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Sunset

Summary:
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.


Notes:
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.


5. Edward - Chauvanistic Tendencies

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“You need a transplant?!” I couldn’t believe how frightened that thought made me feel. Bella had always been so vital, her heart so strong. And now to hear that her heart was so weak she needed a new one was terrifying. “Eventually. I’m on the list, but so low down that I’m not likely to get one for years if ever.” “I knew there was something very off about your heart beat, but I thought it might be more to do with your mind rather than the heart itself. Good grief, I’m surprised you didn’t collapse in shock when you heard my voice.” I had to try to keep myself calm. I wasn’t just surprised that she hadn’t collapsed in shock, I was completely astounded. “I almost did. Thank goodness Alice was on the ball enough to pull me out of the fugue I was entering. How did you know it was me? I don’t look the same, especially from the back.” I smiled: there was never any danger of me not knowing Bella. “The same way Alice knew who the new English teacher was as soon as she walked into the classroom, your scent.” “I thought she would have seen me coming again.” And it was my own fault that she hadn’t. “You did keep jumping into her mind, but she knew that thinking of you upset me so she ruthlessly shut down the thoughts. This is the first school I’ve been to since Forks so a part of me was thinking that was the reason you were in our heads more than usual. This time I only managed one day of my senior year. It’s the longest I’ve gone without matriculating. What about you? When did you finish your education?” “I went to college three years after you left. It was hard to keep up since I had suffered some brain damage and had forgotten how to read amongst other things. But I had lot of time while I was recovering to learn again. I even started to watch TV again.” We talked a little about college, how hard it was for her, but because of her disabilities at the time she had been given grants to study. “Why don’t you listen to music anymore?” I asked what I thought was a simple question. I heard her heart skip a beat then start jumping erratically. I knew she was in trouble. I got Bella to lie down and called Carlisle straight away. He told me what to look for and a second later I offered one of her heart tablets and a glass of water. A long minute went by and I could hear her heart calming, her breathing ease. Carlisle arrived a little later. “Bella, what did I tell you about stress on your heart? What if this happens when you are alone?” “This only happens when I’m with people and I wear medi-alert and carry medication around my neck whenever I leave my home. The only way to stop it is for me to live in a bubble, and I’m not going to do that because it’s not living.” I couldn’t believe how much it hurt. “So being with me is killing you again.” “Stop being so melodramatic. You said something that caught me off guard. Anyone could have asked the same question and gotten the same response, in fact more than one person has.” I felt a little better. “Then perhaps we need to work on eliminating the reason for the question. Are there any other taboo subjects that we need to deal with?” “You used to be the biggest; I guess I’ve gotten over that” but I knew that she still had not said my name. “I don’t know what issues being with you will throw up, though.” I was surprised. Bella said it like it was a question to ponder over, rather than to fear. Bella’s stance that first day at school sprung into my mind. “Your heart, at school when you heard me speak, it stopped completely!” If I’d had a heart it would have stopped then at that realisation. “Yes, I thought that I was going to die. It was odd. I was thinking that the last thing I would hear was your voice, but I wouldn’t see you again. It soon started itself though. I don’t know how I got through the following lesson.” “And still, you haven’t looked at me.” “And I’m not going to. Not until I decide.” Bella didn’t need to explain further. She was not going to look at me until she had decided whether it meant she should die, or spend her life with me. I was torn. “Perhaps, on balance, it would be better if you kept your eyes closed when I’m near, then.” “When you first decided to speak to me when we were at school, I used find it a lot easier if I kept my eyes closed.” “I remember” I smiled. “You said it was because I dazzled people and you told Jessica Stanley that you sometimes had a problem with incoherency around me.” “When I said people, I meant females.” “Bella” Carlisle interrupted, “When you deliberate on what you want to do, I want you to forget Edward and Bella sometimes and think about Jane and Joe. Think about the fact that Joe has a family who love Jane, despite her thinking otherwise, and would like nothing more than to devote some of the unlimited time they have on their hands to spend with Jane and help make her life as comfortable as possible. What should Jane do? Can you think about that too?” “I don’t know who’s worse, you or Alice” Bella mumbled. I knew she would do as Carlisle asked. It was a good idea to try to take some of the personal pain out of the decision making process. Carlisle kissed Bella’s cheek – how I envied him that familiarity – and left. I helped Bella get settled for the night. It was just after ten and already she was showing signs of tiredness. It was hard accepting that I was only able to spend such a short time with her, but it was more time than I had a right to expect. “What’s that?” I asked as Bella clipped a device on her head. “My nightmare alarm. It wakes me up before I scream the town awake if I’m having a bad dream.” “I used to do that” I muttered, not pleased with her matter of fact explanation of the gadget that had taken over one of my roles. I was lucky that Bella merely raised her brows instead of pointing out that it was my choice to leave. “Can I stay until you’re settled? I’ll be in the other room, if you prefer, but I would like to be here in case you need something.” I watched Bella consider my request. “My massage programme ends after three hours. If I’m calm an hour after that, I’ll be okay for the whole night. You can go then.” I was about to ask again if she wanted me to go to the other room, but she lay down with her eyes closed and I decided to just wait where I was. It wasn’t long before I could see that Bella was asleep, her body started twitching and she started to mutter. I knew it was unlikely that a human would be able to work out what she was saying but my superior hearing was able to pick up the words. “He left me.” “Punched hole in my chest.” “He hurt me.” “But I love him” Even though Bella didn’t use my name I knew it was me who was on her mind; and the pain in the last sentence was too much for my self control. I crossed to the bed, and as with the night before, I knelt beside her. This time I just put my head close to hers so that I could whisper in her ear. “It’s alright now Bella, I’m here. You can rest easy now. I love you. I won’t leave you again, I promise. Rest now, love. I’m here. I love you. I’ll be back tomorrow. You’ll see me at eight. I won’t leave you again, love. You can sleep. I love you Bella.” Soon Bella’s twitches settled and I started to hum Bella’s lullaby quietly. While I was keeping Bella calm, I wondered how many of my words were seeping into her subconscious and if she would remember them when she woke. I wasn’t sure it would be better for me if she did or if she did not. As requested, I left an hour after the massage programme had ended. Bella remained calm and seemed to be sleeping deeply. “I think I’ve found the perfect place” Esme greeted me with as soon as I arrived home. “It’s on the other side of town to here, but it’s a straight road to the school. Assuming we can rent the property I’ve drawn up a list of things we can do, allocating them to various birthdays and christmases. It’s going to be hard work to get it all finished in time since we’re not allowed to spend much money. Emmett and Jasper are out now looking for timber to make the furniture. They’ve promised not to cheat and push a tree over.” “Thanks Esme. I know it’s not going to be easy, but even if we can’t get it finished in time I still want as little money as possible spent. We’ll need a physical record of the state before in case the owner tries to claim that they did the work and so increase the rent.” “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing even though we normally buy properties before we renovate them and don’t have to worry about how much we spend.” “What’s my first task?” “You can look for fallen pine trees. We’ll need enough timber to build a porch. Carlisle is looking for slate, some of the roof tiles will need to be replaced. Let’s hope we can get the property or most of the work will be for nothing.” I heard the warning in Esme’s voice. Even if everything went exactly to plan it was unlikely that everything would be ready for next Saturday. And even if all went okay, there was still the problem of getting Bella’s agreement. I had to keep reminding myself that she could be persuaded to be reasonable, it was all in the presentation. I spent the rest of the night finding fallen pine trees and taking them back to our home. Emmett and Jasper found the timber they were looking for and three of us spent the morning sawing and planing the wood to get the basic shapes we wanted. I knew Bella would like the rustic look, but we wanted to do the finishing when we knew exactly what space we had to work with. Rosalie was looking around the property seeking materials and the best location to build the power house she planned. Esme spent the morning negotiating with the owner of the property we were interested in. He finally agreed to a five year contract with a small lump sum up front and a monthly rental that was probably well within Bella’s limits. Since it wasn’t habitable yet, the rental payments wouldn’t begin until November the first to allow for basic work to be carried out. The poor man didn’t know that by then the house would be finished. With Alice at school and Carlisle at the hospital, there was only the five of us to start the work in the afternoon. Jasper helped me with the porch. Emmett and Esme started building the power house and Rosalie went to look for supplies for the plumbing and electrical work. Intellectual work was fine, but sometimes a person needed the pleasure of pure physical labour. Emmett particularly enjoyed it and was always Esme’s most enthusiastic labourer. Alice naturally knew where we were and came over after school and gave the inside a thorough clean to get a better idea of the internal condition. A couple of coats of paint was all that was needed since we were going with the rustic look she declared and went to the hardware store to buy the paint she wanted. The house was barely recognisable as the same property by the time I left to go to Bella’s. I started to feel optimistic that it might even be completed on time. “Come in” Bella said just as I lifted my hand to knock on her door. I went in only to be offered the pre-set timer. I took the hint and followed Bella to the sofa where she was holding out her left hand. I started the timer and began manipulating the muscles. “What do you have instead of bone in here?” “Steel. Carbon fibre didn’t work for such small joints so they put in riveted steel. I can grip things with my left hand, but I have to manually put the fingers in place and concentrate hard on holding the grip or the muscles just relax. If I didn’t do this every night I wouldn’t be able to do even that after a while.” “What about the rest of you?” “The bigger joints had proportionately less damage done to the muscles when they had to remove all the fragments of bone. My left leg is not as good as it could be, but I can get about okay. I can massage that at almost any time. A professional physiotherapist would undoubtedly be better, but they’re expensive and the nearest one who’s good enough is in Anchorage. And I don’t want you paying one obscene amounts of money to come here especially.” “Why not? I think you could make good use of a Daphne Moon.” “A what?” “Daphne Moon, physiotherapist come housekeeper in the old sit-com ‘Frasier’.” “I remember; I caught a couple of re-run episodes of that while I was convalescing. And I still don’t want you paying for one, no matter how useful a Daphne Moon would be.” I didn’t say that I had no intention of letting a stranger play that role in her life. “Never mind, Joe will just have to learn. It would be helpful if he could send Jane’s medical records to a therapist so they could teach Joe the correct techniques, though, don’t you think?” “I think Joe is pushing his luck and should accept that most people take time to make difficult and important decisions but if Jane was pushed I know which way she would go.” “I suppose you’re right. I’m just not very patient.” But I also knew which way Bella’s decision would go if she were pushed. “I know. I always used to think that my human frailties were why you got so angry with yourself when we were together. I thought I held you back. I couldn’t play ball with you, I had to be carried when you wanted to run and you must have been bored out of your mind watching me sleep night after night. And now I am even more fragile and would hold you back even more.” “I was never angry about your human frailties; only with myself when I put you in danger. My chauvinistic tendencies loved protecting and looking after you. I was fascinated by watching you sleep. You never grasped how much I enjoy looking at your face. It is so mobile and expressive. I love your mind so much more than your face but I always think of you as beautiful, even now as I see the lines around your mouth and eyes. I’ve not been able to look into your eyes for twelve years, but I remember their colour, the warmth, the flash of intuition when you saw through my pretences followed by the calm acceptance. Yes, I want to be able to look into them again, but not if it means that you’ve achieved everything you want to in life and are ready for the end.” “Ask Alice about my eyes now. She’ll tell you that they’re still brown, but they’re dull with pain and I don’t think they’ve flashed with anything good in a long, long time.” “Even with everything you have suffered, your mind is still Bella. She hides behind Isabelle a lot, but Bella is still there. And you’re forgetting your scent. There is no fragrance more beautiful to me anywhere in the world. That hasn’t changed one iota and it never will.” “Maybe, but what about the next time some of your kind visit or Jasper takes a snap at me. Will you drop me like a contagious disease again? Or when people are cruel because they think I’m your mother, will you start getting all moody and sulk because you know it would hurt me and there would be nothing you could do about it?” “I can protect you from any of our kind if we live together, including Jasper. I know there would be times when yes, I will get all moody and sulk. If I got unbearable, you would just have to offer to leave me and I would perk right up again.” “Why? Why are you saying this now? You survived twelve years without me so why are you pushing me to live with you now?” “For eleven and a half years I have had the picture of you being happy, living in the warmth of the south which is what you always preferred. I could get by with the thought that I had made the ultimate sacrifice but you were happy. As long as you were happy, I could endure anything. But you’re not happy so there is no point in me being noble anymore. Of course I know that it does not mean that you will be happy with me, but I don’t think it is possible for you to be more unhappy than you are now.” “On that point you’re wrong. If I lived with you and I had any reason to suspect that you were not happy with me, then I would become more miserable. Hence my concern over the sulking and moodiness because they would be an indication of misery.” “And just because I would be angry and miserable some of the time, does that mean that the rest of the time, when I would be happy, it would count for nothing? I can assure you that I have had more joy in the past three days than I had in the previous eleven years, three hundred and fifty-five days, when I had just misery and outright agony.” I thought Bella would say something about it all being by my own choice so I really had no right to complain about it. “Alice is coming over on Saturday, did she say?” “She said she was going to invite you round to ours. You do realise that it would be better for your cover if you spent time at our place rather than Alice and me here, don’t you?” “I know, but I just couldn’t bear to see where you live at the moment. Anyway, I’m assuming that you have been as discrete as you used to be when you visited me and no one knows that you’ve been here.” “You’re right, I have. Tell me, why do you need so many human minutes these days? I realise it would take a little longer to get into your nightwear, but not that long.” I didn’t know whether that was the sort of question that I was allowed to ask or not, but if she didn’t want to answer I had no doubt that Bella would tell me so. “I have to have a steam to force my muscles to expand, and then I need to have a shower. A Jacuzzi would be better, but this place doesn’t have one, but the shower is a good one and is better than nothing. What are you doing with your days now you’re not in school?” “In accordance with my promise to always tell you the whole truth from now on, I would like to decline to answer unless you give me leave to offer a partial truth.” “Go on then, give me a clue.” “I’ve been looking for fallen and dried pine trees to use for timber. I don’t have quite enough for what I want to build so I’m going to have to go a bit further afield tonight when I leave here. I only need one or two more and Emmett has offered to help me. That’s one of the things Emmett doesn’t like about living here, he doesn’t need to actually knock any of the trees down and has to stretch his muscles just by lifting the ones that have already fallen or by moving boulders!” Bella actually laughed a little. “And I bet Alice doesn’t like the paucity of fashion shops either.” “You’re right. She does a lot of shopping on-line, and she makes sure she visits one of the major cities every couple of months, just in case she runs out of clothes!” I wondered if Bella realised that Alice was almost certain to attack her wardrobe when she visited on Saturday. I decided to let Alice steer herself out of any muddy water she got herself into over her enthusiasm for trying to make over Bella, something that she had consistently tried and failed at in the past. I told Bella about some of Esme’s restoration/renovation projects of the past. “Esme likes when we live in the north east of the U.S. because there are always lots of properties that need her expertise. There are not so many here, or in Forks and she has to make do with consultancy or searching and planning in the areas we plan to move to next. After here, we should go to Minnesota. I might visit New Zealand to see if that would be a good place to live for a while. People are living longer, and if we can’t go back to Forks because of the effect on the Quileute, we’re going to need a few more places in which to have homes, but a lot of places don’t have enough animals for us not to impact the balance of nature so we have to be very careful where we choose. It would be a shame about Forks, in many ways it was ideal for us.” Bella kicked me out as soon as she got into bed, reminding me of my longer search and telling me not to waste the hours of darkness when Emmett and I could carry our trees without being seen. I didn’t like to leave Bella before I saw she was settled, but I thought that it might, subtly, alert her to the fact that she sleeps better if I am there. I wanted Bella to know that: it might help in my campaign to persuade her to let me be her Daphne Moon. Work progressed on the house. Rosalie was even making her contribution. She complained about having to try to spend as little money as possible, but she relished the challenge really. Being immortal could be boring at times so anything that gave us a challenge was welcome even if one was not particularly fond of the intended recipient! Just after four o’clock Jasper turned up. I hadn’t even noticed that he had disappeared. “You didn’t! What on earth did you think you were doing?” I had read Jasper’s thoughts. “I had to go and see her again. The last time I saw Bella, I tried to kill her and the resulting pain to Alice and you has been on my conscience. And now I have to add her ills to my load. I had to apologise and assure her that it would never happen again.” “But what about the shock of seeing you? Did you think about the effect seeing you would have on her? Are you sure she’s alright?” How could Jasper risk Bella by just turning up? “I didn’t know there was a reason to worry about the effect of seeing me. But there is no need to be concerned: Alice saw me waiting at the school for Bella and warned her. She said that she never held me responsible for what happened that day. She should have of course, but she didn’t. She even apologised for her clumsiness causing the cut! It is very difficult to apologise for something to someone who insists that it was all her own fault.” “I know what you mean. But how was she? Was her breathing normal? Her heart beat?” I could not get rid of the idea that seeing Jasper may well have put further stress on Bella’s heart. “It was a little off at the beginning of our conversation, but it was steady when I left her and I did nothing to affect her mood.” I grunted my relief. “Why didn’t you tell us that there was such a cause for concern?” “Because her medical condition is private. She won’t let Carlisle tell me the full extent. I just get a bit more of the bad news each time I see her. But I do know she has to avoid stress. Her life literally depends on it.” “Guilt is extremely hard to live with. I find it very difficult at times. How do you manage?” I hadn’t really appreciated how bad Jasper would feel. After all, he still struggled with the idea that we shouldn’t kill humans for food. And, at one time, he had planned to kill Bella until Alice talked him out of it. But since then he had come to know and appreciate her. “I’m holding onto my sanity by focussing on trying to do what I can to make things better. I know I can never make them right, but they can be better.”