The hospital annex where he currently resided certainly had its advantages. Edward’s transfer from a specialty area to a private room had come with significant fanfare. Where most in-patients never see the president of the hospital, Edward not only saw the man, but received his personal cell number if he needed anything. While Edward certainly appreciated the welcome, he also knew the only thing he wanted at the moment, the man in the gray suit could not provide for him.
Jacob had been by, introducing a physical therapist into the group of physicians taking part in Edward’s care. Alex Denali delivered no pomp and circumstance when discussing his expectations for Edward’s recovery.
“First thing in the morning, we’re going to get you started by getting out of bed and back to that beautiful wife I saw in a magazine a few months ago.”
Edward’s heart stuttered, and then began racing to a faster beat. While he couldn’t have agreed more with the doctors appreciation for his wife, he had to face reality. The harsh truth his actions may have been too much, granting her a desire to accept his offer and leave, never looking back. Considering the pressure of the past six months, Edward wasn’t all too certain he himself would remain in this relationship, given the exact same conditions he had given his Bella.
Was she his? Edward’s heart and mind needed no assurance. Bella had carved herself a large cavern into the cold, dark, and abandoned crevice his soul called home. The question was, however, did Bella Cullen want to continue to her residency?
The magestic purple and orange rays colored the horizon, in the final farewell of the beautiful day as the darkness of the night took over, wrapping the city in a blanket of rest and recharge. Bella had followed Edward’s request, ordering a handsome dinner from an iconic steakhouse here in the city. Where delivery by the establishment caught a chuckle on the tongue of the Maître d’, the remnants of the delivery were strewn across Bella’s dining table. With one word, a grouping of six letters, she had silenced the laughter of the uptight man. The Cullen name was like a key to the city, brought the steak and all the fixings, housed in a wicker basket, sided with a bottle of the house wine, and yes, delivered by the same amused Maître d’.
Bella had become so accustomed to the bells and alarms of the machines in Edward’s room, the silence of her apartment was deafening as the tick of the grandfather clock in the hall annoyed her. With her belly full and an equally full glass of wine, her fingers automatically sought out the pages of her book. For months, the story of Marie and Anthony had brought her solitude, an ally in the battle raging on her, a disease with no cure, or at least one no one could study or give her statistics of probabilities.
But for tonight, she would not seek refuge in the ink stained paper where Anthony loved Marie, two fictional characters with no worries of the future. They had no decisions to be made, affecting the rest of their lives and the families around them. But Bella did. She had a decision to make, one she already knew the risks of. She could stay with Edward, get to know the man behind the mask of disdain, see for herself the level of compassion he could show her when he has nothing to hide. Rolling the dice like a Vegas gambler, not knowing where lady luck will take her. Dr. Black could offer no time frame in Edward recovery. He could very well resort back to the demon he had been just a few weeks ago, or he could show her a love so all encompassing; a love so strong and enduring that time steps to the side and allows it to grow and mature. Giving her what Marie and Anthony can never imagine. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To be loved and adored? To be the first thought upon waking and the final smile which carried the owner into dream land?
Bella drained the glass of crimson liquid, her decision made for her, not a second thought was ever possible for her. Tonight, she would celebrate her decision; a new beginning would commence with the start of a new day.
Slightly after midnight, Edward was firm in his opinion, no rest could occur in the confines of a hospital bed. A nurse had been in earlier, offering him something to help him sleep, but Edward had declined. Part of him was afraid the medication would render him helpless, shutting down his defenses, and allowing the monster to return.
“Watching the clock won’t make it move any faster.” His nurse had mumbled as she left the room, extracting a childhood memory of the first time he had snuck down stairs, catching a glimpse of his parents dancing by the crackling fire. He recalled how his father looked at his mother, with such love and admiration. Holding her close to him and wrapping his arms around her, as if protecting her from the world. As a young boy, still in footed pajamas, he couldn’t understand the importance of the love of the couple. As he grew and the disease which ate away at his emotions practically took over, he hadn’t experienced the need for a love such as theirs. Until the sweet and honest Isabella waltzed into his office, commandeering his heart, and angering the monster inside.
As the minutes ticked by, Edward searched for a distraction, rummaging through his memories for a moment he could hold onto. One that could give him even an ounce of hope he could float away on. Near the early rays of a new dawn, his eyes faded shut as his fantasy took over, taking him to a place where Bella loved him back. His past remained behind him and his future was as blank as the check he would willing give to Bella, if she chose to leave him.
Bright rays of sunlight danced off her brown hair as she walked beside him on the powder fine sand under his feet. Edward recognized the place in his dream as the island his family owned just off the coast of Brazil. Its remote location would make an excellent place to discover his wife and for her to learn to trust him. But his dream grew larger as the tiny giggle of a little girl called, “Daddy”, begging him to turn away from the siren of Bella’s smile to the green pools of youth attached to the beautiful, barefoot child splashing at the water’s edge. Reaching out to touch the miniature version of Bella, the child faded away, her laughter still ringing in the air.
“Edward.” His name was whispered behind him, carried to his ears by the gentle breeze. There, sitting under a palm tree, its elongated trunk providing support for her back, was his Bella. A clear necessity it would seem as the protrusion of a rounded, pregnant belly filled her lap. Her wedding ring adorned hand caressed the protective home the baby grew in.
“Bella?” Afraid she too would disappear, Edward approached, falling to his knees in the hot sand. Dream Bella smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand.
“You’re so handsome.” Bella giggled, and just like the little girl, her laughter sparkled in his ears.
“You’re beautiful, but I’m afraid you’re going to leave.”
Bella wrinkled her nose as she reaches across to take Edward hand. “You have to wake up to see.”
Edward wanted to stay in the dream, surrounded by a smiling Bella and a daughter he might never meet. Yet he could feel sleep leave him, the edges of awareness breaking, allowing the cold reality to become his home once again.
“Mr. Cullen, you have to wake up.”
Edward knew the dream was over, but was afraid to know if his fear of the monster returning had come true. He opened his eyes, taking in the sterile white walls and scruffy face of the physical therapist.
“Morning, sunshine, ready to get to work?”
Edward waited for the snarky response to come, but as the seconds ticked by and nothing came, he inwardly smiled, ready to start the new day.
“Let’s get this done, I’m expecting a guest today.”
At least Edward hoped he was. He had no real way to gage Bella’s reaction. His innermost desire was to have her here with him, permanently, but the choice was hers.
Edward’s legs shook as he dangled them over the side of the bed, a glance at the clock on the wall let him know he had a few hours before the expiration of the time he gave Bella. Edward grimaced as his feet hit the tile floor, he took for granted how he’d walked around on his own power since he was a year old. Now, he felt more like a newborn calf, wobbly and uncoordinated.
“Easy, Mr. Cullen, this is a marathon, not a sprint race.” Lucky for this torture master, Edward had been an avid runner since high school. He found it helped keep him focused and center his anger when he felt out of control. Would he still need it? Not only for the focusing ability, but to keep him fit and trim for Bella’s appreciation.
With the techs help, he walked from the bed to the door and back, sweat pouring from every pore on his body. But he stood from the bed after a short break, insisting he wanted to stay out of the bed as long as possible. “Now you’re talking.” As the tech gathered his belts and walker, the nurse came in with a tray of lunch. Edward’s eyes flashed to the clock on the wall, eleven thirty. Bella had thirty more minutes, then he would honor his word…giving her the money and her freedom.
Edward watched as the second hand raced slowly around the dial. Each second passing with no word from his Bella only added to his anxiety. Edward knew the risks he took when he’d offered to set her free, but somehow he hoped fate would step in and cast a magic spell over the room, making his dreams a reality.
When the nurse returned at twenty after twelve to take his vitals and take away his food tray, he knew what he had to do. It had all been too much, the hateful words, angry looks and the lies. Picking up the phone with a trembling hand, he dialed his attorney’s number, one he had memorized long ago. Having an evil alter ego caused its fair share of outbursts, a few landing him in some predicaments his attorney had to handle.
Courage was something he never relied on for himself. Having rage inside you in abundance overrode the need for it. Edward held back island sized tears as he instructed his attorney to draw up the divorce papers and have the accountant messenger over a certified check. Jenks assure him he would have the marriage dissolved by the end of the month and the money in her hands by the time the sun went down, he would stop by within the hour to have him sign the paperwork.
Edward placed the phone back on the cradle, staring blankly into the brightness of the New York skyline. How many buildings did he and his family own? How many schools did they fund or how many families did they assist getting on their feet? All of it meant nothing when he compared the amount of drugs his hand helped to get on those very same streets. He may not be able to save his broken heart, but he would save this city from the evil of his uncles. It was time for them to pay.
Edward read through the legal jargon of the divorce paperwork that Jenks had brought him. Bella would walk away with a sizeable settlement and any protection she may require. Jenks prattled on about how the PR folks would give this a few months before they announced the divorce, making Bella look less like a cold hearted bitch.
“I want you to make this look like I had an affair.” Edward never wanted Bella to suffer at the hands of the media. If he took all the blame, she could live in this city as the poor girl who loved a man and gave him her all, only to be tossed out like yesterday’s garbage.
“As you wish.” Jenks replied, handing Edward a shiny silver pen.
One final glance at the clock, revealing half past one, gave him all the confirmation he needed. With a shaky hand, Edward began to sign the paperwork which would split in him two, never to love another ever again.
“Wait!” The door to his room crashed open, as a pale and ill looking Bella burst into the room. “Don’t sign that!” Her voice was frantic and she was dressed in the same clothes she’d left in.
“Bella?” Edward’s confused voice greeted her, while his eyes once again looked at the clock on the wall.
“I’m sorry. I drank too much wine last night and overslept. Then, when I finally got up, I had this horrible hangover…”
Edward could tell she had been crying and by the sound of her voice was on the verge once again. “Bella, stop, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re here because you want to give us a chance, nothing else matters.”
Bella couldn’t believe it when she woke up this morning with her head pounding as if a thousand horses were galloping around inside. As she opened her eyes, a wave of the worst nausea hit, causing her to heave over the side of her couch, destroying the soft rug in the process. She’d spent the next forty minutes wrapped around her bathroom toilet, discovering why people in the movies said they would never drink again. She felt out of control, like her body hated her for the fermented grapes she’d consumed. Bella swore, just like in the movies, she would never drink again.
When the nausea finally subsided and she could open her eyes slightly, she walked back into the living room only for the putrid smell of vomit to hit her in the face. Even knowing it was her own, did nothing to lessen the blow. She needed pain relief and a bottle of water, but first she needed to see what time it was. She cringed when she pulled her cell from the kitchen counter, the digital numbers telling her she should have been in Edward’s room half an hour ago. Foregoing the white tablets of relief for a taxi ride across town, she prayed Edward was still the caring man he’d woken up as yesterday.
All the elevators seemed stuck on other floors, so Bella chose the stairs instead. A good idea since she knew how bad she must smell. As she took each step, she prayed he would believe her. As the floor she knew him to be on came within her grasp, she ran through the door and down the long hall, catching the edge of a dark gray suit in the window of the door. Tears flooded her vision as she saw the pen in Edward’s hand.
“But…I’m late. You clearly said twelve and it’s after one.” Her voice was gravely from her emotions and the nausea was returning from the sterile smell surrounding her.
“I did. But are you here because you want to try, to give us a chance?”
With tears cresting the rim of her eyelids and Edward holding the papers in his two hands. She began nodding her head, freeing the tears and lifting the corner of Edward’s lips in a smile.
“Yes, I want to try.” Her voice was strong, but not enough to be heard over the sound of papers ripping and Jenks leaving the room, a smile on his face as well.