Thursday, May 30, 2013 | By: Jenny

Hard to Love Chapter 10

Chapter 10
Present Day
There wasn’t a more beautiful sight on the damn planet than Bella’s confused eyes staring up at me as I cried like a little kid, but I couldn’t help it. I’d missed her voice, those sweet eyes, her touch. And it was coming at me all at once.
I see I just made it in time,” my dad said, ripping back the curtain and patting my shoulder. “It’s okay, son.”
She’s waking up,” I said needlessly, but my heart was about to crush my chest, it was pounding so hard.
Dad gazed down at Bella, smiling a little. “There she is,” he crooned to her, checking her eyes and then her pulse. “You gave us quite the scare, Bella, but don’t try to talk if you’re not ready...”
She huffed, frowned, and shifted a bit, but when her gaze finally cleared just a little, those sweet brown eyes that I’d missed so damn much locked onto my face again.
Edward?” she rasped, trying to swallow.
Hey, baby,” I sighed in so much relief that I practically felt dizzy. “Just relax, okay? Let Dad check on you.”
She gazed up at my dad, and he smiled again, saying, “Bella, there was an accident and you hit your head pretty hard. I just want you to relax for me, all right?”
She nodded, whispering, “’Kay.”
He checked her pupils again, then her responses to touches on different places on her body, and he seemed pleased with her reactions. He finally smirked and shot me a wink.
Bella, can you tell me if you’re hurting anywhere?” he asked her.
She licked her lips and pulled her hand from mine to tap her temple. “My head hurts...”
Carlisle chuckled, looking my way. “I think we can take care of that. A headache never sounded so good.”
No shit,” I wheezed as he left the room, my emotions bubbling up unexpectedly again. Bella turned her head my way, and I touched her cheek, unable to hide the tears on my face. “You scared me. I thought I’d lost you...”
I laid my head on her lap, and she gently held my face. “Edward?” she whispered, her voice rough. “I don’t remember an accident...but I had a weird dream.”
Grinning out of sheer stupid relief, I huffed a laugh. “What was the dream, Princess?”
Her brow furrowed adorably and she licked her lips. “It was like...our lives. I saw everything...even from when we were kids.”
Jesus,” I breathed, my mouth hanging open as I sat up straight. “You heard me?”
Heard you?” she asked, but there wasn’t time to explain.
Her room became a beehive of activity. Charlie and Renee showed up with my mom, my dad gave her something for her headache, which made her sleepy, and there was talk about moving her out of ICU and into a regular room. And they did. As she slept peacefully, they moved her to another floor, which gave me time to call a few people – Emmett, Alice, and Angela.
By the time she woke back up, early Tuesday morning had rolled into late Tuesday afternoon. Her now private room was filled with flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, and an enormous get well card from Forks High, the latter having been delivered by Shawn with pride. He’d apparently volunteered to bring it because his mom worked at the hospital now.
Bella had roused a couple of times, spoken to her parents, Alice and Jasper, Angela, and me, but nothing major. Dad’s biggest concerns now were short- or long-term memory loss, possible seizures, or nausea...or all of the above. He wanted to watch her closely over the next few days and run some more tests. So far, Bella had sleepily recognized everyone that had visited, which was a relief, and her inability to recall the accident concerned Dad, but he said that wasn’t uncommon.
When her eyes opened again, looking a touch clearer, we were alone in the room for the first time since that morning.
I smiled and kissed her hand. “Hey, sleepyhead.”
She snorted, but stretched a little. Rolling her head my way, she asked, “What happened?”
What do you remember?” I countered. My dad had told me to test her memory when she really woke up, so I figured that was the best place to start.
Her brow furrowed and she studied my face. “I remember getting up...with you...and going to work...”
That’s it?” I verified, and she nodded. I kissed her hand again, taking a deep breath. “Well, yeah, I guess we can start there...”
~oOo~
Age 25
Alarms were invented by the devil, I was convinced, as I slammed my hand down on the snooze button, only to curl back around the heavenly warmth of Bella. I’d have most likely crashed back out until the alarm sounded again if she hadn’t started to stir.
Smooth, soft skin slid languidly against my own as Bella rolled over to bury her face into the crook of my neck. And that would’ve been okay, too, had a long, strong leg not hitched itself around my hip. Fingers ghosted down my spine and kisses tickled my neck. Pulling Bella closer, my groan muffled against her bare shoulder, I couldn’t help but want her.
Princess, we gotta get up for work,” I argued uselessly in a whisper into her neck.
Her sweet giggle tickled my ear. “You are...up.”
That wasn’t new news. Ever. Grinning against her shoulder, I opened my mouth and left a long, slow kiss. My hips surged forward, both of us moaning into the quiet of the still-dark room.
I am...up,” I murmured, rolling her until I was braced over her and settled perfectly between her legs. “You feel too good.”
Don’t stop,” she begged, threading her fingers into my hair and gripping my shoulder.
We’ll be late,” I argued against her skin as I kissed my way down her neck, across her collarbone, and finally teasing the peaks that looked achingly tight.
Don’t care. Don’t stop.”
Bella was beautiful as we moved perfectly together to become one, her head pressing back into the pillow. Hands twisted in sheets, skin brushed against skin, and eyes met when foreheads pressed together. We’d been together for so long that insignificant things like morning breath and bedhead didn’t matter.
Gazing down at her, I’d never felt so much all at once. She’d become the air I breathed, the crutch on which I leaned, and the safe haven that as a kid, I never thought I’d have. As she held me close, her eyes on my face, I could tell it was the same for her. We’d always been the closest of friends, almost like siblings when we first met – secretive and silly and protective – but it had grown into so much more, so much better. And when we came quietly together as we ignored the alarm that blared again, I knew it was finally time to ask her the question I’d been wanting to since I was sixteen years old.
No other woman mattered to me. When people had told us that we needed to live our lives apart or see what else was out there or give each other space, we’d always looked at them like they were crazy. No one else would ever get it. No one would never understand me as much as Bella did...and vice versa. Now that we were home, building a solid life together, I knew that it was time for the little black box that was hiding in the back of my sock drawer to come out.
Dropping a kiss to her chin, her nose, and then her lips, I whispered, “I love you.”
She smiled, running her fingers through my sleep-crazed hair. “I love you, too, Edward. But...now we need to get up.”
Okay, okay...”
We shared a shower, talking about what we had to do that day, but we were both glad it was Friday. Emmett didn’t really need Bella on the weekends, so we usually had the two days to ourselves.
Once my tie was straight, I stepped out of the bedroom and walked into the kitchen to see Bella spoiling Felix as usual.
Now?” he begged her, looking at the cream she was pouring into her coffee like it was the only thing he needed in order to live.
Yes, now, silly boy,” she crooned to him, grabbing a saucer and pouring a little for him.
His fluffy-chunky self waddled over and practically inhaled that shit.
Princess,” I snorted, shaking my head.
What? He deserves to be spoiled, Edward. He’s had a hard life,” she argued, waving me away when I glared at her. “Okay, so he was all of four months old when he showed up, but still...”
Exactly, but whatever. He’s ridiculously happy,” I noted, pointing at him when gazed up at me with what I was sure was a pompous “I got my way” expression.
We walked out to the cars together, and my nose wrinkled at the foul weather. It was rainy and icy, instilling the air with a harsh bite to it, but I turned to Bella.
Hey, how ’bout dinner at the Lodge tonight? We can meet here and drive together. We’ll go when you’re done at work,” I suggested, thinking I could grab her ring before we left because I knew exactly where we were going after dinner.
Yeah, definitely,” she chirped with a smile, standing on her toes to kiss my lips. “I’ve got a final appointment for the Johnson wedding to show her pictures of the cake that Emmett’s finishing up this morning. I’ll come from there.”
Sounds good, Princess,” I told her, kissing her lips before we went our separate ways for the day.
I heard from her off and on all day. It was simple texts about Emmett being silly or seeing Charlie for lunch, but it broke up the monotony of my quiet day. I had one session with Shawn before I left, and when I arrived home, she wasn’t there yet. Thinking the Johnson appointment ran over, I went ahead and changed clothes, rummaged through my sock drawer, and secured Bella’s ring in my pocket.
Around seven o’clock, the phone rang, and I answered it immediately, hoping she was on her way. I wasn’t nervous exactly, but more...anxious. And I was eyeballing the weather outside, trying to decide if the plans I had were going to actually work.
Hello?” I answered.
Edward.”
Dad?”
Son, I need you to come down to the hospital. There’s...been an accident,” he stated carefully.
If I were honest with myself, Bella wasn’t the first person to cross my mind. It just never occurred to me that he’d be calling about her. Her parents or my mom, absolutely. In fact, I knew that Mom and Renee had gone to Port Angeles for a girls' night out.
Is it Mom?”
No, son...” His pause made my heart stop. Completely. “Edward, it’s Bella...”
No, no, no...she was just...and she’s...” I rambled, but my hands started to shake and my vision blurred.
Edward, please, please focus. I need you here. Now,” he stated firmly. It was the tone he sometimes took when he needed my complete and undivided attention.
I’m on my way...”
~oOo~
Present Day
I’ve been here ever since,” I stated, toying with her blanket.
So...Edward, wait,” Bella stopped me, her brow furrowed. “What’s today?”
Tuesday.”
I lost five days?” she gasped, worrying me for a moment when her breathing grew heavier. “That can’t be... Really?”
I wrinkled my nose and nodded. “Baby, you hit your head really hard.”
She shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. “I don’t remember that,” she sighed frustratedly. “I mean, I remember some things...the morning, Felix, even getting to the bakery, but...”
It’s okay, Bella,” I soothed her, running my hand over her head. “Dad says it’s perfectly normal that you wouldn’t remember some things. Hell, he was worried you would have more memory loss than you do,” I explained, and she nodded in acceptance.
Where were we going?” she asked.
The Lodge.”
No, you said you had plans...”
Grinning, I kissed her lips. “Ask me that again when we spring you from this joint, okay, Princess?”
When she nodded, I just took a second to look at her, but her fingers caressed the skin beneath my eyes.
You look...exhausted. Didn’t you sleep?” she whispered, frowning when I shook my head no. “Edward...”
I couldn’t leave you. I mean, I did one night because—”
The parents ganged up on you, didn’t they?” she asked, wearing a small smile. But I simply stared at her. “What?”
How’d you know that?”
It seems like something they’d do, but...” She paused, narrowing her eyes at me. “Or did I dream that?”
What do you remember?” I asked, testing her again. I dropped a kiss to the palm of her hand.
She licked her lips, shaking her head. “Not much. Just flashes of things. Like the day we met and the day we first kissed. I just...the dreams were so...vivid. And your voice...I remember your voice, Edward, like so clearly.”
I kissed her lips, leaving them pressed there for a second or two. “I talked the whole time you were out, Bella. Maybe you did hear me.”
What’d you say?”
Grinning, I chuckled. “Everything.”
Two days later, Bella was much better. Her eyes were bright, her memory seemed unaffected, and her head wasn’t hurting as much. Dad tested her every which way, but seemed pleased with how she was progressing, though she occasionally got a little dizzy and nauseated when she moved too quickly. Again, he said it was normal. Her brain had basically slammed into the side of her skull, so it would take time to heal.
She’d had a long day of visitors on Thursday, and I’d simply stayed in the background. I felt a little easier leaving her now that she was getting better. Felix was getting antsy and somewhat cranky without her because I simply didn’t cut it for him. He wanted Bella. When Bella started tearing into Emmett for messing up her accounting system, I knew she was well on her way to coming back home.
She’d asked her dad about her car, because I didn’t know the answer. He’d simply said, “The car doesn’t matter, Bells. We were more worried about fixing you than the damn car.” Though, in private, he’d told me that the car wasn’t completely lost, and he’d gone ahead and put it in the shop to get it fixed.
By Saturday, Bella was cleared to be released from the hospital, though she was to take it easy for a week or two before going back to work. She was absurdly adorable as she sat in pajamas on the edge of our sofa. We had the place to ourselves. Alice and Jasper had left Friday morning. They’d wanted to take advantage of the weather heading back to France, but I thought I’d heard Jasper mention to Alice that they wanted to come back and make Forks their home base.
Felix was taking advantage of having her complete attention as he wound around her legs in a never-ending figure eight. Bella rubbed the side of her head where she’d hit the driver’s side window in the crash, her dark, confused eyes landing on me as I brought her something to eat.
What, Princess?” I asked, sitting next to her.
She frowned a little, her brow wrinkling. “I think of things...and I can’t figure out if it’s real or if it’s that dream.”
Tell me and I’ll try to help,” I told her, snickering a little, because apparently, some of the things I’d told her had wriggled its way into her subconscious somehow.
She studied my face. “When did you want to kiss me? The first time, I mean.”
Grinning, I sighed. “When I was fifteen. The day of my mom’s funeral. Remember when I crashed out in your room? You were mad at me for climbing the tree?”
Oh yeah...” She giggled softly, nodding a bit. She frowned again, poking at the sandwich I’d made her. “And why do I have this feeling there’s something we have to talk about?”
My heart stopped, but I cupped her face, taking a deep breath before kissing her sweet lips. “Bella, I said a lot of things while you were out, not one of them a lie, and there is something to talk about, but...not now. Okay? It’s important to me that you’re all better for that talk because there’s someplace specific I want to take you.”
She frowned at me and nodded, finally picking up her sandwich to take a bite. She chewed slowly, picking off a piece of ham to hand over to Felix, which he took greedily. I shook my head, but it was the little things I’d missed most, even though it had only been a week.
I missed you,” I sighed against her temple, starting to get up to let her eat, but she gripped my shirt to keep me next to her.
She set her sandwich down, and Felix looked at her like she was crazy for stopping. She licked her lips and kissed me. “Thank you, Edward. For taking care of me. I can’t imagine what that was like. I would’ve gone crazy in your place.”
Shaking my head, I said, “Don’t. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else, and I think I did go crazy, but Princess...I don’t think you have any idea how much you mean to me. From the second you held my hand on your seventh birthday until this moment, you’ve been the only constant, perfect, beautiful thing in my life. And I’m not sure I truly realized it until something happened to you.” I cupped her face, smiling when her tears threatened again. “You came back to me. That’s all that matters.”
Pressing my lips to hers, I reveled in her warmth, her smell, even those deep brown eyes that locked with mine. I pulled back, but left our foreheads touching.
I scared you, Edward. I'm sorry,” she whispered, her voice catching on the last word.
I smiled softly back at her, kissing her briefly. “You did, but it's okay. You're home. That makes everything okay.”
She kissed me again, but whiskers against our cheeks and heavy paws on our legs suddenly interrupted us.
Felix glared at the two of us, his chuffing purr ghosting across our skin before he head-butted us both. “Now?!” he asked, looking with wide green eyes from me to Bella, and finally the sandwich left abandoned on the coffee table.
Chuckling, I ruffled the top of his head. “Felix missed you, too.” Bella gazed at him with loving eyes, and I added, “Eat, Princess, so you can get better.” I stood up, dropping a gentle kiss to the side of her head where she'd hit it.
Go get your sandwich,” she ordered, already picking up the remote control. “I'll find us something on TV.”
Sounds good,” I told her, walking back to the kitchen. I smiled at the normal sounds of the TV coming on, the volume being turned down, but what made me happy was the sound of Bella's giggle.
Now?” Felix asked again.
Oh my god, Felix...now,” she sighed exasperatedly, but her smile was laced within those words.
That was the sound of home, the sounds I couldn't stand not hearing had I stayed here while she was in the hospital. She was back and she was getting better and better by the day. The ache in my chest that had balled up since my dad had called that rainy, icy Friday night finally let go. Her ring was secured back in my sock drawer, but it wouldn't stay there for long.

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