Paved With Good Intentions
If you loved someone, how much would you be willing to sacrifice? Bella makes the most difficult decision of her life; now she has to live with the consequences. A Bella/Edward story.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3014 Review this Chapter
It’s a good rule of thumb never to play poker with vampires. When I dropped what I considered to be a rather large bombshell about my relationship with his family, Carlisle’s expression didn’t change a bit. His eyes continued to study my face, and then finally he said calmly, “Both of my sons are already married.”
I couldn’t be as impassive as he was, but I’d give it my best shot. “The sons that you remember,” I countered blandly, and I had the satisfaction of seeing his eyes widen almost imperceptibly. To another human it would have been unnoticeable, but I’d spent the last two years learning how to read vampires.
“If you know me as well as you say you do, then you know that I don’t forget things,” he said carefully.
Here goes nothing. “Not unless something – or someone – makes you forget.” My voice broke just a little on the last word, and I pressed my lips together tightly. Oh God. How was I going to do this?
He was Carlisle, so of course he couldn’t stand to see anyone hurting. His eyes softened as he smiled at me, and I felt the same wonderful contentment I had always felt in his presence. His compassion was such a gift. I wondered, not for the first time, if God had allowed Carlisle to be changed so that more generations could be graced with his talent. It made sense to me, anyway.
His voice soothed me as he said gently, “Bella, why don’t you start at the beginning? Tell me everything. Don’t worry it it’s in order or if it makes sense; I’ll figure it out. I won’t question your sanity, either – except for the fact that you’re voluntarily sitting alone in a room with a vampire, of course.” His eyes twinkled at me.
I laughed. “Your family used to joke about my survival instincts,” I said, and my eyes grew misty.
He smiled, but he wasn’t distracted. “It sounds like you have some great memories, and I’d like to share them. Tell me, please?”
Still I hesitated. “It’s a long story,” I warned.
“I have time. I’m not actually on duty right now; I just came to the hospital to check on your father.” He nodded his head in my direction. “I also wanted to see you again, to see if I could make sense of the thoughts I’ve been having. You’re safe here, Bella. I promise I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
I raised a shaking hand to wipe tears from my eyes. “I’m not sure anyone can help, but okay.” Taking a deep breath, I let it out with a sigh. “Emmett is not your oldest son. You had another son…Edward.”
“The boy you were with earlier?” he asked, surprised. “But he’s human.”
“He’s human now,” I corrected.
Carlisle seemed to become even more still. A thousand possibilities filled his eyes as he considered what my words might mean…not just as an explanation for my story, but also for his family. “I see. And you…have you always been human?”
Laughing bitterly, I replied, “Oh yes, always human. I’m human, he was a vampire, and we loved each other.” I was no longer looking at him. “Maybe that’s why we had so much trouble making it work. We tried to defy nature, and we lost.” Staring off into the distance, I watched memories that only I could see. “So…the beginning. Edward was born in Chicago in 1901. When he was seventeen, he and his parents came down with the Spanish flu. His father died, then his mother. You were working at the hospital there, and you decided to change him rather than watch him die. His mother, Elizabeth, begged you to save him. Something in what she said convinced you that she knew, or at least suspected, that you were different from the other doctors. You’d been thinking about something like this for awhile – you were so lonely – and you decided to try.”
“Elizabeth Masen,” Carlisle whispered. Was it possible for a vampire to sound stunned? “I remember her and her husband, but there was no son.”
“There was, before everything changed,” I said quietly. “You made him a vampire, and he became your companion.”
“A companion. Did he accept it, then? Was he happy?” he asked, and I could tell from his voice how much it mattered.
I drew in a shallow breath. I didn’t want to lie anymore, but how could I tell the truth without hurting his feelings? “Edward…didn’t like being a vampire. He never adjusted to it completely, but over time he learned to live as you did. He loved you – you both loved each other dearly – and you weren’t alone anymore. Then you found Esme, and your family had a wife and mother…” So I told him the story, filling in all of the details that I knew until I reached my first day of school at Forks High. I told him of an angry young man with dark eyes who thought my blood smelled better than anything he’d encountered in all of his existence.
He gasped. “It’s a miracle he didn’t kill you right there in the lab!”
I smiled ruefully. “He almost did. I don’t know how he found the strength to fight it; it must have seemed like he’d spent his whole life preparing for that one hour. He left town that day.” On and on I talked, about how he’d come back from Alaska, homesick and determined not to let one “insignificant little girl” keep him away from his family. How he’d found my scent to be as strong as ever, so he had started talking to me to try and convince himself not to kill me. How our conversations had led to love. I spoke of the first time I’d met the family and the disastrous game of baseball that had caused so much destruction. Carlisle listened, horrified, as I described the standoff in Phoenix.
He took my arm, running his finger over the scar. “It’s obvious, now that I know where to look. I thought…my memory was that you fell down some stairs and through a window.”
“That was the cover story that Alice created. What really happened was that James bit me, and Edward sucked the venom out because he didn’t want me to change.” I pressed my lips together, remembering all of the many times we had fought about that subject. Remembering all of the trouble it had caused. “He was different after that. We were still together, but there were times that I could tell he was worried. Then…something happened.” I refused to say what. If Jasper no longer remembered the lapse that had tortured him, I wasn’t about to bring it up. Some memories were better left buried. “Something bad, and it was the last straw. Edward left, thinking that it would be safer for me if he wasn’t in my life.”
“Perhaps he was right,” Carlisle said quietly.
I glared at him. “Tell me something, Carlisle. Imagine for a moment that you could no longer be with Esme. What would it be like to know that she was out there somewhere, to live every day with the love that you have for her, and not be able to be with her?”
The amount of pain that crossed his face was staggering. “It would be unbearable,” he conceded.
I nodded. “That’s what he left me with…a pain that couldn’t be borne. He left, and you all went with him. I lost all of you in one horrible moment, and I thought I would go insane.” I spoke about the rest of that terrible period as quickly as I could, trying to get through it before I broke down. It was still too painful to think about.
When I described Alice’s return to Forks and our subsequent flight to Italy, Carlisle was astonished. “You…you went to Volterra? You risked your life for my son?”
My eyes met his. “I love him.” There was a world of hope and pain in that statement.
Carlisle looked at me for a long moment before nodding. “He’s lucky to have you,” he said, and a smile crossed his lips.
I’m not so sure he’d agree, once he knows the truth. Shaking my head to quell the thought, I returned to the story. I talked about the promise Alice made to Aro and the family’s vote to change me. I told him that I had eventually agreed to marry Edward, and I described the terror of the battle with the newborns. Finally I reached the night of the carnival, a couple of weeks before our wedding. I stopped, exhausted.
Carlisle sat for awhile, thinking about all that he’d heard. Then he said slowly, “We did leave, just about the time that you said we did. Jasper…what I remember is that Jasper had a bad moment with a girl who walked too close to the house, and he almost attacked her. He would have attacked her, if Emmett hadn’t stopped him. He left for awhile, and the whole family decided to move, trying to deal with what had happened.” His gaze pierced through me.
It took everything I had not to wince. I held his gaze, determined not to let my face show anything. “Please don’t ask me,” I said quietly.
He nodded, and sorrow filled his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he tried to compose himself. “So…tell me about Edward. What’s he like?”
I smiled, glad to have happy memories that I could give him. “He’s wonderful. He loved you and Esme so much, and he was the center of the family in a lot of ways. He was the first, you see. It made him special – no, he was special just because he was Edward. He went to medical school twice, but he never practiced. He’s a musician; he plays the piano more beautifully than anyone I’ve ever known.” I was switching between past and present tense, and wasn’t that just a perfect example of how confused I was? Shutting the door firmly on my doubts, I focused on things that would always be true, in this reality or any other. “He’s a good man. Honorable, brave, kind. You would be proud of him.”
Carlisle’s face was wistful. “I wish I could remember,” he said softly.
Tears filled my eyes. “So do I,” I whispered.
He looked at me. “Why don’t I remember? What happened?”
So here we were. I could no longer deny what I’d done. Wiping my cheeks, I sighed and said, “It’s my fault. I did something – something that I thought was right – but it didn’t work the way it was supposed to.” I told him everything, from the carnival, to meeting Fontaine, to making the wish, to waking up in my present nightmare. I talked and talked, tears pouring down my face as I relived the hell of the last two months. It was almost as if I left the room as I spoke, walking through my memories as the ghosts of grief and remorse paced by my side. Then it was done, and I was safe in Carlisle’s office as he watched me with worried eyes.
He took my hand in his. “I’m sorry you’ve had such a terrible time.” Sighing, he continued, “Still…you should have asked him. It was a choice that should have been made together.”
I nodded, stricken. “I know,” I admitted, “but he was so sad. He wanted to be human so much…”
“Perhaps it was wrong of me to change him,” Carlisle said.
“No!” I protested, my voice suddenly loud in the quiet room. “If you hadn’t, I would never have met him, and I’m grateful every day that I did. No matter what, I was destined to love him.” I smiled at him tremulously. “It wasn’t all bad, Carlisle; I promise. There were a lot of good moments, and you really were a family. It’s just that I was given the chance to do something that I felt I had to do, even if it was wrong. I mean…he’s human again.” When you got right down to the fact of it, it was amazing.
He nodded. “Yes. I have a lot of questions about that, but perhaps now is not the time. I do wonder if I could – may I?” He raised my arm to his face, turning my wrist to his lips.
I had no idea what he wanted, but I trusted him. “Of course,” I replied.
He smiled. “Alone in a room with a vampire who’s holding your wrist to his teeth, and still you remain calm. I may have to rethink my original assessment of your sanity,” he teased. Lowering his nose to my skin, he inhaled. “I thought so,” he murmured. Releasing my hand, he sat back. “One day a couple of months ago, I came home from work to find that a human scent permeated the house. The others were out of town, but the scent lingered even after they returned.” He smirked. “Rose complained about it for the better part of a week. We couldn’t decide what had caused it. That must have been the day…”
“…that I came to say goodbye,” I finished.
He nodded. “I noticed the scent when you came into the ER the next day, and you seemed to react to me somehow…like you hoped that I would know you. Then Alice mentioned your phone call. I’ve been wondering ever since.”
We both sat in silence for a moment. I felt like I had used every word in the English language over the course of the past hour, and there wasn’t anything left. “What do I do now?” I asked, and immediately I felt guilty. I had created this mess; it wasn’t fair to ask Carlisle to help fix it.
Thankfully he was far too kind to tell me to handle my own problems. He sighed and answered, “I need to think about this for awhile, and you should go visit your father. We’ll speak again tomorrow.” He stood and escorted me to his door. “Bella…are you going to tell Edward?”
“Yes. There’s no way we can continue to be together unless he knows the truth.” I eyed him warily. “I know it’s supposed to be a secret…”
He shook his head. “No, I think you’re right. Humans aren’t supposed to know about us, but this is clearly an unusual circumstance. You can’t tell anyone else, of course.”
“I know.” Standing next to him, I realized that I didn’t want to leave. It was so nice to share this burden with someone, and having a few minutes with Carlisle made me feel like my old life wasn’t so very far away. “Thank you for listening to me, Carlisle,” I said. Then I did something that probably surprised him, but I needed it so much. I slipped my arms around his neck and hugged him. “I’ve missed you.”
He became very still. Finally his arms crept around my waist, and he returned my embrace. “So brave for someone so young,” he murmured. “I think I would have enjoyed having you as a daughter-in-law, Isabella Swan.”
I leaned against his chest, and a few tears leaked onto his shirt. I felt the gentle brush of his lips against my hair.
He stepped away and raised his hand to dry my face. “Until tomorrow, then.” He smiled at me. “Try not to worry, Bella; we’ll figure something out.”
I nodded and left his office, feeling more peaceful than I had in a very long time. I spent some more time with Charlie; he woke enough to recognize me and ask where he was. Explaining as best as I could, I told him I loved him. I left the hospital a few hours later, eager to see Edward again.
I stood in front of Charlie’s house, thanking the tech who’d given me a ride. The rental car was there, so apparently Edward had found the place okay. Opening the front door, I called out cheerfully, “Edward, I’m home! Charlie woke up; I got to talk to him. I really think he’s going to be okay.”
Silence greeted me. I looked around uneasily, realizing that none of the lights were on. I didn’t smell anything cooking either; Edward was supposed to be getting dinner ready. Walking down the hall, I called his name again. “Edward?” Finally acknowledging that he wasn’t downstairs, I walked up to the second floor, my heart pounding in my chest. What if he wasn’t here? What if something had happened to him? I’d brought him with me to Forks…where there were werewolves and vampires. Edward was a human now, easily breakable. What had I been thinking?
When I caught a glimpse of him through the partially opened door to my room, I let out a relieved sigh. “There you are! You must not have heard me calling you; it scared–”
I stopped talking as I entered the room, my mind instantly shutting down as I viewed the scene in front of me. Edward sat on my bed, my purse and its belongings strewn around him. My purse…that I had left in the car…that he would have had to open in order to get the house key. The velvet bag lay forgotten on the floor. My engagement ring and the jade butterfly were in Edward’s lap, and his hand crumpled the note that bore proof of my betrayal. He stared, unseeing, at the evidence, and I felt icy fingers wrap around my heart.
“Edward?” I whispered, frightened. I can explain…
Finally he looked up at me, his face in agony. “Bella,” he replied, his voice tortured. His jaw clenched, and when he continued speaking each word seemed as if it cost him his soul. “What is this?”
I opened my mouth, but all that came out was a weak sob. Staring at him, I shattered as the force of his anger and pain washed over me. I tried to move toward him…I wanted to beg his forgiveness…I wept for making the damn wish in the first place…I needed…I loved…I bled…
I felt the dark wind of grief pierce my heart, and I fell to the floor. The last thing I saw was the unforgiving anguish in his eyes.