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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.

31. Edward - Blushing

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Alice saw that Jasper was at home so she ditched Bella and me to go and see him. “Tell Bella I’ll be in tomorrow morning, early, on my way to school for an hour or two. I’ll send Esme to do her hair. Bye.” I wouldn’t have minded brushing Bella’s hair, but I supposed it would be better if it were not a teenage boy doing the feminine task! I found Bella sat up in her bed wearing her blue silk pyjamas. “Did you do it all by yourself?” I asked as I bent to kiss her, listening for others who might be approaching. “No, I managed to get to the bathroom and shower, but struggled to dry myself and couldn’t get dressed or make my way back to bed without assistance. I’ll have another go tomorrow. Where’s Alice?” “Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie are home so I’m afraid you came second. Esme is coming to brush your hair. Alice will be in tomorrow before school.” “Good, but I’m glad I’ve got you all to myself for a while” and she beamed at me. Basking in her smile, I didn’t have the words to tell her how glad I was too. I was listening to her breathing, it almost sounded normal; and as for her heart beats, I didn’t need the two monitors to tell me what was strange about them. “Who did you tell?” Bella interrupted my thoughts. “I spoke to Lizzie. She’s a little cross that you didn’t call her yourself, but only a little. She said that as soon as you’re up for it she and Angela will come for a visit. I don’t like this new heartbeat by the way. Your pump beats in a different rhythm to your heart so it sounds really peculiar. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it. I think the school staff are going to send you some flowers, and Alice suggested that the pupils have a collection to get you a fruit basket. No doubt you’ll be inundated with visitors tomorrow.” “I sincerely hope not. By the way, my bruised bum is clearly still hand based” and Bella told me about the discussions with the doctors about it. “I know about the first. I was listening to Carlisle’s thoughts. He was livid with me to start off with. Then he became sorry for me after you had put the picture of our sex life in his brain and he realised that I’d had many such pictures thrust into mine, including some of him and Esme!” Bella laughed. “Serve him right. I told him he didn’t need to see them. Did you hear I might be able to leave here and stay at yours in a couple of day’s time? I’ll have to come back here for regular checks, but it’s better than being in here all the time.” “I did love. And it will be good to have you home. The difficulty will come with the two residents, what to do with them when they don’t stay at the hospital.” “Oh, I didn’t think of them.” “Yes, they have to be at hand to monitor you for five days after the operation, part of the trial protocol. Andrew is here too but he’s staying at the family home.” “Can’t they stay at ours? If we don’t want them in our bed, we can get a couple of air mattresses they can use. We could also use them when Lizzie and Angela visit.” I agreed to sort it out and make sure that there was nothing at our house that identified me. Esme sat on Bella’s bed and slowly brushed her hair. It really was all tangled up. It took ages to do it properly and there were still tears in Bella’s eyes from the pain of it. Esme put it into two soft plaits so that it shouldn’t get so tangled in future. Both the residents came in when it was time to check Bella again. Bella introduced Esme. We both noticed the chagrin on Dr Marsh’s face when she realised that Esme was much more attractive than she was. We were ushered out for the duration of the examination. “No problems” Bella was chirpy when we went back into her room. “Still slightly less breath on the left than the right, but it doesn’t seem to be changing at all which is good. Now I am going to walk to the bathroom, and back, by myself please” and Bella threw the bed covers back, swung her legs around and slowly stood. She waited for a couple of seconds to check that the blood wasn’t going to rush away from her head again before setting off to the bathroom. It wasn’t too long before she exited the bathroom and shuffled back to the bed and got in. She beamed at us. “Yes, well done love. You still look stiff though. Do you want to do your physiotherapy now? If so I’ll have to leave to go and get your mat.” “No, you stay here, I’ll go. Won’t be long” and Esme sailed out of the room. Bella’s room was a hive of activity that evening. Bella was just demonstrating to Esme, Carlisle, Andrew and the Residents how she was able to step up and down on an almost normal height step without assistance, even with her cast, when in walked Emmett and Rosalie. “Hey, little sister, not bad!” I should have known my idiotic brother would almost blow our cover as Emmett lifted Bella up and swung her around. “Little sister? I’m older than you Emmett Cullen. You are a mere twenty, I am thirty.” “Nope. While I can still pick you up, and you can’t return the favour, you’re still little. You’re breathing better Bella. Having two lungs seems to agree with you.” “Hello Bella. Glad to see you’re looking well” Rosalie was more restrained with her greeting. The Residents reacted to Rosalie as one might have expected. Dr Marsh hated the fact that she was so beautiful – even more attractive than Esme, while Dr Robbins was awe struck at the vision of such loveliness. Rosalie didn’t even notice them. She did notice and still didn’t like Emmett’s affection for Bella but knew there was nothing she could do about it unless she wanted to sound like a horrible shrew! “I am very impressed Bella” Andrew said. “With your injuries I can’t believe you had the tenacity to keep on learning to walk.” “I’m still learning. I hope to be able to walk up a small flight of steps soon. Physiotherapy is a godsend. Edward, you really should pursue it, you’ve seen what a difference it has made for me. All the surgical skill in the world would have been of little use without the physiotherapy to re-train the muscles.” Bella had told me the story she had given Dr Robbins about me learning physiotherapy. It was a good cover. To keep up the facade in company, I just grunted. “Aw Bella, you know what Edward’s like, don’t encourage him. He should stick to useless stuff like ...” and I knew what Emmett was about to say. “Computers aren’t useless” I interrupted and looked at Bella. “I think he was going to say playing the piano, which, let’s face it, unless you are going to do something with your writing, is not going to help you earn a living.” I listened to Bella’s heart, it was its new normal self. She didn’t freak out at the mention of me playing the piano! “Still, knowing about computers is as useful for earning your keep as being an engineer like Rosalie” Bella said. “You should see the brilliant work Rosalie did helping Esme with the renovation of my house. She is extraordinary.” I looked to Rosalie to see that she was very taken aback at Bella being so complimentary. I could have enlightened her when I saw how Bella looked at the Residents. She was making Dr Marsh feel very insignificant. “And, something you didn’t know Bella, I asked Rosalie to do the hinges on your rib cage. They had to be absolutely precise and I knew I could rely on Rosalie to be accurate” Carlisle smiled his approval at Rosalie too who was basking in all the praise she was receiving. Dr Marsh was now hating all the females in the room with equal intensity. Dr Robbins was even more enamoured. It could get very dicey later. Andrew told the Residents that Bella had kindly offered to let them stay at her house when she was discharged until they returned to Boston. Dr Marsh wanted to tell Bella what to do with her offer. Dr Robbins was almost incoherent with his gratitude. I wondered if either would have any respect for the other when they left. When the Residents exited the room, the tension eased. Andrew already knew the truth of our relationships. “Would you mind if someone gave me a tour of your house so that I can see everything that was done? Carlisle told me of your requirements that people don’t spend a lot of money and the lengths they had to go to make everything” Andrew said. “Edward can show you when he goes to sort out our stuff to take to the main house. Edward pointed out that they couldn’t make the stuff for the bathroom suite so he had to buy all that. It is rather sumptuous. I knew he was going to go overboard but everything in there is very good for me so I couldn’t get cross” Bella smiled at Andrew “I heard you broke your bed Bella, how?” Emmett asked. “How the heck did you know about that?” Bella was cross. “Esme told them” I said giving Esme an unhappy look. “But you already knew there are no secrets within the family.” “I also told them about the dressing table” Esme shrugged. “Are you sure there are no secrets within the family Edward?” Andrew asked and I immediately knew to what he was referring. I looked to Bella to see if she also understood. “Bella! You’re blushing! You are honest to goodness blushing!” I sat on the bed, took her face in my hands and kissed her. If there was any doubt in Andrew’s mind about our relationship, it was now at an end. Bella had tears in her eyes. “I can feel it” she said wonderingly. “I could feel the blood rush to my face. It was amazing!” I looked at her pink cheeks: it really was amazing. “I never thought I would see you blush again. It is beautiful.” I stoked her cheeks reverently. “No Emmett you cannot have a new bet with Jasper.” Emmett grumbled a little but Andrew looked puzzled. “I always used to blush and Emmett and Jasper had a little bet when they discovered that I didn’t blush any more. Emmett was more embarrassed than I was” Bella explained. “But that doesn’t explain why you blushed this time. So what secrets are you lot keeping?” Emmett persisted and the blood rushed to Bella’s face again. “You might as well tell us. He’ll keep on at you until you get fed up with him” Rosalie warned. I looked at Bella. “She is right you know. He will just keep on and on and on about it.” “You tell them” she muttered. “I don’t think I want to” I replied. How the heck was I supposed to explain the hand prints? Everyone was looking at Bella and me with interest. Those who knew wondered how we would respond. The others wondered how bad it could be. “Would it be easier for you if I told them?” Andrew offered. He thought it was all hilarious. I looked at Bella and left it to her to answer. “You make all the important decisions in our relationship now, remember?” “You think this is an important decision?” Bella was incredulous. “Besides they’re your family.” I knew she was right, it wasn’t really important but ... “It’s not just my family. Tanya will know and if Tanya knows, so will Embry and if Embry knows ...” “Damn you’re right. Sorry guys, you can go on and on as much as you like but no.” “Go on Bella. We’ll tell you about our sex lives. We can have a little competition as to who could be the most adventurous” Emmett wheedled. “I think that I would win that one straight off and you darned well know it. In any case, what makes you think I want to know details of your sex life? I already know more than I want to, and Edward knows even more, I don’t think you have anything you can teach us.” Bella, even though she blushed again, was still teasing Emmett. I remember how Jacob had said that if we could get her to blush again he would probably forgive us everything we ever did to her. I really must find a way to demonstrate how well we had succeeded. As before when Bella was in hospital I stayed in her room and hid in the bathroom when someone came to check on her. At least this time the checks were only every three hours instead of every hour like before. I was able to make sure she didn’t say anything inappropriate when one of the Residents came in. Dr Marsh was still horrible, Dr Robbins was affable. Even though I probably shouldn’t have, at one point I carried Bella to the bathroom and stood outside the door while she used the facilities. I should have thought of an excuse to have at hand should someone come in, but I didn’t think of it. Alice and Jasper arrived at six. I wished they hadn’t. “Hello Bella. What’s this Emmett and Rosalie say about you blushing now?” “Hello Alice. What are you doing here waking me up at this hour of the morning? Hi Jasper.” “Good morning Bella. Is it true? Do you blush again now?” Jasper was the polite one. “Yes, but please can you let me get a bit more sleep?” I could see that Bella was actually tired, she was woken up a lot in the night so hadn’t got all the sleep she needed. “It’s time for your next check over so you might as well stay awake. You can sleep once we’ve gone to school. Esme said she’ll come in later, bring you some decent food.” Both Residents turned up to carry out the checks. “Doctors Campbell and Cullen will round with us at about seven. Visitors aren’t usually allowed during rounds” Dr Robbins said diffidently. “But no doubt if you want them to stay they will be allowed” Dr Marsh was snide. “Of course I don’t mind if they stay” Bella tried to get back at Dr Nasty. It was clear the Resident didn’t want visitors while the doctors did their rounds. Unfortunately Bella wasn’t awake enough to consider all the possible consequences of having Alice and Jasper in the room. “I have some ointment to put on your bruises. Should I do it or do you want one of your friends to?” Dr Marsh said. “Alice can do it” Bella responded. “Very well, but remember to have it put on your bottom as well as your chest won’t you?” Then the penny dropped for Bella. She had left herself open to that. “Bella, why do you have bruises on your backside?” Alice asked. “And why are you blushing?” Jasper asked. “Does this have anything to do with the broken furniture?” Bella might well be able to embarrass Emmett into leaving the subject alone but there was no way it was going to work on Alice. I knew it, Bella knew it and Alice knew it. Luckily Alice had the sense to wait until the doctors had left the room before she began her questioning. “Here Edward you had better do this” Alice tossed the ointment to me. Standing to block Jasper’s view I rubbed some on Bella’s chest. Then Bella turned over and I rubbed her bottom. Unfortunately Bella blushed even more as I did so guaranteeing that the subject would not be dropped. “So, why do you have bruises on your backside Bella? It is something that is making you blush so you might as well get it over with and tell me because I will know. Oh!” I saw what Alice was seeing and it was giving her a good idea of how Bella got the bruises and what shape they were. Alice was smart enough to fill in the gaps. By the time we got to school the whole family would know. “I hate to tell you love, but Alice just saw something that gave her a good clue. Sooner or later she is going to get the rest of the information” I warned Bella. “And the truth cannot possibly be as bad as my imagination is coming up with” Alice said. “Erm, Alice, I think in this case your imagination might prove to be sadly lacking” Jasper said as he looked at Bella. “I think this calls for a family meeting. We can discuss the possibilities and what action we should take to stop it happening again.” “Don’t you dare interfere in my sex life again Jasper. Don’t forget, I’ve got a new lung and some assistance for my heart should we decide to go even wilder. It is not your business!” I groaned. “Bella, there was no way they would call for a family meeting to discuss someone’s sex life. You just gave them another clue. Either tell them, or keep quiet.” Bella looked at Jasper, who grinned back at her, and promised retribution. I was working on Bella’s hand when the doctors came in. I knew immediately what Dr Marsh was thinking and how she planned to use the information. I put on my bored expression. “Carlisle, can you get hold of one of those executive toy things that Bella can use to work the muscles on her hand? What I’m doing isn’t enough to keep up let alone build on the strength in her muscles. She’s losing some of her grip.” It was good to hear the mental chagrin in the Resident’s mind, even if it wasn’t a public rebuke. “Good idea Edward. How is the rest of the physiotherapy going?” “Simple stretching exercises are helping keep her back limber but I need to do more work on the arm and leg. She could do more on the arm herself if she can get her grip back. Using the step will help her leg. Bella’s back and shoulders are still straight so she’s not allowing her discomfort to change the line of her body while she sleeps.” “Excellent” said Andrew. “How is your discomfort Bella? Do you need your pain medication increased temporarily until it all settles down?” “No thanks. It reminds me to be careful and is nowhere near as bad as it was after my last op.” “Good, but to be honest, after your last op the pain was immense. I forgot to tell you last night but I spoke with your mom. She was all keen to come up to look after you, but I said that you were recovering fine because you had two of my Residents here to make sure you had everything you could want and that you would call her today. You can’t go down to see her because you need to remain in the care of Dr Carlisle who I have ensured knows everything needed to maintain your care once I leave town.” I saw Bella grin her thanks to Andrew. I knew how much Bella loved her mom, but Renee was too insightful in some ways, but too immature in others and it put Bella on edge. I understood why she couldn’t move out of Charlie’s home and live with her mom after we left. Another thing for which I should be held to account: I caused a rift between Bella and Renee. Andrew and Carlisle checked all Bella’s stats and said that everything was progressing well. There was still a slight difference in breath sounds between the left and right lung but even Carlisle said that it didn’t appear to be changing so even that was okay. Bella would be able to leave the hospital the next day if it continued in this vein. Alice and I went to school, the last day of the semester, and Jasper went to Anchorage for something for Alice. I looked at Jasper to see how he would cope amongst all the humans without one of us to help keep him in hand, but I saw that he had hunted recently and was not feeling any qualms for himself. The news around the school was naturally about Bella’s lung transplant. No one in Carcrix could ever remember anyone having such a serious operation before. One or two wondered if it was because Dalton Gaines had stabbed her in the lung but others had pointed out that she hadn’t seemed any iller after that incident than she had before it. They all thought it was very strange. It didn’t occur to any of them that she had teaching them with only one lung. The Head Girl, who took Literature was delegated to go with Alice to the hospital after school to take Bella something. I decided to wait until after she had left before I went to visit. I arrived to find there was more than enough tension to support a bridge. Embry had turned up and he was not happy. I focussed on his mind. “Bella, why did you let that happen?” I asked. “Hello to you too. How was I to know that Dr Nasty would break patient doctor confidentiality and have a go at Embry? All I was wanting was to make her think that Embry was the man in my life not for her to break the rules.” “Sorry, hello love, how are you feeling and what the hell happened?” There was silence as Embry mentally said ‘There’s no way I’m telling him’ and started to whistle so he had no thoughts for me to read. I looked at Bella with a brow raised. “Oh alright. Alice was here with Kara bringing me this very exotic fruit basket when she said that Embry was coming to visit. Anyway I thought that Embry was strong enough to support my weight and that it would be a good opportunity to fool the Residents. The Residents were here, along with Alice and Kara when he arrived. Without thinking too much about it I just threw myself into his arms – not without some difficulty and discomfort I hasten to add - and whispered in his ear asking him to support me by putting his hands under my backside. The Residents got the right idea and I thought that Kara would probably think that Embry was my fiancé. Mission a success I thought. Anyway, when they had finished, Dr Marsh asked Embry if she could have a word with him and took him outside the room to have a go at him for causing me to be bruised and pointed out lots of other confidential stuff about me. Embry returned, told Kara that she might want to go home, but neglected to do the same with Alice, and then had a go at me for what the doctor said. Embry and Alice were then both having a go at me when Carlisle and Andrew walked in wanting to know what the furore was about. The upshot is that Alice is driving Dr Marsh to Anchorage to catch the next flight back to Boston and no doubt everyone knows more details of our sex life.” “Has everyone been reassured that our sex life is not causing you any real harm?” “Yes, but they still seem to think that we shouldn’t have one” Bella muttered very disgruntled. “Because it could kill you Bella!” Embry almost shouted. “No it could not; at least no more than crossing a road could. Other than the very first day we met I have always known that I am physically safe with Edward. If he could give his life to protect me from harm I always knew that he would. Even Jake knows it now. Get over it. If you’re gonna keep having a go at me I won’t tell you the good news” Bella started to wheedle. Embry looked at me. “Does she really have some good news?” Bella touched her face to remind me just in case I had forgotten. “Yes she does. In fact it is excellent news. Jacob will be so pleased when you pass it on.” Embry went to kiss Bella on the cheek. “Okay Brat, I’ll be nice. What’s your excellent news?” I didn’t give Bella a chance to tell him. I bent and whispered in her ear “Not long before you get out of here and we can see what other bruise patterns we can arrange to decorate your behind”. It had the desired effect. Bella went a beautiful shade of pink. Embry seemed puzzled as to why we didn’t tell him our news and then he looked at Bella. “You’re blushing again! Bella! That is brilliant. Wow!” And he bent down, scooped her up into his arms and swung her around. The only difficulty came when Tanya popped in for a visit with Embry. “I would tell you not to ask my mate to fondle your behind, but I’m sure it won’t be necessary since no doubt Edward has already expressed his displeasure” she stated arrogantly. “Why no, Edward hasn’t expressed a view one way or the other. But I’m surprised that my innocent request bothers you when it didn’t bother you to try to smooch and snog my man in front of me last year. Or was that as innocent?” Bella was very snide in response. Because Bella was right, Tanya had nowhere to go with the discussion and so she left it. “Leah and Nahuel are here too. They will visit tomorrow” she said instead. “I hope to be discharged tomorrow so perhaps they won’t need to. Are you all staying at the family home?” “Yes. It is a good job that there are so many rooms.” “Not that it isn’t great to see you, but why are you, Leah and Nahuel here?” “Leah and Nahuel are moving into their cottage next week and wanted to come up to thank Esme and Carlisle in person. We came with them so I could see you Brat Face” Embry replied. I could see that Bella didn’t even notice Embry’s term of endearment she was so used to hearing it. It was odd how the pack treated Bella like she was a little sister when she was older than all of them now that Sam had left. So I asked why she let them. There was one of those awkward silences. Once again Embry thought that he didn’t want to tell me and started to whistle. I guessed that it had something to do with how Bella was after I left her. “What can be so bad?” Tanya demanded. “Well, when Edward left me before I sort of fell apart and to be honest needed looking after like I was a little sister. I wasn’t capable of being an older sister to them.” “In other words they didn’t want to bring up again what I did to Bella when I left her” I said. “Oh for goodness sake get over yourself. A woman less mental than me would have said ‘Screw you, you jerk for throwing away the best thing that ever happened to you,’ and gotten on with their life. But not me, I have to fall apart and think my life is not worth living without you. I should have found a reason even if it was just to find a way to get back at you.” “Could you have done that love?” I asked thinking that there was probably little she could do. “Well I could have gone to Denali, maybe taken one of the pack with me to help, and I would have found Tanya. I’m sure I would have thought of a message that I could have asked her to pass on to you, maybe the fact that Victoria was hunting me and you had better get your ass in gear and sort it out.” I was surprised because it probably would have worked, I would have been there in double quick time full of apologies and begging her to take me back. “My fault of course that you didn’t, but I wish you had love. It’s a very good plan.” At one point when Dr Robbins came in to carry out the checks on Bella he said to her “You can tell him he doesn’t need to hide in the bathroom. The other two left he didn’t. And if you don’t want people to notice things don’t be on the ‘phone all the time if he isn’t with you. Don’t worry Jenny Marsh didn’t notice so she won’t try to make life difficult for you on that front. Everything is still looking good. You might get out of here in the morning after all. And it is very kind of you to let me stay at your house while you’re staying with Dr Cullen and his family.” I had to stay in the bathroom so that he wouldn’t realise that I had exceptional hearing, he was obviously very observant and I thought that we ought to give him as little to observe as possible. Before what we hoped would be Bella’s final check while in hospital I took Andrew and Dr Robbins to our home. I particularly wanted to show off the power system on Rosalie’s behalf. I took them through the house to the pool and pointed out the windmills. “This is probably going to be the basis of Rosalie’s Masters. We’re all so very proud of her.” “Esme planned most of the renovations you say?” Andrew was perhaps a little smitten. “Esme is an architect who specialises in renovations. She found the property, drew up the plans and ordered all the work except the power system. I built the porch.” “And provided the bathroom. What the heck were you thinking of here boy?” Andrew thought it was well over the top. “You didn’t see Bella in September. She could barely walk she was in so much pain. Daily physiotherapy, plus all the benefits from this bathroom have helped strengthen her muscles no end. I would have paid ten times, no ten thousand times what I did to get the benefits for Bella. Here’s the key pad for Bella’s car. You can use that while you’re here. You might want to practice since it is set up for a driver with disabilities” and I handed over the pad to Dr Robbins. “We don’t keep the fridge very well stocked, but feel free to use whatever foods you find. We’ll be staying close to Carlisle until he says otherwise.” “Sorry son, but I think you’ll be staying close to Carlisle until Bella says otherwise.” Andrew had clearly got to know Bella quite well. “You do know that she shouldn’t be alive don’t you? She should never have been able to get out of that train wreck still breathing, and her heart should have given up the ghost years ago. The reason she is so famous in the medical world is because she should be dead, we’ve all been expecting to hear that she had died. It caused quite a stir when I announced my plan for her heart and lung, not just because my idea is brilliant, but because it meant that she was still alive.” I was surprised. I hadn’t realised that Bella’s prognosis was as bad as that. “I couldn’t believe that Jenny Marsh would actually do something to jeopardise the opportunity to work with Jamie Somers. You won’t believe the kudos I’m going to get when we return to Boston. I got to see her bad heart, her new lung. I’ve held part of her rib cage and seen the scars. No one else is going to be able to say that. And when a new heart does become available, I’m hoping that I will be able to assist with that surgery too. But it would be a much cooler surgery if it were a half heart graft.” We took Bella back to the family home. It was almost a party atmosphere. Rosalie and Emmett volunteered to do all the cooking – there was a lot of it with two members of the pack, plus Nahuel, as well as Bella and Andrew. Details of Bella’s bruising had gone the rounds so we received a lot of stick for it, plus a request to demonstrate. “You’ll have to tell Lizzie and Angela about that” Leah suggested. “They will both like that one” and I read her mind to know that she meant the position not the story! After everyone had eaten Nahuel said that he and Leah wanted to come before they moved into their new home because they wanted to tell us personally that Leah was pregnant. Since I was aware of the news I was prepared for the pain of envy Rosalie could not help but feel. But she, like the rest of us, was very pleased for the couple. Bella wanted to retire to our room with me after we returned from the hospital for her first six hourly check up. I was surprised but I welcomed the opportunity for us to be alone, and I guessed that she must be tired. I carried her upstairs while Bella waved to everyone. In our room Bella asked me to get the small bag that she had put in her case that went to the hospital with her. Feeling puzzled I did as she asked while she reclined on our bed. “Happy birthday Edward” Bella said and gave me three packages. “Open the small one last.” I opened the largest. It had two envelopes. Bella had got me two birthday cards, one for a twenty-two year old and the other for a centurion! “At least your mental maths is as good as it ever was” I laughed. “Thank you. Why did you want to do that?” “I decided to stop focussing on the forever seventeen bit and think more about the fact that you are one hundred and twenty-two: it makes my thirty seem young.” “Hmm, I suppose it might work.” But I wasn’t sure it would be enough as Bella aged more. I opened the next package. It was an unsealed envelope addressed to the school Principal. “I want you to read it, and tomorrow deliver it for me please” Bella said. I did as asked. It was her resignation letter. Bella thanked the Principal for the opportunity to work at the school and she hoped that she had not let the school down; but, for personal reasons, she would not return after the end of the current school year. “What are you planning on doing after that?” I asked full of trepidation, which I knew was silly. Bella would not tell me she intended to kill herself when she was celebrating my birth. “I don’t know. I would need to discuss the feasibility of being able to leave the country if I’m still on the transplant register since I thought it would be nice to visit Esme’s island – if she would let us that is. If Carlisle says it would be better to stay here then I guess we stay here and let the gossip happen – after Renee has had her little visit. Or we live somewhere else for a while, maybe go back to Forks or anywhere in the country.” I smiled, I actually liked the idea of being the subject of gossip but ... “We can’t be too blatant about our relationship, at least not straight away since we don’t want to have to field a visit from the police but I whole heartedly support the principle.” I picked up the last package. Bella started to fidget. She was very nervous about this one. “Calm down love, it can’t be that bad” I tried to joke. “Yes it can. I hmmed and ahhed over this for weeks. I’m still not sure if it is right or not.” “You felt like that about the christmas presents and they were perfect.” I unwrapped the tiny package, it was a small disc. “It’s a song. You have to listen to the words of the chorus” Bella muttered. I put the disc in my music centre and put the ear plugs in so she didn’t have to hear it and I listened to the song. It was one that I wasn’t familiar with and the chorus was perfect. The smile on your face lets me know that you need me. There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me. The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall. You say it best when you say nothing at all. “How did you find it? What song is it?” “I remembered the line ‘You say it best when you say nothing at all’ when it was played while I was convalescing. It was all that I remembered but if the rest of it matched that line I wanted you to know how I felt so I trawled through the lyrics of thousands of songs until I came to that one. I listened to it and thought it said everything so I downloaded it for you.” “You listened to the whole song, and not just read the lyrics?” I was amazed. “I wanted to be sure it was right. I also liked the bit about you lighting my dark.” Just at that moment, I felt more full of love for that beautiful brave woman than I had at any other point in our lives. She loved me so much more than I deserved. Because of me she had suffered unbearable pain, and continued to suffer, but still she loved me. I was overwhelmed with my good fortune. “Bella, I really don’t deserve you, but I am so very glad that I have you. I love you more than I have the words to say.” “Good. Now will you do me a big favour, please?” “Of course, anything you want” I was sure it wouldn’t be something bad from my perspective on this day. “I want you to find a recording of you playing my lullaby and play it for me as I fall asleep.” I looked hard at Bella. Did she really mean it? How could this be a big favour for her? Did I misunderstand? “You heard right. Can you do that?” I jerked my head in answer and went to search it out as Bella crawled under the cover and settled down. I put on the disk on a loop and lay on top of the cover, my forehead resting against Bella’s shoulder and my arm across her waist. “Happy birthday Edward” Bella mumbled as she fell into sleep. I lay there listening to her heart beats wondering what other precious gifts I would be given by this woman.