All publicly recognised characters are the property of Stephanie Meyer; I've just fiddled about with them a little bit. All songs & films referenced are the property of the original songwriters & filmmakers. So remember, I don't own anything other than the plot and a house that now doesn't have a roof!

The response to Edward's arrival in the last chapter was just amazing. There were a few who felt that what happened to Bella was a bit harsh, but hopefully when you read this update some things will become more clear about why they occurred the way they did. Once again there have been the 'guest' reviewers who have levelled criticism over how I've shaped this story. I'm not going to take those comments personally. It's taken a lot for me to get this story out, trying to overcome crippling bouts of writers block and wobbles about whether my writing is good enough, so the minority do not get to overshadow what the majority of you lovely lovely lot have been saying about my work.

A big fat hello to all the new follows & favourites since the last chapter, to know that people are discovering my work still and enjoying it a huge boost.

Hubby has done the proof read on this one again for me, and he thinks you're going to enjoy it. We're still with Edward, and you'll get to see what happens & how he copes in the aftermath of James' attack.

Enjoy my lovelies and I'll see you at the bottom.


Time crept forward at a cripplingly slow rate, the sound of ticking from the cheap plastic clock mounted above the bed loudly taunting as each moment passed. There appeared to be a battle for dominance between the motion of the second hand on that infernal timepiece, and the repetitive beep of the machine monitoring Bella.

Seven days had passed since Bella had been wheeled into this room and my life entered a form of suspended animation. Seven agonising days of watching my beautiful girl lie in a medically induced coma while her body began to heal. No amount of coaxing from my family, or Charlie for that matter could convince me to leave her side to eat or rest. I'd been here for four days before my mother finally persuaded me to take a shower and change my clothes, telling me that the smell was putting the nurses off their work. When she threatened to have security physically remove me and hose me down in the carpark, I finally acquiesced but only on the condition that I didn't leave the hospital and could use the doctor's locker room to freshen up.

I wasn't setting foot outside the building until she opened those beautiful brown eyes and told me how much I looked like a tramp with a week's worth of unkempt growth around my jaw.

With an inordinate amount of time spent in this room, there had been plenty of time to stew over things. Sitting in a ridiculously uncomfortable chair in the private ICU room, holding Bella's hand as if my life depended on it; I thought back to when the cavalry finally turned up. It had felt like hours that we waited when in reality it could only have been a few minutes.


Around us, the noise level in the room picked up with the arrival of the police and paramedics. A uniformed officer and Detective Wilson spoke quickly to Mr Grant before swapping James' plastic bindings for regulation cuffs whilst reading his rights and hauling him out of sight. The detective remained to gather more information and called for the forensics team to join him.

After a quick update from my father, they expertly set about working on Bella, hooking her up to a portable monitor and evaluating her injuries. I remained fixed firmly at the head of the bed, unwilling to leave her side. With the location of the knife, and her breathing seemingly compromised, the decision to transport her to the emergency room sooner rather than later was made.

"Sir, we need to move Miss Swan, I'm going to have to ask you to give us some room." The uniformed man who had been dressing the wound on Bella's shoulder stated.

That in itself sent me into a huge panic. The fear I was going to lose her flooding my thoughts once more. I'd fought vehemently to be allowed to go in the ambulance with her, but the paramedics wouldn't capitulate, no matter how much I tried to argue.

Eventually, Carlisle intervened, pulling me gently from my seat next to Bella to stand with him. "Edward, you have to trust them."

Glancing back at where the medics were slowly manoeuvring Bella's unmoving form onto a stretcher and trying to prevent the weapon in her back from being dislodged, I finally lost my composure. Crumpling to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably, both Dad and Emmett were by my side in a flash, trying to coax me from my breakdown. Surprisingly it was my brother's words that proved alarmingly sobering.

"Ed, you've got to get your head in check man. Find the strength your girl needs to get her through this and help bury that sick fuck for what he's done. You need to take control before it consumes you."

The truth of that statement filtered into my conscious with alarming speed, he was absolutely right. This was completely out of character for me, never being one to outwardly show my emotions, always calm under pressure. The difference was it wasn't just Bella's life that hung in the balance, but mine too, and that petrified me. Without her there was nothing worthwhile left for me, how could I go on if my future was stolen from me? I needed to fight to preserve that with every fibre of my being. Make sure we both got through this, and that James paid for everything he had done. I'd make sure the District Attorney destroyed him in court so that he wound up wearing an orange jumpsuit while playing bitch for some big guy named Bubba or Tiny.

Gathering myself together, wiping my eyes with the handkerchief offered by my father, Emmett hauled me to my feet just as the emergency crew were preparing to wheel Bella down to the waiting ambulance.

Needing to be near her, I approached the gurney. "Can I have a moment please?"

Nodding, the pair stepped away to give me some privacy with Bella. Crouching so that I could get level with her head, her eyes were closed and a small smile graced her lips. There was a strange serenity to her semi-conscious state.

Carefully sweeping her long mahogany locks away from her face, I gently pressed my lips to her cool forehead and whispered; "Keep fighting sweetheart, we're not going to let him win. You're so strong Bella, I love you beyond comprehension, and need you more than you could ever imagine."

My declaration was rewarded with a tiny flutter of eyelids and a contented sigh. Whether this was a voluntary response from my beloved girl, or simply her slipping in and out of awareness, I didn't care. At that point, I was willing to grasp even the most microscopic occurrence as a positive.

Spurred on, I righted myself and turned purposefully toward Carlisle who was slipping his tuxedo jacket back on. "I'm probably over the limit. Will you take me to the hospital, Dad?"

"I'll be in the ambulance son. The medics want an extra set of hands…just as a precaution, plus it means Bella's not alone."

I couldn't argue with that logic, and if I wasn't allowed to accompany her, then I wasn't going to argue with my father's presence. He was the best doctor I knew, and I couldn't wish for more watchful eyes in my absence.

From the corner, Detective Wilson, interrupted his conversation with the other investigators who had arrived, "Detective Peters is taking over here, so I can get you to the hospital quickly, avoid any delays."

His promise helped calm me further as Emmett and I sombrely flanked Bella's stretcher, forming a protective guard while we made our way out of the room. Once in the corridor, I found myself wrapped in the fierce embrace of Rosalie.

"Don't worry about anything else Edward, I'll sort things here and we'll join you soon." She assured, whilst squeezing me even tighter.

Her words built on the growing seed of hope that things would be fine in the end. I couldn't predict what was going to happen in the next couple of hours or even the days or weeks ahead, but I would fight for Bella, fight for us, and fight for that animal to get everything he had coming to him.

In the meantime, she would hate to think that this had all caused so much fuss. "Thanks Rose, don't disrupt the gala, I want to avoid this turning into an even bigger circus. Speak to Garrett or Marcus, one of them can take over hosting duties."

With a final squeeze, she released her hold, "Just leave it to me. Now go!"

Turning, I jogged down the corridor to catch up with everyone else just as Grant was directing them toward the service elevator. He had anticipated that our procession would garner quite the crowd of onlookers if we went through the main hotel lobby, the EMTs had agreed, and one of them had diverted to bring the ambulance round to the back of the hotel.

With Bella safely on board, they departed with full lights and sirens, plus the added reassurance from Detective Wilson that a full squad car escort would pick them up at the first set of traffic lights.


So much had happened since then and there were moments that had completely passed me by, which was a new sensation for me. So used to paying attention to the little details, I'd barely given a second thought to anything else going on around me to begin with. Yet it was the strangest thing that had scorched my memory as those initial hours ticked by at the hospital. Bella had already been taken to theatre when we arrived so we were directed up to the surgical ward to wait for news. Stepping off the elevator, my nostrils burned with the overwhelming scent of the bleach and antibacterial hand gel to the point of nausea, yet I took bizarre comfort from the permeating odour.

Carlisle greeted us off the elevator looking massively relieved along with another doctor around the same age, wearing a more serious expression. As Dad's colleague began to drone on about every step of Bella's treatment since admission, all I could hear was the teacher's muffled voice from Charlie Brown. Minutiae were the basis of my career, but lengthy descriptions were futile at this stage, I just wanted cold hard facts. He looked quite taken aback when I interrupted his monologue by holding up my index finger to silence him, and requested a simple list of injuries, and what they were operating on.

The knowledge that they were working on removing the knife due to the blade being pressed against Bella's lung explained my father's relief – there had been no puncture. The emergency team wouldn't risk removing it for fear of nicking something important as it was such a sharp implement. We were assured that it shouldn't take too long and to expect an update within a couple of hours.

It hadn't been as smooth sailing as we'd originally anticipated either. The douchebag had injected Bella with a combination of Ketamine and something called Carisoprodol which was why her breathing had been so shallow. According to Carlisle, it was a miracle that she'd not gone into respiratory arrest, but I suspected that James knew exactly what he was doing. Everything that fucker did was by design, his actions cold and calculating, always with the end game in sight. There had been a hairy moment in the OR when her blood pressure had dropped dangerously low, and her heart rate had slowed, but through quick action from the surgical team, she'd clung on. As a precautionary measure, they'd decided to intubate once the knife had been removed, to provide some support while she recovered from the drugs that had been injected into her system.

Looking at her now, there was an ethereal fairy-tale quality to the scene as she lay in peaceful slumber, her long chestnut locks fanned out perfectly on the pillow. A serene half-smile graced her lips, as though she was caught in some thoroughly enjoyable dream while the angry mess of crimson and violet that mottled her cheeks gave way to the harsh truth of what had brought her here in the first place.

Still I sat in quiet vigil, waiting for her to wake. Today would be the day, I could feel it in my soul.

"Come on sweetheart, it's time to come back to me." I murmured against her knuckles as I raised her tiny hand to my lips.

We were now playing a waiting game as the doctors had lifted the sedation and removed her breathing tube yesterday afternoon. Charlie was due in shortly to sit with Bella while I quickly had a wash and brushed my teeth, and hopefully have an update for me with the case against James. The man had become invaluable in terms of keeping track of what was happening in the outside world. We'd assumed a shared responsibility for keeping vigil over our girl, but as an officer of the law, he was afforded some serious privileges.

As the door creaked, announcing a visitor, Charlie wandered into the room, a weary look gracing his usually stoic face. Something had happened since he left here last night, but the question was what?

Coming to stand next to me, he placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it. "Morning son, how's Bells today?"

"I think today will be the day Charlie." I stated firmly as I glanced up. "Do you have some news?"

Grabbing the other chair from the corner of the room pulled it across to sit next to me. "Yes, and it's definitely good. They've got enough to nail his ass to the wall for a long time Edward."

The words hit me like a tonne of bricks as I sagged back in my seat. As of Wednesday, James was still refusing to speak during interrogation and they were running out of time to hold him. He'd spent Saturday night at another medical facility after complaining of feeling dizzy and sick in the police car. Not believing it for one second but not willing to take any risks, they had him checked out. There was no major damage, but the doctor suspected he was more than just drunk. A complete tox-panel revealed that his blood alcohol level was still firmly over the legal limit, but, more importantly, he was high as a kite on cocaine. The last update I'd had from Charlie was that Detective Wilson was applying for an extension to hold him for further questioning.

Needing details, I pressed for more information. "Tell me Charlie, don't hold anything back."

"They got the extension, and when they informed Hunter, that was when he lawyered up. The fella took his sweet time arriving at the station, although I think I understand why now, and I'll get on to that in a bit. In the last forty-eight hours they've uncovered more evidence that ties him to the photographs. The alibi was fake." Charlie looked absolutely exhausted as he scrubbed his face roughly with his hand and let out a lengthy sigh. "Wilson made the connection when the Denali girl and your ex-girlfriend were brought in for questioning about the assault on Bella. Tanya was the woman who claimed she'd spent the night with him, which was a fabrication. The police searched her apartment and found a camera but there was no memory card, but Ms Denali became very talkative when they told her she was being charged with the assault on Bella. She was arraigned this morning with that, along with being an accessory to James' stalking, perverting the course of justice and concealing evidence relating to an ongoing investigation."

My eyes went wide in surprise. I knew Tanya was relentless in her pursuit of me, but I'd just put it down to an obnoxious sense of entitlement given her social status. Never in a million years did I think that she would have been capable or willing to help someone like James.

"Why?" was the only thing that came out of my mouth.

Leaning back in the high back chair, he explained; "She ran into him at Denali's offices when he was meeting with his lawyer. He fed her some bullshit story about how the charges were a desperate attempt to divert attention from Bella after they had slept together and she was scared you would find out. Tanya thought it might help her to get Bella out of the way."

It didn't take a genius to draw a logical conclusion about where this was going. Tanya was so blinded by her hatred of my girlfriend and desperation to snare me that she saw it as the perfect opportunity to expedite the process by casting doubt on her claims. Rage boiled in my veins as I digested the information. Part of me wanted nothing more than to march down to the precinct and demand to be allowed five minutes with that malicious little witch, but wild horses weren't going to drag me away from this bed right now.

I had an idea what this meant for the scumbag who caused all this mess, but I needed to hear it from Charlie. "So what does all this mean for having Hunter dealt with?"

"He was arraigned this morning, charged with abduction, aggravated assault, attempted murder, there was an additional count of breaking the restraining order. That's why I was late getting here. I wanted to see that bastard have the book thrown at him with my own eyes. It was incredibly satisfying to hear the judge rule that he would be held without bail until trial."

One thing stuck out in all of this information…murder…had that sick fuck really intended to kill my girlfriend? The idea that it might have been his goal made me want to retch.

"They think that he really planned to do that?" I whispered.

Shaking his head, Charlie explained the District Attorney's thought process. "They're pursuing that charge because…and I'm quoting them here…he showed reckless indifference to the value of a human life whilst committing a serious felony which inflicted grievous bodily harm. Whether it sticks or not remains to be seen, but they're hell bent on taking the weasel down."

"I'm assuming that Biers entered a 'not guilty' plea for the rat?"

A dark chuckle burst forth from Charlie's mouth, echoing around the quiet room. "That was the moment things got a little interesting. The defence counsel recused himself from the case, much to the anger of his client."

What the hell? What on earth would make Riley drop his client in the middle of the courtroom? He was well aware that Hunter was guilty, but he was a self-serving, arrogant son of a bitch who didn't back down. This made no sense to me whatsoever, and if there was one thing that annoyed me with all things legal, it was things that didn't add up.

"Why?" I asked again. This question was getting a bit repetitive, but necessary.

"He cited a conflict of interest, and the judge accepted it. He left the court immediately, but asked me to give this to you." From his jacket pocket, he retrieved a sealed envelope, it was clear Charlie was as perplexed as I was.

Turning the letter over, my name was scrawled hastily across the front in jet black ink, mocking me until I opened it. While the packet was light between my fingers, the weight of the words it might enclose sat heavy on my chest. Did I even want to see what he had to say? We hadn't exchanged a civil word since the day I'd ejected him from my apartment, and since his reappearance in my life only a short time ago, his presence had been nothing less than a sore reminder that I despised the man with every breath my body had.

"Why don't I go get us a couple of coffees." Charlie patted me on the shoulder, obviously sensing my reticence to investigate the contents.

Biting the bullet, I ripped into the thick cream paper as he strolled out of the room, closing the door behind him. Extracting the folded sheet, I sucked in a breath before exhaling deeply. I wasn't sure what to think as I started to read.


This is not an easy note to write, but I have recused myself from Hunter's case, and by the time you read this I will also have resigned. The events that happened last weekend, are not the kind of case I want to be associated with regardless of my ability as a criminal defence lawyer. I know we've had our troubles in the past, and I won't apologise for what's been and gone, but had I honestly thought your girlfriend was in danger, I would have come to you straight away. No amount of petty squabbles between college roommates is worth jeopardising the life of another human.

On Monday, I was asked by Eleazar Denali to bury evidence that linked his daughter to Hunter's crimes. That was the point where I started to question what type of people I'd gotten involved with. While I love my job, and despite what you may think of me, I won't break the law to win a trial. The evidence I was asked to conceal has now been handed over to the District Attorney, hopefully this will help them solidify their case, and help put a dangerous man where he belongs.

This isn't about mending any bridges with you, as Vicky and I will be leaving Seattle shortly, it's simply about doing what's right. I hope that Isabella makes a full recovery and that you are both able to move on from this terrible time. Despite everything, and contrary to what you may believe, I do wish you both the very best.


The page was still gripped firmly between my fingers to the point that the paper was starting to crease while my eyes burned holes in the paper as Charlie wandered back in with two cups of coffee. Offering one to me with an outstretched hand, I accepted it from him gratefully. I hadn't realised how dry my throat had become whilst reading and rereading Riley's message until I took a large gulp of the warm liquid.

Taking his seat beside me, Charlie took a sip of his drink. "I take it the letter confirmed what I witnessed in court this morning?"

Nodding in validation, I passed the document to Bella's father before swallowing another mouthful. While he'd not shown any repentance for what happened in college, the tone and language of his letter indicated a man who had done a lot of growing up, someone who now valued his career and the principals it was built upon. Something I would never have expected from him given his past form. While I'd not been jumping for joy that he'd moved to Seattle, in my mind Denali had been a good cultural fit for someone like Riley. Now, I wasn't too proud to admit that perhaps I was wrong.

"Maybe Biers isn't so much of a weasel these days?" I mused.

"I know in theory everyone can change, but I get the impression he's not one to seek redemption for his sins. That said, he did speak to me before he left the courtroom, told me he was sorry for what happened to Bells." The wry smile told me Charlie Swan had definitely got the measure of my old adversary in a very short space of time.

Looking pointedly at Bella, I agreed, "You're probably right Charlie, but it's of no consequence to me. He's the past, and I'm far more concerned with my future."

Over the last few days, we had fallen into an easy pattern of companionship at the hospital, watching Bella closely, often sitting like a pair of bookends. Charlie was my eyes and ears to the outside world and a vital conduit to the police investigation. Detective Wilson had allowed him station privileges because he was law enforcement, which meant he'd been able to observe James' interrogations, although there had been very little to report from those.

Truth be told, everyone was bending over backwards for us.

My mom had taken it upon herself to make daily deliveries of food, declaring that the 'muck' from the cafeteria was not up to standard. I think Charlie was developing a culinary crush on Esme with all the treats she'd snuck into the hospital to keep us going. Alice, Jasper, Rose and Emmett had all been a steady stream of visitors, bringing much-needed items from my apartment, or just conversation to keep me sane. They seemed attuned to my needs, giving support when I was struggling, and space when needed. I never had to ask.

The level of service we had received from the hospital had been nothing short of first class. Then again, given Carlisle's position he had been able to pull every string possible, and then called in multiple favours to ensure that Bella's care team were the best in the city never mind the hospital. Security had also been beefed up to Fort Knox levels. Not once had I had I felt that there wasn't enough being done.

We existed in an impenetrable bubble, where only those on a pre-approved list of visitors were granted access to the Intensive Care Unit. I was no fool; the press had been camped outside the hospital since Sunday afternoon like vultures, desperately trying to get the scoop on the 'victim' from the stories that had run in Monday's early publications.

Not one newspaper had printed a story that was factually accurate, and some of the less than credible ones had been on the receiving end of terse phone calls from Garrett thanks to the lies they printed. They were forced to publish a full retractions and apologies after claiming James and Bella had taken part in some weird sexual fetish game that had gone horribly wrong. They weren't too keen to stand by their story once they were threatened with a lawsuit for slander on the grounds that they had no evidence to back up the claims.

So far we had done a good job in protecting Bella amid the aftermath. Lauren had already been charged as an accessory to James' attack thanks to the CCTV footage and the text messages she'd sent to the burn phone found at the crime scene. Now there was a phrase I still couldn't get my head around. It had taken enough to process the fact that Bella had been seriously injured without thinking about the circumstances that had led to her being hospitalised. Lauren had been another person who got sucked into Hunter's web of lies as he continued his pursuit of my girlfriend, having been seduced by the story that it was Bella who had been hounding him and not willing to accept his rejection because he was interested in someone else. The details were becoming more intricate than a plot on a soap opera.

Apart from Charlie, the police and my family, the only other phone call I'd been willing to take earlier in the week was from Alistair after news of Lauren's involvement had reached his office. She'd been fired with immediate effect for gross misconduct having admitted that she cut the heads off the flowers in a fit of anger, and was also the person to slip the first note into Bella's manuscript pile. James had lied yet again, saying that he'd written her a polite message requesting that she leaves him alone, and the dumb girl had believed him because she was convinced he was genuinely interested in her. The police still didn't know who had written the note for him, but it definitely wasn't his penmanship. He'd plied her with gifts and expensive dinners to seduce her into unwittingly being part of his plans. Perhaps I should have felt sorry for her, but my heart didn't have the capacity for forgiveness when it came to people who had acted in a deliberate manner that had led to my beautiful girl being here.

"I'll be glad when all this is over, and we can just get back to normal though Charlie." I sighed.

Nodding in agreement, his expression grew serious once again; "We've got a way to go yet, though. There's the trial which will be incredibly difficult for you both, not to mention the work still to be done on Bella's shoulder once they've assessed the level of scarring."

The prospect of the trial brought serious trepidation over my girl being in the same room as that animal. Maybe we could persuade the court to allow her to testify via video link, or perhaps there would be no need for her to give evidence at all. The photographs of her injuries and the footage obtained from the hotel could be enough for the prosecution, but there was nothing to stop the defence calling her. I wanted that bastard to pay for everything he'd done, I wanted to watch his privileged little ass get handed to him by the team who were fighting to give Bella justice.

Dealing with the damage to Bella's shoulder would be a different mountain to climb altogether. We were going to have to play the long game with it according to the Plastics Consultant. The incisions were deep, and while every effort had been made to fix things as neatly as possible, scarring was a given. He wanted to wait and see how things meshed together once the stitches had dissolved before making a decision on next steps, but his gut feel was a small skin graft would be needed at the very least to fully erase the words left behind.

I shuddered just thinking about what lay underneath the thick padded dressing on her right shoulder. What kind of animal carves their name and the date of their attack onto their victim's body? It was a question that had surfaced so many times since that night, and still I came up empty. All it achieved was the overwhelming sensation of nausea and anger, coupled with the need to punch something hard. Rather than reacting violently, my hair bore the brunt of the frustration, tugging at it fiercely to the point of pain; just so I could feel something other than the blistering need for retribution for the damage James had caused.

The compulsion washed over once again.

Keen to ease the feeling I leaned forward, resting my head on the starched white sheets covering Bella's prone form. Just the physical closeness to my beautiful girl had the desired effect. Letting out a cleansing breath I reached for her hand, as weariness filled every fibre of my body, creeping into corners I didn't know existed.

"Come on sweetheart, don't keep us waiting, we need you back with us." I whispered, slumber claiming me as I softly squeezed her fingers, hoping for any kind of response.


Dreams were a funny thing. Quite often you wake up knowing you've had a really good sleep and an amazing vision, but you struggle to recall the details. Then every once in a while, you experience something so vivid, you would swear blind that it actually happened.

Who knows how long I was out for; time had pretty much ceased to exist for me since the previous Saturday, but as I slowly stirred, the memory of Bella's touch and voice played on a loop. Gentle strokes of her fingertips against the soft bristles adorning my jaw as she softly crooned words of love and reassurance to me that everything was alright. Unwilling to accept my awakened state, I kept my eyes firmly closed, revelling in the memory for just a moment longer, until I could deny reality any longer.

Sleeping in the position I had, wasn't really conducive to feeling refreshed, but that didn't bother me. Shifting myself, a little, it was time to return to my sentry position until my beautiful girl awoke. Rolling my head to the side to ease the stiffness in my neck, the ghosting caress continued to replay and I was lost to the feeling once again.

"Open your eyes, Angel?" A scratchy voice quipped as I sat bolt upright and my eyes now wider than you'd think they could possibly get. Greeted by deep brown orbs, her lips curled upwards in satisfaction as I rubbed my eyes to be doubly sure that I wasn't hallucinating. Even under the fluorescent lighting of a hospital room with no windows, after a lengthy sedation, she still radiated beauty.

Unable to find the words that adequately encapsulated the myriad of emotions coursing through me; I clambered onto the bed, wrapping my arms around her as the happiest of sobs reverberated around the room.


Hope you enjoyed that, and it's given you guys a bit of closure that you didn't get in the last chapter. It was a tough one to write, so hopefully it had the impact that you were hoping for.

Do let me know what you thought of it, as I'm always keen to hear from my readers.

Not sure how long you'll have to wait for the next chapter though. I've got nothing in the reserve tank so as I write it, you're getting it.

Much love to you all.

Lou xxxx