theft of a car that was left outside. Anger pulsed through me at the thought of James again, though I pushed it aside because another angry thought hit me. I wished that Rene hadn't known about this, because now she was too afraid to stay in her own home.
My continuance of emotions ached for some kind of physical outlet, and yet the only outlet I had was now gone, dead.
Not today...Alice murmured. She's not ready.
My hopes plummeted at this news. She continued to watch the future which spun, twisted and became mangled again.
"This is obviously not the time to bring that up," I barked.
I was just going to say I wish she'd wake up soon, Alice's eyes were wide with innocence, and I didn't believe it for a second.
Looking at her eyes, I saw the reflection of my own eyes which were an odd brown, muddy color. Momentarily it caught me off guard, forgetting I was wearing the contacts, even though they continued to obstruct my perfect vision.
I stole my eyes away from her to bring them back to Bella's limp and lumpy form. Her eyes were closed lightly, as if she were very peaceful. Her hair glinted in the bright white light over her face. My remorse and the guilt burned with the thirst, and, if I had the ability to produce tears, they would have filled my eyes. Each second that I continued to count reminded me of the precious soul lying in the bed before us. She was so breakable, and I broke her, she was good and she didn't deserve my fate. My mind was bouncing around like a tennis ball, willing myself to stay away from her, to no longer let my life collide with hers...destroying it in the process.
What have I done? As the hour passed my mind continually would titter on a line of right and wrong. First, my thoughts leaning one way, then the other. Alice was becoming irritated at my constant state of vivid flashes of the future which would crumble every time I changed my mind. Then, when I didn't think the burning could get worse, I imagined her waking up and kicking me out of her room. I had to remind myself that she had every right to hate me, to not trust me with her safety. That she should.
Would you quit! Alice shouted from mind. You aren't going anywhere. I won't let you. Remember, you did save her life.
Her thoughts were confusing and incomprehensible. Did I not place Bella in front of the danger that lurked around her until it struck? Wasn't this all my fault in the first place? Quickly, I decided that the best course of action was to ignore her thoughts.
After an hour had passed Rene entered the room, her mind happily jumping from subject to subject. What books she liked, her favorite movies, how she painted Bella's new room in Florida. Each second, I counted...I angered even more...mostly at myself. I tried ignoring Bella once, letting her go and it didn't work. I remember thinking that there were other options besides her ultimate doom. Now that I am sitting at her bedside, where she was on the brink of death nearly twenty four hours ago, I realized that keeping her in the fragile state would inevitably destroy her.
I had to leave. Not now, but after she recovered. I did this, I have to clean it up. I won't leave her here, broken, without help.
I've had it! Alice stood up. "Rene, I'm sorry, I have to go. I'll see you tomorrow."
So soon? Rene stared at me. But he's not good company. "I understand, dear. See you tomorrow."
Surely it had to be miserable being around me, but if they understood my frustrations, my ever growing war that was raging inside me, then they would leave me alone. I argued with myself as the evening hours progressed, afraid my less noble side would win the argument. To add to my ever growing torments, the silence emitting from Bella was torturing me. Night after night I watched over her, and she spoke, tossed, turned, and murmured some more. Not last night...and not tonight.
The mystery that surrounded Bella continued to make my curiosity flare. The lure of her unprotected and unconsciously spoken thoughts were making me sick with regret. I should have stayed away and then tonight would have been like any other night when I went to visit her. I missed her murmurs, her spoken dreams and fears.
The only sound from Bella was her light breathing, which had a little rattle from her bruised ribs and her steady heart beat. I shook my head in disgust at what I had done to her. Though she was bruised and tubes and wiring seemed to be coming from her every orifice, she was still beautiful. Her dark hair was tangled wildly around her pale face.
As the night progressed into the early morning hours, Rene never kicked me out. Instead she slept resolutely with Bella's hand in hers. Jealousy raged inside me at her touch. I wanted it to be me holding her hand, lying with her, comforting her. It was foolishness to think that we belonged together, even though I could never imagine myself without her, or with anyone else. She deserved happiness and love with whomever she chose, yet she chose me...the cold inhuman creature that almost brought her to her death.
Could a dead frozen heart break? I felt like mine was.
In an instant, a memory flooded my troubled mind, making my mind teeter in yet another direction. That first evening I became the peeping tom...Bella, she was dreaming of me, mumbling my name.
"Stay," she sighed. "Don't go. Please...don't go."
That was the night she changed me, the rare and permanent thing that you could never give back. It was love, and no matter how many years pass, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, I would forever love this one girl.
I gazed at her unconscious face, reminding myself of the love that had settled into every portion of my stone body that night. If I loved her though, then I was strong enough to leave her because that is what would be best. Loving her would not keep me from killing her, if I let myself make mistakes, like I did this week, she could be killed. Though, it would not be intentional, only a horrible accident. Obviously, I am capable of making mistakes. In only an half hour of speaking with her for the first time I slipped up twice.
Deliberately, I took in a deep breath, letting her scent rip through me like wildfire. With each breath, I let it remind myself of the monster that was living deep inside me. Though he was gone, missing right now, I knew he was still there, sending waves of fire through my throat.
Rene was sleeping soundly now, dreaming about a horseback riding class she had that was a little bizarre. Still, I continued to count the seconds as the sun rose over the mountainous horizon. I closed the vertical blinds so my skin wouldn't sparkle. Again, I felt my contacts disintegrate and had to replace them. In the bathroom, my eyes still were bright red with Bella's blood. Another reminder of the damage I inflicted upon her by being with her.
I felt my pocket vibrate and reached in to grab my phone. It was nine in the morning. It had now almost been two days of a still, unmoving beauty lying in this bed, comatose. I read the message.
Bella will awake at 913. Thought I'd give you the heads up so you could wake Rene so she could get her breakfast. It will give you time to be alone with Bella.
A great relief spread over me at this news. The seconds I would no longer have to count because she would be awake, talking to me. Purposefully, I dropped my phone, the sound vibrated off the walls in the tiny room. Rene jumped to her feet.
"What's going on? Where's Grace?" she mumbled, her face bewildered.
I had to suppress a laugh. "Grace?" I asked.
"Dream," she muttered. That horse scares the living fire out of me!
Again, my giddy state was hard to control. My lips twitched on the edges at the thought of her waking.
"They are serving breakfast," I offered.
Oh course, he wants time alone with her. "Yes, breakfast sounds nice."
Rene left with one last glance over her shoulder before shutting the door.
Curling up onto Bella's bed, I held her hand while watching the clock. The seconds were going by slower. The last minute before her awakening seemed to take twice...no three times as long. Each second that ticked by had my thoughts scattering in every direction. Now that I knew she would be awake soon, the thought of leaving her was inconceivable. I would always love this fragile human girl for the rest of my limitless existence. I gazed at her unconscious face, feeling this love for her settle into every portion of my cold steel body. If I wasn't strong enough to leave her maybe I was strong enough to construct a new future.
She moaned while her eyes fluttered.
Could a dead, frozen heart beat again? It felt like mine was about to.