Thursday, May 9, 2013 | By: Jenny

Hard to Love Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Present Day
Blinking blearily at the sunlight coming into the room, I winced when my back gave a twinge from sleeping all twisted in the chair. The room still smelled like antiseptic and sick people, but added into it was the smell of flowers. The biggest arrangement had been delivered first thing, and it was from Alice and Jasper, who couldn’t get a flight out until later today.
Rubbing my face, I sat up. I had to touch her. It was impossible to stop. Linking our fingers together, I brought the back of her hand to my lips.
Morning, Princess,” I whispered against her skin. “Fuck, I miss your voice. Bet you never thought I’d say that, huh?” I snorted, rolling my eyes and standing up. I pressed a long kiss to her forehead. “I’ll be right back, Bella. I swear.” I crossed my heart and then left the room to find the bathroom...and coffee.
I didn’t want to leave her alone for long, but I needed to check my messages while I was outside of the ICU. Mom had called to say she’d be by in an hour with a change of clothes for me. Emmett had texted to check in, even though he’d stayed with me the night before for just about two hours. And my boss had called – I called her back immediately and left a message that I wouldn’t be in the rest of the week. The school would have to live without me.
Entering the ICU again, shitty coffee in hand, I ran into a friendly face.
Edward,” Rose sighed, coming from behind the nurse’s station to hug me. “God, I’m sorry. Emmett told me last night...” Her voice trailed off, but she placed her hand on my shoulder. “Listen, I’m her nurse until seven tonight, so you let me know if you need a break or something, okay?”
I smiled up at her and nodded. “Thanks, Rose.”
Rose and Emmett had been together since before he’d left the Army. He’d met her while stationed in Florida, and they’d gotten married almost instantly. When he finally came home to Forks, she’d had a hard time adjusting, but she was getting there. She was a good friend, a good nurse, and what a lot of people didn’t know was that she and I had had very, very similar upbringings.
Your dad’s in there now,” she said softly. “I’m not sure he even left the hospital last night.”
Really?” I gasped, almost choking on my sip of coffee, and I left her as I dived behind the curtain.
I found him notating Bella’s chart, talking to her softly about all the little injuries he’d fixed on her over the years.
She’d hate that you were bringing up her clumsy phase,” I told him.
He grinned my way. “Good, then she can wake up and tell me off.”
I’d pay to see that,” I said, not really joking as I sat down in my chair. “Any changes?”
His face sobered up and he shook his head. “Minor ones. The swelling is down a little. We’re keeping any infections at bay with these,” he said, tapping at the IV bags hanging up on the pole. “However, her brain activity is strong. She’s in there, but her brain is too swollen to allow her to wake up.”
My eyes narrowed on him. “What aren’t you telling me?”
He came to stand beside me and picked up her hand. It wasn’t in a doctor-type way, but as a man that had known the girl in the bed for years. He looked as worried about her as if she were his own.
I’m hoping the swelling goes down a little more today, Edward,” he sighed, looking to me as he put her hand back down onto the bed. “If not, we’ll have to...relieve some of the pressure.”
I froze for a moment, glancing between her and him. “You mean...brain surgery.”
I really don’t want to do that, so we’ll keep an eye on her today,” he told me, giving my shoulder a squeeze. “But if nothing changes, I’ll have to sit down with Charlie and Renee...and you, of course, and discuss the next steps.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I lifted her hand to my lips. “I can’t... I don’t want to make these decisions without her,” I whispered.
I know, son,” he soothed, rubbing my shoulder. “Let’s give it some time before we go to that next step. Okay?” He lifted my chin so I was looking him in the eye. “Edward...your mother and I are here for you, no matter what happens. We love you – you and Bella – so please know that you don’t have to shoulder all of this yourself.”
Nodding, I stayed quiet for a moment until I could speak. “Thanks, Dad.”
Mmhm. Now, I’ll be back in a little bit to check on you both. And see to it that you get more in you than that awful coffee from the cafeteria,” he instructed, wearing a wry smirk.
I laughed softly. “It is pretty bad.”
I believe the nurses call it battery acid,” he stated with a grimace to his face as he went to leave. “Have Rose page me if you need me.”
Will do,” I muttered, turning back to Bella once he closed the curtain. “You got everybody worried, Princess,” I said almost in a chiding manner. “Even my dad looks...frazzled...and he never lets shit get to him.” I sighed, shaking my head. “You gotta get better, Bella. You gotta come back to me. And I know what you’d tell me, that I’m surrounded by family and that they care, but... No offense, baby, but all I want is you back.”
I felt almost angry at her at the moment, like she was doing this on purpose, which I knew wasn’t true, but damn it all, I just wanted her back.
I shook my head to clear it. “I’m sorry, Princess. My bad. I know you’re right. You’ve been right since we were eleven. They are my family... They’re more of a family than anyone that was blood related...”
Age 11
Sneaking through the house, I could hear my mom and Roger in the living room. The TV was up loud enough to cover the creak in the floorboard I stepped on. I smelled cigarettes and beer and weed. The weed didn’t smell too bad, and I wished that was the only drug in the house. At least it made them more relaxed.
As quietly as I could, I opened the fridge, then the cabinets. Shaking my head, I walked back into my room and closed the door. Reaching for my backpack, I snatched out the bag that Bella had given me. She’d been sneaking me food for a week. My mother couldn’t seem to make it to the store, and by the time they’d bought pizza or burgers for themselves, there weren’t any leftovers for me. I’d survived on dinners at Bella’s house and school lunches, but at home, there wasn’t much but a few cans of beans.
I unwrapped the sandwich Bella had made. Peanut butter and strawberry jam. I’d have loved a glass of milk, but I’d have to live without it. I peeked into the bag, smiling that Bella had remembered a small bag of chips and a few of her mom’s cookies, but I tucked them back into my school bag for later. The cookies would be breakfast on the way to school in the morning.
The sound of something being thrown against the wall made me tense up. I was hoping they’d go at least one night without fighting, but apparently not. It happened all the time. They’d get drunk and fight. They’d get high and fight. Or...the beer or drugs would be gone and they’d fight.
Finishing up my sandwich, I rolled my eyes at the yelling, the name calling, and the breaking of stuff in the living room. Kids in our sixth grade class didn’t fight this much, and most of them were jerks. Roger had been back for a month or two. Personally, I hoped he’d go back to jail, because my mom was kind of normal when he wasn’t around.
When my mom screamed, I ran out of my room to see that Roger had her by the neck up against the wall.
Put her down!” I yelled, jumping on his back. He was built like a big gorilla, so he was able to throw me off easily. I may have grown taller than some of my friends, especially Bella, but I was still skinny and fell to the floor with a grunt. “Ow,” I hissed, rubbing the back of my head when it caught the edge of the coffee table.
Beer cans and ashtrays spilled everywhere.
Look what you did, you little shit!” Roger snapped, letting go of my mom, who slumped to the floor, gasping for air. “Clean it up!”
I’m not cleaning it up. It’s your mess and this is our house!” I yelled back. “You clean it up.”
I knew it was coming, but the sting of his punch to my face still knocked me across the room. I could take the hits; my mother couldn’t. Squeezing my eyes closed, I shook my head and picked myself back up. If he saw tears, he’d only make it worse. Sometimes, it was punches. Other times, it was only mean things yelled at me.
Clean it up!” he growled again, starting to walk toward me.
No!” I yelled, my hands in fists at my side, only this time, my fingers wrapped around a beer bottle.
He raised his hand to hit me again, but I brought the bottle down onto his arm. It broke on his watch, cutting my hand, but I stopped when I heard my mother’s voice.
Edward, just clean it up...” She sounded so defeated, so lifeless.
Roger took advantage of my distraction, slapping my face again with the back of his hand.
Do what you mother tells you,” he sneered. “Do it or you won’t walk tomorrow.”
By the time I picked myself back up, grabbed a garbage bag from the kitchen, and cleaned up the messy living room, my lip was bleeding and I could hear the two of them in my mom’s room. I knew what those sounds meant, and the thought made me sick. Rolling my eyes, I tossed the garbage bag into the can just outside the door and went into my room to wait.
I couldn’t stay there. Not that they’d miss me. They’d sleep it off, wake up thinking I’d gone to school, and go to work the next day.
Once the house was quiet again, I packed clothes for school the next day, grabbed my school bag, and pulled on my hoodie and a jacket. My hoodie was still pretty new. Bella’s parents had given it to me for Christmas. I wasn’t sure where I was going as I opened my window and crawled out, but I wasn’t staying there. The school had a loose lock on the gym, but as the cold, wet, winter air hit me once I was outside, the only place I could think to go was Bella’s. That was safe. That was where I felt good.
Pulling my hood up, I trudged the sidewalk through the misty air. I could see my breath every time I exhaled. I’d gotten about two blocks before headlights shined on me. Charlie’s cruiser came up beside me.
Edward? Is that you?”
Hiya, Chief,” I sighed, not looking at him.
Buddy, it’s like ten thirty at night. What are you doing out?” he asked, easing the car up as I walked. “Stop, kid. Come here.”
I walked to the window of his car, looking down at my soaked sneakers. He reached up and pulled my hood back.
He’s back,” he stated, and I nodded, still looking at my shoes. “Climb in.”
Swallowing thickly, I walked around the front of his police car and climbed in the front seat, setting my stuff down between my feet.
How long?”
Coupla months,” I answered, looking out the window. “Mom needed rent money. He stayed ever since she called him.”
Charlie sighed deeply and shook his head slowly. He stayed quiet until we pulled into the driveway, but he didn’t turn off the car.
Turning a little in his seat, he spoke softly. “I can’t let it go this time, Buddy. I gotta stop them. You’re too good of a kid to put up with it. I can’t let them hurt you anymore.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, making my sore eye sting, but I looked up at him. “Where will I go?”
Easy, son,” he soothed, rubbing my shoulder. “You can stay here for the next night or two, but you’re not going anywhere. I’ve kinda been planning for you, okay?”
I nodded and sniffled. “Cop’s instinct?” I asked, giving him a half smile when he chuckled, because he always talked about having hunches about bad guys.
Nah, kid. A dad’s instinct,” he sighed, ruffling my hair. “Let’s get you inside and out of those wet clothes.”
Charlie shut off the car and snatched up my bags for me, leading me inside. Renee was standing in the kitchen, and her eyes landed on me.
Edward, what are you doing here?” she asked, hugging me.
The feel of her arms around me made me start to cry, and I couldn’t stop. I felt her pick me up, even though I was too big.
Easy, sweet boy. It’s all going to be okay.”
I could hear Charlie on the phone, but I didn’t know what was said. I only heard Renee. The soft tone of her voice was the last thing I heard as I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning in the room next to Bella’s, and someone had changed me into dry clothes. Fingers poked me, and I opened my eyes to see Bella sitting on the edge of my bed.
Mom said you came last night,” she whispered. “We’re not going to school today.”
I sat up, rubbing my face and hissing at my sore lip and eye. I looked to Bella. “How bad is it?”
She frowned, reaching up to push my hair up a little. “Pretty bad. We can always say I beat you up for cheating at cards or somethin’.”
Rolling my eyes, I snorted. “No one would believe that.”
We’ll come up with somethin’, Edward. I swear.” She crossed her heart and then offered me her hand. “Mom wanted me to wake you. They need to talk to you. Dr. Cullen is here.”
Wait,” I whispered, pulling her back to the bed. “Did you listen?”
Bella nodded and frowned a little. “I think my dad arrested your mom and Roger last night. I heard somethin’ about foster care. They’ve tried to be quiet, but I hid behind the wall.”
I don’t wanna go away,” I muttered, pulling at a loose string on the blue covers.
I don’t think you are,” she whispered, scooting closer to me. “I think Carlisle and Esme are going to take you home with them. They said somethin’ about bein’ foster parents.”
I frowned, gripping the covers. “They’re not my parents,” I seethed.
Stop it, Edward,” she snapped in a hiss. “I know that! But they want to take care of you.”
I can take care of myself,” I growled, getting up off the bed, but she ran around to stand up to me, even though she was shorter than me. When she reached up and poked my sore lip, I cried out, “Ow, Bella!”
Yeah, you can take care of yourself,” she said to me with a scowl on her face. “I hate your mom, Edward! She should be like my mom and hug you when you’re hurt, not let it happen. And Roger is a monster!”
I folded my arms across my chest, glaring down at the floor. I didn’t know why I was angry. I just was.
Great, now you’re mad at me,” she huffed, throwing her hands up and sitting on the end of the bed. “I just...I hate it when you’re bruised up.”
I’m not mad at you, Princess,” I grumbled, sitting next to her. “You’re my best friend, but my mom...”
She glared at me, a sneer on her face. “Your mom doesn’t care. My mom was crying this morning about how hurt you were, which made Esme cry, too. They care. They scared me, so I asked if I could wake you up.”
I took a deep breath and let it out. “What do I say?” I whispered.
She smiled, stood up, and handed me my jeans. “No one down there is bad, Edward. to them.”
I went into the bathroom, peed, changed out of my pajamas, and washed my face. When I came back into the room, Bella looked up at me, biting her bottom lip.
You promise you’re not mad at me?” she asked.
No, Bella. I swear.” I crossed my heart. I could never stay mad at her. She was the only one at school that knew about my mom, and she’d never told anyone. “But you’ll stay with me?”
She crossed her heart and nodded, holding her hand out for mine and leading me downstairs.
Present Day
That was a strange day,” I sighed, twirling a dark curl around my finger. “Though the fact that you told our whole sixth grade class the next Monday that I got those bruises fighting a bear was awesome!” I grinned, shaking my head. “And I swear Carlisle and Esme were saints back then. I had to have been like bringing home a feral cat...” I snorted, rolling my eyes. “Speaking of feral... Felix is being taken care of. Our moms are stopping to feed him. He’ll just have to live without ice cream ’till you get home, baby.”
A giggle at the curtain caught my attention, and I turned to see Rose standing there.
Felix can go a day...or month...without ice cream,” she stated, but held out her hand for me. “Come on, Edward. I’m going on a break. You can keep me company and eat something.”
I grimaced. “Dad?”
Nodding, I stood up, only to press kisses to Bella’s forehead and cheek. “Heaven forbid no ice cream for Felix,” I teased in her ear. “I’ll be back, Princess. Maybe I’ll find our moms while I’m gone and bring them back with me. Hmm? Would you like that?” I asked, smiling against her cheek when the heart monitor bleeped differently. “That’s my girl. I won’t be long.” I crossed my heart before meeting Rose in the corridor.


Sophi715 said...

Another amazing chapter...

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