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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.

36. Bella - In The Recycler

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As much as I loved spending so much time with Edward, and he with me, we were bored with being people of leisure. We needed to get our asses in gear to get something sorted out for the new year. It would have been six months since I stopped work and Edward left school. I fully understood why vampires needed new challenges all the time. It was a surprise when Principal Skerrit wrote and asked me to consider returning to the school. He said that my private life would not affect my job and that he understood that I might need to take sick leave without notice. He only asked that I plan my lessons as far ahead as feasible so that my sub would find it easier to step in. It was actually something that I could do. “If I accept will you study something at Anchorage?” I asked Edward. “I could. Do you have anything in mind?” “Law, particularly ownership, including copyright, and contract law” I replied. “You’re up to something” he said as if he was just realising something shockingly sinister about me! “Are you going to tell me what?” “Nope. I want you to be able to work it out for yourself. It’s not something that you need to study for now if you have another preference, it’s more for a long term project and if you know the law it will be very useful.” “There’s nothing else that appeals especially and I have never studied law before so why not?” Edward did some investigating and discovered that he could study law at Anchorage. But it was clearly intended for part time study since the lectures were during the evenings and a different module was covered each evening. Edward signed up for three evenings a week. I wrote to Principal Skerrit and said that I would be delighted to return and would make sure that my lesson plans were prepared as far in advance as possible. I asked if I could have a note of what would have been covered in my absence so that I could begin my preparations straight away. I felt heaps better knowing that I had something to do: I think Edward did too. I had to speak with both Alice and Jasper about what I wanted to get Edward for christmas. “We should have thought of that before. It is certainly feasible that we could do it. That’s a very good idea” Jasper approved. So we reached agreement on what I would pay for the raw materials. I only hoped that Edward didn’t read what it was from their thoughts. There was second part to his gift that I had to organise myself. I wasn’t sure what was the best way to go about it, and hoped that I had chosen the correct option. Christmas was, as expected, rather nerve wrecking. I didn’t care so much if the others didn’t like their gifts from Edward and me, but I was worried about Edward’s reaction to his gifts from me. And, truth be told, I was also worried about what Edward had bought for me. Edward wanted me to open my gift from him first. He was very nervous which in turn made me feel nervous. He knew I didn’t like it when he spent a lot of money on me. Had he done so and was worried about how I would react? I opened it very gingerly. It was an I-pod. That wasn’t too bad. “I wasn’t sure about giving you music to listen to again” Edward said. “I’ve put on my music, but there is a lot of free capacity for you to load other stuff and you can transfer it to your ‘phone.” Now I knew why he was nervous. For my eighteenth birthday he had given me his music. Edward was worried that I would immediately start to panic about history repeating itself. “Thank you. I can listen to you while you’re attending your lectures now. If I give you a list, could you load some other stuff on it as well for me please?” I could tell that my words and tone reassured him. But how would he feel about his gift? Alice and Jasper were also watching Edward unwrap his gift from me. “What? Why?” Edward was clearly puzzled. “I want to be able to take you with me when I go and see mom for the new year. We can stay in a hotel but you can wear that so that you look like Edward Cullen nearly fifteen years on from when she saw you before. Alice can show you how to put it on.” I had asked Jasper and Alice help me get a latex type face mask for Edward to wear so that he could look aged. They made six exactly the same in case they got damaged when removed. “It is actually very good” Jasper said. “It stays on for over four hours with no problems, long enough for you to spend some time with Renee.” Seeing that Jasper and Alice were paying more attention to Edward’s gift than their own eventually got the attention of the others. They were very interested. Carlisle and Esme were impressed with the idea and how well it was executed. Emmett was amazed that anyone would want to look older but thought that it would probably make Edward better looking, and Rosalie, for once, didn’t venture an opinion. In all the excitement I didn’t realise that Edward hadn’t spotted the other part of his gift from me. This year my gifts were of a similar ilk to the others. Carlisle and Esme bought me a first edition copy of Pride and Prejudice; Emmett and Rosalie bought me a four wheel drive vehicle so that I could drive safely from home to school even in snow (I could tell by the look on his face that Edward was responsible for giving them that idea) and Alice and Jasper bought me two new outfits – obviously not designer wear like everyone else’s single outfit, much to my relief. “What did you think of the second part of your gift?” I asked when we were back at our home. “Second part? What second part? I only saw the face masks” Edward said. “Oh heck. Do you think it would all have been recycled, it was paper?” I was sure the answer was ‘yes’. “I’m afraid so. Alice put it all in the recycler while you were eating lunch. Please tell me it wasn’t valuable” Edward was worried about how much he had upset me. “Well, not financially, but I’m not sure that I can replace it. Let me think for a second” I really didn’t know how would be the best way to proceed. I couldn’t ask for Angela’s help again since it wouldn’t be ready in time. “I suppose you would have known all about it today anyway so I could always get you to ...” and I trailed off as I was thinking to myself. “Okay, I’m not going to tell you why, since it’s your own fault for not looking properly, but I need your passport. You’ll get your present, sort of, later when I’ve sorted it all out again. I’ll have to make sure you can’t lose it again. Never mind, it might actually workout better this way” I smiled at him to his relief. I would have to make sure Angela didn’t say anything to anyone about it, though. Edward and I were on our way to Phoenix. We had agreed to spend new year with mom and Phil. Naturally Edward was driving. He didn’t realise that it was always my plan that he should drive us instead of flying but I used the excuse that we didn’t want to be met at the airport before Edward had the chance to attach his new latex face – Edward Cullen aged thirty-one. “Remember the hotel we stayed at in Las Vegas in the summer?” I asked casually on christmas night as we lay in bed. “Do you think we could spend a night there on the way to Phoenix, the same room?” “I suppose we could. Wouldn’t it be better to break the journey in half though and stay somewhere like Reno though?” “Hmm, I guess, but I have very happy memories of that hotel room and I would like to revisit them.” I was so glad that Edward couldn’t hear my thoughts. “Very happy memories huh? I thought our time there was no more than ordinary. I guess we’ll have to go there again so you can show me what you mean.” And my plan had come to fruition. We checked into our suite, not room. It was as luxurious as I remembered. “I’m too stiff after being in the car all that time” I said. “Can we go for a little walk? The last time we were here I don’t think I saw anything outside the hotel suite.” The sucker looked puzzled but agreed and after a few minutes to freshen up we set off. I was surprised at how excited I was. I was also surprised that Alice had not been on the ‘phone complaining to me, but perhaps her vision hadn’t switched on because Edward’s decision was still pending. I should have known. We hadn’t actually got very far when I heard a screech of brakes and Edward said “I don’t believe this.” Alice and Jasper all but flew out of Alice’s hot pink car and danced towards us oblivious to the sound of the car horns from the drivers who objected to the obstruction that Alice’s beautiful car was causing. “Are we in time?” Alice asked. I groaned. “In time for what?” Edward asked then ”Our what? What are you on about Alice? Why would you think we were ...? Bella?” he sounded so hard pressed. I gulped, the jig was up. “The second part of your christmas present that you were so cavalier about was a wedding licence. Isabella Marie Swann’s wedding to Edward Anthony Masen Cullen. You destroyed that and I didn’t want to arrange for another one so I thought this was the best way around the problem. So are you going to marry me or not?” I didn’t think I had ever seen Edward speechless before. I decided to savour the experience. “Why?” he asked the daftest question. “Renee needs to know that I am married to you so that you are officially my next of kin. But I’m going to tell her that I am keeping my name of Swann. I’ll be Bella Swann married to Edward. I won’t tell everyone at work that we’re married for a while. If you agree to marry me that is.” Alice sighed and rolled her eyes. She knew he would marry me. We just had to wait for him to catch up with the rest of us. “Alice, Jasper, are you staying in Vegas too or are you going straight back home?” I asked, buying Edward some time. “Back home, we want to tell everyone about this” Jasper said while Alice danced with impatience. “Why don’t you find somewhere to park that while we wait for Edward to make up his mind?” I suggested. “We could always meet you in the lobby.” I tried to lead Edward back to our hotel. “No, no, no. Jasper, you take Edward somewhere, get a camera, smarten him up. Make sure he has a ring to give her. I’ll take Bella back to the hotel and get her sorted. We’ll see you in the lobby in an hour” Alice declared and took my hand from Edward and led me away. Alice took me into the shops attached to the hotel. I just stood and watched while she whirled through the selections. The toffee nosed assistant looked like she was about to object to Alice’s rough handling of the merchandise but she quickly saw that Alice was very gentle and there was not a single sign that Alice had actually touched anything. “This is the dress” Alice declared holding up an old fashioned nineteen thirties style floor length dress in Edward’s favourite shade of blue. “Do you have any silver shoes with you?” “Erm, no” I replied, after all I didn’t have any silver shoes at all. “Do you have any makeup, or hair styling equipment?” “Erm no” knowing that I hadn’t foreseen needing anything. “Right, of course you haven’t. Go to your suite, and shower. It’s obvious you’ve just finished a long car journey. I’ll be there shortly to work my magic.” I did as Alice suggested since it would be more exhausting to argue with her than to just give in. I did wonder briefly if Alice knew what suite I was in then thought that it was a bit silly to think that she couldn’t find me just by following my scent. I left the bathroom to see Alice sitting on the bed with my wedding outfit being laid out. Somehow she had also got hold of a load of makeup and everything she needed to do my hair. Alice really needed a full sized Barbie Doll. “Do you have a ring to give Edward?” Alice asked almost absentmindedly. “Yes, it was Charlie’s.” I wasn’t sure about the appropriateness of giving Edward the ring from a marriage that barely lasted long enough to produce me, but it was precious to me. When Alice had decided that I was ready we went down to the hotel lobby. Edward and Jasper were waiting for us. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Edward asked as he clasped my hands and looked earnestly at my face, once again trying to read my thoughts. “Yes. I want you to be my legal next of kin. I want us to be tied to each other so that we can’t be separated ever again. What about you? Do you want to do this? You actually haven’t said yet.” Edward’s face lit up with an inner beauty that completely dazzled me. How could anyone think that vampires had no soul? Beauty such as was Edward’s at that particular moment could only come from a beautiful soul shining through his gorgeous body. “Oh yes Bella. I also want us tied to each other so that we cannot be separated ever again. I want to know that you are my wife, that I am your husband. I want us to be married.” I beamed. I didn’t really think that there would be a problem, but I did wonder if Edward would balk at not having a big wedding with all his family there to witness and enjoy. “And you don’t mind it being here? Quiet?” “No love. I don’t mind at all.” The wedding ceremony was over in less than five minutes. Alice made sure that there were lots of ‘photos and a video recording. Then she insisted that we go back to the hotel so that Edward could age so that she could take some ‘photo’s to give to Renee. It was a lovely idea and I was so glad she thought of it. “Well that went better than I expected” Edward said once we were back in our hotel room in Phoenix. “I was at least expecting a lecture for leaving you before.” “No, Renee always expected that at seventeen our relationship wouldn’t last. You remember what she was like when I was in hospital here after James. It was my reaction to you leaving that she never understood.” But Renee now understood. Edward said that he had never been able to forget me, despite the new life the family had. I told mom and Phil that Edward and I met again when he did a Physiotherapy course in Anchorage for which I was the patient on whom the students practiced. “It meant that I was able to get excellent physiotherapy without having to pay for it” I said. “Aren’t you a little old to learn a new skill?” Phil was a little snide with Edward. “I’m a musician. I need something to fall back on, just in case. I notice you have a piano, would you mind if I played it a little?” The piano was old and out of tune. Edward patiently tuned it up again and played some of his favourite music. Mom and Phil were convinced that he made a good living playing the piano. I had also confessed that there never was a ‘Masen’ in my life and it was Edward all the time. “I didn’t want to say anything in case it didn’t go anywhere again” I said. “I wasn’t sure that we had enough in common to be able to make a go of it now.” Alice had bought a digital ‘photo frame and loaded it with four of our fake wedding ‘photos. One that looked like we had just exchanged rings in the ceremony, one of us kissing, one of us standing full length looking into the camera, and one close up of us smiling at each other. I had to admit, I didn’t mind them! Mom cried a little when she saw it but said that she was glad to be able to see me happy and in love and only wished Charlie was still alive to do so too. Alice suggested that we break our return journey and stop at Forks so that we could tell Jake, Lizzie, Angela and Seth our good news. I wasn’t sure that I was up to dealing with Jake’s reaction but decided that at least this way it got it out of the way. We just turned off onto the driveway for the house when Edward suddenly stiffened. “What? What’s up?” I could tell by his face that it was something bad. “I hope you’re feeling rested because it seems that we have a few visitors” Edward replied. “Damn. I hate socialising. Who? Is it Tanya and Embry come to visit the pack?” “Yes, and they brought everyone with them.” That was really too bad of them. But I had to accept that they didn’t know that Edward and I would be turning up. I tried to talk myself into looking forward to seeing them. The house was pitch black when we drew up in front of it. It was only early evening so I assumed that they were all at the reservation visiting. Edward assisted me out of the car and helped stretch out the kinks so that I could walk up to the house by myself. Just as we got to the door Edward swept me into his arms saying only the word “thresholds”. He closed the door behind us and took a surprisingly deep breath before switching on the lights. “Surprise!” And of course I was the only one for whom it was a surprise. All the Cullens were there, the Denalis with Embry and Garrett, Jake and Lizzie, Angela and Seth, Leah and Nahuel, Rachel and Paul, Quil and Claire, Jared and Kim, Sam and Emily and all their children. Poster sized copies of our wedding ‘photos decorated the large room accompanied by lots of fairy lights and ribbon. I was in shock. It was a race as to who could get to us first: Alice or the children. Alice won – naturally – and took me out of Edward’s arms. “Let’s get you ready to party!” she said. I was about to say that I was perfectly alright where I was when I realised that I needed the bathroom and to have a wash at least. Alice, of course, had other ideas and the bed was covered with a load of paraphernalia that only she would know what to do with. It didn’t seem any time at all before Alice had me prettified sufficiently to be presented to the guests. I was actually pleased to see everyone, I would just rather it wasn’t all in one go! The children were glad to see me, although some - Pearl and Opal (Jared and Kim’s twin eleven year old girls) and Gemma (Rachel and Paul’s eldest) - were rather more pleased to see Edward and demonstrated how skilled they were at flirting! I had no idea who organised the catering, but with members of the pack and their numerous offspring the food didn’t seem to last. Emmett and Garrett watched the food disappear with wondrous shakes of their heads. Esme went to the kitchen, presumably to get more. Alice had put on some music and turned down the lights. “Shall we?” Edward asked. “How?” “The same as at prom” and Edward lifted me so that my feet were resting on his, my cheek in the hollow of his shoulder, one arm tight around his neck and my other hand held tenderly in his. “I love you Bella Swann Cullen, I love you and will love you for every second of forever.” I sighed. Life didn’t get much better than this: being held in the arms of the man I loved, knowing that he was all mine. It didn’t matter what I looked like, how much of a burden I was, Edward adored me and always would. It was a shame that I was only now appreciating that fact. Of course I danced with others. My feet rested on a lot of toes that night. I noticed how Edward danced with all his female fans too. I had tears in my eyes when I saw him dancing with Pia and Charley – their feet were resting on his like mine. I so wished that I could have given him children. When I returned to work I told the Principal that I had married Edward but was keeping my family name and would appreciate it if he kept it to himself for the time being. “I think it is a little soon to let the whole town know. Carlisle and Esme are acting like they are pleased, but I’m not sure if I’m reading them properly. Perhaps we shouldn’t have but the Cullens were raised to have very old fashioned values and I had forgotten how intelligent Edward is and should have just said ‘no’ rather than enter into a discussion about it.” “Isabelle, I won’t tell anyone, but others have commented on the odd occasions that you have been seen together that you look happy, both of you.” “It surprises me but we are.” “Then as long as you are both happy then just go with the flow. What is Edward doing?” “Studying law. I don’t know if he will end up being a lawyer, in fact I doubt that he will, but he wants to have something to fall back on if his music doesn’t pan out.” “It wouldn’t hurt him to be able to understand any contract that he might have to sign.” “That’s what I think.” “So that conversation went better than I expected” I said to Edward later that evening. “Good. Is that why you want me to study copyright law?” he asked. “Part of it, but not the main part. You’ll find out in due course, don’t worry” I reassured. The tenor of our lives was contentment. I went to work to do a job that I enjoyed. I came home to the man who made my life complete. I made sure that my lesson plans were kept up to date so that if a heart became available, I need have no qualms. But I tried not to take anything, particularly Edward, for granted. “Is it fair that one person should have all this happiness?” I asked Edward one Saturday. I was wrapped in his arms in our Jacuzzi, a drink of cold soda was on the edge of the tub, and there was a buffet of strawberries and grapes for me to nibble on. “I don’t know about that. I don’t think it is possible for you to have more happiness than you deserve. But I know that I am happier than I deserve to be. You bring me that happiness, Bella. I would give anything to be worthy of the gift you have given me, the gift of your love.” “You are more than I deserve. You make me complete. With you I am me, and I fit. Before you I always felt that I was out of place and I had to pretend to fit; now I don’t need to and can just be. And the laughter: I am constantly amazed that I never noticed in the years that we were apart that the only person I ever laughed with is you. Not even with Renee could I enjoy a good laugh that was pure enjoyment, only you could give me the gift of laughter. Thank you for that.” Edward gave a gentle chuckle. “Another example of how you and I fit. And I am so grateful to you for your acceptance of me, who I am, what I am.” “What you are has never been an issue for me” and it was true. “Once I realised that I loved you, nothing else was of any import except for the necessity to protect you, to keep your secret safe.” At that Edward sighed and I wished I had kept quiet. “I used to think that it was my job to protect you when all along you were the one protecting me.” “Now we protect each other – just as it should be” I said, sounding just a little smug. One Friday, a few weeks after the Spring break the following year, I was marking some homework when I suddenly realised that I didn’t feel well. I had some discomfort in my chest and felt a little dizzy. It could have just been a touch of indigestion, but I didn’t think so. “Edward” I said quietly, trying to hide my panic. “What is it love?” “I don’t feel well. Could you call Carlisle for me please just to be on the safe side?” I should have known better. Edward knew I wasn’t a hypochondriac. If I didn’t feel well, it was probably serious. It was Edward who started to panic and I put the call through. “Hello Bella. How are you?” “Can you come round please, Carlisle? I don’t feel very well.” Even I heard the wobble in my voice on the last word. Edward took the ‘phone from my hand. “It’s her heart. The beats are all wrong.” “Take Bella to the hospital. I’ll meet you there.” And I was whisked up into Edward’s arms and placed gently in the car. It didn’t seem to be any time at all and I was in an examination room with Carlisle. And even less time when Carlisle came to give me the news. “Bella, your heart is failing, we have to keep you in. You are now top of the donor list but all we can do is wait and hope.” Edward had been holding my hand up to that point and he threw it down to protect it, I knew, from his grip. I wondered why it was a surprise to him: surely he had heard it in Carlisle’s mind before he said it? “I see. How long?” “Your heart will keep going for a few more days, maybe a week if we look after it properly. When it stops you will probably lose consciousness. The pump will keep you alive for a while longer, but after three days your organs will start to fail if we haven’t secured a heart for you by then. The alternative would be to put you on bypass when your heart stops. You could be awake then, but it doesn’t buy you any more time. Do you want us to call anyone? Renee, Jacob?” So, this was it. What should I do? “No. If I don’t pull through, Edward I want you to go and see Lizzie. She has a box of letters that I want you to deliver personally; one of them is for you. If I do pull through then we tell everyone that I have my new heart. It would help me if you could call the Principal, though, to let him know that I won’t be in school anymore this semester.” I had outlined my proposed lessons for each class on a weekly basis for the whole semester. I had also done detailed lesson plans for the next four weeks. Luckily I E-mailed them to Principal Skerrit after I had completed them. “Of course I’ll do that for you. Edward?” Carlisle looked at his son. His very frightened, very young looking son. “Edward, Bella needs you. Talk to her son” and he clasped him on his shoulder and gave him a hug. “Bella, you can’t die, I need you to stay alive” Edward whispered as he hunkered down on the floor and put his head on my bed. “I promise that I am going to try to stay alive. I want to be with you, so I will do my best. But if I don’t succeed, will you promise me that you will go and see Lizzie and get the box from her and deliver my letters, along with the news? Please Edward, will you do that for me?” Edward looked at me, I could have sworn that I could see into his soul. “Yes, I promise.”