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My throat felt like it had a thousand paper cuts and my lungs didn't feel much better. It was almost as bad as when I went cliff diving except my stomach wasn't ready to do backflips then and my head didn't have this groggy feeling. Once I was finished coughing, I groaned and lied back down, burying my head in the familiar cold chest I knew was right behind me. "Bella? Love? What's wrong?" Edward asked me worriedly. I just clutched to his grey t-shirt and groaned in response. I was trying very hard to convince myself that I wasn't really sick and this feeling of sluggishness and pain would pass by in a couple of minutes. I just wasn't awake yet. "Bella?" he asked me more frantically now, gently pulling my hands away from his shirt. I pouted in response which brought on a new wave of coughing. I was really glad that vampire fiancé's couldn't get sick or else he'd be just a miserable as me right now. Gently, Edward held me and brushed back my hair. I didn't even have to look at him to know he was still worried. "I'm fine, Edward," I croaked, followed by a grimace. "No, you aren't," he stated. Before I could even really register what was happening, I found myself in his arms being carried towards my bedroom door. "I'm taking you to Carlisle," he further informed me, attempting to dazzle me with a smile. . Unfortunately, it worked. I wasn't even sure what I was so worried about until another cough racked through my body. I was glad that Charlie was already at work and it was summer vacation. He'd have no reason to question why Edward was carrying me down the stairs right now or how Edward got in the house in the first place. I groaned again and placed my head against his shoulder. His ice cold skin felt good against my forehead even if a piece of fabric did separate us. Edward started to pull me away from him and I whimpered at the loss of contact until I opened my eyes and realized he was putting me in my new car. I really, truly, didn't like the new car given that it was so showy but I right now I didn't care. I was too out of it to care about much more than Edward being near me and the fact my head hurt like Emmett was bouncing a basketball off of it. Actually, all my joints ached and I just curled up into a ball in the passenger seat. I saw Edward leave, and I thought it was to get into the driver's side so I went to pull my door closed but was stopped once I managed to grab the door by something stronger than me. Not that it would take much in my current state, really. I think most five year olds were stronger than me right now. I could probably ask Angela to bring the Weber twins over for an experiment but decided
against it. I didn't want to spread my germs. Edward was standing there in my passenger door again, this time with a blanket. He carefully wrapped me up in it and kissed me on my forehead. "I'll call Carlisle on the way so he'll meet us down in the ER," he whispered. I nodded and grimaced at the pain it caused just to nod. "It's just a bad cold, Edward," I told him. Okay, so it was probably the flu but even then, that was nothing. I'd be fine in a couple more days. There wasn't any reason to go to the ER with a simple virus when all Carlisle would probably tell me is to eat a lot of chicken soup. "Just the same, love," he said as he closed the door and was in the driver's side so fast it made my head spin a bit too literally. I shut my eyes tight and curled into a tighter ball, clutching my knees. I felt the car stop at the hospital only a few minutes later. I moved, slowly, to pull myself from my fetal position and walk under my own power into the ER. It would be a change from the stretcher that normally brings me here. Before I could even think about opening the door, I felt a cool burst of air and the smell of wet concrete assault my nose. The sudden mixture caused me into yet another coughing fit which only made my throat feel like it was on fire. I felt more than saw Edward pull me into his arms. I started to protest but he cut that off with a single kiss. "Rest, Bella," he gently ordered. Despite my wanting to walk under my own power, I realized I didn't have the strength to pull myself from the car let alone fight off Edward to let me just walk in and see Carlisle. I rested my head back against his shoulder again, thankful for the coolness. I kept my eyes closed and just listened. I could hear the doors automatically open as he brought us into the waiting area of the ER. The change in temperature from outdoors to indoors was readily apparent and I knew from the sounds of people muttering and papers being shuffled that we had entered into the main waiting area of the ER. "How is she?" I heard Carlisle ask. I opened my mouth to say that it was just the flu and that Edward was overreacting but all that came out was another hacking sound and me groaning as I laid back against Edward's shoulder. "There is a bed ready in room 3 just down the hall to your right," Carlisle said. I felt the air move around me as soon as Carlisle said "there is". Edward probably already saw it in his mind. I listened to the sounds of monitors beeping, other people coughing and sneezing, a child crying, and the phones ringing at what I guessed was the nurses' station as Edward took me to the room. I only opened my eyes when I
felt the thin hospital bed mattress beneath me and not the safety of Edward's arms. Carlisle was standing to one side and Edward to the other, both looking very concerned. "It's just a virus," I croaked and tried to choke back another cough without much success. "I'm fine, really," I informed the two vampires. Carlisle didn't bother with the stethoscope around his neck, since he could probably hear perfectly fine without it. The room was closed off by a thin curtain which probably allowed a little bit more freedom for my vampires to move quickly and not be noticed. I put my hand up to my mouth as I started coughing again. I saw Edward flinch and knew they were having another one of their silent conversations. I grumbled and crossed my arms over my chest which at least made Carlisle smile. "Sorry, Bella," he apologized as he put the pressure cuff on my arm. Carlisle also grabbed the ear thermometer and took my temperature quickly. His brow knitted a bit when the contraption beeped at him and he stole a glance at Edward who collapsed in a chair and groaned. "What?" I asked, trying to demand an answer as to what was wrong. It was just the stupid flu, right? "Bella, do you feel dizzy? Disoriented?" Carlisle asked as he took out his pin light to check my eyes. I was half tempted to make a sarcastic reply regarding me and hitting my head but my coughing thought differently. I only managed to shake my head no as Carlisle put his pin light away. "I'm going to put you on an IV and do some tests, alright?" he asked. I looked at my soon to be father in law, curious as to why he didn't answer my question. "Um, sure. But what's wrong? Isn't it…?" I started when another coughing fit hit me. I glared at Edward when he elicited another groan. I saw him with his head in his hands looking positively helpless which made my heart break right there. I turned my attention back to Carlisle who had a hand on my back and looked worried. "Your temperature is a bit too high. I want to make sure that we are dealing with something viral and get you on some medication quickly. For now, I'm going to give you a fever reducer," he said as he moved to gather whatever he needed. At the door he stopped and turned to me. Edward's head shot up and looked at me as well. I rolled my eyes at them and crossed my arms. A little bit of a temperature and a coughing fit were normal for the flu! "Would you like me to call Charlie?" Carlisle asked me. If he called Charlie – the police chief- then the entire town of forks would know I was in the ER and I still remember the last time when half the school was in the waiting room. I wasn't sure, but I didn't want any chance of that kind of re-enactment to go on. On the
other hand, I didn't want to leave my dad in the dark as to where I was and that I was sick. I bit my lip, thinking about whether or not to call him. "Call him," Edward told Carlisle exasperatedly. "Or I can, if you would like," he continued. Carlisle gave his son a disapproving look but Edward just shrugged and said something so low that I couldn't hear it despite the fact I could see his lips moving. Carlisle nodded before turning back to me. "I'll make sure to call him and keep him up to date while he is at work, Bella," Carlisle told me. I continued to bite my lip in thought. "Can you," I started but coughed again. Luckily, Carlisle waited for me to finish my sentence. "Not tell him about the ER?" I managed to get out. Carlisle smiled at me and I think I even heard a small chuckle escape his lips. "Don't worry, Bella. I will not inform him of your current location, if you prefer," he told me. I nodded at that, not trusting myself to take air through my mouth again to speak without coughing. As soon as Carlisle left, Edward moved to stand right next to me, holding my hand in one of his while his other hand brushed a few stray strands of hair out of my face. I relished the contact of his cold hand against my warm forehead and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, Edward still looked worried. "It's just the flu, Edward. I'll be…fine," I got out before hacking up my right lung. "It's not the flu, Bella," he said with a sigh. I just looked at him as he moved to sit facing me on the small hospital bed, still holding my hand. "It's pneumonia most likely," he said quietly. Well, that would explain the lack of lungs right now. But still, it wasn't that serious. Okay, more serious that the flu but I'm sure Carlisle would send me home after he got an IV in me. It's not like he couldn't check on me on his way to work or something. "I'll be fine," I muttered. Edward's eyes grew wider for a second and then narrowed at me. "Don't say that, Bella. You are ill. Do not pretend that this is nothing more than the common cold!" he said a bit loudly. One of the nurses came in with an IV rack right then, followed by Carlisle who admonished Edward with a single look. Edward turned away from his father and went back to sit in the chair. "Now, Bella, this might pinch," Carlisle said as he prepared my arm for the IV. I had to look away and hold my breath so I wouldn't faint. I can't wait until I'm a vampire and blood smells good rather than causing me to get even more light headed than I am now. I could feel Carlisle taking a couple of vials before hooking up the IV and taping
the needle down. Once I was sure the needle was taped down, I tried to breathe again only to start coughing again. I groaned and leaned back against the raised up part of the bed. Carlisle chuckled at me and I could see the nurse smiling too as she carted out all the supplies and the two vials. I managed to at least attempt a glare at my second Dad. "Take some rest, Bella," he gently ordered me. I pouted a bit at that. I had been sleeping until an hour ago! "I'll come back in an hour or two to see about admitting you," he said offhandedly. "Admitting?" I gasped. I did NOT want to be in the hospital for any longer than absolutely necessary. I didn't even want to come in the first place! This was Edward's idea and now I was going to have to be stuck here? Carlisle nodded and took a quick glance at Edward. Another silent conversation. I could only cross my arms in a haphazard fashion across my chest this time. I watched as Edward's eyes pleaded with Carlisle and Carlisle only raised an eyebrow at whatever Edward's idea was. I had seen his lips move but I couldn't hear it. "I suppose that would work but I'm not sure what Charlie would think upon it," Carlisle mused. "He'll agree. He has to," Edward stated before giving me a half hearted grin. It was the first attempt at a smile I'd seen since we left the house. "It's as much for his sanity as it is mine," he informed his father. Carlisle smiled at that. "I suppose you are right in that regard," he stated before looking at me. "Rather than admitting you to the hospital, I may be able to simply take you back to our house where I do have the necessary medical equipment for anything that may arise," he informed me. I nearly jumped at the chance. "Really? I wouldn't have to stay here?" I asked excitedly. I could feel the cough building in my lungs but I chose to ignore it. Getting a chance to spend the night over at the Cullens, again, was far better than staying overnight in the hospital. "Yes," Carlisle smiled as he patted my shoulder. "I'll discuss it with your father," he said sympathetically as I started to cough again. "Thanks," I managed to mutter out. Before I knew it, Carlisle had left again, leaving me and Edward in the ER room I hoped I wouldn't have to stay in much longer. Chapter 2
Carlisle had gone off to call Charlie, leaving Edward and me in the ER room. Edward got up again as soon as Carlisle left and took my hand in his. "Do you need anything, love?" he whispered worriedly. I rolled my eyes at him. "It's just a stupid," I started before coughing again. I did manage to get a glare in while Edward smoothed my hair back over my head. The glare didn't last long when I caught a glimpse of pain in his eyes. In a split second, he looked like he was in more pain than I felt. But, too quickly, he hid it. He now just looked concerned. "I really wish there was some way I could alleviate this from you," he whispered as his thumb brushed my cheek. Well there was but I knew better than to bring that up again. Edward would change me after our…wedding. Ugh. At least I'm getting what I want out of the bargain! "I'm just sick," I whispered as I continued to look up at him. I saw a hint of my favorite crooked smile but it was only barely there. The next few minutes went quietly. Edward stayed with me and tried to comfort me as much as he could when I started hacking up a lung. I swear the right one was going to come up and out of my mouth based on all the coughing. I really hated looking this bad in front of him but he kept telling me he didn't want to be anywhere else other than here. Pretty soon, Carlisle came back in, followed by my Dad. "Bella," Charlie shouted at me, still moving Edward out of the way to get to me. Luckily, Edward didn't put up a fight over it. I looked over to Carlisle and glared at him. I told him I didn't want Charlie to know I was in the ER. Now all of Forks would know Bella Swan was in the emergency room, again. Great. Carlisle looked at me apologetically before I turned my head back around to Charlie. "It's just a virus, Dad," I told him truthfully. Charlie looked up to Carlisle for his opinion. "It appears that she may have contracted influenza which, in turn, turned into pneumonia," he explained. I think I saw Edward cringe out of the corner of my eye at the word influenza and I felt sorry for him. There really wasn't any way to get him to understand that the flu now is a lot different that the flu that nearly killed him as he was turned into a vampire all those years ago. I knew he knew this logically but I also knew that he probably couldn't stop associating the two. "I thought you said you just had a cold," Charlie told me, remembering our conversation yesterday. Yesterday, I started coughing early in the morning and my stomach felt queasy but it wasn't anything more than that really. When Charlie asked me if I was coming down with something, I told him it was just a cold. I guess I was wrong.
"I thought it was," I muttered before going into another coughing fit. I tried to cover my mouth and not breathe on Charlie since I didn't want the Police Chief to get sick too! Charlie looked even more helpless than usual. His hands fluttered around me as if he wasn't sure as to whether to brush my hair back or pat me on the back while I coughed. Instead, he brought his hands back to his sides and looked back up at Carlisle with a sigh. "How bad is it?" he asked him. I grimaced and tried to cross my arms again despite the IV. Edward smirked at me. "I would like to admit her to the hospital," Carlisle told Charlie. I quickly turned my attention to Carlisle, praying he'd ask Charlie to let me stay at their house. I did not want to stay in the hospital. Edward got up as Charlie looked a bit more upset at Carlisle's admission. "Bella, love, let me see about getting you some more water," he stated before glancing at Carlisle, giving him a small nod, and then leaving the room. I'm guessing Carlisle asked him to or something in his thoughts based on the exchange. "For how long?" Charlie muttered, clearly worried now. It didn't help much when I started coughing again. "It would be a few days but I do know how Bella…dislikes hospitals," Carlisle smiled easily at the end. Charlie looked at him, clearly curious as to what was going on. If I wasn't going to stay here when I was sick, then where would I stay? "She does require 24 hour care currently as the pneumonia develops and I do not like her high fever associated with this virus," he continued as he explained. Carlisle placed both hands in his long white doctor's coat. "If you would be willing, I can release Bella and take her to my home," he started. When Charlie looked like he was about to argue, Carlisle quickly added, "Esme will be home during the day in which to watch her and I will be there all night. I do have a small medical office at my home that should serve as Bella's room. I promise you that either my wife or I will be with her at all times." Carlisle took a step closer to Charlie as my Dad mulled this over in his head. I knew he didn't want me alone with my fiancé; ignoring the fact we'd be married in a little over a month anyway or that Edward is clearly old fashioned on these sorts of things. Unfortunately, I knew this was the only hurdle in the way of me staying at the Cullens rather than at the hospital and it was a big one for Charlie. "She is ill, Charlie and I simply wish for her to be comfortable. I promise as soon as her fever is managed and her lung capacity begins to return, you may take her home," Carlisle said to him softly. I could tell he was trying to tell Charlie, delicately, that nothing would happen between me and Edward. You think that my Dad might get the clue from me coughing every five seconds during their
conversation but Charlie isn't always logical when it comes to me and Edward. Charlie sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I know Bells here would be happier at you house but you sure you and Esme don't mind keeping an eye on her?" he asked. I tried not to show how excited I was about him letting me stay there. Luckily, the coughing hid any excitement I could have shown pretty well. "Don't want everyone to get sick too," Charlie muttered. Carlisle smiled at that. "Not to worry. I had all the children along with myself and Esme vaccinated against this years strains of the flu," he said sincerely. I tried not to laugh and just ended up choking on my own lungs again. About then, Charlie's walkie talkie beeped about something downtown in regards to a stolen carved bear. My mind couldn't help but think that Emmett might have taken the bear in front of the Newton's store even though I knew he never would steal it. He might offer to buy it for a couple of thousand though… "I've got to go, Bells," Charlie grimaced. He stood up and looked over at Carlisle. "You sure about this?" he asked him. "Bella is always welcome in our home and I know that being in a familiar, comfortable setting will help speed her healing from this virus," Carlisle told him. Anything was better than the hospital! Charlie nodded at that and gave me one last look before heading on to his duties as police chief of tiny Forks. I really hope nothing bad happens to that bear. Edward came back in, smiling and holding a small cup of water. "Thanks," I muttered hoarsely as I took the cup and tried to take a sip. "I want to keep you here until your temperature goes down a bit," Carlisle stated. I grimaced at him. "It should be only a few hours and then either I or Esme will take you to the house," he said gently. Edward sat down next to my knees on the bed, facing me worriedly. I took another sip of water hoping to quite the coughing a bit. It wasn't helping immediately. "I'm also going to give you something to help with the coughing," Carlisle continued. He shot something into my already existing IV. He told me what the stuff was but it was something I couldn't pronounce. He then put a hand on my shoulder. "Just rest, Bella," he said softly. I nodded in response. I'm learning that every time I try to speak, it just comes out as coughing. With that, Carlisle left to go about his rounds I guessed. I looked over at Edward who was holding my right hand in his. "Do you want more blankets? Or anything else to drink?" he asked. It was clear he was worried
but I didn't want Edward to play nursemaid for something as simple as a stupid virus. As much as I loved my fiancé, I hated it when he got too worried. "I'm fine, Edward," I said exasperatedly. He frowned slightly and brushed my hair back again. "I'm just don't like seeing you so ill, love," he whispered to me after a while. "Well, you don't have to stay," I snapped and immediately regretted it. I needed Edward here, I knew that. I also didn't mean it the way that came out. "I'm sorry, Edward," I said in-between coughs. He offered a small smile to show me I was forgiven. "I just don't want you to have to feel like a nursemaid," I told him in one of my brief non-coughing moments. Sipping the water was helping to quiet the coughing a bit. Rather than every five seconds, I was only coughing every seven. This was an improvement! Sort of. "I don't feel like that all, Bella. I simply wish for you to be as comfortable as you possibly can," he told me truthfully. "Get Carlisle to let me out of here now," I mumbled. I hated being in the ER. Edward smirked at that. "I'm afraid I can't do that, but I'm sure he'll let you come back to our house once your temperature drops to a more manageable level," Edward said lightly. I sighed at that and then became curious. I realized that neither Carlisle nor Edward had stated exactly what my temperature was. "How bad is my temperature anyway?" I asked curiously. Edward grimaced. "It's simply high love. Carlisle gave you medication to help," he stated, avoiding the question. "Edward," I warned him. "It read 104," he acquiesced. "Oh," I muttered. I knew that wasn't good and that probably explained why my head felt funny. So whatever this virus was gave me a high temperature, made my joints ache, and worst of all, gave me pneumonia to top it all off. Great. Why couldn't I get this during the school year and get out of class rather than get this during the summer and miss all summer vacation? Okay, so it wasn't like I was doing much more than reading and spending time with the soon to be in laws and I had no doubt that Alice would be dragging bridal magazines into my room while I'm staying over despite the fact I was sick but still…. "Sleep, Bella," Edward whispered.
"I'm not," I started but my coughing interrupted me. "Please, love, try," he stated as he got up. I immediately got scared that he would leave me here alone in the ER room. "Edward!" I said a little too loud. He simply smiled at me. "I'm not leaving. I only wished to get the controller for the bed so you could lower it," he told me, handing me the remote. I looked at it and tried to adjust the bed so I could go to sleep. I wasn't tired but I knew I'd lose any argument against at least attempting to go to sleep. The upper part of the bed lowered and I got it to an angle that I was happy with. I reached for Edward and he let me pull him next to me on the tiny hospital bed. I rested my head on his shoulder, grateful for the coolness, and closed my eyes. The last thing I heard was Edward's voice. "Sleep, love," he whispered and then placed a kiss on my forehead. I think I heard a low murmur of my lullaby coming from his lips as I drifted off to sleep. Chapter 3 My dreams were disjointed and didn't really seem to make any sense. I thought we were at our meadow but rather than grass, there was sand everywhere. It had an odd fluorescence in the night that seemed to go away as the moon came up and over the trees, illuminating the ground. I noticed as the trees turned from the familiar pines to palm trees that were gently dancing in the summer like breeze. I could hear the ocean but I couldn't see it. The rhythmic sounds of the waves hitting upon the shore again and again made me smile. It was the perfect combination of my favorite places; Arizona's heat and lack of green with the sounds of the beach like at La Push. I looked around for Edward, knowing he was nearby, but all I saw was a white house that looked like it was made out of stone. It was done in the style of the ancient Greek temples that I knew from my history books but it was smaller than I thought it would be. I took a couple of steps up to the open doorway to look inside and saw only a pair of glowing gold eyes. "No, Bella," Edward's velvety voice warned me from the doorway. The scenery changed but I didn't really notice. No longer were we at the clearing-changedbeach but now inside a strange white room that looked like a thousand feather boas lined the walls. I could clearly see Edward now, his face anguished. I took another step toward him. "Edward, what's wrong?" I asked him curiously. His eyes had that pained expression that I caught a glimpse of earlier when I was awake and coughing. "I hurt you, Bella. Don't deny it," he told me as he collapsed to his knees, holding
his head in his hands. "No, Edward, please!" I yelled at him and fell in front of him. I moved to put my arms around him but as soon as I opened my arms, it was as if the space around us warped again. The room stretched between us and he was suddenly further away, much to far for me to hold. The room went from being covered in white feather boas to being the familiar Cullen living room. Emmett and Jasper suddenly appeared on the couch. They were sort of in between me and Edward but not really. The brothers looked to be fighting over a keyboard that was attached to the TV-turned-computer in my dream. After a few minutes of shouting between Emmett and Jasper about what I think was medicinal practice in Amazonian folklore, Jasper suddenly got up and disappeared right before my eyes. Even Edward and Emmett looked surprised. "Where'd he go?" Emmett asked, scratching his head. I stood up and Edward was beside Emmett in a flash while Rosalie just appeared beside me like she came out of thin air. "We are all going to die," Edward said sadly to his brother, putting a hand on his shoulder in comfort. Die? Of what? What did Jasper disappearing have to do with dying? Why were we all going to die? "No, Edward. We won't die. We can't," I implored him. I looked down at my hands then and realized I was just as pale as Rosalie. I turned to look at her and saw a mirror instead. In the reflection was a young woman with dark brown wavy hair, waist length, and vampire pale skin but the thing I noticed most was her glowing red eyes. I gasped…and started to cough. I realized quickly that I had woken up and saw that I was still very human in the ER. Edward was next to me and looked concerned, gently moving his hand to my back as I coughed. "Are you alright, Bella?" he asked me. I managed to nod until my coughing stopped. "Yeah," I said as I sat up a bit. "Just a weird dream," I told him truthfully. It wasn't really a nightmare as much as I didn't understand what was going on. In order for it to be scary, I would have had to have been scared about something in the dream but the truth was I was just confused all through it. Even now, I was just confused about it. "What kind of dream?" Edward asked, genuinely curious. I shrugged. "It was just a dream, Edward," I said a bit too shortly. "It didn't really make much sense," I added more softly. It was true, it didn't make any sense unless Jasper really could warp space and just disappear. Of course, then only part of the dream would have made any sense. The rest of it would still be totally weird, like the reason the white room was covered in feather boas. Maybe Esme let Alice
decorate? Edward smiled and kissed me on the forehead before getting up off the bed, but still holding my hand as he stood next to it. I pressed the button to move the bed up so I could lean against it and still be in a sitting position. Once it was up, Carlisle came in. "Ah! Bella, you're awake," he smiled. "Yeah," I croaked followed by some coughing. "Good," he said as he continued to smile at me. He put my chart down and moved to grab the ear thermometer again. Both Edward and Carlisle stopped breathing as they waited for the silly instrument to beep which I found really funny but rather than a laugh, a cough came out. I really hate the whole sick thing, my lungs feel like they are made out of sandpaper now and my throat feels like that sandpaper has been going up and down it a few thousand times. If it's possible to get bruised lungs, then I'm sure mine very much are. Carlisle smiled again when the thermometer beeped. "Although 100 is not ideal by any imagination, it is far better than the reading earlier. I believe it safe for Esme to take you home," he told me lightly. "Esme's coming here?" I asked, looking between Edward and Carlisle. I didn't understand why Edward couldn't just drive me to the house since he brought me here. Why bother Esme from her hobbies to come and pick me up? "I can't very well allow you into the care of someone other than a responsible adult, now can I, Bella?" Carlisle teased causing Edward to smirk. I looked down. Yes, technically Edward was playing the part of an 18 year old but I guess it would look funny if, after Carlisle said he'd watch over me, he just let me walk out with Edward rather than having Esme watch me like he promised. They had to keep up with the façade and I did now too. "She'll be here in a minute to take you to our house. Everything should already be set up," Carlisle said, adding the last part more for Edward's benefit than mine. I did see Edward nod to Carlisle in acknowledgement. "Thanks," I managed to mutter out with only a slight cough. Carlisle squeezed my shoulder in comfort and I offered him a slight smile despite that I did still feel lousy. "Edward? I assume you will be driving Bella's car to back to Charlie's whilst Esme take's Bella home?" Carlisle asked. Edward smirked. It was nice to hear the familiar sound rather than see the worried look on his face. "Whilst?" he teased his dad. I knew now not to laugh
and bit my lip to keep from doing so. Carlisle rolled his eyes and was clearly thinking something directed towards Edward because Edward's crooked grin was threatening to appear on his face. "Really, Carlisle, I don't think anyone has said 'whilst' on this side of the pond since 1812. You probably remember that little war, right?" Edward continued to jab. Carlisle gave the warning look that I think is inherent to all fathers. I know Charlie has gotten good at it since Edward came back. Edward just smirked again before Carlisle turned to me. I couldn't help it and I started to laugh but all that came out was another round of coughing. I really don't like this whole pneumonia thing. During my current round of coughing I heard Esme come in the room saying, "Oh, the poor dear!" and felt her arms around me as soon as I stopped coughing. She didn't even bother saying hello to her son or her husband, she just hugged me and kissed my forehead like Renee use to do when I got sick. It felt good to be in the comfort of a mom's arms. "I'll take you home where you'll be far more comfortable, alright?" she more stated than asked me, kissing me again on the top of my head. Esme kept an arm around me as she turned to her husband. They started to talk quietly, too quietly for me to hear but it was interesting to watch the range of emotions play across Edward's face this time. Whatever his parents were saying, it was making him impatient and aggravated; not that either of those was hard to do. After only a few seconds, Esme squeezed my shoulders and Carlisle looked at me. "Bella, I'm going to discharge you but I'll see you again in a couple of hours," he told me. I nodded followed by a small cough. Esme helped me up so we could go. Carlisle had only disconnected the IV rather than take it out right before Esme came, explaining her might need to give me another IV at home and this was much easier. I agreed. Esme left my side only for a second as Edward and I waited right near the nurses' station for her. She was gone for only a second, presumably to say goodbye to Carlisle, before she took me back to her side. No one said much as we walked out to the silver Volvo out front. I was pretty much glued to Esme's side after I signed the papers but I felt safe there. Although Renee would always and is my mother, Esme has become like that too to me. Somehow, just being near her made me feel better despite the coughs that racked through my body. It really was a good thing that vampires don't get sick because I wouldn't wish this on anyone…well, maybe Lauren. Esme put me in the passenger side and Edward was there in a second, holding on to the door and door frame. "I'll be right behind you, love," he told me before giving me a kiss and gently moving me so I was in the car, with my blanket, all
wrapped up. Edward closed the door and Esme turned on the car to drive out of the hospital parking lot. The only thing impeding our immediate departure from the hospital was a long line of cars. Since when was there a traffic jam in Forks? What was even slightly more disturbing than a traffic jam in Forks was that I recognized almost all the cars and knew who was driving them. I groaned and lowered my head so, hopefully, no one would recognize me considering how bad I probably looked and the fact I was just coming out of the hospital. "Bella, are you alright, sweetheart?" Esme asked, concerned. "Yeah, Esme. It's just the traffic jam," I told her. "Hmm," she mused aloud. "I wonder if we take the side street it might be faster." Soon, Esme pulled back and went to make the left hand turn rather than the right hand turn. The only car behind us was mine, so Edward had easily moved back the second the thought must have crossed Esme's mind. Once we were out on the street, it didn't take long to get to the gravely road that lead up to the house. As soon as I saw the familiar white house, only one thought crossed my mind; home. Chapter 4 I was dazed by the medicine Carlisle had given me. It didn't really make the woozy feeling in my head go away as much as the pain that was all through my body due to the pneumonia was a lot less and I didn't really care about much else. It was almost like being under the influence of Jasper, playing with your emotions, except this was a lot less annoying. Carlisle had also given me something to quiet my cough before I left and I was extremely grateful that that seemed to be working pretty well. Once Esme parked the car, I thought about opening the door but I was comfortable in the cool shadows of the garage and wrapped up in my blanket. It wasn't like I really got a choice in the matter anyway since, before I could even decide to open the door or just sleep there in the passenger seat, the car door opened and I was in someone's arms. I didn't even have to look to know who it was. I knew simply by smell alone. I tried to tell Edward to put me down, that I could walk in under my own power, but a cough came out instead. By the time I finished coughing, it was too late. I found myself inside the familiar open living room being placed on the sofa still all wrapped up in my blanket. Edward kissed me quickly before moving in a flash and sitting back down beside me. Esme walked at a human speed over to me, obviously scolding Edward in her mind, though I didn't know for what. "Would you like some soup or something to drink, sweetheart?" she asked me, wearing her worried mom face as she brushed back my hair. It was a nice,
comforting feeling to have my soon to be Mom in law concerned about me. I know she always was but it was still nice to see it. "No thanks, Esme," I said, yawning. This only cause Esme to look more worried. "You really should at least drink something, Bella," Edward stated while he flipped through the channels on the big screen HDTV. I scowled at him, crossing my arms over my chest underneath the blankets. Edward at least pretended to ignore me and continued to flip through the channels on the TV until he came to a movie. I only turned my head when I realized I recognized the sounds coming out of the TV. Edward had found Speed on the TV and I was immediately enraptured by the movie. I'm glad he found something that I liked but wasn't really funny because, right now, even thinking of laughing was making me cough! "I'll get you some ginger ale, alright, dear?" Esme asked me, gently patting me on the shoulder before leaving the room. By the time she came back, I found my head on Edward's shoulder, snuggling in close to him while I was trying not to cough too loudly during the movie. Another perk to having a vampire boyfriend – besides the fact he can't catch my stupid flu/pneumonia- was that he could still hear the movie over my coughing. "Just sip it for now, sweetheart and if you need anything, just ask," Esme told me seriously as she handed me the glass of ginger ale. I blushed as I reached for it, pushing the blanket aside for the moment. Despite that I knew they loved me, I was still amazed that my vampire family cared so much about me. Even Rosaline had been cordial lately. "Thanks, Esme," I said hoarsely. She looked at me concerned, wringing the small towel she had in her hands . "Maybe you should lay down upstairs for a little bit, Bella," Esme suggested, her bottom lip trembling in thought and worry. "I'm," I started but it was quickly followed by a cough. Before I could argue with what looked like both vampires, Alice came hopping down the stairs smiling. She ran over to me and quickly hugged me tight. "Oh! You really are sick!" she said as she stood back a bit when I coughed again. I was really tempted to say something very sarcastic but I was too sick really to think of any great comebacks. "Yeah," I grumbled and curled up further next to Edward. He squeezed me tighter and looked at his sister. "No, Alice," Edward stated simply to which she rolled her eyes.
"Not right now, Edward. Maybe later though," she mused as she looked up to the ceiling in thought. "What would you do later?" Esme asked her children curiously. I was curious as to what torture Alice had in store for me as well. Alice shrugged and tried to give Esme those oh so innocent eyes. She was very good at those and the fact she came to maybe 5 feet tall didn't exactly hurt matters. "I just want to look over some fabric swatches with Bella. That's all," she stated and I was instantly suspicious. Her idea of "some" was very different from my idea of "some". It's a wonder that Alice never got less than an A in math with her idea of large amounts and small amounts of everything being so different from the rest of the world's ideas on those concepts. "Not too many or for too long, dear. Bella needs her rest this week," Esme told her. "Oh, don't worry, Esme. Bella will be fine in four days seven hours and twenty four minutes!" Alice stated excitedly. Esme did smile at that as did Edward, I just groaned. "What is it?" Edward asked as I buried my head in his shoulder. Esme moved closer again too. "Four days of hacking up my lungs?" I asked. I knew that pneumonia wasn't an easy thing to get rid of but I thought maybe with the medicine that I would have a shorter sentence than this. My chest already felt like it was black and blue from the inside and I didn't even want to think of what it would feel like after three and a half more days of this. Alice rolled her eyes at me but it was Esme that spoke. "Carlisle gave me some medication that should help control your coughing more. I'll give you it in another couple of hours, alright sweetheart?" she asked me. I sighed and re-squished myself to Edward's side. "Thanks, Esme," I told her. I really did love that she was helping to take care of me and that I had a mom around right now. Even if she wasn't Renee, Esme was a mother figure in my life and would be my mom soon enough. She kissed the top of my head again, followed by kissing the top of Edward's head and then Alice's. Alice grinned when she knew she was next and almost looked like she was standing on her tip toes waiting. Esme left the room after that and Alice crashed on the other side of me to watch the movie. A part of me just wanted to see if there was a way to fast forward to the scene where they circle around the airport a few times near the end and blow up the airplane and the bus but I knew I'd want to watch the rest of the movie from the beginning just to remember it all.
It was just at the point where they know the bus can't go below 55 mph and they are trying to get around LA traffic when Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper walked in. I guess they went hunting but I wasn't really sure. "Hey, Bella!" Emmett's booming voice sounded through the living room. I winced at the loud sound and tried to answer with a "Hey" back but only managed to cough again followed by a grimace. Edward squeezed me tight to his side. "Man, you really are sick," Emmett stated as he came around and sat down in one of the chairs nearby. Alice had gotten up from her place by my side and pulled her husband down to the loveseat on the other side of the room that was still in prime viewing location for the TV. Seeing as everyone else was watching the movie, Rose sighed and sat in the chair next to her husband. "No, Emmett. I like trying to cough up my lungs," I grumbled as I buried myself deeper in the to the blankets. Emmett looked over to Edward and I could tell Edward just shook his head slightly but smiled at his brother. I ignored them and went back to watching the movie. It wasn't too long after that that I fell asleep. I don't even really remember closing my eyes as much as I suddenly realized I must be dreaming because all I could hear were the voices of my vampires all murmuring amongst themselves. "So take her upstairs then," was the first thing I realized I could hear. It sounded like Rose. "I'm not sure if we should move her," I heard Alice say. I heard some rustling of fabric and more soft sounds but nothing much more than that until I felt the couch disappear from beneath me. The only reason this didn't scare me was because I was pretty sure I was dreaming and that I also felt two very familiar arms around me. I heard Edward curse, which was something he almost never did, as he picked me up in this dream. His cursing only furthered my belief that I was dreaming. "Edward!" I heard Esme admonish him. "What on earth…?" she started. "It's her fever. I believe it's back," he whispered to his mother. I instantly felt cool hands on my forehead and it felt so nice in my dream that I moved my head so that I could get better access to the coolness I felt. For a moment, I didn't hear anything but I felt the cool hands slip away and be replaced with a gust of wind. In the dream, I wondered if I was going back to the meadow since Edward running always reminded me of the meadow. I was disappointed when I felt a bed replace the cool arms beneath me but at least it was a soft bed and not a hospital bed. I could hear the opening and closing of drawers and clinking of glass but I wasn't sure what those sounds had to do with the dream at all. Again, I felt a cool hand on my forehead and sighed
happily. My head felt funny again right before I fell asleep and I guessed it was just the medicine Carlisle gave me wearing off. "Bella?" I heard Edward say softly. A part of me began to wonder if this was a dream at all given how real everything seemed but I also couldn't find the will whatsoever to respond so it had to be a dream. "Bella, love, your fever is rising again and I need you to wake up to take some medication," he said a bit more sternly. I didn't want to wake up. I was comfortable in the dark but noisy dream I was having. Why would I want to wake up when waking up meant coughing every few seconds? Unfortunately, his voice had gotten me enough into a waking state that I did start to cough and that brought me the rest of the way out of it. I shot up into a sitting position and wasn't really able to get a good look at the room while I was in a coughing fit. I could tell a few others were in the room but I didn't care right then. I felt more than saw Edward push a glass of water into one hand and couple of pill into the other. "Take these," he whispered. I was still too out of it to do much more than comply. I threw the pills into my mouth and quickly gulped down the water. Once I was done, I finally got a chance to look around the room. The first thing I noticed was that someone had rehooked up my IV. I wasn't sure who it was because both Esme and Edward were close by. I briefly recognized the room as being Carlisle's office but the entire place looked more like a hospital ward than a library. The bed I was in was the one from Edward's room. Alice and Jasper were standing near the door when Emmett came bounding back in. "Oh good! She's awake again," Emmett grinned but the smile quickly left his face when he took in everyone else's expressions. I think I even heard Edward groan. As I looked over to him, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that it was pretty dark outside and I wondered how long I had been out. We couldn't have gotten to the house any later than maybe one in the afternoon so for it to be dark already at this time of year, it must be at least eight or so. I was going to ask but my coughing interrupted me. "Eight sixteen," Alice said with only a hint of her normal cheerfulness. "Thanks," I croaked out. I was going to ask what the heck happened because the last thing I remembered was the impossible jump with the bus over the unfinished section of the freeway and both Jasper and Rose commenting on how it couldn't happen given the shocks and type of engine on that bus, not to mention the mathematical problems with the jump. I think it was the mention of math that made me fall asleep. Right then, Carlisle came in with his doctor's bag, looking very serious. His eyes
looked over his children and I could see his lips move but I didn't hear what he was saying. All I knew was that Jasper escorted Alice out of the room with a nod to me and Emmett hung his head, mumbling a "Bye, Bella" as he left too. Carlisle smiled at me when he came over and placed his bag on a side table I hadn't realized was there. Rather than asking me anything, I just suddenly heard Edward's voice. "Yes, hopefully it will take affect soon," he said. I crossed my arms and huffed, hating these one way conversations. It didn't help at all that I couldn't even hear about half the conversations in the house to begin with. Esme gently took one of my hands and squeezed it. "Bella?" Carlisle asked me, gaining my attention immediately. "I'm going to try and give you a stronger medication but I need you to tell me if you have any side effects from it immediately," he informed me. I already knew every single side effect that any medication could have since I've spent most of my life either going into an ER or coming out of one given my inability to walk in anything close to a graceful manner. Carlisle was already well aware of that fact since I had become one of his favorite patients over the past couple of years. "Umm, okay," I stated not really entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I looked away the second Carlisle pulled out a needle. I knew he was just going to put it directly into the IV but even with that I couldn't look. Instead I looked over to where Edward and Esme were standing which made me feel a lot better, knowing they were close by too. I only looked back when I felt the new, strange medication snake it's way through my system. My arm felt cold as the liquid began to move through it. I looked at Carlisle questioningly but he didn't answer other than to tell me to rest. Within a few more minutes, I was out again like a light. I really hate this whole sick thing. Chapter 5 I fought waking up because waking up meant coughing again and I hated coughing right now. I could feel a cool hand slip from my right and that forced my eyes open. Blinking, I looked around and started to sit up, feeling a cool hand at my back to help me and a glass of water being pushed into my hands. "Thanks," I muttered to Edward as I took a sip. He handed me some pills wordlessly and I read what they were only to find out it was Tylenol and the cough suppressant Carlisle prescribed me. I took them quickly and looked around the room. I was still in Edward's bed that was now in the middle of Carlisle's office which had been transformed from an office into a hospital room which I didn't like. At all. Next to me on the bed was a big brown teddy bear with a blue satin ribbon around its neck. It looked new but there wasn't a tag on it to tell me who it was from. I looked to Edward to ask and he smiled before I could open my mouth to say anything.
"It's from Emmett," he informed me before sliding next to me on the bed. He wrapped his arms around me and I instantly felt safe. "He thought it might make you feel better," Edward mentioned off-handedly. "That was nice," I managed to say but my voice sounded all wrong to my ears; it was far too hoarse. I went to pick up the bear and smiled at the thought that Emmett brought this for me to make me feel better. He must have seen hundreds of times people bring stuffed animals and flowers into the hospital when people were sick. I hugged the teddy bear tight after a moment making Edward chuckle lightly. "He'll be happy to know that you like it," he told me, kissing me gently on the head. I started to lean against Edward when the first of the many coughing attacks happened. My lungs instantly felt like sandpaper again and I groaned the second the stupid cough was over with. Edward looked at me, concerned. "Esme is making you chicken soup. It should be done in a half hour or so," he told me as he gently pulled be back to his side. "A half hour? She isn't making it from scratch, is she?" I asked. I knew if I was staying here they'd have to feed me but I didn't want them to go through too much trouble. Campbell's chicken noodle in the microwave was good enough for me. "If you mean from scratch as in using a recipe, then yes," Edward stated with a smile. I groaned. "She doesn't have to do that," I mumbled and moved my head to Edward's shoulder. "She knows, but she wants to Bella," he whispered before looking towards the door. A half second later, Emmett came bounding in, smiling. "Alright! Do like the bear?" he grinned as I still had one arm around the stuffed animal. I managed a small smile. "Yes, thank you, Emmett," I told him sincerely. Emmett's grin only grew wider. "She hugged it when she woke up and saw it," Edward told him to which I immediately answered with an elbow to his stomach. Of course, that hurt me a lot more than it would ever hurt him but it made me feel better. Rather than tease me about it though, Emmett's reaction was one of wide eyed surprise. "Really?" he asked hopefully. He came closer and spoke before I could answer, "Did you name him yet?" I raised an eyebrow at that one. "How do you know it is a him?" I asked Emmett.
This got followed by a cough which forced the smile momentarily from Emmett's face. I think I saw him turn to Edward for a second but I was too busy trying to keep my lungs in my chest to really notice much of anything. Once I stopped, Emmett's grin returned. "Because he was the only one not wearing a skirt or a hat in the store!" Emmett answered. Edward chuckled next to me before looking up at his brother. "And I suppose the pink and purple bears were also female?" Edward asked him, a teasing glint dancing in his eyes. Emmett hung his head sadly and shook it. "No, they were victims of unfortunate accidents," Emmett answered. Edward burst out laughing at that and I couldn't help but feel I was missing some important piece of information. It didn't help that Edward could just pick up what ever Emmett was thinking and I couldn't so Edward saw the store just as clearly as Emmett had. "Alice," Edward said as if her name was any explanation for their reactions. I was completely confused. "A few decades ago, Alice attempted to see the different adhesive qualities of various dyes to an assortment of materials," Edward tried to explain. I could see Alice playing with dyes but I didn't quite get how that transferred into unfortunate accidents. "She was playing with fabric dye and using our clothing to test it," Emmett grumbled and crossed his arms. It was kind of cute to see the vampire I thought of as my big brother look so disgruntled. "Why she didn't just look to see how it would turn out if she tried it instead of destroying my favorite shirt," Emmett continued to grumble. "I believe all of our wardrobes were impacted," Edward responded to his brother before turning back to me. "She claimed it was an honest mistake but I believe she truly wished to update us from last seasons clothing choices and thought that would be the most acceptable way," Edward continued to explain. "She could have left my shirt out of it. Even in the 80's, that shade of pink wasn't exactly considered masculine!" Emmett huffed. "Oh stop it you two. That was nearly thirty years ago and it's not like either of you would be caught in those styles anymore outside of Halloween," Alice stated as she danced into the room. She smiled at me at first but it was followed by a frown when I coughed. "Doesn't mean I have to like it just because it was a while ago," Emmett continued to grumble. Alice rolled her eyes at him and I tried not to laugh but failed. Unfortunately, it just started the coughing again. All three vampires looked
at me worriedly and I tried to wave off their concerns with my hand that wasn't covering my mouth as I coughed. Once I stopped, it was Emmett who first recovered his smile and stopped looking worried. "So, did you name him?" Emmett asked again. I shook my head. "No," I croaked out and grimaced at the hoarseness of my voice. I sound like I swallowed a toad. Edward handed me the water glass again and I gratefully took a sip. All three vampires looked like statues while I took the glass. I sighed after drinking down the last of the water. "I'm fine, really," I told them. Edward groaned at my response. Alice looked at me quizzingly. "No you aren't, Bella. You are sick and we haven't really had anyone in family get sick ever," Alice told me before flashing that adorable doe eye expression that was so heart wrenching to look at that she knew I'd say anything to appease her. "So let us take care of you, please, Bella?" she said too sweetly. "Aww, Alice," I grumbled. I buried my head in Edward's shoulder to avoid looking at that expression. It was too painfully cute! "Please, Bella?" I heard her followed by light laughter from Emmett. "Fine," I mumbled, knowing I'd regret it. I had a feeling they were going to do everything they thought I could possibly want while I was sick and I really hated it when they went out of their way for me. I was just some insignificant human in a house full of vampires. I knew better than that logically, of course, but that was still nagging at me in the back of my brain. Luckily, that nagging voice was getting smaller each day Edward was with me and barely existed since I agreed to marry him. Ugh. I still can't believe he convinced me to marry him before I turn 30 if though I won't look 30 when I reach it. "Yea!" Alice clapped and I looked over to her. "You can either do this the easy way or the hard way, Bella. Either way, you know," she started but I cut her off. "Yeah, I know," I grumbled and crossed my arms. It was no fun having a Alice see everything and be able to get her way by knowing exactly what to do before anything actually happened. It made it even less fun because I was feeling miserable despite the medication. I knew I'd feel even worse without it but pneumonia was not like the chicken pox where you just sat around and tried not to itch. Coughing until your throat was raw was far more annoying. "Hey! Want to play a game, Bella?" Emmett asked. "What kind of game?" I asked curiously. Edward didn't immediately nix Emmett's idea so it couldn't be that bad. "We've got monopoly and a few dozen packs of cards around," Emmett offered. It
was a long time since I'd played monopoly but it seemed far less likely of a game that anyone could cheat at. I wondered if it was one of the games that Edward and Alice were allowed to play too. "Sure, but can we play downstairs? I don't like it up here," I asked. "Why not? What's wrong?" Edward replied with his own questions immediately. "It looks and smells too much like a hospital," I grumbled to which Edward smiled. Emmett laughed loudly and Alice simply grinned. Edward quickly stood and swung me into his arms before I had a chance to realize what was going on. "We'll move downstairs then," Edward told me as he moved to carry me down with the teddy bear still in my arms. Alice grabbed my IV poll. "I'll go get the games!" Emmett told all of us excitedly as he ran out of the room in a blink of an eye. Edward smirked but continued to carry me down the stairs. Once down the stairs, I saw Emmett and Rose already setting up a game table with an old but still pristine looking version of Monopoly. They had the table pushed up against the sofa where Edward was carrying me. Carefully, he placed me down on the sofa and quickly moved to the other side of me to sit down. Emmett just looked at Edward. "You can't play," he told Edward seriously to which Edward simply smiled. "Of course not. But I am not leaving Bella," Edward stated. "And you really aren't playing," Emmett said to Alice who had just finished making sure my IV pole was alright before grabbing a seat. "I promise I won't cheat," Alice stated to which Emmett gave a dubious expression. Alice held up her hand with her pinkie finger crocked. "Pinkie Swear!" she told him. Emmett looked at her quizzingly for a second and then took her tiny pinkie with his large one. "Fine, but if you cheat, you have to forgo shopping for a month," Emmett said seriously. Alice nodded just as seriously. "That includes online shopping, Alice," Edward added to which Alice grimaced. "I won't cheat," she sighed apathetically. Emmett looked to Edward and I watched as Edward nodded once before everyone's attention was turned back to the game board and playing pieces that were all laid out on the table. Suddenly, Jasper came flying down the stairs and took a chair across from me, inbetween Alice and Rosalie. "I call cannon!" he stated, grinning.
"I want to be the banker," Rose announced as she carefully started counting out the piles of money for everyone. "Okay, but I get the car," Alice told her to which they both nodded in agreement. Emmett looked over the remaining pieces quietly, holding his chin in thought before looking back up at me. "Which piece do you want, Bella?" he asked me. I looked at them and honestly didn't care. "I guess the boot?" I more asked than said. Emmett happily handed it over and took the train for his own piece. Rosalie rolled her eyes and took the thimble. "Now, the question is, should we play by the original rules, the new rules, or our rules," Alice asked happily. "Our rules!" Emmett grinned as he slammed his fists to the table a bit too roughly. Rose reached over and hit him upside the head without even looking up from the money. "Hey! Oh…sorry," Emmett replied sheepishly before sitting back down. Alice rolled her eyes. "I say our rules," Alice smiled. "What exactly are those?" I asked cautiously, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I'd seen vampire baseball, vampire football, and vampire wrestling thanks to a fight Emmett and Jasper got into a few days ago so now I was worried about vampire Monopoly. Unfortunately, my vampires were starting to forget that I, the human, couldn't always keep up with them yet. "It's simple. There are no auctions, you land on free parking and you get everything in the middle of the board, and you cannot build houses on any properties until you have all the properties of that color," Rose replied before handing out the cash. I coughed but managed to hold back most of the coughing this time so it didn't sound like my lungs were going to come up through my mouth. Edward gave me a look but I ignored him. "There's also the dice rules," Alice told Rosalie. Rose sighed and Emmett looked from his wife to me with one of those confused expressions he gets when he doesn't want to side against her but he doesn't want to side with her either. Jasper smiled and explained. "The first time around the board, everyone only uses one of the dice so there aren't any doubles. Once you past go the first time, rather than the $200, you get both dice plus $400. If you get doubles, you can either take the full amount of places or you can bank those and use them in the future when you are short a space or two. But you can't keep banking the doubles continually. You simply can use them as a free pass," Jasper told me. I think I got it but I wasn't entirely sure.
"So if you roll a 12 but only take six and then roll a three but need two more, you can take those two steps but can't ever use the other four?" I asked for clarification followed by a cough. "Exactly!" Emmett told me. "They're forfeit," Alice agreed. This didn't sound too bad. I was pretty sure I could play with those rules. Boy was I wrong. Well, not wrong, exactly, as much as vampire Monopoly was completely insane with my vampires. The first round was easy enough but once everyone had at least one property, the real game began. Money for rent was flying like crazy and they were coming up with "business transactions" during the game which further complicated the rules. Like when Rose landed on one of Jasper's properties, Tennessee Avenue, she offered to give him 15% off rent on any of her properties for the entire next round if he gave her the base rent rather than the rent with the house he had on it. He had gotten all the colors through another business transaction with Alice in which they traded title deeds. I don't think I could have kept up with all the math needed for what should have been a simple game of Monopoly if not for Edward. There were simply too many fractions and multiplications to really keep up even if I wasn't sick! "If you believe this is bad, you should see them play Risk," Edward whispered to me. Emmett pretended to shiver at that. "We are never playing Risk again. Not after last time," Emmett stated solemnly. "Never forget the South Pacific!" Jasper shouted with a grin on his face. Both of the girls just groaned in response. I guess it was a pretty interesting game to have seen and it's too bad they didn't play it anymore from the sounds of it. I'd like to see that. It was my turn to roll and I was extremely thankful that vampires don't get sick because I was back to coughing at least twice a minute. I got a five but I only needed two more spaces for Boardwalk. I smiled since, earlier, I had banked the four I rolled and had exactly two spaces to use. I heard Rose say something that sounded vaguely like a curse when I got to Boardwalk since I already had Park Place too. Now, I could have some fun. Well, I could have if that wasn't the last property. As soon as the "Congratulations, Bella" rung out, Esme came in to the living room with what I guessed was a bowl of soup. I hugged the bear close, curious as to what the soup might taste like since I'm the only one in the house that has eaten food in the past 80 or so years. Chapter 6 Emmett wrinkled his nose. "What is that?" he asked as he stood to fold up the card table. In the second I had looked away, the game had disappeared and I could see Rose on the far end of the room placing it back in a closet. Jasper and Alice had already moved to a chair nearby, with Jasper in control of the remote.
"It's chicken soup and leave the table for Bella, please," Esme told her son. Emmett did as requested but kept his place, looking at the steaming soup bowl as Esme set it down in front of me. I felt Edward's arms around my shoulders and had the bear in my arms. I coughed lightly as Esme handed me a spoon so I could attempt to eat the soup. My stomach wasn't as queasy as before but with six curious pairs of golden eyes on you, it didn't really help the situation. "Thanks, Esme," I told my vampire mother as I looked at the soup and took the spoon. "Of course, sweetheart. If it needs anything, please tell me," she told me. I heard Edward chuckle lightly by my side and saw the slight shake of his head even though I don't think I was supposed to. I looked at him for a second, coughed, and went back to looking at the soup. "Are you really going to eat that, Bella?" Emmett asked incredulously. "No, Emmett. I'm going to stare at it until it gets old and grows legs. Then you can eat it," I grumbled at him. Jasper laughed at that one and I think I even saw Rose crack a smile but she hid it quickly. I picked up the spoon tentatively, knowing there were six pairs of eyes on me although only three were actively watching me. I placed the spoon in the chicken soup and pulled a spoonful of vegetables and broth to my lips. It was hot so I blew on it before eating it. The soup ran hot but not too hot down my throat. The vegetables were soft from being boiled, just the way I like them. They tasted fresh and I wondered if they were from Esme's garden. The soup was delicious, with just the right amount of seasonings in it. It tasted more like something you'd expect from a fancy restaurant than from a home kitchen; particularly a vampire's home kitchen. "It's perfect, Esme!" I told her with additional coughing afterwards. She tried very hard not to look worried but failed at it at first. My guess was that Jasper was playing with her emotions based on how she stole a glance at him before smiling at me. "I'm so happy you like it, sweetheart. I'll save the rest for later," she told me before heading back into the kitchen. Edward placed a kiss on my head as I leaned over to continue eating the soup. Everyone except Emmett looked to be watching the TV – NCIS was on. Emmett kept wrinkling his nose at the soup, watching me, and then looking at the bear thoughtfully. It was kind of funny to watch his expression change every three seconds. Jasper hit him in the small of the back from where he was sitting causing Emmett to jump a bit. "Hey!" Emmett shouted at Jasper. Jasper just raised an eyebrow at him and Edward laughed at both of them.
"Oh, sorry," Emmett mumbled before turning back around to me. I think I heard Rose sigh from the other side of the room but I really wasn't paying that much attention. Instead, I continued to eat my soup while Emmett watched and I could hear Edward chuckling beside me, trying very hard not to go into full blown laughter. "What is it Emmett?" I asked, exasperated since Jasper could feel whatever Emmett was feeling and Edward could hear whatever Emmett was thinking and all I was was the poor sick little human who Emmett thought was his own personal comedy channel. Alice started giggling since she probably saw whatever Emmett was going to say. "How can you eat that?" he asked, wrinkling his nose again. I tried my best to glare at him, hugging the teddy bear he gave me tight, but it came out as a pout instead. At least Edward growled at him for me while squeezing my shoulder with his arm. Emmett just rolled his eyes at his brother. "I mean it smells like a dead, burnt, animal," he stated. At this, I rolled my eyes and coughed at the same time, which wasn't exactly the most brilliant move. It made my eyeballs hurt. "It is a dead cooked animal," I told him, emphasizing the cooked part. "Besides," I started as I picked the spoon back up, "You really shouldn't say that about Esme's cooking. She's a great cook." The expression on Emmett's face for that alone was priceless. He couldn't decide if he should say something or not because he knew no matter what he said, he'd get in trouble. At this point, even Rose looked at him, waiting to slap him upside the head I guessed by her stance. Edward kept a perfectly neutral smile on his face but I knew he was trying hard not to laugh. Grumbling way too low for me to hear but loud enough for Rose to hit him, Emmett went and sat down on the other end of the sofa. I managed to finish half the soup bowl in peace, sort of, as we all watched NCIS. Alice and Rose were trying to figure out where each of the pieces of designer clothing came from and who was wearing what through out the episode. Jasper was explaining why the shootings were unreal while Edward explained getting from Washington DC to Norfolk VA in two hours during rush hour was perfectly impossible for a human. Emmett was with me in telling the rest of them to be quiet. He was a bit louder than I could be about it though. I slowly realized, when Esme came in, kissed my forehead and took the soup bowl away, that I was curled up into Edward's side, hugging the teddy bear still. I didn't really care if I looked pathetic right now since I was with my vampire family and I was sick. Looking good was going to be impossible anyway given the first account and the second part wasn't helping any. Esme came right back out with
more water and medication for me to take. "Thanks, Esme," I said as I took the pills from her. I sat up and managed to swallow the medication down with the glass of water. I was starting to feel tired again but I really didn't want to sleep. I wanted to listen to stories, watch TV, hear Alice complain about the costuming in the show, watch as Emmett and either Jasper or Edward played against him on the latest video game; I wanted to spend time with my family. The only problem was I was still coughing – not as much but it wasn't good either- and I knew that I should sleep if I ever wanted this stupid cough to go away. It was right about then that Edward stiffened and Alice had that blank look on her face. Everyone else in the room froze and looked the two of them. It became so quiet, other than the sounds of the TV, that Esme immediately came in to see if there was a problem. I quickly checked my IV and made sure there wasn't any blood which was easily confirmed. It was something with one of Alice's visions. Alice came out of it only five seconds later and smiled at me. "Charlie will be here in fifteen minutes," she told me. I groaned. Dad was probably just now getting off of work which meant he decided to come straight here rather than going home. This meant he'd still have his gun –not that bullets did much against vampiresand be in full police chief mode rather than just Charlie. "Oh! Maybe I should make some tea," Esme stated before heading back to the kitchen. She almost looked happy about this revelation. I wasn't. Charlie didn't doesn't do well around me when I'm sick, pretty much because he doesn't know quite what to do, and there was the added fact that I didn't want to get him sick. Seven vampires were fine around me unless I really was a super danger magnet and managed to attract the only virus in the world that could harm both humans and vampires. I was pretty sure that was low on the list of possibilities but I kept it in the back of my mind given the events over the last couple of years. What I was most worried about was being responsible for getting the Police Chief sick. Jasper raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head and coughed before explaining since I knew Edward was curious too. "I don't want Charlie to get sick," I explained. "Don't worry, Bella. He won't get sick too," Alice chimed in smiling before cocking her head to the side and tapping her chin. "Hmm," she said aloud in thought while Jasper looked at her curiously. "Good point," Edward nodded to her before looking at everyone else. "Although Carlisle has already explained about any possibility of infection by the way of flu shots, it may bring up less questions if everyone disperses while Charlie is here," he informed the group.
"Aw man," Emmett grumbled but Rose just took his hand and they headed out back. Although everyone's eyes were perfect honey-yellows while I was here, I knew that a bit of over feeding wouldn't hurt them. Of course, that's assuming why they went outside. Alice grabbed Jasper's and skipped over to me. "I'll keep an eye out," she more told Edward than me but kissed me on the cheek. I felt calm as Jasper passed by and whispered my thanks to him as they both headed up the stairs. "You aren't leaving, are you?" I croaked out, new worries coming to the surface now that Jasper was out of the room to calm them. Edward gave me my favorite crooked smile before leaning down to kiss my forehead. "No," he whispered into my hair. "I'm not leaving you," he said softly as he held me tight against him. I relaxed instantly at the feeling of Edward's lips on my skin, even if it was just my forehead. Esme came in and beamed a smile at both Edward and myself. She handed me a glass of iced tea. "Do you mind tasting it, dear? I want to make sure it isn't too sweet," Esme said with worried eyes. "Sure, Esme," I coughed as I sat up again. I missed the contact I had of being tucked up beneath Edward's chin but I also knew none of us wanted Charlie to suspect anything. I briefly wondered what I would do, say, explain to Charlie when I got changed in a few months and I really wasn't sure. I knew I still wanted him in my life but would I ever be able to see him again? I could talk to him via the telephone, sure and email him and mom all I liked but would I ever get to the point where I could see him face to face? I wasn't too sure. Instead of thinking on that, I focused on the task at hand; which was, for now, making sure the iced tea tasted like iced tea before Charlie came over. I took a sip and it was a bit bitter, like there wasn't enough sugar in it. I could tell it was Lipton's tea though by the taste. Renee loved making sun tea using Lipton's when I was little and I remembered watching the water slowly turn into deep brown ribbons as the sun hit the glass jar. "I think it needs a bit more sugar," I choked as I handed the glass back to her. "Oh dear," Esme stated looking extremely worried. I realized she probably thought I was choking on the tea and not because I was coughing and drinking at the same time. "It's just the stupid pneumonia," I grumbled and crossed my arms back around the teddy bear. "I think another couple of table spoons of sugar, and the tea will be fine," I told her truthfully. Esme nodded but still looked at me worried as she held the iced tea glass in her hands. She looked over to Edward after a few seconds and he shook his head but smiled slightly before Esme quickly turned
and went back to the kitchen. It was only a minute later that we heard a knock at the door. Edward got up, kissing me on the cheek, as he whispered, "Stay here." I sat there, holding the teddy bear and watching Law & Order now – I think Jasper must have put it on the USA channel- waiting for Charlie to come in. I barely caught Esme running up behind him before Edward opened the door. "Charlie! Please, come in," Esme told him. All I could hear was the shuffling of feet as I prepared to try and not get Charlie sick too. Chapter 7 "Esme," my dad greeted my future mother-in-law as he scuffled into the living room. I stayed hidden in the blankets and cushions of the couch despite wanting to turn my head to watch as Charlie came inside the Cullen's house. "Edward," he said in a slightly less polite tone. "Charlie, please come in. Would you like anything to drink? I just made up some iced tea," Esme told him. Even from my vantage point, I knew that the look she was probably giving him would be impossible to ignore. "Um, yeah. Uh, please?" I heard Charlie stutter. I suppressed a laugh given that Esme was probably inadvertently dazzling him with her "Mom" like looks. Well, that and Charlie never was what you would call a conversationalist. "Of course, Charlie," Esme stated. "Would you show Charlie where Bella is, Edward dear?" she asked him. "Yes, Mom," Edward told her and I could practically see the crooked smile in my mind with Esme answering smile and her eyes all lit up simply because Edward called her mom. I heard the shuffling of feet, Dad, and watched as both Charlie and Edward came into my view from the corner of the couch. The first thing I saw was Charlie's worried face. "Hi, Dad," I croaked followed by a small cough that only lead into a bigger one. I grimaced since I was trying not to cough so I wouldn't accidentally get Charlie sick too. Getting the police chief of Forks sick would be news and it would be my fault. "Bella? Honey? Are you feeling any better?" he asked worriedly as he came to sit down next to me on the couch. I just nodded. "Um, yeah. Esme's been making sure I get the," I let out a small cough then, but made sure it wasn't in the direction of Charlie, "medicine Carlisle prescribed." The last part barely came out above a whisper and I saw Charlie's face grimace in response. I knew he'd think to take me home and actually take off of work. He would get sick then and that was exactly what I didn't want. At least around my
vampire family, I knew they couldn't catch pneumonia no matter how hard they tried. "I'm fine, Dad. Really," I tried to placate him. I saw him glance back at Edward who was standing nearby. Esme had probably gone to the kitchen and was figuring out what would be human speed to get iced tea for Charlie. My Dad just looked at me with a mixture of worry and chagrin on his face. It didn't help that I started to cough again. "Maybe I should take you home," He said, looking at me. I really couldn't believe that. He'd be gone most of the day so he'd think I was alone all day, in that small house, rather than have at least Esme around me in case something happens. Plus, Carlisle was a doctor which meant I had all the benefits of a hospital with all the comforts of home…and being around my vampire family was simply an added bonus. Having my vampire fiancé around well, I doubted there was a way Charlie could tear Edward away from me no matter where I was. "Dad, no, I," I started only to go into another coughing fit. I turned my head away from my Dad, hoping he wouldn't get sick too. He gently patted my back, clearly worried. I could see Edward from the corner of my eye looking almost distraught as I coughed again. Once I finally stopped coughing, I saw Esme standing nearby and hand Charlie the glass of iced tea. She gave me another glass of water. I looked up and could feel three pairs of worried eyes on me. "Thanks," I managed to mutter to Esme as I gratefully took the glass of water. "Charlie, we love having Bella here and it comforts me that we can help out," Esme started, pulling out the full "mom" charm. "I hate the idea of her being in that hospital even if Carlisle is there to see her for part of the day," she continued. I grimaced and hugged the teddy bear closer at the mention of the hospital. I did NOT want to go back. I saw Edward smirk and I glared at him which probably came out as more of a pout. "At least here, Carlisle has set up his office with most everything Bella could need while she is sick," Esme continued. I looked up to Charlie's face, seeing that he was deep in thought. I know he wanted to help take care of me but he'd bee gone for nearly twelve hours of the day. Yes, I'd have Edward there but Charlie didn't know that. Plus, there was that whole "Carlisle only let me out of the hospital to come here so he could take care of me here" thing. I'm pretty sure, despite what Charlie thinks, Carlisle would say it was here –with the vampires- or the hospital; with the far more terrifying prospect of antibiotic sprays, odd beeping noises, old people snoring, and highly uncomfortable beds. "Please, Dad. I don't want to go back to the hospital," I pleaded with him. Only a small cough escaped this time as I hugged the teddy bear tight. I saw Charlie
give in after looking at me and then looking at Esme. "You sure she's not any trouble? I don't want her to be a burden or getting everyone sick," Charlie asked Esme. My vampire mom's face broke out in a huge smile as she knew what Charlie's decision pretty much was. "Of course not, Charlie! I already think of Bella is one of my own children. It would worry me more not have her here and over in the hospital. I doubt that any of us will get the flu as well given the flu shots," she stated easily. Charlie rubbed his hand through his hair. "Umm, yeah," he muttered. It was then that Edward moved closer and knelt beside me, easily taking one of my hands into his own. "The rest of my siblings are keeping their distance to further prevent anyone else from getting the flu. Although, I doubt in anyone else it would turn into pneumonia," Edward said, a clear smirk in his voice at the last part of his sentence. I glared at him, withdrew my hand, and went back to hugging my teddy bear that Emmett got me. I didn't dare look at Edward after that knowing how hurt he'd be. I saw as my dad sighed and looked from me to Esme – giving a warning glance at Edward in between- before speaking again. "I know she's better off here were you are Carlisle are around all the time. I just don't want you to feel obligated.." Charlie started but Esme cut him off. "She'll be my daughter too, soon enough, Charlie. If you'd rather have her at your house though," Esme stated sadly, looking away from Charlie. I know if she was human, she'd be crying. I looked back up at my dad. "Please, Charlie," I managed to squeak out without coughing. He sighed again. "Alright, Bells. But don't you go making a pest of yourself. Don't want the whole getting sick because of you," he told me sternly but I smiled in response. Somehow, my hand had found Edward's again which he was squeezing gently. "She's never a bother, Charlie. Both you and Bella are always welcome to come over," Esme told me happily. "Even when she isn't in need of twenty four hour care," Edward quipped to which I shot him another glare. Esme did as well but neither seemed to phase him. I humphed which only set out another round of coughing. Charlie had already stood up at this point and just watched me helplessly. Edward was still kneeling in front of me and half held me as I coughed. "Uh, you don't want to get sick there, Edward," Charlie told him.
Edward looked at him sharply. So much so, that I was scared they'd start to fight. "I'm not leaving her," Edward said in such a tone that Charlie just looked at him in shock. Esme quickly fluttered to stand in-between Charlie and Edward. "Either Carlisle or I are with her at all times as well, Charlie," Esme said quickly before glancing at her son and then back to Charlie. I swear I saw Edward's lips move to which I would ask more about later. "We did try to pry our son away but he is just as worried as the rest of us are. I'm sure he doesn't mean anything by his tone," Esme said, giving the mother look to Edward. Edward immediately looked the picture of remorse. "My apologies, Charlie. Mom is correct. I simply don't like seeing Bella like this," Edward told him mournfully. I grumbled but otherwise stayed quiet. Charlie seemed to accept Edward's apology. He was about to say something else when his walkie talkie went off again. This time I understood that someone had placed a coffin out in front of the Newton's shop with…claw marks and duct tape? It sounded off, very off and for some reason my brain could only notice that Emmett and Rose had run off outside. Charlie sighed before turning again to Esme. "Sorry, Esme. Thanks for your help," he told her and then turned to look at me. "I'll be back by later, Bella. Mind Esme and Carlisle," he told me. I nodded, still wrapped up in my blankets. "I will," I mumbled and then coughed again. My throat was so raw that all I could do is groan and try not to whimper due to the amount of pain my throat was in. I felt horrible but I didn't want my Dad, my vampire Mom, or my fiancé to know exactly how bad it was. After all, it's not like knowing that I now had sandpaper for lungs would exactly help anything. Charlie nodded to me and then to Esme. Edward stayed the perfect picture of remorse, probably reading what he could of Charlie's mind. He already told me that he could only get ideas from Charlie's head, not fully formed thoughts. As Dad turned to leave, Esme walking him to the door, Esme spoke up again. "Charlie, I know Bella would love it if you came over after you investigate the incident downtown. We were about to eat dinner when Carlisle comes home but I hope you don't mind if I save some for you," she said looking hopeful. Edward had slid back up next to me and I saw a small hint of a smile on his face as Esme spoke. I gently elbowed him, knowing it would hurt me and not hit if I did anything like that harder. "Remorseful, remember?" I teased under my breath so Charlie wouldn't hear. Edward looked at me with the perfect mask of remorse but I could see in his eyes that he was desperately trying not to laug Charlie ran his hand through his hair again in thought. "Uh, thanks, Esme. I'd like
to come back and check in on Bells," he stated. I could practically hear the smile in Esme's voice when she spoke next while opening the door for Charlie. I couldn't see them anymore since both had moved around the couch to the door. "Of course! Please, come back by. I know how much better it will make Bella feel to have you here as well," Esme stated. "Well, umm, thanks," Charlie stated. I didn't have to see him to know that he was blushing. Edward tried not to chuckle but let his crooked grin spill across his face. "So that's where you get it from," Edward teased me, gently moving his hand so that he could brush his thumb against my cheekbone. Knowing my dad and Esme were in the same room is what caused me to blush this time. I grumbled at him and he chuckled lightly as Charlie left and Esme closed the door. I tried to bend my head around so I could see Esme. Edward got up and stood to look at her. "Dinner, really? Should we put plates out?" Edward lightly teased his mother. Esme took the tea towel she'd had in her apron pocket the entire time and whipped it at him. This only caused Edward to smile more. "You should be grounded for that tone to Charlie," she quickly reminded him. Edward immediately looked down and looked remorseful again. At this point Alice suddenly appeared, well, around me, hugging me tight. I think I heard Jasper smirking nearby. "Hi, Alice," I choked out. She immediately let go and I started into one of my coughing fits. I felt Edward's hand around mine which I squeezed tightly until the coughing fit passed this time. "Bella, sweetheart, why don't you try these?" Esme stated, suddenly beside me hold a bag of cough drops. I groaned. Cough drops tasted disgusting as far as I was concerned. Who wanted menthol and cherry tastes together in their mouth? "No, thank you, Esme," I told her. She looked at me worried while the other vampires looked at me curious for a second. "They might help," Esme told me encouragingly. It was hard to tell her no when she looked like that. She looked like you would devastate her is you dared to say no. I thought about how to tell her no and quickly realized that none of them have probably had modern cough drops. Even if they had, they didn't remember the taste. Cough drops probably taste the same as rock candy to them right now so no vampire would be able to discern the difference. "It's just that they taste bad," I told her truthfully. Alice started to giggle while the two boys just laughed. Esme's face looked deep in thought and confusion. I
sighed and decided to explain. "It tastes like medication with sort of a sickening cherry flavor mixed in and you have to keep it in your mouth in order for it to work right," I told her, scrunching up my nose. Just remembering the taste of cough drops was bad enough. Instead of saying anything, all four vampires looked towards the driveway. Esme broke out into a smile and put the cough drops down on the end table near me, kissed me on the forehead, and then went outside. Edward pulled me close. "Don't worry, none of those vile cough drops for you, love," he teased me. I humphed but leaned against him. Alice picked up one of the cough drops and inspected it in the light, turning the small object this way and that. She unwrapped it to get a better look at it and wrinkled her nose at the smell. I had to smile slightly triumphantly at that. Edward squeezed my shoulders. "It sounds like Carlisle might have brought you something better than cough drops," he told me and, instantly, I was worried. Chapter 8 My mind was filled with worry the second Edward mentioned that Carlisle brought me something "better than cough drops". Better according to whom? Jasper looked at me as if he wasn't sure whether to laugh at me or try to calm me. I glared at him and Alice rolled her eyes at us both. She hopped down from the chair she was on and stood between us. "Really, you two," Alice stated exasperated. Edward let out a small chuckle. I turned my glare to him to which he smiled and kissed me on the forehead. I huffed and hugged the teddy bear tighter again. I heard the front door open and saw Carlisle and Esme appear before me. I looked at Carlisle curiously since he had a grocery bag from Thriftway in his hands. It wasn't exactly like vampires needed to grocery shopping often other than for the occasional paper towels and to keep up appearances. "Bella, I spoke with one of the nurses at the hospital and she stated that you might enjoy these more than cough drops," Carlisle stated, handing me a box from inside the bag. The box was bright yellow and had colorful pictures on it. I knew what it was immediately, even without the feeling of cold surrounding it. Popsicles! I took the box, probably a bit more quickly than Carlisle was expecting, and smiled happily at the yummy popsicles. "Thanks, Carlisle!" I managed to say without coughing. Well, for all of three seconds and then I coughed again. "Of course, Bella," he smiled back as I opened the box. I pulled out the first popsicle and held it up to the light to see if it was orange or red. The purple ones
were good too but I couldn't stand the orange ones. It was tough seeing through the white paper surrounding the popsicle. "Bella? What are you doing?" Jasper asked as I realized all the vampires were looking at me strangely. I blushed, realizing they could probably easily see what color the popsicle was. I put it down and back in the box, realizing it was orange. "I don't like the orange ones," I mumbled, embarrassed. Edward sighed and pulled out a popsicle for me, quickly unwrapped it and handed it to me. It was purple. "Thanks," I muttered and I quickly took the popsicle from him. Now, I was self conscious. Esme kissed the top of my head again and took the box of popsicles from me. "Just ask if you want another, dear," she told me before going to put them in the freezer, or so I hoped. Carlisle had been kind enough to get the all juice ones that I really liked and I would want another one in about an hour or so. With the box in hand, Esme headed to the kitchen. Carlisle was following her, but stopped briefly to put his hand to my forehead to gauge my temperature. His face twisted in thought as his hand left my forehead. "I want you to take some more fever reducers in an hour," he told me. I nodded and Carlisle continued towards the kitchen. I happily started to eat or at least suck on my popsicle. I wondered if a fudgesicle would be acceptable and figured that one of the reasons Carlisle got the all juice ones was because he was a doctor. Health food for the human, even when she's sick. Oh well. Jasper had turned the TV back on while I ate my popsicle and we were all watching AMC this time. I wasn't entirely sure what the movie was but I did notice it had Clark Gable in it. I watched intently the black and white screen until I finished the popsicle and must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew I was in the bed upstairs again. I could feel the crisp but warm sheets beneath me and the feather down comforter all around me. I could also feel a familiar cool hand brushing back my hair rather than being around me. I didn't like that at all. Slowly, I opened my eyes to see two worried looking gold ones staring back at me. Once I came too enough to start to form a question, Edward's face broke out into one of his crooked grins, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Did you sleep well, love?" he asked me. I started to prop myself up and Edward moved quickly to help me. "Yeah, I think. I don't really remember falling asleep," I told him truthfully. The last thing I remembered was Clark Gable in a boat with a bunch of little girls getting away from some island. After that, it's all blank.
Edward grimaced and looked to the door, still holding my hand. "It's probably just the medication," he told me quietly. He looked back down at my most likely confused face and kissed my lips lightly. It was right about then that Carlisle decided to come in. Edward smiled and squeezed my hand before sitting down next to me on the bed. We both watched Carlisle as he came in holding something in his hand. Carlisle looked directly at Edward and I saw Edward nod slightly, his jaw set in a firm line. I sighed, which came out as a coughing fit. I felt Edward's arms gently encircle me as the coughing fit calmed down. Carlisle looked worried when I managed to sit back up. His eyes flashed from me to Edward and back again before he held out his hand. "I want you to take these, Bella and try to get some more fluids in you," Carlisle stated. I took the pills in my hands and waited as Carlisle quickly brought me a glass of water. It was less then a second. The good thing about being here, I never really waited for anything and the Cullens' didn't have to pretend either. Well, not much at least. I took the pills with the water, easily drinking down the whole glass. Carlisle didn't look pleased though. He went to one of the hidden closets in his office and pulled out another IV bag. I grimaced. I did not want another IV and I was slightly scared of getting yet another hole in my arm. The stupid IV's hurt! "This is only a saline solution. I simply wish to make sure you are properly hydrated," Carlisle stated. I felt Edward's arm around my shoulders squeeze me closer to him. I instinctively leaned back against my true boyfriend pillow, glad to have him there. Carlisle smiled. "I left the stint in your arm from before. You won't need another needle," he told me gently as he began to hook the IV up. I immediately was relieved at that news. "Thanks, Carlisle," I muttered with only a small cough. He nodded and smiled as he went about hooking up the new IV to my arm. I decided not to look, even if there wouldn't be any needles involved and noticed how odd the sky looked. I could have sworn it was early morning by the colors out the windows but the last time I checked it was only seven pm or so. "What time is it?" I asked, turning to Edward for an answer. He looked hesitant to give it to me. "Six thirty two in the morning," Carlisle answered for him. My head whipped around to my vampire dad, not believing that I could have slept almost twelve hours after sleeping most of the day anyways. I started to cough again, making my lungs hurt even worse than they already did by simply breathing. A part of me wished that I was a vampire already and then I didn't have to deal with any of this sickness stuff but then again, I wouldn't get my part of the bargain either. I
suppose being sick is just one human experience I have to go through, yet again, to get the human experiences I want to share with Edward before I change. Once my coughing fit was starting to abide, Alice danced into the room, grinning. "You're awake!" she said happily. "No," I answered quickly. "I'm sleepwalking now. I'll be awake later," I continued grumpily, leaning back into the protection of Edward's arms. As I crossed my own arms, I wondered where the teddy bear Emmett gave me was. As Alice scowled at me, and Edward chuckled at her, I sat up a bit to look around the room for him. I looked around the bed and then around the room at the various tables and shelves to see any sign of the brown bear with the blue bow around his neck. "What's the matter, love?" Edward asked me, concerned. I turned to him, confused as to why the bear was now missing. "Where did the teddy bear go?" I asked him. I saw Alice grin out of the corner of my eye and heard Carlisle laugh lightly. Edward just rolled his eyes. "Emmett believed he needed a break," Edward stated, his crooked grin threatening to flash across his face. I raised my eyebrows at him. "A break? Why would a teddy bear need a break?" I asked incredulously. "Well, he had a long day love," Edward stated, pulling me back in his embrace. I didn't bother to fight it but that didn't answer my question at all. "Don't worry, Bella. Emmett will bring him back in five minutes," Alice stated while bouncing on her heels. Carlisle had finished cleaning up his supplies and made sure everything was back in order. I'm sure he could have done it in a couple of seconds but he took his time and went at a human pace, probably due to all his time at the hospital. He turned to me and smiled again. "Do you want another popsicle?" he asked. I nodded to which Carlisle chuckled. "I'll be sure to have Emmett bring another one up when he comes home," he said before leaving the room. It was only a matter of minutes, exactly the five Alice predicted, before Emmett and Jasper came home. Alice suddenly squealed and rushed out the door during the middle of our conversation – well, Edward and Alice's conversation; I just kept coughing- and came back up a second later with both boys. Jasper nodded to me but stayed in the doorway with Alice. I suddenly felt sort of fuzzy headed and I knew it was because of Jasper. It wasn't that I was tired; it was more like even though I was in pain from all the coughing, I didn't care
anymore. Having Jasper around was better than medication. "Thanks, Jasper," I whispered to which he smiled. Emmett came in right behind Jasper and Alice, easily maneuvering around them, and walked over to me with the teddy bear in hand along with a popsicle and a bag. "Did you miss him?" Emmett said and he handed the bear back over to me along with the popsicle. I gratefully took him back. "She did," Alice piped in. I watched as Emmett turned to grin at her while I tried to glare. "Terribly. It was horrible," Edward interjected. I managed to scowl at him. Edward just grinned and I huffed, turning away from him before starting to eat my popsicle. My throat was really sore from attempting to talk earlier. "Good," Emmett boomed happily before turning back to me. He sat down near my knees, facing me and Edward. "So, did you name him yet?" he asked. Chapter 9 Emmett's question didn't really startle me as much as the realization that I had named him. When I started to look around for the teddy bear just a few minutes before only one name came into my mind and it made me blush. Emmett grinned while Edward held me closer to him. Alice giggled and stayed near Jasper who looked amused at my reaction. Stupid empathic vampire. That course of emotions, directed at Jasper, only amused him further. "So what's his name, Bella?" Emmett half teased, half asked excitedly. I grumbled and sunk my head into the teddy bear so I didn't have to look at any of my vampires. It didn't help since even my fiancé was against me. "Bella, love?" I heard Edward's voice softly in my ear. I couldn't help but turn my head to see him and notice his crooked grin that he knew I loved so much. "Yes?" I whispered hoarsely back. I hated the sound of my voice right now and it caused me to grimace. "What is the teddy bear's name?" Edward asked innocently enough. I knew there was something nagging me in the back of my head not to tell him but at that moment I couldn't remember why not. I think I heard two people near the doorway talking but I wasn't really concerned. Right now, I don't think I could even remember my own name but Edward wanted the teddy bear's name. That sounded easy enough. "Beary Phoenix," I replied. As soon as I saw Edward's face twitch further into a smile, I realized what I had done. I also realized that Emmett, Alice, and Jasper were all in the room as well. I looked around, seeing the smiling faces, and my eyes narrowed back at Edward. I glared at him. Stupid dazzling vampire. This
only served to amuse him further. "Beary Phoenix?" Emmett asked, grinning. I just groaned and hid myself in the pillows, blankets, and the teddy bear. I could hear my vampires' different laughs easily through the pillows. I felt Edward gently rubbing my bank, although I could also feel him shaking with laughter so it didn't help much. "Why…why…BEARY?" Emmett managed to blurt out in between laughs. I looked up and glared at my soon to be older brother in law. "Because he's a BEAR, Emmett," I informed him with a huff, which came out as a cough. Everyone stopped laughing as another coughing fit erupted. At least they were becoming fewer and fewer. When I looked back up, I only saw concerned eyes and sighed. Edward pulled me against him again while I held the bear. My lungs felt like they were being ripped apart with each cough and I hated it. It was quite for a little bit. All I could see was Emmett looking worried – which was odd- and Alice whispering to Jasper who looked pained. I didn't understand. I wasn't bleeding and he had been fine until I started coughing. Oh, wait. Maybe he was too focused on the laughter – happiness- everyone other than me was emitting and couldn't take the sudden shift in emotions. I knew that Emmett didn't look happy right now and I'd bet easily that Edward was even less happy. The sudden switch was probably a lot for him to take and it was all because of me and my sudden coughing fit. Before I could apologize to Jasper for changing the mood of the room so dramatically, Emmett spoke up. "Why Phoenix, Bella?" he almost whispered. It was really weird to see the jolly, loud, burly vampire all…well, soft. "Because he's brown," I said and grimaced. My lungs hurt too much to talk right now. I went back to my popsicle that I had neglected for the past minute and a half. It was starting to melt. I felt Edward squeeze me a bit and kiss the top of my head. He knew what I liked about the color brown. I had told him last year when he went over his game of speed questioning. Emmett was clearly going to ask how I connected "Phoenix" with "brown" and I flinched slightly. I didn't want to talk anymore. "Bella thinks everything here is too green," Edward responded with a smirk when I tried to glare up at him. He wouldn't let me and just held me to his side. "In Phoenix, the tree trunks, rocks, and dirt, are all brown just like they are supposed to be, according to her," he continued. I sighed and leaned against him with one arm around Mr. Beary Phoenix and my other hand had the popsicle. "Brown is warm," he almost said as whisper before kissing me on my head again. I immediately blushed.
"Agh, PDA! Gag!" Emmett teased which only caused me to turn even redder. Alice giggled and Jasper didn't look in pain anymore but he was guarded. Edward smirked again. "And do you want to tell her what you were doing with Mr. Phoenix while she was asleep?" he inquired of his brother. Emmett broke out into a huge grin. "Oh yeah!" Emmett told Edward before lowering his eyes to me. "I'll be right back. I need to see if Rose is finished with the scrapbook!" he told me excitedly. Once Emmett had bounded out the door, I managed to twist my head enough to get a look at Edward. "Scrapbook?" I croaked out. Edward kissed me lightly on the forehead. "Don't worry, love," he told me before smiling again. My head turned to Alice as she tip toed closer to the bed but not really leaving Jasper's side either. "You'll love it, Bella," Alice said excitedly, bouncing on her heels. I knew better than to not trust Alice but at the same time I couldn't help but to worry over whatever Emmett had done. If Rose was in on it, well, I still wasn't sure, but I doubt she'd let him do anything too bad or join in one of his worse pranks. It was only a couple of minutes later that Rose walked past Jasper without batting an eyelash and Emmett on her heels. Rose kept her face cold and impersonal until she sat down on the bed where Emmett had been just minutes before. In her hands was a photo album covered in pretty green and pink fabrics with ribbons on it. I watched as Rose looked down at the photo album and then back up at me. Her face was now more…worried? I didn't understand her reaction. "Emmett thought you might like to see some of the idiotic things he did with the bear last night," Rose stated, throwing the "idiotic" comment in the direction of Emmett. "Aww, babe," Emmett whined to which I smiled a bit. I was use to this banter now and knew how much Emmett loved Rose. I also had an idea of how much Rose loved Emmett too. Rosalie turned to look directly at her husband. "Breaking into a museum just to take pictures with the bear is idiotic, Emmett," she informed him. "You broke into a museum?" I asked Emmett incredulously. I can't believe even Emmett would do something like that. "How else was I supposed to get pictures of Beary with famous pieces of art before you woke up and needed him again?" Emmett asked me, seriously. I think my jaw dropped a bit at that.
"Beary?" Rose asked, turning back to me. I hugged Beary Phoenix tighter, sinking back into Edward at the same time. "Beary Phoenix," I mumbled to Rose. She only smiled and then looked back down at the photo album she had in her hands. "It's the better pictures he took on the…adventure into Seattle," Rose said as she handed me the book slowly. I carefully took the album and went to open it. I saw the first page, covered in stickers and nick-knacks with the centerpiece being Beary Phoenix's picture smack in the middle of the page. The page was beautifully and artistically done. "Thank you, Rose," I whispered as I looked back up at her, my fingers gently touching the piece of blue ribbon she had placed on at the corner of the photograph. She smiled back at me in response. "Hey! It was my idea! And I was the one that took all the pictures at the museums. Beary was no help at all," Emmett interjected, jokingly. I smiled and tried not to laugh, too scared to start coughing again. "Thanks, Emmett," I croaked out. He beamed a smile at me and came to sit closer to me. As he plopped down near my right knee, he began picked up the page to flip it over. Each page was just as beautiful as the first. Rosalie had done an amazing job at scrap booking. She had added stamps and various mementos along with all the stickers and ribbons, making the entire book one of my favorites immediately. After all, Rose and Emmett had made it for me and that was an important first; as well as something I'd treasure forever. That certainly had a different meaning now. "…and I took him to the European art exhibit but I think most of that was too raunchy for a two week old bear," Emmett joked. He was pointing to a picture of Mr. Phoenix, with Emmett's hand over his eyes and a painting of Paris' judgment in the background. The three goddesses who were vying for the golden apple only had hats on and not much else. I giggled which elicited a small cough but not one of my coughing fits. Smiling, I looked up at Emmett. "How do you know he's two weeks old?" I asked him. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Jasper and Alice had left the room completely. I'd have to ask Alice later to send my apologies to Jasper for coughing so much that it made everyone so worried. "Cause the lady I bought him from said she made him two weeks ago," Emmett answered confidently. I watched as he shoulders sagged a little. "I couldn't get an exact date though, Bella. I wanted to make him up a birth certificate," he told me.
I was dumbstruck. Emmett was really taking this pretty seriously and I wasn't sure why. Edward and Alice had been playing along and even Rose which really surprised me. I picked up the scrapbook at bit to emphasis my next point. "This is more than enough," I told him. "I really can't believe you did all of this Emmett," I continued as Emmett looked at me curiously; as if the reason he was doing all of this was obvious. "Especially with a bear," I said with a slight smile. "I mean I know bear is your favorite," I teased. At that Emmett let out a booming laugh again. Rose rolled her eyes but smiled a bit. "You should see what else Beary did!" Emmett told me as he flipped the page. Page after Page was of poor Mr. Beary Phoenix shown in front of or even on various pieces of art. I particularly like the one of my bear somehow place inside what looked to be a coat made out of many pieces of metal. Emmett made it looked like the bear was wearing the coat. As he went over the last few pages, even one where Beary Phoenix had apparently gone hunting in the Olympic Sculpture Garden, I yawned a bit. Edward gently held me closer and my head naturally found it's place in the crook of Edward's neck. "Do you want to go back to sleep, Bella?" he asked me quietly. I shook my head a bit. "No, I'm fine," I told him to which Edward tried to hide his frustration at my use of the word "fine". Emmett looked concerned and turned to Edward. Whatever Edward said seemed to make Rose roll her eyes, again, and Emmett continue on with his explanation of each of the adventures Mr. Beary Phoenix had. As Emmett reached the last page, a rather embarrassing picture of me holding the bear while I was asleep, Esme came in the open door. She had a tray in her hands with a covered plate. I noticed Rose get up and wrinkle her nose. Emmett got up too, removing the scrapbook but only so Esme could put the tray down. "I thought you might like some breakfast, dear," Esme told me warmly as she pulled the cover off the steaming hot plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage. It smelt delicious. "Thank you, Esme," I told her sincerely. I went to pick up my fork to start to eat as Esme ushered Rose and Emmett out. "Come along you two. Let Bella eat and rest and then you can finish telling her about your adventures later," Esme told them. Rose made it to the door, giving me a tentative smile before she left the room completely. "By the way, Emmett," Esme started in her stern mom voice. Emmett stopped moving to the door and winced at her tone. "You know better than to break into a museum," she started. Emmett was about to object when Esme stopped him. "It doesn't matter what
your reasoning is. It was wrong and nothing out-weighs that. I know you were careful and didn't get caught but I would like you to volunteer at the museum for the next few weeks so you can learn the importance of those artworks and why they have security systems in place," she told him. Emmett was looking at his shoes rather than Esme. "I also don't want to hear of anything like this happening again. You can wait until morning, when the museum is open, to do anything like this in the future. Understand?" Esme asked her son. Emmett mumbled a "Yes, Mom" before Esme pointed to the door. I bit my lip to keep from laughing because Emmett looked like he was going on a funeral march. He did turn to give me one last smile but also caught Esme's "scolding" look which immediately made him go back his funerary march. Before Esme left and shut the door, she looked back at me and Edward. "If either of you need anything, don't hesitate to call me. I'll be downstairs and come back in an hour to check on you, Bella," she said. She hesitated in the doorway a moment before coming back over, kissing my forehead and Edward's. She also gave me a hug before leaving the room and closing the door behind her. Now, I got to have breakfast in bed with my vampire fiancé. Even if I was sick, this wasn't a bad way to start the day. Sick 10 Edward POV Bella's father, Charlie, had come over to visit prior to going to the station for his work. His mind was filled with worry both for his daughter's illness and for leaving her here while he worked. I noticed that since our announcement of our nuptials, that Charlie's mind seemed more relaxed in attitude towards me. He would still act the part of the father worried over his daughter's activities but he now at least looked to believe that I would never be so imbecilic as to even think of leaving my beloved Bella again. How I did so to begin with was beyond me. I still had my reasons, all of which turned out to have put a blind eye to the true dangers that lurked around Forks. Had my love not jumped that fateful day, would Alice have seen Victoria attack? Or would Bella become scared similar to Emily due to her association with the werewolves? I cared not to think on such things. Instead, I held her close, squeezing her shoulders now and again to remind myself that she was here. She had fallen asleep once her father had left after her breakfast. Her beautiful silken hair fell down her back as the left side of her face was pressed against my chest beneath my chin. Her breaths were steady but the rasping sounds from deep in her lungs bothered me. Her right lung was functioning better than her left but both had some fluid in them due to her illness.
There was little that scared me in my existence prior to Bella entering into my life; now she was my world and the knowledge that that world could be hurt, feel pain, even die….that last one cut through my heart like no stake ever could. If there was one way to kill this vampire, it was to take away his very reason for existing; Bella. Although I knew, logically, that the pneumonia was a passing illness that she would recover from, still, it hurt me. It not only hurt me to see her in so much pain –she tried to hide it but still I knew- but also because this was so similar to the illness that caused my death. Granted, this was a very different strain and Bella was in no danger of dying but still, I remembered. Esme's thoughts followed my own closely. Her own son had died from a lung infection which caused her to take her own life. To see her "daughter" suffer from a similar illness to that which took her biological son wasn't easy. Every other thought drifting through Esme's head was her concern and worry over Bella. In many ways, Esme was as pleased as she was depressed over Bella's illness. She had never had the chance to play the role of Mom in this way before; to cook the chicken soup, dole out the medication, and keep her child as comfortable as possible when they were clearly miserable. Vampires don't get sick so the most "mothering" Esme got to do before revolved around either praising or punishing us. She never really was able to take care of her children before, particularly in this way. We, technically, were all grown. Despite this, Esme even admitted to herself that this was one aspect of being a mother she'd rather not have simply because it meant that one of her children was in pain. No parent enjoys that. I watched the door as I heard my mother come up the stairs and come towards Carlisle's office turned hospital room. How is she? Esme thought as she came into the room with a glass of water. I sighed in response. She wasn't fine, that much was very true, but she wasn't on her deathbed either despite my worries. My soft reaction was all she needed to know. I knew the rest of the family was worried as well. Alice hated to see her best friend in any pain. She had no memories of what it was like to be sick but had seen it enough times through her visions and at school to know well that it wasn't pleasant. Emmett was attempting to deal with Bella's pneumonia in his own way. He thought in making her forget that she was sick, in helping her to be happy, that she might get better more quickly. I cannot say I disagree with his theory given the medical journals that back up the idea of positive thinking as medicine within itself but he might have chosen a different way to go about it. The bear was nice but breaking into a museum was a bit much, even for Emmett. I understood his reasoning but well, at least he didn't go through with his plan to take the bear up to Canada. I'm still not sure what he was planning on doing in Vancouver but I did find out Alice talked him out of it, thank God.
Jasper was dealing with all of our combined worries plus his own anxiety. I know that early on in my and Bella's relationship, he viewed her as his little sister. He had trouble in the beginning but overcame that only to become depressed after the September incident. Even I didn't really blame him but I thought at the time… Best not to dwell on that for now. I hugged Bella's shoulders again as she slept next to me and kissed her head. Esme came to sit on the other side of Bella, looking over her youngest daughter. Maybe I should call Carlisle and have him check on her again Esme mused in her head. I shook my own. There was no reason to bother him at work, again, when Bella was sleeping peacefully. Well not, completely peacefully. It was amusing to watch her sleep when she was sick given the more coherent mumblings. She wasn't nearly as quiet as she was when she was well. Emmett and Jasper got a kick out of it last night. Apparently, a giant frog was involved in her dream. "No, Mom," Bella whispered in her sleep. Both Esme and I turned our attentions to her. "I…stupid sandpaper," she muttered against me. I smiled, having no better idea than anyone else what she could possibly be dreaming of. "Esme?" Bella asked in her sleep. Although my mother knew Bella was sleep talking, her face lit up and she gently moved to brush a fallen strand of hair from my love's face. "Yes, dear?" Esme asked quietly. I hope I don't wake her. I read about sleep talking in one of the journals Carlisle brought home. As long as you agree with the person while they are sleeping, they will return to a deep sleep cycle quickly. she thought as she looked to Bella. "Don't…upset with Emmett…he...trying to help. Hurts…" Bella muttered in her sleep. I felt my own heart break at the last word she spoke. I hated the idea of my love in pain even in her sleep. "I know, sweetheart. Sleep," Esme managed to say but I could hear the worried tone of her thoughts. "Yes, Mom," Bella stated before curling up tighter against me and going into a deep sleep. I smiled a bit knowing how much Esme loved hearing that even without having to read her thoughts. One look from my love's face to that of my mother confirmed the amount of joy those two words had brought Esme. It was another hour and thirty four minutes before Bella began to stir. Esme had gone back to cleaning the house –not that it needed it- while I knew my siblings were mulling about. Alice was currently considering coming upstairs given that Bella was awakening. Jasper and Emmett were playing chess, both focused heavily on their game. Rosalie was contemplating on whether the pale blue or the pastel pink jacket looked better on her. She was going shopping later and wanted
to make sure every woman envied her while every male dropped to his knees at the sight of her. I rolled by eyes at her thoughts. "Edward?" I heard her beautiful muffled voice as she peaked up at me through her lashes. I smiled down at her. "Good morning, love," I whispered back. Rather than kissing her, I watched, in horror, as Bella's body convulsed suddenly into another coughing fit. I held to her as her body tried, in vain, to rid itself of the vile fluids that rested deep in her lungs due to the virus. I remembered, slightly, my own coughing fits before being turned but do not recall them being quite this dramatic. Gently, I patted her on the back to loosen the fluids in her lungs so she might manage to cough a bit of it up and alleviate her suffering a bit. I doubted it would help since the only things that would help would be those medications that boosted her immunity and helped to fight off the virus that was ravaging her lungs and throat so horribly. I knew we had given her all we could, and, that according to Alice, we had 48 more hours – more or less- until this was over with. I wasn't sure if I could take 48 more hours of watching my fiancée in so much pain. Once the coughing fit was over, to which Esme had rejoined Bella at her side, I heard Bella whimper slightly. I knew her lungs were hurting her but, other than morphine which I doubted Carlisle would let me use; there was little I could do. Rather, I held her tight against me, wishing –even praying- that there was something I could do to make her better other than what we had already done. Maybe the medication isn't working Esme's worried thoughts entered my own. I shook my head. Despite my worries, I knew the medication was working. She had gone from coughing an average of three times every ten minutes to four times every hour. Bella was getting better but her lungs and throat were already raw from the amount of coughing and the continuation of her illness. She'd heal. I had to hold myself to that and not entertain the thoughts of changing her myself right now. I had a promise to keep and she would still be human at our wedding. There must be something else we can give her Esme continued as she looked on to her youngest "daughter". Again, her worried thoughts followed my own. Before I could answer, Bella looked up and grimaced at us. I knew she hated conversations around her that she could not hear for herself. Esme patted Bella on the shoulder and kissed her forehead, followed by kissing mine before getting up. "I'm going to call Carlisle and see if there is anything else we can give you, alright, sweetheart?" Esme asked. Bella nodded slightly in response, she hid the pain from her face well but her eyes told me a very different story. She was hurting.
Esme went back downstairs to call Carlisle and see if there was anything else we might be able to try. The morphine was looking more appealing by the second as I looked into my love's face. Yes, it was a highly addictive substance but we've had to deal with addicts before. Jasper has been doing quite well for the past five years since his last mishap. Slowly, Bella closed her eyes again as I held her against me. I only hoped she might find even the smallest comfort again in sleep rather than her awakened nightmare. After all, despite what she may think, I doubt that being this ill in a house filled with vampires –plus the possibility of a werewolf or two coming overis anything other the stuff of nightmares. Yet, here she was. Safe in my arms with my birth mother's ring upon her finger. I was never happier than the day she finally agreed to be my wife. I watched her as her heart kept a steady beat, one that I knew well, and her breaths evened out after the coughing fit. I could hear Emmett's thoughts as he came up the stairs, Jasper in tow this time as Rosalie kidnapped Alice for a shopping trip. It may well have been Alice kidnapping Rosalie and allowing Rose to think it was her idea but I didn't divulge much into that. I wonder if we could take her outside. The warm air might do her some good. Emmett's thoughts came to me. He was picturing keeping Bella on the front porch swing while the rest of us played, only "Beary Phoenix" to keep her company. I growled lightly as he entered. Jasper stayed at the doorway. The smell of Bella's raw throat was a bit much for him and permeated the room. Emmett rolled his eyes. Fine, you can stay with her but she probably could use some warm air and it's going to be sunny here for an hour he told me. The sun could do Bella some good and I could not deny her the small amount of sunlight that we would get today. She loved the sun and missed it terribly though she didn't say much about it anymore. As long as she stayed wrapped up lightly in her blanket, I doubted there was much harm in being outside for an hour or so. Is she getting any better? I heard Emmett ask but I also heard Jasper at the same time. She's extremely frustrated more than anything else right now Edward. I think she simply wants this sickness over with as bad as the rest of us want to see her well again. I raised an eyebrow to Jasper. Frustrated made sense when it came to my Bella. Of course she wouldn't be wallowing in self-pity or any other of the numerous emotions humans could have while being sick. She was simply frustrated at her suddenly lack of independence. Bella opened her eyes again. I saw her look at Emmett and then at me before coughing a bit more. She groaned and leaned back once this small bout of coughing was over with. "Bella, love?" I whispered to get her attention. She
looked at me with pain in her eyes but quickly hid it. I decided it was best to ignore it and managed to smile. "Emmett and Jasper would like to know if you would be willing to join them outside," I told her. She looked to Emmett and then Jasper before looking back at me. I told Emmett his stunts would only cause Bella to think the worst. She's worried now which really isn't helping…Jasper thought. I smirked slightly. Yes, Emmett's reputation at a prankster were clearly upheld after last night but, thanks to her sleep talking, I also knew that it wasn't necessarily Emmett that Bella was worried about. "It will be sunny for an hour and you can sit on the swing if you like," I stated as nonchalantly as possible to make sure it was her choice and her choice alone. If I acted like I could care less either way, she wouldn't feel obligated to go outside due to my own desires. I watched as Bella bit her lip. I tried to reign in my emotions-given that Jasper was grumbling to me about that- and also from quipping about payback. After all, it's not as if his thoughts have always been kind for my sanity. There are times when I truly wish there was a way for vampires to forget because there were certain things I'd much rather not ever know. Bella sighed and picked up Beary Phoenix, hugging him tight before nodding her head yes. That was all any of us needed to race, with her in my arms, down the stairs and outside to the front lawn.
Chapter 11 Edward had asked me if I wanted to go outside. I saw the excitement in Emmett's eyes and even saw Jasper crack a smile. Although Edward tried not to show it, I knew he wanted to go outside and play with his brothers. The problem was, I knew he'd also never leave my side while I was sick. He barely let me go to the bathroom by myself right now! I thought about it and it would be nice to get outside and attempt to breathe in the fresh air. I doubted that coughing the fresh air back up would really do anything to alleviate the feeling of sandpaper rubbing against the raw skin of my lungs but the sun might be nice. Besides, there was nothing more beautiful than my vampire in the sun and I didn't want to miss that. I nodded once, making sure to bring Beary Phoenix out of fear Emmett might try something again with the poor bear when he's out of my sight. Edward swept me and the blanket up in one quick motion. Once I had gotten tucked under his chin, perfectly content to be there snuggled against his cool chest, in his arms, we
were outside. Slowly, Edward put me down on the wood swing and kissed my forehead. Emmett and Jasper were already out in the meadow-like yard tossing a football back and forth…across the yard like it was mere ten yards and not half an acre. The sky was still overcast but I could tell through the branches of the trees overhead that the clouds were thinning. We'd get some sun today. Edward stood before me and smiled down at me before looking over at his brothers. I knew what he wanted. I managed to push him a bit to indicate that he should join his brothers. My throat hurt too much to even attempt talking anymore. He looked at me with an eyebrow raised as I gestured for him to go and play. He smiled my favorite crooked grin, kissed me again, and ended up in the middle of the yard before I could blink. I felt someone push something hot into my hands about a minute and a half later as I watched the football tossing turn into a wrestling game. Right now, Edward was pummeling Emmett while Jasper was laughing hysterically on the side lines. Boys. I just didn't get it. I looked up to see Esme smiling down at me warmly and shoot her Mom-warning looks to the boys. She had placed a hot steaming mug of tea in my hands. I smiled up at her gratefully. The boys broke from their wrestling –after, I'm sure, Edward caught Esme's warning thoughts- and went back to football, for now. Sitting next to me, Esme place an arm around my shoulder and gently squeezed me closer to her. "Maybe I should give you a whistle if they start to get out of hand again," she mused next to me. I smiled at that and sipped my tea, happy to be outside on the swing sitting next to my "other" Mom. I watched as the boys moved out into three corners of the yard. Jasper threw the football, spinning it, into Emmett, who caught it and tucked it into his arms. Emmett threw it to Edward who caught it with one hand above his head, lazily. The ball itself blurred as it was tossed between the three boys. I could barely see it twisting in perfect spirals and arches as it went from one to the other over a period of five minutes. I then looked on as Edward and Jasper suddenly glanced at each other. Both grinned before turning towards Emmett. Emmett instantly looked nervous and actually gulped as his two brothers were clearly plotting something. I hugged Beary Phoenix tighter and looked up at Esme for anything I might have missed. She only was narrowing her eyes and let out the motherly "Boys…" warning. I'm not sure if she knew what they were planning either. Jasper nodded once to Edward and both of them leaped into the air towards Emmett, who had the football. Emmett was protectively hunched over the ball,
still cradling it in his massive arms, as his brothers landed on him. Esme sighed as both Edward and Jasper tried to wrestle the ball from Emmett's grasp. She stood up to watch as I looked on from my spot on the swing. I twisted to lean against the arm wrest, Beary Phoenix still in my arms. Everything was happening way too quickly but I think I understood most of what was going on. Edward had wrestled the ball away from Emmett and took off running, while Jasper and Emmett tried to untangle themselves from each other to get up and go after him. I hugged the teddy bear tighter, hoping that my vampires don't hurt each other. Esme looked down at me and smiled before looking back at the yard where both Jasper and Emmett took off into the woods following Edward. I couldn't see anything but I could hear. And I heard something that sounded like a lot of growling and a tree being uprooted. "Boys!" Esme exclaimed, putting her hand over her heart. I strained my eyes to look into the woods. Nothing. Of course. It was just trees and leaves to me. A cool breeze blew past me and I felt the swing rock slightly. Turning, I saw Edward smiling happily, twirling the football in his hands. "Love?" he asked me, leaning in closer to me. I just stared back at him blankly. I think I was too confused about how he got here and about where here was to really form any coherent response. "Uh huh?" I croaked out. My voice probably wasn't audible to human ears. "Can you watch this for me?" he asked sweetly, my eyes glued to his. His beautiful golden orbs peered directly down at me with my favorite crooked smile upon his face. I didn't even realize that Esme was only a few feet away from us or anything else for that matter. All I knew in that moment was that I was here – where ever that was- with Edward and nothing else mattered. "Um..sure," I stuttered hoarsely. His smiled grew as he placed the football in my hands and got up to whisper something to Esme. As he did so, I coughed and came out of the daze, blushing. Both vampires looked at me when I coughed but I shook my head at them. It wasn't one of the coughing fits, just a regular cough. Not that it hurt any less. I looked at the strange bit of simulated pigskin in my hands and realized it was brand new. It has that weird plastic smell like any new piece of plastic does. Carefully, I tucked it against my stomach beneath the blankets and behind Beary Phoenix. I had a feeling that Edward was trying to hide the football and I was going to help as much as I could. I doubted it would help much given the odd smell. If I could smell the simulated pigskin, then Jasper and Emmett definitely could.
Out of the woods, Emmett came crashing through the brush with Jasper right behind him. It looked like one big white blur followed by a slightly smaller, glittering white blur right behind him now that the sun was peeking through the trees. Jasper, the slightly smaller, glittering white blur, charged Emmett and crashed into him again. All I heard was a huge crashing sound like every single pot and pan coming down in Charlie's kitchen at once. Emmett got up and shook him off, or at least tried to. Edward smirked, turned to kiss me again, before heading back out in the field with his brothers. Both Emmett and Jasper looked up, from the ground they were wrestling on, to see Edward smirking at them. "I've changed the parameters," he said off-handedly. Both vampires went from wrestling to standing before Edward before I could blink. "Where'd you put the football, Edward?" Emmett asked, his eyes narrowing. "Somewhere safe," Edward smiled back at his brothers. I watched as Jasper looked around, his eyes settling on me. I tried to reign in my emotions to make sure he wouldn't suspect me. It wasn't so much that I wanted to play as much as I wanted my fiance to win. I settled on being curious. After all, I was curious as to what Jasper and Emmett would do now that the football was out of sight. Jasper turned back to Edward, showing his teeth as he smiled. The next thing I knew, Jasper and Edward were now wrestling, again. Esme sighed and looked to me. "You'd think they were raised by wolves!" she muttered before sitting next to me again. I smiled at her. The wolves were much worse. I continued to watch as Jasper and Edward rammed into Emmett. Emmett immediately joined in, creating a large white glittering blur in an almost cartoon like manner. Arms and legs, glittering in the streaks of sunlight that drizzled through the trees, were about all I could make out other than random clumps of dirt. Esme sighed as she watched her yard get torn up by her sons. I coughed again, which launched me into a coughing fit. I felt like I couldn't breathe and that my lungs had turned to pools of acid, burning through the soft tissues. I wasn't sure how long I coughed this time but once it was over, I saw that my two soon-to-be brothers in law as well as my fiancé were standing before me. They all had torn clothing and dirt all over them. Esme held me close to her, worry written all over her face. "I'm fine," I croaked out, trying to get rid of the worry on the four perfect faces. I grimaced since my voice, barely audible to my own ears, sounded like I was speaking through one of those old drive-thru speaker systems. I barely understood myself. Edward groaned in response and knelt before me. I pulled the blanket more tightly around me as it slipped slightly from my
shoulders when I coughed. Emmett noticed something as his eyes got wide. "You have it!" he stated excitedly. I didn't bother to answer. Jasper looked between Emmett, myself, and then Edward. Edward had a small smile playing at his lips before reaching up and pushing my hair back again. "Bella?" Emmett asked, kneeling to my level next to Edward. I just looked at him, not trusting myself to speak without my throat feeling on fire. "Can I have the football?" Emmett continued in his questioning. He looked like a big kid asking for his toy back which, basically, is what he was. I shook my head. I then felt a sudden wave of sadness and regret, hugging the football and Beary Phoenix tightly against me. I turned to look at Jasper and already saw Edward growling at him. Jasper smiled smugly, knowing Edward wouldn't attack him with me being so close. My eyes started to tear up. "Please, Bella?" both Jasper and Emmett asked at almost the same time. I shook my head again and started to build on my annoyance of Jasper. I knew if I focused on that hard enough, he'd be forced to stop. "Jasper…" Edward warned, still growling at his brother. I watched as my fiancé turned on his heels and readied to pounce. I began to smile as my feelings of annoyance and determination to beat Jasper at his own game began to overcome his imposed feelings of sadness and regret. He probably wasn't trying too hard since I was sick. "That is enough!" Esme shouted at her sons. All three boys immediately stood before her, heads hanging down in shame. "Sorry, Mom"'s and "Sorry, Esme"'s echoed out of all three. Esme gave them all her "Mom look". "You all know much better than to behave like that around Bella. And especially when she is sick!" she reprimanded them. "Sorry, lil sis," Emmett spoke up first. "I didn't mean it, Bella," Jasper stated, sounding truly sorry. Edward was silent, his head still hanging down so I couldn't see his face. When Esme asked for the ball, I handed it over to her and she threw it back out in the yard. "I want the yard to be back in pristine condition and I do not want to see anymore rough housing. Do you understand?" Esme continued in her mom voice. Both Jasper and Emmett nodded and again voiced their apologies. Esme sighed and turned back to me, smiling weakly. Edward said as he was, a perfect marble statue of regret. "Would you like more tea?" Esme asked me gently. I nodded and handed her back
my mug. She kissed my forehead. "I'll be right back, dear," she said to me before quickly going into the house. I looked up at Edward and tried to reach for him so I could see his face. As my fingers stretched to touch his cheek, his eyes bore into mine. I gasped when I saw him. The only expression on Edward's face was that of pure sadness. I knew that if he could cry, he would be. "Edward?" I managed to breathe out. He clasped my hands into his own, kneeling before me again. This time, his face looked tortured. "Forgive me, Bella," he begged of me, his sad eyes pleading with me. I was utterly and completely confused. Forgive him? For what? For playing along with his brothers? That hardly seemed like a crime. He looked at me for a moment, maybe seeing the confusion on my face. "I shouldn't have tried to, or even thought about attacking Jasper like that in front of you. It was reckless! To think I almost," he started before I put my fingers to his lips and shook my head. He had no reason to be sorry, guilty, over something like that. He wouldn't hurt me, ever. He kissed the tops of my fingers, a slight, but sad smile on his face. I shivered due to the electricity from his lips passing through to my fingertips. He thought it was from being outside. Swiftly, he picked me up in his arms. "Let's get you back inside, my love." I nodded and curled up under his chin again, feeling safe and loved in his arms. Chapter 12 I coughed again. It was a small cough this time but Edward's reaction was the same. His eyes would fill with pain for a split second before he hid them from me, wrapped his arms around me tightly, and then began to hum various songs for a minute or two. I think the humming was more to calm himself than it was for me. We had been inside for about a half hour. Edward had taken a shower while I had my "human moment". I came out only to find another mug of hot tea thrust into my hands by Esme. "Thanks," I muttered as I very carefully took a sip before walking. I wouldn't try sipping the steaming hot mug of tea and walking at the same time. I didn't have a death wish. Esme wrapped her arm around me, steadying me, as we walked. I couldn't help but feel guilty due to my agonizing slow pace. If my vampires had anything "demon" about them, it was that they were all speed demons. The fact that 80 mph was slow to Edward proved that. "It's okay, Esme," I muttered out. "You don't have to walk with me," I managed to croaked. I hated the sound of my voice right now. I barely even had one and
my throat was perfectly raw. Being sick was not fun but at least I had my family around me rather than being in that horrible hospital or home alone. "Sweetheart, I don't want to leave you alone while you're sick. What will your father think?" Esme teased me lightly followed by a kiss on the top of my head. Whether she meant Charlie or Carlisle, I wasn't sure. Either way, I doubt either would want me alone for even a minute so I gave in and let Esme, slowly, lead me back to the living room with the hot tea in my hands. It was only a couple of minutes, four sips, and maybe a second later that Alice and Rosalie came bursting through the front door. I had curled up against Edward, now showered and in fresh clothing, during those few minutes. I jumped slightly at the sound of the Alice squealing as she came in. Edward pulled me closer and glared at his little sister as she stood before us, surrounded by shopping bags. "Oh, Bella! Wait until you see what I got for you!" Alice exclaimed, practically bouncing in place with five bags on each arm. If I wasn't so sick, I'm sure I would have been laughing at the image. "No," I muttered and turned to hide my face in Edward's chest. He moved his arms to hold me more protectively. I couldn't hear much of anything but I knew Alice and Edward were talking. I just curled up tighter, wishing Edward could hide me from the fate known as Alice. I was sick. I had pneumonia. Even if she didn't understand human aliments, she could see I was not in any mood to do more than sit, hug Beary Phoenix, and watch TV…or Emmett playing video games against Jasper. That was also pretty good. "Bella," Alice said in her warning tone to which I grunted and held Edward's shirt captive in my hands. "You can either do this the hard way or the easy way," she continued. "Alice," Edward growled at his sister. "It will happen, either way," Alice responded triumphantly. I groaned. "Alice, she's sick," Edward started. "Exactly!" Alice interrupted him, her earlier enthusiasm showing through again. Not that it was like you could keep Alice un-enthusiastic for long anyway. Edward sighed in return. "Bella?" I heard someone else call out. It took me a second to place the voice as Rosalie's. I slowly looked up and around to find Rose standing near Alice. She actually looked nervous.
"I promise I won't let her hold you hostage for too long. Just a half hour," Rose stated. Alice huffed and was about to object but got glares from both Edward and Rose. "Fine," Alice muttered. She said something else but I couldn't really understand it all. Edward rolled his eyes at her and Rose smiled slightly. I sighed. By the look on Edward's face and the hopeful look on the two female vampires before me, I knew I had no choice; no matter what Edward would say. Slowly, I stood up. I held Beary Phoenix in one hand and covered my mouth with the other as I coughed again. The mug of hot tea had long since been abandoned to the side table the second I heard Alice. Both Rose and Alice picked me up by elbows and carried me, vampire speed, up the stairs. When they put me down, I collapsed on the bed in Alice & Jasper's room since it was the only thing that wasn't spinning. "So the pink set or the blue set?" Alice asked. I warily raised my head, gripping the comforter with my free hand to keep steady and noticed she wasn't talking to me. "What about the green?" Rose asked as she picked up a pink striped bag. Despite my very adamant attempts never to go in there, I knew exactly what store it was from. Renee had taken me in there enough times and I could only imagine what Alice got for me there. I groaned and wrapped my arms around my legs, Beary Phoenix still in hand. "hmmm," Alice hummed as she closed her eyes to look. When she came out of her vision trace she smiled in my direction. "Maybe tomorrow. Today it looks like the pink set," Alice quipped. I watched as the smaller pixie like vampire pulled out another pink striped bag and placed it on the bed near me. I think I saw Rose mouth a "sorry" out of the corner of my eye but I wasn't sure. My eyes watched in horror as Alice pulled a fuchsia pink spaghetti top and matching silk boxers out of the bag. The top even had a small matching fuchsia rosette in the center front. Alice held up the silk garments, smiling. I glared. "No," I coughed out, hugging Beary Phoenix before me as if he could shield me from the horrors of the Alice's fashion world. "Bella, please?" Alice began to beg. "They'll go perfectly with the robe Rose got you," she said with a perfect puppy face. I swear, even Seth isn't that good at that and he is a puppy. "Robe?" I choked, turning to Rose. Rose nodded solemnly. "I wasn't sure what you would like," she told me as she quickly went through the bags and pulled out a pretty bluish purple terry cloth robe. It was long, it looked warm, and in that moment, I loved Rosalie because at least she was thinking of my comfort even if
my supposed best friend Alice wasn't. "Thank you," I whispered as Rose handed it to me. Alice simply squealed. "Oh, we have to do your hair and maybe some make up and," I heard Alice start to list. I looked to Rosalie for more help. She smiled at me and I couldn't help but detect a hint of that former malice in her eyes. "You have a half hour, Alice," Rose stated simply, looking back at her fingernails. I knew this was bad. A half hour, a quick bath, three coughing fits, and two Tylenols later, I was in the fuchsia pajamas –if you could even call them that! - and the purple robe. I pulled the purple robe tight around me so all you could see was my face and my feet. I had my hands under the sleeves, hugging the teddy bear Emmett gave me close during this horrible torture session. Alice was looking at me disapprovingly. "Bella," she stated before walking back towards me. I cringed which got a snicker out of Rosalie. I was terrified of what other tortures Alice could think up. The whole "I've got to do your hair" thing was not fun. I had no desire to sit there, on top of a barstool, for even a few minutes and attempt to be still. Okay, so my hair did look nice in the simple French braid but really. I don't care if I barely look like I was sick now, I still felt sick. Very sick. And Alice was not helping. "You've got to leave the robe a bit open to show off the camisole and shorts. Really, it isn't that bad," she continued as she went and easily pulled my arms away so she could undo the belt and let the robe fall limply to either side of me. I sighed in response which earned another cough. Alice was about to say something else when her bedroom door opened and a cool breeze blew through the room. I felt the familiar cold arms encircle me and heard a light growl directed and the glaring pixie in front of me. Luckily, Alice was not glaring at me but at Edward. "It's been a half hour, Alice," Edward told her. Alice huffed but didn't say anything more. I felt Edward's cool arms pick me up in a single motion and take me back up to Carlisle's office. I groaned. I didn't want to be here. I wanted to be downstairs in the living room again. I'd happily sleep on the couch since it didn't smell anything like a hospital room. Placing me on the bed, Edward kissed me gently and smiled. "Alice is right, I suppose," he whispered as he looked into my eyes. "What?" I asked back, sounding nowhere near as seductive or even nice as Edward did. Granted, even on a good day I couldn't pull that off but at least on a good day I didn't sound like a dying frog either.
"You do look lovely in the fuchsia," he said with his crooked grin. I blushed and pulled the robe back around me until Edward's hand caught my own. "No," he whispered, pulling my hands in-between his. "Leave it. I rather like it this way," he stated. "Okay," I sputtered out, gazing into his golden butterscotch eyes. I tried to remember that there was something bugging me but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I could only feel the comforter under my legs and knew it had something to do with it. Oh, right. The bed. I was in Carlisle's office and despite my normal inclination to not mind being alone with Edward in a private room with a nice large bed, I was too sick to care. Much. Maybe if I didn't cough for an hour or so… "Why?" I asked, sticking to one word at a time. More than that either caused me to cough –which was bad- or caused my throat to hurt. I didn't like either choice so I stuck with the single words to hopefully express what I wanted. Right now, it really would be easier if Edward could read my mind… "Why what, love?" Edward asked, stroking my fingers and kissing them with his lips. This would be pure heaven if it were for the five gallons of acidic saltwater it felt like I had in my lungs. "Carlisle's office?" I barely got out before coughing again. Edward's expression changed to that of extreme worry. He had moved to hold me tight against him, kissing my hair, and humming. I leaned against him when the latest coughing fit was over. "Carlisle just got home and wanted to check up on you," Edward whispered so low I could barely hear him. "Plus," he stated, kissing my head again as I leaned into his chest. "You need to rest and the bed should be far more comfortable for you." I nodded, indicating that I understood. I didn't trust myself to speak at that moment. It was only a half minute later –if that- that Carlisle came in. Chapter 13 Carlisle's POV (because he amuses me) Upon my return from work, my worries as a doctor overtook me. Not for my patients at the hospital, although Mr. Winston's sutures did look inflamed, but for my patient I had at home. It was the first time and hopefully the only time, that one of my children has truly been sick, mental health aside. Granted, Bella was not yet one of us in the sense that she was not a vampire but she had already made her way into our hearts. The change that had come over Edward since meeting her was absolute. There was no doubt in my mind or body that he loved her completely; nor was there any doubt in her love for him. Perhaps they had been fated for each other or it
was simple circumstance. Either way, I was willing to do anything to keep both of my children, all of my children, safe and free from harm. Unfortunately, even as a vampire, there was little I could do against a common flu virus. The medication I had given Bella had reduced her fever – which troubled me greatly- but the coughing was now the main concern. Her lungs had too much fluid in them to work properly which was causing her body to react in the way it had, it caused the coughing. The coughing in itself was a good thing. However, the effects of the coughing upon her muscle tissue and her esophagus were nothing short of painful for her. Though our dear Bella tried to hide it, her reactions were much slower than ours and we all saw the pain in her eyes. Even my daughter Rosalie had come around enough to be at least concerned for her youngest sister's condition. She came into my office the other day, while Bella was sleeping, to ask questions about the medications I was giving her. Although she acted as if it were simple medical curiosity, I knew that it was out of concern. I had also been told about the scrapbook she made for Bella of the stuffed animal which Emmett gave his little sister. Esme said she had already dealt with Emmett while I was work. I hope not to hear of any more instances of breaking and entering no matter the justification. Unless it is a life at stake, there is no goodly reason for such behavior. Despite Esme's dealing with Emmett, I might reiterate her points to our son. I turned up our driveway, curiosity overtaking my senses as to who would be home. Edward, certainly since Bella could not leave the confines of our home in her current condition. Esme, most likely. She would not leave our daughter either unless I was with her. Alice? Perhaps. She did not want to leave her best friend but, at the same time, she might go with her husband. My poor son, Jasper, was not doing well with the worried emotions emitting from us all. Rosalie may be home but she would most likely stay within her own room. Emmett, if he was at home, would be playing on which ever video game system he had plugged into the television. At least he was fairly easy to guess as to his locations. As I got out of my car, I saw my wife on the front porch and rushed to her. I could tell by the way she held herself in my arms that not all was well. Was it simply our youngest daughter's illness that had taken a toll upon her or had something else occurred during the day since our noon conversation? "What is it, my beloved?" I asked her gently. "Worried about Bella, I suppose," she replied with a smile before looking out on to the yard with a quizzical expression. I followed her gaze but saw nothing too out of the ordinary. I looked back at her, curious. "Your sons had a wrestling match earlier," Esme informed me. "It was football, Mom!" Emmett replied from within. Esme shook her head but a smile didn't leave her face. "I wanted to inspect the yard and make sure they put
it back together before you got home," she continued. "The yard looks as it should," I told her happily. I couldn't help but to notice they became my sons when they were in trouble. The girls also became my daughters when they brought too much home from one of their shopping extravaganzas. I quickly found out that was the way with all couples when they have children; if the children misbehave they suddenly are no longer "ours" but "yours". I kissed Esme before entering into the house. Of course, Emmett was playing on the video games as was his custom. "Hey," he shouted distractedly toward me as he moved the controller. He was too caught up in the game but that would only last until one of is siblings, his wife, or my wife distracted him from it. I saw no reason to distract him now. He had been helping, albeit not in a way I would normally condone, to make Bella feel better. I doubted he had spent much of the day on his games and more of it with his brothers and his youngest sister. I wanted to check on my favorite patient despite having worked all day. There was a difference between curing those at the hospital, to whom I was glad to have helped, and attempting to cure my own child. I now fully appreciated the lengths I had seen so many parents go through in order to find a solution, any solution, to their child's illness. I found myself wanting the same. However, I knew my daughter would be well in another day or two. This flu would not cause any lasting damage. Before I could voice my question to my wife as to the whereabouts of our "youngest" children, I heard the coughs from upstairs. Esme winced at the sound and even Emmett paused his game to look in the direction of the coughs. I held my wife until the sounds subsided. My poor beloved looked to be on the brink of tears though no would come. "She isn't getting worse, is she, Pops?" Emmett asked. He only referred to me as "pops" when he wanted something or he was in a worried state. In this case, I could gather it was both. "I will check on her soon," I answered. After all, I would not know if her condition had worsened until I was able to see Bella for myself. The answered seemed enough for Emmett for the moment. He nodded once and turned to his video game. Holding my wife close, I took her to the kitchen for at least the semblance of privacy. I could tell she had been spending a great deal of time in here. It was her way of coping and of helping; to make more food than our dear daughter could possibly eat. I wondered, briefly, if the wolves would wish to partake in any of the food. Although we had a slightly more tangible peace agreement with them, I wasn't sure if they trusted us enough to be willing to take food from us. Maybe if
I approached the Clearwaters…. Or it might be better yet to simply give the excess food to Charlie Swan for everyone at the station. I could explain that my wife was trying new recipes and wasn't capable of making food quantities for less than a small army. Esme turned to me, her eyes filled with grief when we reached the middle of the kitchen. Gently, I placed my hands upon her small shoulders. "Esme? Please, tell me what is wrong," I begged of her. If there was any pain inflicted upon her that I could take away, I would do so without question. She shook her head. "I am being a silly thing," she answered. I brushed her hair back to fully look at her. "If it troubles you, it's not silly. Please, tell me," I asked again in a more hushed tone. Esme turned away from me to gather up the various utensils she had out and place them in the dishwasher. "I just keeping thinking about John and," she started. At the sound of her son's name, her biological son who died of a lung infection and whose death caused her to try and take her own life, I rushed to her side and swept her into my embrace. She needn't say more. I knew, without my son's ability, what she was thinking. She was comparing her experience with the child she had lost to the child we had all found. Now, in the safety of my arms, she wept. "I know I am being silly," she continued through her non-existent tears. I loosened my arms around her to look into her eyes. "You are not being silly," I told her with conviction. "Our daughter also has a lung infection. I should have considered this when I thought to bring her home rather than leave her in the hospital," I stated. My beloved's expression changed immediately. "Oh no, Carlisle! I would never want Bella anywhere other than here. I didn't mean to make you think that it was too much for me," she ended quietly. I kissed her. Esme wrapped her arms around my neck and held me to her during our kiss. For almost ninety years have I been married to this perfect creature and yet I still found myself not being able to get enough of her. After too short a time, I felt tour kisses slow. "I suppose I should check on our daughter," I whispered into my beloved's ear. Esme's face was still one of pain, but not nearly as dire as before. She smiled at me. "Ask her what she would like to eat. I'm worried she's not eating enough," my wife informed me. Chuckling, I kissed her quickly again before heading up the
stairs and into my office. Upon the bed sat both my son and my daughter. Edward's eyes told me all I needed to know for the moment. He looked beside himself with anguish as he held Bella gently in his arms, cradling her small frame. Bella would not meet my eyes, but sounded to be slightly labored in her breathing. It may have been just a side-effect of the coughing I heard a minute or two before but I wasn't sure. "Ah, there is my favorite patient," I teased her lightly. Bella looked up and offered a small smile. Her face lacked any color – an unusual condition for her given that she was prone to blushing- and her eyes looked slightly lost. I took out my thermometer, given it was the only instrument that I needed, and gently placed it beneath her tongue. It felt natural to simply ask any questions I had in my head rather than to voice them allowed with Edward nearby but I also knew how much Bella detested our "silent conversations" as she called them. I think they went on the same list as needles and hospitals. "Are you feeling any better?" I asked her. She nodded once and winced slightly. Tilting her head back, I felt her lymph nodes to see they were, indeed, swollen. She might have an underlying bacterial infection as well as the virus. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to put her on an antibiotic until this cleared up. "Hmm," I voiced aloud. The thermometer beeped and I promptly took it from her. Her temperature was staying steady at 99. It wasn't good but it wasn't troublesome either. I would much prefer her normal temperature of 98.1 which she ran at when she came in for any of her broken bones or twisted ankles. I was not about to let her go without her temperature returning to it's normal range. "Well, it seems your lymph nodes are swollen," I informed my daughter although the information was already given to my son. Bella groaned in response. Edward immediately became more protective of her. "I'm going to put on another medication –an anti-biotic- to help with that, alright, Bella?" I asked her gently. She nodded, and winced, again. I took out my pin light, out of habit more than necessity. "Your throat?" I asked and I gently instructed her to open her mouth. What I saw there was perfectly raw, pink and red, tissue. I could even smell the slightest hint of blood. I needed to give her something to coat her esophagus and help alleviate that pain. Quickly, I moved to the small refrigerate I had placed in my office for such emergencies and grabbed the medication I was looking for. Placing it in a spoon, I brought the medication to her lips. "This will help, Bella," I told her, mostly hoping that it will do more than it really could. She took it readily.
Placing all my medical equipment back within my black bag, I turned back to my two children. I only then saw the purple robe and didn't think Bella had that yesterday. Most likely the work of Alice. Edward shook his head at my suspicions. Esme? Another no. Certainly Rose wouldn't…a nod. Interesting. She was coming to terms with things far better than I had even thought. Another nod. I smiled. "Would you like anything to eat, Bella?" I voiced the question Esme had asked me to a few minutes before. "There is more soup or ice cream might help," I offered. It wouldn't be hard to drive quickly out to the grocery store and obtain a carton of ice cream. "Ice cream?" I heard her harsh little voice speak. I tried not to let my emotions show as I only wanted to magically, somehow, make my youngest daughter become instantly well. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could do that. I hated myself for needing to voice another question but it was necessary. "Any flavors you would like?" I asked her. Bella nodded and quietly started to say "chocolate" but only got as far as the "choco" before coughing. Her lungs both had a small amount of fluid in them but that amount was causing her pain. She smiled sheepishly at me once the cough was done with. "Chocolate it is," I told her and kissed my youngest daughter on her head. I squeezed Edward's shoulder, learning long ago how he was about affection. With that, I took to the stairs and went to my wife's side. "I believe I need to go and find chocolate ice cream," I informed her. My beloved laughed at the sound. "I think I can find that. Why don't you stay home in case Charlie shows back up?" she asked. I nodded and watched a minute later as my wife took my car to the grocery store. I suppose it will smell like chocolate ice cream for the next couple of days but that was a very small price to pay if it made my youngest daughter happy. Chapter 14 I fell asleep. Again. When I woke up I saw my Dad –Charlie- talking to my other Dad –Carlisle- near the foot of the bed. I think I woke up because of their whispered conversation. I half thought of pretending to still be asleep but I saw Carlisle look at me and I knew I couldn't get away with it. Besides, Edward always complained that I was a horrible actress when I tried to fake being asleep. "Good Afternoon, Bella," Carlisle greeted me. I tried for a small smile but I think it came out as a grimace. "Feeling any better?" he asked as he walked closer, pin light already in hand. I nodded. I still didn't trust myself to speak although the stuff Carlisle gave me earlier did help my throat. "Hey, Bells," Charlie nearly whispered as he came to stand on the other side of
me. He brushed back my hair, which was overly affectionate for him, and looked at me worried. I tried for a "Hi, Dad" but all that came out was a small cough and a weak smile. Charlie, now sitting next to me, looked up at Carlisle. "She's lost her voice completely now?" Charlie asked Carlisle. "No," Carlisle answered tentatively. Which was true. It just hurt like crazy when I tried to talk. Not to mention talking meant more coughing. I did not want to cough anymore. "However, it is better if she tries not to strain her voice. Her throat is extremely raw," Carlisle continued. Charlie moved his hand through his hair. "I know you're doing all you can, Carlisle. Just don't like seeing my little girl sick," he said nervously. I tried to smile at him and moved to hold the hand that he had on the bed next to him. Charlie was worried about me but really, I had three people around me with medical degrees twenty four seven at this point. "Think I can take her home? I know you and Esme have been doing a great job of looking after her but I bet Bells wouldn't mind being in her own bed either," Charlie said. I tried not to look disappointed. I did love my Dad but I also loved having unrestricted access to Edward as well, even if I was sick. Although, a part of me did want to get home and make sure Charlie was eating more than bacon and eggs or pizza for dinner. Not that I really could stand up for more than a minute in my current condition and actually make dinner but I'm sure I could think up something. "Tomorrow, probably. I want to keep an eye on her fever. It's down but her temperature has yet to return to normal," Carlisle replied. I grumbled and crossed my arms. Edward would probably come over while Charlie was at work but what about everyone else? Charlie nodded and stood up after a couple of minutes. "Just get my little girl well, Carlisle," he stated as he turned to leave. I hated these short visits but I could also hear the walkie talkie going again. Now, the carved bear had returned to the front of Newton's Outfitters…had honey on it. Or at least that's what it sounded like. "I'm trying, Charlie. I don't like seeing her ill either," Carlisle told him, placing a hand on Charlie's shoulder as they both walked out. I could hear the two of them still talking in the hall when a third voice joined in; my Edward. I strained to hear what was said but didn't understand any of it. I pouted, knowing it wouldn't do any good, as Charlie and Carlisle's voices got further away. Just as I let out my "humph", I saw a tall pale figure with bronze hair near the doorway out of the corner of my eye. He had his crooked smile on when I looked at Edward fully and a bowl in his hand.
"Hello, love," he said as he we suddenly beside me. "Hi," I tried to whisper back. My voice refused to sound though. I was pretty sure I could make my voice work but I forgot why that would be useful when I looked into Edward's eyes. All I could see and think about was him and his dark gold eyes. I didn't move as he kissed me lightly. "It's alright, love. I brought something that may help your throat," he said as he spun a bowl filled with chocolate ice cream in his hand and put it between us. I looked at the various chocolate scoops and realized that they were each different. There had to be at least six different types just in the one bowl! And it did have sprinkles, a requirement for all ice cream as far as I was concerned. I looked up at him confused. The crooked smile I love so much fell from his face. "Is something the matter?" he asked looking at the bowl curiously. How was I supposed to eat that much ice cream? "Too much," I squeaked out. My eyes scrunched up in a grimace as I spoke. My voice sounded completely wrong now and it hurt to speak at all. I saw Edward's expression change for a split second before he looked back down at the bowl. "I suppose Esme did go a bit overboard," he mused before looking back up. "But none of us were sure which type you liked so she bought all the different types of chocolate," he told me. "All?" I managed to mouth incredulously. Edward moved in closer and put his hand against my cheek. I automatically leaned in to the palm of his cool hand. "All," he whispered. We were both quiet for a moment. I held his hand to my cheek, loving both his touch and the feeling of coolness on my overheated face. He smirked after a couple of minutes of just sitting there. "You need to eat it before it melts," he told me. I shook my head. "You don't want the ice cream?" Edward asked. I sighed. I did want it but it was way too much. "Too much," I mouthed this time. Edward smiled. "Why don't you just try a little bit of each," he said in his dazzling voice. I grumbled and looked away. "It will help your throat," he continued. With a sigh, I picked up the spoon and dug into the bowl of never-ending ice cream. After maybe my fourth bite of chocolate ripple fudge, I suddenly saw a very large, very white blur cross into the room. "Can't you tell them I didn't do it?" Emmett asked looking at Edward. I had gotten use to the sudden appearance of my
vampires. Still, though, the second I saw something hurdling towards me, I grabbed the teddy bear and the bowl of ice cream. I held on to them since I didn't want Emmett to take Beary Phoenix on anymore adventures. Edward chuckled darkly. "After your episode with the jello in the gym two years ago, what makes you think that even I believe you didn't do it?" he asked his brother simply. "But I didn't!" Emmett stated emphatically. I became curious at what this conversation was about…and what the jello incident was. "Yes, I can see that. But I also know even you have gotten better at lying with your thoughts," Edward said off-handedly to Emmett. Emmett, looking terribly dejected, sat down on the bed. With sad looking eyes, Emmett looked to me. "You believe me, don't you Bella?" he asked. I looked to both Emmett and Edward to explain. I didn't know what was going on. "The chase of the wooden bear that your father has been going on for the past few days," Edward explained. I mouthed an "Oh" as I suddenly understood. Yes, it did seem like something that Emmett would do. "First, the bear goes missing," Edward started. "While I was with Rose, hunting I might add," Emmett said triumphantly. Edward grimaced and glared at his brother. "Sorry," Emmett muttered. I held back laughing, taking a guess that he wasn't thinking the least bit about hunting. "Then the bear suddenly reappears in the middle of the street wearing a whistle around his neck and a police cap upon his head," Edward continued. "Well, yeah but I don't have a police cap and it's not like," Emmett started but Edward held up his hand to interrupt his brother. "Then it mysteriously disappears, again, only to be replaced by coffins and a ransom note," Edward continued. "That wasn't even in my handwriting," Emmett interjected. I don't know how Emmett knew that ransom note wasn't in his handwriting but that did seem odd. "Then, the bear is found in the woods just a few yards from the main road leading to our house by hikers," Edward continued. "Which proves it wasn't me because I wouldn't have hidden it there," Emmett tried to explain.
"Ah, but who else would even consider stealing the bear and covering it with honey to make it look like it went out for a snack?" Edward asked his brother. "I don't know! But it wasn't me!" Emmett complained and crossed his arms. Gently, I patted my big brother on the upper arm. I didn't like seeing him not being his joyful, joking self. He looked at me and smiled a bit but it wasn't one of the goofy smiles I was use to. "Thanks, Bella. At least someone believes me," he said. It wasn't necessarily that I did believe him just that, if he was behind it, I know Jasper had to help. I can't see Emmett keeping a prank like this to himself, ever. Edward rolled his eyes at his brother but Emmett ignored him and looked to my bowl of ice cream. "Does that actually help?" he asked me. I nodded once and took another bite of the milk chocolate ice cream this time. "So, like, cold things help?" Emmett said in such a teasing voice that I immediately looked down and blushed before Edward started growling. Emmett promptly ignored my fiancé and moved in closer. "And with the popsicles yesterday, it seems that cold, hard things help even better," Emmett teased. I was sure I was up to beet level red and I was so not eating another popsicle ever again. Before Emmett even got to laugh at me, I felt Edward move from my side and pounce his brother, knocking them both off the bed. "Hey!" Emmett yelled out from the floor. I wasn't sure how long Edward could keep Emmett pinned but I doubted it was long. "Apologize," Edward demanded. "Not until you help me," Emmett retorted as he wiggled out from Edward's grasp, flipped his brother over and looked to have Edward pinned. However, Edward was faster and could read Emmett's mind. "Apologize," Edward grunted as he moved to try and re-take Emmett. As they wrestled on the floor, I saw Carlisle standing in the doorway. He sighed and shook his head before walking, calmly over to the two argumentative teenage vampires. With all the ease, it looked, like pulling up too oversized kittens, he yanked both boys to their feet. Both boys instantly looked down at said feet once they were up. I was instantly glad for the ice cream, despite Emmett's earlier teasing. Watching this, I needed the ice cream or popcorn. Popcorn would just make my throat feel worse though. "Both of you are to apologize to Bella and then I will see both of you downstairs
immediately," Carlisle said in his stern father voice. "Sorry, Bella," Emmett mumbled before heading out the door. "Sorry, my love," Edward whispered before he kissed me and headed down after Emmett. A part of me wondered if the fight really was over. "Get some rest, Bella," Carlisle told me, gently and took the half empty ice cream bowl away. I sat in the room, hugging Beary Phoenix, wondering what kind of punishment did a three hundred and sixty three year old give to two teenaged immortals? Chapter 15 Carlisle's POV I had planned on a simple punishment for my sons. For both boys to act in such a manner in front of Bella, particularly when she is so ill, was uncalled for. I was not of the mind to give any credence to any mitigating factors given what Esme had told me of their behavior earlier. I understood that both Emmett and Edward –in particular Edward- had been enclosed within the house for far too long given the needed precautions we had taken since Bella had taken residence. Given that she was now within our home for twenty four hours rather than a few out of the day, the need to be hyper sensitive to the very simple fact a human was among us had taken a small toll upon us all. Not that anyone seemed to mind. If anything could be said about these circumstances, it was this: that the atmosphere of the house, despite the reasoning behind Bella's currently arrangements, had turned to one of both worry and of sport. The two constantly conflicting with the other given that although all, even Rosalie, were concerned for Bella, the children also wished to entertain their young human sister. They all, even Edward, seemed to forget the human aspect of Bella and would begin to act as they would at any other time within the house. Adding the fact that Bella was ill into the equation only worsened the somewhat egregious lack of thinking where she was concerned upon all parties; myself included. I too, though she was my patient, tended to forget the amount of sleep she needed in order to get well and what she was and was not capable of. I sat down in the dining room upon one of the chairs that surrounded the table and waited for the boys to follow my lead. Both were looking down; Emmett in thought and Edward in grief. I did not need Edward's ability to know what was in each of their thoughts. "Emmett, Edward," I stated simply and gestured for them to take their seats. Emmett sat with a characteristic "flomp" whilst Edward slowly pulled at chair out only to sit with his head upon his hands. Deciding that neither boy would speak at this moment, I took the advantage and
carefully guarded my thoughts as I spoke. I needed to be sure that Edward could not see what punishment I would dole out this time before I spoke of it. "Both of you know better than to fight in such close confines of the house and, particularly, not within the presence of any human. That includes Bella," I began. "But Carlisle," Emmett began. However, I held my hand up. "Allow me to finish Emmett and I will allow for your explanation of events," I told him calmly. Emmett slumped against his chair in a haphazard manner. However, I knew he was pacified for the time being. "I understand that, given the current constraints, some acting out will occur. However, I believed that this would be limited and certainly never around Bella, who most certainly could get hurt from such behavior," I admonished both of them. I swear that I heard Edward choke down a sob but his face was hidden from me and I could not be sure. I knew that he was crying and I did feel terrible for my son. I could guess at what had happened. Emmett most likely said or suggested something that he should not have. Edward reacting, protecting his mate from embarrassment the only way he knows how, flung himself at Emmett. Hence how I found the two wrestling upon the floor near Bella. I was no longer surprised by her look of amusement at such behavior. A good part of me wished to join her and simply watch them myself. However, they were but a few feet away from her and such a distance was dangerous though neither would, nor could they either, wish harm upon her. Accidents were something to be very much avoided. "But Carlisle! Edward came after me," Emmett stated in a manner very similar to those of the many adolescents I had treated over the years when discussing how they ended up in the ER to their parents. I had always smiled, thinking that my children were far too old for such behavior. Yet, everyday I was proven wrong again. In between Alice's pleading and Emmett's antics, I should have learned that such behavior is not governed by a specific age but rather by a mindset that is attuned to a juvenile age group. Edward smirked slightly upon hearing my thoughts. "Be that as it may, Emmett, your behavior was no better in front of your little sister," I informed him. Emmett immediately went back to his previous sulking position. "Given that, you both are not see Bella nor speak to her for the next two hours," I told them. Emmett sighed but Edward looked up immediately. I could easily see the pain in my son's eyes. Edward had been crying, in his own way, of course. Being away from Bella in her current state would not be easy for him but he needed to get out, desperately. Staying indoors for so long without much of a chance to run, particularly in his own home, had given him a case of cabin fever as it were.
"And during those two hours," I started to which Emmett looked back up at me, curiously, "you are to both help Charlie in regards to this wooden bear." Edward groaned, folding his head back in his hands while Emmett grinned at me. "Yes!" Emmett stated happily, punching his brother in the shoulder a bit too harshly. "Aw, c'mon, Edward! We get to track the bearnapper!" Emmett stated. "You can't be serious, Carlisle," Edward told me as he turned his head towards me. "Very," I informed him, standing up in the process. "You are to work together. This should give you an opportunity to be outside for a while and for Emmett to vindicate or hang himself depending upon what you find," I continued. Edward smirked again as Emmett's face fell. "You think I did it too!" Emmett almost bellowed. "Emmett!" I quickly warned him and listened for the single heartbeat upstairs. There was no change and I was unsure if she had drifted off to sleep or not. "She hasn't," Edward stated simply before getting up himself. Good. I don't wish for anything at all to hempen her recovery from this illness. Thank goodness that it is almost over with. Another day or two at the most and she should be well enough to return to Charlie's care if not well enough to go back to work. As much as I would like to keep my youngest daughter longer, I know that Charlie would not appreciate it. He was her father and it was clear how much he loved his daughter from the way he spoke of her both before she came here and currently. "Go. Stay outside until two hours have passed. And neither of you are to ask your brother or your sisters for help either," I told them. They both sighed –for different reasons- and went outside. I probably should call Charlie and inform him of the latest helpers to the most interesting case to come to Forks in a rather long time. The jovial nature of this case made it far more amusing and lightened many a mood given that it was a wooden bear, one that many thought of as iconic to the Pacific Northwest, rather than a hiker that was continually getting lost – or abducted as the case may be. I had not taken much notice of the bear before, other than Emmett's instance that he have one just like it for his room. Thank goodness that Rosalie put her foot, or rather her hand, down upon that idea. Emmett did not bring it back up in her presence. Slowly, I wandered into the kitchen where I could smell my beloved cooking up something else for our youngest daughter. It smelt of cooked celery, chicken, carrots, and various spices. I recognized it as a slightly different recipe for chicken soup.
As I entered, I saw my lovely wife near the stove, an apron wrapped about her waist as she looked at a cooking book. The book was only open to look more human. There was no need for it since she had read every recipe for chicken soup that she could find the moment I called to tell her that Bella had taken ill. She knew all ingredients, temperatures, and orders of things already. Carefully, I came behind her and encircle this perfect creature in my arms. "Another recipe?" I asked though I knew as much. "Yes," Esme smiled at me as she turned in my arms. Her smile was the only medication I ever required to cure any aliment of my temper I might have. "I wanted to see if Bella might like this one better," she said as she kissed me quickly. I smiled at her and held her tightly for a moment before allowing her to get back to her work. "I didn't think she had any complaint about the last batch," I said as I smelt the pot to try and discern the spices this time. Esme tapped me with the wooden spoon, a scolding look upon her face. "She didn't but I want to make sure she eats well. And don't even think of adding anything," Esme informed. "Of course not," I stated before my wife returned to her cookbook and spice rack. "Maybe a bit of paprika?" I teased knowing that I would only be warned again. We hadn't had any use for a kitchen prior to Bella entering our lives. Now the kitchen was rather heavily used for meals that were only daintily eaten but eaten nonetheless. "Carlisle," Esme warned as she turned around. I took her back in my arms and smiled down at my pretty wife. A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth and took a full minute to appear. "I heard you sending Emmett and Edward away," she told me. I sighed and, again, let her go. "Yes, they need to get outside a bit and find a way to distract themselves for the time being," I informed her. "Edward seemed to go along with it a bit better than I hoped," Esme stated, turning from the spices to look at me for a moment. Worry was upon her face and sadness in her eyes before she added more salt to the soup she was preparing. "He knew he was wrong and why he had acted so," I told her, placing a comforting hand upon her shoulder. My wife was suddenly back in my arms, holding me tightly against her slight frame. "I hope he doesn't take this too harshly," she whispered. I smiled and kissed my
wife upon her head. Edward's mood as he left had lifted slightly. He did not like what he had done but he was not overwrought with grief for his actions either. Given than Jasper was out hunting with Alice, I knew that he had not influenced Edward's emotions. "I don't think he will," I answered my beloved. I looked to the steaming pot. "If that is done," I started, gesturing to large silver container upon the stove. "We should take a bowl up to our youngest," I told my wife. Esme nodded and loosened her grip upon me before getting a bowl and a spoon in which to pour the soup with. Once the bowl was filled with various bits of vegetables and small pieces of meat dancing in the murky colored water that consisted of the soup, I wrapped an arm about my wife's shoulders and kissed her again before we headed to my office. Our youngest daughter, based upon the sounds of her heartbeat and the sounds of a slight huff followed by pages of a book, was still very much awake. Chapter 16 Emmett's POV (hopefully, that serves as its own warning) Carlisle had thrown Edward and me out of the house for at least two hours. Yeah, it would suck not being about to drag anyone else along but at least I'd get to vindicate myself. I was not the bearnapper! This time. Actually, I've never taken this particular wooden bear. I've wanted to but Rose won't let me so I gave up on the idea. Or at least for now. Maybe in our next house in a couple of years I can get my own study and put it in there. Sorta a bears gone wild type room theme. Esme would help! I get why everyone would automatically think it was me but I really didn't do it. Or wasn't doing it. Well, not that anyway. I mean Rose and I…uh oh. Growling from Edward. "Do you think you could keep your mind on the task, right now?" he asked as we ran towards town. "Sorry," I mumbled back. So, this wooden bear. It totally rocks! I mean, I've seen it every time we go to Newton's to either buy stuff we won't use or bug Bella. I personally like the second part. Ever since my little sister started working there, going to Newton's was a blast! It was so easy to make her turn all red and then see Edward or Jazzy glare at me for doing so. Edward rolled his eyes at that one. Well it was. "It is amazing that she even likes you given the amount of grief you cause her," Edward told me. "Hey, Bells adores her big brother," I stated proudly. I knew Bella loved me. After
all, she hadn't let Beary Phoenix –whadda name!- out of her sight since she got him. "That's only because she's terrified of what tortures you'll bring upon the bear," Edward smirked. My face fell at that. "I wouldn't hurt her teddy bear," I told him. I wouldn't either. Not just because I got it for her but because it was clearly something my little sister loved. What kind of big brother would I be to destroy something that she likes rather than protect it? If it's something for Bella, I'd help. Of course, if it's something to tease her about, I'd really help! Like maybe teasing her about popsicles again. Again, Edward growled. What? Jealous of a piece of human food? And he pounced me. I found myself flat on my back about oh two hundred yards from the edge of the woods. Edward had my collar and was above me, his knee on my chest, glaring at me. I grinned and went to pin him but he was too quick. Damn his mind reading skills. Quick, think of something else. I started to picture Rose and what I planned to do tonight. Rose in that little cheerleader outfit. Edward's face turned from anger to pure disgust. It was hilarious, and just what I needed. I flipped up and pinned him against a tree. He managed to wiggle out of my grasp and flip me again, face down in the dirt. "Aw man, Esme's gonna get mad about trying to get the mud out of this shirt!" I complained. I hated making Mom mad and Edward knew it. There really is nothing scarier than a guilt trip by an angry vampire Mom. Really. I would know. "Apologize!" Edward demanded as I tried to get up. He had me pinned pretty well but I was stronger. "Never!" I stated with a grin as I pulled myself up, knocking Edward over. I saw the look in his eyes as he sat there, fallen on the ground, and all the need to fight him left me. His eyes were just sad and angry. I knew why too and it wasn't at me; well, not entirely. He was worried over his mate and I couldn't really blame him. I mean, we were all worried over Bella but humans get sick all the time right? I guess it is different when it's someone you love like that. I offered him a hand to help him up- not that he'd need it. Just to call a truce for now. After all, Carlisle had kicked us out to go find the bearnapper. I really wanted to find out who the bearnapper was to prove to my family that it wasn't me. Edward gave me a small smile. "Alright, truce," he stated as he took my hand and stood to his full height. "Now, let's find this person who has stolen your precious icon," he told me. It wasn't hard to get to Newton's Outfitters through the woods. But once we
walked down the street, turning towards Newton's, I was pretty shocked at the sight. And it's hard to shock a vampire. It looked like every police car in Forks was now parked out front Newton's; all two of 'em. Charlie even put up the crime scene tape around the front half of the store where the bear normally stood. I wonder if I could get me some of that. I'm sure if Bella asked her Dad… Edward rolled his eyes and grabbed my elbow. "You wouldn't have any use for it," He told me as he walked towards the store. "Well, yeah, but it would be cool," I countered. I mean, could you imagine the fun with crime scene tape at our next school? Or around Halloween? That would be a blast! Both of us went towards Charlie to find out what happened now. At least if something happened in the past hour or so, I had witnesses that it totally couldn't be me! "You could have help," Edward told me. Shut up. Like who? Jasper? He's been busy researching any Civil War re-enactments back east so he can go next year. Charlie was looking around the scene as we came up to him. There was still some honey on the sidewalk where the bear normally stood. A trail of honey, some of the drops too small for human eyes to make out, I guess, lead down another street. Huh. Well, it's not like wooden bears can just up and walk away on their own. Although, if I was a wooden bear in front of Newton's, I might just try to do that. Edward smirked at me. When the Police Chief spotted us, I grinned. Edward nodded at him and Charlie nodded back. "Edward, Emmett," he greeted us. "Hey, Charlie!" I said, grinning. Charlie's heart beat started to pick up and he blinked a couple of times. He also took half a step back from the police tape line; fear response. Unlike little sis, at least her Dad has one! I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm kinda glad Bella doesn't because that's one of the things that sorta helped her in finding us as all, right? So, if she did have a fear response, would she have be up in Dad's office right now? I doubt it. Edward shook his head at me, laughing. "Charlie," Edward stated, getting his attention again. "You boys curious about the bear too?" Charlie asked, gesturing over his shoulder to where the bear normally stood. I was going to answer but Edward beat me to it. Mean little brother. "Yes, sir. Although, I admit it's more than idle curiosity," Edward started. Really, dude, normal teenagers in this day and age totally don't talk like that. You have got to loosen up on your vocabulary! It's not like language isn't constantly evolving. Even Carlisle has gotten better. Can you imagine if he still spoke with all
those thees and thous? Ugh! Edward ignored me. Charlie cocked an eyebrow at Edward. "My brother, Emmett," Edward started, gesturing towards me, "is somewhat of an expert on practical jokes." I stood up proud. If there was something I was better at than anyone else in the family, it was joking around. Charlie took a look at me, securitizing me. I just grinned. "He may be able to provide valuable insight into your investigation, if you would like," Edward stated. "King of Practical Jokes, that's me!" I added to which Edward put his head in his hand and mumbled about never changing someone when they are drunk again. Hey! I didn't have that much of the moonshine I was cooking up before the bear got me. Stupid bear. Bet she ruined that batch. "Uh huh," Charlie uttered. Edward looked up and smiled "charmingly" -as Esme says- at Charlie. "Bella asked us to come down to help you on this, if you would let us. She seems to have an affinity for the bear in front of the shop," Edward lied. It was Carlisle that told us to come down here. But then again, Edward probably saw something in Charlie's noggin about Bella and figured this was a good way to get us in. I knew getting Edward to help was a good idea! Charlie looked at both of us for a moment and then sighed as he lifted up the police tape. "I'm only doing this to humor my little girl," he muttered. Edward nodded before going under the tape. "Of course," he stated and stood just far enough away from the tape on the other side so I could get through. The second I got to the other side, I looked around the place more carefully, trying to find anything unusual. There wasn't much to go on. I could smell a bunch of different people in the air but there was good reason for that. Maybe if I got closer, the person or people that keep doing this might have left their scent more concentrated near where the bear had been. I walked towards where the bear normally is and kneeled next to the puddle of honey on the sidewalk. "Just don't touch anything," Charlie told me. I nodded. I wouldn't plan on touching that icky sticky stuff. Just sniffing it. The second I did, I knew exactly who did it and Edward did too. I looked up to him and he pinched the bridge of his nose with a slight groan. We were so going to take them down! Chapter 17 I threw the book I had been trying to read back down on the bed in frustration. I had re-read the first page three times and I still didn't have a clue as to what it
said. My mind was too preoccupied with missing Edward and wondering what punishment Carlisle would give him and Emmett. Grabbing Beary Phoenix, I hugged my teddy bear tight. Sighing, I looked towards the window and wondered if I should at least try to get back to sleep as Carlisle asked me to. I was brought out of my thoughts by the sound of a knock at the door followed by the door itself slowly opening. Behind the door were my vampire parents, Carlisle and Esme. I smiled a bit as Esme immediately was by my side and kissed my forehead. "Feeling any better, sweetheart?" she asked. I shrugged my shoulders in response. Carlisle stood not to far away with a bowl in his hands. I guess it must be feed the human time. I sighed. Esme looked to Carlisle worried. He only smiled back and brought a tray over to put the bowl down. It was steaming and I was pretty sure it was chicken soup again by the smell. I loved it here. I thought about what Carlisle had said earlier, about me being able to go home and I was, once again, chagrined. It wasn't that I didn't like living with Charlie, just the opposite. I loved it because he pretty much left me to my own devices except when he knew Edward was over. Even then, Charlie had let up a lot since the engagement. The only reason I didn't want to go home was because I knew that, even though I wouldn't feel well for probably a few more days, I'd be home completely alone. That was great when I was feeling well; not so much when I wasn't. Sure, Edward would sneak in when Charlie thought I was home alone resting but the rest of them? I don't think all my vampires would bother to check on their sick human sister. Carlisle might make a house call but that would be when Charlie was there so he could talk to him about medication. Ugh. "Just try a couple of spoonfuls, Bella," Carlisle told me as he went to get something from his medical bag. Esme brushed my hair back from my face as I reached for the spoon. I took a spoonful and gulped it down greedily. Esme smiled at me as I ate. I watched Carlisle. My vampire dad was clearly looking for something and I wasn't sure what. He had gone from his medical bag, to one of the shelves, and now as heading over to the partially concealed desk behind the bed. I raised my eyebrow and looked to Esme in question. Esme looked at me and then to her husband. She kissed me on the forehead and laughed lightly. "Alice must have moved something," she stated simply.
"It would be nice if she would mention where she moved things to after she has done so," Carlisle muttered loud enough for me to hear. I smiled. Esme, putting a finger to her lips since it probably looked like I was going to burst out laughing, smiled back and then looked over my shoulder. "What are you looking for, dearest?" she asked Carlisle. I could hear, but not see, him getting very exasperated. "The tablet and pen I've kept in my office," he stated. Kissing my forehead again, Esme climbed off the bed. "Where did you last see them?" she asked. I turned to watch as my vampire parents had "lost" something. I made sure to be very careful of the bowl of soup. "I had the pen within my satchel and believed the tablet to be kept in the bottom desk drawer but neither are present," Carlisle muttered, his accent coming through slightly in his exasperation. I had to bit my lip to keep from laughing at the look on my second Dad's face. I had never heard him this frustrated before. Esme patted Carlisle on the upper arm, bringing him out of his thoughts. He put his hand over hers and smiled down at my second mother. "We'll look for them," she told her husband before breaking away. "We can always call Alice and ask where she put them," Esme stated. Carlisle sighed. "Assuming that she will answer given her present location. Or that she may be able to reach her phone. Did not Rosalie accompany her?" he asked, clearly thinking again. "I believe so. Is this tablet terribly important right now?" Esme asked, curious. My cough decided to return at that moment. I turned around once it was over and slide against the headboard of the bed, groaning. Both parents were over me instantly and I tired to wave them off. I wanted to tell them it was just another cough but it wasn't like either would listen. I saw Carlisle get some of the medicine that coated my throat earlier out again and hold the spoon to my lips. "This will help," he said before I swallowed the medicine down. It coated my throat and did help to make it feel better. Shaking his head, Carlisle walked back over to his medical bag. "No, they are not important. I only wished to give Bella writing instruments so she would not feel the need to speak," he answered. Immediately, I blushed. It was so different to have someone even consider something like that when it came to me that I didn't really know how to react. I know my Mom and Dad both worried over me. Even Phil would get concerned when I got sick in Phoenix but it was different from how my vampire family
reacted. Renee would forget at times that I was sick and try to take me places when I had a fever. If she did remember, she'd be so worried that she'd forget the rest of the world. I still remember the time she tried to give me honey roasted chicken and green peas when I had the stomach flu. That was not pretty. Charlie was the opposite. He didn't know what to do but tried his best. He'd make sure I got enough to drink and give me any meds I needed but other than that, he didn't really hang around. If Renee was my constant companion, Charlie was my silent valet. Neither really acted like parents; at least not the way most people spoke of their parents. At least with Phil in the picture, it helped to give Renee balance but who would help to give Charlie balance? My vampires were different. Carlisle was a doctor for one thing so he knew exactly what to give me but it was far more than that. He was worried and checked up on me every couple of hours. He made sure I was comfortable and easily gave everyone else orders on how to help. Esme worried too. She was always near me when Edward left my side. She actually made food I could eat while I was going through this. How she managed to make food, even if it was just soup, that tasted so delicious and didn't upset my stomach when she couldn't taste it herself was just another thing that amazed me about my vampires. In this house, I was never really alone and I found that I loved it. I supposed the lack of any privacy could get annoying but really, it wasn't. I missed Edward now that he wasn't here – my guess was due to Carlisle's punishment- but at the same time I was happy to have my parents here. They knew what I needed. They weren't overly cautious –unlike Charlie- or overly pushy –unlike Renee-. They simply wanted me to get better and knew how to show it; even though I was the first one every to get sick in this house. I sighed and, immediately, Esme sat down and wrapped her arm around my shoulders. "I have a notebook that I'm not using," Esme said to both me and Carlisle. Carlisle turned to her, smiling a bit. Esme looked down at me. "I'll be right back, sweetheart, with the notebook. Are you finished with the soup?" she asked. I nodded. "It was good," I managed to croak out and immediately regretted it. I winced but tried to recover quickly. Not that it matter, both Carlisle and Esme saw me flinch. Esme sighed, kissing the top of my head again before she left with the soup bowl in hand. "Bella, don't try to speak. It will aid your recovery faster if you don't use your voice," Carlisle chastised me gently. I nodded. I started to wonder, again, what he did to punish Emmett and Edward since neither come back up yet. I bit my bottom lip in thought, hugging Beary Phoenix. He could have ordered
Edward to stay away from me but, honestly, that would punish me more. Besides, it's not like even Carlisle could really keep Edward away for too long, right? Esme was back in the room in under a minute. She held out a pretty bound notebook and an expensive looking pen. "Use this rather trying to speak, alright, dear?" she told me as she handed the items over. I took them gingerly. I hated to use this given that the items looked more than my weekly salary at Newton's. I'd be happy with a spiral bound notebook from the drug store and a simple throw away pen for under a couple of bucks. Then I wouldn't feel guilty for accepting these. "Good," Carlisle smiled. "Do you have any questions, Bella?" he asked me. I nodded and hastily wrote down my first question. You didn't ground Edward and Emmett, did you? Carlisle looked amused at my first question. Esme looked shocked slightly but recovered with a smile. "No, I didn't not ground them," he stated. "I did, however, tell them both to stay outside for a couple of hours. They were suffering from a bout of cabin fever I believe," he told me. I sighed. He probably told them to go hunting which meant Edward wouldn't be back for a while. Noticing my expression, Carlisle came a bit closer. "They went to track the person responsible for the stolen bear carving," he informed me. My eyes snapped to his and I bit my lip. Emmett and Edward went to help find the stolen bear. I quickly wrote down my next question. Is it missing again? Has Charlie said anything about it? Okay, so that was two questions. Carlisle looked to be thinking over his answer while Esme scooted next to me and hugged my shoulders again. "Your father has not said much more than he believes it to be the work of adolescents," Carlisle began. I sighed. It could be Emmett, or the wolves, or even Mike trying to get back at his Mom for something. Hopefully, Edward will find out exactly who it is causing this mess. I did not like actually having to be in any type of traffic snarl the other day when we left the hospital. That was one of the pros of being in Forks rather than Jacksonville or Phoenix; traffic was normally non-existent. "However, I have received word that it appears to be missing again," he stated. Well, there goes the Emmett theory; not that I really though my big brother would go through this much trouble for a practical joke. Emmett was more of the instant reaction type. "Don't concern yourself in regards to the bear, Bella. Get some rest and I'm sure we'll have more news about it when you awake," Carlisle stated as Esme moved to tuck me back into bed. Although I wasn't really that sleepy, I let my vampire Mom lay me down into the pillows and tried to close my eyes when they turned
out the lights. After a few minutes, I realized there was no way I could sleep without Edward there and just hugged Beary Phoenix while I laid there. Chapter 18 Emmett's POV Edward and I had pretended to look around the crime scene a bit more before telling Charlie that it looked like someone took the bear southwest. He nodded, saying that the found a bit of honey in that direction near the road but that the bearnappers must have used a truck. We knew better. Following the honey trail, I mentioned for Edward to follow me in my head. I went around the corner of the Newton's store and looked around for any humans. "It's safe," Edward informed me, before he grinned and took off! Darn little brother! Even though I knew he was faster than me, I thought I might be able to catch up to him maybe if something distracted him like the bear or Bella. Too bad we didn't bring her along. She'd love this type of stuff and she'd be great at distracting…. I heard a growl. It wasn't like one of the bears I like for dinner or like one of Edward's boring mountain lions, it was Edward. What? I just think that my little sister would think this is fun! Edward suddenly came running up to me. Had he really gotten that far? I stopped and he was only a few inches away. "She's sick, Emmett! Bringing her on something like this would only worsen her condition," he yelled. It's a good thing we were in the middle of the woods now because yelling like that in front of the humans would definitely draw attention to us. Edward sighed and pinched his nose as he started to pace in front of me. I knew Bella was sick. That was why I brought her the Teddy Bear –that she loves by the way, Edward- and why I got her all those cool pictures of the bear! I mean well… "If we carried her around, it wouldn't be that bad, right? I mean she just sleeps most of the time anymore anyway," I told him. And then I remembered the giant frog from the other night. "Not that that isn't funny as can be. How do you keep from laughing all night if you just watch her sleep?" I asked. Edward groaned and pinched his nose harder. "I mean, that is all you are doing, right? You said it wasn't like you could," I started to say do anything physically with her but Edward cut me off. "She says she feels better if I stay with her at night. So yes, I end up watching over her as she sleeps," he said but I could tell my little brother was holding
something back. I grinned and stepped in closer to him. "Really?" I asked, smiling. Edward sighed. "Do you want to catch the bearnappers as you have dubbed them or do you want to discuss my love life?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. That was a hard one. I really wanted, no needed, to catch the bearnappers since they've made my life miserable for the past couple of days. I mean, with everyone blaming me for the bear's disappearance, it really hasn't helped anything. But a chance to honestly tease my little brother about him even having a love life after all these decades? That was just too much fodder. Edward smirked at me as I weighed my options. Finally, after a couple of minutes, I decided. "Bearnappers," I told him with a serious nod. I'd get a chance to tease Edward later on. Besides, it wasn't nearly as much fun without Blushing Bella around! Edward grinned at me and hopped down from the tree branch he had been sitting on while I was thinking. I could see a couple of older scratches in the tree that looked like bear claws. Huh. Didn't think they normally came this way. I'd have to try and hunt down some real bear later on. I followed Edward through this part of the woods. We didn't normally come this way given how close it was to the treaty line but right now, we needed to. Edward pulled out his cell phone and called ahead of us actually getting there. "Do you want them to know we are coming?" I asked him angrily. "Yes. Do you want them to think we are attacking all the innocent natives?" he answered. Oh. Right. Stupid treaty. Well, not that it was really in effect much anymore. We were allowed on the reservation but only with werewolf escort. That wasn't really that much fun so only Carlisle and Edward had gone. Well, Bella too but she doesn't really count yet because she's still human. We stopped at the treaty line and waited. I grumbled about that. I mean, why can't we just go meet up with them and go get the bear back? He did call ahead and said we were coming. It's not like they don't know that we are here and what we are here for. "Hey guys!" Seth said as he came over to us. I bumped my fist with his and he gave Edward one of those "manly" hugs. "What's up?" he asked as he stepped back to take a look at both of us. Two other wolves joined him. One looked to be Sam and the other was the one I wanted, Quil. I glared at Quil and he hung his head. "We just want the bear," I grumbled. I think it was Sam that sighed while Seth grinned.
"I'm sorry, but I will place it back again tonight," Edward said, pointing at Quil. I guess that Quil was talking to Edward in his head and all. Edward nodded at me. "Why did you take it in the first place?" I yelled. I noticed but ignored Sam's growls as he stepped closer. Quil hung back and Seth looked like he was going to fall down laughing. "Do you know how much trouble I've been getting because you and Embry took that stupid wooden bear?" I asked. "Sorry," Edward said again, looking at Quil. I huffed and crossed my arms. I hated that we weren't allowed to fight them. Just one punch would really make me feel better right now. Quil took a step closer to me. Sam growled. "I really am sorry," Edward said, explaining Quil's thoughts. "Embry took it at first but I only helped because Claire wanted it at her birthday party," Edward continued to play translator. Sighing, I looked at the chocolate wolf. "And you didn't think to ask rather than stealing?" I questioned. I learned my lesson. Ask first and then steal if you don't get what you want. It worked much better that way because, sometimes, people will let you have whatever you want. Edward groaned and shook his head. "What?" Seth questioned. Edward gestered at me. "He thinks he's a Viking warrior," Edward stated. "Berserker!" I yelled with a grin. I had learned a lot about the Norse people from our cousins in Denali. Yeah, they were all Russian but at that time, the Viking civilization extended well into their territory. It was fun learning about the ships and the double axes and all about going to trade. If the neighboring village didn't want to trade, you fought them. If you won, you got there stuff. If they won, they got your stuff. Sounded like a good idea to me! Edward closed his eyes shook his head again. "Sam?" Edward asked. The black wolf came forward a step. "Would you mind making sure that the wooden bear is put back in place in front of the Newton's store and not taken again?" he continued. Sam nodded once. "Thank you," Edward stated before turning to me. "Sam will make sure that Embry and Quil place the bear back in front of the store and take full responsibility for their actions," Edward informed me. I looked at him, then to Quil and then to Sam. "You mean like, telling Charlie?" I asked, curious. Sam nodded again. "Yes, Charlie Swan will need to be told," Edward translated. Quil let out a soft whine at that. Sam shot him a look at Quil hushed up quick.
Really, even Esme wasn't that good and I wouldn't dare go up against Mom when she gives me that "Mom look". She was positively frightening. "Aww, c'mon, Sam. It's not like the bear was harmed or anything," Seth said. "Yeah, and do you really want Charlie locking up a couple of your boys in case any of the scary vampires come back?" I grinned. Honestly, I was thinking more about either Embry or Quil getting all pissed off inside the jail cell that Charlie might hold them in for a day and accidentally changing in front of him. That would not be a fun question time. I watched Seth roll his eyes from my side view while Quil looked up hopefully at Sam. At least I think it was hopeful. It's so hard to tell with these fur faced dogs. Sam looked contemplative for a second while Quil actually started to wag his tail. It was the funniest thing I had seen in a while. A grown werewolf wagging his tail. I grinned more. "Fine," Edward stated, translating for Sam, I guess. "We will not inform the authorities and take care of their behavior internally." I swore I saw Sam sort of smile for a second while Quil cringed a bit. Seth looked on curious since he wasn't in his wolf form and couldn't hear them, I guess. "Sam plans on making them help Emily clean up the entire house. Apparently, it's in need of a summer cleaning," Edward explained. Cleaning a house didn't sound that bad to me. "They also have to clean up their own homes and Emily will only be supervisor through this," Edward continued. "Oh, that reminds me!" Seth stated. "I'll be right back," he said before running off a few yards. He grabbed something from behind the tree. It looked like a plastic container with some sort of liquid in it and a plate covered in tin foil. "Emily wanted us to give these to you for Bella," Seth said, handing the container and plate over. "Its soup and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that she managed to hide from the rest of us," Seth told us. It didn't smell appetizing but human food typically doesn't. "Thank you," Edward said quietly. "I'll make sure she gets them," he almost whispered. "Emily said to ask you to give Bella a hug for all of us," Seth continued. Sam nodded in agreement. "I promise," Edward answered with a nod. "I'll give her another bear hug the second we get home!" I grinned. Edward rolled his eyes at me. Quil and Sam left. Quil whimpered at me before he left – I guess another sorry- leaving Seth the last werewolf with us.
"I'll see you guys later," Seth told us. "If you don't mind? I think Mom is making something for Bella too. Charlie told everyone how she's been coughing," he said sadly. "Of course. You are always welcome to come over," Edward answered. "Yeah, we just got some new games for the Wii!" I told him. Seth's eyes lit up at that. "Alright! I'll try to make it over later today," Seth told us. He left with a wave and then changed into a wolf a few yards away. Edward and I both turned to head home. I looked to the plastic container and plate of cookies and laughed. Only with Edward would we go out on a hunt for a bear and end up with human food! Chapter 19 Bella's POV I wasn't entirely sure how long I laid there in the comforts of the pillow-y bed, but I'm sure it had to have been at least an hour or two. I just held on to Beary Phoenix, clutching him close as I tried to close my eyes and sleep like Carlisle asked of me. Sleep never came. Instead, my mind ran wild with thoughts of what everyone else was doing. Was my Dad, Charlie, eating more than fried eggs and bacon? He couldn't cook a meal to save his life. I hoped that one of his friends or maybe even Esme had taken pity on him and made sure he had at least one proper meal. Maybe Esme was cooking up a full meal that even I couldn't eat right now. She probably made enough for the entire family although no one else would eat actual food. Between the closed doors and the sweet smells of the detergent on the sheets, it's not like I could smell anything Esme was cooking down in the kitchen anyway. The house seemed oddly quiet. Where was Alice and the numerous wedding magazines? Had Carlisle told her to leave me alone too? I could just see Alice pouting and demanding that her father let her "help" her very best friend decide on a color scheme. It wouldn't matter that I could care less between the various wedgewoods and blue-grays that Alice would point out to me. All she'd want to do is plan. Maybe it was Rosalie keeping her occupied or Jasper. I shuttered at the last thought and decided to keep my mind on Rosalie. She was trying to warm up to me a bit. Although she didn't like me, she wasn't glaring either. In fact, she had even come in to see me while I was here. Granted, everyone else was in the
room too but she did make the scrapbook of Beary Phoenix. It might have just been because Emmett asked her too but why would she do anything for me even if Emmett asked her too? My guess and my hope was that she was at least trying to like me, even if it was just for Emmett's sake. Emmett, my big teddy bear of a brother. I hugged Beary Phoenix closer for no reason other than Emmett gave him to me. He was trying, in his own way of course, to help me get better. The teddy bear did help, a lot. It might not make the stupid pneumonia that Carlisle said I had go away, but the teddy bear was a physical reminder that my vampire family loved me. Carlisle was probably downstairs with Esme or reading over a journal. I don't think he had to work tonight but I wasn't sure. Maybe he was making everyone be quite so I could get some sleep, not that that would help. It was hard to sleep without Edward here. Edward. I was so completely in love with him that I actually agreed to marry him. I even agreed to wear the ring that now was lying on my left hand finger. It was pretty but something still made me shutter and want to kick and scream as if Edward was dragging me to the alter by my hair just by thinking of the word marriage. Renee had been vocal when I was growing up about getting married before you turn 30. I probably could have started my own gang or mafia and that wouldn't have fazed her as much as the idea of her teenage daughter getting married; or so I thought until I told her. Now she was sending bridal magazines and pictures through the mail and links to some of the "better" ideas through email. I was trying to keep Renee and Alice far, far apart. And so my thoughts would cycle. I thought on Jasper and wondering if I could just beg him for a second to make me sleepy. Or maybe the reason I couldn't sleep was his idea of a joke. Keep the sick human awake and see what happens. Although I had gotten rather use to the "feel" of Jasper's ability and this didn't feel like him. At all. Maybe Carlisle had grounded him too for something? I tried to re-arrange myself, hoping a different position would make me fall asleep. I rolled from one side to the other, but nothing helped. No matter how weak my body felt, and no matter how much I coughed, my brain was very much awake and there was no way to change that. I wished there was a clock in Carlisle's office. I think there was one on his desk but sitting up to look would mean completely giving up on the idea of sleep. I knew that if I sat up, I'd be up…and I wasn't entirely sure if that was what I wanted. Based on the light fading from the room, I think it had to be around 5 or 6 in the
afternoon. I wasn't entirely sure. All I did know was that I hated coughing, I still felt miserable, not having Edward by my side wasn't helping at all, and I really wanted at least one of my vampires here. I have no idea how long it was until I heard a soft knock on the door. I immediately struggled to sit up, now all twisted in the sheets and blankets from having tried to rearrange myself countless times in my efforts to get to sleep. I felt two very familiar cool hands reach and pull the sheets and blankets away from me. "Careful, love," Edward whispered before kissing me lightly on the cheek. "I wouldn't want you to fall out of bed completely," he teased as he sat down next to me. I crossed my arms and huffed. I started to argue with him, pointing out that it was hard to fall out of the middle of the bed, but only a cough came out. Edward held me tight to him and all my worried and anxieties of trying to fall asleep melted away. I had Edward here and that was all that mattered…once the stupid coughing stopped. I turned my head and opened my mouth to ask him a question but the worried look on Edward's face, the twist of pain in his eyes, made me stop. I remembered the notebook and pen our parents had given me and I quickly searched through the darkening light for them. Once I saw them, Edward placed them in my hands before I could blink. I glared at him. He shrugged, unapologetically. "That is what you were looking for, right, love?" he asked me. I sighed and opened the notebook trying not to grumble about vampire fiancés. Where were you? I wrote directly into the book. I could barely make out my own handwriting in the fading light. Edward must have noticed because he left me – only for a second- to turn on the overhead light before pulling me back into his arms and kissing the top of my head. "I went with Emmett to discuss the terms of release for the wooden bear with those that took him," Edward stated easily with his crooked smile on his face. I shook my head, trying not to be dazzled out of my line of questioning. Who? "Who what, love?" he teased. I rolled my eyes. Who took the bear and does Charlie know? I hoped the fuller question might actually get answered. I watched Edward's eyes carefully while he answered.
"No, we decided against telling your father. It would be better given it was Embry and Quil that took him," Edward informed me, awaiting my reaction. Embry and Quil? A smile started to creep on my face. I wondered if they were doing it just to provoke the resident vampires; or maybe just to provoke Emmett. It certainly wasn't a secret that Emmett liked bears…a lot. I felt the smile spreading over my face as I thought about those two dragging the wooden half ton bear all around town. It was very like Embry at least. Have they returned the bear yet? What are the conditions of the bear's release? I managed to write down without laughing. It was hard but my throat was so raw it didn't take much to remember why not to laugh or speak. "They should be returning the bear soon. Sam is coming up with an appropriate punishment for the disobedient members of his pack," Edward said smirking. He began to move away from me which immediately forced the smile from my face. "Which reminds me," he said as he left the room. I almost began to panic. Where had he gone? By the time I formed the thought, Edward was back in the room, kneeling before me on the bed with a Tupperware container and paper plate wrapped in tin foil. "According to Seth, these are from Emily," Edward stated, smiling at me again. I smiled back, and pulled the tin foil back to see the cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies by the look and smell of them. Too bad I couldn't have any until my throat healed a bit. The cookies would be too rough against my raw throat. I bit my lip. "She also sent soup in the other container if you are not partial to the cookies," Edward informed me. I shook my head and picked the notebook and pen back up. I love the cookies. I just don't think I can eat them right now. I wrote to him. I hoped he wouldn't guess how much pain I was really in. It felt like someone had laser etched the inside of my esophagus. "I'll save them for you then," Edward said quietly, placing the delicious looking temptations to the side. "Would you care for the soup?" he asked. I shook my head. Esme and Carlisle brought some up earlier. I wasn't hungry yet. "I'll take these downstairs then, love," he whispered, kissing me on the forehead. I nodded and watched as he whisked the two food items away before disappearing. It wasn't even a second, or I don't think it was, until he was right
back at my side looking…scared? I looked at him curiously, wanting to know what had frightened him. Edward looked at me and didn't even get a chance to answer. "Oh Bella!" I heard Alice cry through the house. I immediately groaned. This could not be good. Wasn't the whole makeover the other day enough? I curled into Edward, hoping he could somehow hide me from whatever Alice had planned. I heard the door open and felt the bed jostle as Alice's giggling form sat down at the foot of the bed. "You won't believe it Bella!" I heard her exclaim. I groaned in response and slowly turned one eye to look at her. All I saw was a bouncy pixie with a huge grin on her face. "I went to your house to help out with Charlie and your Mom called!" she continued. At that, my brain stopped dead. One of my very worst nightmares has occurred. Alice and Renee spoke…to each other. Chapter 20 Bella's POV I didn't know what to say. Alice had spoken with Renee. My mother had spoken with my sister. The two most lovable but most uncontrollable people in my life had spoken. To each other. About me. And, most likely, about my wedding. "Breathe, Bella," I heard Edward whisper in my ear. I let out the breath I didn't even realize I was holding only to have a cough right after it. I felt Edward's cool arms around me and his whispers in my ear until the coughing fit was over. I saw Alice roll her eyes. "It's just one more day, Edward. And we need to get the wedding plans cemented," Alice stated with a huff before turning her eyes to me. I watched as her face softened and I recognized the oh-so-innocent-puppy-dog look. I immediately started to grimace. "Don't you want to spend time with me, Bella?" Alice asked sadly. I groaned and buried my face in my fiancée's chest. "Please, Bella? Don't you want to have a perfect wedding?" she asked. I shook my head and tried to bury myself deeper into the comforts of Edward's arms. I more felt than heard Edward chuckle. "Fine," Alice said annoyed. "We will do this the hard way," she mumbled. I managed to peek out from the protection of Edward to see Alice, eyes closed and arms crossed. "Alice," Edward growled as a warning. Alice didn't respond and just stayed vampire still on the edge of the bed. I snuggled against Edward, yawning. I was finally starting to get tired but too scared of my dear future sister in law to do
anything about it. "Sleep, love," Edward whispered before kissing my forehead. I shook my head and watched Alice carefully. She was looking into the future for something but I wasn't sure what. As my eyes were starting to close against my own will, Alice's eyes leapt open. The sudden movement made me jump. "Alice!" Edward yelled lightly at his sister. Alice brushed him off and hopped off the bed. "She's going to sleep until tomorrow and then I can help with the wedding plans! Renee had some really great ideas," Alice stated. I couldn't help but notice that there was something she wasn't saying. Edward noticed too. "Why are you keeping me out?" Edward asked her. Alice simply smiled. Edward frowned. The bigger Edward's frown, the larger Alice's smile became. After about a minute of their silent conversation I shouted, "Enough!" Or tried to anyway. My voice cracked and caused my throat to hurt even more. Both vampires looked at me worriedly. "I'm sorry, Bella," Alice said, looking at her feet. "I just want to help," she whispered. Edward tossed a glare in her direction before looking down at me. "Sleep now, love. I promise to make sure she won't bother you," he grumbled in the direction of his sister. Alice glowered but eventually came over, managed to give me a hug even though Edward didn't let go of me and then left. It took a couple of minutes but I did get to sleep. While lying there, fast asleep, I could feel myself on the edge of a nightmare. Some part of me knew I was dreaming but that didn't make it any less terrifying. It was the first time in months that I had had anything but a good dream at night. When Edward left, I only had the same nightmare over and over; not that that made it any better. With him back, and me safe in his arms at night, the nightmares had stopped until now. It started out with me wearing the gown Alice had already shown me. I had my hair done to perfection, my make up so well done I didn't recognize myself, all of it Alice's usual work. And then came the shoes. Alice forced black six inch heeled boots on to my feet. I was pretty much walking on my tippy toes which meant not walking at all. As I wobbled back and forth on the crazy things Alice dared to call shoes, I pointed out my lack of coordination in them to Alice. "Oh don't be silly, Bella," dream Alice answered. "You want the pictures to be perfect, right?" she asked. I numbly nodded back in my dream. "Well, then, you can't be too much shorter than Edward to have the pictures look
right," she said before pulling out what could best be described as boots of death. They were those horrible looking platforms at the toes with heels that had to be at least a foot in length. I swore they looked like 1970's rejects from my limited fashion knowledge. "I had to wear these to my wedding, see?" dream Alice stated before putting on the killer tanned alligator boots. Alice looked even smaller than she normally did and I think the boots grew in my imagination. "You'll need to have everything perfect or else you'll regret it later," dream Alice said as she stood there, nearly hovering over me. "You'll never have another human wedding," Alice told me. "Oh, Bella, the wedding will be perfect," my Mom said as she came running it. She had on a black leather mini skirt, a tank, and a fishnet sweater. It was her club outfit that she wore when she first met Phil. I remember how she said she had broken down on the highway on the way home from a rather bad night at the club only to have Phil pull over to help jumpstart her car. It was only two days later that they were out on a date and a couple of months after that that Phil proposed. "Mom! What are you doing?" I asked. She smiled and wrapped an arm around not so short Alice while looking at me. "We decided that everyone should wear their outfits from when they got married or met! Won't it be so romantic?" my Mom answered. I felt like I was going to cry, especially when Emmett suddenly came in, all torn up like out of some horror film. His flannel shirt was in tatters and he had splattered blood all over him. The smell was getting to me even in my dream. "Almost time, Bella!" Emmett chuckled before his torn and broken body left the confines of the small room I had never seen before. I knew I was at the Cullens home, but not in a room I had ever seen. "Bella," I heard the smooth silk velvet of my Edward's voice. I turned to see him, his eyes pitch black and an angry scowl on his face that didn't match with the tone of his voice at all. I looked at him in shock, wondering what I did wrong. Did he decide that all the trouble I had been giving him over the wedding wasn't worth it? "Bella, love," he said as he walked closer. I watched as he clenched his fist. "Edward, I'm sorry. It's not the wedding that's the problem," I tried to explain. We'd had this conversation before. I had explained to him that it was drilled into me from an early age that getting married before you were 30 was the worst idea on the planet. It didn't matter that Renee was now a total advocate for me getting married before I was thirty! "Bella, love, wake up," angry Edward said. I flinched as my throat burned. My
hand instantly flew to try and somehow clench the flames that burned up and down my throat. Curious as to why my throat hurt so badly, I looked into the mirror in the room I was in. The second I saw my own reflection I knew I was no longer human Bella. I was a vampire, Bella Cullen. I awoke with a start, jutting up and quickly looking around the pitch black room in vain. I felt a cold arm wrap around my shoulders and pull me back down. I instantly snuggled against Edward. He rubbed his hand against my arm, trying to comfort me. "Bad dream?" he whispered as I felt his lips on my hairline. I nodded and wrapped my arms around him. "Don't worry, love. I won't Alice near you with five inch heels," he said with a hint of a smirk. I pouted in response. I guess I was talking in my sleep despite my throat's request against such things. It also didn't help that he knew about the killer boots. "Sleep, Bella," he whispered, cradling me to him. "Sleep and you'll feel better in the morning," he told me. I yawned, my exhaustion from everything creeping back in. "Goodnight, Edward," I managed to croak out. "Goodnight, my precious love," he responded. And with that, I was out for the rest of the night. Chapter 21 "Now, I'm thinking that Renee might have been on to something when she told me about doing everything in white and silver," Alice stated as she put a bunch of magazines on the bed. I had been eating breakfast, Edward at my side, when the annoying pixie made her appearance. I knew there was no getting out of this today. I woke up feeling better. My throat still felt like someone took a cheese grater to it but my chest didn't hurt anymore. I'd been up for an hour when Alice danced her way in and I had yet to do more than have a small cough here and there. The coughing fits seemed to have ended. Of course, I didn't want to let Edward know I was feeling better because that meant leaving the nice warm bed with him at my side. I also didn't want Alice to find out I was feeling better and go overboard on showing me decorating ideas. I really just want to go to Vegas and marry Edward. A drive thru chapel sounded like heaven right now as I listened to Alice talk about outdoor preparations. "Now, Edward," Alice started. I watched as my fiancée rolled his eyes at his sister. He had an arm around my shoulders and squeezed me slightly to his side. "Yes, Alice," he said in answer to her unspoken question.
Alice's smile grew. "Good!" she stated triumphantly. I watched as Alice began to go through the various bridal magazines, ignoring my looks of what she had asked Edward about. Guessing I wouldn't get an answer from her –she was going on about silver and crystal goblets- I looked up at Edward. Edward gazed down at me causing his bronze hair to cascade a bit into his eyes. Seeing my expression, he held me closer and gave me my favorite crooked smile that made him look all the more like a greek god. How I even was able to think that I could be in the same room with him was sometimes bewildering. Looking into his golden eyes, I had forgotten what I was going to ask him. I had forgotten pretty much everything except his perfect face. It was then I realized he was dazzling me. Tearing my eyes away from his, I remembered the question quickly and grabbed my notebook. My throat still hurt too much to talk and, given Edward's dazzling, I didn't trust myself to talk anyway. What did Alice ask you? I handed him the notebook, not daring to look up at my Adonis. I was not about to get dazzled again and I was curious as to what Alice had planned for him. "It's nothing, love," he said, kissing the top of my head. I managed to gather enough annoyance to turn my head and glare at him. Edward looked back down at me worriedly before sighing. "Alice simply told me that I was to help with the decorations and should get rather use to the idea that I won't see you for twenty four hours prior to the wedding on the threat of death," Edward explained. My eyes went wide. Alice really was all for keeping this traditional as possible, wasn't she? "Or the destruction of your entire cd collection and the piano but I think Esme might get upset with me if the piano was destroyed," Alice piped up. "Now this," she said to me, pointing to yet another picture in a different bridal magazine than the one she had been handling earlier, "is what we need." I wanted to groan out an "Alice" but I also didn't want my throat to rebel against me. Instead, I turned to Edward for help. He looked at me, gave me his crooked grin and shrugged. "She's threatening me if I don't at least let you look at the ideas she concocted yesterday," he said simply. I pouted and snuggled further beneath the covers. Stupid vampires hold the sick human captive with wedding preparations. Ugh! "Exactly!" Alice said, smiling at her brother. I glared at her and she pointedly ignored me. "Now, I'm thinking your Mom might be right about just doing everything silver and white. It will look striking and it's just odd enough that I
think it might become a new trend in bridal décor," Alice stated as she pulled out yet another magazine. "I'm thinking maybe a centerpiece like this but your Mom mentioned doilies. The ones she was thinking of totally wouldn't work but maybe we can order some hand crocheted ones in silver floss from etsy or something," Alice rambled on. I tried to tune her out but she kept touching my hand or finding some other way to shock me back into realizing she was there and forcing me to look at the pictures. Even though Edward was right next to me –and even helping his sister with ideas- I was not comforted…much. It was an hour. An entire hour before Esme came to break up the bridal magazine nightmare. Alice had been going on about champagne glass charms for the past five minutes. I hadn't the slightest idea what those were but apparently they come in a wide variety of shapes. A part of me wouldn't mind lion shaped ones but I doubt Alice would let me do that. "Alice, I'll help you later, dear. Let Bella rest," Esme said as she brought me a glass of water. Esme sat to my other side and brushed my hair out of my face as I took a sip of the cool glass. I could see out of the corner of my eye Alice sighing but picking up all the various magazines much to my delight. "How are you doing, sweetheart?" Esme asked me. I simply nodded to indicate I was okay. I was feeling better despite my throat screaming at me in protest. My body didn't have that weak feeling I get when I'm sick. I was starting to feel like me again. "Would you like some more of the medicine for your throat?" she asked, getting up slowly to watch for my answer as she went to retrieve it. I nodded again. The numbing cough syrup like stuff that Carlisle had been giving me was great. "Your father called a few minutes ago," Esme said to Edward. I guess she was saying it outloud for my benefit as well. "He'll be coming home early?" Edward asked lightly, probably already seeing the entire conversation Esme had with Carlisle in her head. Emse nodded lightly and then smiled at me, giving me the syrup for my throat. I took it almost greedily since it was helping a lot. "Dr. Miller agreed to come in early today so your father could take care of Bella," Esme told him as she kissed my forehead and went to put all the medicine back neatly. I almost didn't catch it but I think I saw Edward grimace out the corner of my eye. I quickly turned to look at him but his face became rather stone like as he offered me a soft smile. I looked at him, trying to think of how to demand to know what was going on when Esme sat back down next to me.
"Bella?" she asked. I turned my head to face her, curiously. Esme placed a hand on my knee in comfort. "Do you mind a few visitors?" she asked me. I furrowed my brow trying to think of who would come to visit the Cullens' home. Giving up, I picked up the notebook again and wrote. Who? I was curious as to who would come to see me right now. I don't think I was contagious anymore –not that that mattered to vampires or…oh. Maybe the werewolves? Edward had said yesterday that Emily made me soup and cookies. Esme smiled at me again, squeezing my hand. "Currently, your friend Angela has been calling about you. I already said she was welcome to come over. I hope you don't mind," she told me, slightly worried. I shook my head. I didn't mind Angela coming over at all. "And Seth also said he wanted to come over to see you and Edward," Esme continued. I liked Seth. He had managed to grow close the Cullens after Victoria. The werewolves in general were at least less weary of my vampires. They weren't at full acceptance but some of the natives had been calling on Carlisle for anything from the common cold to broken bones. He had to have werewolf escort and typically that was in the form of Seth or Embry anymore. Neither of them seemed to mind too much. When I nodded again, Esme smiled and gave me another kiss on my forehead. "Good," she said as she stood up, taking the now empty water glass with her. "Angela said she'd be over in about an hour and Seth should be here any minute," Esme informed us. I still didn't get why Edward would grimace if it was just Angela and Seth coming over. He knew –and I thought liked- both of them. Esme looked one more time at Edward before leaving the room. I noticed he nodded at her before she left. Grabbing the notebook again, I scribbled down "What was Esme thinking that made you cringe earlier? What did she say to you just now?" Edward looked over my scrawl and sighed. "Bella, love, it's nothing for you to worry about now," he told me. So I should worry about it later? I looked up at him and watched as he thought over what to tell me. I hated it when he kept things from me –especially things that concerned me- for my own safety. Or at least he thought he kept things away from me for my own safety. I think it made things worse later on. After about a minute of contemplating whatever it was he needed to tell me, he let out an unnecessary breath. "Carlisle's coming home early because Charlie will
be coming over early. Alice believes that if Carlisle speaks to Charlie, we might be able to keep you here for at least another day. However, once Charlie sees how improved you are this morning, Alice isn't sure what your father might do," he told me. Oh. Charlie, my Dad, would be coming over again this afternoon probably and see me. I didn't mind that but I did mind having to leave the comforts of being allowed to always be in Edward's arms, hearing Emmett's stories non-stop, watching Alice babble about the latest wedding craze, have the calming influence of Jasper around me, Esme's constant mothering, and Carlisle's ability to check up on me whenever even though I was getting better. I'd even miss seeing Rose pass by every couple of hours and "hmph" when she saw me still here. Edward did point out this was an improvement. She didn't seem to hate me anymore but she didn't like me either. I'd be away from my family, completely, back at Charlie's. If Charlie was going to be there all day, that would be fine, but he'd work ten or twelve hours out of the day. Yes, Edward could easily come over and so would Alice but I'd miss everyone else. Thinking over going back to Charlie's, I hugged Beary Phoenix tightly to me. Chapter 22 Angela came over around noon, complete with her mom's version of chicken soup. So far I have had four or maybe five different types of chicken soup. Esme had made at least two, Emily made some for me as well, and now Mrs. Weber. I understood the correlation between being sick and chicken soup but it was embarrassing to have so many people make it for me. I felt bad that I couldn't eat nearly that much soup. Esme told me not to worry about it but I didn't like the idea of throwing all that food way since I'm the only one that eats in the house. Seth came over shortly after Angela. It was nice to see his happy smiles and hear stories of what was going on over in La Push. He told me all about Embry and stealing the bear and some of what they did to the poor bear while up at La Push. I wrote down that I wanted copies of any pictures of the bear in Leah's old tutu. It was only one when Charlie dropped by. Angela and I couldn't hear the discussion downstairs but both boys could. I don't think Angela noticed when Edward winced or when Seth tried hard not to laugh. She probably just thought they were being boys but I knew better; they heard Carlisle and Charlie talking. I loved Charlie. I worried about him and his idea of cooking while I was here. Was he getting anything to eat other than scrambled eggs and bacon? I think Esme took some food over for him but still, I wasn't there to make sure he actually ate food. I also knew he didn't like me being over here. His job as police chief made it easy for him to simply have a house to sleep in but
his real home was at the station. When I came, he did try to change up his constant schedule to spend more time with his daughter but still, he would wake up at 6, leave around 7, go to the station, come home between 7 or 8 most nights, and watch which ever sports program was on. The weekends were still filled with fishing trips to which I was glad he no longer insisted I go. I had interrupted all that even though I didn't want to. I wanted to get away from causing my Mom, Renee, worry. She wanted to travel with Phil and having me around stopped her from doing that as much as she wanted. At least with Charlie, I reasoned, I wouldn't be nearly as much in the way. I could help. And I've been helping, I think. The dishes get done and the floors get vacuumed; it was more than really got done before. Charlie wasn't a slob but he wasn't overly concerned about keeping things neat either. He was more concerned about his job and the station than his house. If he did take me back, I'd just sit there, on the couch, until I finally got over this bug. Charlie would still be at the station most of the day. I know he'd make a conscious effort to come home early and maybe even stop by during the day to check on me but that would be it. I'd be alone and sick and miserable. Here, I had my own doctor in the form of Carlisle. I had my future mother in law, Esme, to worry over me. I had my brothers and sisters and I had my Edward. It pained me to think he might have to go back to hiding in my room until Charlie went to sleep while I was at Dad's house. It wouldn't be able to spend as much time with him as I wanted. He'd have to stay away when Charlie was home…for the most part. "So, have you finished any other plans for the wedding, Bella?" Angela asked. I cringed and shrunk against the pillows. Worried, Angela looked to Edward for an explanation. Edward shook his head and smiled. "I believe that she is still recovering from looking over bridal magazines earlier," he stated. Angela looked back at me. "Bridal magazines?" she asked. "Alice," I croaked out and nodded. Angela patted my knee sympathetically. Seth just let out a loud laugh. "Aww, come on, Bella. Alice can't be that bad," Seth grinned. Both Edward and I shot him a look. Yes, oh yes she can. Looking to Edward, Seth's face became confused. "Really? But she's so…small and…bubbly I guess," he said, searching for the right words. Edward's expression softened into a smile.
"Yes, she is. And that is precisely the problem. She is too bubbly," Edward said with a smirk. "I'm sure she just excited, that's all," Angela said kindly. I tried to smile in response but coughed again. I wasn't one of the coughing fits –those were over with, Thank God- but it still hurt my throat. I grimaced and felt Edward put a cold glass of water back in my hands. As I took a sip of the water I saw the door open slightly and heard a knock. Everyone turned to look as Charlie came in, police cap in hand. "Hey, Bells. Kids. Feeling any better?" he asked. It was kind of funny to see Charlie turn slightly flush at seeing everyone in the room. It's not like he hasn't known Seth since he was born or he hasn't spoken to Angela's parents at every town council meeting. I nodded slightly. "A bit," I answered truthfully. I ignored the split second look from Edward. "Good," Charlie said as he looked around somewhat. He brushed a hand through his curly hair before he spoke again. "Umm, Bells? Carlisle says he wants to keep you under his watch for one more day. I'm not really all that inclined to argue with the good doctor so I'll just come by and take you home tomorrow, okay?" he asked. His eyes looked almost hopeful. I nodded. I was going to try and speak but Edward shot me a look again and pushed the notebook and pen into my hand. I sighed but took them and wrote: Sure, Dad. Sounds great. I'll see you tomorrow then. Love you! Charlie smiled a bit and muttered a "Love you too, Bells," before looking at everyone else in the room. "Angela. Seth," he nodded to both of them. His eyes turned very slightly menacing when he looked to Edward. "Edward," he said as he left. "Chief Swan," Edward responded in farewell. As my Dad left, everything in me wanted to ask what Carlisle said to convince Charlie to let me stay one more day and what he was thinking. Of course, I couldn't with Angela around. I really wish she was a witch then she'd be just another mythological creature in Forks and totally be in on the secret. If it was just Seth in the room, I'd ask Edward to tell me what happened…or ask Seth to tell me since he probably heard the conversation. Instead, we went back to discussing the Simpsons and whatever was in the news right now. Seth got a pack of cards so we could play "Go Fish" and other rather silly games until I yawned. Angela noticed and quickly got up. "We should let you rest, Bella. You're still sick," she told me. I shook my head. I was tired but I didn't want my friends to go yet.
"Yeah, I should head back home anyway and see what Embry is pulling now," Seth smiled. I looked at them both sadly. "Get your rest, Bella," Angela said as she hugged me before she left. "See you later, Bella!" Seth said happily before heading out behind Angela. Edward kissed my cheek and moved towards the door. "I'll be right back, love," he whispered before disappearing too. It was only a couple of minutes before I gave into sleep while hugging Beary Phoenix close. Of course, that would be ruined by my oversized vampire brother. Chapter 23 Bella's POV I felt a large cool hand press against my forehead. I groaned, not wanting to wake up yet. I couldn't have been asleep very long. I remember Seth and Angela leaving. Edward went with them to escort them out and then I fell asleep. Had Edward come back? The hand on my forehead didn't feel like him. My eyes fluttered opened and I realized it was dark. I couldn't see much of anything other than a shape of someone hovering over me. I quickly inhaled; unsure of who it was until I heard a familiar "Sorry, Bella." The cool large hand left my forehead and I saw Emmett's shape go over to where Carlisle had been keeping the medication. As my eyes adjusted and I sat up, I watched my big brother of a vampire measure out something in the dark. He brought it over and sat down on the edge of my bed. I looked around, towards the window, trying to figure out how late it was exactly. I think it was only four or five when I went to sleep. Had I really been out for hours? "Bella?" Emmett asked. I moved to look at him, my neck hurting in the process of looking around. Rather than the joyful smiles and happy nature I was use to, I saw him looking rather solemn. "Carlisle said to give this to you. It's to help your throat," he told me. I quickly took the medicine, knowing it was the same stuff Esme and Carlisle had been giving me earlier. "Thank you," I choked out. "You aren't supposed to talk, Bella," Emmett said. I looked around for my notebook but couldn't really see anything in the darkness. Emmett must have noticed. "Oh, sorry, lil sis," he told me as he got up and turned on the light. I flinched and covered my eyes until I got use to the bright light of the study. Emmett smiled at
me and handed me the notebook and a pen. Keeping Beary Phoenix in my lap, I began to write. Did you wake me up to give me the meds? I was curious. I wanted to know what time it was, where everyone else was, and why Emmett woke me up. He scratched his head and looked over my sloppy hand writing. Even Emmett's was neater than mine despite his enormous hands looking rather funny when trying to grip a pen. "Yeah, Carlisle told me to wake you up around ten if you didn't wake up on your own. Sorry, Bella," he told me. Where is everyone? I asked via the notebook. Emmett grinned at that question. "Hunting. It was great to watch Esme guilt trip Edward into going!" he told me. I smiled back automatically. I can almost picture the maternal vampire guilt tripping my fiancé into leaving to hunt. Emmett must have seen my amusement because he immediately started into the story. "Edward didn't want to leave you but Esme convinced him that you'd be okay for a few hours if Rose and I stayed here. He still didn't want to leave but whatever Mom was saying to him in her head made him turn even paler. It was great!" Emmett told me, grinning. "What he's forgetting to tell you is that Jasper made him so lethargic that he was barely able to move when they dragged him out," I heard Rose say. My head whipped around to see her standing in the door way. "Aw, Rose," I heard Emmett complain. Rosalie looked slightly nervous. "Can I come in?" she asked from the doorway. I nodded once. Rose smiled slightly and came to sit next to me on the other side of the bed. Quickly, I picked up the notebook again. Is he alright? I wanted to make sure Edward would be okay. Yes, it was just dinner to them but if Jasper had to make him practically sleepwalk –not that vampires sleep, of course- and Esme had to guilt trip him, I knew Edward didn't want to leave. I knew that my illness had been hard on him. It was never easy to see someone you love get sick but I'm pretty sure it was more than that in his case. My constant coughing and the bad fever earlier in the week probably reminded him of his own death right before Carlisle changed him. Medicine had come a long way
since then and I was starting to feel better. Of course, until I was talking without my Oscar the Grouch impression, I doubt Edward would get over his constant over-protectiveness. Not that he really got over that on any other day; it's just been worse since I've been sick. "He'll be fine," Rose said a bit curtly but not nearly as bad as normal. I think I saw Emmett shoot her a look to which Rose looked down at the bedspread and started to pick at an invisible thread. "Hey, Bella? While you're up, do you want play a game?" Emmett asked, grinning. I could see that sparkle in his eyes that meant he was up to something. I was immediately wary and hugged the teddy bear he gave me closer, watching him. "Don't worry, I know you're sick," Emmett stated happily. "Which is why it's my job as your big brother to keep you entertained!" I swear I heard Rose mutter something. When I turned to look at her, she was only shaking her head but I think I saw a smile. What kind of game? I wrote in my little notebook. I knew better than to agree to anything with Emmett involved. "Clue! Cullen style," Emmett stated proudly. I narrowed my eyes. "Come on, lil sis. You'll love it!" he said before turning to his wife. "Won't she, Rose?" he asked his wife to back him up. I looked at Rosalie and she looked back before sighing. "I promise I won't let him get too carried away," Rose stated. Emmett immediately jumped up and hollered happily. "I'll go get the game!" he said excitedly before rushing out of the room looking like a giant white blur. Rosalie leaned closer to me. "If you want to rest or need anything, just tell me, please. I can control Emmett," she whispered. "Thanks, Rose," I whispered back, my voice sounding like a dying ambulance siren. Rose nodded once before going back to the invisible thread in the comforter. It wasn't more than a couple of seconds before Emmett came back in with the board game. The game itself looked to be a first edition and was in perfect condition. Even the game board didn't have any of the normal wear and tear I was use to with my old board games. The paper didn't curl up at the corners and the creases in the board hadn't broken and torn. It was perfect…and again reminded me of how imperfect I was in this perfect family.
"Bella?" Emmett asked as he set up the game. I looked up at him and saw him smile a bit. "Which color do you want to be?" he asked. I pointed to the blue, Mrs. Peacock. Emmett grinned and handed me the small pawn. It was sort of comical to watch the big brother of mine try to place the small game piece in my hands. He grinned triumphantly when he did so. Immediately after placing my piece on the board, he gave Rose Miss Scarlett without a second thought…or so it looked to me. Emmett went with Mr. Green. If I thought Vampire Monopoly was wild, Vampire Clue wasn't exactly much better. Even though it was just Emmett, Rose, and me playing, it got interesting. Emmett had scattered the evidence across the board and made sure to deal out all the cards except the three he placed in the envelop in the middle of the board. That's where the similarities to the game I played growing up and the game we were currently playing, ended. Turns out, Vampire Clue is a betting game. For my sake, Emmett decided to use pennies, thank God. I still don't get all the rules but I got that if you guessed the room right out of so many turns, you got a certain percentage of the jackpot. If you got the person or weapon right, you also got a piece of the 1000 penny jackpot. If you guessed wrong, you had to add pennies to the jackpot. Rose had to help me with the math. Thankfully, I could use the "I'm sick" excuse still as to why I didn't get the math. Miss Scarlett with the rope in the Conservatory I wrote after my third attempt to enter the room. Rose mumbled something about using a jack hammer rather than a rope but I didn't pay attention. "Sorry, Bella," Emmett said, showing me the rope card but keeping it carefully concealed from his wife. I took 100 of the pennies Emmett had given me earlier and added them to the jackpot with a sigh. I looked to Rose to see if she had any of the cards to which she shook her head. I bit my lip in thought. If Emmett only had the rope card then…. Rose rolled the dice and promptly entered the conservatory right behind me. "Miss Scarlett, in the Conservatory, with the wrench" she said with a slightly smug smile. It fell from her face when I showed her the wrench card. Emmett tried not to grin at me. Rose lost 100 pennies as well. When it was Emmett's turn, he only added lead pipe to the weapons list…a card which neither Rose or I had. Emmett won the game to which he happily paraded around, holding up the old pickle jar above his head, filled with pennies. Rose rolled her eyes at him. "And this is what he's like when he behaves," Rose said as a snide comment, crossing her arms but smiling. Emmett grinned back at her and then turned to
me. "Here, lil sis," he said as he handed me the pickle jar of pennies. I looked at him confused. "You guessed the room and the suspect correctly first. You get a third of it since you called it. I only got the weapon right even if I did solve the game," Emmett said proudly. He poured out some of the pennies, making a pile on the bed of the coppery round metal. I bit my bottom lip. I didn't win anything. It was Emmett's….well, it was probably Carlisle's or Esme's change jar that we were using but Emmett won it for the game, right? "Don't you want the pennies, Bella?" Emmett asked. "No, of course not," I heard the familiar smirk. I turned to see my Adonis leaning against the doorway. He smiled back at me before coming towards the bed where we were all gathered. His eyes were a brilliant gold. "I see you've taught her our version of Clue," Edward said as he came around the bed, gliding in beside me. Rose had moved slightly to keep out of her brother's way. "Yeah, figured she'd need to learn it now and all. She's good at it," Emmett stated proudly. I promptly blushed which only caused Emmett to grin devilishly. Edward raised an eyebrow at his brother to which Emmett's grin only grew. Rosalie, exasperated, picked up the game and hit her husband over the head with her hand. "Ow! Hey!" Emmett complained. "What did I do?" he said, rubbing the back of his head. "I'm not sure, but it couldn't be good," Rose replied, standing up, the game in her hands. She turned to look at me. "I hope you feel better soon, Bella," she said quietly. "Thanks, Rose," I croaked out. She nodded once and left the room with Emmett. Once again, I had Edward by my side. Chapter 24 I felt two cool arms around me and snuggled closer to the familiar scent. Edward chuckled at me as I refused to open my eyes. I just wanted to lie here and not really wake up. "Good morning, Bella," he whispered, ghosting a kiss on my head. I just groaned in response and clutched his shirt tightly. "Esme is making you breakfast. Aren't you hungry?" Edward chuckled lightly at me. I tried to look up at him but I was still just waking up. I felt his cold hands gently pry my hands from his shirt. That caused my eyes to open as I pouted slightly at him. Edward just gave me one of his crooked smiles that I loved.
"I believe she is making you blueberry pancakes but it smells like she's also making oatmeal," he informed me, furrowing his brow. Slowly, I sat up and looked around for my notebook. I noticed I did feel a lot better this morning – better than I had for the past four days- but my throat still felt like I had taken steel wool to it. Edward wordlessly handed me the tablet. I looked up at him with a week smile before busily scribbling down what I wanted to ask. What time is it? Looking over my sloppy handwriting, Edward replied simply. "9:30. Alice wanted to wake you up earlier but I told her no," he informed me, smiling. I grimaced. Charlie is picking me up today. I wrote when I saw Edward's confused expression at my reaction. Understanding came over his face and he sat back down next to me, and arm slung around my shoulders. "He can't keep us apart, my love," Edward whispered. I shook my head. I knew Edward wouldn't leave me. I was pretty sure Alice might make an appearance or two at the house as well. What I was worried about was when I got to see the rest of my vampire family. After a minute or two Edward lead me down to the kitchen where Esme was busily cooking. The entire room was filled with the scents of blueberry pancakes and cinnamon oatmeal. The second we enter the kitchen, Esme came over and smiled at me. "Are you feeling better, dear?" she asked after she gave me a hug. I nodded in response. "Good," my vampire mother smiled. Turning, she went back to the stove to flip the pancakes. "Why don't you sit down and your pancakes should be done in a minute," Esme told me. I took up residence on one of the barstools at the counter while Edward got me a glass of orange juice. I guess the Food Network doesn't explain that acids and soar throats aren't a good combination. I shook my head at him. "You don't want orange juice?" Edward asked, curious. I sighed. I'd have to talk to explain. "The acid will only make…throat worse," I whispered out hoarsely. Both Esme and Edward looked at the unassuming glass of bright orange liquid before looking at each other. "Of course, how silly of me," Esme stated embarrassed. I guess she must have told Edward in her thoughts to get me the glass. I tried to whisper that it wasn't her fault but Edward placed a finger over my mouth so I couldn't speak.
"It was my fault, mother," he told Esme. "I should have known better. I have more experience around human food," he continued. "It's neither…" I started to croak but both vampires shot me a glance and I quickly looked down. I knew I wasn't supposed to talk but the whole not talking thing was increasingly difficult. "I'll go get your notebook, Bella," Edward told me, kissing my cheek before zooming by me and up the stairs. He was back in a second. Of course, in that second, Esme had place the mouthwatering blueberry pancakes in front of me. "I hope they turned out all right," Esme stated, worried. Just when I was going to speak again, Edward pushed the notebook into my hands with a smirk. I looked up at him as he gave me one of his crooked grins. They look great, Esme I wrote quickly. Esme laughed lightly at me before kissing my forehead. "Eat up, Bella. I'm sure you'll have a busy day today," she told me. Looking down, I picked up the fork and knife and dug into the pancakes. They were, of course, perfect. Esme had used just the right amount of blueberries to make the pancakes sweet but not overly juicy. They were exactly an inch thick in the middle and topped with a perfect scoop of butter. Putting anything else on these would be a crime. "Are they alright, dear?" Esme asked me as she wring her hands in her apron worriedly. I nodded enthusiastically both because my throat was too sore to talk and I had my mouth full anyway. Edward laughed at me and Esme smiled brightly. When I looked up for a glass of water, I guess Edward must have noticed the lack of liquids and slipped one in before me. I have a small smile in thanks before going back to the pancakes and the small bowl of oatmeal Esme put in front of me. I was done with the entire meal in about five minutes. It was delicious. "Do you want anymore, sweetheart?" Esme asked me as she moved to clear my plates. I shook my head and hopped off the barstool…falling slightly to the side only to have Edward catch me. Embarrassed, I began to blush and tucked my head beneath Edward's chin. He just smirked at me and wrapped his arms around my waist. Before I could thank Esme for breakfast, Edward led me into the living room where Jasper and Emmett were already playing video games. I wasn't sure which one this one was but it looked like they were trying to hunt down each other in the game and shoot each other. I watched, curious, as Emmett's character came up behind Jasper's and quickly drew a knife –or maybe it was a sword- to kill him. Jasper shot a glare at his brother when his character died to which Emmett
laughed. "What's the matter, Jazz? Don't like to be sliced and diced?" Emmett grinned. "You will pay for that," Jasper muttered as his character came back to life. Edward pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand, keeping one hand on the small of my back. "Aren't you both on the same team?" Edward asked as he shook his head. "Yeah, so?" Emmett asked while moving his guy away from Jasper, I think. The whole circular map up in the corner was confusing. "Since when doesn't Emmett comprehend established allies and who not to pick a fight with?" Jasper pointed out. "Hey! You started it! You killed me, remember?" Emmett argued back. Both boys were still riveted to the big screen TV during this argument. "And it was on accident. You stepped in front of my target," Jasper informed Emmett matter of factly. Edward was silently shaking with laughter by this point. "You kill me, I get to kill you," Emmett stated. "Fine," Jasper said as he shot Emmett's character. "Hey!" "Now we're even," Jasper told Emmett. I heard Emmett mutter something but I couldn't make it out. Edward rolled his eyes and lead me back upstairs. However, this time, rather than the horrible hospital looking study, Edward took me up to his room where the familiar black leather couch was now back to it's normal place. It took me a moment to realize the bed was now downstairs and I blushed slightly at that. Edward moved to turn on his stereo system. I didn't recognize the song but it was some sort of older styled soft jazz –not the modern elevator music- and I rather liked it. Grinning, Edward turned to me and grabbed my hands like he was going to make me dance. My eyes went wide with alarm until all he did was "waltz" me over to the sofa so I could sit down. "I realize that you may not be up to going to the meadow today," Edward said as he looked around and headed to a bookshelf in his room. "So would you care to have me read to you?" he asked as he picked up a book and turned to face me. "Or maybe some other activity where you don't have to use your voice," Edward smirked. I blushed accordingly. "Reading is fine," I whispered, followed by a grimace. Edward left the room in a
flash only to return with a cup of the familiar medication Carlisle had been giving me. "Drink," he whispered. I gulped the soothing liquid down. Just as Edward turned to take the little plastic cup back down, I guess, Alice came bounding in, grinning. She was clutching a book in her hands and grinned up at Edward. Edward raised an eyebrow at her followed by a "No, Alice." "Please, Edward?" Alice begged of her brother, looking as cute as she possibly could. Edward pinched the bridge of his nose and pointed to me as Alice squealed again with delight. "Oh, Bella, you've got to have Edward read this? Please? It's a lot of fun," she asked me, handing over the book. I looked at the older book that had a cover nearly as worn as my Jane Austin anthology but this book was clearly a lot older. I looked at the nearly rubbed off lettering to only still see the indents of the type and a few flakes of the once gold paint that filled them. The book? Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I smirked and then smiled at Alice, nodding my head. Yes, this should be interesting. Alice flung her arms around me and kissed me on the cheek before scooting in next to me. "See? Now you have to read it, Edward!" Chapter 25 The entire family, minus Carlisle who was at work, crowded into Edward's bedroom. Even Esme pulled up a chair to sit and listen to the story. I was growing more and more curious as to what exactly reading Alice in Wonderland was all about. With Alice next to me, Jasper next to her, and the rest of the family scattered around the room with expectant eyes, I knew this was not going to be an ordinary read a storybook time. "Now, normally, Carlisle gets to do the white rabbit's voice," Alice said, giggling. "But since he's not here, Edward will just have to do it." I looked back at my bronze hair Greek god who looked like he was torn between killing his sister and just sitting down and reading the story. I bit my bottom lip, worried that maybe agreeing to this whole reading of Alice in Wonderland wasn't such a good thing. Edward gave me a weak smile before sitting down on a barstool that someone had brought up. "Alice was getting very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank," Edward began normally enough. Alice, our Alice, however, immediately went from giggly to looked positively bored. I thought she liked this story. "…the book her sister was reading , but it had no pictures or conversations in it," Edward continued and then looked over at Alice. "And what use is a book without pictures or conversations?" our Alice said, sitting
right next to me. She had pulled herself, somehow, to lie on her stomach across the black leather sofa and was lazily drawing circles in the gold carpet. For a second, she looked up at me and I saw giggly Alice again before she seemed to become interested in the carpet drawing. I realized what was going on, Alice was going to sort of play Alice. This could get fun. "…nor did Alice think it was very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself," Edward said and then sighed before continuing on. He looked at Alice who just glared at him for a split second before Edward continued with the story. "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Edward said doing a perfect imitation of his father. However, imagining the good doctor say that and hearing Edward say it made me laugh a bit. Luckily, it wasn't followed by coughing this time. It just made my sore throat a bit more sore. Edward rolled his eyes and I realized I wasn't the only one that laughed. The story continued on and everyone got in on it. Jasper was the Cheshire cat which really got to be fun when he's randomly pop up above the Queen of Hearts –Rosalie- and flick a lock of her hair to annoy her. Emmett did the voices for the Caterpillar and the March Hare. I found out Edward always did the Mad Hatter, which was hilarious, and Esme was the dormouse. "I didn't know it was your table," Alice began, now sitting up properly on the sofa. "And it's laid for a great deal more than three!" she said with a huff and crossed her arms, pretending to be angry. Edward eyed her and came a bit closer as if he was examining her. "Your hair needs cutting," he stated simply. I could see the mischievous look in his eyes though. "You should learn not to make personal remarks," Alice began, glaring at her brother. "It's very rude," she stated and stuck out her tongue at him. By this point, we had almost given up on actually reading the story and they were all just half acting, half listening to the story unfold in Edward's bedroom. "The hatter opened his eyes very wide at hearing this but all he said was," Edward began in his normal tone before jumping back into sounding like the Mad Hatter. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" he said indigently. I grinned at listening to all of this. "C'mon you two, get back to my lines!" Emmett said impatiently. Edward sighed and was about to say something to Emmett when Esme looked up from her embroidery project. "Patients, dear," she told her son from across the room. Emmett sighed but stayed where he was. The story continued on, with everyone each simply saying out the lines of the
characters without a book in front of them. I guess that was one of the advantages to having perfect memories, you never had to read anything twice to know what your lines are. Around noon, just when Rosalie, as the Queen of Hearts, had demanded that Jasper's –as the Cheshire Cat- head be removed, my stomach grumbled. Of course, they all heard it and I turned beet red when all the curious gold eyes turned to me. Esme put down her crochet project –she had finished with the embroidery one- and looked at me. "We all forgot what time it is!" Esme said. "Why don't we finish this later and Bella?" she asked me. "Why don't you come downstairs for lunch?" I got up to follow my vampire mom, wanting to get away from the embarrassing situation anyway, only to find myself down in the kitchen. I looked up from my barstool and saw Edward smiling sheepishly back at me. "You are supposed to warn me when…" I started only to cough again. I felt a breeze and then saw another streak of white before noticing the notebook and pen before me. "And you aren't supposed to talk until your throat gets better," Edward informed me. I sighed and picked up the pen to write in the notebook. You shouldn't just pick me up like that. What if I got sick again? "What would you like for lunch, sweetheart?" Esme asked me as she looked through the fridge. It had a lot of food and I was the only one that ate. "I'd get to keep you here for another day," Edward whispered into my ear, his cool breath brushing across my face. "Bella?" Esme called to me again, turning around to look at me. I didn't really realize she was even there. Or where there was with Edward so close. "Edward! Be nice to Bella and stop trying to stun the poor girl," Esme admonished her son. Edward smirked and backed up a foot but was still at my side. "Huh?" I asked, finally realizing Esme asked me a question. "What would you like for lunch, dear?" Esme repeat but sent a motherly glare to her son. "Oh umm," I started and then felt my throat . Edward pushed the pen back into my hand and I sighed but wrote in the notebook like I was supposed to. Anything is fine, Esme.
I started to turn the notebook around, so she could read it right side up but I found out that wasn't necessary. Esme raised one of her delicate eyebrows in thought and then looked back at me with a slightly smile. "What about a sandwich dear?" she asked. I nodded. A sandwich didn't sound bad at all. "We have peanut butter, or turkey, or would you like a grilled cheese?" Esme asked. "We also have a bit more things to make a sandwich," she mused as she went back to the fridge. I thought about what I'd like and really, there was only one thing that came to mind. BLT? I wrote, obediently, in my notebook. I wanted my throat to heal as quickly as possible and realized the notebook was probably the best way to communicate for now. "Esme?" Edward said. Immediately, his mom turned around. "Bella wrote that she would like bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes for her sandwich," he continued. I wonder when the term BLT came into use. I guess it was after they were turned. Esme smiled at me and quickly started to fry up the bacon and cut up the tomatoes. I felt horrible that she was going through all this work for just me and my loud stomach. Not that it would have mattered if I had a quiet stomach, the vampires would have all heard either way. Crossing my arms on the counter, I started to put my head down. I noticed that both my vampire mom and my vampire fiancé had suddenly looked up and towards the front of the house. I looked up, curious, but couldn't hear anything yet. It was another minute until I heard a car come up the gravely driveway. I saw Esme shoot Edward a look and Edward nodded once. Looking down at me, he smiled my favorite crooked smile but it didn't quite reach his eyes. "I'll be right back, Bella," he said, kissing my cheek. I strained my ears and tried to listen over the sounds of sizzling bacon as to who was at the door. Given that Esme was putting more bacon on, I knew it had to be someone that was staying for a bit. Was it one of the wolves? I got my answer a second later. "Hey, Bells," Charlie said. "You ready to go home?" Chapter 26 "Charlie!" Esme exclaimed happily as she brushed her hands on her apron and walked around the kitchen island to greet my father. "Esme," he nodded to her before smiling back at me. I guess he really did want
me back at home before I'd leave him forever. A pain shot through me with that word. After the wedding, I'd never be able to see my Dad again. Mom was away in Flordia, with her I had an excuse. Besides, Renee had Phil. Charlie had me and that was it. Who would take care of him when I became a vampire? "Bells?" he asked, taking another step into the kitchen, glancing from Esme to me. He ignored Edward almost. "You feeling better today?" he asked me. I nodded once and looked to either Edward or Esme to explain. "Her throat is still quite sore. But she has mostly stopped coughing," Edward said, a slight hint of pain in his voice when he mentioned the coughing. At least it wasn't as constant or as deep anymore. "We've had her write everything down in a notebook," Esme added before turning back to the stove. "Bella just woke up from a nap and I was fixing her a late lunch. Are you hungry Charlie?" Esme asked sweetly. Charlie looked over at Esme and then the stove. He smiled when he got a good whiff of that bacon. "Well, if it isn't too much trouble," he muttered, embarrassed. It was obvious where I got my blushing from and it wasn't from Renee. "Of course not!" Esme smiled. "I hope you don't mind, we ate earlier. I wasn't too sure how long Bella would sleep for and the rest of the children were getting a bit grumpy," she pretended to mildly scold Edward. He smirked. "Oh, um no," Charlie stammered. "As long as I got my girl here," he grinned at me. I couldn't help but smile back. Leaning in, Charlie whispered, "You do look better, Bella." That was a lot of fatherly affection for Charlie. I guess he really did miss me. "Thanks," I whispered back hoarsly. "Bella," Edward warned, handing the notebook back to me. I rolled my eyes but took the notebook and the pen from him. Edward looked smug when I took the items and Charlie just looked like, well Charlie when Edward was around lately. My Dad was never sure whether to be nice or disgruntled around Edward anymore. He was going for nice more and more and I thought with Esme here and being in the Cullen home, he'll probably stick with nice. "So, umm, Edward," Charlie started, looking over at my fiancé. A part of me was curious about what he would ask. Another part of me was horrified about what he might ask. "Yes, sir?" Edward answered. He stood behind me slightly, looking over me to my dad. "What have you been up to today?" he asked, curiously. A part of me wanted to
mutter that it wasn't anything he wouldn't approve of but then again, Edward held me all last night –like he did every night- not that Charlie knew, of course. "Reading, mostly. Alice enjoys hearing what she considers her story, Alice in Wonderland, out loud," Edward mentioned. Well, if nothing else, it was the truth. "Oh," Charlie said, almost disappointed. It was about then that Esme brought over our BLTs, complete with fresh ripe tomatoes from her garden, and put the plates before us. "Would you like anything to drink?" Esme asked. Charlie grunted that he could get it before Esme argued back and Edward just placed a glass in front of Charlie. He ended up getting a glass of water himself. Normally, when Charlie and I ate, it would be in silence and then Charlie would go into the next room and turn on the game –which ever game that happened to be on. However, both Esme and Edward began to talk and engage Charlie in conversation; or at least try to. Charlie wasn't really the conversation type but he wasn't as uncomfortable about it here as he normally was. Maybe it was just because it was Esme and he liked her or it was because he was use to Edward. "Oh! And Charlie? That reminds me," Esme began on her next tangent. "Thank you for the list of people you gave me. Do you think you can help me to get a similar list from Renee? I think she forgot," Esme continued. List? Oh, for the wedding. Wait, how many people are coming? "I'll talk to Phil. He's pretty good about getting her on those things," Charlie told Esme before taking another bite of his sandwhich. "That would be perfect. Thank you," Esme continued. "I need to get a headcount of some sort for the caterer next week," she told him. Caterer? I thought that most of the guest list was Edward's family and then my Dad, Renee and Phil plus Angela, her parents, Mike, and maybe a couple of other people from school. It would be too small a gathering for anyone to not notice that half the people there weren't eating. I didn't think a caterer would be needed for that few people anyway. "I'll call him when I get Bells here home, then," Charlie stated. He pushed his plate away when he finished his sandwich. I was only picking at mine anymore. "Well, that was good, Esme. Thanks for helping to take care of my little girl. Means a lot to me," he told her sincerely as he got up from the barstool. Sighing, I did the same and turned to Edward. I could tell he didn't want me to go either. "Of course, Charlie. We love having here anytime and it was a pleasure to help take care of her," Esme answered before coming around the island and giving me a hug.
"Don't worry, sweetheart. You'll be over again tomorrow," she whispered in my ear. I only hoped she was right. I guess the wedding was a good excuse to come over if I needed one. Both Esme and Edward walked us to the door. Edward gently picked up my suitcase to carry it for me out to the cruiser. I looked up at him as Charlie mumbled his goodbyes and thanks to Esme again. My Adonis' butterscotch eyes pierced my brown ones. "I'll be by tonight," he whisper in my ear before we headed out to the cruiser, my hand in his. It sounded like he was saying it more for his benefit than to inform me. Charlie popped the trunk to the cruiser and Edward placed my suitcase next to the slight arsenal of clubs and pepper spray that lay strewn in the back. My Dad, still ever vigilant, watched as Edward placed his hands on either side of my face and gave me a quick kiss. It was not the kiss I wanted but I realized why he did it when Charlie spoke up. "Um, Don't want you getting sick too, Edward," he mumbled, embarrassed. "Bella was only contagious for the first three days, sir," Edward told him. "At least, according to Carlisle," he amended quickly. Charlie made another grunt before closing the truck and heading to the driver's side door of the cruiser. "Bella?" he called when he opened the door. I was still standing there, looking at my greek god, and wanting nothing more than to really kiss him. Of course, I couldn't with my dad standing right there. I moved one step closer to Edward and quickly found myself in his arms, my head beneath his chin. "Tonight, I'll come tonight," he whispered again. I sniffed, trying to remember that we'd see each other again in a matter of hours. Charlie coughed and Edward gently pulled me back to give me my favorite crooked grin. "Be safe, my only love," he whispered before kissing me on the forehead and opening the cruiser door for me. When the cruiser door shut, I glanced up at Edward while Charlie pulled out of the spot. The only thing that kept my heart from breaking again was the knowledge that Edward would come by my window tonight. As I leaned against the cruiser door on the way home, I felt something in my jean pocket. It was a piece of paper. I pulled it out and realized it was the note he had left me over a year ago. It only said "Be Safe" on it. I held on to it the rest of the way home. I'd only really be safe when I was back in Edward's arms again tonight. Tonight.