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A Dark Adaptaton of New Moon

Summary:
It's been a year since Edward left Bella. Strong ties bond Jacob and Bella together, but one night of surpise and misfortune will forver change the lives of these three people. What would you do when all you love is violently taken away?


Notes:


3. Chapter 3 - Sleep

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Chapter 3 - Sleep

I drifted in and out of sleep, from dreams to nightmares then back to reality, though my reality was not far from a nightmare. I was aware I was in a coma. Although I could not wake, I can sometimes make out the sounds around me, the voices, the sound of the heart monitor. I tried to listen for any news of Jacob but it never came. Neither good or bad. It unsettled me and sometimes threw me on the verge of panic, making my heart rattle. The nurses would rush to sedate me to, slow my heart rate down. When will I break free from this? How long have I been comatose? It seemed like an eternity.

I was acutely aware of Edward's presence. He stayed with me for as long as I could recall. I felt every touch, every kiss, every breath, and every stroke of my face. He described what the day looked like, what types of flowers adorned my room, he hummed my lullaby, and quite frequently, he apologized. He apologized for leaving me, for putting me in danger and allowing Jacob to drive me home that night with all his rage. He wasn't certain that I could hear him but he wouldn't give up trying.

Alice had visited. I'm not sure whether it was yesterday or today as I had lost track of time. Edward begged desperately for her to tap into my future but for some unknown reason, she couldn't. I heard the pain in his voice.

"How can that be? She's alive! Her heart beats. Why can you not see her?"

"I'm not sure why, Edward. I told you, for months now, I've slowly been losing track of her. It's gone from sporadic visions to none. Initially, I thought it was because of the wolves, since she was always around them, but for weeks now, she's been here with you."

Weeks.

"I can't understand it. I know she will be ok, she will awake. I'm not sure how I know it but I do. I just don't know when. I'm so sorry Edward. I know this must be driving you mad....not knowing."

"What's happened to her?" he said in a muse more to himself. He was stroking my hair and then my cheek. The coolness of his skin sent a ghost shiver through my body. My head began to spiral dizzily and I slowly drifted back into darkness.

****

I don't remember when I awakened or if I really did. I was in Jacob's house, curled up on his sofa. There was a draft somewhere, pulling in the scent of pine from the trees outside. The last of the sun's orange rays were beginning to withdraw. The TV was on with its volume turned so low that you couldn't make out the roar of the stadium when the Jets scored the winning touchdown. I laid there, absentmindedly watching the TV though not paying any attention to the game.

There was a new scent. Correction - a tantalizing aroma coming from the far left side of the living room. Something was cooking.....Steak? My stomach growled at the smell of it. How long had I been sleeping? I sat up and looked around the room. It always amazed me how at home Jacob's house made me feel. It held such a warm and cozy appeal.

I stood up suddenly, rocked by panic. Dread flushing through me. I needed to know. I quickly made my way toward the direction of the appetizing scent, stumbling twice over my boots that were lying on the floor. As I reached the kitchen's archway, I braced myself for whatever... whoever, was there and I hoped with all my heart that I was wrong. Wrong about the image that haunted me.

I turned quickly into the kitchen and at first saw no one. There was a sizzling skillet on the stove, herbs and condiments scattered on the counter but no chef. A small light reflected off my eyes. I turned to the right where the door of the stainless steel refrigerator stood wide open. Someone was rummaging thru it. I took a step closer and came to a halt when Jacob took a few steps back, closing the refrigerator door with his foot and holding an assortment of veggies with both his arms.

"Agh! Damn, this is cold!!!! Good afternoon sleepy head. Wanna give me a hand here?" he said as he gingerly hopped towards me.

I threw myself to him, ignoring the vegetables between us, and wrapped my arms around his waist the way a child would embrace their teddy bear. He wasn't wearing a shirt and his skin was hot, as if he just walked out of a sauna. He dropped the veggies almost instantly and in slow confusion wrapped his long arms around me.

"Whoa, what's wrong?" he said anxiously.

I pulled back just a little to look at him but he pulled me right back towards his chest.

"I didn't say let go" he chuckled.

I hugged him harder. "Oh, Jake! It's really you! I knew it, I knew it!"

"Knew what Bells? What are you talking about?"

This time he was the one to pull back. He held me by my arms and looked at me anxiously and half smiling. His teeth were white as snow against dark wooden skin. His eyes were the color of rich dark chocolate and deeply set. His hair was short now, black and ruffled in every direction... a beautiful mess. His strong jaw was sharp and angled. I can stand here, mesmerized as I am, for a lifetime.

"Bella? Seriously, you're starting to freak me out! Are you okay?" he said urgently.

"Yes" I croaked out, my face dumbstruck.

"What do you mean 'you knew it'?" he persisted.

"That you were okay." I didn't want to get into any details. He looked at me with dubious eyes.

"Are you sure you didn't fall off the coach and hit your head?" he said with a smirk.

"No, you idiot!" I frowned and wrapped my arms around him again.

He held his arms out momentarily not knowing what to do. Then he slowly wrapped them around my back keeping his head above me, looking down at me. We stood there for about a minute or two when he removed one arm and lifted my chin to face him. He paused for a moment, a frown creasing his forehead, seeming to struggle for words but instead, he pulled my face to his and kissed me. First, two soft and short kisses, and then he slid his hand across my face and buried it in my hair and kissed me more eagerly... hungrily.

My inner self fought to stop - to resist. This wasn't right. Not what I wanted right now. But my body conquered all my defenses. I returned the passion in my kiss. His tongue was hotter than mine, as if he just finished eating something blistering hot. His skin warmed my hands a by a few degrees. My mind was going... pleasantly. He held me tight with his one arm around my waist and the other gripping me behind my head, as if to ensure I wouldn't escape. His hot skin burned thru my clothes.

He took a few steps forward, forcing me to retract, though our kiss never broke and our bodies never detached. After a few steps, he stopped and with the hand he had my hair fisted in, he reached to the stove and shut the burner and moved the skillet to another burner. Now both his arms were wrapped around my waist and he took a couple more steps forward as I followed backwards.

Suddenly, he lift me up and sat me on the far end of the counter. He grabbed my legs pulling me closer to him, my legs on either side of him. My heart raced and my veins burned. My heavy breathing did not embarrass me. I pushed him away and began pulling my shirt over my head. Instinctively, he grabbed both of my breasts in his hands with greed and kissed my collar bone while he felt them roughly and then slid his hands behind my back to undo my bra. I tossed my shirt behind him and reached for my belt.

I don't know where it came from but all of a sudden I heard Carlisle's voice.

"Be reasonable, Edward! Think about the implications it would've caused."

"Implications or not, it was immoral....criminal! She's the only one keeping him alive. All I need is one word and he will cease to exist".

Realization came crashing down on me. Dammit! It was only a dream. Figures. Jacob and I didn't have that kind of relationship, although I have summoned the thought many times before as I am sure he has also, Jacob was a part of me, and because of that, I couldn't bring myself to it. Not that I never would, but I wanted to be sure of it. Did I really want him as a friend or lover? I didn't want to jeopardize anything. I had already lost far too much and I wouldn't set myself up again.

'Please, think this through. They have as much a right... "

"NO! a savage growl came from Edward. "They have no claim over her. Death will come to them if they so much speak her name in front of me. Their tongues deserve not even her name. I know that I hurt her, betrayed her, but I never ... "

I blinked. It suddenly went quiet as if my blink were the power button on the TV remote control. I blinked again.

"Did you see that?" asked Edward. I flinched at the sound of his voice. "Can it be?" Cold fingers wrapped around my wrist.

"Bella, if you can hear me, blink your eyes" said Carlisle. I blinked in response without opening my eyes.

"Bella" whispered Edward, his cool sweet breath blanketing my face. He was holding my left hand and stroking my hair with the other.

"Bella, if you can feel my hand in yours, squeeze it." said Carlisle.

Edward held my left hand, Carlisle - my right. Could Carlisle stop talking! I was having a moment here. Edward was at my side, holding my hand in both of his. I never thought I would feel this again. He never left my side. He stayed here with me. I squeezed Edward's hand as hard as I could and he gasped.

"I'll get the nurse to get all her vitals checked" said Carlisle. Then I heard the door swing quietly shut.

'Bella, love.....I'm so sorry. Please, please know that. I am not asking for your forgiveness for I don't deserve that. I only want you to know that have lived in my own personal hell, damning myself for everything I've done to you. Please know that I am truly and eternally sorry. And please know that I love you...that I've never stopped loving you. My love for you has never wavered. I am yours to keep if you still want me and I am yours to keep if you wish to torture me. Do what you will with me, but please believe that I am sorry, love.

Some things never change. Here is the most beautiful vampire of the world, begging to be tortured in return for my believing that he was sorry. I struggled with all my might to open my eyes. I managed to make them flutter, taking in the bright light briefly between the blinking. It burned my eyes. When I was confident that I could open them, I turned my head towards Edward's direction to shade my face from the blinding light and I slowly opened them.

His beauty numbed my burning eyes. I had memorized his face many times before and still, he was able to rock my soul with his intense eyes. They were black. This much I would've guessed. He was here with me every time I woke, unconsciously. He looked tired and worn but his smile was genuine. I made no effort to move or blink. He was hypnotic and all I can do was stare idly.

We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. He kissed my forehead, then my nose. I turned my head the other way when I sensed that he'd kiss me. The horror of my not brushing my teeth for days, weeks, probably even months. snapped me out of his enchantment.

I struggled to talk but at first nothing came out of my moving lips. He quickly reached for a cup of water and lifted my head up gingerly as I sipped from it. I turned away when I didn't want anymore and he carefully laid me back down. I felt weak, like jello. I found I could move my arms and legs but only with strained effort.

"How long have I been here?" my voice croaked sounding like a strangled frog.

"6 weeks" he murmured as he pushed a strand of hair off my forehead. "Most of your wounds have healed. Your bruises are gone and so are your stitches. You were"...he paused, "hurt really badly. All of your ribs on your right side were broken, two on your left. A broken ankle, fractured spine and pelvis and a small skull fracture" he finished with hurt clear in his eyes.

I looked at him in shock and disbelief. "Is that all?" I asked.

"And a few scratches here and there" he smiled his crooked smile, sending a ripple through my heart. Time couldn't anesthetize what he meant to me no matter how angry I was. I broke free from his gaze once again to ask him what I wanted to know.

"Jacob."

He flinched and his eyes narrowed. He looked away from me and focused his attention to the wall across him.

"Is he ok?" I asked anxiously when I got no response. He still didn't answer. His face had gone cold and hard. His lips pressed into a fine line.

"Edward! Answer me!" I asked franticly. "Is he ok?"

He turned to look at me with anxious eyes now. He seemed to struggle with his thoughts. His lips formed a straight line again and spoke behind clenched teeth.

"Do you not remember anything from the crash?" he asked.

I looked at him, puzzled. "Yes" I said. "He lost control of the car and we collided with a truck."

He closed his eyes, his face pained as if he was trying to clear the images from his mind.

"Is that all you remember"? he growled.

"Dammit, Edward! Where is he.........is he ok!? What's happened to him!?" My voice was now panicked and impatient as I forced myself to sit up. He gently stopped me half way and looked me in the eye, still angry.

"The dog is fine" he snarled and slowly pushed me back down.

I let myself melt back into the pillow, my eyes never leaving his. Jacob was all right. He lived. I was wrong. I knew it. Relief rushed over me. I didn't know what I'd do had the news been otherwise. A small and frail nurse walked into the room. Edward, still frowning in anger, retracted a few steps away to allow her room to examine me.

"Well, if it isn't sleeping beauty finally awakened. Good afternoon, Ms. Swan" she said animatedly. I gave her a half-assed smile.

I hated hospitals and all it entailed. She worked quickly and skillfully. First she checked my eyes with a light pen, and then she took my pressure, temperature and changed my IV bag. She checked the feeding tube that was jammed through the side of my stomach and concluded her observations.

Horror racked my senses upon realizing that I had been incapable of stepping foot in a bathroom since falling into coma. For all that was holy, I hoped Edward was gentlemen enough to step out of the room during those humiliating moments where my sheets needed to be changed.

I felt my face flush scarlet and I quickly glanced at Edward. He stood, hands in pockets, looking out the window and did not return to my side when the nurse left. He stood there for a couple of minutes. Silent and far away in thought. I didn't want to disrupt his trance but I couldn't fight the urge to ask him what I've been meaning to ask.

"Edward?"

"Yes, love" he murmured before turning to walk towards my bedside. He sat on the chair by my bed. He kept his head down, as if expecting what I was about to ask and trying to keep his calm and I readied myself for the furious wrath that was sure to come.

"I'd like to see him, to know that he's ok".

The explosion never came. Instead, he looked up and stared at me with curious eyes. After a long moment he asked, "Why?"

"What do you mean why?" I asked incredulously. "Edward, we almost died. I need to see him."

"Exactly." he said in a stony voice. "You almost died."

There was a phone on the nightstand next to him. I sat up a little and went to reach for it when his hand quickly and lightly, grabbed my wrist and stopped me.

"Edward, let go if me". I said behind clenched teeth. He did, immediately.

"Don't you remember anything else, Bella?" he asked, beseechingly and frowning deeply in confusion.

"What are you talking about!?" He paused and didn't say anything at first. His frown lines cleared and his face recomposed itself to a blank and unreadable look.

"He left you, Bella. He left you for dead."

The silence in the room seemed to stretch on. His words hung there in the air. Like the words spoken from the operating surgeon in the hospital waiting room after a failed rescue attempt.

"What?" my voice was almost inaudible.

"He escaped. Naturally, he heals so he was not in any mortal danger. He was gone before the ambulance arrived. The driver of the truck was the one who called the ambulance. Carlisle called me once he received the call. I almost went out looking for him that night, to finish the job myself. But when I got there, to the scene of the accident, and saw you..." his voice trailed off, "...all broken and covered in blood, I couldn't leave your side. And I haven't since. I couldn't risk leaving you for a single moment. Not knowing if you'd slip in your sleep and die. I needed to be here with you. And if you went, I'd be ready to follow you."

Tears welled in my eyes. Not because of Edward's words rather what the words meant. He betrayed me? My Jacob? He left? Simply got up and walked away? Did he rather see me dead than to see me with Edward again? A sudden flicker of memories played through my head. Us laughing at the campfire, painting his garage, racing each other on motorcycles, shielding me with his jacket in the downpour, teaching me to play hockey...

Tears streamed down my face. "No, no, no" Edward whispered anxiously. "Don't waste your tears on him. He's not worthy of them. Please don't cry, love. I'm sorry to have laid that all out there that way. It was reckless of me. This is not how I wanted you to find out. I'm so sorry."

"He left me?" I said my voice breaking and tears beginning to well my eyes. He stared at me for a long while, pensively. I couldn't read his emotion. After about two minutes, he started:

"I won't keep from you all the rest." He hesitated then continued in a flat tone. "He wants to see you. He was just as worried as I was. Sam claims that they had no choice but to pull him from the wreck before help came. The truck driver was already calling the police when they got there. They heard the crash through their minds and were there within minutes. Jacob was half phased and unconscious by the time of the crash. They worried of being exposed. If the ambulance came and saw a half man-half wolf, there's no doubt he would've been shipped off to some remote top secret military base for experimenting. Shame that they didn't. So they collected him and sped off."

Anger flashed through his eyes.

"If the truck driver had been unconscious as well, if that call never came in... it could've been too late for you" he said with eyes that looked like they were about to tear, but of course, never would. "Your heart stopped beating in the ambulance. I almost lurched on you then and there. Selfishly, I was convinced I'd change you, not knowing whether you still wished for that, not caring about the paramedics. They tried desperately to resuscitate your heart while my sanity hung by a string. And when your heart took that first beat...," he trailed off. "Well, there's nothing to describe what I felt."

"Charlie arrived to the hospital only minutes after they rolled you into the ER. He was hysterical. My being there didn't help either. I believe he assumed I did this to you and jumped at me the minute he laid eyes on me. Three security guards had to hold him off. Once they were able to calm him down, Carlisle sat with him and went over what happened... or at least what he wanted him to believe that happened. To my disgust, Carlisle explained to him that you and Jacob had a disagreement and you took off in his car, alone. You lost control of the car and crashed with the truck.

This is the same story Jasper gave the police when we were questioned. Jasper was certain that Jacob's disappearance wasn't ill intent. Of course, the alibi got to Jacob sooner than the police did and it was easily believable seeing that the car was a mangled mess, as were you, and Jacob didn't have a hair out of place. Fate has a sick sense of humor at times. He's asks for you every day and he wants to see you but I won't allow it. His pack won't allow him either. They know he'd be walking straight into his death should he even come within a foot of this hospital."

All of it seemed so much to grasp. It wasn't betrayal after all. They were protecting him... their legend. It made sense. What didn't make sense was Edward's hold over me.

"Why have you denied him visiting me when you know he didn't mean for it to be this way?" I demanded.

"Because his inability to control himself around you is what almost killed you Bella!" he glared. "Can't you see that? He is a danger to you, whether he chooses to believe that he will never hurt you. It's in his nature!"

"And you?" I retorted. "You are no danger to me? Why? Simply because you say so? Simply because you believe you will never hurt me? Just how close were you in changing me without knowing whether I wanted that anymore?"

I hit home. He stared at me, speechless for once.

"You are no less a threat than he is. Jacob is part of me whether you like that or not. If you kill him, you might as well kill me". He flinched. "I want to see Jacob dammit! I need to see him and you are not getting in my way".

His lips formed a hard line and he stared hard at me. After a few seconds he stood up and walked away, rubbing his temples in circles. He stopped and looked down at me.

"As you wish" He said coldly. "But I stay here. See, I'm sure you can understand my unease at the situation as I am sure you can acknowledge the fact that I have never brought you to the verge of death. James was your idea. I did everything to make you safe and your stubbornness did otherwise. Against my wishes you walked right up to death's door. I'm sure you can also recollect how it was a vampire who sucked the venom out of you to save your life... a vampire who had a number for you blood exclusively. Yes, I am a vampire, Bella. Remember that."

"BELLA!!!!" exclaimed a jubilant Alice. I didn't hear her come in. She carried a huge white teddy bear and a dozen white roses. She ran to me and hugged the oxygen right out of me.

"A-lice" I choked.

"Oh, I'm sorry" she said absently. "How are you!!? How do you feel?" she asked in that high octal voice.

I tore my eyes away from Edward who was still staring at me intensely. His words rattled me. Though he did save my life and though I was the brainiac who thought it heroic to face James alone, my blood was still his number one desire... his weakness. What was it that he called it once?... his personal brand of heroin. He failed to catch my point entirely, and his words stung me. He's never taken that tone with me. I may have underestimated his patience.

"As good as can be expected" I answered back at Alice as soon as I was able to catch my breath again. Jasper, Emmet, and Esme were the next to walk through the door. Rosalie wasn't present, to no surprise.

"Pinky!" bellowed Emmet as he planted a kiss on my head and shoveled my hair.

I hadn't forgotten how he called me the most absurd names of endearment. Pinky....for my blushing cheeks. I grimaced. "Hello Emmet".

Something washed over me. I felt suddenly comforted, at ease, like the buzz after a few glasses of wine. Then Jasper walked over to me and kissed my forehead. Of course. He must've sensed the tension between Edward and I and put his charm to use. It must feel good to never walk in to an awkward situation. I never really thought about it before, but his ability to saturate the atmosphere with his numbing calm must be a very handy tool. How could he ever be the target of an attack when he'd always be a step ahead? It explains why Alice never seems to be upset with him for too long.

"Bella" he greeted in a low and silky voice. "Welcome back" he smiled widely revealing a line of shiny white teeth. Esme shoved Jasper and Emmet to the side and placed both of her cool hard hands on the sides of my face. I shivered slightly at the sudden cold sensation. She missed my reaction.

"Oh Bella, sweetheart! I'm so glad to see you awake. We all worried so much about you. I'm so sorry if our return was what led this all." She shot a quick glare at Edward. "We should've never left..."

It was Edward who cut in. "Esme, please."

She looked back at him, this time with apologetic eyes. "I'm sorry" she said to him and then turned back to face me with a dazzling smile. "Carlisle tells me you're going to be okay and you should be out of here in a week if no complications arise".

A week, wonderful, I thought to myself.

As if Esme could sense what I was thinking, she smiled conspicuously and whispered, "Don't worry, we'll see to it that you get out of here much sooner than that". She leaned forward to kiss my forehead.

"I brought you some minestrone soup. Carlisle tells me they will be removing your feeding tube shortly and I'm sure you could use a nice warm and hearty meal."

"Mmm, thanks Esme" I said smiling. "You really didn't have to go out of..."

"Oh, none of that sweetheart. It's the very least I could do. I do hope you allow me to visit you when you are released. I know Italian is your favorite and there aren't any great restaurants in Forks". She knew Charlie's cooking expertise included a cold ham and cheese sandwich and scrambled eggs.

"Thanks. Sure you can visit. Any time you want." I replied. It was so good to see them again. Each of them looked incomprehensibly beautiful. I could only imagine what I looked like in comparison. Alice had picked at my hair a moment ago, her face pinched in concentration as she tried to finger comb my locks.

"Charlie is on his way here as we speak" said Alice. "I wish you could've seen him when Carlisle called him to break the news" she said, as if I had paranormal super powers. "He sound like a poor man just learning that he won the state Lottery."

"Wow. It's so..." I searched for words "....awesome to see you all here!" I managed to say. "I'm really happy to see you guys. I've missed you all so much". From my peripheral vision, I saw Edward drop his head.

"Oh sweetheart, we missed you too" said Esme in an angel's voice. Alice was sitting on my bed, cross-legged and fidgeting with my fingernails.

"Goodness, your nails look awful! I should've brought my manicure set. I'll make a note to pack it tomorrow".

"She's in the hospital, psycho" Emmet snorted. She glared back at him.

I really did miss them. I didn't resent them for leaving a year ago without saying goodbye. I know that it was Edward's carefully orchestrated idea. They respected him as they profoundly respected one another. The Brady bunch was no match for the Cullens. They were perfect in all ways possible.

Carlisle walked into the room after a couple of minutes.

"Bella! I can see your shaping up quite well." he said with a brilliant smile.

He too leaned forward to plant a kiss on my forehead. I began to worry that my breath wreaked and that they intentionally tried to stay as far away as possible from my mouth. My first post-coma baby steps will be towards the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a nice hot shower.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Great." I exaggerated. I couldn't fool him though. He gave a quick laugh and jotted some notes on his clipboard as he spoke.

"Jackie briefed me on your vitals which I'm happy to say were excellent. Most of your bones have healed but will require therapy. Internal bleeding has ceased and your skull seems to have healed properly. We've gradually weaned you off the morphine and I expect to discontinue its use entirely by today. I was concerned of muscle atrophy but seeing you as you are, I'm sure there is nothing to worry about and I expect you to make a speedy recovery. I recommend that you stay under observation here for at least another week."

"Is a week really that necessary? I asked, hoping he would reconsider. Another day in the fluorescent lighted hell would be impossible to bear.

He chuckled and flashed a dazzling smile. "Let's play it by ear for now, shall we?"

I grimaced.

"Well everyone, let's go." Alice announced. "Charlie's in the elevator now. I'm sure he wants time alone with Bella." She eyed Edward at the end of her announcement. His eyes narrowed the slightest bit and looked me. I knew him well enough to note the disappointment in his eyes. It's a good thing his talents did not involve invisibility or my privacy would've been out the door. They all gave me a quick peck on the cheek this time and marched out of the room. Edward was the last one left.

"Bella, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say..."

"You didn't say anything that was not true, or that I didn't already know." I intercepted. "I know exactly what you are. I'm not afraid of you and I'm not afraid of Jacob. That is what I meant to say."

"It's not a question of what you fear, for I know you do not fear neither me nor him, it's more of the manner in which you compare me to him. I merely wanted to point out the fact that although I am indeed a vampire, I take merit in knowing I can control myself as I have proven so in the past. I am no Carlisle... not by a long shot, but neither am I a murderous and sadistic vampire... at least not to you." He said darkly before recomposing himself. "I love you Bella, intensely so. Please understand that."

Before I could respond, Charlie burst through the door. "Bells, hun? You're awake!" He lunged forward, oblivious to Edward who was still standing in the same spot staring at me. I've never seen Charlie so animated. He reminded me of crazed scientist in the midst of a new discovery. He hugged me tightly. I felt like a feather. I was too week to return the same hold.

"Hi, dad" I smiled, trying not to wince at the pain in my ribs.

"Tell me, how do you feel?" he asked eagerly. He caught the quick glance I shot behind his shoulder. He turned around and straightened to stand in front of Edward. Edward's eyes were still locked on mine when Charlie said "I think your family is waiting for you outside, in the hall". His tone was not polite. It was authoritative. Edward stared at me just a few seconds longer before shifting his focus on Charlie.

"Chief Swan" he greeted softly.

He looked at me once more and said "I'll be outside if you need me" and he turned and walked away. Charlie didn't move until Edward was out the door.

"Hmmph" Charlie huffed and then turned around and sat on the edge of my bed.

"What's the story with him? I thought they moved out of the country" he asked.

"Yeah, they did" I murmured.

He waited for more and when I offered no more, he said "Bella, hun, listen. I don't know what's going on with you guys but I don't trust him. He left you and I saw what that did to you. I don't trust that he won't do that again."

"I know dad."

"You and Jacob have become so close and although I know he's not your boyfriend, well, I wouldn't argue it if he was".

I began to protest when he held up one finger.

"Wait, let me finish. Jacob is a great kid. You guys grew up together. I can see the way he is with you and I can tell you this with all certainty... that boy is hung on you. Sure, he doesn't drive a fancy car and doesn't wear designer clothes" he made a sour face towards the door and I winced at the way he perceived Edward. "But he has a good heart and I know that he can protect you".

As if I lacked protection, I thought to myself.

"Dad, I'm not having this conversation with you. I love Jacob, but not the way you'd like me to".

"Are you still in love with that boy?" he asked, referring to Edward. My heart skipped a beat. I know without a doubt that Edward was listening in and I wasn't going to lay my emotions out on the table.

"I was, but he left" I said in almost a whisper.

Charlie seemed to like my response and took that as a happy ending to that topic. He moved on to my mom, Renee, who he said was driving up to see me. She and Phil have been staying at a hotel here in Forks at the news of my accident. Charlie said she visited me often although I could not remember hearing her voice in my half-sleep. He told me she was worried sick which I could've easily guessed. Ben and Angela had also visited. They postponed their Hawaiian honeymoon when they heard about the accident. I felt terrible. I ruined their wedding. I was beginning to think I was a like bad omen or something.

"How's Jacob?" I asked.

"He's in pretty bad shape. He thinks it's his fault that you were in that accident. He wished he would've stopped you from driving off alone that night."

Sure he did, I thought to myself.

"He too, has visited you."

This I knew was not true. It was just a formulated lie to keep up with the story.

"Hey, when you see him, can you ask him to come see me.... again? I asked. At the same time I heard a loud bang outside, surely the sound of Edward's fist on the wall.

"Sure, hun" Charlie said contently.

Charlie's visit was short as were most of our conversations. Time and distance had made its mark in our bond. Although I loved him and he loved me in return, there was always that awkward gap between us. It didn't bother me at all. His candidness allotted me privacy.

Mom arrived with Phil while Charlie was still in the room. She brushed right past him as he did with Edward earlier, ignoring him for the moment while she threw her arms around me and grabbed me all over as if assessing my injuries. After exchanging a few words, she turned around and greeted Charlie as if he was an old high school friend she hadn't seen in years. I could've sworn I saw something flash behind Charlie's eyes but it was so sudden that it was gone just as fast as I had noticed it. He politely said goodbye and left.

Once the nurse had removed the feeding tube from my stomach, Renee helped me to the shower. It was such a weird feeling standing and walking after being immobilized in a bed for over a month. Walking was like trying to write while laughing. I literally had to will every muscle to work.

I flinched at my haggard reflection in the bathroom mirror. I had expected to be bone pale - paler than I already was. What stared back at me from the mirror was a hideous witch with yellow skin and teeth and dark grey circles all around the eyes. My hair looked like fine dreadlocks. Ugh! I remember the words Edward told me earlier... I love you Bella, intensely so. If he could say that, knowing what I looked like, then he's probably been confined here for too long.

Edward was back in the room by the time Renee helped me out the shower. He quickly walked over to help me walk. He hunched down a bit to allow me to put my arm around his shoulder and he placed one arm around my waist and the other under my elbow. His body felt hard against my side and he smelled... divine. At my bed, he wasted no time and gently scooped me up and laid me down. If there were any teams forming, Renee was definitely on Team Edward, all right. She smiled at him and not just any smile, it was a hopeless-romantic smile. I rolled my eyes and kissed her on the cheek goodbye.

"I'll be by tomorrow. I love you" she said to me and then turned to Edward.

"Edward, you have my number. If she so much as coughs, no matter what time it is, call me."

"Yes, I will" he smiled crookedly. How I hated that I loved that smile. He quickly and conspicuously took a step back and coughed lightly into his hand several times in an effort to prevent Renee from kissing him on the cheek.

"And take care of her" she added as she turned to walk away.

"As my own life" he murmured.

I was glad that everyone was gone. Not that I didn't want to see them or be bothered, but against my better judgment, I was glad to be alone with him. There were a few things I wanted to discuss. He stood there for a few moments, his head slightly tilted to one side just gazing at me, with a faint smile on his lips. I wondered what he was thinking. He took a seat next to me.

"You should try to eat something" he gestured towards the food that the nurse had brought in. It was criminal to feed patients some of the stuff that the hospital prepared. I didn't move to inspect what it was. Instead, I reached for Esme's bowl of minestrone soup.

"You know, you shouldn't really be eating that. It's....."

"Edward!" I warned.

He retreated and smiled. I stirred the soup with my spoon absentmindedly and I stared back at him for a few moments before asking "So, how long are you staying?"

"Why, until you are released of course." he said sounded shocked.

"I mean in Forks."

He pursed his lips, a small frown pulling his eyes together.

"You really don't believe me. You think I'm going to leave again."

I stared at my soup as I whirled the contents round and round. That's exactly what was happening to me. My head was swirling round and round, though not with a spoon but with his words.

"Bella, I need to ask you something. It's been burning in my mind since the night I saw you."

"What is it?"

He struggled for words. "When I saw you there, on the pier, you're face was hard... angry. No doubt that I deserve that and I need no confirmation to know I was the cause of your sudden temper. But I felt your guard sway at the sound of his voice."

He watched me with searching eyes.

"Am I too late? Has he... claimed you?"

I didn't respond. I kept swirling the pieces of pasta and tomato in circles. That's what I was doing, wasn't I? ...spinning both Edward and Jacob in circles, each one bumping each other along the way.

"I hope that it is not fear of hurting my feelings that keeps you from answering. If he has claimed you..." his voice was almost a whisper. "...if you've taken his hand, know that I wouldn't hurt him. I know that doing so will hurt you and I will give no hand to your pain".

I looked up at him. "Jacob and I are friends. I love him" was all I could say. I didn't want to lie and say that we were something more than that but I couldn't let him think that he had an open ticket.

"As you loved me?" he asked.

Loved. I didn't miss the past-tense. So he really didn't know how I felt. I'm not sure how that made me feel. Childish I suppose, because I didn't want to confess that I never stopped loving him but neither did I want him to feel that I didn't. I know too well how that felt. And although I should give him a taste of his own medicine, I found that I didn't want him to taste it's bitterness.

"No" I croaked.

Relief seemed to soften the features of his face. We didn't speak any further. I ate my soup savoring each mouthful. When I was finished, he took my bowl and placed in next to the untouched platter and twisted open the cap of a water bottle. I chugged it once then remembered something I heard while I slept that puzzled.

"While I was out, I heard you speaking with Alice" I began.

His brows raised high and he looked at me black wide eyes. "You heard me?" he asked and then slowly began to smile as he realized that his voice had indeed been heard through my sleep.

"Yes, I did. On and off though. Sometimes it took some mental effort to differentiate what was reality and what was a dream, but after a while, it would become clear to me."

"Interesting. I will have to let Carlisle know" he said more to himself.

"One day, you and Alice were talking about me" I continued. "You wanted to know if I was ever going to wake. She told you she didn't know. She told you she'd been losing track of me for months now and that she could no longer see me". His forehead creased and he looked like he was deep in thought.

"What did she mean by that?" I asked.

"I was hoping you could answer that for me."

"I don't understand. How would I know?"

He hesitated for a moment and seemed to focus his thoughts. "Bella, please do not take offense at what I'm about to ask you. It is simply a theory I have. And please don't mind my feelings. I need to know the truth to put the pieces together, if you will."

"What do you want to know?"

He pursed his lips and looked me deep in the eyes. "Bella, have you...." I waited.

"Have I what?"

He tried again. "Have you... given yourself to him?"

"WHAT?!" I nearly shouted.

"Bella, Alice can no longer see you. In the past, that only happened when you were with him. But after the accident, I have not left your side. None of the Quileute have stepped foot here and still she cannot see you. I truly doubt that you have become a werewolf, love. You smell far too delectable. This is the only theory I can come up with."

I thought back to the dream I had just before I woke. Jacob lifting me up to the counter top. A pang of guilt hit me behind the head.

"Of course I haven't! What part of friend did you not get?

At first, he did not move. Then out of nowhere, his lips were an inch from mine. He scanned my face wildly with his eyes, talking in all my features. My heart began to flutter like a humming bird's wings. He tilted his head slightly to my left, near my heart and closed his eyes. He didn't have to lay his head on my chest to hear my heart pounding.

"Mmm....I missed that" he whispered.

He slowly turned his head back to me so that the tip of his nose grazed my jaw line then my lips. A small tremble escaped me and he paused, taking in a deep breath before rolling his eyes upward and backing off with a growl. At the same time, Jackie, the petite nurse, came in.

"Time to check your vitals dear" she said almost singing.

Nice I thought bitterly. She stuck a thermometer in my mouth and took my pressure at the same time. She frowned at my readings.

"Your pressure is a little high."

"It's just me" I said handing back the thermometer. "I was just.....arguing" she shot a glance at Edward "...on the phone" I quickly said.

"Ms. Swan, you shouldn't be arguing with anyone in your delicate state" she scowled.

"I know. I'm sorry".

"All right then, everything looks good. My shift will end soon. Tomorrow Andrew will be the one to examine you. He will examine your pelvis to make sure it's healed properly". I could've sworn I heard a growl. She took off jotting notes on my chart. I needed to get to the bottom of this before he picked up where he left off.

"So, what else could it be? Why can't she see me?" I asked.

"I don't know. She thinks it might have to do with the bond you have with him, unless... he's doing it. I couldn't see how though."

"And this is why you refuse to leave me alone here?" I asked.

"It's the secondary reason" he murmured.

"Secondary?"

"I'm here because I want to be. Because I love you and I will spend the rest of your life telling you that, unless of course you wish me to leave."

"Would you?" I bluffed.

"Leave the room, of course, as you command" he smiled that damn crooked smile again.

My eyelids were heavy and he noticed it.

"Why don't you sleep, love. You look tired."

"Haven't I slept enough"?

He leaned over and once again paused just an inch from my lips. His breath was intoxicating. I could already feel the coolness emanating from his skin. My heart went soaring and my face flushed scarlet. He smiled, surely expecting my reaction and then leaned in for the kiss. How can lips as cold and hard kiss so softly. He taste was irresistible. My eyes never opened again that night.