Chapter 40: Lovely One
"You're in my chair, Dr. E."
Rosalie. My eyes rest on her for a moment. Lauren is right next to me. This is not the place.
"Welcome back." I roll away from the desk and let her sit.
She says nothing else. Gets right to work.
"Meeting at noon, Rosalie. My office, please."
I walk away and get to my own work. Ear infection in room one. Strep throat in room two. Jacob Black in room three. This time he has an actual sickness. He is coughing. He isn't fighting today. I examine his throat and it's red. There really isn't swelling though. It's just…irritated. His tongue is a little white and there is very little fluid. I look at his eyes.
"Give me your hand, Jacob, please." He places his palm into mine. I press down on his nail bed and wait. I look back to him. "Have you started playing sports in school?"
He shakes his head no. I pinch gently to the skin on the back of his hand. It's a little firm. I look to Leah.
"He seems dehydrated. Has there been any vomiting or diarrhea?"
"No, Doctor Cullen. Not that I know of. I've been working a lot lately, though. I could have missed something."
I look back to Jacob. "Has your belly been upset?"
He shakes his head. It's odd. It's not Jacob. He should be smart mouthing me. He should be telling me to shut up. I put the stethoscope to my ears and go to lift his shirt but he stops me. It's like Bella. He doesn't want me to touch him.
"I just need to hear your breathing and heart. It won't hurt." I hold it to my hand so he can see that it doesn't do anything, even though, I've done this to him before.
"Jacob, please let him…"
"NO! I want to go! I want to go!" He starts hitting the padded table and yeah…this is Jacob…but still, something is wrong.
"Just a second." I excuse myself and walk to the reception area. "Rose?"
She looks up. "Yeah?" She's irritated.
"I need you to help with Jacob Black, please."
"I'm a secretary, Dr. E. Not a nurse. I don't feel comfortable assisting when that's not who I am."
I sigh. I lower my voice. "This isn't about us. This is about a child who needs help. Please."
She keeps typing and I hear Jacob still screaming his head off. She's not budging.
"This is incredibly selfish, Rose."
She looks up at me. She is pissed off. "Don't you even…." She looks past me. "There's your little Bella. Why don't you ask her, since you two have no issues pretending to be something than what you really are."
I look away from Rosalie. Bella is walking in. I stand on the outside of the reception area. In the hall. Her face looks towards the noise coming three doors down.
"Are you torturing kids today, Cullen?"
I shake my head. "Long story. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. But you forgot this and I figured you needed it." She hands me over my cell-phone.
I drop it in my pocket. I kiss her forehead. "Thank you, but you should probably go. Rosalie is here and she is not in a good mood."
Her face sours. "Sorry."
The door to room three opens. Leah emerges with Jacob kicking and screaming. I sigh. I have no idea what to do. No sign of Rosalie.
"Jacob, you have to wait for Dr. Cullen. Please, calm down."
He's trying to pull his arm away. "I hate you! I hate you! Let me go!" He is swatting and kicking and screaming.
Bella leans into me. Her voice is low. "Is this the asshole who spits on you?"
Jacob breaks free. He falls facing our direction. As he gets up, he sees Bella. His eyes grow wide. He smiles. The little shit smiles.
"Hi." He smiles wider.
"Uh…hi." She moves closer to me. Yes.
He's excited. "Are you the new nurse?"
She shakes her head, but I grab her hand.
"Yeah, she is and she wants you to go back in the room and let me check your lungs." I look to Bella. "Right, Nurse Bella?"
She looks terrified. I raise my brows. "Uhh…" she looks to Jacob. "Yeah. What he said."
Jacob runs without question to the room. His mother looks exhausted. She follows him. I look at Bella.
"Just stand in the room. Apparently this kid only likes women. Very attractive women."
Bella rolls her eyes. She follows me. I close the door. She stands by it. I walk back over to Jacob. He is waiting on the table. He is still looking at Bella. He is still smiling. I go to lift his shirt. Same reaction as last time.
He points at the door. "I want HER to do it!"
I lie. "Nurses don't listen to lungs, Jacob. I have to do it."
"No!" He folds his arms. Jesus, help me.
"If Bella stands here, will you let me do it?"
"She has to hold the microphone!"
I look back to Bella. She doesn't want to, but she walks over. She doesn't know what to do. I tell her where to press it, so I can listen. What I hear doesn't concern me. What I see, does. I finish my exam and untuck the buds from my ears.
"You're really pretty." He's smiling at Bella again. "You look like the girl from the picture."
She shakes her head. "What picture?"
"The one Grandpa Billy has of Sam."
She looks down. "Oh…" She looks back to him. "Yeah that was me. I knew Sam."
She nods. I'm not sure where this is going, but I need to focus. I don't need another breakdown in my office this morning.
"Bella? I need to go over some things with Mrs. Clearwater. Can you wait for me in my office, please? There is a children's room right before you reach my door. I'd appreciate you showing Jacob."
She is a little confused. "Uh, sure."
Her eyes linger on mine for a moment. She's trying to figure it out. I help Jacob off the table and he grabs her hand. They exit and I turn to Leah. I take a seat on the rolling stool. I think and choose my words carefully.
"Mrs. Clearwater, Jacob has several large bruises over his skin. Have you noticed these?"
She shrugs. "He's a boy. They rough house."
I shake my head. "I was a boy once; I never had bruises like that. Most children who play sports or just rough house, as you say, will have cuts on their knees, scrapes to the elbows and maybe a few small bruises here and there, around those same areas. What Jacob has doesn't follow the pattern of playing."
Her face crinkles. "What are you trying to say, Dr. Cullen?"
"He is severely dehydrated. He has bruises and markings that concern me. His attitude and demeanor seem to suggest…"
She cuts me off. "Are you trying to say I abuse my boy?"
I shake my head. "I'm simply asking why these things are happening. How they got there."
"I told you, he is a boy."
"Does someone watch him after school? When you are working?"
She stands. "I'm not listening to this."
"Goodbye, Dr. Cullen." She tugs open the door and calls for Jacob.
Bella is not waiting in my office as I asked her to. She is sitting on the floor by Jacob. They are talking. Leah pulls at Jacob's arm and he fights her.
"I want to stay and talk to Bella! Let me go!"
"I said let's go, Jacob!" She tugs him along and I cringe as they exit.
Bella looks at me. I shake my head and walk to my office. She follows. The door closes quietly behind her. I slump in my chair and rub my face.
"What the hell was that all about?" She's standing next to my chair.
"I can't really talk about it."
I lower my hand and look at her. "I mean, I'm not allowed, Bella."
"Is there something wrong with that kid?"
I nod. I can't say anything else.
"His grandfather, Billy Black, is my Dad's old partner."
More nodding. "I heard."
"So…what's wrong with him?"
"Sweetheart, I really can't tell you. I'm sorry."
"Is he dying?"
I laugh humorlessly. "You are ridiculously stubborn."
"Just say yes or no. Nod or something. Fucking right it down and accidentally drop it or some shit, Cullen."
"He isn't dying. Better?"
"No. Was it those bruises on his chest?"
And she is way too observant and smart for her own good. My own good.
"I'm sorry. That's all I can say about it."
She lets it go; changing the subject. A small smile.
"Thanks for the note."
I can't help but to smile myself. On her pillow, in my absence, a piece of paper remained. It is from the poetry book I bought in Virginia. I am hoping she understands why it is in portions. It's a little game; like in Patch Adams. I want to leave her small reasons why I love her. I always want her to know I think of her.
My father used to do things like this for my mother. In her handbag. In her coat pocket. I would catch her blushing. I would see her lips press to the paper when Carlisle was away, working late hours and tending to others. Esme's face never seemed to mind. Her eyes only saw his secret words. Not his absence.
This morning; her hair scattered across my white linens. Clean skin resting peacefully. So beautiful under the early golden light of the morning. I left her this to tell her:
With a nest of copper entangled
On your head, a nest
The color of dark honey
Where my heart burns and rests,
It is out of sync. It is not how the poem flows and it is us. We aren't in perfect rhythm, but together, we still make sense…somehow.
Bella leaves and I get back to my patients. Before my meeting with Rosalie, I make the appropriate calls pertaining to Jacob. I like Leah Clearwater, but I have a duty and I must follow procedures. I don't believe she is the one hurting Jacob, but by her not acknowledging that someone is, she is just as guilty. It is out of my hands, no matter what.
Rosalie knocks and enters. I wave my hand toward the chairs in front of my desk.
"How are you?"
She rolls her eyes. "I'm not in the mood for this. I am here to work. I don't want to sit and talk about how I am. If this shitty economy were better I would just quit and find a new job. Believe me. You're lucky I have too much pride to live off my father."
"Rosalie, not to sound like a jerk, but I wasn't the one who hurt you. Emmett was. Why are you angry with me?"
She huffs. "Seriously? You are asking me this? Your effing housekeeper is banging…"
I hold up my hand. "Let's stop right there. Bella is not sleeping with Emmett…and even if she were, that's still not a reason to be angry with me."
"You knew about what was going on."
I raise my brows. "And you didn't? Not at all? Honestly, Rose?"
She is loud. Her arms are failing. "How would I know?"
"Please keep your voice down, number one. Number two, I lived with someone who was a ….who wasn't honest. As much as I loved Tanya, I wasn't that blind. I knew when something wasn't right. I'm not blaming you, Rosalie, but lets be honest.
"Let's not play the victim card. You really, truly, believed that Emmett was able to purchase the home you have and the things you all have by simply owning a landscaping company? Rose, I am a doctor, and I can't afford some of the things Emmett buys."
She sits back. Her arms cross against her chest. "Well I sure as hell didn't think he was doing that." A tear escapes. "Jesus."
I pluck a tissue from the box and hand it over. "I'm sorry I didn't come and tell you, but it's sort of a difficult spot to be in. What would I have done? Shown up on your doorstep and said Emmett was pimping out girls in his free time?"
She cried harder. Shit. "I'm sorry, Rosalie. I truly am. I don't know what the hell it's worth at this point, but I think you should know that Bella told me he never did anything with any of the girls. He was just the bodyguard or whatever you call it. And he didn't sleep with Bella, either."
She is angry again. "You don't know that."
"I believe Bella. She's never lied to me about anything. She has no reason to lie to me about anything. I always knew what she used to do. She's never hid it from me. Never."
She points at me. Hurt, so hurt. "I'm not going to forgive him. Or her."
"I'm not asking you to. I'm just trying to help you sort through the pile of shit."
She laughs humorlessly. "I would need a damn bulldozer, Dr. E."
"Welcome to the club. No fun finding out someone isn't who you thought they were, huh?"
She is quiet for a moment. "I don't even know how you could have lived with her. I am such a sucker. Even Tanya. She even sucked me in. I believed her, too. Alice saw it, but I never did. I believed everything she said. Just like with Emmett."
I sigh. "I loved her. It's easy to turn a blind eye to what you don't want to see, Rose. It's the same with Bella, too. I am being honest when I say I believe her, but I am lying to myself in a lot of ways too, because of how I feel about her."
She sniffles. "What do you mean?"
I rub my chin. "Just about the future. Bella is pregnant. She has a very….present past. My love for her makes me turn a blind eye to these very obvious things sometimes."
She stares at me. "You love her?"
And I didn't even know what I was saying until it left my mouth.
I change the subject. "Where are you staying?"
"At my Mom's house. Emmett won't move his shit out and I don't want to stay there anyhow. It feels dirty."
And I completely understand.
When I arrive home, there is something not right. There is a red truck in my driveway. It is old and hideous and I have to wonder who the hell it belongs to. I pull in to the garage and walk inside. Something in here is not right, either. It smells way too good. Like food. Like someone cooking food. Bella is in the kitchen. Bella is in the kitchen with the good smelling smell. Bella is in the kitchen cooking food which is making the good smelling smell. I pause and cock an eyebrow.
"Um…" My finger points. "Who's truck is that?"
She smiles wide as she adds peppers to a pan. "Mine."
She nods. She rests the cutting board down and wipes her hands. "Yeah, some idiot was selling it for just three-hundred dollars in the parking lot when I went for groceries."
I set my things down. "In that case, I would say he owes you a refund of two-hundred ninety five dollars, Sweetheart."
Her face dims. "Well I'm so sorry he wasn't selling a fucking BMW or Mercedes, Cullen. Not all of us are doctors."
And her food is forgotten. And she is walking off. And I am an asshole. She is on the couch. I sit next to her.
"Just leave me alone."
I sit closer. She scoots away. I get on my knees and kneel in front of her.
"Bella look at me." She won't. I take her face into my hands. Her eyes have tears. I am an asshole. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to hurt you."
She finally looks at me. "You failed." Tears fall. A sniffle.
"I was just teasing. I forget that you're sensitive sometimes."
"I'm not fucking sensitive. You're just a jerk-off."
And I have to smile. "See? That's why." I kiss her face. She is still not happy with me. I press my forehead to hers. I whisper against her lips.
"There are countries, there are rivers,
In your eyes,
My country is your eyes,
I walk through them,
They light the world
Through which I walk,
I kiss her chin and rub my thumbs over her cheeks. Against the tears I caused. I kiss her nose.
"You were excited to show me your truck, weren't you?"
Silence and it equals yes.
"You should feel proud, Bella. I'm sorry it was my foolish pride that ruined it." I lean away. "Forgive me?"
She shakes her head no, but it's yes. I see it in her face.
I caress her cheeks. "What can I do to earn your forgiveness?"
I see the playful Bella lurking behind the caramel. "What's the next part?"
"The stupid poem."
I try not to grin. I keep my voice low. It's still out of sync, but I'm in trouble and need to get out. I press my mouth to her chest and kiss softly over her heart.
Your breasts are like two loaves made
Of grainy earth and golden moon,
I drop my hands from her face and run them over her chest. I keep my lips moving over the fabric of her shirt as I continue reciting the lines. My hands find her stomach and hips. I curl my arms around her waist and move my kisses higher, drawing her to me. The words are against her skin, neck.
My arm shaped it like a river when
It flowed a thousand years through your sweet body,
I end at her ear. I kiss the side of her face to punctuate my apology. She hugs me in return. Her fingers in my hair. Legs wrapped around me. I move my forehead back to hers.
"I'm not perfect, Bella. But when I am sorry for something I was wrong in, I mean it."
She kisses me. "I know."
I kiss her back. "What were you cooking before I interrupted with my rudeness, Sweetheart?"
"Oh, shit." She pushes me out of the way and runs past me. I get up and follow her. She is pulling the pan off the stove and cursing. I stand in the doorway and try to not laugh. It was my fault anyhow. I ruined two things with my mouth she was attempting.
I walk towards her. My hand rubs her back. "It's alright. We can just order out."
"I think it's okay. I think."
I peer into the pan. Nothing is black. I shrug. "Looks fine. What is it?"
She reaches for the book from Virginia. The one she bought. "Peppers and sausage. I mean…I didn't make the sausage…I just bought it and you like put it in here like it says, but that's what's it's called."
She shows me the page like I wouldn't believe her. I read it, but I believe her. Fine, we're having sausage and peppers.
I smile at her. "I look forward to eating your peppers and sausage with sausage you didn't make, Bella."
She rolls her eyes. "I still need to make some pasta. Unless you don't want pasta. We don't have to have pasta."
This time I can't help but to laugh. "You need to relax. Cooking is supposed to be fun."
"This is not fun at all. It is fucking stressful, Cullen."
I take a seat. "Then don't do it. You don't have to. I told you that."
She doesn't say anything, but her face says it all. She wants to prove something. I watch her as she starts the pasta. She reads her book and I have to cover my mouth to hide my expression. Her finger is tracing over all the words and she is mouthing them to herself.
When her face is confused, it is beautiful. When she understands something, I fall a little bit deeper. When her finger goes to her mouth and she debates silently, I can't look away and the smile under my palm is proud.
She sets a bowl in front of me. "If it sucks, you can say it sucks. You don't have to eat it."
I touch her cheek as she sits down. "Sweetheart, if you go in with negativity, you come out with a negative result."
She rolls her eyes. "Thank you, Mr. Dali lama."
I shrug. "It's just something my father used to say."
I pick up my fork and take a bite. I can feel her looking. I want to tease her and pretend it's gross, but it's not and I already made her cry once.
I touch her face again. "I need to find a poem for you that talks about making a man's stomach happy."
She hides her smile by looking at her food. She starts eating and I follow. I am being honest, it is actually very good. I'm quite surprised, not that I doubted her. Just that she learns so quickly.
"So….how did it go with Rosalie?"
I shrug. "She's still pissed off at Emmett. Understandably."
She pushes her food around. "Is she mad at you?"
"I don't think so. Not anymore. We had a good talk."
Her voice is small. "Is she mad at me?"
And I have to be honest. "Yeah. I told her what Kate said was a lie about you and him, but yeah."
"I'm sorry, Bella."
"It's not your fault." She takes a bite.
My fork pauses in my plate. "Maybe you should talk with her. I think she would listen if you did."
She shakes her head. "What am I going to say, Edward? Sorry for making your husband my pimp? I don't think Hallmark makes a card for shit like this."
And she's right.
After dinner, we lay upstairs. We aren't having sex, but it's getting a little…yeah. She's curled around me and I could give a shit less what's on the television. It was forgotten over an hour ago. I remove my mouth from hers for a moment, just long enough to turn it off. The soft light from the bathroom filters in. Note to Self: buy candles.
I put my mouth back to her skin. Not her mouth. Her neck. My hands palm the lush skin of her bottom. Her lower half grinds into my lower half and our need is the same.
And I wonder. My mouth goes lower. And I wonder. My mouth goes lower. And I wonder. My mouth is over her belly button. And I wonder. My mouth is so close. And I wonder. My chin rests on her skin before my mouth goes too far.
"Has anyone ever done this before?"
She shakes her head. Praise Jesus. There was this show on, once. On a channel most people block out. A woman said on this show she considered a man who gave oral pleasure a God. I watched it. I take the human body very seriously.
I kiss her stomach. The words are against her skin. "May I?"
She's shy. Amazing. She nods. I move my mouth lower. I kiss over the fabric of her panties. She jerks a little. I kiss until she is squirming. I kiss until her fingers are tight in my hair. I kiss until I am feeling her desire through the fabric, on my lips. I slip my fingers under the hem of her underwear. She lifts her hips up for me. They slide down her legs. I rest on my heels. I bring her foot to my mouth.
The words are against her skin.
With delicate hands and slender feet
Like a silver pony,
Walking, flower of the world,
Thus I see you,
I leave a trail of kisses up her leg. I reach her inner thigh.
The words are against her skin, but my eyes are on her eyes.
There is nothing like your hips,
Perhaps earth has
In some hidden place
The curve and the fragrance of your body,
Perhaps in some place,
And she knows. She knows.
I kiss in between her legs. She is pretty here. I surround her skin with my lips. I glance up at her and she is watching. It's erotic, but it's also innocent. There is so much she doesn't know for someone who knows so much. I move my mouth slowly. Gently.
"You're so sweet, Bella." I lay my tongue flat and lick to prove my point. I kiss her clit. "So lovely."
Her eyes close. I keep my mouth moving. Her fingers tug and knead at my hair. The sound of her breathing fills the quiet of the room. I listen to it for clues. I obey the signs. I slip my finger inside of her and move it against where she wants it. God Bless knowing the human body. Short and unsteady pants leave her mouth. I lick and kiss and move my finger until she holds her breath. She exhales and it's my name in soft repeated chants. And I'm quite okay with being me.
She is drunk with the high of her climax as I climb back up the bed. I lay at her side look at her. She opens her eyes. She rolls to me and her hand goes towards my underwear. I shake my head.
"I'm fine, Sweetheart. I just wanted to pleasure you."
Her eyes glance down and then back up. "You're hard."
I half-smile. "You're sexy."
I kiss her face before she can protest any further. My arms surround her and pull her to me. She relaxes. I stroke my fingers through her hair. My body relaxes as I feel her growing listless. I pull the covers over her. She sighs in contentment. And the future doesn't matter. And my words to Rosalie don't matter. And my fears don't matter. I just want this. I just want now. Even if it all may end in a harsh reality. It's real, for now. Right now.
The last words of the night are against her skin.
"Lovely one, my lovely one,
Your voice, your skin, your nails,
Lovely one, my lovely one,
Your being, your light, your shadow,
All that is mine, lovely one,
All that is mine, my dear,
When you walk or rest,
When you sing or sleep,
When you suffer or dream,
When you are near or far,
You are mine, my lovely one,
I love you.