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Storms

Summary:
storms banner We're far away from Forks, now. And what a lovely city Knives is- the perfect place to start afresh, don't you think? Edward is long gone and Jacob loves his wife-to-be. Bella is not happy- but then again, she hasn't been for four years. She's used to it. But mistakes have been made, and a destructive chain of events has been set in motion. Nothing can stop it. The storm is fast approaching- it's too late to get out now. Much too late. The Cullens are back.Char made my banner. She's an awesome person who has good things waiting for her in the afterlife.


Notes:
I'm alone, And more alone with every passing day; The danger is increasing every second that I stay. But the storms are fast approaching, And I cannot get away.


4. Do the World a Favour and Kill Linda

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 4576   Review this Chapter

“Bella, what is going on with you today?”

Marley pressed the power button and the keyboard lights went out. I took my fingers off the keys and ran my hand along my arm, staring at the carpet as he turned to face me.

Marley is a forty-two year old child psychologist, who offered to teach me piano during our lunch breaks. I heard him play on my first day at the hospital; I had walked into the staff common room and there he had been, playing Debussy like there was no tomorrow. He had noticed I was listening- classical music had always been a weakness, a weakness that had only been heightened after Edward. Marley was the nicest guy I knew, and so patient with me. But the trouble with getting piano lessons with a psychologist is that you have absolutely nada chance of keeping anything secret.

“Nothing,” I said, knowing that any argument was futile.

“You keep making mistakes.”

“I’m just tired.”

He put his hand on mine. Marley is a pretty tough looking guy- muscled and black, and not a single hair on his head. But when he’s in psychoanalysis mode, he’s the softest, most reassuring man on the planet. And very hard to argue against.

“Bella, look at me,” he said, and I couldn’t stop myself from turning to meet his big, dark eyes. “What’s wrong?”

I almost laughed. The shorter question to ask would have been, “Hey Bella, what’s right?” Along with all my old problems, today had dawned with some new, fresh ones that were gnawing away at me.

I had slept badly all night; tossing and turning, my mind awash with dark dreams and ghostly faces. I couldn’t shake the worry that I had sleep talked; Edward’s night time omnipresence had begun again, and if Jacob had heard his name…

Jacob. He had gone by the time I had woken. He had left me a note on the kitchen table- “There’s a huge dent in the car- what happened?” but had left no evidence of breakfast and his toothbrush had been dry. He had obviously been in a hurry to get out of the house.

And to add to all of that, this week was the beginning of Med Student month. I couldn’t go ten minutes without a student, who had lost their timetable or their patient list or their textbook or their plastic gloves or their hospital map, coming up and demanding that I produce their misplaced items. Like I had some kind of magician’s hat that just spouted test tubes.

But I couldn’t look away from Marley’s eyes, so I told a small part of the truth. “Wedding stuff,” I said, feebly.

“Finding it stressful?” he asked, his deep voice sounding genuinely concerned.

“Yes,” I said, looking back at the keys and running my forefinger along them. “I’m not in a great place, you know, financially, and it all costs so much...” I wasn’t lying to him; merely voicing one of my many problems. “I suppose it’s hard to concentrate on Einaudi when I’m busy worrying about whether I can afford food.”

He nodded, and turned back to the book, evidently accepting my excuse and choosing not to pry. “You need to watch this bar here. Don’t forget the B flat.”

I nodded, grateful that he had chosen to leave me be. We went back to the lesson.

I wasn’t very good at playing; Marley could only teach me every other day, and I had no piano at home to practice on. But I found something strangely comforting about it. The melodies Marley gave me were simple, they had to be or I wouldn’t be able to play them, yet they sounded really pretty. It was brilliant to escape the grinding tedium of work, and just sit down surrounded by musical beauty.

And it made me feel less useless to know that there was something I could do, on my own, that was beautiful. If I didn’t have Edward Cullen to play me music, then I would play it for myself. This element of independence made me feel as if I was in control of at least one aspect of my life; half an hour of the day when I felt that I was in the driver’s seat instead of hanging off the exhaust pipe.

It was also a relief; while I was playing I could lose myself. I could only concentrate on the music or I would get it wrong. There was no room in my head for anything else, so for a few brief moments I was free. Free of Jacob and the wedding and the hospital and money troubles and frustration and anger and of everything. I could escape my life and live in a different one, where everything was simple and wonderful.

Marley made me play the music through about three more times. I thought it sounded quite good, and was pretty pleased with myself; until he played it for me. There were several stark differences between his and mine; his version flowed and had no mistakes, whereas mine was jerky and full of accidental accidentals, and notes that were definitely not written on the paper.

“You make it look so easy,” I groaned.

“I’ve been playing much longer.”

“I’m never going to be able to do it,” I switched off the keyboard and closed the book.

“You will. It’s good,” Marley said, grinning down at me. “You have a style, Bella. You never play the piece right,” I smiled guiltily at him. “But it’s not wrong either. It’s just different.”

“Different is one word for it,” I grumbled.

He patted my head as he stood up. “We’ll get there. You’ll be here for our next lesson?”

“Yes,” I said, standing up as well. “If I haven’t been arrested for killing a Medical Student.”

He laughed, shaking his head. “I would pretend to disapprove, but I have almost been caught under that same charge.” He walked over to the door and held it open for me. “Look after yourself, Bella. Don’t worry about the wedding. It’ll be the best day of your life.”

Somehow I doubted that.

Marley set off for the psychiatric wards, and I reluctantly headed off for the reception. The corridors were quiet- a few visitors, an old man shuffling along the corridor with his I.V stand, a pair of tired-looking doctors, and a nurse on her mobile.

I reached the foyer to be greeted by a Cheshire-cat sized grin from Linda, my thirty-something year old fellow receptionist. Coming closer, I mentally braced myself for the avalanche of mindless small talk that was indubitably coming my way. Linda was nice enough, in small doses, but there were only so many times I could pretend to be interested in TV shows that I did not watch.

“Bella! How was the piano thing?”

“It was fine,” I said, as I swung into my seat and shook the computer mouse to wake the screen. The excel sheet flashed up, detailing appointments and times.

“I don’t know how you do it, I’d never be able to work out all those fiddly little key things. Don’t you think that Dr Roberts looks a bit like a fatter, older, bald Eddie Murphy?”

“Err…” I said, scanning the sheet. “I guess.” I wasn’t really listening to her- it was only a second or two later that I realised that by Dr Roberts she meant Marley. He did not look like a fat old bald Eddie Murphy. At all.

Linda sat back in her chair. “These Med Students are driving me up the wall. I mean, sure, some of them are marginally attractive- I know, I know, they’re too young for me, but a girl can dream, right?” She emitted a loud, stammered laugh that went right through my head. “But they keep getting lost and asking me for things. A whole new hoard of them came in while you were at lunch, and one of the girls in that group fainted during a surgery observation, which is not going to be helpful in career in surgical medicine… or maybe she fainted because of that one drop-dead gorgeous guy in that group, oh my God. He looks even better than Tom Welling, and you know how I worship at Tom Welling’s feet-“

The phone rang. Thanking my lucky stars, I gratefully picked it up and took down an appointment.

When I hung up, Linda was busy with a stack of order forms, so I was free from her droning chatter. I gave directions to several men, women and children who didn’t know where their doctors’ rooms were. I answered the phone a few more times. Ten med students came over and asked me inane questions (“Where’s the bathroom?” “Have you seen a tube of urine?”). A few doctors and nurses signed in and out. A woman in labour came through the front doors; I stood up to help her, but a nurse got there first. I sat down.

“Did you watch the Friends rerun last night?” Linda asked me as soon as she had finished the forms.

“No,” I said. Please let the phone ring.

“It was so funny!” Linda said, starting to laugh at the mere memory. “Phoebe’s brother had this girlfriend who was forty or fifty or something and he’s about fourteen or nineteen; no actually I think he’s around twenty, maybe twenty three or six. Anyway so Phoebe was really disgusted by it, because they kept kissing in the cafe and having sex on the couch and on her purse and stuff, and she asked Chandler and Monica- sorry, Chandler and Joey, to ask him, her brother, Phoebe’s brother, to break up with his girlfriend, but then-“

Someone picked up the staff book to sign in, and I looked up at them, hoping very much that they would tell me to order something or call someone; anything that meant I could excuse myself from Linda’s gauge-out-your-own-eyes nattering.

The eyes I met were amber.

I started violently, my hand flying to my heart and my mouth popping right open.

The surprise on Carlisle Cullen’s face was nothing in comparison. He stared at me for a second, and then he rearranged his shocked expression into one of pleasant surprise.

“Bella!”

I could only stare back at him. I was very aware of my jaw hanging limply off the end of my face, and I quickly shut it closed. He seemed to be waiting for a response, but I was still processing the fact that, yet again, my life was vampire-central. It was beginning to seem like wherever I went, I would have an undead companion. Carlisle Cullen. Carlisle Cullen, here. A Cullen, here, in the hospital. Another Cullen. Here. Where I work. Here.

“Alice told me that she saw you. It’s been too long.”

I blinked. Alice? Oh.

He was still smiling at me, and I still hadn’t responded. I felt a full ten seconds tick past, and still I was gaping like some kind of mentally handicapped blowfish. I felt a sharp nudge in my ribs, and I winced. Linda was awful at subtlety.

“Hi,” I choked out. “Um-“

“I always meant to apologize for our abrupt departure from Forks, Bella,” he said, still smiling. His teeth were so white they hurt to look at. “Regrettable but unavoidable. I know it was rude.”

“Um,” I said, intelligently. “No, it’s, it was, I’m… don’t, don’t worry about...” to my horror, I felt my cheeks flushing.

“How are you doing?” He asked this question abruptly, and his eyes were sharp on mine. I suddenly realised that the whole courtroom escapade would have been related to him, and even though he sounded quite casual he probably meant more by this question than it would appear.

“I’m…I’m fine,” I lied. There was a pause, as he scrutinized my face. “How are you?” I asked, to make him stop.

“Very well, thank you,” he answered, promptly.

There was another long silence. I felt my entire body heat up, and I looked away, embarrassed. I could feel his eyes still on me, and I pointedly clicked the mouse and pressed several random keys (4:30- Mr elkfadsafjvs). There was another pause, and then I heard him leave. I breathed out.

“Do you know him?” Linda said, her voice sounding awe-struck. I glanced at her; she was twirling one greasy strand of dyed-blonde hair around one short, fat finger, and gazing at Carlisle’s retreating figure.

“Carlisle Cullen,” I muttered.

“Oh yeah..." Her eyes ran up and down his body. "I remember his name on the list, he started yesterday. Did you go to school with him? He’s... wow...” Linda was actually speechless.

I felt my body slowly coming back under my control, and I was sentient enough to be offended by this assumption- no I did not go to school with him. But then, I realised that Carlisle and I would seem the same age now. It would be more believable for me to say that I did go to school with him. Nobody would believe that I went with his children.

Yet another painful reminder that it had been five years since I was seventeen. I was around the same age as Edward’s father.

“Cullen. Is he from Ireland? Oh my God, do you think he can do an accent? How sexy is that? Imagine the games we could play-“

“He’s married,” I said, revulsion bringing me out of my stupor. Linda’s face fell. I heard her mutter under her breath (“All the good ones are gay or married...”) before the phone rang and she grumpily answered it.

I stared blankly ahead of me.

Carlisle Cullen was working at Knives Hospital. That indicated that his stay here was permanent. And if he was here, then I could reasonably assume that the entire family had relocated.

I suddenly felt like screaming. This was so unfair. As if my life wasn’t already just plain crap, now I had to cope with the re-entry of the Cullens? They were the cause of this whole stinking cesspool of crapness in the first place! I was already marrying someone I didn’t want to, which was more than enough for one normal person to deal with. Now I had to cope with this? How could fate let this happen? How could they really, truly be back? In an obscure court room, sure, but here, in Knives, in the hospital where I worked?

And this meant that Edward was back, too.

My heart panged and ached and I bit my lip. Calm down. Maybe I was being stupid. Maybe the Cullen's weren't really back, but just... visiting friends, or something. I could avoid Carlisle, right? And if Edward found out I was here, he’d probably just leave anyway. He had done it before.

And if all else failed, I could just ask Jacob if we could go and live back in Forks. I could run away and stay away forever. I could get married and go and live my pretence of a life far, far away from Edward Cullen. I wouldn’t have to spend every waking moment pining with all my being for something that I couldn’t have, and Jacob wouldn’t have to suffer at my hand.

I felt a frustrated sob building in my throat, and I choked it down angrily. I would not cry again. I tried to breathe in and out coolly and slowly. Jacob would understand. He would want to get as far from the Cullens as he could. Maybe we could go somewhere really far away, like Europe. England, maybe, or France. I would simply uproot myself again. I’d move far enough away that there would never be any danger of me running into any Cullen, ever. I did not want to stare into Edward’s eyes again. The look he had given me in the forest still haunted me, and if I ever saw that again it would break me.

And then, suddenly, I was incredibly angry. I did not deserve this. I’d been played and then dropped. I had lover I didn’t love, and I had to put up an act every day of my life. I was stuck in a job I hated surrounded by people I hated and I could never have what I wanted. I pressed my eyes tight shut and clenched my fists. Couldn’t the hand of fate just knock it off? Just give me one tiny little break? If I had to deal with any more stress I might end up hurling myself off a cliff- or punching someone in the face. I was being forced to be a person I hated and it made me so incredibly pissed off.

The tension inside me was building and building and I felt like my brain was pressing against my skull. I pressed my fingers to my temples, rubbing them hard in the hope of relieving the frustration.

“Geez, Bella, what’s wrong?” Linda’s voice broke into my thoughts.

My fist crashed down on the desk and my eyes snapped open. “Nothing,” I hissed. She looked astonished. “Nothing is wrong, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, holding up her hands. “If you say so.” She stared at me for a second, and then her face split into a smile. “When you’re mad, you look just like a prettier version of that one from Gossip Girl, Blair, I think she’s called-“

“Linda, I don’t own a television,” I said, through clenched teeth. I pressed the enter key so hard that it fell off. I could feel tears gathering in my eyes as that embarrassing link between my tear ducts and anger started to show, and frustrated beyond belief, I furiously wiped them away. I could feel Linda staring at me, and I didn’t know what had shocked her more; that I was crying, or that I didn’t have a T.V.

I sat through the rest of the afternoon speaking only when absolutely necessary and being a lot more violent with the stationary than was strictly required. The afternoon seemed to drag on for ever, and the near constant sheets of rain I could see through the windows did nothing to help my mood. When I glanced at the clock and saw that in only ten minutes I could go home, I very nearly smiled. I was so tired; I just wanted to go to bed. Sleep away this day and pretend it had all been a bad dream.

I drummed my fingers on the desk, my gaze wandering absently over the foyer. My eyes crossed the window, and I watched the reflections. There were a couple of people on mobile phones and two twin girls playing on Gameboys. A nurse was walking past holding a clipboard. A doctor was stood in the doorway that led into the main hospital, talking to a group of Med Students. My eyes drifted, but then something caught my gaze- something- a glint of bronze hair, the flash of pale skin-

My heart stopped.

I was out of my seat before I even had time to think. Paper flew everywhere as I flung myself from my chair; Linda shouted out but I ignored her. Ripping my eyes from the reflection, I gave Linda a hurried "I've got to go," and ran. I knew that for my own sanity I had to get away as fast as possible. I threw myself into the corridor, and almost fell, putting my weight on the wall to steady myself.

And as I stood there, breathing hard, I caught a deep, frantic, velveteen voice coming from the reception area.

“Who was the girl?”

That voice alone, that voice I had not heard for so, so long, was enough to make the world around me spin. I slipped down the wall a little, my ears straining to hear more.

I just caught Linda’s intelligent “What?”

“There was a girl, just there, just now, sat right there, next to you, who was she?” the voice sounded desperate.

“Who, Bella?”

“Bella?” There was a pause. “Bella?” This time the name was addressed to the hospital in general. He was calling for me.

No-one would notice if I left early.

I ran.

*********

It was such a relief to be home.

“Jacob?” I called. “Are you here?”

Pause. “Yes,” came a muffled grunt from the kitchen.

I ran towards the door and threw myself through it. Jacob was leant against the cooker reading a bill, and I launched myself into his arms, holding him tight. After today I just want to feel secure and safe, and just because I wasn’t in love with Jacob didn’t mean he couldn’t comfort me.

But I didn’t get the reciprocal hug I had been hoping for. Instead, I was fiercely pushed away. I stumbled backwards.

“Jake?”

“You stink,” he spat, and as I looked up at him I saw that he was holding his nose.

“What?” I asked, completely lost. “What the-“

“I can smell it on you! You smell like them,” his voice was nasal, but carried a sense of anger. His dark brows slanted inwards and he looked livid.

“What? Jacob, what are you talking about?”

“Bella, you reek of bloodsucker!” His eyes were getting narrower and narrower, and he shot out his next words with the force of a cannon. “Did you expect me not to notice if you crept off and spent the day with a load of undead monsters? I thought, after everything you said last night-“

“Jacob, I didn’t spend my day with them,” I interrupted, before Jacob single-handedly started another unnecessary argument. “Carlisle Cullen is working at the hospital. He stopped and talked to me.” One look from Jacob’s expression told me he didn’t believe it. “Honest, Jacob!”

“Why was the leech at the hospital? Stealing blood?” He sounded skeptical.

With I groan I threw myself onto a chair and placed my elbows on the table, massaging my temples. “No, Jacob, he’s a doctor.”

Jacob gave a short, sarcastic laugh. “Ironic.”

I rolled my eyes, and then curiously sniffed my hand. “I don’t smell.”

Jacob wrinkled his nose. “Yes, you do. It’s a sickly sweet smell and it’s disgusting.”

“Right, well, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it if a vampire shoved himself into my face, Jacob.” I felt like hitting something again. Couldn’t Jacob see that what I needed right now was not a tirade on how much he hated vampires, but consolation? I didn’t even really see what the big problem was; the Cullens had never personally offended him. He was just being a jerk for the fun of it, and it was getting under my skin.

“What did you say to him?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“If I’d have been there-“

“You would have started another fight and we would end up owing them even more money than we already do,” I snapped. I’d had enough of Badass Jake- that side of Jacob was not one I liked. “Jacob, if you'd just shut up, I need to ask you something.”

“What?” There was a pause, and then Jacob was in the seat opposite me faster than blinking. He seemed to be very keen to listen to my question; probably just wanting to patch up the holes in our relationship. “What is it, Bells?”

I relaxed at the sound of my pet name. I sat up. “Jake," I began, "I can’t deal with the pressure of... you know, everything.” I looked him in the eye. “Can we not just get away? Like, go back to Forks?”

“You want to go back to Forks?” he said, slowly, as if processing a difficult concept. “Why?”

I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth. Wasn’t it obvious?

“It just seems like, we moved away from Forks to get away from all the supernatural crap, and it turns out that it’s just following us.” I glanced at him; he was looking confused. I elaborated. “I can’t cope with the stress of the Cullens being around, Jacob. It’s too much to deal with, on top of everything else. It just seems that everywhere we go, they’re there. And you seem to hate them, too.”

“Of course I hate them, Bella. They’re leeches and I’m a wolf, it’s one of those natural hate-hate relationships. If the cops hadn’t turned up, if I’d had one more second with that bloodsucker, I’d have ripped him to pieces—”

“Jake!” I said, holding up my hands. Trying to comprehend the pain it would cause me if Jacob singlehandedly murdered half my heart, wasn’t something I enjoyed imagining- I almost winced. “See why we should move back? I don’t want you to turn into a murderer! I just think we should get out of here while we can, preferably before my nerves give out or you are arrested for assassination.”

Jacob didn’t understand at all. “But everything here is so great! We’ve both got great jobs, and we’ve got this awesome little home! The wedding is all set for the church in Knives! I’ve never been this happy in my life! Why would we move away?”

I stared at him, disbelieving. Did he really think our lives were that good? How could he?

“But Jacob, I’ll see the Cullens everyday!”

“So?” he said, looking perplexed. “You don’t love Edward anymore, so why should it bother you? Just stay out of their way!”

I opened my mouth, and shut it again. I couldn’t argue. I had told all these lies and now, not only did Jacob believe them, he was using them against me. I had dug my own hole, and now I was squarely trapped in it.

And it didn’t look like there was a way out

*

I had to shower before I went to bed that night; Jacob said that he couldn’t stand the smell. My hair was still wet as I crawled into bed, and it stuck to my face and made my pillow damp.

I lay awake late again, thinking things over. If I wasn't careful, it was going to become a habit and I would never get any sleep.

I knew that the longer I stayed, the harder lying to Jacob was going to be. I didn’t want to fall under Edward Cullen’s spell again, but I knew that if he was going to keep turning up at the hospital, day after day after day, then I would. Without a doubt.

Why was he even there? What cruel twist of fortune had planted him there, right on my doorstep? I racked my brains, and remembered Linda mentioning an attractive Med Student. I mentally kicked myself. That should have been a red flag. Edward Cullen, vampire Medical Student. Fan-freaking-tastic.

What was I going to do? I couldn’t run away every time I saw him. But then again, how could I not run? How could I let myself slowly fall deeper and deeper into the hole? Because sometime soon I would hit the bottom with a bang, and this time I would not recover.

I took three paracetamols before I went to sleep that night. Edward would be in my dreams until I woke, but if there was one thing I could control, it would be Jacob’s ignorance of that fact. Protect Jacob. And I would protect him, if it was the only thing I could do.