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Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her?
Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.
19. Edward - New Rob Cage
Word Count 5543
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It was the start of December and I still hadn’t decided if I wanted to return to school. My physiotherapy course was nearly completed and I hadn’t found anything else that appealed in Anchorage either. I liked the idea of doing something practical, but I hadn’t a clue what. Bella didn’t need me to take the physiotherapy further so there was no point in doing that. It was while I was still in this state of indecision that Esme called to say that the school had been in contact with her to ask if I was returning. I was legally eighteen and I didn’t have to but I thought I would try. If I found that it was too hard to accept Bella as just teacher at school then I would leave, but make it permanent.
When I said I would go back, and suggested it be after the christmas break, the music teacher asked if I would make it two weeks before, that way I would ease in gently, and I could help with the christmas production. I agreed to the suggestion because it suited me to have these two weeks to try it out. It didn’t take me long to learn all the pieces of music for the production.
There was a little bit of a problem when it was made clear to Bella that all the school staff were expected to attend. I knew she did not want to go. She did not want to see and hear me playing a keyboard of any kind. I wondered if she would be ‘ill’. But she talked to Lizzie about it. Lizzie said she should just take her heart medication, sit with the rest of the family and go. I was glad when Bella decided to follow her advice.
Alice could have had the female lead. But she said she got stage fright and couldn’t do it. She did get to sing a solo but she was in the background, a supposed ghost. But at least she was supposed to look pale and ethereal. Naturally her voice stole the show.
I played all the music on a keyboard. Luckily none of the music that was played as a piano was like the music I played at home so I don’t think it upset Bella as much as she thought it might.
When Alice and I joined the family after the performance Bella congratulated us both on our efforts. Alice gushed, I just shrugged and Bella turned back to Esme. No one seemed to notice anything: mission accomplished.
The last day of the semester the family had a visitor. Andrew Campbell a Cardiologist who had come to consult about Bella. Carlisle had told the family to try to act as human as possible while Andrew was staying with them, but he was aware that we were different and he wouldn’t ask any questions.
Bella was admitted to hospital that night. The next morning she was on the operating table.
It was expected that Bella would be hospitalised for five to seven days: we would need to be extremely discreet during that time. After that Bella would spend at least a week at the Cullen family home so that no one would think she was home alone during her convalescence.
This surgery would be different to the one where they temporarily repaired her rib cage. As well as fixing her shoulder blade, Carlisle was replacing the rib cage, a much bigger surgery. Bella would have a local and be awake while Carlisle removed the excess bone growth from her right shoulder and re-aligned her left shoulder; then she was to be given level ten pain meds which would knock her out and have to breathe oxygen through a mask. It meant that she wouldn’t be able to block her nose or talk to me while the surgery was going on. We all hoped that she would stay unconscious long enough for the surgery to be completed.
I was at home with all the family waiting for news. It was a very long morning.
Carlisle rang nearly six hours after the surgery was due to start. He spoke rapidly and no one listening from his end would hear.
“Bella woke up before we finished, but she’s fine. She has seventy-eight minutes before she can have more pain medication so will be in more discomfort as that time moves on. I’ll talk to her later about what we discovered and she might want you on the ‘phone listening at the same time. In the mean time she wants to talk to you. I’ll be here helping her with oxygen all the time so she won’t be alone” and Carlisle put the ‘phone to Bella’s ear.
“Hey” she croaked, “I’m awake.”
“So I hear. I also hear you woke up before they had finished.”
“Yeah. I felt the pain of the pressure on my spine as the new rib cage was being attached, I hoped that was the last thing they were doing. After that it was just the sting of the stitches as he sewed up my spine and across my shoulder – Carlisle is very quick!” and she even managed a half laugh. “I’m sure I groaned as I was turned onto my back, but by then I was starting to feel sick. I tried to push the oxygen mask away from my face and luckily Carlisle realised what was happening because he quickly raised me by my right shoulder and let me retch over a bowl. There was nothing to bring up except a bit of bile of course, but Carlisle had me wheeled away from the operating room so I could breathe none blood flavoured air. I felt better immediately.”
“Good. How are you feeling now?”
“Not too bad at the moment, but it won’t last. What have you been doing?”
“Waiting for you to call me of course! What else would I do?”
And so our conversation went on in this gentle vein for about half an hour but it was clear it was getting harder for her. The pain was increasing. I could hear Carlisle talking more, telling Bella to breathe through the mask, short, breaths, let the oxygen do its work. I needed to be there with her, talking in her ear not through an ear piece, kissing her. Could she read my mind?
“Stay there. Talk to me.”
“How about we talk Jacuzzis?”
“Yes tell me about when we can use the Jacuzzi again.”
We talked about things we could do when she was home, but it got harder for her to focus.
“It hurts so much. Why am I doing this? I need you Edward.”
“I’m here love, and I need you too, so much. Bella, I love you. Without you I don’t live. I need you to stay alive, Bella.”
“You need me” it was said as a reason to put herself through the agony of the operation.
“Yes, love, I need you. You want me to do something for you, I do it. If I could, I would take this pain from you and feel it myself.”
“You need me,” but this time the words were slurred.
“Yes love, I need you” I whispered again.
“She’s lost consciousness” Carlisle said down the ‘phone. “I hope she’s out long enough for me to be able to medicate her again. In the meantime, let her hear your voice, she won’t be able to make out words, but if she comes to it will probably help to keep her calm if she can hear you.”
So I hummed her lullaby down the ‘phone knowing that Carlisle was monitoring her heart rate and that I would know if it was causing her distress.
There was less than five minutes to go when she started to stir.
“It’s alright Bella” I heard Carlisle again. “It’s alright Sweetie. Just a few more minutes. Try to relax, Bella. Just a few more minutes.”
“Ugh, why can’t I just die?”
And fear such as I had never felt before raced through me. “No Bella, you have to live! I need you. I can’t live without you. Please, love, just hold on a few minutes more. I love you. Please hold on.”
“You love me? Promise.”
“I love you Bella. More than anything and everything in the whole universe. No lies, half truths or evasions, remember. I love you, I need you.”
“You need me.”
“Yes Bella, I need you, so you have to hold on, okay? You have to live.”
“Okay. A little while longer.”
“That’s right love, just a little while longer then Carlisle will be able to take the pain away.”
“That’s right Sweetie, I’ll soon be pumping those veins full of morphine” I heard Carlisle say.
“Yes you are, apart from when you’re putting us all in our place. I grew to love you dearly before Bella, but I have to say I like you more now.” And I understood Carlisle’s words exactly.
“Erm, Dr Cullen, I’m sorry to interrupt but do you need me to prepare the morphine?”
“Thank you, but I’m all set.” And I knew that Carlisle knew that the nurse had heard Carlisle say that he loved Bella dearly and that word of it would circulate the town in no time.
“Ready Sweetie?” Carlisle thought that he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
Ten seconds later I could hear the ‘phone being taken from Bella’s ear. “She’s gone back to sleep. I’ll get her to call you when she wakes again. She shouldn’t be in so much pain again now, the worst is over. Can you call Lizzie or Jake and get them to call Renee? Don’t worry, she will be okay now.”
I did as Carlisle suggested and called Lizzie.
“Thank goodness for that!” Lizzie said. “I was really frightened when she told me what a big operation it was. I even asked her why they didn’t just leave the broken rib cage in instead of having that complicated surgery. She told me how bad it was going to be but she didn’t want you to know.”
“Why not?” I couldn’t believe I was hearing this.
“Because you might have tried to talk her out of doing it, or you might have insisted on being there and she didn’t want you to succeed in either of them.”
That made me think and I wondered why they had removed the rib cage. Okay the broken one was not ideal, but surely as long as it was acceptable it had to be better than going through all that. There had to be more to it than that.
Esme said that she was going to see Bella so that she could be there when Bella woke up. “I’m telling her that I have persuaded you all to visit and to read to her to keep her entertained.”
“Okay, I’ll come up with some excuse as to why I’m there more than the others.”
“Already thought of. It’s quieter for catching up with your studying than at home because Rosalie and Jasper are arguing all the time over something. Also, you’ll cover some of their shifts in exchange for them doing some of your school work. But that one won’t work with Alice since she insists on visiting too.”
I was lucky to have such an understanding family. I could listen through their thoughts and with my visiting and using the ‘phone I would be with Bella one way or another for most of the time.
“Hello Sweetie, how are you feeling?” I heard Esme ask.
“Not you too. Am not sweet.”
“Yes you are, especially when you’re asleep” Esme countered and I thought ‘Damn. We had forgotten that Bella talks in her sleep and she usually says my name.’ “Is Edward the man in your life?” I mentally saw Esme nod towards the door to indicate that someone was listening.
“Yes, Edward was forever getting me out of scrapes, saving my life. He died some time ago. I saw no point in telling you about him. It’s not as if you ever knew him.”
“I’m sorry Sweetie. If you loved him he must have been one heck of a guy. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I have Shanghaied my children into coming and reading to you to help keep you entertained. What books would you like them to bring?”
Esme chatted to Bella about nothing in particular until Carlisle came in with Andrew Campbell.
“Hello Bella. How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been worse. What’s the verdict?”
“Everything that I did went very well. Your spine should be straighter and there should be a lot less pressure. I’ll arrange to get you a new back support for your garments. Within a month you’ll feel in less pain than you have for a long time.”
“Good, that’s very good. Thanks Carlisle. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“There was a big hole in our family without you Bella. We’re all glad that you’re back.”
“He’s right Sweetie” Esme added. “We missed you so much.”
I saw Bella smile through Esme’s eyes.
“And I had a good look at your heart while it was unprotected and I have what I think will be the answer to your problem.” I felt the tension at Andrew’s words. “As you know you are fairly low down on the heart transplant list. However, I don’t believe you actually need a whole heart. I’m going to recommend a partial heart and single lung transplant. It will have problems in so much as you will need to be on heart bypass while your heart and the other one are grafted together. We will need to do various things to it to keep it alive until the grafts are secure but it will have to be in your chest all the while. You will in effect be lying with an open chest cavity all the time except it will be shrink wrapped. The good news is, if we can get the lung in first, we should be able to do most of the second half of the operation on the heart while you’re under a general anaesthetic but until we know the new lung is secure, you will have to be under a local so will be aware the whole time.”
“But I stand a chance of getting half a heart and lung?” Bella really didn’t sound too hopeful.
“I would say there is a much better chance of you getting the spare parts than the full set. There is, however, some bad news.”
“I thought there might be” Bella sounded resigned.
“Carlisle is not qualified to do the operation. I am. But I wouldn’t recommend that I do it. This operation needs the steadiest hands possible. We both know that means Carlisle has to do it. If you are willing to agree, I will supervise the surgery, but it will be a training case for Carlisle. Additionally, it would mean that your brand new rib cage will need to be broken, hopefully in a controlled manner so as not to affect its attachment to the spine, and a repair similar to the one on your old rib cage carried out to it. Do you have any questions?”
“Is this my best bet for me to be heart and lung healthy within, say, a couple of years?”
“Yes, by far your best bet for that.”
“Will an increase in my oxygen levels mean an improvement to my circulation?”
“Hard to be sure how much you’ll notice, but yes there will be some improvement and you shouldn’t need to be on blood thinners.”
“And you are prepared to teach Carlisle how to do it?”
“Yes as long as you don’t mind being in the medical journals again, and, I’m afraid, having a couple of eager young Residents watching and hopefully learning.”
“For the chance to be almost normal again I would put up with a whole room full of eager young Residents, although I’m glad I won’t have to.”
At that point I tuned out a little so that I could concentrate on feeling relief, and hope. Gladness for Bella filled me for a while until I felt the little slither of fear for myself. What if the well Bella decided she didn’t need me? How would I live through losing her again? I knew it was silly to think like that, but that was how I felt. Even if it did mean I lost her, I would be glad for her. Glad that she would be rid of the fear of death at almost any time due to heart failure. I tried to focus on that.
I collected the Harry Potter books and took them to see Bella. Esme was still there when I arrived, but Bella had fallen asleep again.
When I showed Esme the books she nodded and I heard her mental acknowledgement of the fact that I had heard all their conversation. Esme left and I took the seat to the side of the bed.
When Bella started mumbling I knelt so that I could put my head close to hers and talk to her quietly while listening for someone who might be approaching. She soon settled again.
Carlisle came in before Bella woke.
“How much did Esme tell you?” he asked.
“I heard it all up to the point of the eager young Residents. Did I miss anything?”
“Bella will have to practice holding her breath. I will need to know to the second how long I have between breaths to do the job as safely as possible. Other than that, not really. She will spend most of today sleeping but might be weepy while she’s awake. Tomorrow she will start to be her usual feisty self so don’t get worried son.”
I smiled my thanks to Carlisle just as Bella started to stir.
“Hello, love. You’re waking up. How are you feeling?”
“Edward, you came. I missed you!” and Carlisle’s prediction came true as she started to cry.
“Of course I came love. I needed to see with my own eyes that you were okay. There’s no need to cry now. Carlisle says that you are going to pull through this just fine. There, there love. I brought the book you wanted to read. I also brought the others since I have never read them and thought it would be better to know the whole story.”
“You’ve never read Harry Potter? I thought the whole world had read Harry Potter.”
“Never a child while Harry Potter’s been out, love. How many times have you read them?”
“Not since a child. Loads then” and she drifted into sleep again.
Carlisle noted some details on her chart and I saw that her vitals were checked every hour. If I didn’t want to be spotted here too often I would have to listen and be prepared to step into the bathroom while she was being checked. It shouldn’t be a problem. I dodged Charlie all those months. And for a second I felt a brief sense of loss for Charlie. If I hadn’t left Bella, he might have still been alive.
I settled down to read the first Harry Potter book. I finished it and she was still asleep. I was about to start the next when I heard someone’s thoughts noting that they had to check on Isabelle Swann. I was in the bathroom before anyone could blink.
‘So Dr Cutie loves you dearly does he? Can’t imagine why. But then if I had gone through what you had I wouldn’t look like an oil painting either. Still Mrs Dr Cutie likes you too so I suppose you can’t be all bad and looking at Mrs Dr Cutie, if there is more between you and the Doc then it’s because she wants there to be. Hmm, vitals are all normal. And who’s Edward? Ah yes, your long dead love. Poor thing. It’s a wonder you have the will to keep on going. Still if Dr Campbell’s plan works perhaps you’ll be able to find another one, and let’s face it, you’re not exactly old at thirty. In fact there’s plenty of time for you to play the field for a while.’ “Everything’s fine Miss Swann. Someone will be back in an hour, but if you need us press the buzzer.”
“Has Edward gone?”
“I’m sorry, there’s no one here, just us.”
“He left me” and I couldn’t wait for the nurse to leave so I could talk to Bella so she didn’t need to feel so desolate.
As soon as it was clear I was at Bella’s side. “Hello there. Welcome back. I thought that nurse was never going to leave. How are you feeling, love?”
“Edward! You didn’t leave!”
“No. I just thought it would be more discreet if I hid in the bathroom while the nurse was in here. Should I have stayed?”
“No you were right. Thank you. Has Carlisle spoken to you?”
“Briefly. Are you okay, love?”
“I’m fine. The pain killers are doing their job and take the edges off so that I can sleep. Have I been talking?”
“Just about your dead lover Edward. The nurses know about him so you should be safe. Just make sure one of them notices you grimace if I’m here and my name is mentioned.”
Bella even managed a half smile at that. “I’ll do that.”
“I have a big favour to ask of you love.”
“Haven’t you learned about blanket promises yet? But I want you to remember my macho chauvinistic tendencies when you consider my request. When you get better, will you please let me look after you still? Looking after you makes me feel about ten feet tall and I get so much pleasure out of it. So while you and I will both know that you could probably walk to the kitchen or bathroom or wherever, will you still let me carry you, please?”
Bella smiled a soft smile and lifted a hand to my face. “There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than in your arms. Yes you can still look after me. At least until I tell you to back off!”
“It’s a deal. I brought your book. Do you want me to read to you yet?”
“No. I won’t stay awake for long. Still tired. Should have put a hinge on my rib cage.”
“You’re right. I’ll be sure to point that out to Carlisle.”
“Told Jake and Renee?”
“I spoke to Lizzie. She agreed to pass on the good news. I didn’t tell her about Andrew’s plan for your heart though. You can do that when you’re back home.”
“Good” and she drifted off again.
It was a long night. Every time a nurse came in to check on Bella I had to disappear. But Bella was becoming more alert with every visit so said nothing to raise suspicions. And I did get the second, third and fourth Harry Potter books read too!
“No I do not want to keep my pain medication at this level for another day. I want it reduced. In fact if it is not reduced, I do not want it. Therefore I suggest you call Dr Cullen and tell him that he either changes his orders or I walk or crawl out of here. Is that clear?”
I was with Carlisle walking towards Bella’s room when I heard her dulcet tones laying down the law for the poor nurse who was trying to give Bella her pain medication.
“No need to call me, I’m here. Now then Sweetie, what is the problem?”
I had to stifle the snigger at Carlisle’s patronising question.
“The problem Doctor Cullen is that I wish to have my pain medication reduced. The sooner it is down to a manageable level, the sooner I can go home.”
“So eager to be free of us” Carlisle said sadly.
“It was very nice of Esme to bribe or threaten your family to come in to read to me but I don’t need someone reading when I can listen through electronic means. Also, I don’t like being woken up every five minutes just so someone can tell me that my vitals are normal. Being in here increases my stress levels which is not good for my heart. Ergo, I should go home.”
“Very succinctly put Sweetie. How about I do you a deal? I reduce your medication down to level five for the day and, if you don’t complain about the pain you’re in, tomorrow I reduce to level four. Then if you’re still not complaining, I’ll take you to our place for lunch and you can stay with us while you convalesce. How does that sound?”
“How about you reduce it to level five now and if I’m not complaining by six you reduce it to four then if I’m still not complaining I go to yours for breakfast?”
“You strike a hard bargain. Done. Level five now. I will come and see you again at six unless I hear that you have been complaining and I am writing a note on your chart to that effect. Now let me look at your wound. Edward, would you mind?”
I had to leave the room while Bella’s surgical field was checked over. Even from outside the room I could see all the bruising. It was so much worse than when she had the temporary repair done on her rib cage. She must have been in agony.
I knew why she wanted to get out of the hospital, and I too would prefer to be able to spend every minute with her, but was it worth it if she should be receiving higher pain killers?
Carlisle and the nurse left the room.
“Remember, Edward, two hours of reading. Rosalie will spell you.”
“No she won’t, I have to cover for her too” I hoped I sounded sulky enough. “She’s swopped some of my chores. I thought this would be easier since she’ll probably fall asleep part way through.”
“Very well. Nurse, please make sure my son stays with Bella for two hours before he has a break then for another two hours, at least. Let me know if there’s a problem.”
“I’ll do that doctor” and I had no doubt that the nurse would take great pleasure in telling on me if I tried to sneak out early.
At last Bella and I were alone.
“Are you sure it’s worth reducing your pain meds just to get out of here love?” I asked.
“Hello to you too and that’s not the only reason.”
“Sorry. Good morning love. How are you today?”
“Better” Bella smiled her approval. “I always prefer to reduce my pain medication. I heal quicker because it hurts when I move so I don’t move thus allowing a quicker healing. And while the nurses are very competent, I would much rather have you rubbing the ointment into my bruises, especially with your lovely cold hands.”
I told Bella about me staying and for how long.
“Good, you can leave while one of the nurses supervises me in the bath. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be here for that.”
I started reading to Bella. She said that she should probably listen to the electronic version anyway since sometimes she couldn’t seem to pay much attention to the words when I spoke. I did suggest that I should read share prices instead if she actually wasn’t going to pay attention. “That way at least I get some benefit since I want to monitor our investments.”
“It would take you five minutes, if that, to read the share prices. Do it while I’m in the bath.”
“Okay, then how about I read you some poetry?”
“Hmm, that would be nice.”
I read quietly to Bella, stopping every so often to just have a general chat. The time sped by. “Time for your bath Miss Swann” a nurse declared.
“My cue to go” I remembered my sulky voice. “I’ll be back in an hour so you can tell Carlisle I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to.”
I braved a quick wink at Bella and left.
I heard her sigh to the nurse. “The trouble with teenagers is that no matter what you ask them to do, it is always an incredibly onerous task. At times I really don’t know how Esme and Carlisle cope with five of them.”
Bella didn’t complain about the level of her pain at all during the day, nor while Carlisle sat with her, during the night. He therefore brought her home to us before seven o’clock. It was just three days since her operation.
Carlisle carried her into the house, for the benefit of any watching neighbours and up to our room. Then he left to go back to the hospital to finish rounds. I could kiss, Bella, stay with her every minute and provide all the personal support she needed without worrying about being seen. I was almost happy.
“Nice seeing you. Close the door behind you, bye” were Bella’s words to the rest of the family as soon as she was laid in the bed and given some breakfast.
One by one they greeted her with a kiss and a welcome word or two, except Rosalie who just smiled and waved at her, and they left.
“Alone at last. Now come here and kiss me” Bella demanded.
“Not quite, we can still hear you, you know” Emmett shouted.
“Then go away, please Emmett unless you wish to critique Edward’s kissing technique.”
“I’m going, I’m going” we could hear Emmett laugh then the loud slam of the back door.
I kissed Bella feeling so much happier to have her with me where I could watch over her every second of every day.
“You need a special nick name” Bella said to me out of the blue.
“Because if you’re at school and I want to get message to you, my lover, I want to be able to ask Alice to contact you without using your name. I actually should have thought of that month’s ago. So, what name do you want me to use? How about your middle name?”
“I have two, Anthony, which I don’t like, and Masen, my birth family name.”
“How about Masen then?”
“I could live with that.”
“Okay, I’ll tell mom I’m seeing a man called Masen but I don’t want to introduce her because I don’t know where it’s going. That will give us some time to think of something else.”
It was a good idea. I would have to tell the rest of the family that if Bella ever asked them to get a message to Masen she meant me – although I expect that they would have been able to work it out for themselves but at least this way there would be no confusion.
“Would you tell me if I became a burden to you?” Bella asked me after I had carried her to the bathroom and helped her bathe.
“I can’t imagine that you ever would become a burden to me” I was puzzled as to where the conversation was going.
“How about if I was ninety-eight, nearly blind, deaf as a post, senile and incontinent?”
“Then it would be my privilege to get Rosalie, who always said she wanted to grow old, to help me to look after you. You still would not be a burden to me.”
“But say that I was. Would you tell me?”
“Bella, if it is so important to you then yes, I would tell you.” I hoped that I had reassured her.
“I promise. Now will you tell me why it is important to you?”
“Because the second I become a burden to you, I want to die and I have to prepare for that.”
“You still don’t trust me to stay, do you?” I didn’t know how I would be able to convince her that I wasn’t going anywhere.
“Actually, I am starting to trust you to stay. I just don’t want you to if I become a burden.”
I thought about her words. They did make a strange kind of sense. If I wasn’t staying anyway, she wouldn’t need to worry about becoming a burden when she was old. It was a very strange way to make progress.
“Will you promise me something in exchange?” I asked.
“Promise me you will tell me the second you want me out of your life.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Then it won’t hurt for you to promise to tell me the second it does will it?” I was so relieved that she had said that she will never want me out of her life.
“Okay, I promise that I will tell you the second I want you out of my life.”
“Good. Since you think that you will want to stay with me after the school year, how are you getting on with considering the options?”