Chapter 14: Little Conversations, Big Words.
"Bella?" I try the handle and it's unlocked. I don't want to invade her privacy, but I want to make sure she is alright. Slowly, I push the door open. I don't see her. The bathroom light is on and the door is cracked. "Bella?"
She doesn't respond and I get a little nervous. I walk towards the door and knock lightly.
Nothing. I push the door open and see her lying on the rug. She is balled up and I crouch down. I push her hair away from her face and it is wet. I rub her cheek.
"Bella? Can you hear me?"
She is breathing and I'm not scared, but a little nervous. She worked hard today and I should be more considerate of her condition. I call her name again and she is only saying a man's name. Charlie. I don't know who that is. I try to slide my hands under her so I can move her to the bed, but she comes to life and fights against me.
"Don't touch me! Don't fucking touch me!" She is crawling away and backs into the vanity; knocking her head.
"Easy. It's just me, Bella." I wait on my knees and she breathes hard. I reach out to her, but she's resistant; hugging her knees to her chest. She looks confused. "I think you passed out. You should lie down in bed." I extend my hand, again.
She stares at it, but doesn't move. Jesus; either I am that repulsive, or she has been treated so poorly, she can't even trust someone enough to take their hand. I stand and grab a paper cup from the cabinet; fill it with water. I sit down next to her and hand it over. My back is to the vanity and she takes the cup, thankfully.
"Are you alright? I could take you to the…" I don't even get the word hospital out before she is shaking her head no.
"I just got sick. I'm fine."
She nods and her cup is empty. I put my hand out for it and stand to refill.
"Drink this one in bed, please."
I nod towards the bedroom and don't put my hand out. She stands up and her legs seem shaky. I walk close by, just incase she might fall. She sits on the bed and I place the cup on the nightstand. She's on top of the covers and I pat my hand to the pillow. She slowly puts her head down and I fold half of the comforter over her. She looks tired, but it's not all physical. Her eyes; they are older than she is.
I reach for the cup and hand it to her. She tucks it between herself and the pillow. I sit on the edge of the bed. My hand goes to her face, feeling for a temperature. She doesn't flinch or fight me. She feels fine.
"Bree and her parents, Carmen and Eleazar, will be staying with us tonight and possibly tomorrow night, too. They'll spend most of the day with me at the hospital, but I just wanted you to know, so you didn't wonder why three strangers are hanging around. Alright?"
"Bree sleeps on the couch - she likes the fireplace - so if you get up before me, or during the night, she might ask for water. She's needy like that." I smile and Bella nods. "Alright, I'll let you sleep." I go to stand, but she stops me with a question.
"Is she sick?"
I stare at her a minute and then sit back down. Bella is toying with the rim of her cup; eyes trained there.
"She was. She um…she had a kidney transplant a few years ago."
Eyes are still on the cup. "And…you gave her one of yours?"
"Are you psychic, Bella? This guessing at my life stuff is starting to freak me out."
She doesn't laugh. Her voice is soft. "I overheard you."
"Yeah, I was her donor."
"You donate your body parts to patients." It's a statement, but she is wrong.
"I'm not that noble." I wish to leave it at that, but her eyes move away from the cup and land on mine. They want more. "Carmen is my wife Tanya's sister. Bree needed a transplant and I was the only person in our family who matched. What are you gonna do; say no?"
"Some people might."
I shrug. "I owed her one."
I shake my head. "Bree. She's how I met Tanya." Her eyes are still asking questions. I sigh. "I was Bree's pediatrician. Tanya would bring her in sometimes when Carmen was too busy – she's a lawyer – and the rest is history."
"You hit on a patient's Aunt?" She is teasing and I can't but to smile. It's better than seeing her scared, or sad.
I shrug. "She had a nice smile."
Her lips show a bit of happiness and she looks away. I smooth my hand over her hair. "Get some sleep, Bella" I stand and turn off the light on my way out.
In the morning, I am persuaded to make waffles and compromise if there is fruit in them. Thankfully, Bree likes blueberries. I don't see Bella before we leave, but there is a plate on the counter for her with a note and I hope she eats.
I meet Carlisle at the hospital and Carmen and Eleazar take up residency in his office while he works. I stay with Bree and talk her through all the labs my father is doing. She trusts him, but it's my job. She knows the routine by now and doesn't seem to mind the poking and prodding so much. I still do. She is too young and has spent too much time inside of hospitals.
"Can you blow it up?" She holds out one of the latex gloves and I roll my eyes, but do it.
Carlisle looks over; eyebrow raised. "Remind me to come make a mess in your office sometime, Son."
"Don't be a party pooper," Bree whines to him.
"Yeah," I stretch the glove over the top of her head and blow under it until all the fingers raise. "Don't be a party pooper, Dr. Carlisle."
He squints, looking at the glove. "Now I have to do the tests all over. These were meant for a little girl. Not a chicken."
She giggles and I can't help but to tease him back. "A rooster, Dad. A rooster."
He smiles despite himself and goes back to working on her. After all the tests are done, Bree joins her parents in the cafeteria for lunch. I sit with Carlisle in his office and try to catch up. It's been while.
"How are things at your practice?" He asks, thumbing through papers on his desk.
"Good. Busy, but good. Mom has really helped out a lot. The kids like her."
He nods and licks his fingers; flipping through his stacks. "She enjoys them too. Always loved children."
"I'd ask how things are here, but I think I know all too well." I smile and he looks up.
"I'm sorry for putting this on your plate, too. I know it's a lot, Edward."
I wave him off. "I'm just playing, Dad. It's actually a blessing in a way."
He puts his papers down. "Why is that?"
I shrug. "I just like staying busy." I look down to the chair and rub my fingers along the wooden armrest. When I look up, he's still staring at me.
"I'm sorry I couldn't come last night, Edward. You know Tanya was like a daughter to me."
"I know. Mom called me. It's fine. I understand."
He sighs. "How are things with Bella? Your mother says you've hired her? Is this right?"
I nod. "She replaced Sophia."
"And how is she doing?" He presses.
"She's good at ironing," I smile.
"I mean, how is she doing?" He laughs.
I smile. I knew what he meant. "She's okay, I think. She was a little bit sick last night, but she seems to be coming around. I think she'll be alright." If I stop messing things up.
He nods. "That's good to hear." He nods again, looking down to his papers. "That's very good to hear."
I drive to my parent's so Esme can spend time with Bree. She sits with Carmen and Eleazar for awhile and this is declared "grown up time". Technically, I could stay, but truthfully, I have had enough grown up time for today. Bree and I sit in the living room. She has the television on, but isn't paying attention to it.
"Do my feet stink?" She raises one to my face and I grab it. "Don't tickle. Please, please, please."
"Then don't put your stinky feet in my face. It's not polite." I let go and she sits up.
"Who is that girl in your house?" She looks up and asks. "The brown haired girl."
"She's pretty. She has nice hair. I wish my hair was like that."
I smile. "Yes, she does, Sweetheart. Your hair is nice too, though."
"It's not as shiny. She has shiny hair."
I laugh. "Well, maybe if you ask nicely, she'll tell you her secret."
"Do you think she's pretty?" She pokes at my face and giggles.
"I think she is a very nice person."
"But is she pretty?"
I nod. "Yeah, she's pretty."
She sits on her knees and squeezes my cheeks together. "Do you want to kiss her and love her and…" She starts making kissing sounds and I shake my head.
"Who teaches you these things?" I pull my face away and she sits back down. "And no I don't want to kiss her and love her and whatever that noise you made was."
"Why not? You said she was pretty, Uncle Edward."
"She is, but that doesn't mean I want to kiss her. Girls can be pretty without wanting to kiss them. Grandma Esme is pretty, but I don't want to kiss her. Your Mother is pretty, but I don't want to kiss her. Your pretty and I definitely don't want to kiss you."
She smiles and toys with the button on my shirt. "Who do you want to kiss?"
I sigh. "No one."
I sigh again. "If it were possible, yes."
"I miss her. She made good cookies."
I put my arm around her and change the channel. She snuggles down into my lap and yawns. I smooth my hand over her hair and watch as her eyes fall heavy. She is precious. I reach for the quilt on the armrest and place it over her. My head falls back and I close my eyes while she sleeps.
Rosalie gives me the eye and an encouraging nod as Tanya signs Bree out. My hands are in my pockets and they are a little sweaty. Thankfully, Tanya's arms are full and I use it as my in.
"Let me help you," I reach for her bag on the floor, but she shakes her head.
"I'm fine. You're busy."
I look back to Rosalie. She is laughing at me on the inside, I know it. "Your last appointment just canceled, Dr. E. Looks like we can close up early, today."
Rosalie is an angel.
I reach for her bag again and she allows me to take it. Bree asks me a million questions as we make our way out to the parking lot. I am trying to focus on how to ask Tanya out, but it is difficult and truthfully, I don't want to do it in front of her niece. Tanya unlocks her car and I place her bag in the trunk. She stands there for a minute and I should be saying a polite goodbye, but I can't seem to form a coherent sentence. She doesn't move either.
"Bree, honey, why don't you get in and buckle up, okay?"
Bree listens to her Aunt and waves goodbye to me. I wave back and Tanya turns and faces me when we are alone. "You're really good with her. Your own kids must have a ball with you."
I shake my head. "I don't have kids."
She nods and looks a little embarrassed. "Well, it's even more impressive then."
Is she…? She's flirting with me….isn't she?
"Thanks." I don't know what else to say. I'm screwing this up. Rosalie will never let me live it down.
"Well, I better get going. Um, thanks for helping with my bags." She waits a moment and I don't say anything. She is going to get in the car and leave and I am going to kick the shit out of myself. She moves and I blurt out the words.
She looks back. "Sorry?" She is smiling. I take a step forward.
"Do you have plans…on Friday night?"
She is smiling wider. She takes a step closer. "Are you asking me out, Dr. Cullen?"
Am I? No. Say no. Say no and just walk away. Shit. "I was thinking we could have dinner." What happened to saying no?
She steps closer. "So, you are asking me out."
Her face is smiling. Like, her whole face is smiling. "If you'd like to go, yes, I am asking you out. But... if you think it's highly inappropriate and are completely offended, then no…I'm just curious about your eating habits on Fridays."
She laughs I can't but help to smile in return. Her hand reaches for the pen stuck in my coat pocket and then she reaches for my arm. I let her tug my hand from my pocket and she clicks the pen on. She scribbles something in my palm and steals my pen; placing it in her ponytail. I wait until she is gone and look at my hand.