Full Summary: Edward Cullen doesn't remember the last year of his life, so he doesn't understand why he has to be cared for by Bella Swan, who would give anything to change thirty seconds of her life. They both lost everything, but she'd fight to get it back…even if she had to fight with Edward Cullen. How important could thirty seconds of your life be? What would you give to change it? AH/AU. Canon couples/OOC. Rated M…just in case.
A/N: Happy New Year! I know you're waiting for more of MCMU, and it's coming back soon, I promise, but I decided to post this one now. It's different than most of my stories, and there will be angst. Just a warning.
SMeyer owns the characters. I own the stories and the mistakes.
"Come on, Edward. Pick up your leg; don't drag it behind you. Three more minutes," Emmett McCarty urged. He was Edward's physical therapist, and Edward hated him as much as he hated me on most days. Edward was an awful patient…doubly awful. He was a man and he was a doctor. The combination made him a monster on a good day.
"Fuck you and her as well," he snapped at Emmett as he walked slowly on the treadmill. I rolled my eyes, pushing down the heart-wrenching pain. It was nothing new, really, and it was one of the nicer things he'd said to me since I'd been taking care of him after his accident.
I tried not to let his comments get under my skin because I knew every day was a test of his patience. He had to relearn a lot of things, and he would never be able to practice medicine again due to the traumatic brain injury he'd suffered on Christmas Eve nearly six months prior.
He was rushing home because he was late for a family celebration, and he was t-boned by a drunk driver who ran a red light. He was in a coma for three weeks because the doctors kept him in one to allow his brain to heal. He had three broken ribs on the left from the side airbag and a collapsed lung as well, but the most serious injury was the head trauma.
He'd undergone surgery to insert a monitor Bolt to track intercranial pressure. He was fortunate they didn't have to perform a cranioectomy to remove a piece of his skull so the brain had room to expand. Doctors were able to regulate the swelling with meds, but in the beginning, it was completely horrifying.
After he regained consciousness, a new, unexpected problem was diagnosed. Edward didn't remember anything that had occurred the year prior to the accident. There was no way to know if he'd ever remember the lost time, and it frustrated the hell out of him.
As soon as the doctors learned of this development, they called the family together, explained the ramifications, outlined what to expect from Edward, and how to handle it as a family. It was extremely difficult and frustrating for all concerned, but exacerbating the problem was Edward's confusion and personality change.
"Okay, I think we're good for today. Have you been doing your therapy without me? You've regained about eighty-percent use in your right hand, but I can't help believing you'll get closer to one-hundred percent if you keep it up," Emmett praised as he handed Edward his cane. There had been paralysis on the right side, but there was no nerve or muscle damage, so the doctors were optimistic he could regain full use with extensive therapy.
His parents had remodeled the library in their home to make a gym so he could have daily sessions without having to go to the therapist's offices. They'd also abandoned their offices just off the library to provide Edward with private quarters near the home gym. He wasn't grateful for any of the sacrifices the family made for him, and I suppose I couldn't blame him. I can't guarantee I wouldn't be bitter in his position.
"Mr. Cullen, would you like…" I began as I approached where he stood next to the treadmill, wiping the sweat from his face with a towel Emmett handed him.
"Miss Swan, unless you're going to wash my dick and give me a happy ending, I can shower alone. McCarty, I'll see you tomorrow. After I shower and practice my handwriting exercises, I want something edible for dinner, you bossy bitch," he tossed my way as he slowly proceeded out of the gym.
I felt the tears spring into my eyes at his words. It wasn't that he said them, because he had some pretty colorful names for me since he'd been released from the hospital and I'd begun his care. The most hurtful part was he hadn't always been that way.
After he slammed the door, Emmett walked over to where I stood and hugged me as I sobbed for the third time that day. It was actually a good day because the day before had been his birthday, and he'd forbidden me to even be in the house. He'd shrieked at his mother that it was his fucking birthday and he should spend it how he chose. None of his plans included having my "scraggly, boney ass" around.
"Shh. I don't know how you do it. I don't understand why Carlisle and Esme don't tell him…" Emmett began his broken record.
I pulled away. "You know why. I agree with them, Emmett. He's got to come to realizations on his own, if it's possible," I reminded.
"What if he never does?" Emmett asked.
"I can't dwell on that. I have to pray either he'll remember things on his own, or his opinion of me will change once he gets to know me," I responded.
"Gets to know you? Hell, Bella…" Emmett complained.
"I know," I sighed, feeling exhausted yet again. The possibility he'd never feel the same about me was too much to fathom, but if, after he was physically healed, he wanted me out of his life I'd have to abide by his wishes regardless of the personal cost to me.
I walked Emmett out and went to the kitchen to put together Edward's dinner. Kate, the Cullens' cook, refused to serve his meals, and I couldn't blame her. After he was discharged from the care facility he went into directly from the hospital, he went to his parents' house to continue his recovery. Being the awful patient he was, he'd throw the food at her if it wasn't what he wanted to eat that day. He was on a special diet, and he hated it, so after the first week of her walking into the kitchen with food in her hair or on her clothes, she threatened to quit.
At the time, I was staying with Esme and Carlisle, so I told Kate I'd see he got fed and that was probably when his hatred for me grew from a small candle flame to the raging inferno I experienced of late.
"Bella, how's he doing today?" Kate asked. She was a lovely woman. She was in her late forties, and she lived on the property but not in the house. She'd offered to move into the main house and allow me her small cottage so I could have some privacy those first few weeks I stayed, but I declined. After Edward became ambulatory and the catheter was removed, I moved back home because he hated knowing I was in the house.
I arrived at the Cullens' house every day at seven in the morning, not leaving until Edward was settled for bed at eleven at night. It didn't matter what time I left because I didn't sleep when I got home, and I never took a day off, about which I caught seven kinds of hell from Carlisle, Esme, Edward's sister, and my own father. It was actually because of my father I even met Dr. Edward Cullen in the first place.
"His dexterity is improving daily. He was able to walk three miles on the treadmill today, which Dr. Gerandy will be quite happy about when I take him for his check-up. I've only cried three times today, which is a bonus, and he's only called me a bitch four times. Maybe it's a sign of a change," I replied optimistically.
Kate placed a cup of tea on the table in front of me. "Child, why don't you allow Carlisle and Esme to hire a private nurse to deal with him? They get paid to put up with the nasty attitude. It shouldn't be this way between you," Kate said with a gentle hand on my cheek and a lot of sympathy in her eyes. Of course, her kindness brought tears to my eyes.
"Katie, you know why I do it. He's…"
"Goddamnit! Am I getting dinner or not? I don't appreciate the help gossiping about me when I'm not around. Cook, I believe you have a job to do, and it's not to coddle Miss Swan. She's compensated quite handsomely, I'm sure, to care for me which she's currently doing a shitty job of because I'm starving.
"Miss Swan, if you're so fucking disgruntled working for my parents, why don't you take your lazy ass out of their house and find another cripple with a kinder demeanor. I'd like to know what fucking school you went to for training because bitch, you suck," Edward snapped from the kitchen doorway. I hadn't heard him approach, which was a good sign because it mean he was gaining more control over his movement.
"Edward Anthony!" I heard from the other entrance of the kitchen. It was Carlisle coming in from the garage. I knew he was going to go off on a tangent, and it only served to escalate the situation. I waved him off and stood to face Edward.
"Mr. Cullen, I'm just getting ready to bring your dinner. Why don't you settle in your room, unless you'd like to join your parents in the dining room? I believe your sister and her husband are invited for dinner, and Katie's cooked a pork roast, which is one of your favorites," I suggested, trying to hold myself together.
"Oh, so now you're dictating my entertainment as well? How lucky. Father, did you know Miss Swan is a social director? Isn't there some stupid inbred fool out there who is willing to take you on a fucking date? Though, based on your appearance, I'd guess he'd have to be blind. Have you never heard of a thing called make-up," Edward snapped.
"Mr. Cullen, that's unnecessary. I'm here to do my job, not provide you with eye candy," I snapped. Thankfully, Carlisle and Kate left the room to allow me to deal with him.
"Are you so bitter because you got dumped? How fucking old are you anyway?" he hissed.
"I'm twenty-seven. I didn't get dumped. I lost my husband in an accident, you arrogant fuck," I snapped. Maybe it wasn't a better day after all.
"It was probably a suicide if he had to come home to you every day," he stated sarcastically. I couldn't take it any longer. I went to the closet and found my purse and I left. Some days were better than others. This was not one of those days.
I held myself together as I drove home. I reached into my blouse and pulled out the chain from which two platinum bands hung, and I held onto them for dear life. I had a nightly routine, but it appeared as if I'd get to settle into it five hours earlier than usual since it was only six in the evening.
I pulled into my parking spot, and I climbed the two flights of stairs to the lavish lobby of the condo building in which I resided. I say resided because I didn't live…anywhere. I hadn't really figured out how to live since my life had been blown apart, but I couldn't dwell on it or I'd lose my fucking mind.
I crossed the lobby, looking around and chuckling for the millionth time since I'd moved in the year before. It wasn't a place I ever thought I'd see myself living, but when you fall head over heels in love with someone, you'll do a lot of things you never imagined.
"Ah, you're home early," Jake, the desk attendant, greeted as he placed a package on the front desk.
"Hi, Jake. How are you this lovely June evening?" I asked tiredly.
"Clearly, better than you. How's Mr. C?" he asked. He asked every day, and usually, I gave a pat answer of "getting better all the time." That night, I only smiled because I was afraid Edward wasn't ever going to get any better and I couldn't say it out loud. That would make it real.
"Oh, bad day?" he asked. The guy had a sweet demeanor about him, and he had the sweetest wife and daughter I'd ever met. I loved it when they came to visit him before everything happened. I'd run into them when I got home from work. Carlie, Jake's wife, was quite shy, but it was easy to see she loved her husband as much as I loved mine. His daughter…she was everything I hoped my child would be back then. Unfortunately, I'd never know.
"It was a day. How's Nessa?" I asked. She'd just finished her first year of school, and I was always entertained by the stories he told me. I knew he was trying to offer me a distraction, and I always welcomed it. Only my doctor and I knew the depth of the loss I'd suffered. The only proof I had I was ever pregnant was a sonogram picture from my first prenatal visit and a small box wrapped in Christmas paper with a gift for my husband to give him the good news. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be news I'd ever get to deliver.
"She's fine. She's going to cheerleading camp, if you can believe that. You just missed her and Carlie. Do you need anything, Mrs. C?" He was quite sweet for asking.
"Just a hot bath and a glass of wine. Good to see you, Jake. Please, for the millionth time, call me Bella," I ordered. He winked at me and handed me the box.
I grabbed the mail from the mailbox and climbed onto the elevator, inserting my key in the lock to take me to the penthouse. When the door opened, I trudged off and tiredly opened the front door. I dropped my keys in the bowl by the door along with my purse and the box. I knew what was in it without opening the damn thing. It was a birthday gift for Edward…a rare first edition of "The Catcher in the Rye," which was his favorite book. I didn't know if giving it to him would spark anything or make things worse, so I left it on the table to consider it the next day when I went to the Cullens.
I checked the machine in the kitchen, hearing my father's comforting voice. "Bells, it's me, honey. Just checkin' in. I'm workin' the swing shift, so if ya get home before midnight, call me. I'm worried about ya. Love you, honey. Bye."
Everyone in my life, save one person, was worried about me. Hell, I worried about me. I didn't realize I was as strong as I was, but I suppose there's something to be said for "what doesn't kill us makes us strong." He's not dead. He's only lost. I had to keep remembering that, or I'd curl up into a ball and die.
I went to the spare room I'd moved into and grabbed my pajamas, going into the master bathroom to shower. As I looked at the huge Jacuzzi tub to the right, I remembered the last time I'd soaked in it.
"Bugsy, come up here, baby. I've got a surprise for you," I heard him call from upstairs. I'd had a bad day, and when I called him to whine about it, he'd listened patiently, as he always did even though he was busy, and told me he had a surprise for me when I got home.
"Be up in a minute, Elmer. Just getting a glass of wine," I called up to him.
"Got it covered," he called back.
I laughed at our stupid nicknames for each other, but he'd started calling me Bugs shortly after I met him because I'd always greet him with a "What's up Doc?" He told me it was one of the things he loved about me.
I climbed the stairs and wandered down the long hallway to our master bath, seeing candles everywhere, along with flowers and a large silver bucket we'd received as a wedding gift. It held a large bottle of chilled 'Veuve Clicquot'. His smile was incredible, and my horrible day melted away immediately.
"How's my wife?" He was already in his robe and wasted no time removing my suit from me.
"The other kids don't like to play nice," I whined as he kissed my neck, reaching around to unhook my bra after he removed my silk blouse.
"Who was it? I'll beat them up tomorrow," he offered, drawing a titter from me.
"That sounds a lot better than the sad sack I heard over the phone. So, tell me what's wrong," he coaxed as he helped me out of my panties and into the tub. He handed me a hair band from the ever-present dish on the vanity counter, and he opened the bottle of champagne, pouring two glasses, handing both to me as he disrobed and climbed in with me.
Once he was settled, he took a glass and toasted. "To the most beautiful, patient, woman in the world. You work with my mother…you have to be!" We both laughed and drank.
It wasn't that his mother was difficult. Quite the contrary. She was a lovely woman. It was our clients who didn't trust my judgment and determined the only reason she'd taken me on as a partner was because I'd married her son.
"Who was it today?" he asked as he refilled our glasses.
"Victoria James. We had everything set to be delivered next week in time for Thanksgiving. Your mother is doing that job for the Newton's, so Esme told Victoria I'd be there for delivery and staging, and she threw a fucking fit. She said some nasty things about my abilities and how I only worked for your mother because I was fucking her son, which you know Esme. She went ballistic. She tore up the contract and threw it at the woman. I spent the afternoon cancelling all of the deliveries. Can you go beat Victoria James up for me?" I whined as I sipped my champagne.
He pulled my feet into his lap and began the wonderful massaging he knew would make me forget my day and get me so riled up I'd fuck him on the first flat surface we could find. The man was very good at diversionary tactics.
"On my way to the hospital tomorrow, I'll stop by and kick her ass. So, I do believe I've secured the week between Christmas and New Year's. Dad said he'd cover for me since Alice and Jasper are going to be gone at the same time. We can leave the twenty-sixth and come home on the thirtieth, which allows us to spend Christmas Eve and day with your dad, and then be home in time for Mom and Dad's New Year's party, all the while having a vacation for ourselves. I was thinking Hawaii. It's close, so we can cut down on travel time, and then for my birthday, we can go to Italy on a proper honeymoon. Vancouver in August is not exactly a proper honeymoon. It was three days, love," he explained.
"Hey, you're the one who wanted to get married on the fly," I teased.
"You bet your gorgeous ass I did. When you showed up in the ER after your father got hurt, you cast your spell over me, and that asshole, Taylor…Trevor…whatever, was going after my girl. Taking you to the courthouse and marrying you three days after I proposed was a lot more sanitary than peeing on you every day before you went to your old job. The best thing that ever happened was when Mom begged you to partner with her after we were married. You're a top notch designer, and if that idiot didn't see it, at least my mother did. Now, let's move on, Mrs. Cullen…"
We did move on, quite nicely. He made love to me in the tub, on the bathroom counter, and in our bed that night, wiping out every bad thing that happened that day. That night was the night we conceived our child. Our child he'd never know about and I'd never know.
We never got to do any of those beautiful things he'd promised. He was on his way home on Christmas Eve because we were running late to get to my father's, and that night was the one to change our lives forever.
After my shower, I went to the kitchen to heat up some soup Katie had forced on me two days prior. The day before…Edward's thirty-third birthday when he'd demanded I not show up…I'd spent the day in bed with the small album of photos we'd accumulated during the short courtship and three month marriage we'd had prior to the accident. I closed it before I got to the ultrasound picture.
I called my dad because he was worried, and I knew he'd show up the next morning at five if I didn't. "Chief Swan," he answered stoically. He never looked at caller ID, God love him.
"Bella Cullen," I answered as dryly.
"Oh, hell Bells. How are ya, honey?" he asked, perking up a bit. I was awful about returning his calls because I had nothing good to tell him. Unfortunately, his agenda was always the same.
"Hi Dad. How's the criminal element? Should I keep my pepper spray handy when I leave in the morning?" I teased.
"Based on a conversation I had with Katie, I'd say you should use it on your husband," Dad snapped. He and Katie had developed a close "friendship" after I started dating Edward.
Carlisle and Esme had invited him to Sunday dinners, and Dad started showing up earlier and earlier to sit in the kitchen and keep Katie "company" while she cooked. I knew he was interested in her, and I was happy to witness it. Unfortunately since the accident, he didn't spend time at the Cullens' house because it was too difficult to explain it to Edward. Katie had Saturdays off, so my dad worked around her schedule to spend time with her.
"Dad, he can't help it. He's not the Edward you taught to fish. He's not the doctor who set your arm when you broke it last June. He's not the guy who showed up at the station at three o'clock in the morning to beg you for your blessing to ask me to marry him. Think about what he's been through. He's doing the best he can," I defended.
"Bells, why do you refuse to consider divorcing him? Even Esme and Carlisle think it's in your best interest. You can have a good life, you know," Dad pushed. There was that agenda I was talking about.
"Dad! It's only been six months. He's getting so much better every day. I love him, and he'll see it, eventually," I responded, sounding like the disillusioned fool I'd become. I just kept waiting for him to slip from the fog, look into my eyes and see me for who I am… the woman he loved so much he smooth-talked me out of my panties on our first date…talked me into moving in with him a month later….talked me into marriage just short of three months after I met him.
Just then, the phone beeped. "Dad, I need to go. I've got another call. I'll try to come over on Sunday night for dinner, okay?" I asked.
"Fine. Love you, Bells," he responded. I echoed the sentiment and hung up, hitting the flash to answer the other incoming call.
I heard sobbing over the line, so I pulled back to see it was from Esme's cell. "Esme, what's wrong?" I asked nervously.
"Bella, come over, please. He tried…he tried…," she stammered.
"He tried what?" I pushed.
"He tried to kill himself," Carlisle responded. I dropped the phone and dropped to my knees. After everything…I couldn't lose him like that. What the hell were we going to do?
E/N: I told you this was different for me. Hell, I'm crying as I re-read it for the umpteenth time. It gets better…I promise…well, eventually. It's not a long story. It's about nine chapters.
I await your reviews. Hate it? I pull it.
Till next time…xoxo