Monday, December 26, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Sound of Silence
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence
“Sound of Silence” by Disturbed (orig. by Simon and Garfunkel)
“Damn, Edward,” Carlisle muttered, looking up from his desk when I stepped into his office. “Son, are you even sleeping?”
I huffed a laugh that was part amusement and part mania, and I wasn’t quite sure which would win out at the moment. Shaking my head, I shrugged. “It’s just been…” I trailed off a little, not even knowing how to answer him.
He glanced up at the clock on the wall and then pointed to his chair. “Sit. Talk to me.”
“You’ll think I’ve gone crazy,” I said through another weird laugh.
He narrowed his eyes. “Try me.”

I told him about the note left on the piano and about Bella’s lost phone, finally ending in the fact that someone was using it to call me. “I know it’s probably just kids that most likely found it, but…” I sighed deeply, wondering briefly why it felt okay to tell him these things. “When I met Bella, I could sense when she was nearby, like feel it. I could tell when she wasn’t around, too.” I tapped the center of my chest. “I knew, no matter how hard I was studying in the library, when she’d stepped into the building. I’d look up and smile at her there.” I rubbed my sternum for a moment, glaring at the top of his desk. “I…I always assumed that it would always be there. That it was just how we were, how we’d meshed so perfectly.” Meeting his warm, honey eyes, I whispered, “I still feel her, Carlisle. I know it sounds insane. I do. I get it. But there are moments – the notes, the calls, the scent she left behind – that I still feel her.”

I groaned, my elbows resting on my knees and my fingers sinking into my hair to grip it tightly. “I’m aware of grief, sir. I’m aware of the reality that I need to start removing my wife from things in my life…legally. The phone being one of them. I need to change my emergency contact and my mortgage and my life insurance and the cell phone account. Utility bills, her car, her closet full of clothes, and on and on and on. I know all of these things. I’m not avoiding it, but I’m not…”
“You’re not ready, son. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that,” he finished for me, and his voice and expression were sincere. He shrugged a shoulder. “There’s no…timeline for these things. I’ve known widowers who took years to do even a fraction of some of that.”
I nodded, knowing he was right. My own grandmother had kept a few of my grandfather’s suits in her closet, not to mention boxes of papers and files, and he’d died before I was born. And as far as I knew, she wore her wedding rings until the day she died. Again, my own eyes dropped to the band of white gold around my ring finger. I couldn’t imagine removing it. And that made me snort at myself again.
“I can’t even…” I held up my left hand.
He smiled warmly. “Honestly, son, I can’t imagine taking my own off, so…” He held up his own wedding band. “We’ve been married for ten years now. And she’s everything, so I understand that.”
My brow furrowed, because he was older than he looked, or he’d married really young. But I let it go. I couldn’t judge anyone on what age they’d gotten married.
He asked a question I wasn’t expecting. “Has the phone been reported missing?”
Nodding, I replied, “Yeah, when she…when the… When her father launched the search and investigation, the phone was a part of the missing belongings. We left it on because we… Well, we weren’t sure for a bit there if she was simply lost or… But then the blood, the clawed-up ground, and the broken necklace… Not to mention there had been attacks in the area that had happened before my wife.” I let out another deep breath. “We knew. You know?”
He frowned, nodding a little as he folded his hands in front of him on his desktop. “And there was no sign of a…of her?”
I shook my head. “No, just blood and ripped-up pieces of what she was wearing. Her necklace was found broken by the front tire that had blown out. There’s a reservation just outside of Forks – Native Americans…Quiluete – they’re excellent in the woods, and Bella’s good friend and his buddies tracked the animal, but they said the trail ran cold. Something about heavy rain and dense ground cover.”
A strange look came over his face, but he smiled warmly again. “I’m so sorry, Edward. You’re too young to have lost so much.” He reached into a drawer, pulling out a couple business cards. “One of those is my lawyer. Jay Jenks can help you settle your wife’s affairs…when you’re ready.” He emphasized the last part that sentence, making sure I understood he wasn’t pushing, just trying to help. “And this,” he said, tapping the second card. “Son, this is my personal cell phone. You call me if you ever need to talk. I don’t care the time or even if it’s nothing important.”
Smiling down at that, I took both cards and tucked them into my wallet. We both glanced up at the clock, and I stood. “We should go. I need to get to work. And I still need to show you around pediatrics.”
He smiled and stood, pulling on his white coat. “You’re doing me a big favor. Most of the staff is wary of me.”
Chuckling, I nodded. “Well, I need to check in on a little girl who came into the ER a few days ago anyway. Broken collarbone and some pretty hefty contusions. She’s a funny little thing – all considered. Six going on sixteen.”
Carlisle laughed. “You want kids someday, Edward?”
My heart sputtered at that question, and my smile fell as we left his office toward the elevators. “I did. With Bella. Now…I’m not sure anymore. It doesn’t seem a priority to me now. To have a tiny part of my wife would’ve been…amazing. A little girl with her dark eyes and silly smile and my hair color – that’s what Bella wanted.” I smiled a wavering smile but shrugged a shoulder at the same time. “Now, I can’t see it happening. I’ll never feel for anyone the way I felt for Bella. And to only give someone part of my heart?” I shook my head. “That’s not fair either.”
Carlisle’s hand landed on my shoulder as we made our way inside the elevator car. “Bella was a very lucky woman, Dr. Masen.”
“No, sir. I was the lucky one. For a short time, I had the world.”
Our small dining room table was covered in notes and textbooks and wadded-up pieces of paper. My laptop was open, and my hands were cramping at how fast I was typing, because it seemed there was too much to do and never enough time. Med school classes were overwhelming, a heavy load, but I was trying to double up so that I could get through with it all sooner.
The smells coming from our tiny yet functional kitchen were killing me, making my stomach growl loud. But it was the resulting giggle from my noisy stomach that had me breaking my gaze from the computer screen to the beautiful girl I’d fallen in love with so effortlessly. She was holding the ginger kitten she’d recently acquired from a neighbor whose cat had had a litter. Why she’d named him Steve, I had no idea, but it fit him.
“Take a break, Dr. Masen,” she said softly, setting Steve down and coming to stand by me, and I shifted in the chair to pull her to my lap.
“Not a doctor yet, beautiful.”
“You will be. And you’ll be amazing. I’ll have to fight nurses and pretty female doctors and rich women patients for your attention,” she teased, reaching up to lightly rake her fingers through my hair, most likely trying to tame it from my frustrated hands being in it. Her other hand was flat on my bare chest where my heart beat just for her.
I chuckled, cupping her face and pressing a kiss to her lips. Wrapping an arm around her waist, I pulled her flush to me as she straddled my lap.
“No, Bella. You won’t,” I countered firmly, leaning into one of her warm hands on my face, but I brought her engagement ring – my mother’s ring I’d just given her last summer – to my lips. I actually couldn’t wait to marry her; the small ceremony was set for the upcoming break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This – right here – is where I want to be every damn day for the rest of my life. One day, we’ll have our own house, not this small apartment. We’ll raise a family, and I’ll drive you crazy when I retire, because I’ll always be under foot.”
Her laugh was gorgeous, her cheeks flushing pink. “Well, haven’t you got it all planned, Edward?”
I nodded once, rubbing the outside of her strong, bare thighs. “Yep. Sure do. Got any objections, Miss Swan?”
She shook her head. “No, not one. Well…maybe one. You need to eat. So…either create some space here, or come sit on the couch. You can’t be brilliant if your brain shuts down from lack of food, baby.”
Grinning, I nodded. “Couch picnic, Bella. I’m afraid if I move any of this stuff, some sort of butterfly effect will take place and I’ll lose everything I just wrote.”
She glanced back at the computer screen with a soft laugh. “Want me to proof it?”
“Okay.” She faced me again, placing her hands flat on either side of my face. “I love you, Edward. And just so you know… Small apartment or cardboard box, I’d still love you. I’ll always love you. Nothing will ever change that.”
Gazing into those dark eyes, I nodded slowly. “Love you, sweetheart.”
We’d come so far in our relationship. We’d been shy and awkward the first year we’d dated, but I’d fallen for her just about immediately. I’d known there was no going back the first time I’d kissed her on our first date. Now, I was wading waist-deep into medical school and Bella was just about to have her second interview for a position at the Seattle Public Library. With all of that, including the small wedding we were planning, which was going to be in Bella’s hometown of Forks, we were so damned busy all the time. Just having her so close and in my lap, pressing kisses to my lips, made me forget just how starving I’d been just a minute ago.
However, all of that had to have been written all over my face, because she laughed softly at me. “Easy, Edward. Food first. Then we’ll talk about this situation you’ve got going on right here.” She rolled her hips just enough to cause my breath to catch, because she was beautiful and sexy sitting on my lap, and my body couldn’t help it.
I shook my head. “Let me love you first. Everything else can wait.”
My Bella was responsible and levelheaded most of the time. Unless I started kissing her, touching her, and then she was all emotion and lost to it all. Her body became a live wire beneath my hands, her breathing heavy and filled with the sweetest sounds.
“Where, Edward?”
“Right here.”
She smiled into her kiss before pulling back enough to tug off over head my T-shirt she was wearing. Grinning salaciously at the fact that she was only wearing a small pair of underwear underneath my shirt, I reached out to touch, to tease, to revel in soft, smooth skin. Being so busy lately made me ravenous for her the more we kissed and touched. It didn’t take much to get us to this point, but the push and pull, the lowering of zippers and the feel of her shifting enough to simply push her underwear out of the way had my head falling back to the chair.
“Like this, baby?” she asked against my chin as she lowered herself down over me.
Heat and wetness. It was all I could concentrate on, but I was pretty sure I nodded or grunted some sort of answer at her, which resulted in her smile against my neck. We moved together, whispers of love and more and harder against each other’s lips. Tighter and tighter we wound each other up, and eventually, I gave in, touching her where she was swollen and guaranteed to lose control. And she did. Gloriously.
Gripping her hips in my hands, I pulled her to me over and over, riding out her orgasm until I lost the last tentative grip of my control. I felt it everywhere – my sweaty brow, my heavy breathing, and the shaking of my fiancée’s body as she tried to come down.
When I opened my eyes, my euphoria dissipated instantly like smoke in a heavy wind. Blood was everywhere; it was matted in her hair, covering her bare body, and caked on her hands. Bella was cold, eyes staring unseeingly up at the ceiling, but her stiff fingers were digging into my biceps almost painfully. However, her mouth was still forming words, lips moving…
“I’ll always love you, Edward…”
My gasp and scream woke me up in a tangle of sheets, and I kicked and wrestled with them until I pushed myself up against the headboard. I scanned the room with wide eyes as I rubbed my upper arms that could still feel her hold, trying my best to get a grip on reality. My hands shook as I then rubbed my face, smashing the heels of my hands into my eyes and finally gripping my hair hard as I did my best to clear my mind of the nightmare.
“Damn it,” I sighed, my head falling back to the wall with a dull thump. “Fuck!” I ground out through gritted teeth as I fought tears and fear and disgust.
The sound of my phone vibrating on the nightstand didn’t help because I was still expecting to see her beautiful face light it up again, but I hadn’t heard a thing in a few weeks. No ghostly calls, and no answer from the text I’d sent.
I glared over at it with one eye, bracing myself, but sighed deeply in relief when I saw who was calling. Swiping my thumb across the screen, I mumbled, “’Lo, Jacob.”
“Edward, just making sure you’re still coming down today. Damn, buddy, are you still asleep?!”
“No, I’m up,” I groaned, sitting up completely and swinging my legs to the floor. “I worked like fourteen hours yesterday, Jake, so gimme a break, would ya?”
He chuckled. “Sure, sure. But Charlie’s stoked you’re coming, so…”
Smiling at that, I sighed again. “Okay, okay… Let me get a shower and some coffee and feed Steve. I should be there by kick-off.”
“Bring the beer!”
“Yeah, yeah.”
I was on the road toward Forks within an hour of hanging up with Jacob. Traveling back to Bella’s hometown and the last place she’d been alive was a double-edge sword. The two of us had such good memories here – years of visiting Charlie for holidays when I couldn’t get back to Chicago, our wedding which had been in Charlie’s backyard, and plenty of parties with Jacob on the reservation. So many good times, so many smiles, they were all there. But then the most recent tragedy somewhat overshadowed some of that goodness. The panicky drive down when Charlie called me. The hours/days/weeks of searching the woods for the one person who had kept my heart beating for eight years. The memorial service at the local church, where there had been no casket, no urn, just tears and shock and mind-numbing sadness.
I lost myself in the drive, putting on a playlist my Bella had made for long trips in the car. It was fun, upbeat stuff, songs we’d danced to at parties, songs we’d made love to, or just songs that we both liked. She’d even added things I’d played for her on the piano, and I shook my head at the sound of my own compositions she had to have recorded in secret.
Pulling into the small town of Forks always made me chuckle. The place was slow and quiet, surrounded by green woods, despite the approaching fall. I stopped at the main store to grab the beer Jacob asked me to bring and then continued on to Charlie’s house.
I automatically slowed my car down at the place in the road where we’d found Bella’s car. The spot was still a bit torn up from the search party, emergency vehicles, and the tow truck. I pulled off on the opposite shoulder, gazing sadly at the last place she’d been alive. Bits of caution tape still fluttered in the cool breeze on a tree a little down from where she’d been pulled over. A cross and some already fading flowers were the most recent thing left, and those were probably put there by some of Bella’s high school friends. Leaves turning brown and yellow and orange fluttered a little, some falling to the ground, and it caused movement in the woods, a ripple effect it seemed. Concentrating more on the forest than the road’s shoulder, I willed those trees to tell me the answers to all my questions, but all I received were more moving shadows and the feeling of being watched. Another shadow moved, and I narrowed my eyes to see better, but it had to have been just the wind.
Shaking off the sadness, I pulled back out onto the road and turned onto Charlie’s street. I was determined to lose myself in sports and beer and not succumb to the listless feelings of loss I tended to carry around all the damn time.
Charlie met me at the front door, and I wanted to chuckle at the matching dark patches we shared beneath our eyes, but this morning’s nightmare was too raw and too graphic to let me find any humor in it. Bella’s father merely shook my hand, pulling me in for a rough hug, and finally patted the side of my face.
“You look tired, kid,” was all he said, and he didn’t expect an explanation, so I simply nodded and followed him inside.
Memories and grief hit me when I stepped inside that little house. Bella was everywhere – the kitchen, where she’d cook for Charlie; the living room, where there were pictures of every stage of her life and some dying flowers left over from the memorial service. It was a mixture of past and present, good and bad. And I didn’t even know if I could go anywhere near her old childhood bedroom.
But Jacob broke the silence with his big smile, and he took the beer from me. “Thank God! I was thinking we’d run out before halftime. How’s the hospital, Edward?”
Grinning, I took a seat in the living room, and we all started talking about the normal daily stuff – jobs, sports, politics. The topic of the beautiful wife, daughter, and friend we were all missing so much was carefully avoided. And that was okay. All three of us were just trying to get through, to enjoy football the way we used to when Bella was around.
When halftime did finally come around, Charlie stood up, saying, “I’m gettin’ another. Anyone else?”
“Yes, sir,” I replied, sitting back on the sofa.
“Me, too, Charlie!” Jake called from the chair.
“How’s the new boss, Edward?” Charlie asked, handing Jake and then me our beers.
I huffed a laugh, shaking my head. “He’s…fine. He’s got nurses crushing on him in every department. He’s strange but kind. He works weird hours, not the normal day shift most of the older doctors pull, which makes him accessible.”
Jake’s head snapped around from where he’d been zoned in on the TV, and with narrowed eyes, he asked, “What’s his name?”
“Cullen. Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Why? You know him?”
“Well, ain’t that some small-world shit for you,” Charlie mumbled through a chuckle. “There used to be a Cullen family here in town. In fact, some of the kids went to school with Bells.”
My heart sputtered at the mention of my wife, but I glanced over at him. “Blond hair, pale, like…I dunno…honey-ish colored eyes?” They both nodded, but I frowned a little. “Funny…he didn’t mention that he was from Forks. I mean…I told him…”
“He and his wife are young. They aren’t able to have children, so they adopted a bunch of teenagers. Saints, if you ask me. Bella was a handful as a teen, so I can’t imagine having four of them running around.” Charlie chuckled a little, shaking his head. “Dr. Cullen was a real asset over at the local hospital. I’d heard he’d gotten a bigger offer…” He gestured to me. “Didn’t know it was your hospital.” He glanced over at Jacob. “Never understood your hatred for them, Jake.”
Jacob rolled his eyes like a belligerent teen. “I don’t hate them, Charlie. Well, not anymore, I guess.” He sighed deeply, holding up his hands. “Hey, I was a dumb kid, and they were weird.”
I grinned, but something about Carlisle knowing Forks, having lived here but not mentioning it when we spoke, bothered me a bit. I didn’t say anything, though.
We all jumped when Charlie’s phone rang loudly in the room, and he groaned aloud at the caller’s name. “Renee,” he grunted, getting up from his recliner.
Jake and I both watched him walk into the kitchen to speak to Bella’s mother. Their relationship, which had already been strained prior to Bella’s death, was even worse now. Why Renee insisted on torturing the man, I had no idea, but she was a strange woman. She was flighty and eccentric. She tended to flit from one hobby to the next without a care, but she loved Bella immensely. Since her daughter’s death, she’d taken to psychics – tea leaves, crystal balls, and séances. It was the latter that sent her calling Charlie all the time, claiming that their little girl hadn’t “crossed over.”
I shook my head as he tolerated her latest ramblings, looking over to Jacob. He was eyeing me with a strange look on his face.
“Nothin’.” He grinned, but it wasn’t his usual carefree smile. “You believe that shit she’s spewing?”
“No,” I answered firmly, shaking my head. “I’ve seen some strange stuff at the hospital. I’ve seen death, and trust me, there’s no profound light or angelic presence when someone’s heart stops beating. There’s just the rattle of that last breath.” I frowned a little, bringing my beer up to my lips. “I was raised to believe in a higher power – my grandmother insisted on church – but lately I don’t know where I stand on the subject.”
“I hear ya,” he replied softly. “When my mom died when I was a kid, my dad was all I had, and he was old-school Quiluete, so he was all about the legends of our people and the land and our tribe history. It wasn’t until a few years ago after he died that I actually really listened to some of it.” He glanced up at me. “Did Bella ever tell you about it? She’s been to a few bonfires down on the res before.”
“Yeah, she mentioned it once or twice.”
He sat forward, his elbows resting on his knees. His gaze was intense, though, and I didn’t understand why. “Edward, what do you remember?”
I shrugged a shoulder, reaching up to rub my face and rake my fingers through my hair. “Not much, man. Just some stuff about wolves, that the tribe was descended from them or something. I remember something about being able to transform into a wolf in order to protect the tribe from some sort of threat, but Jake, it’s been years since she…” I trailed off, and sadness seemed to overwhelm me.
“Yeah, those were cool, old stories when I was a kid. I used to imagine myself as this massive wolf.” He grinned but shook his head. “I’m the direct descendant…of Ephraim Black.”
I chuckled at his wry smirk. “Chief?”
“Nah, more like… Alpha.”
We laughed loudly at that.
“Anyway, it wasn’t until recently that some of those old legends made sense. Not everything is what you see,” he sighed, wrinkling his nose a little. “And death isn’t always final.”
I studied his face for a moment, but he seemed to be concentrating on the TV, where the game was about to come back for the third quarter.
“Bella is gone, Renee!” we heard from the kitchen. Charlie’s frustration was starting to show in his voice. “I told you that her phone was lost, so it has to be some kids messin’ with you.”
My head snapped around to the kitchen, where I could see Charlie pacing, his face red. And suddenly, I wanted to know what she’d heard. Standing up, I silently asked for the phone. Charlie’s eyebrows scrunched, but he handed the phone over.
“Hey, Renee. It’s Edward.”
“Oh, son! How are you holding up? Are you okay?” she asked quicker than I could blink. It was the same questions she’d asked me the day of Bella’s memorial.
“I’m… I’m hangin’ in there. Listen, what did you hear on these phone calls?”
“Nothing, but…it was her number, Edward!”
I smiled a little sadly at that because she sounded so hopeful. “So no message or no voices? No background noises?”
“No, not a thing.”
“And when was the last time you got a call?” I pushed.
“Not for a week or so. Why?”
Nodding, I sighed. “Okay, just checking. I just…you should know I’ll be turning that phone off soon, so whoever is playing these games won’t be able to do it much longer. Okay?” I said those words like I was soothing her, but really, the idea of removing Bella’s phone on my account was splitting me wide open.
“Okay.” Her voice was quiet and filled with sadness. “Edward?”
“Son, Bella really loved you. You should know that.”
Swallowing thickly, I fought my tears. “I know. She told me every day.”
I ended the call with Bella’s mother, handing Charlie his phone back. But his face stopped me cold. “What?” I asked him.
“Son… Edward, I… I didn’t want to say anything to her – I wasn’t exactly buying the phone calls – but you’re getting them?” he asked.
I nodded, looking up at Jake when he joined us in the kitchen. “Yeah, but I think you’re right. It’s probably just kids playing around. I’ll shut it down tomorrow.”
Charlie nodded and turned back toward the living room when we heard someone score.
Jacob was watching him but whispered only to me. “What if it’s not…kids, Edward?” he asked, and I felt like I was being tested.
“What’s with you, Jake?” I hissed.
“Nothin’!” he laughed, holding his hands up. “I’m just sayin’…” He pointed a finger at me. “Not everything is always as it seems. What if it’s some sort of…of communication? Maybe Renee is on to something.”
I snorted, rolling my eyes. “I’m shutting the phone down tomorrow. If it is some sort of communication, like you say, then it’s not Bella. My Bella would never be that damn cruel!” I snapped in a hissed whisper in order not to alert Charlie.
Jacob’s nose wrinkled, but he reached out to grab my shoulder. “Edward, take it from someone who’s seen some weird shit on the res… Death isn’t always final.”
“Don’t. This shit is hard enough, Jake.”
He squeezed my shoulder. “I know. I’m sorry. I wish I could explain my weird legends, but some are not for the pale faces,” he said with a laugh, smacking the side of my face lightly.
I shook my head, reaching for another beer. “C’mon… Game’s back on. And then I need to get back to Seattle. Early shift tomorrow.”


Moltz said...

How angry will Edward be towards Carlisle when he learns the Cullens have been teaching Bella how to adjust to her new life as a vampire?
Will Edward eventually want to leave Seattle?

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