It’s said when someone has smoked for years their ability to taste certain foods is diminished drastically. When the toxins are removed from the body, the ability to enjoy the rich flavors returns, but never to the full degree. This is how Edward felt as he quietly enjoyed the sights and sounds of Central Park in the freshness of a summer morning. Drinking in the richness of the calm surroundings before the hustle and bustle wipes it away.
“You should get an E-reader for those books. You’ve read them so many times the pages are going to wear out.” Watching his wife read under the massive oak trees had become his favorite pastime. Appreciating the look on her face as she took in every word, analyzed each scene, and found something new she failed to see in prior perusals.
“I have one.” Bella responded, a slight smile filling her lips as her eyes continued to survey the words on the page.
This had been a constant part of every morning, Bella enjoying a book while Edward enjoyed her under the guise of reading the financials from the day prior. On sunny days like this, they would find a quiet spot, sit a blanket down and enjoy. On mornings when the ill weather kept them indoors, they would sit in Bella’s living room, the shades drawn and pajamas on.
“Yet you continue to read the printed version, damaging the pages with the oil of your hands.”
Bella pulled back, as her laughter shred the quiet around them. “Oils damaging the pages? Did you smoke something this morning?” Edward joined her laughter with his own, scurrying back as she reached over to playfully swat his arm with her book. “Read your paper and leave me alone.”
Leaning back, resting his head against the trunk of the massive tree, Edward exchanged the boring financials for the morning paper. His eyes going wide as he took in the headlines.
New York philanthropist, Carlisle Cullen, has announced his candidacy for Governor of the State of New York. This news comes just a few short weeks following the near fatal accident of his nephew, Edward Cullen, now CEO of Cullen enterprises.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Cullen, NYT reporter, Alyson Briggs questioned the reason behind this abrupt decision to run for political office. Mr. Cullen responded with his family’s mission to make the streets of this great state as safe as possible for children to play, go to school, and become prosperous citizens. He vowed to make stiffer penalties for criminals found with possession of the poison which pollutes the minds of our youth. In a bold statement, Mr. Cullen tossed down the gauntlet saying, “When I am elected Governor, the people of New York can count on me to stand up to the corruptness of the judicial system, making examples of those in office who choose to bend and break the law to suit their needs.”
Edward inwardly smiled. “He’s making this far too easy,” he thought to himself.
Bella would never admit to anyone the real reason she brought the same book to the park each day, she even tried to hide it from herself. In the weeks since Edward’s release from the hospital, Bella has watched and waited for the horror to return. Each morning she has expected to hear shouting come from his end of the penthouse or to be woken by the crashing of some decorations that got in his way. Yet, with each day passed with a lack of drama and hostility. Instead, a welcome greeting and fresh cup of coffee waited for her to enjoy. There were regular deliveries of beautiful flowers with kind words scrolled in his manly penmanship on pieces of expensive stationary. A kind smile had replaced the scowl she once received, and gentle touches now swept across her hand and face. There was a twinkle in the eyes, which once avoided her. All these combined to lower her defenses and allow the new man to show her what he had to give. As best she tried, Bella did not want to allow herself to fall in love with this man, but with all of the changes and the affection he had so generously bestowed on her, it was getting harder not to.
“Well, Bella, I’m am sorry to say real life is calling our names.” She had been so lost in observation, watching as his index finger moved up and down the outside of her pinky finger, soothing strokes, feather light in their fluid motion. “May I have the honor?” Edward had already gathered the blanket and trash and now stood before her, hand extended with his palm facing up. Slowly, she placed her fingers in his offered hand, the warmth of his body cocooning her in comfort. Three days ago, Edward had stopped releasing her hand after helping her from the ground. Another one of the changes she had experienced, one she enjoyed far too much.
“Are we still on for tonight?” At the beginning of the week, Edward had called her from his office and told her a friend of Dr. Black’s had opened a new restaurant in Manhattan, not far from where they lived. Jacob was starting a new relationship with a young lady he’d met through work and wanted to take her to this restaurant. Dr. Black described her as a frail kitten, scared of her own shadow, so he’d suggested a double date.
“Yes, six-thirty, right?” Bella secretly hoped this would be like the kind of date Anthony and Maria had, where the hand holding continued and the anticipation of a kiss loomed in the air. As hard as she tried, she could not get the fictional couple out of her head, constantly comparing the two to her own relationship.
“Yes, I’ll be home by five thirty.” Edward had been setting up a surprise since he took Bella for their first cup of coffee after he woke from the coma. He had listened as she spoke of the smells of baking bread and pastries being as soothing to her as the most expensive aromatherapy on the market. Edward wanted Bella to have something of her own, a piece of the American dream. Although he hoped she would stay with him and had been careful to give her small doses of the kind of attention he wanted to shower her with, he knew it would be wrong to smother her in the things he dreamed of doing.
“The restaurant is close enough to walk, so wear good shoes.” Edward was being overly cautious, his wife owned nothing but comfortable shoes. Isabella Cullen was a practical woman. Her actions were almost always thought out and she was typically careful as to not offend anyone.
“Of course. I have the meeting with Elizabeth at lunch, but I will make sure she knows I’m meeting you.” Bella had been confrontational with Edward’s mother after the accident. Elizabeth wanted to take over the care of her son, shoving Bella to the side as if she didn’t matter. Bella stood firm, letting her know she was a needed opinion in the care, but Edward was her husband and as his wife, it was her job to take care of him. Elizabeth had not taken the instruction well and did most of her visiting when Bella napped or took a shower. Bella contacted her one afternoon when Edward went back to the office, asking Elizabeth to build a solid relationship, thus creating the weekly lunch dates they shared.
Edward hated returning to the penthouse after his quiet morning with Bella. It meant not only separation from her, but dealing with the calamity which was Cullen Enterprises. But after reading the article in the newspaper, his day which once filled him with angst, now carried a sliver of anticipation. After wishing his wife a good day, he climbed into the back of his hired car and took his phone into his hand, dialing a number he had used only a handful of times.
“Hey, I need you to ready a delivery. I’ll be in touch with an address.” Just as quickly as he began, he ended the call, unconcerned about being rude to the person on the other end.
Bella stood before her full length mirror, not something she ever took long in doing. After her meeting with Elizabeth, she’d stopped into a little boutique, a blue dress catching her eye from the display window. The dress wasn’t much in appearance or cost, just something she noticed and decided to buy. Who was she kidding? Edward had complimented her not even a week ago he enjoyed the particular shade against her skin. His words had stirred something, created a tingle almost, a happy feeling. A knock at her door rousted her from the fantasies circling inside her head.
Edward was grateful his friend Jacob was a talkative person, since he was far too busy watching and listening to his wife engage the shy young lady who unknowingly had Jacob Black by the short hairs, to keep the conversation going. Maggie Ryan, a pharmacy tech at the hospital, worked the night shift. She and Jacob met by accident when someone tossed out her lunch and she was forced to hunt for food in a vending machine. Jacob had been called in for an emergency surgery and was grabbing something to hold him over when they bumped into one another.
Bella felt, for the first time, a connection with another female. Maggie seemed to be a blonde haired version of herself. Both girls had similar upbringings, Maggie with an alcoholic mother and invisible father and Bella with, well a lifetime of tragedy. Bella was still smiling internally from the look on Edward face as he greeted her at the door, his green eyes drinking her in. Her mouth went dry from the way he smelled as he touched her face.
By the time the hour grew late, both couples had grown closer. Edward had a full arm around his wife and Maggie had tucked herself against Jacob’s shoulder.
“So, Bella, I wanted to ask you if you enjoyed the food?” Edward had lost his nervousness about his surprise as he listened to Bella moan around her fork.
“It was amazing. Thank you for bringing me here.” Bella’s smile alone was enough for Edward to know she was being genuine. Her spirit inspired him, warming him to his very core.
“It was my pleasure. Although, I did have ulterior motives.” Something flashed in Bella’s eyes and for a moment fear pulsed inside Edward’s chest. “Im sorry, its not anything bad. Not intentionally, anyway.”
Bella welcomed Edward’s hand covering hers, the warmth it brought and a sense of something wonderful. “I remember how much you enjoyed working in the bakery and I wanted to offer you this restaurant. The workers are from shelters around the city who are trying to get back on their feet.” The concept of helping people in that capacity thrilled Bella.
“You have to be kidding me! You’ve never watched Iron Man?” Edward could not recall a time where he had felt this happy. Walking hand in hand with the girl who gave him everything and asked for so little in return. “As soon as we get back home, I’m grabbing the DVD from my cabinet and we are watching it.” Edward wanted to scoop Bella up in his arms, rush down the street and into their building. But the angle on his left shoulder reminded him this was still new to her, he had yet to tell her how much he loved her.
Bella wondered if this was how dating would feel if someone had asked her out. She would enjoy what she had now, a life with a man who was taking care of her.
Edward slipped his card into the slot in the elevator, pulling Bella’s hand up to his lips with his free hand. He had plans of moving forward a little once the movie began and the situation presented itself, Edward planned to kiss his wife.
“Come with me real quick so I can grab the movie and then we can crash on your comfy couch.” Bella knew how much Edward loved her side of the floor. While the couple kept separate sleeping quarters, they did watch television and share a dinner table together. Bella hoped to have an opportunity to kiss her husband, Iron Man be damned.
“Do you have pop–“ Edward’s words fell as the door closed behind them. Their hands still intertwined together, smiles fading as they took in the naked girl on the glass coffee table, fingers deep inside her wet folds, her lower lips on full display. Several piles of what looked to be white powder bordered the edges of the glass.
“Hey, baby. I’m back.”