Chapter 49: As they Align
I pace. I am alone and I pace.
There are two hundred and twelve white tile squares in this hallway. There are a lot of nurses who work here. I fucking hate hospitals. I hate the smell. I hate the lighting. I hate how everyone seems to be too busy and rushing around. I hate how everyone seems like robots and go about things like this is all just normal. Blood. Death. Hurt. It's all just normal. Part of their lives. Part of their day. I hate that Edward and his father have been in there with Jacob all this time and I have no idea what is going on.
There is a red stain on my clothes from where I touched him. Edward needed a washcloth. He thinks Jacob's nose was broken. The ambulance arrived and I was left on the sidelines. They spoke in a language that I didn't understand. Terms and abbreviations. Codes. There were tubes and machines and I don't know. I just don't know.
I am on tile number one hundred thirty five when a man stops me. He doesn't touch me. He isn't even close. He is over by tile number one hundred fifteen and I doubt he even knows me. Oh, but we know each other. My brain cannot remember most things. I have erased them from my memory. I remember him, though. His badge number. His secret name that Charlie told me. They used it on their radios. I remember.
Edward comes out. Finally.
"What's going on?"
He moves us to the chairs along the wall. "He's stable now. He had a broken nose, there's quite a bit of bruising to his face where someone hit him - hard- and he has a couple of broken ribs."
I shake my head. "But there was so much blood."
Edward takes my hand. "From his face. His nose and the wounds to his face where he was hit. You bleed a lot there."
"Is he gonna be okay?"
Edward nods. "I think so. Physically…anyhow. He went through a lot of trauma, so he will need sometime to heal before he is one hundred percent. This isn't like getting into a school yard fight or something. Whoever did this…they weren't another child, that's for sure."
And there is an anger on his face that I understand. An anger I am grateful for because no matter how much of a pain in the ass, or prick, this kid ever was to Cullen, he is still angry for him. He is still willing to feel something. To care.
"I don't even know how he ended up back at our house. I left him at his Grandfathers. I don't even understand…" Edward is cut off by exactly that person.
"Dr. Cullen, where's my Grandboy?" Billy looks worried. Billy isn't the guy. Billy wouldn't do this. It's Paul. I know it's Paul.
My heart is thumping seeing him. He looks the same as I remember. A little older. A little withered by the sun. He liked to fish, too. But he is still the same. He still doesn't see me though. Edward stands.
"My father is with him. This way." Edward shows him the room, but does not go in.
Billy enters and the doors is closed. Edward looks back to me. I know what he wants to ask. It's all over his face.
I shake my head. "It's not him. He wouldn't do it."
"You said Jacob didn't want to go home that day. The day he took your juice. It has to be someone there who is doing this. And I don't see Sam or Leah being the type. I treat Seth as well and I have never seen any signs of abuse or neglect."
"Jacob said he didn't want to go home because his dad was there. It has to be him. Paul."
The door opens. Carlisle comes out. He looks at me.
"Jacob is asking for you. He said he only wants to speak to Bella."
Carlisle moves aside. Billy exits and he only gives me a nod as a greeting. He walks back over the tiles. Down the Hall. All the way to number two hundred and twelve. Jacob looks like hell. He is bandaged and there are things in his arms. Still, a small smile. A sign of relief on his face. I don't know what it is about this kid.
"Bella." His fingers want to touch me or something.
I sit on the edge of the bed. "What the hell happened to you? No lies."
"I can't tell."
I sigh in irritation. "Then why am I here? I had plans this morning Jacob. Either spill it, or I am leaving."
He looks scared. "They'll hurt me again."
He is silent.
I am not. "Your Dad? Is he the one…"
"No!" And he winces when he shouts.
"Then who? And how did you end up at Dr. Cullen's house? He said he took you to Billy's. Are you trying to get him in trouble or something?"
"No. They just dared me to do something, okay?"
I stare at him until it hits me. "Your friends? Those punks from the store? They did this to you? Why?"
"They wanted to know where I was. I was supposed to be at the cliffs, but they always make me jump from the top and it's….it's scary from the top. And I saw you at the cookie store and I hid in your truck. Grandpa Billy got called into the station after Dr. Cullen took me home. I had to go back to my Mom's house and they saw me. They wanted to know where I was and when I said I was at Dr. Cullen's house they said they wanted to know where it was because they thought since he was a doctor, he would have cool stuff."
I raise a brow. "What kind of stuff?"
"They wanted to steal his TV or something."
I'm not naïve, but fucking shit. "Jacob."
"I didn't want to Bella! I didn't want to. That's why….that's why they hit me. I was scared that Dr. Cullen would hear us and then you would be mad at me and I tried to get them to stop but they wouldn't listen to me. Jared started hitting me and I ran. He chased me and I was in the yard, and I hid behind the gazebo. Collin found me and then he yelled for Jared. They wouldn't stop and they are bigger and I couldn't…I crawled to the tree house after they left. I was hoping that you or Dr. Cullen would find me."
And he is crying and looks in pain. Too many kinds and I have to touch his hand.
His small fingers that are still waiting for my mine.
"Jacob, why are you scared of Paul, then? I don't understand. That day at the store you said you didn't want to go home because your father was there."
He takes a breath and I hand him a tissues. I pray I'm not fucking up the stitches in his face by making him cry.
His voice is like a mouse. "I don't want him to think I am a chicken. If he sees Jared and those kids beating me up….if he knows, he'll think I am a chicken and he always tell me to be tough. I want to be tough, Bella."
Don't we all.
I nod. "Yeah, those assholes."
Emmett gets out before I say anything else. He is halfway across the street. I am jogging and trying to catch up. He grabs the tallest kid by the collar and slings him around the building. They were all hanging out in the front. Eating something. Causing trouble. I am sure. The other kids follow us.
"You gotta fucking problem or something?"
I am watching Emmett. Making sure he is only going to make this kid crap his pants. The kid shakes his head. His bag of chips falls to the ground. The other kids are already laughing. Yeah, some friends.
"Then why the fuck are you picking on Jacob Black? 'Cause he's smaller than you? 'Cause you think no one will stick up for him? 'Cause your own goddamn self-confidence needs a boost from these punks you hang around with?"
He doesn't let him finish. "Tell you what were gonna do. We're going to make an agreement right here, right now, that you are never going to touch that kid again. You won't look at him. You won't talk about him. You won't go to his house and you aren't going to start any more shit, 'cause if I see or hear that you are, I'm coming back for you and when I come back for you the next time, asshole, I am not going to be nice."
And I have to try hard not to laugh. This is Emmett's version of being nice. Nice.
After we leave the kids, we sit in the parking lot of a fast food place. He is eating a burger. I have some fries. Cullen would kill me. I shove a few more in my mouth. Emmett finishes and balls up his wrapper.
"So, what was all that about anyhow?"
I wipe my mouth. "I told you. They were messing with that kid."
He burps into his hand. "Yeah but, what's it to you? Why do you care?"
"His grandfather is my dad's old partner."
I reach for my drink. "Yeah. I should probably talk to him or something. I'm not even sure he knows what's going on."
Emmett looks at me. "Cullen is really rubbing off on you, huh?"
I make a face. "No…but don't you ever just wonder what might have happened to you if someone stepped in and did something? You know….maybe you wouldn't be sitting here eating shitty fast food with me right now. Maybe you'd be at home - your home - eating dinner with Rosalie. And your kid."
His expression turns angry. "You don't know shit about my life, Bella."
I look back towards the windshield. "I know enough."
I knock on the door. I remember this place. The same fishing boat is in the yard. I remember when they painted it. I wonder when the last time Billy took it out was. It looks a little rusty and beat down. I wonder if he goes at all anymore. Probably not. Amazing how many things die when your reasons do too. The door opens.
"Hi. Um…I wanted to make sure Jacob was okay. They told me he was here."
He stares at me for a minute. "He's sleeping, but come in, please."
My foot is shaky stepping over through the doorway. It still smells the same. Like the woods. A hint of sage. Slightly greasy from the fish they would fry every Friday. Maybe he still goes.
"Take a seat."
His kitchen is small. Completely different from Edwards. The table is round and old. I sit in one of the wooden chairs. It is a little wobbly. He sits a cup of hot tea in front of me. He takes a seat. This is going to be a long afternoon.
I have the books laid out in front of me. One, I am trying to study from. The other, I am trying to understand the other one with. I hear the garage. I hear the door open and close. Edward does something in the kitchen and then finds me in the living room. I keep my eyes on my work. He kisses my head before he takes a seat on the couch. I am at the coffee table. On the floor.
"Hi, Sweetheart." He sounds tired.
I keep writing. "Hi."
He flips on the television. I pause. He notices. "Sorry. Does this bother you?"
I shake my head. It does, but I'm not gonna make him change his routine. I'll deal. I finish my last page and close the book. I take a seat on the couch next to him. He puts his arm around me. More kisses to the head.
"I didn't have time to cook."
His fingers scratch at my hair. "It's okay. We can go out."
And I was looking for a way in, but he didn't give me one. I try again.
"I'll try to manage my time better tomorrow."
He looks away from the TV. He looks confused.
"I didn't leave anything extra for you to do. Did you go out today or something?"
"No…I um…well I went to see Jacob this morning and then…" My voice drops. "I went down to the school."
His voice is surprised. "Oh." And now he sees the book with three big letters on it.
We are in this little Italian place and Cullen likes manicotti. I will have to learn how to make this. He looks really happy. I have a bowl of soup. Minestrone. The bread here is good.
"So, how was Jacob?" He asks before taking another bite.
"He's a little better. I mean, he's still fucked up, but he's getting better. Billy said Leah got into a lot of trouble. They are trying to take Jacob away. I don't even understand why. She didn't do anything…I mean, maybe that was what she did wrong…nothing, but still."
Edward wipes his mouth. "Did he speak to you? Jacob?"
"Yeah…it was other kids. The same kids I saw him with at the store. Bullies. I misunderstood. It wasn't Paul. Although…his dad needs to take him out and teach him how to kick someone's ass. That would be helpful."
Edward smiles. "I'm glad he trusts you. You should speak to him, Bella. If Leah is getting in trouble, then you need to make Jacob understand that he needs to be clear with the authorities about what really happened. It could effect Seth, too. He lives in the same household. I'm sure I'll have to speak on it as well, seeing as how I was his doctor. Seth's too."
"What are you going to say?"
He shrugs. "The truth."
"Jacob is scared of those boys. He thinks they'll hurt him again. Even if they wont, he's still scared."
Edward touches my face. "That's why he needs a friend. He needs to feel safe." He sighs. "Enough about Jacob, though. I want to know about Bella and school."
"I have to study. It's a pretty big ass book. Even the shit I learned I forgot. This is going to be impossible, Cullen."
He shakes his head. Of course. "I'll help you. I used to do study groups in college. It will be easy. Promise."
"Did you like college?"
He nods. "It had some high points."
I grin. "Parties and drunk girls?"
He smiles back. "Not exactly. I was a little more disciplined than my classmates."
His face dims and I regret saying it, even if I was just playing. Damn Tanya.
"I'm sorry. I was just teasing."
"I know." But his face doesn't reflect that.
I scoot closer. "You're not boring, Edward. Not at all."
"Some might argue with that."
Damn my mouth. "Cullen, Kate said Tanya was boring, not you."
He just shrugs. I put my hand on his thigh, under the table.
"If I wanted to jerk you off under this table right now, would you let me?"
He says nothing and I know it's a yes.
"See, you're not boring." I lean in closer. I raise my hand higher. I put my chin on his shoulder. "You have no idea how good you fuck."
He shakes his head. "Don't say that, please."
He turns a little. He pinches my chin in between his thumb and finger.
"That's not what we're doing, though."
I smile a little. I scoot closer. "There's nothing wrong with fucking, Edward. You can love someone and still want to fuck them. I want to fuck you right now…that's doesn't mean…you know."
I put my leg over his. He lowers his hand from my face. I wind his tie around my hand. I put my mouth under his jaw, by his ear.
"Trust me, you fuck so good." I slide my hand from his tie, down his chest, to his crotch. I rub my hand against his pants until I feel him grow hard. I keep my mouth moving. I hear the waitress stop by and drop off the check. She can't see my hand, but I'm pretty sure she can tell what's going on. "Kiss me."
And he does. And when I know he is dying and praying for me to stop and keep going at the same time, I pull away. I glance around and no one is paying attention to us. I slip myself under the table and thank God for booths and table cloths.
And no, Cullen isn't boring.
Edward has this whole plan laid out. He is way too into study groups and while I would love to bust his balls, I can't. He's being sweet. He's helping me and he's taking time out of his day when I know he'd rather be watching TV after work, not helping me study for a stupid GED he could dance circles around.
I watch him as shows me how to highlight. I was him as he shows me how to take down notes. I watch him as he thinks about problems and love the concentration on his face, even though, this is all very easy for him. He still tries. And he doesn't tease or poke fun. He takes it seriously. He takes me seriously.
So, I pay attention.
He has a three ring binder divided into sections. He is loading papers into those sections. I have a new dictionary and a calculator and all I can see sitting here, on the living room floor, is Edward.
Edward when this kid inside of me is older. Edward when she is lying and saying she is done with her homework and he checks to make sure. Edward when she has problems she cannot fix and solve and he offers a resolution. When he teaches this kid her unknown name and how to write it. Her name.
I don't look at him. "Did you think of one yet?
He keeps writing. "Think of what?"
He pauses. "Oh…Um, no. Not yet." He looks at me. "Have you?"
I shake my head.
He goes back to writing. "We have time. We'll think of something, Bella."
"I think you should pick it out. I want you to."
He doesn't say anything and we go back to studying.
I am in a classroom. It is extremely weird. I am supposed to come here a certain amount of times a week. There are socks I left unwashed. It is all I can think of. There is a boy to my left that keeps staring at me. I am scribbling on my notebook, but I can feel his eyes.
"Hey," he whispers.
I ignore him.
"Hey," he tries again.
I glance over. He smiles. I look away and he moves to the desk behind mine. He leans forward.
"What's your name, girl?"
I say nothing.
"Aww, don't be like that. I'm just trying to be nice."
Right. I look over my shoulder.
"Bella." And then back to my notebook.
"Mmm, Bella. That's sexy. I like it."
My skin is itching. Crawling and itching and I want Cullen's lap. I turn around again.
"I have a boyfriend. He's huge and he'll kick your ass if he catches you talking to me. He practically stalks me, so I'd watch out if I were you."
He smirks. Fucking asshole.
"I like competition. What's your man do?"
This boy is a boy. He is not a man. He is a boy. Cullen is a man.
"He's a fucking cage fighter, but he works as a doctor during the day. He knows how to dismember bodies. Like a fucking butcher."
The idiot laughs. "You're feisty. I like it. Bella."
The teacher. "Is there a problem, Mr. Riley?"
He shakes his head. He looks cocky. "Naw, Sir. Just asking my friend Bella for a pen."
And I fucking hate this class.
When I get home, I sling my bag on the counter. Cullen has cooked something. I don't see him. There is a plate on the counter for me. I shove it in the microwave and heat it up. It's rice and chicken and delicious. I eat like the pig I have become and then wash my dishes. He already washed the other ones. They are drying in the rack. I put them away and make sure the floor is clean. The counters.
I toss the last load of laundry in and go upstairs. His door is open and I hear him talking. He's on the phone when I enter. He is already smiling and I am guessing it is Bree. I crawl on him and kiss along his neck. He cuts his call short and says his goodbye. The phone closes and he wraps his arms around me. And it is good to be home. I sigh.
"Rough first night?"
I groan. "This stupid kid was annoying me the whole time."
I look up and he is smiling. The backs of his fingers brush my cheek.
"I'm sorry, Sweetheart."
"It's alright. I should bring Emmett and let him scare the fuck out of him."
Edward laughs a little. "Are you trying to say I am not scary enough?"
"Not for this fucker. He doesn't seem phased by much."
Cullen's face gets more serious. "What did he do?"
"Just what guys do. Act like assholes and think no doesn't apply to them."
Now his face is very serious. "Maybe you should speak to the instructor."
I shake my head and. "It's fine. I'll just ignore him." I relax into him and close my eyes.
My eyes open again.
"No one is allowed to mistreat you. And no one is going to prevent you from getting an education. If he bothers you again, tell the instructor. That's what he's there for."
"Fine…can we talk about something else now?"
"Anything you like."
I touch his chin. "Tell me about your day. You were talking to Bree. How is she?"
He laughs a little. "She's fine. She wants to name your baby Jellybean."
My face scrunches. "Jellybean?"
He nods. "Apparently, her hamster seems to enjoy the name."
I laugh and shake my head. "My names were better than that, Cullen."
He's quiet for a minute. I close my eyes and just listen to him breathing. I feel him making circles on my face with his fingers and then, his voice is soft.
"I thought of one, today."
I open my eyes and look into the green staring back at me.
And it's weird. Not the name. That he chose it.
"Why did you pick that?"
His fingers keep touching my face.
"It was the name Esme picked out for the baby she could never have. I always liked it."