The Path We Choose

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chapter 31


"Hello my BFF, did you have a good birthday?" Tanya asked me as she gave me a hug when I got to the office Monday morning.

I was sure the smile on my face was a total giveaway, but I answered her anyway. "Sure did, T. It was the best birthday ever. We missed you and Seth yesterday," I told her honestly.

"I'm sorry. Mother and Daddy expected us for Sunday dinner and there wasn't any way to get out it. Especially since Daddy was having some of his business partners over as well. Believe me, Seth and I would have much rather been with you all at Aunt Esme's than at Casa Denali."

I groaned for my best friend. I loved her parents, I really did, but the pressure they always put on Tanya was difficult to watch at times. "Ouch, sorry Tan. Aunt Carmen didn't attack Seth this time did she?" I asked as I set my briefcase on my desk and changed into my doctor coat from my suit jacket.

Tanya rolled her eyes and then giggled, "Well, Seth has gotten quite adept at heading her off at the pass so she tried…but he avoided coming in direct contact with her. He's quite scared of Mother; it's hilarious to watch to be honest."

"Well, Aunt Car is one determined lady when she wants to be." I chuckled as I remembered her chasing Emmett and I around when we would come home for the weekend during college. The woman was very affectionate!

She followed me into my office and sat down at my desk and leaned forward, resting her elbows on the side. "So, where did she take you? Bella wouldn't tell any of us what she had planned. I think she was worried about Emmett spilling if she did." We both laughed at that because being able to keep a secret was definitely not one of my big brother's best qualities…at all.

"Tanya, it was fucking incredible. We stayed in a suite at the Four Seasons and then had dinner at, God, I still can't believe Bella managed to pull it off," I said as I shook my head as I thought back to our incredible dinner.

"Edward!" Tanya shrieked at me, and I shook my head to focus on her question. "Sorry. Anyway, Bella took me to Masa."

"Holy shit!" she exclaimed as she looked at me with wide eyes.

I chuckled, "My reaction exactly T. It was fucking amazing, the best meal I have ever had in my life. It was everything I'd ever imagined it to be…and more. The whole night was just…it was mind-blowing."

"Bella had to have had that planned for a long time," Tanya ruminated to herself. "I know, right?" I answered back, still in awe every damn time I thought about it. "Bella said she called for reservations over a month ago. She's so damn amazing," I said mostly to myself as I shook my head again.

Still, more than twenty four hours later, I was having a hard time comprehending the whole night. Being alone with her, away from the stress of her job and everything that went along with it, was perfect by itself. But throw in the hotel suite, the fabulous dinner and then the most incredible night of sex of my life and it was difficult to wrap my head around it all.

I reached up and rubbed the St. Luke medal under my dress shirt, a move that did not go unnoticed by my eagled-eyed best friend. "Is that your gift from Bella?" Tanya asked quickly.

I smiled and nodded my head, "Yep, it sure as hell is."

"Let me see…this I did know about," Tanya said as I lifted the medal for her to look at. "She told you she had it blessed by Father O'Connor, didn't she?" When I nodded my head at her I told her, "Turn it over and read the inscription," knowing Tanya would understand the meaning behind it. "Bella is one of a kind, that's for sure Edward."

I rubbed my thumb over the medal one more time before I tucked it back under my dress shirt and said, "Don't I know it."

We visited for a few more minutes and then said good bye to get ready for our own patients that would be arriving soon for their appointments.

The morning flew by and the next thing I knew, it was just after noon and my stomach started to grumble. I missed Bella making breakfast this morning since I stayed at Ma and Pop's last night. It was getting increasingly difficult to sleep without her now…hell it was downright painful. I really needed to talk to Bella about what our plans were going to be once September came and went and it would be here before we knew it. July was going to be really busy for her. We were going to Lake George with all the family over the 4th of July holiday weekend and then she had another extended trip to California where she would be gone over a week. Then, after that, we would celebrate the twin's birthday.

Bella and I discussed the trip she needed to make in the beginning of August to attend the Kids' Choice Awards and had decided that Maddie, Masen and I would go with her. Afterward we were going to take the kids to Disneyland so we would be gone for a long time then too. Hopefully by the time we got back, the next month would fly by without incident and we could get through the final fashion show in September. Then we would be able to make our plans…for our family.

My phone vibrated with a text message and I picked it up and frowned when I read it. It was from Bella.

Sweetheart, are you almost finished? Your lunch is getting cold and I don't have much longer. Hurry…I miss you! ~~ B XOXOXO

What the hell, Bella was here? Kate didn't tell me. Fuck me... Kate.

If she had anything to do with keeping Bella waiting, and there really was no other explanation, then I was doing something about her…today. I walked out to the waiting area and sure enough, there my love sat with a bag from our favorite Italian restaurant and a smile just for me when she heard me approach.

"Baby, I'm so sorry," I told her as I pulled her in for a kiss when she stood up. "I didn't even know you were here," I finished and turned in time to see the smug look on Kate's face. It quickly turned to one of apprehension when she realized I knew what she had done.

"Kate, do you have any idea why I didn't know Bella was here… and waiting for me?" I asked in a sharp tone. I was fucking tired of her bullshit and she was finished. I was going straight to Carlisle as soon as Bella left.

Kate looked sickened but I couldn't find it in me to care…at all. "Edward," Bella said softly and I took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of my nose and turned to look at her. "Let's go into your office and eat. Emmett and Seth will be back in about an hour to come pick me up. I missed you last night," she said and then grinned at me.

I knew what she was trying to do and I would let it go…for now. She was right; I didn't want to waste her unexpected surprise visit arguing with Kate. Bending down I kissed her forehead and said, "You're right angel and I'm starving. Come on, let's eat." I laced our fingers together and led her back to my office, not missing the glare Kate gave the two of us as we passed her.

When we walked in the office and Bella set the bag on my desk, I swept her up into my arms and attacked her mouth with mine. The second my tongue entered her mouth I felt my cock get hard and I groaned and then pulled back when I felt Bella smile against my lips. "Bella, you know how I get when I go this long without seeing you," I told her as I picked up the bag and took it to the table that was in front of the sofa against the wall.

"Edward, it's barely been more than twelve hours since I saw you," she giggled at me as she handed me my Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.

I dug in and the moan of appreciation I let loose made Bella smile even bigger. "Thank you so much for bringing me lunch baby. I was starving. I missed your breakfast this morning…and you know that going twelve hours without seeing you is like a form of torture Bella," I told her as I took another bite.

Bella had gotten a grilled chicken Caesar salad and I couldn't help the look I gave her when her kissable lips closed over her fork…and I certainly couldn't help the rumble that she heard come from my chest either.

"Edward, stop. Eat your lunch," she told me with a roll of her eyes. Did she not realize that she drove me insane when I watched her eat? Well, in all honesty she always drove me crazy, but watching her eat was at the top of the list.

"I can't help it beautiful; I was just remembering when those lips woke me up yesterday morning while they were wrapped around my cock," I told her then chuckled darkly when she blushed and then swallowed her food.

The images that instantly flooded my mind did nothing but make my already hard cock get even harder and I tried to adjust myself as I shifted on the sofa. Yesterday morning, probably somewhere around four o'clock after who knows what round of lovemaking Bella and I had just finished, I drifted off to sleep only to waken when I felt the heat of Bella's mouth engulf my cock. 'I'm sorry Edward; I just needed you again so badly. I couldn't help myself,' she had whispered to me as she brought me to an orgasm I didn't think would be possible considering I had just come. Of course my amazing girl proved me wrong and I came with a force that astounded us both.

I adjusted myself again much to Bella's delight and I narrowed my eyes at her as I finished my lunch. "Watch it little girl. I have no problem laying your ass out on this sofa and fucking you silly," I growled at her, not kidding one damn bit.

"Edward you are out of your ever loving mind if you think I am messing around with you with that…woman right down the hall. What the hell is her fucking deal anyway?" Bella spat out…and I knew she was pissed; hell I was too.

I sighed and sat back, pulling her next to me once she put her food down. "I wish I knew angel. Tell me, how long were you waiting out there before you texted me?" I asked, bracing myself for the answer. Bella rested her head on my shoulder and picked up the hand that wasn't wrapped around her and began to play with my fingers. "Um, I don't know. I'd guess probably fifteen or twenty minutes or so."

"God damn it," I hissed and exhaled out through my nose. "I'm talking to Pop today. This shit is just ridiculous. Kate knew I didn't have a patient so there was so reason to make you wait, except to be spiteful. What I can't figure out is why," I said as I ran my fingers through Bella's hair.

Bella chuckled beside me and said, "Oh Edward. You are so oblivious sometimes. Kate is madly in love with you…or with the idea of you I suppose is a better way to put it."

"Don't be ridiculous baby, there is no possible way Kate could feel anything like that for me," I said as I shook my head at her, not wanting to believe that Bella could be right. "I've known that woman for years Bella; she's worked here since before I started. Besides an occasional chat, I've never done anything to make her believe I was even remotely interested in her."

Kate was an attractive woman, I couldn't deny that. She had long, straight dark blond hair and bright blue eyes but since I preferred brunettes…and one in particular, a general acknowledgment of her attractiveness was about all I could offer. I didn't really know her and I had to be honest and say I never really made the effort to either.

When I first started working with Pop and Tanya, I was so busy seeing patients and then rushing home to the twins that I barely had time to say more than hello to Kate. Once things settled down, I just wasn't interested. I would never become involved with someone I worked with and to be even more honest, there wasn't anything about Kate that particularly appealed to me either. She had a whiny voice, she was more concerned about herself than others and she had absolutely no sense of humor…none. Even Emmett couldn't make her smile, and he made everyone smile…at least before he drove them fucking nuts.

Bella picked her head up off my shoulder and scooted so she was sitting in my lap. "I like this position better baby," I told her as I nuzzled her neck with my nose before I kissed her on her pulse point.

"Mmmm, me too Edward," Bella said on a sigh as she reached up and ran her fingers through my hair.

I placed my finger underneath her chin and tipped her face up to mine so I could really kiss her. I bent my head down and placed my lips over hers and began to move them back and forth before my tongue flicked at her delicious bottom lip. I pulled her closer to me and pressed her body harder against my own as the kiss deepened, changed and when Bella's breathing hitched I could tell from the little squeaks and whimpers she let escape that I needed to stop…even though I sure as hell didn't want to.

"Edward, you're…" Kate said, as Bella jumped in my arms and they instinctually squeezed around her.

"Kate, what the hell," I barked out at her, causing Bella to jump again. Jesus Christ, what in the hell was wrong with that fucking woman? Did she not understand the concept of knocking on a closed door?

Bella had turned her head towards my chest and I could feel the heat from her embarrassment through my shirt and that just fucking pissed me off more. There is no way Bella should ever be made to feel uncomfortable when she was with me…ever.

Kate stood in the doorway with her hand on the doorknob as her eyes darted from Bella's position on my lap to me and not only was it awkward…it was wrong.

I kissed Bella quickly on the forehead and then shifted her so she was sitting on the sofa before I stood up and faced Kate. "Kate, I really don't have any fucking idea why you thought it was okay to come into my office when the door was closed without knocking, especially when you knew Bella was in here and that we were having lunch. I have no idea why you felt it was necessary to keep her waiting out front when you knew perfectly well that I wasn't busy…and am never too busy to see her in the first place. I have no idea what your fucking problem is and frankly I don't give a damn. What I do know is you'd better start going through your resume' and get ready to start handing it out because if I have my way, once I talk to my father, you'll find yourself out of a job. Now, get out of my office." I was so fucking pissed at her I clenched my hands into fists beside my legs and I breathed deeply in and out as I tried to get control of my temper.

"Edward, I'm so…" Kate began to speak and I held my hand to stop her from saying another fucking word. I didn't care what she had to say and there was no excuse she could give me that would change my mind from talking to Carlisle and making sure she got the hell away from me.

"I don't give a damn, Kate. It's too late to listen to anything you have to say. You've made one mistake too many, and I'm tired of it," I said as I turned around and took a deep breath.

"Edward. Sweetheart, please calm down," Bella said as she stood up and walked towards me and put her hand on my arm. Feeling her touch was just what I needed to allow myself to calm down.

"Look, Kate is it?" I heard Bella say and I turned around. Kate still looked pissed and I couldn't figure out what her problem was.

"I don't have anything to say to you," Kate spit out it a hateful voice. "You walk in here and into his life and you took him away from me. I've been waiting patiently for him, for Edward to notice me and all my hard work goes up in flames as soon as you and your damn puppy crashed into his life. I hate you!"

Kate lunged towards Bella and I pulled her behind me and grabbed Kate's wrists and held them in my own. She screamed as she tried to get away and I hoped to hell that there weren't any patients in the waiting room.

"What the hell is going on in here?" Carlisle yelled as he rushed into my office and quickly surveyed the scene in front of him. I could only imagine what it looked like, but I couldn't give a shit. Try to hurt Bella and you would definitely have to get through me first.

"Pop I'm sorry, but I just can't work with her any longer," I said as I pointed towards Kate. "Not only does she make me uncomfortable and acts completely inappropriately towards me, now she tried to attack Bella. I have been willing to put up with her behavior up until now, but after this, no more. I'm sorry Dad, but this was the last straw."

I was breathing heavily and Bella was rubbing my back in a circular motion trying to calm me down…and it was working to an extent.

"Kate, I think it would be best if you were to go wait in my office," Dad said and then he looked at Bella and I. "I'll be with you in just a few minutes," he finished.

"Edward, please," Kate said and I held up hand at her. "Kate, I'm sorry if you've somehow fallen under the wrong conclusion about my feelings for you but that does not excuse your behavior today and it certainly doesn't rationalize how you could try to attack Bella the way you just did."

Kate glared at Bella…again and then turned and stomped out of the office. I sighed and then turned towards Bella and wrapped my arms around her. "Are you okay Bella?" I asked her as Carlisle walked to stand beside us. "I'm fine Edward...a little shocked at how angry she was, but okay otherwise. Are you okay?" she asked me and held her hand up to my cheek. I let my head rest against it for a moment before I picked her hand up and kissed the inside of her wrist and faced my father.

"I'm really sorry Pop, but she's got to go. I've been meaning to talk to you for a few weeks now about Kate, but I've tried to give her the benefit of the doubt ...but, what she did today is inexcusable," I told him. I then filled him in on all of the things she'd done up until today and then the way she'd acted today and the hateful things she'd said to Bella.

Carlisle sighed when I was through and then looked at Bella. "Sweetheart, are you sure you're okay?" he asked as he gave her a hug and kissed her cheek and she nodded at him. "I'm sorry your lunch was ruined. I guess I'd better go deal with this. I'll talk with you more about this later Edward," dad said as he left the office.

"Well, that is not how I thought our lunch would end," Bella said with a small chuckle.

I smiled at her ability to try to diffuse even the most awkward of situations. "Me either Bella. I'm sorry about that angel." Bella picked up her phone and I knew that meant Seth and Emmett were out front waiting for her. "Let me walk you out and then I better go talk to my dad," I told her as I delivered her to my brother and told her I would talk to her again later.


"Daddy, what time is it?" Masen asked me for the tenth time in the last five minutes. He wore his Derek Jeter jersey and had his baseball glove in his lap as he bounced on the sofa.

"Little man, it's about thirty seconds since the last time you asked me. I know you are excited Mase, Bella will get here as soon as she can to take you to the game." I chuckled at him when he huffed and threw himself against the back of the sofa.

I laughed even harder when the hat he had on backwards flipped up off his head as it came into contact with the couch.

"I don't want to miss Derek, though, Daddy. Bella said he would comes talk to me before the game started. What if we get there late and we miss him?" Masen asked as he put his hat back on…backwards.

Derek hmmm? I was going to have to have a talk with my Bella and find out what that was all about.

"Masen, I am sure Bella is on her way. Uncle Emmett had to pick her up then come by here and pick you up. The game doesn't start for another two hours, it will be fine. Do you have all the things you want Derek to autograph?" I asked, emphasizing Mr. Jeter's name a little more forcefully than necessary.

I was extremely appreciative of what Bella did for Masen in arranging a private meeting with his idol, but shit. The guy was a good looking dude; even I wasn't foolish enough not to admit that. And it was obvious from the way Bella talked about him that they were on somewhat friendly terms…how friendly I could only guess. I calmed myself with the thought that it was me who slept next to her most nights and that I was the only one that knew what she looked like when she had an orgasm and I was sure as hell the only one that knew what she tasted like.

I would feel better if I could somehow get her to wear a sign or something that said 'Back the fuck off, I'm not interested in anyone but Edward Cullen'…but I didn't think it would go over well. Knowing Emmett would be with her today instead of Seth did make me feel a bit better. I was still nervous as hell about her going out in public with that sick fucker out there somewhere.

Emmett and I met with his friend Riley yesterday, unbeknownst to my love. I tried to explain everything I knew about the letters and their timing as well. I told Riley that I knew she had received some fan mail before she and I got together that was a little on the disturbing side but from what Bella had told me, most of it was the 'You are so beautiful, I know we would be great together' and 'I love you, I want to be with you always' kinds of things along with the random picture of some guy's erection or some gross shit like that…but it was nothing like what she was getting now. Riley asked me when the first letter was received and I told him I thought it was right after the Gala where Bella and I pretty much 'came out' as a couple.

"Edward, I don't mean to be difficult here, but have any of you given any thought to the possibility that you are the reason the letters started?" he'd asked and I remembered the chill I got down my spine.

"Riley, are you saying that Bella could be being targeted because someone is angry at her for being with Edward?" Emmett had asked, sounding just as shocked as I did at the prospect that that could be true.

He'd nodded his head and looked at both of us and said, "My friend, that is exactly what I am saying. Look, there isn't any way to know what is going on here yet, but in my opinion, it is a very real possibility. Think about it, the first letters showed up right after a picture showed up in every newspaper in the city, not to mention magazines all over the country and the Internet. Edward," he said as he looked at me now. "you are a good looking guy, you are a successful doctor and your family is well known all up and down the East Coast and probably all over the country. It is not unreasonable to assume you are the catalyst that started this whole thing."

"Well, shit Riley. What the hell do we do now?" Emmett had asked. "I'm already accompanying Bella everywhere she goes; I can't be in two places at one time."

Riley looked extremely uncomfortable for a moment before he spoke again. "Emmett, Edward, I'm not going to beat around the bush here. In my experience, Bella is the one that needs all the protection you can give her." I let out a soft, but fierce 'motherfucker' before he went on. "If Edward is the object of whatever delusion the person is sending the letters is under, then Bella would be the most likely target for their anger. If Bella is the one that the letters are meant to affect, then whoever is sending them is only going to get increasingly more unstable. Either way, she is the one that is in the most danger here."

Emmett looked like he was going to be sick and I felt like I had been submerged in a bathtub full of ice cubes. I started shaking and my breathing got uneven. If anything happened to her…I would never be able to live with myself. I couldn't survive without her and it really was as simple as that.

"We are in a really difficult position here," Riley pushed on, knowing that every word he spoke destroyed Emmett and I both just a little bit more. "Bella hasn't been threatened yet, at least not directly and not in a way that would warrant police protection or involvement." I started to talk, and Riley cut me off, "I know it sucks but that's the way the law works Edward. Emmett shared with me that Bella is almost done with her modeling contract... is that right?" he asked me and then I nodded and answered, "Yes, she has a fashion show to do in September and after that, she will have fulfilled her contract and will be able to stop."

He contemplated that for a minute before he went on, "Well, let's just hope that the next two months come and go without any escalation and once Bella can step back from being in the public so much, the letters stop. It's not much, but it's all we've got. All we can do is hope for the best."

"And if something else happens?" I managed to choke out, rubbing the medal under my shirt.

Riley stood up and looked at Emmett and I and said, "Let's cross that bridge when and if it comes, shall we?"

We shook his hand and he promised to keep in touch. When Emmett and I both sat down again, I looked to my big brother and said, "Em, if…"

"Not happening brother mine. I promised both of you I would keep her safe, and I meant it. We just have to be careful…so fucking careful," Emmett whispered that last part and I could tell the toll these next two months were going to take on him. He'd basically put his professional life on hold for me and for Bella and there was nothing I could ever do to repay him for that…nothing.

"Emmett, I'll never be able to…" and again he cut me off. Stubborn fucker my brother was.

He chuckled at me when I huffed at him. "Edward, we're family…Cullen's. It's what we do, no questions asked. Family always comes first…no matter what and Bella is family."

We finished our beer and I headed back to Ma and Pop's and he headed to meet Seth and Bella for an evening restaurant opening she had to attend.

"Daddy do you think I can take my picture that Bella gave me and have Derek sign that too?" Masen asked me and brought me back to the present.

I ruffled his hair as I heard the front door open and said, "I'm sure they have more at the stadium he can sign and give to you. I hear Uncle Em and Bella, get your things together so you can go."

He ran off and I looked at my love as she walked into the living room. She was going to be throwing out the first pitch for tonight's game and taking some pictures with the players. I wanted to go with her, but I understood her wanting to share this with Masen. She helped Maddie with her soccer team and this was her special thing to share with him. They still practiced the drums when they could and I knew they were both excited to get back to the lake house so they could play together.

"Hey sweetheart," she said warmly as she stopped in front of me and tipped her head up so that I could give her a kiss…which I happily granted.

"We have one very excited little boy I'll have you know," I laughed at her and kissed her forehead one more time before I stepped back from her. "I think he tried to bring everything he could think of for Derek to sign." I really tried to keep the whine out of my voice when I said his name, but I didn't do a very good job apparently because Bella giggled at me and slapped me on the chest.

"Come off it Edward, he's just a guy," she said and turned to walk away but I grabbed her hand and pulled her back to me.

"A very good looking, athletic, rich guy," I growled at her and kissed her again…because damn it she was my girl!

Bella ran her fingers through my hair and pulled my face even closer than it already was, "Baby, you know I'm yours and no one else's. Stop pouting and maybe I'll bring you home a surprise."

"Mmmm, will you be wearing said surprise?" I asked in a husky voice as I licked the side of her neck.

She sighed and pressed her chest against mine and whispered, "That might be able to be arranged. Now, are you going to stop with the damn pout?" Bella asked as she quirked her eyebrow at me.

"Yes ma'am," I said as Masen came barreling into the room and ran straight to Bella where she waited with open arms.

"Bella! Can we go now, please?" he begged. Damn the kid was so cute when he got excited.

"Yep, we sure can. Let's get a move on. If we get there early enough, maybe you can play catch with the guys for a few minutes before they have to go in," she said and we both laughed out loud when Masen dropped everything he was holding and his mouth opened so wide I wasn't sure it would ever close again.

Bella helped him pick everything back up and with a quick kiss she, Emmett and Masen headed for the ball park.


"Maddie, sweetie, you'd better get Rufus out of Nana's roses," I laughed at my little girl as she played in the back yard and Mom and Dad's.

"Kay Daddy," she giggled at me and Carlisle laughed at both the granddaughter and the puppy.

"Your mother loves her roses and Lord knows she loves her granddaughter, but I think it might be a contest to see who comes in first if you throw that puppy into the mix!" Carlisle chuckled next to me as we watched the two of them.

"I think you might be right Pop, I sometimes think Mama would pick the dog over all of us if we made her choose," I said.

My phone rang and I picked it up without looking at the caller id. When I heard Emmett on the other end, I didn't think anything of it either…until I heard the tone of his voice.

"Edward," Emmett said as soon as I answered.

"Emmett, what's wrong…is it Bella?" I asked immediately when I heard him clear his throat before he spoke.

"Edward, you need to come to the hospital. It's Masen... he's been hurt. Bella is with him," Emmett said, his voice sounding heavy with too many things left unsaid.

I ran my hands through my hair and took a deep breath. "Em…" I started to say and he cut me off there, "Just get to the hospital brother, we'll talk when you get here. Hurry, but be safe," he finished and I told him I'd be right there.

Closing my eyes, I took a few very precious seconds to take a deep breath and then turned to look at my father who could tell immediately that something was seriously wrong. "Son, what is it? Is it Bella?" he said quietly so Maddie couldn't hear.

"No Pop, it's Masen." I couldn't help the sharp stab of fear and pain that immediately came when I said his name and I tried to ignore the horrified look on dad's face as I went on, "I've got to go. Can you call Tanya and get her over here to pick up Maddie so you and Mama can come to the hospital?" I asked in an uneven voice as I tried to hold myself together.

He had to be okay, he just had to.

"Maddie, sweetheart, Daddy has to go for a little bit. I have to go to the hospital. Aunt Tanya will be by to pick you up and take you with her okay?" I asked my precious little girl, trying to keep the tears at bay. I'd have her come to the hospital once I found out what the hell happened.

I kissed the top of her head and held her to me until she wiggled to get out of my grasp. With a quick hug and an assurance from my father that he would get there as soon as he could I left for the hospital, where the other half of my family was. Hopping in a cab since I was in no condition to drive, I arrived at the hospital no more than twenty minutes after Emmett called me and I tried to tell myself to stay calm until I saw Masen. I wasn't doing a very good job of that and by the time I made it to the emergency room, I was a nervous wreck.

I didn't come to this part of the hospital very much and I didn't recognize very many people so I let out a gust of air when I saw Mrs. Cope behind the admitting desk. "Dr. Cullen, what are you doing here?" Mrs. Cope asked as I ran up to the counter and ran my hands through my hair…my hands were shaking and I couldn't get control of my breathing.

Shit…what if he was hurt badly?

"I'm looking for my son; he was brought in just a short while ago. I have no idea if it was by ambulance or what. My brother called me and said he was here," I frantically said as I gripped the side of the counter.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. Here, let me see what I can find for you," she said kindly as she started clicking keys on her keyboard.

"Edward," I heard my brother say and I looked at Mrs. Cope and thanked her for her help before I turned to Emmett.

"Where are they?" I asked, my heart in my throat. All I kept imagining was how excited he was just a few short hours ago, how happy he was and I couldn't stop the tears that started to come.

I stared at Emmett and he looked awful. His clothes were a mess; he had scrapes on his arms and the expression on his face…heartbroken. Knowing I didn't have time to question him on the how, all I wanted to do right now was make sure my son and my love were both okay. The rest could wait.

"Bella is in the exam room with Masen, they are right down there," he pointed and I started to walk that way before he grabbed my arm and I turned to face him. "I'm sorry Edward…I don't know what…I can't," he mumbled and I knew I would have plenty of questions for him later, but now, right now I needed to see and hold Masen and make sure he was okay and see Bella.

"We'll talk soon Em. Call the rest of the family and wait for Pop," I said as I made my way in the direction he pointed.

I took about twenty steps and what I heard stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Mommy, it hurts," my very scared sounding little boy said in a voice full of pain and tears.

"Shhh, I know baby. Mommy's here," my love murmured to him and I had to grip my chest…the words so tender and effortless I thought my heart would break. "It's okay Masen," Bella continued to speak softly to him. "Daddy and Papa will be here soon and they'll make sure the doctors make you all better, I promise," she whispered to him and I could hear her kiss his head.

"Why did those people do that to us Mommy?" Masen asked, sounding barely coherent and I knew that he was either under medication or was so tired from whatever happened he could barely form the words.

"I'm so sorry Masen, it's all my fault. I never should have brought you with me," Bella cried softly to him as I heard his breathing even out.

I pulled the curtain back and my eyes immediately flooded with more tears as I took in the scene in front of me. Bella was curled up on the very small bed with Masen tucked in close beside her. He had been changed into a hospital gown and his arm was in a splint. He had a golf ball sized bump on his head and he looked so fucking pale. The hand that didn't have the splint on it gripped Bella's t-shirt tightly and he shook slightly while she held him.

"Oh my boy…Masen," I choked out as I approached the bed and bent down to kiss his head and touched his face. "Daddy loves you little man, so, so much," I whispered as I rested my head against his for a moment while I tried to calm myself down.

He was so tiny and he looked so fragile on the small bed next to Bella and when I looked at her, she looked just as horrid as he did. She had holes in her jeans and I could see the blood that had seeped through the material. Her hair was a wild, tangled mess, half in and half out of her pony tail. Her eyes were red from crying, the little bit of make up she'd worn smudged on her face. She had a small cut on her lip and scrapes on her forearms.

"Love you Mommy," Masen said as he took one deep breath and then fell asleep, peaceful except for the murmur of pain he let loose every few minutes.

"Bella, my God baby, is he ok? Are you ok? What happened?" I asked, confused and an emotional wreck at the moment.

She held her hand out to me but didn't move an inch away from Masen.

Bella began to cry, not making a sound for fear of waking Masen but she was sobbing so hard she was shaking the bed. "Bella…shhh angel, it's okay. I'm here now. Shhh…Masen's okay, you're okay now…hush baby. I'm here and I love you," I said to her over and over again as I stroked through her hair and tried to calm her with my words. I assumed since they were both still in the exam room that whatever happened…while it was probably scary and awful as hell, wasn't too serious so I tried to focus on that and keeping Bella calm. As I matched my breathing with hers and continued to hold her close to me, she was finally able to get control of herself.

I tried to disentangle myself from her so I could sit down and when she whimpered softly as I took a step I bent down and kissed her temple, "Bella, honey, I'm just going to scoot the chair closer to you. I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

When I picked up the chair I glanced at my watch and was shocked beyond belief that I'd only been here for ten minutes. Jesus Christ it felt like hours… I sat in the chair and Bella was able to rearrange her body so Masen was laying across her chest but she was able to rest her back against the pillows. I reached for her hand and after I touched Masen again, because I needed to reassure myself that he was fine, I asked her, "Baby, what in the hell happened?"

I wasn't angry…at least not at Bella or Masen. I knew that whatever had happened Emmett somehow felt he was to blame and I couldn't believe he or Bella had allowed anything to happen to Masen on purpose.

Quiet tears began to fall from Bella's eyes again and she said in barely more than a whisper, "I don't know Edward. The game was over and Emmett, Masen and I made our way down to the locker room. Derek had a ball he had signed by all the team to give to Masen and a Jersey to give to Emmett so we went there to go get them. Masen was so excited he actually got to talk to Derek before the game and was going to get to see him after the game and was talking a mile a minute like he does when he gets excited, you know?" she asked and then sniffled. I reached over to the table beside the bed and handed her some tissue so she could wipe her nose and her eyes. Fuck, she was a mess…still beautiful as hell, but I had never seen her look so distraught.

Bella took a deep breath and started again, "We somehow managed to get down to the locker room before all the reporters and paparazzi and we visited with Derek, Andy, and Jorge for a few minutes before we had to get out of there before the reporters showed up. We started to walk away when Derek called me back to give me a picture for Maddie and I gave him a hug for being so nice to think of her. Somehow all the reporters showed up at that time and I was separated from both Masen and Emmett. The flashbulbs were going off and they were all screaming questions at both Derek and I and I tried to push my way over to where I thought Masen was."

The tears were coming faster now and so was her breathing. I had to admit mine was too. I could only imagine how frightened my little baby boy had to have been to be overrun by those fucking animals like that and separated from both Emmett and Bella. I squeezed her hand and when Bella looked at me with her watery eyes, I swear to God the few pieces of my heart that hadn't broken since I first walked in here completely shattered when I saw her face. The guilt she felt was rolling off of her in waves and I wasn't going to let her think for one more fucking second that this was somehow her fault.

Standing up, I stood right beside the bed and bent my head down to hers. As I held her beautiful tear stained face in my hands, I tried to brush her tears away with the pads of my thumbs. "Bella, my love, please don't blame yourself for this. This is not your fault; you had no way of knowing those fucking pieces of shit would show up like that. You certainly never intended to have Masen in the middle of a stampede either." I kissed her softly on the lips and then on each eyelid before I sat back down again so she could finish telling me what happened and I tried to keep from pulling my hair out as I imagined what all three of them just went through.

Bella took a very uneven breath and quietly continued, "I could hear Masen yelling for me and Emmett, Edward. He was so scared and once the reporters noticed him yelling, they started taking his picture. Emmett barreled his way through, tugging me behind him. I fell down, that's how my knees and arms got so scraped up and when I got up and as we pushed our way through everyone, someone elbowed me in the mouth which is how I got this," she said as she pointed to her busted lip. I saw fucking red again and I swore to myself I was going to hunt down whatever motherfucker did that to her, but knew I was being completely irrational at the same time.

"Emmett finally pushed our way through to Masen. He scooped him up and we started to run…and of course they followed, yelling things and the flashbulbs were going off. Emmett couldn't see and he tripped and fell and Masen hit the ground hard which is how he broke his arm and got the bump on his head. It was insane Edward and I was so scared. I'm so sorry, this is all my fault," Bella said as she bent her head down and covered her face with her free hand.

I stood up and sat on the tiny sliver of bed that was left and wrapped an arm around her and reached out touch Masen with the other one. "Bella, please don't do this. I know you are upset and I understand that, but you cannot blame yourself. It was just an unfortunate accident. I'm just thankful he wasn't hurt anymore than he was and that you weren't hurt either. Has the doctor been in since you were brought back here?" I asked and then kissed her before I stood up to go find whoever was on call to make sure Masen didn't have to wait any longer than necessary to get looked at.

"No, and I didn't want to leave Masen to go find someone either. Is Emmett alright?" Bella asked with more tears in her eyes for my big brother. She knew him so well and knew he'd be beating himself up about what happened. "He was waiting for Ma and Pop to get here. Do you want me to send him back?"

She nodded, just like I knew she would. They loved each other very much there was no doubt about that.

I walked out into the hall and had to stop. I bent over at the waist and rested my hands on my knees as I took a few deep breaths. Jesus, this was just a fucked up situation and I couldn't decide who to get mad at. Not at Bella and not at Emmett, but what the fuck were those damned photographers thinking chasing after them like that? I would never, ever be able to forget the way Masen looked on that bed, nor would I ever forget the heartbroken look on Bella's face either.

"Is he alright?" I heard my father ask as he found me in the hallway. I stood up and looked at him…and completely lost it. "Dad, I was so fucking scared," I choked out as I let him engulf me in his arms.

"I know you were son. How is Masen, is he ok?" Dad asked as I wiped my face and stood up. "Masen was sleeping and Bella is with him. She won't leave him. Masen looks like he has a broken arm and he has a bump on his head as well as some cuts and bruises." I took an uneven breath as the image of him scared in the middle of all those people assaulted me. "Bella looks almost as bad, but I don't think she's hurt too badly besides some scrapes on her knees. Emotionally, she's a fucking mess. Will you please go see if you can find his doctor so I can go back to Masen and Bella…and send Emmett back. Bella wants to see him and make sure he's okay."

My dad shook his head gently and said, "Of course she does. Go back to them Edward and I'll find the doctor and your brother. Your mother will be here soon too, as well as the rest of the family."

I took another deep breath and let my father give me another hug. I would never get tired of those that was for sure. "Thanks Pop, see you in a minute," I said as he kissed my head and guided me back towards Masen and Bella.

Bella opened her eyes when she heard me come back and gave me a small smile as I sat back down in the chair beside the bed. "Has he woken up yet?" I asked as I ran my hand over his head.

She lifted her hand and placed it on top of mine and squeezed. "No, he's moved around a bit more than before but he was pretty worn out by the time we got him here. Emmett didn't even wait for an ambulance. He just wanted to get us the hell out of there," Bella whispered as she looked at me and had tears in her eyes again.

"Edward," Emmett said hesitantly as he made his way into where we were. "Hey Em," I said as I stood up. I walked over to him and gave him a hug and patted his back as he shook in my arms and when he took a deep breath I stepped back. "Why don't you sit with Bella and Masen for a minute while I go find Pop and the doctor? Is Mama here yet?" I asked as I led him to the chair.

Bella reached out for his hand and picked it up and kissed the back of it as he bent forward and rested his forehead against hers, "I'm so fucking sorry Bella. I broke my promise to you."

"Emmett, no. Stop please. You got us out of there before things got any worse for Masen and I. You got him here to the hospital. I am so grateful to you big brother," Bella said and kissed his cheek. Emmett started crying then and I had to step out…again.

The doctor and my dad showed up just a few minutes later and we all made our way back to Masen and Bella. "Daddy," Masen croaked out as I stepped up to the bed. "Oh Mase, how are you feeling? Are you okay?" I asked as I bent down to hug him. "It hurts," Masen whimpered and I squeezed him a bit harder.

"Dr. Cullen, my name is Dr. Nick Garrett. I'm sorry to be meeting you under such awful circumstances." I held my hand out to shake the guy's hand. He was tall, with curly brown hair and hazel eyes and he was really skinny. But, he had a confident air about him and I liked him on the spot.

"Nice to meet you too. What's the diagnosis?" I asked as he walked to the bed and looked at Masen's arm. "Well, I am sure you can tell he's broken his arm. It's a clean break so we won't need to do surgery and I'll be taking him to get his arm set. He doesn't appear to have a concussion but we'll keep him overnight just to make sure. He's got a few cuts that we cleaned out but they don't need stitches. All things considered, he's very lucky a broken arm was all he suffered."

"Thank God," I said as I took a deep breath. "And Bella, is she okay?" I asked and she snorted at me. Dr. Garrett nodded his head and said, "We need to get her cuts cleaned up and make sure she doesn't need any stitches. She might have some bruising from being pushed the way she was," and he scowled at that. I liked Nick Garrett even more just then. "But other than that, Bella and your brother Emmett are both just fine."

"I'm going to send an orderly in and we'll take Masen to get his cast on. I've already gotten him a room assigned and I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of putting the room under a different name. I don't want him or your family to be disturbed while he is here. I imagine once word gets out about what happened, you will have more than enough to deal with. The room is under the name Samuel Swan. I figured only your immediate family would recognize the name and since he wasn't brought in by ambulance, we should be able to keep his and Bella's stay here quiet."

I held my hand out to him and said, "Thank you so much. You have no idea how much my family appreciates what you've just done for us. If you ever need anything, please let me know."

"It's been my pleasure. I will see you and the rest of your family back in the room when I am done with Masen. Dr. Cullen," he said as he stopped in front of my father, "It's an honor to meet you sir."

My dad blushed but was gracious as he walked with Dr. Garrett back down the hall.

"Well, little man, you're going to have to decide what color you want your cast to be before Dr. Garrett puts it on," I told Masen as he rested against Bella, who still hadn't let go of him.

"What do you think Bella?" Masen asked as he looked up at her. She bent her head down and kissed his cheek before she said, "Hmmm, I think blue would be good, don't you Uncle Emmett?"

Emmett chuckled and agreed with Bella just as they came to take Masen. "I'll meet you two up in Masen's room when we're through. I'm going with him," I said as I picked up Bella's hand. "I love you baby, I'll see you in just a little while."

Masen got his cast on and we finally made it back to the room to find it full of our family. Mom and Dad were there as well as Emmett, Rose, Jasper, Alice, Tanya, and Seth. Bella was sitting in a chair beside the bed holding a very upset looking Maddie. Everyone stayed for a few minutes, long enough to sign Masen's cast and to visit until he started running out of steam. Dr. Garrett arranged for a cot to be brought it for Bella to sleep on. I knew there was no way she was leaving him and Maddie wouldn't leave either when my parents tried to get her to leave.

Bella and I got Masen settled in his bed, and even though he was in a bit of pain, he fell asleep almost instantly. Maddie was right behind and I pulled Bella down on my lap where we sat in the chair.

"I heard what he called you today, Bella," I whispered to her as she laid her head on my shoulder and I ran my fingers through her hair.

She gasped and turned her face towards my shoulder and I felt the moisture from her tears on my t-shirt. I shifted her around so that she was looking at me and I held her face in my hands. "It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard…except for you telling me you love me of course. Bella, you are his mother, in every possible way that matters. I can't tell you what it means to me to hear him acknowledge you that way. I've been waiting for it…for this, for each of them to have a mother in their life. I love you so fucking much Bella."

"I can't tell you what it meant to me to hear him call me that. I've wanted it for so long," she whispered the last part, like she was afraid of what I would say.

"Baby, I have too. We've talked about this Bella. This, Maddie and Masen acknowledging you as mommy is where we knew we were heading. Let's not make a big deal out of it. If he remembers tomorrow what he said, then we'll go with it. If he doesn't, well then we know what he feels and we can talk to both he and Maddie when the time comes. I'm so happy about this and so happy I heard him," I told her as she curled back against me. "I am so happy you are both okay, Emmett too. We'll have a lot to deal with tomorrow, won't we?" I asked as I thought about what Dr. Garrett said about people finding out what had happened at the ball park.

"Edward, you have no idea. I need to talk to Jasper first thing in the morning and then unfortunately, I am going to have get Jane here as well. This is going to be a mess and we are really going to have to be careful with the kids. Jasper and Seth are going to have get Jacob here, too…we're going to need all the help we can get keeping them out of the spotlight. Thank goodness we are going to the lake next weekend," Bella said and sounded so sad.

I squeezed her against me and said, "Whatever we need to do Bella, we'll do together."

Rest was not to be had by either Bella or I during the night since the nurses checked on Masen periodically to make sure he didn't show any signs of having a concussion. The next morning Dr. Garrett came by bright and early and said once he ran one more test on Masen we could take him home before lunch.

Jasper and Seth showed up shortly after the doctor left and as we feared, the papers were full of the story and there were pictures of Bella and Masen in all of them…Emmett as well. Of course the more gossip oriented magazines published the picture of Bella hugging Derek Jeter and made the incident seem like it was all Bella's fault. Between placing blame on her and then questions about our relationship, Bella was a fucking mess and no matter how many times I wrapped my arms around her and no matter how many times I told her I loved her, she would just shake her head and the guilt would appear on her face again. We discussed what we thought we should do and who we needed to contact, if anyone. Alice wanted to sue everyone, Bella just wanted it all to go away. Rose wanted to kick everyone's ass and Tanya agreed quite vocally. Seth and Jasper tried to tell all of us to calm down and give them time to think and I just sat and got angry. What a damn mess.

A little while later, once Alice and Tanya left and it was just Seth, Jasper, and Emmett with Bella, me and Masen we heard, "Bella, would you mind telling me what the hell is going on?" Jane screeched as she walked into the room, glaring at all of us.

Oh, shit.


Isabella Marie Swan…I seethed as I watched Edward comfort her. It was so unfair…so fucking unfair. She had everything. Oh, I suppose she'd had a difficult life but really was it as hard as she made it out to be? Those three friends of hers, they fucking worshiped the ground she walked on and if anyone even looked at poor, fragile Bella the wrong way, you'd better watch the fuck out.

I stepped back into the shadows as another member of her 'family' walked in the boy's room and comforted her. Why? I wanted Bella to pull back from everyone, but it wasn't happening. She was much stronger than I gave her credit for and that pissed me off. I'd spent such a long time finding out all I could about Isabella and from everything I'd learned, she was behaving exactly the opposite from what I expected. I wanted her to distance herself, all in the name of keeping everyone safe of course. I wanted Isabella all alone…needed her alone in order for my plan to work.

I got sick to my stomach as I watched Edward hold her next to him…so fucking unfair. Every time I managed to get close to her, some person or another always got in the way. I was waiting though, for I knew if I was patient, my plan would work. The letters were beginning to get to her…and to him. I could tell. They were anxious around each other… you could tell if you paid close enough attention, and believe me I did. Maybe I should change tactics and focus on Edward instead of Isabella? It was definitely something to consider. I so enjoyed watching all of them, they were so oblivious, so full of themselves that they never noticed when I was close by…and I was more often than they would ever believe.

I knew I was going to have to step up my warnings though. The last letter put the entire Cullen/Swan fucking family on edge though and inside I did a little happy dance when I heard about it. It was genius to have it delivered to the Cullen house…and on a Sunday…Father's Day of all things. I wanted to make my presence known when it would affect them all the most. I would not be ignored, as my message stated. Not by Isabella, not by Edward, not by any of them.

The time was coming when she would pay… when he would pay… they all would. If it was the last thing I did, I would make sure of it.

1 comment:

  1. You know~~ Victoria hated Bella and purposely took her out in the nationals... I wonder if She has somehow popped back up because she did not get what she wanted even after she took Bella out, Just a thought.
    Jane coming in screetching like that all hell bent out of shape she hates Bella for some reason. But~ then again, that kate just got fired over Bella and That is a very angry woman... hell hath no fury like a woman scorned~~ Just Sayin'
    And let us not forget jake in all this mess after the confrontation with Edward at the loft... he was totaly pissed as well... wow what a smorgasborg of villians we have with us.... and what about ian showing up all of a sudden too, food for thought.