Monday, May 6, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Hard to Love Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Present Day
Glancing up at the clock, I saw that it was nearing almost ten. Bella had been brought in around seven thirty. In that time, she’d had a few more tests run and the nurse, Tanya, had changed the IV bags hanging up by her bed, but there’d been no changes in her condition. Charlie had stayed with Bella just long enough for me to get a couple of phone calls in, use the bathroom, and grab a really shitty cup of coffee.
I leaned my elbows on the edge of her bed, my fingers gripping my hair as my forehead fell onto her thigh. Fuck, I’d have given anything to hear her voice at this point. Anything. She could yell at me for leaving the wet towel on the bathroom floor, or my dirty cereal bowl in the sink, or even for coming home late from work. I didn’t care. I just wanted to hear her.
A warm hand on my shoulder startled me, and I glanced up to see both our mothers standing just inside the curtain.
Hey,” I whispered, standing up and hugging Renee. I buried my nose in the shoulder of the woman that had brought me more comfort than the mother that had brought me into this world.
Sweet boy, are you okay?” she asked in my ear, and I could barely nod. “You know...she’s strong, Edward. She’ll be just fine. I know my girl.”
She pulled me back and cupped my face, and I could see the worry in them that matched my own. In fact, she hadn’t looked that worried in a long time, and that time, it had been over me. She stood up on her toes to kiss my cheek, brushing my hair from my forehead.
Um...they only want one at a time, so...” I gestured toward the hall, shoving my hands into the front pockets of my jeans.
Come here, sweetie,” my mom said, pulling me out of the room. “Nee...we’ll be out here.”
Renee and my adopted mother, Esme, were the very best of friends, and they had been for as long as I’d known either of them. Mom linked her arm through mine and guided me down the hall to an empty waiting room. I sank down onto the edge of the closest sofa, my elbows resting on my knees, but my mother’s arm wrapped securely around my shoulders.
She can’t do this to me, Mom. She just can’t. I don’t know how to function without her,” I muttered, finally losing my shit a little in front of the one person that would never, ever judge me on it. “I don’t know how without her.”
She pulled at me until we fell back against the cushions and then pressed my face to the crook of her neck. “That’s usually how it is with soul mates, son,” she said softly. “You’re one half of the same beautiful whole. You two have always been that way.” I nodded and sighed, but she went on. “But when one of those halves need to step up, they always find the strength. Hmm?” She placed her hand over my heart. “You find it here.”
She held me for a minute, but then forced me to look at her. She swiped her thumbs underneath my eyes and smiled sadly. “You’re so much stronger than you think. You always have been. The things you’ve experienced started so long ago that you just accepted it as the norm.”
I took a deep breath and let it out, nodding that I knew she was right.
She huffed, patting my face gently. “You know your father’s doing his very best to get our girl back up and about. He seems rather...positive with how she’s progressing.”
I know.” I looked down at my hands. “He came by and told me. He said the tests looked good, the swelling was down...barely...and there wasn’t any bleeding.”
Good.” She let out a sigh, gazing up at me. “Now...what can I do for you, son? You should eat something.”
I will, but not now,” I told her. “Felix needs to be fed, and I don’t know when I’ll get back home. I can’t leave right now.”
Mom chuckled. “No, he could use a diet, but I’ll stop by your place on our way home.”
Grinning, I shook my head. “That’s all Bella’s doing. She shares everything she eats with that cat. She says he’s had a rough life, so he deserves some luxuries.” I snorted, rolling my eyes at that, because I was pretty sure Bella had taken me in as a stray, too.
Bella’s always had a giving heart.” Mom studied my face for a moment, like she was debating on asking me something, but finally spoke. “You didn’t ask her yet.”
I shook my head, my nostrils flaring as I tried to rein in my emotions. “No, I was going to ask her tonight, but...” I swallowed nervously, tugging on my hair. “I was going to do it at the playground of Forks Elementary. The ring’s still in my jacket.”
Oh, were going back to the beginning?” she gasped, and I nodded. She cupped my chin, making me look her in the eye. “You’ll get your chance, sweet boy, and she’ll say yes.”
It was too much to hope for, and I honestly couldn’t let my heart go there. We both looked up when Renee walked into the waiting room. Her eyes were a little red, but she still smiled my way.
We need to stop by Edward and Bella’s place on our way home,” my mom told her, wearing a smirk. “Felix...”
Renee rolled her eyes. “He could use a skipped meal now and then,” she said with a snicker, but she looked to me. “We’ll be back in the morning. We’ll bring you a change of clothes, okay?”
Thanks,” I whispered, standing up to hug them both.
Get back to her, son,” Mom told me, kissing my cheek. “And remember, we love you. If you need us, just call. Otherwise, we’ll see you in the morning.”
We walked back out to the hallway, but went opposite directions. When I wandered slowly by the nurse’s station, Tanya gave me a pity-smile. I shot a wave her way, diving back behind the curtain.
Hey, Princess, I’m back. Our mom’s were here, together – as if it would be any other way,” I said with a chuckle against her forehead. I took my usual seat, leaning on the bed and picking up her hand. “I think they wanted us together our whole lives, Bella,” I snorted, shaking my head, but my eye fell on a tear that leaked from her eye.
It happens,” Tanya, who’d come silently into the room, said softly, checking machines and notating Bella’s chart. “It’s an involuntary action. The eyes produce tears all on their own.”
I nodded in acceptance, but I didn’t say anything. Tanya puttered around the room, finally ending up in a cabinet by the sink. She tugged out a small blanket.
It’s not much, but I can see you’ll probably need it before the night is over. Press the button if I can get you anything,” she said, handing the stiff blanket over.
Thanks.” I set the thing down behind me in the chair.
Just...keep talking to her,” she suggested, wearing a smile. “I’ve always believed there’s a part of our souls that can hear what’s said.”
My eyes raked over her face. The sincerity there was warm and kind. I supposed on some level, she’d be considered pretty, but I hadn’t looked at another girl since I was fifteen years old. Bella had always been the only one to own my heart.
I nodded with a muttered, “Okay.”
I’m right outside if you need me.” She left us then, drawing the curtain back closed.
Turning back to Bella, I took a deep breath. “I spoke to Emmett,” I started simply, linking her limp fingers with mine. “He said to tell you he was on his way and that this doesn’t excuse you from work.” I grinned, shaking my head. “He also said that the deliveries went fine at the bakery and to not worry. The Johnson wedding will go off without a hitch.” I picked up our hands, kissing the back of hers. “He hasn’t changed since the day I first met him. And that was a pretty shitty day.” I sighed, frowning when another “involuntary” tear escaped Bella’s eye. “You cried that day, too, Princess...”
Forks, Washington
Age 9
And the prince and the princess lived happily ever after,” Bella proclaimed, slamming the book closed. “That one’s my favorite.”
You need to read somethin’ with more sword fighting and dragons, Princess,” I teased her, looking up from the paper in my lap. “Read that other one, Bella.”
She rolled her eyes at me and picked up the next book, but before she could start, my stomach gave a growl, which caused her to giggle.
Come on, Edward. Let’s see if Mom has a snack,” she said as she tossed the book down. She stood up and offered me her hand, and I took it, standing with her.
Hey, you think she has cookies?” I asked hopefully. Bella’s mom made the best snacks.
Dunno,” she sang. “Race you!”
She let go of my hand as we ran through her backyard, around the side of the house, and barreled in through the kitchen door.
Hey, hey, hey,” Renee scolded. “Slow down, Thunder and Lightning. What’s the big hurry?”
Bella and I pulled at each other to get to the stack of cookies on the plate at the counter, our laughter ringing out everywhere. But Renee merely shook her head at us, finally reaching out to rip us apart.
Why you call us that?” I asked with a grin, reaching out to tug Bella’s long ponytail.
Renee laughed, settling us down on opposite sides of the kitchen table. “Don’t move,” she told us with a point of her finger. “Because you two are a big ole storm running through my house.”
So which one’s which?” Bella asked, biting her bottom lip as she kicked me under the table.
You, my crazy girl, are thunder,” Renee explained, opening the cabinet over the sink to pull out two glasses. “All noise and strength.” She set the glasses on the counter, getting out the milk. “ lightning...all flash and speed.”
She set two cookies each for us on a plate, and I licked my lips at the fact that they were chocolate chip.
And you can’t have one without the other,” she told us, setting the plates down. “Goodness, Edward. It’s the middle of summer. Aren’t you hot?”
I glanced down at my sweatshirt, shaking my head, even though my hair was wet with sweat. I wasn’t allowed to take it off.
Well, at least go wash your hands, both of you,” she sighed. “I didn’t realize you’d been digging in the dirt like gophers.”
Bella and I laughed and got up to go to the kitchen sink, which turned into another race.
Honestly, you two...” Renee giggled, shaking her head.
We all looked up when Bella’s dad came through the door.
Hi, Daddy!” Bella sang, sticking her hands under the water.
Ah...the storm front’s here, I see.” He laughed, kissing the top of her head. “Edward...”
Hiya, Chief!” I piped up, shoving my sweatshirt sleeves up and waving.
He grinned, shaking his head at me, but his eyes looked to my arm, his mustache turning down to a frown. His eyes glanced to Renee, who was setting our two glasses of milk on the table.
He sat down with us at the table as we ate, asking, “So what did you two do today?”
We’ve been drawin’ and readin’,” Bella told him, and I nodded, gulping down my milk.
Hmm...” He rubbed his mustache, looking at me as I practically shoved a whole cookie in my mouth. “No tree climbing, no rough-housing?”
Nah, Chief,” I mumbled around a full mouth. “We were right back there.” I pointed a thumb to the backyard.
Before I could put it back down on the table, he grabbed my arm and shoved my sleeve up. I hissed in pain, trying to pull it back. I’d broken a glass and been punished for it. Mom had said Roger was sorry, but I had to cover it up. Otherwise, we’d have to move. I couldn’t move again. I liked Forks. Bella was my best friend. I couldn’t move away.
He sniffed once. “Hey, Bells...why don’t you go see if Emmett can come out to play? He’s right across the street.”
Em’s here?” she squeaked with a grin. “That’s my cousin, Edward. Maybe we can get him to play tag.”
Yeah, his daddy’s been sent overseas, so his momma’s staying with Emmett’s grandmother for a while,” Charlie said, adding another cookie to my plate as Bella bolted out the front door. “Eat, Ed, and tell me... Where’d the bruises come from?”
I dropped the cookie and shook my head. My breathing picked up and tears welled up in my eyes, but I couldn’t stop it. I was happy at Bella’s house. Why’d I have to screw up? Mom was going to be so mad.
Renee knelt by my chair and picked up my arm. “Oh, Charlie...these are...”
Yeah, I know. Ed, you gotta talk to me, kid. I promise you, you’re not in trouble,” Charlie soothed, ruffling my hair.
I can’t say! I’m not allowed!” I sobbed, looking to Renee. “I’m already in trouble... I’ll be in more! And I can’t come back!”
Renee scooped me up and set me on the countertop, cupping my face. “Hush now, sweet boy. You’re so not in trouble. What happened?” she asked, unzipping my hoodie. She opened it up and lifted the T-shirt underneath, gasping. “Charlie, call Carlisle.”
I shook my head, snatched my shirt down, and zipped my sweatshirt up again. “I broke a glass, okay?” I snapped, feeling terrible for being rude. Bella’s parents rocked, but I couldn’t say.
Okay, Ed, just...go outside for a bit. All right?” Charlie said, setting me back down onto the floor.
Before he could change his mind, I headed outside. Bella was laughing with an older kid. He was big, too. He had dark, curly hair, and a big smile.
You Edward?” he asked, and I nodded.
Edward, Emmett’s eleven,” Bella whispered. “His dad’s a soldier.”
Heck, yeah. I’m gonna join the Army too when I get older,” Emmett announced. “ been cryin’?” he asked.
No!” I snapped, shaking my head. “Let’s somethin’.”
Fine, dude,” Emmett said with a chuckle and then tapped my shoulder. “Tag. You’re it.”
With a scream, Bella took off running and I bolted after her. By the time a dark car pulled into Bella’s driveway, I was hiding from Emmett in the bushes by the front door, but Renee called out for all of us.
Hey, Bella, Edward, Emmett,” she yelled. “It’s getting dark. Time to come in!”
I stood up from my spot at the same time Bella and Emmett ran up the front steps. The man and woman standing with Bella’s mom watched me walk up. The man had blond hair and kind blue eyes. The woman’s hair reminded me of a jar of honey.
Emmett...why don’t you and Bella go find a movie to watch, okay?”
Yes, Aunt Renee,” Emmett replied, pushing Bella inside as she laughed.
Edward, come here,” Renee called, kneeling down. “I’d like you to meet my very good friends. This is Esme and Carlisle Cullen. Carlisle’s a doctor.”
I waved, looking up at him, but Renee turned me her way. “I’d like Dr. Cullen to take a look at those bruises on you. You don’t have to say anything, sweet boy, but at least let him check you out. Please?”
Swallowing nervously, I nodded. “Okay.”
We walked into the house and up the stairs to the extra room I sometimes slept in when I was allowed to sleep over. I plopped down on the side of the bed, and Dr. Cullen shut the door.
Edward, I know you’re nervous, but I won’t hurt you. I promise,” he said, setting down a black bag and pulling the chair in the corner over in front of me. “How old are you, son?”
Nine...almost nine and a half,” I told him, lifting my arms when he tugged off my shirts.
I hissed when he listened to my heart, because the thing was cold. He apologized but asked me to drop my jeans at the same time Charlie stepped into the room.
Hiya, Chief,” I muttered, looking down at the floor.
Hiya, kiddo,” Charlie sighed, sitting next to me. “Buddy, you said you got into trouble. What happened?”
I broke a glass and woke up Roger,” I stated, looking between Dr. Cullen and the chief. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone. She’ll make me move again. I don’t wanna move. I like it here.”
Dr. Cullen stood up. “You can put your clothes back on, Edward.” He looked to Charlie. “Without X-rays, I can’t tell if anything is fractured, but he doesn’t seem to be anything other than bruised. It’s like he’s been used as a punching bag.”
Frowning, I looked down at my bare chest. “I’m not a punching bag... My mom just says I’m hard to love. She says I look too much like my dad, but I don’t know who that is.”
Edward, where are you?” Bella burst through the door. “There you...” Her eyes locked onto my chest. “What happened?”
I got in trouble. Broke a glass, Bella,” I sighed, pulling my shirts back on. “Roger got mad.”
She frowned at me. “You said he went away.”
He’s back.”
Not if I can help it,” Charlie muttered, shaking his head, but he looked to Dr. Cullen. “Wanna take a ride with me?”
They left us in the room, but Bella sniffled, grabbing my sleeve and pushing it up. “Does it hurt?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Not as bad as yesterday.” Frowning at her sad face, I said, “Mom will be mad that Charlie knows. She’ll want to move again.”
My dad’ll fix it,” she vowed.
Ya think?”
I swear,” she promised, crossing her heart.
Present Day
Oh, he fixed it, all right.” I snorted against Bella’s hand. “He thought he was slick, but when he came back and told me I was staying at your house for the remainder of the weekend, his hand was cut up.” I sighed, sitting back in the chair. “That asshole left me alone for a long time after that. He moved out for a while. Mom swore she was done with him, but...she always took him back.”
Setting Bella’s hand down, I sighed deeply. Carlisle explained to me much later that he and Esme had started the process the very next day to become foster parents. Charlie helped them every step of the way. Apparently, their faith in my mother and Roger wasn’t all that strong, either.
None of that shit matters, you know,” I told her. “Not without you here.”
I must’ve nodded off at some point, because I snapped awake when I was shaken. Opening my eyes, I gazed blearily up at Emmett. He was still a huge guy, only now he had tattoos showing his time in the Army. Once he’d gotten out, he and Bella had put their love for baking together and opened a shop here in Forks.
Damn, were havin’ a nightmare or somethin’,” he stated, pointing to the nurse at the curtain.
Shit. Sorry,” I sighed, shaking my head and rubbing my face. The beeps were a little faster than usual from the machine, and I gazed over at Bella, leaning over her. “I’m okay, Princess,” I told her softly, because by now, I really did think she was listening – or at least, I was hoping she was. “Just a dream. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
The beeping evened out and Emmett sighed. “Damn, she can hear?”
I don’t know,” I groaned, shrugging a shoulder. “Maybe it’s in my head. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking. Dad’s not sure, the nurse says yes, but if I don’t do something, I’ll losing my fucking mind.”
Fair enough,” he conceded, looking down at his cousin. “Knowing Bella, though, she’s probably eavesdropping on all of us.”
Grinning, I kissed her forehead. “Don’t mind him, baby. We all know it’s your way of watching out for us.” I stood up straight. “Can you stay with her for a few? I need to check my messages. Alice and Jasper were trying to get a flight out tonight.”
Ten-four. I’ll hang with my girl.” He smiled down at Bella, taking my chair.
I kissed her cheek, whispering. “I love you, Princess. Please, come back to me.”


Sophi715 said...

Little Edward is breaking my heart! But, his luck in befriending Bella and her parents, and by extension the Cullen's is so heartwarming...There are some evil people in this world...a person that is capable of beating on a child deserves a punishment greater than our laws allow...But, there are also good people in this world that are willing to step up and do what's right. Thank you for calling attention to the good as well as the bad in Edwards life...this is shaping up to be a really touching and beautiful story...

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