Bella folded the letter back and placed it close to her heart. Drifting off to sleep, her thoughts were filled with Edward and their newly acknowledged love for each other. The next morning, she woke to find that her fever had broken, and her lungs had begun to clear. When Carlisle came into the room to check her over, he was pleased with her progress.
“Carlisle, please let me go home,” Bella begged, using her most convincing and saddest eyes.
Carlisle tried his best not to laugh at Bella. “Alice tries that with her eyes, as well.”
“You better not let her hear you calling her Alice.” Bella giggled.
“Oh, shit, right, MAC. I don’t think I will ever get over the fact that she likes the name MAC, better than Alice.”
“Have you gotten over the fact that she shaved her head?”
“No. Esme cried for a week when she first did it.”
“Bella, please promise me that you will never do that.” Renee pleaded.
Bella put her finger up to her mouth and gave a mischievous look. “Well, that does have some merit; think about the savings on shampoo, and the time it takes to do my hair.”
“BELLA!” Renee yelled.
Carlisle and Bella busted out in laughter. “Mom, I don’t think Edward would allow me to do that.”
Carlisle looked at Bella. “Edward?”
“Oh, Carlisle, they have finally realized what we have known for years.” Renee beamed.
“Really? Has the “L” word been used?” He asked.
“Yes, it has,” Renee said.
“Mom, stop. That is something that Edward and I would like to share.” Bella grumbled.
“Fine, I promise not to say anything, but Bella, I want you to know that I am delighted to have someone like you loving my son,” Carlisle explained.
“Thank you, Carlisle. Now, can I go home?”
“Yes, but with some stringent restrictions. First, no school the rest of the week. If your lungs are not clear on Sunday, then possibly no school the next week. Second, no going outside.”
“But, Edward’s game Friday is against the Warriors. I have to be there.”
“No, you don’t,” Renee said.
“I do. I have never missed any of his games. Please, oh, please let me go.” Bella cried.
“How about we wait and see how you are doing Friday?” Carlisle suggested.
“Thank you, Carlisle, thank you.”
“I am going to get your paperwork finalized and get your medicine lined up. Take your meds, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest.”
“I will, I promise,” Bella confirmed. She would do anything so as not to miss Edward’s game.
Renee called Charlie to let him know that they were coming home. Charlie said he would make sure the house was warm, and the humidifier was in her room. He had stocked up on water with electrolytes in it, and Esme had brought over her famous chicken soup. He had made Emmett help strip Bella’s bed and place clean sheets on it. Her TV remote batteries had been changed, her laptop had been charged, and he had purchased a Barnes and Noble gift card so she could download some new books or magazines.
“Emmett, I don’t want you disturbing Bella when she gets home,” Charlie demanded. “She is still very sick and needs her rest.”
“I don’t do that anyway, so why would I start now?”
“Emmett Charles Swan.” Charlie bellowed. “Don’t make me remind you of all the times you have done so. Do I really have to bring up the worms in her tennis shoes?”
“Fine.” He huffed. “I'm leaving, going to go play Xbox with MAC.”
He loved playing Xbox with MAC. She knew all the cheats and was vicious when it came to Halo. He had heard a few of the girls in school make snide remarks about her shaved head, all black clothing, and multiple piercings. Was she like the other girls? No. But, she was the most loyal and faithful friend he’d had and was happy to hang out with her. One of his soccer buddies had asked if he liked her. He told him yes, she was his friend. “No, idiot. Do you like her as a girlfriend?” He asked. “No, she is like a sister. Yuck.”
“All right, but Emmett be home for dinner. Carlisle and Esme don’t need to feed you all the time.”
“But Esme’s food is the bomb.”
“That might be, but you need to come home,” Charlie stated, not leaving any doubt that he was serious.
Soon after, Bella was home. As soon as the car pulled up in front of the house, Edward was at the door to help Bella in the house.
He opened the door; his heart did flip-flops as he gazed upon the face of the woman he loved. She blushed like she had so many times before, but this time he was mesmerized by the warm, pink glow that bloomed on her cheeks, and traveled down her neck. At that moment, he thought about Bella naked and wondered if her blush flowed all over her creamy skin. He had never thought of her that way. His father had given him the sex talk and was very open if he ever had questions. He had a secret Tumblr account, and when he knew no one was around, he would take care of his ever-growing needs with those images, but thinking about Bella would be the only thing he would ever need again.
“Edward,” Bella whispered.
“Bella, I am so happy to see you home. Come, let me help you inside.”
Bella pulled her legs out of the car, and began to stand, but, as soon as she tried to stand, her knees began to shake, and her head began to spin. Edward noticed the color drain from Bella’s face, and she began to shake; he quickly put his arm under her legs, lifted her up, and pulled her close.
“Edward, I can walk.” Bella stuttered.
“Really?” Edward questioned, raising one of his eyebrows. Leaning into her ear, he whispered. “I am really loving having you in my arms.”
Bella opened and closed her mouth, not knowing how to respond. For so long, she had thought and dreamt of being this close to Edward, and, now that she was, she couldn’t even form one word.
“Come on, love, we have all the time in the world to talk about this. We need to get you inside where it is warmer because I need you to be healthy.”
Edward carried Bella inside where they were met by Charlie, who gave Edward a weird look. He was obviously wondering when his happened?
“Edward.” Charlie greeted.
“Charlie,” Edward smirked.
“Edward, dear, take Bella up to her room,” Renee said with a huge smile.
Edward climbed up the stairs and led them both into Bella’s bedroom. He had been in here a thousand times, but this time was the first time he walked in as a man in love. Laying her down on her bed, he picked up each leg and removed her shoes. He saw that someone had laid a pair of sleep pants and a long sleeve henny. The thought of her removing her sweatshirt and yoga pants to put on new clothes flooded his head, both heads. Shit.
“I’ll just step out and let you change.” Edward choked out.
“Thank you,” Bella said.
Edward walked out the door and ran into Charlie.
“She is taking her clothes off. NO! I mean she is changing into her night clothes.” Edward stammered.
Charlie slapped Edward on the shoulder and chuckled. “Edward, I have known you since the day you were born. I can see that you have finally realized what we all have known. You are a good boy, and I know you will treat Bella like the princess that she is, but, as much as I love you, if you ever hurt her, I will end you.”
“Yes, sir. I promise.” Edward said. He had never been scared of Charlie Swan, but the tone of his voice, and look in his eyes, made him quake in his shoes.
“I’m finished.” Bella murmured.
Edward and Charlie walked back into the room; she was in bed with her blankets pulled up.
“Bella, sweetie, you need to eat something, and take your medicine,” Charlie said. “But, first, I need to take your vitals.”
Edward walked over to the other side of the bed, and stood, looking down at Bella. In the past, he would have just jumped on the bed, and put his feet up, but, with these newfound feelings, he didn’t want to overstep any boundaries.
“Edward, what is wrong?” Bella asked.
“Then, will you please get on the bed? Looking up at you is making my neck hurt.” She giggled.
Edward sat down on the bed and finally made himself comfortable. He and Bella needed to have a conversation about their feelings, and how to proceed.
Charlie placed the blood pressure cuff around her arm; as it was doing its job, he used the tympanic thermometer to test her temperature. He was happy to see it was at 99.7, still above normal, but still a dramatic difference from the 102.8 yesterday. Checking the readings on the pressure cuff, he noted that it was normal.
“Bella, sweetie, I need to check your lungs,” Charlie advised, as he placed his stethoscope in his ears, and handed the other end to Bella to place under her shirt. “Deep breath.”
Bella breathed deeply, but, as soon as she did, she began to cough. “Sorry, Dad.”
“It is fine, sweetie. Now, I need to check from the back.”
Bella handed it back to Charlie, who looked over at Edward. He had been watching carefully and anxiously.
“Edward, do you mind?” Charlie said, handing him the end to place on Bella’s back.
“Certainly. I have watched my dad several times over the years. Bella lean forward.”
Bella leaned forward, while Edward pulled out her shirt and moved the stethoscope up to the position so Charlie could listen. But, as he moved up, he was giving the extreme pleasure of touching Bella’s bare skin.
After several more deep breaths, Charlie pulled the stethoscope out of his ears. “Sounds much better. There is still fluid in the left lung. I want you to take a couple of puffs of the inhaler.”
As Bella was taking in her puffs, Renee walked in with Esme and two trays of food.
“Edward, I wondered where you ran off to.” Esme joked.
Renee placed one tray in front of Bella, and Esme placed the other in front of Edward. “I know you haven’t eaten,” Esme said.
“Thank you, but I could have gotten something later. Bella is the one who needs to be taken care of, Mom.”
They ate their soup, and Edward made sure that Bella drank plenty of her water. He peeled her orange and began to feed her one slice at a time. One of the slices was extra juicy, and several drops slipped out of her lips. He took his finger, gathered the juice, then proceeded to put his finger in his mouth and suck off the juice.
“Yummy.” He confessed.
Bella’s mouth fell open. That had to be the sexiest thing she had ever experienced.
“Bella, sweetie, are you okay? Your face is all flush.” Edward asked as he placed his hand on her forehead.
“No, I am okay,” Bella muttered.
Edward just nodded his head, however, knowing Bella as well as he did, he knew something was up. He picked up the trays, placed them on the long dresser, and picked up her medicine. Giving her her pills and a glass of water, she took the medicine and handed the glass back.
“You need to rest. I will be back a little later and check on you.” Edward said.
“Don’t go. Stay until I fall asleep, please.” She asked.
“Sure my love,” Edward answered. He walked around the bed and laid down beside her. “Would you like to listen to some music?”
“I know what you would like to hear,” Edward said, pulling out his iPod and placing one earbud in Bella’s ear and the other in his, then started their favorite band. He scrolled down the list and found the song that fit their relationship perfectly. Pressing play the beats of For Me, It’s You by Train began to play. He had heard this song hundreds of time, but today it had a whole new meaning. As the song played, he reached out and took her hand into his and placed kiss on her knuckles. She laid her head on his shoulder and let the music flow through her body. How could one song be so perfect?
At the end of the song, Edward leaned over and looked her deeply in the eyes. “I love you.” He whispered.
“I love you too.”
Slowly he moved in and placed a tentative kiss upon her lips. He could taste the orange slices on her lips, but something else that must be all Bella, a bit sweet, yet spicy.
“I can’t wait until you are better,” Edward said.
“Because I want to take you out on a date and let everyone know that you are mine.”
“Hmm. I can’t wait to see Tanya and her crew witnessing that.” Bella joked.
“Yeah, maybe she will finally get it that I don’t want her,” Edward said, running his hand through his hair. He thought about the last run-in he had with her.
He had been walking to his car after practice when she snuck up behind him, when he turned she pushed him up against his car. She was wearing a very low cut sweater and he could tell she didn’t have a bra on because it was cold outside and her nipples were sticking out.
“Eddie baby. You look so good.” Tanya purred, running her hand up and down his chest.
Edward tried to back up more, but unfortunately, he was pinned against his door. “Tanya, I am not your baby.”
“But we could be so good together. I could show you what a real woman is like.”
“Tanya, I don’t really care for you and I don’t need you to show me anything.”
What happened next shocked Edward. Tanya grasped his hand, pulled it up under her very short skirt, and placed it on her bare pussy. He had been so shocked by what was happening it took a moment to pull his hand away.
“See that is what a woman feels like.”
Edward was raised to never lay a hand on a woman, but he had to get away from her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away. Once she had backed up, he opened his door, jumped in, and locked them. Tanya rushed back up and began hitting his window.
“Open up and let me in.” She yelled.
Edward placed his key in the ignition and gunned it out of the parking lot. When he got home, he took a hot shower and tried to wash away the memory.
“She better not try anything. I might be small, but I am not going to let her get between us.” Bella proclaimed.
“I promise you, she has nothing, and I mean nothing I want. Your love is everything I could ever want or need. Now close your eyes and get some rest. I promise to stay until you are sound asleep.”
Soon Bella was sound asleep, but before he left, he wrote her daily letter and placed it in her hand. He didn’t want to leave, but he knew as much as Charlie liked him, he wouldn’t like the fact that he was sleeping in the same bed as his little girl. Furthermore, he needed to do homework and get to studying the game plan for Friday night’s game. Then he thought this would possibly be the first game that he wouldn’t have his biggest supporter in the stands, cheering him on. Why had it taken him so long to realize that she more than just his best friend, that she was the woman who held his heart in her tiny hands?