Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Heart and Soul

Summary:
Edward is nearly broken when he loses a dear friend in an accident. When he meets Bella at Forks High, not only is his heart healed, but his soul as well. However, Bella has a secret that could make or break them. AU/AH Twilight meets Return to Me!


Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I once said ‘what’s the point of an AH Twilight story? Wouldn’t it be better to change the names and make it original?’ Then I read a few that were pretty good. Then, I was bitten by this rabid plot bunny…it had sharp, pointy teeth! So, if you’ve ever seen Return to Me, you may recognize certain key story lines :) Read on, and let me know what you think! Rest assured; this is Edward/Bella :)


14. Chapter 14

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4690   Review this Chapter

After their day in the meadow, Edward and Bella were nearly inseparable. Edward loved to steal kisses between classes, and hold Bella’s hand throughout the lunch hour. He couldn’t believe that he had withstood the temptation of her lips for the entire length of her grounding. Two hours seemed longer than was necessary between kisses, and Edward swore never to resist Bella’s kisses for two weeks again.

Torturous kiss-less two weeks aside, it was Bella’s exemplary behavior while grounded, and another call from Esme, that had convinced Charlie to relax Edward’s visiting hours. His only condition was that he had to have one or more of his siblings with him. After school, Alice and Jasper usually stayed with them until Charlie got home; Emmett was willing, though Rosalie was still apprehensive over the new relationship blossoming between her brother and Bella Swan. Every night at nine, though, Charlie escorted them to the door and grimaced as Edward leaned down to kiss her goodnight.

Edward came to the realization during one of his and Bella’s evening farewells, that Charlie’s thoughts were somewhat patchy at times. He’d always just assumed that the man was as quiet mentally as he was physically. Edward realized with chagrin, however, that Bella’s mental silence must be hereditary to some degree. Charlie Swan certainly thought a lot about his baby girl growing up too fast. It was then that Edward came to the realization that ‘exemplary behavior’ in Charlie’s book meant ‘no- kiss-nthehorm-nal …rebel--ous…randy…bo-’during her grounding.

Friday rolled around once again; Alice, Jasper, Edward and Bella were sitting around her kitchen table doing their homework when Charlie came home. Edward was sitting next to Bella, his arm draped across the back of her chair as he leaned in to look over her shoulder while she worked on her trig. He was in the process of tucking a loose strand of Bella’s hair behind her ear when her father moved towards the kitchen. Charlie’s thoughts were rife with unfavorable opinions of teen-aged boys; Edward was sure that Charlie would start cleaning his guns in full view of their study group if he knew that Edward and Bella had kissed one another so passionately, or that they had used the four letter ‘L’ word in the same sentence as ‘I’ and ‘you.’

Territorial devil incarnate,’ Charlie thought rather clearly as he grumbled “Hormonal…teenaged…boys,” while he rummaged through the fridge. Edward focused more fully on Charlie’s mind and was surprised at the scenarios that were playing out in his thoughts. Edward swallowed heavily and pulled away from Bella fractionally, much to Alice and Jasper’s amusement. When she gave him a questioning look, he merely mouthed, “Later.” As soon as Charlie shuffled into the living room to watch the game, Alice and Jasper lost their composure and started laughing under their breath.

“What’s so funny?” Bella whispered to the three siblings.

“Oh, Bella…the tension…he doesn’t like Edward, does he? Or is it just the idea of Edward?” Jasper whispered with a grin.

“What?! Of course he does,” Bella said. Edward however was shaking his head in the negative. “He remembers Carlisle and Esme’s anxiety when I ran away all too clearly. He had to head up the search efforts.” Edward debated whether or not to add what Charlie was really worried about. He decided that Bella had a right to know. “He’s afraid that I’ll do the same to Bella, just like it happened to him…” Edward finished sadly as he turned his pencil over and over in his hands, not wanting to meet anyone’s eyes.

“Don’t worry, Edward, I know he’ll get over it. He’s just not ready to lose his daughter,” Alice said gently with the conviction that only Alice could feel.

“He likes you just fine,” Bella insisted. “He’s just not one to say much.”

“Bella, if ‘territorial devil incarnate’ is a term of endearment, then I think I’m safe. Otherwise, I think it’s safe to say that your father isn’t completely fond of me…” Edward said with a rueful grin. He finally met Bella’s unwavering, trusting gaze, and felt his anxiousness fade slightly. Charlie’s continual stream of less than loving thoughts regarding his daughter’s boyfriend streaming from the living room left him still feeling uneasy.

“Hush, Edward. You know he’s just sad to see his little girl all grown up and in love. He’ll be putty in my hands; just you wait and see…” Alice said as she jumped up and bounced towards the living room. Jasper sighed in resignation and followed her with a smitten look. Edward looked over at Bella and shrugged; he stood to follow his siblings into the living room with Bella in tow.

“Charlie, we’ve got some things to discuss,” Alice addressed Bella’s father with her patented ‘I’m-sweeter-than-high-fructose-corn-syrup-on-insulin’ voice. The effect was instantaneous. Charlie actually turned off the game, rather than his usual mute, and turned all his attentions to the black-haired pixie perched on the arm of the couch.

“Esme was just this morning wondering when we were going to go bowling! We made an arrangement after all. I’ll bet you can strike more than Edward here; he’s the best bowler we Cullens have got,” Alice said slyly. Edward rolled his eyes at the victorious image suddenly rolling through Charlie’s head. He had no idea that there was such a thing as bowling for a bride, real or imagined.

“Well, I think I’ve got a free night comin’ up; today’s Friday? I’ve got to work tomorrow morning, but I’m off by one,” Charlie hedged.

“Oh, perfect!” Alice trilled as she clapped her hands. “Bella, you can come over earlier for lunch and really meet Esme. She’s been after Edward here to bring you over for a proper introduction all week.”

“That’s settled then. You kids get your homework done, and we’ll head on down to Sunset Lanes tomorrow night.”

“Thanks, Charlie!” Alice said. Jasper and Edward sat frozen, their eyes on Alice, their mouths open in amazement. Bella nudged Edward in the ribs and he instantly jumped to life.

“Sounds great; we’d better get going, Esme wanted us all home for dinner tonight,” Edward explained as he tugged on Bella’s hand so that he could say goodbye in private.

“Bye, Charlie,” Alice chirped while Jasper gave a nod, which Charlie returned.

Edward stood next to his Volvo and gave Bella a rare un-witnessed, by Charlie at any rate, kiss good bye as Alice and Jasper climbed in and got buckled. Bella jumped and Edward groaned when Jasper honked the horn and laughed. Edward gave a glare over his shoulder in the general direction of his siblings, and turned back to Bella once more.

“I’ll come by and pick you up in the morning; Esme really does want to meet you properly,” Edward murmured as he pressed his forehead to hers and kissed her one last time.

“Goodnight, Bella.”

HSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHS

True to his word, Edward arrived the next morning, eager to take Bella home to meet his family officially. She met him at the door looking green.

“Bella, are you alright?! Are you not feeling well?” Edward asked nervously.

“I’m fine, Edward,” Bella insisted.

“You don’t look fine,” Edward said. At Bella’s scowl, he amended his statement. “I mean, you don’t look like you feel well...you always look more than fine, you’re beautiful, Bella.”

“But what if your family hates me? I know Rosalie doesn’t like me very much; what about your mother? What if she thinks that I’m not good enough for you?” Bella rambled as she paced the short entry foyer.

“Bella…” Edward grabbed her by the shoulders and held her still in front of him. “My mother already loves you; because I love you…you don’t know the change that you’ve brought out of me these last couple of months.”

“Surely you weren’t that bad,” Bella insisted.

“Truly, you have become my life; my reason for living instead of just existing, Bella.”

“Would you tell me why you really ran away then?” Bella asked.

“Didn’t I?” Edward asked.

“You said you were adopted after your parents died…then you distracted me, and conveniently haven’t finished the story,” Bella said with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh…Let’s get in the car first.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Bella said as she pushed him out the door and locked it behind them. Edward opened the door for her; before she had her seatbelt fastened, he was in the car and starting the engine. Edward was gripping the steering wheel, trying to order his thoughts when Bella spoke.

“I’m listening…I’m not afraid of what you may tell me…”

Edward released his breath and started. “You remember my parents died because of a fire?” He glanced quickly over at Bella and caught her nod in the affirmative. “In junior high, Tanya’s family’s visas expired. They had to leave the United States for a while. Tanya had been my best friend, the person that I told everything…” Edward trailed off; he realized that the pain was still there, as it may always be, but it was different now. He found that he could focus beyond it, whereas before, he was lost in the haze. He realized that Bella had become his focal point, his confidante. Edward knew now what love was, his heart swelled with it whenever Bella came into his mind, or into his presence.

“Edward?” Bella asked tenderly.

“I’m ok…” Edward was surprised by the truth of his words. “I just realized; you are the person I tell everything now, my best friend, my life.” Edward paused for a moment then began. “Before, when Tanya had to move away, I was lost. I felt angry, abandoned and alone. Of course, then I felt guilty because Carlisle and Esme have always been such wonderful parents to me. It was just me then; none of my brothers or sisters had come to our family at that point. Esme tried so hard to be there for me, and support me, but I was very stubborn.

“I wallowed in my loneliness, even though it was my own doing. I just wouldn’t let anyone else in. Then, when I was in junior high, there was a house that burned to the ground very close to the school. I was only five when my house in Chicago burned to the ground. I didn’t remember very much about what had happened. I had forgotten a lot, and repressed the rest. But… when I smelled that smoky, wet ash, and saw the charred remains of the house, it all came back. It wasn’t all at once though. It came in bits and pieces in nightmares over the course of a few of weeks. I’d dream flashes of memories; waking up in my bed to smoke, feeling the heat, my father breaking my window and lowering me down as far as he could before he dropped me onto the ground," Edward paused, and swallowed.

“My mother, screaming for my father, kissing my forehead one last time…I would wake up screaming, and there was nothing that Esme or Carlisle said or did that made it go away. Carlisle offered to prescribe me sleeping pills, but I knew that the pharmacist and his assistants were gossips. I was already a social pariah because I was adopted. So, angsty ‘misunderstood’ thirteen-year-old that I was, I decided to save Carlisle and Esme and myself the trouble of trying to work on my problems. I packed a bag and hitch-hiked to Seattle and…you know the rest.”

“Thank you…” Bella murmured. Edward sighed heavily and glanced at her again.

“Are you crying?” he asked timidly.

“They aren’t sad tears…” Bella assured him.

“Well, they don’t look happy, if that’s what you mean,” Edward said, confused. Bella laughed, easing the tension in the car.

“We’re here” said Edward as pulled into the long driveway and smiled at Bella.

“Uh…where’s the house?” Bella asked. Edward laughed.

“It’s pretty isolated…yet another thing that I’m grateful to Carlisle and Esme for,” Edward said, touching his temple in explanation.

“Oh…that makes sense…” Bella agreed. After another moment of silence, the large white house came into view, and Edward heard Bella gasp.

“Esme loves to restore things,” he said. Edward pulled to a stop right in front of the house. “We won’t include the garage on this first visit,” Edward explained. “Esme does like things to be done properly,” he added.

“I guess,” Bella said. Edward laughed again. “Am I dressed ok? I suddenly feel underdressed…like I’m going to meet the Queen of England, and all I’ve got is a burlap sack.”

“Bella, you’re fine, Esme already loves you, you don’t have anything to worry about,” Edward assured her once again as he led her over to the massive front door. Bella’s face burned as she fidgeted with her clothes and her hair. Edward grabbed her hand and pulled her behind him and into the house.

“We’re here!” Edward called.

In the kitchen!’ Esme thought back. Edward smiled at the thoughts swarming through his sibling’s minds.

Uniform slices…why is pot roast so hard to slice…well that’s bigger than the others…I’ll just eat that…no need to ruin Esme’s display. You didn’t hear that Edward…’ Why Esme put Emmett in charge of slicing the meat, Edward would never know. He wondered how many other slices had been sacrificed to preserve the display.

I know you like Bella, Edward…I’m trying…you know I have trust issues…’ Rosalie thought.

Nothing to worry about…lunch is going to be perfect…I wonder if there’ll be enough time to check out that new boutique before we bowl…’

Salad dressing…Where would Esme put the salad dressing? Alice would know…Alice….hmm…’

“Edward? Hey, what’s the matter?” Bella’s voice pulled him back from his family’s thoughts.

“Nothing, why would you think something was the matter?” He asked confusedly.

“Well the fact that you look like you’ve just stepped in a steaming pile and you’re reciting the alphabet backwards…in Spanish…” Bella explained.

“Oh…well, Jasper was thinking about Alice, that’s all,” Edward said with a rueful look. Bella blushed in understanding, which made Edward laugh again as he pulled Bella into the kitchen. He cleared his throat and everyone in the kitchen stopped and instantly turned to look at him and Bella.

“Esme…mom, I’d like to introduce you to Bella Swan,” Edward said very formally. Esme smiled at him and thought, ‘Edward, she’s perfect…but you don’t have to be so stiff…she’s bound to think I’m as starchy as these potatoes…’ Esme emphasized her thought by allowing the spoon she was stirring with to stand vertically in the thick bowl-full of mashed potatoes as she caught his eye.

“Bella, I’m glad to finally meet you,” Esme said genuinely. Carlisle moved to his wife’s side and put an arm around her shoulders.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, especially outside of the hospital,” Carlisle added.

“I’m glad to meet you; Edward has told me all about you,” Bella said with a blush.

“Hey Bella!” Emmett called from the kitchen island. Edward grimaced when his brother waved at them with the enormous butchers’ knife that he was using to carve the meat in front of him.

Sorry…that was a little Emmett the ripper, wasn’t it,’ Emmett said with an unapologetic grin. Edward rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“Lunch will be ready soon; Edward, how about a little concert?” said Esme.

“A concert? Oh…you play piano…you mentioned that. Are you any good?” Bella asked curiously. Everyone in the kitchen stared at her open-mouthed. “What?” she asked.

“Edward!” Esme exclaimed in shock.

“You always say not to brag!” Edward retorted indignantly.

“Well, there’s a time and place for everything, now get in there and play something for your sweetheart!” Esme said sternly, though she was smiling. Bella turned bright red when Esme mentioned that Bella was his sweetheart, which caused Edward to grin at her.

GO! Play!’ Esme thought.

“Alright, alright!” Edward conceded with raised hands. He reached out and grabbed Bella and pulled her with him into the living room where his black baby grand sat on its platform.

“What will you perform maestro?” Bella teased. Edward raised his eyebrows at her and sat at the piano bench with an exaggerated air.

“For you, my lady, a concert of distinguished pomposity…” Edward began.

“Distinguished pomposity?” Bella laughed.

“Correct…” Edward raised his hands dramatically over the keys and began the most embellished rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ that anyone was sure to have ever played. He played the melody slow and poignantly with his right hand, while he played an accompaniment of rolling chords with his left. He closed his eyes and swayed with the dips and swells of the chords, really acting the part. He looked up to see Bella open-mouthed and astonished. Edward grinned at her.

“EDWARD!” a chorus of voices bellowed from the kitchen. Edward smiled smugly; he knew his family was pressed against the kitchen door trying to listen to his and Bella’s conversation while he played.

Edward! Play something nice for her!’ Esme chided him mentally.

That was awesome, bro…I’d like to see you do that at a concert,’ Emmett was chortling.

Point taken, son, I’ll try and keep the masses occupied,’ thought Carlisle.

How immature.’ Edward rolled his eyes at Rosalie’s thoughts.

That was really impressive…Edward made a joke…’ Jasper mused internally. Then he directed a thought directly at Edward. ‘She really is good for you,’ he marveled.

I saw that coming a mile away, Edward. You’re so predictable, brother,’ Alice teased.

Edward shook his head and laughed. “Do you have any requests? No show tunes, please,” Edward grimaced; he still kept the rolling chords going, even though he had abandoned the melody. Bella just shook her head.

“I’m so amazed, and impressed. I feel more than a little insignificant…’ she admitted. Edward scoffed, and then seamlessly transitioned to Esme’s Favorite.

Thank you, Edward,’ Esme thought from the kitchen.

“That’s beautiful, but I don’t recognize it, and I can’t identify any signature style indicative of Debussy or Mother Goose,” Bella teased. “I’m sure your knowledge of music far exceeds mine; can you give me a hint? Maybe I can guess,” said Bella.

“Hmm…perhaps I can help you guess…” Edward said playfully.

“Ok. It doesn’t quite sound old… but it doesn’t quite sound modern like say, a movie score…I need a hint, Edward.”

Edward laughed…“I just can’t tease you anymore…this is Esme’s Favorite,” he admitted softly, emphasizing the title for Bella. Her brow furrowed; Edward could see she was thinking, putting the pieces together.

You wrote this?” Bella whispered in amazement.

“Well, don’t sound so surprised,” Edward teased. Then, he grew serious, and he transitioned the music again. The complex yet soothing melody that he had begun composing after he had met Bella filled the room. He heard Bella gasp, and it inspired another element to the song. As he blended the pieces together, he knew what name he would give the song.

“This is Bella’s Lullaby…” again, he emphasized the title. He studied the keys beneath his fingers while he waited for Bella’s reaction. When she said nothing, Edward nearly stopped playing; then, he could feel her approach from behind him. Her hands grasped both of his shoulders and he tensed when he felt a warm tear drop fall on the back of his neck.

“Bella?” he questioned. Her reply was a tender kiss placed upon the spot where her tear had fallen, and her arms around his shoulders.

HSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHS

“Thank you for lunch, Mrs. Cullen,” Bella said.

“Please, call me Esme. You’re more than welcome to come over whenever you like,” Esme replied. Emmett came bounding into the room wearing a customized ‘Rosie’s Monkey Man’ bowling shirt.

“Let’s go bowling!” Emmett yelled. He tossed Edward and Bella a bundle of fabric before passing several more out to his family.

“I thought we could go in style!” Emmett continued, oblivious to the disbelieving looks plastered across everyone’s face.

“Thanks Emmett, this will really keep the family in the spirit,” Carlisle said diplomatically, holding up the shirt that said, ‘Doctor Dad’. Esme laughed at the elegant script that said ‘Carlisle’s Queen’ and held it up for size. Rosalie came gracefully down the stairs, already wearing her shirt. When she reached the bottom of the staircase, she turned as though on the catwalk to show the ‘Rosie the Grease Monkey’ printed across her shoulders. There was a graphic of the World War Two recruitment poster of Rosie the Riveter silk screened below her name.

Bella read what was printed across the back of her shirt and blushed. ‘Edward’s Little Swan’ in bold black letters was printed across the back. Bella took a look at the shirt in Edward’s hands, and nearly laughed aloud at the look on his face. ‘Bella’s Little Cullen’ was printed in the same bold script across the back of his shirt.

“Emmett? Little Cullen?” Edward asked in an exasperated voice.

“Yeah…I mean you’re the youngest…it just makes sense…” Emmett said matter-of-factly.

“Thanks, Emmett!” Alice crowed, showing off the ‘Jasper’s Pixie’ emblazoned across her back. Jasper smiled as he turned around to show that his shirt merely read, ‘ALICE’S’ in large, bold caps.

“You didn’t think the word ‘little’ applied there?” Edward asked with a raised eyebrow as he gestured towards Alice.

“Edward, come on, that would just be redundant…I thought you were the smart one?” Emmett replied.

“Ok, come on, in the cars, we’ve got a lane waiting for us at the alley,” Carlisle intervened.

Thirty minutes later, they were all tying their rented shoes, wearing their custom shirts when Charlie joined them. Bella thought that he looked rather out of place in his standard flannel shirt. Her eyes widened though when Emmett pulled out yet another shirt. She was almost afraid to see what Emmett had put on her father’s shirt. Bella relaxed when she realized that it simply read ‘THE CHIEF’ in black and white letters.

“Thanks, uh, Emmett, right?” Charlie said casually. Bella could tell that he was pleased with the gift. She turned to Edward, asking with her eyes.

“Yes, he likes it very much,” Edward confirmed in a whisper. “He’s considering coming bowling more often.” Edward smiled at Bella, which she returned.

Bella watched her father over the course of the evening; Esme worked her magic, and Carlisle’s bedside manner extended to the bowling alley as well. Charlie seemed to be enjoying the night out with Edward’s family more than Bella had ever seen her father enjoy any social gathering. Bella and Charlie were on opposite teams; yet he didn’t seem to mind, and even joined in on the casual ribbing that was flowing between the two teams. He had warmed up to Edward fractionally, even giving a brief round of applause when Edward bowled a strike. Emmett had become her father’s new best friend, trading sports stats and creating their own dream teams for baseball and football.

Bella was sitting next to Edward a few minutes later. Their shoulders touched, and their hands were clasped as they were laughing together at Emmett’s over-the-top bowling wind-up, when a dark, unfamiliar laugh broke into their conversation. Bella looked over her shoulder to see a thin, haggard-looking woman with stringy red hair, and dark circles beneath her eyes. Her clothes were shabby and mismatched, leaving Bella with the impression that this woman had dressed in the dark, several days previous. The woman was holding a pool cue in one hand and a beer in the other.

“Fancy seeing you here,” the rough voice said. “Edward’s Little Swan; isn’t that just sweet.”

Bella could feel Edward tensing next to her. His fists clenched and he ground his teeth so hard that Bella thought he might break them. She looked to Edward for an explanation, when the woman waved to her with the brown bottle in her hand.

“You must be Edward’s new little friend; still got your heart? Edward’s last little friend seems to have lost hers…” Edward shuddered and pressed his face into his hands. Edward’s siblings came to surround him; the looks on their faces caused Bella to shiver. Esme and Carlisle pushed through their children to stand beside Edward in support.

“Ms. Laurent,” Carlisle started.

“Please…” Victoria said snidely. “I just came over to give you this…apparently the post office is having trouble keeping our PO boxes separate again.” With that, she pulled a crumpled, folded white envelope from her back pocket and tossed it towards Edward. She took another swig from the bottle in her hand and looked at Bella condescendingly. “Careful sweetie, don’t want to end up with a broken heart…”

“Victoria, are you going to keep disturbing the peace here?” Charlie stood with his hands on his hips. Even out of uniform, Bella could tell that her father was very much a police officer. The ragged woman’s face hardened slightly as she took in Charlie’s stance.

“No, Chief Swan…I was just passing on some mail…” She turned on her heel, stormed back to the pool table and threw down the cue before she left the bowling alley.

“Edward?” Bella questioned. She and all of the Cullens and Charlie waited for Edward to explain what the envelope contained. Bella could just make out Mr. Edward Cullen neatly printed above a local post office box. The return address was another PO Box in Seattle, though Bella recognized the name printed in clear letters above; Duchovny. This was a letter from Tanya’s family, and it had already been opened.

“She read it…” Edward whispered. “It’s from Kate, Tanya’s sister,” he explained as he scanned the letter in his hands. “Apparently they just recently got a thank you letter from the Organ Donor Liaison, and they sent me a copy, because they knew how close I was with Tanya.”

No…It can’t be…it’s just a coincidence…it’s not her…it’s not me…please tell me it’s not what I think. Thank goodness Edward can’t hear my thoughts…’ Bella looked down at her hands resting in her lap, not wanting to see the letter that would confirm her fears.

“That’s right,” Emmett mused. “I had forgotten that they donated Tanya’s organs. It’s nice to know that it helped someone live.”

Please let it be someone else’s letter…’ Bella thought. Edward reached back inside the wrinkled envelope and pulled out the copy of the thank you the Duchovny family had sent to Edward. Bella clenched her eyes shut, not wanting to see the evidence of what she suspected.

“Bella?” Edward’s voice was strained. She had hand-written her thank you note, and Edward was very familiar with her handwriting. Without opening her eyes, Bella knew that he was near panic. He was drawing in huge, gasping breaths, causing his family to crowd around the both of them. Finally, Bella opened her eyes, and turned to Edward. She met Edward’s gaze with tear-filled eyes. She closed her eyes again bracing herself to answer Edward. Without looking at the paper he held in his hands, she knew what was causing his anxiety.

Bella had Tanya Duchovny’s heart.

Again, she locked her eyes on Edward’s and gave a slight nod. Edward returned the nod stiffly and dropped both papers onto the floor without a second glance. He sat frozen next to her, like a marble statue carved into the bench they shared.

Bella could feel the traitor tears streaming down her face, clouding her vision and clogging her sinuses. Carlisle tried to comfort her, but she was nearly inconsolable. Esme pleaded with Edward to tell her what was wrong. Edward’s brothers and sisters were huddled around them. Alice was crying softly as well, though Bella was sure that no one else had figured out what Edward had. They had told no one else about her heart transplant. Charlie stooped down to the floor, likely for something to do, Bella thought, and picked up the discarded papers.

Anonymous donor family,” Charlie read from the Xeroxed letter. “I imagine this letter may be difficult to receive, but I couldn’t go without expressing my deepest thanks for allowing me a second chance at life by donating your loved-one’s heart…” Charlie trailed off, his voice becoming suddenly hoarse.

“Bells?” Charlie questioned her softly. “This looks an awful lot like your handwriting…” Her father’s question was more statement of fact than anything. Bella couldn’t speak, so she nodded her head. Edward groaned and leaned his elbows onto his knees and covered his face with his hands. Carlisle, Esme, and Alice gasped as they realized what Charlie and Bella were saying.

“What?” Emmett demanded.

“Bella has Edward’s friend Tanya’s heart,” Charlie gruffly said. “Bella had a heart transplant, a little over a year ago, and apparently, Tanya was the donor.” He set the crumpled papers next to Edward, who looked at them with glassy eyes.

Bella began to sob in earnest. “Why? Why did this happen? You don’t deserve this…” she murmured softly towards Edward. “Dad? I want to go home,” she whispered.

“Sure Bells, let’s go right now,” said Charlie. He pulled her to her feet and led her out the door and away from the Cullen’s disbelieving faces.

“I’ve got to go,” Edward mumbled as he gathered up the papers beside him and then he too left.