I slip off my flip-flops
And walk past the crash pad
And step on some broken glass
Into the sound we collide
Excerpt from “Chaos By Design” by TMBG
I took a risk and slapped his face.
“Edward! Wake up!”
I shook him, and his phone fell out of his pants pocket and thwacked onto the blue tile floor.
Call Dr. Cullen, the phone seemed to say from its chalk outline position.
Before I could think of whether Edward would want me to invade his privacy, I grabbed it and looked for “Cullen” in his list of contacts.
I was relieved when I saw that the good doctor had two entries: Office and Emergency.
I didn’t hesitate.
“Dr. Cullen’s office, how can I help you?”
“Edward Masen…I mean…I need Dr. Cullen for Edward Masen! He’s…it’s an emergency!”
“Mr. Masen is Dr. Cullen’s patient?”
“Yes! I need to speak with him right away! Before the police get here!”
“Fuck! Yes, Alice called them!”
“Yes, you cow! Are you deaf?”
“What’s your name, Miss…”
“Ms. Bella Swan! I’m his fucking girlfriend for fuck’s sake!” I wasn’t positive, but I hoped that being a girlfriend would carry some weight in this situation. I hesitated. There was no response. Finally I said, “Where’s Dr. Cullen…? This is an emergency!”
“Dr. Cullen speaking.”
“Dr. Cullen! I need help! I mean…Edward needs your help!”
“Bella? What happened?”
“He…There was this…can you come to Brandon & Brown?”
“Can you text me the address?”
“You’re calling from Edward’s number, I see. I’ll send you a text from my cell phone, please respond with the address, and call me back, I’m getting a driver.”
“I’ll be there soon.”
Then he hung up on me. His text reached me within seconds. I was shit with typing on the tiny keyboard, but I managed to send the text within a minute…I hoped.
Then, I called him right back.
“Bella. It will take, hang on…seven to ten minutes for me to get to you. My phone service said the police were called?”
“By an…Alice? Isn’t that your sister?”
“Well, the police take forever. How long ago were they called?”
“Um…five minutes or less?”
“OK. Good. It’s best if we can deal with everything before they get there. Please tell me what happened from the beginning, and take your time. It’s just you and me, right?”
“Edward is here.”
“Can he speak?”
“He’s asleep…um, unconscious. I think he fainted.”
“OK. Tell me.”
“He…we came to work together. He was fine…He was more than fine. He…we…he asked me to stay…you know…at his apartment, last night…and I did…and um…so he had to present his…proposal for the new system, and he did great…He was fine…And then, afterwards, he was fine meeting people, and then, one of the senior partners, Marcus Volturi…he…well, I think he has a cold or the flu—”
“—Oh fuck, Bella…did he—”
“—He grabbed Edward’s hand.”
“OK, tell me what happened next.”
It was kind of a blur. I couldn’t remember what Edward said, but I didn’t think Dr. Cullen needed all the details. “He yelled a lot and threatened to hit him…Marcus that is, and then he ran away. Alice freaked out and everyone was crazy for a minute, then she called the cops and I went looking for Edward. I heard him scream in the men’s room, but when I got here, he was on the floor…like this. I don’t know what he’ll do when he wakes up! He won’t want to be on the floor but I can’t pick him up!”
Between the crying and hysteria, I wasn’t sure how much Dr. Cullen understood, but I knew for a fact I’d never spoken so much at once. My chest ached. I knew it wasn’t a heart attack, but it was because of my heart. And that knowledge calmed me, somehow.
“Bella? It’s OK. He’s going to be OK. I’m almost there. What floor are you on?”
“Will I need to speak to a receptionist or security?”
“No, the bathroom is just off the elevators. Go through the doors to the right of the receptionist. He won’t stop you. The restroom is about…um, it’s not far down the hall on the right.”
“OK. I’m a block away. I’ll be there shortly. Bella, I just need to make a quick call. The only way Edward can avoid being arrested is if I put him in the hospital. OK? I need to make arrangements for that. I’ll see you soon. Call my cell phone if he wakes up, or the police get there before I do, OK?”
“Good girl. See you soon.”
He hung up again.
“Edward. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, this happened…oh, please wake up! Edward! Ed—”
“—Isabella! Open this door!”
“Go away Alice! I called Dr. Cullen! He’s coming to get Edward.”
“Like shit he is! The police will be here soon to take his ass to jail!”
“NO! He needs to go to the hospital, Alice! He didn’t mean it! He was scared!”
“Bella,” her voice got very quiet, “Edward is dangerous. It was very stupid of you to lock yourself in the restroom with a dangerous man.”
I knew what she was doing. But I wasn’t afraid of anything when Edward was with me. I knew he’d never hurt me, no matter what.
I kissed his forehead and rocked him, hoping he’d wake up soon, so I could prove it.
“Alice, you are a bitch, and even though you’re my sister, I kind of hate you right now for calling the cops.”
“What the fuck was I supposed to do?” she hissed. “Act like it didn’t happen? He threatened Marcus! You think he can just get away with that? Fuck no!”
“Where’s Marcus?” I asked.
“He went home. Told me to ‘deal with it’.”
“You sure he meant for you to call the cops?”
“He was standing there when I dialed.”
“What an asshole,” I said out loud, but for me and Edward only.
“Are you Alice?” I heard Dr. Cullen’s voice on the other side of the door.
I set Edward down carefully, and got up to unlock the door.
“You can’t just take him! I called the police! They’re gonna think it’s a prank if you just take him!”
I peered around the door, which I’d only opened a crack. I could only see Dr. Cullen’s profile.
“Alice,” Dr. Cullen said, speaking in a tone that demanded attention, “Please respect my expertise, here. Being sent to jail will not benefit Edward. He has a medical condition that needs to be treated in a hospital.
“I can speak to the police with you, and explain what we’re going to do.”
“Fuck you, Dr. What-ever-the-fuck-you’re-called, I’m having him arrested, and then I’m suing his ass, and probably the company he works for, too.”
“What do you hope to accomplish with that?” Dr. Cullen asked, with an unbelievable amount of calmness considering Alice’s level of agitation.
“It’s sort of an end in and of itself,” she said. I heard, rather than saw the smirk that accompanied her speech.
I wanted to swing the door open and punch her in the mouth, but I was too afraid of leaving Edward exposed.
“And what will happen to Bella, if you do that? Do you think that the public embarrassment of her significant other, just to help you save face with your boss—”
“—He is not my boss.”
“OK, whatever your personal reason, you will do nothing but ruin her happiness,” he pointed to me, and Alice actually moved so she could look at me, guilt edging its way around her eyes.
Oh, Fuck. Guilt was not a smart tack to take with Alice, I thought.
“Is that what you want?” Dr. Cullen said.
Alice would have a hard time making her case now, but she wasn’t the kind of person to just agree because it seemed like she didn’t have the upper hand.
She looked at Dr. Cullen carefully, sizing him up.
Then she leaned in, and said softly, almost seductively, “Maybe you’re just trying to save your own hide for not locking him away after he pulled a gun on your office manager.”
“What I do in my practice is my business,” Dr. Cullen countered.
“Well, when you allow Crazy to roam the streets unchecked, it’s everyone else’s business,” she yelled.
“Edward made progress after that incident, and has stopped carrying a gun. From what I understand, he hasn’t threatened anyone’s life, here.”
“He’s a public nuisance—”
“—NO!” I cried out and slammed the door closed again. I turned the lock. “You can’t have him. I’ll starve before I let you in here, Alice!”
Dr. Cullen spoke again, “Ms. Brandon, by resorting to threats, you’ve now created an even bigger problem. If Bella refuses to open this door, you’re going to have to explain to the police why, rather than remand him into my custody, so he can seek proper treatment for his medical illness, you chose to demand that he be put in jail, where he would most likely suffer until the court finds the time to assign him a case worker, who would most definitely put him in the hospital, anyway. Your vindictive choice to make an embarrassing public scene for your sister and the man she’s seeing, will only be a drain on public funds. Are you so litigious—”
“—FINE. Fuck, you are obnoxious,” Alice said. “But you have to deal with the cops. I have work to do.”
And with that, I heard her stomp down the hall, which sounded exactly like a herd of elephants.
I looked down to Edward and noticed he was moaning and mumbling, his eyes squinched, but not opening.
I unlocked the door, and Dr. Cullen knelt, examining Edward carefully.
“He’s about to wake up,” he said. Then he palpated his scalp and added, “I feel a bump. I think he might have hit his head.”
“Will he be OK?”
“Yes, but we need to get him out of here, and I can’t do that until he’s awake. I didn’t call for an ambulance. I was hoping I could wake him and get him to walk out with me. Just a minute,” he said, pulling his phone out.
“Yes, I’m here. You met the police? OK. Yes, I’m going to need some help. Can you send the two nurses assistants up here? I’m going to sedate him once I get him awake. Hopefully, it will be enough to keep him calm for the ride. Yes…Yes…OK. Thanks.”
Then, Dr. Cullen pulled out a small vial, opened it and put it under Edward’s nose.
“Fuck! Where am I? What’s? Dr. Cullen! Oh, god, Dr. Cullen! I’m going to die! Get away from me, or you’ll get sick and die, too! Bella! Bella, go away, I don’t want you to get sick!”
His voice was hoarse, but it echoed against the blank walls.
Dr. Cullen waited for him to pause his rambling before he said, “Edward? I think it’s best if you go to the hospital. The police have been called, and it will be best if you come willingly with me. Do you understand?”
“Dr. Cullen! Why? Why? Police? I wasn’t the one haphazardly spreading a virulent disease all over New York! Why?”
“You verbally threatened to hurt a man, Edward,” Dr. Cullen said, “This is the best I can do.”
“What will happen?”
“Well, if you agree, I will give you something to help keep you calm until you are assessed by the hospital staff. It should help your symptoms.”
“Will I sleep?”
“No, it’s important that you not sleep right now, Edward. I think you may have a concussion. You’ll need to try very hard to stay awake.”
“I’m here,” I said, leaning in so he could see all of my face.
“I’m sorry I exposed you to disease,” he said.
“It’s OK,” I said, grabbing his hand.
“Can she come with me?” Edward asked.
“No, I’m afraid not, Edward,” Dr. Cullen said, “But I’ll be with you. OK?”
“I’m going to give you a shot, now, Edward.”
“Is it a new needle?”
“Yes, it’s about as sanitary it gets. See, I’m even cleaning the vial with alcohol, just to be extra safe.”
Dr. Cullen rolled one of Edward’s sleeves up and managed to get the needle to his arm.
Edward’s eyes fluttered and started to close.
“Edward!” I called.
“I’m here beautiful Bella…Bella is beautiful…” he touched my face and caressed it. Then, he started in with some weird gibberish, “…bonne lindo frumos prachtig vacker smuk piekny kaunis omorfos gyonyoru lijepo krasny kra…siv…”
His eyes fluttered closed again.
“What the fuck was he saying?” I asked.
“I think he was saying beautiful,” Dr. Cullen said seriously.
“Oh, OK,” I said, even though I disagreed.
I was sitting at home about to nurse a bottle of Merlot while I watched Season 6 of Buffy, when my phone rang.
I stood in front of it considering, like I always did, whether or not I was going to actually answer.
I so did not want to talk to Alice right now.
On the other hand, I remembered that Dr. Cullen said that Edward would be able to call me as soon as he was stabilized.
That word…did things to me. Made me angry. It didn’t sound like a pleasant process, this stabilization.
But I wanted to talk to Edward so badly that I risked it being Alice.
I picked up the phone.
“Edward?” I said. Which was a stupid way to answer the phone, but I was still new to planning.
“So, I guess you already know, then,”
“Emmett! Has he called you?”
“No, but I’m guessing he hasn’t called you, yet, either.”
I shook my head no, then remembered that he couldn’t see me.
“Did it go down at your office building, like the nurse said?”
“Yes,” I answered, tonelessly.
“Are you OK?”
I thought about that. If I lied, he would probably leave me alone, but if I gave him the truth, the real truth, that I was freaking out with worry and guilt, he would probably ask more questions.
Or yell at me for getting his brother into this mess.
I guess I deserved that.
“You wanna talk about it?”
I shook my head no again, then realized that he couldn’t hear…again, and dropped my forehead to the table. Hard.
“Bella! What was that?”
“Nothing,” I said, the tears coming back.
Why was I crying? I wasn’t the one who had been loaded off to looney-land! I wasn’t the one who had probably just lost my job and any professional respect I’d managed to obtain with a debilitating mental illness!
“Bella?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah,” I moaned through the tears.
“That’s it; we’re on our way. I hope you like chocolate.”
And then he hung up.
Hm. I wondered how much the hospital told Emmett.
Considering they called you, dumbass…probably not much.
Rose was still crying.
“Shit, cover up the fucking brownies, you’re gonna get cry all in ’em!” I said.
I ran into the kitchen and grabbed some aluminum foil. Then, I took the brownies out of her hands and set them on the table with the foil and wrapped her in a hug instead.
I could feel the tears soaking into my shirt as I rubbed her back as soothingly as I could.
“Do you think it’s a good idea if you go?” I asked her. “I can take the brownies myself. Make sure she’s OK?”
“No. I want to get her and bring her back here, so I can take care of her.”
“You can’t take care of the world, Ro.”
“I know that!” she yelled. Ah, there’s my tiger.
“It’s just…what if she doesn’t want to come here,” I said.
“Fine. But I’m coming with you. I can get my shit together. I know I can’t be a help if I’m a blubbering mess.”
“You’re right, but, hey, you get double bonus points for whipping up home-made brownies in less than an hour while weeping.”
“Thanks,” she said, and let go of me, using her own shirt to wipe the tears and snot that managed to stick to her face after having it buried in my shirt.
She stepped into the bathroom, and I wrapped up the brownies.
I opened the pantry and took out a bag of coffee beans…thought about it, and grabbed the French press and the coffee grinder.
Then, I opened the refrigerator and took out two kinds of creamer and a carton of milk.
Rosalie’s idea of bringing her back here was sounding better by the minute.
But I doubted that Bella would come with us. She was skittish like a wild animal, and even if she would let us into her apartment, it was highly unlikely that she’d agree to come home and stay with us.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Rose asked.
I saw her standing in the doorway to the kitchen. She was wearing a new shirt, and her arms were folded over her perfect breasts.
That was one of my least favorite of her postures, for more than one reason.
I scowled, and looked at what she was looking at, namely what I cradled in my arms.
“Yeah, you planning on occupying?”
“No, I just…we need coffee and…oh, shit! What if she takes sugar! Will you grab the sugar bowl?”
“God damn it! You are just like my mother!” she said.
“No, I’m just like my mother,” I retorted. “Esme always said, ‘if you’re going to bring food, better bring back-up beverages so you can make sure they can enjoy it properly’.”
“Yeah, well…I don’t think she meant that you’re supposed to clean out the fridge, babe.”
“Would you just get a cardboard box?”
She sighed loudly and rummaged through the pantry. I dropped everything in, and added the sugar bowl.
“Ready?” she asked.
Bella’s apartment wasn’t hard to find. The doorman knew we were coming. He flagged us down and snapped his fingers for the valet. Then, he not only held the door, but also offered to have the concierge carry the box up to her place.
Seeing as how he already had his arms wrapped around the thing before I could answer, I let him.
I looked at Rose and she just raised her eyebrows and followed him to the elevators.
We rode up in silence. I was occupied, though, by Rose’s ass reflected to infinity in the mirrors.
I shook my head to clear it. This was a way bad time to be checking out her ass.
Bella answered the door, and thanked the guy carrying the box. Well, at least, I think she did. It was really just a mumble. She gestured to her living room, and we stepped in and—fuck me sideways, this apartment was fucking huge! I could play a pick up game of basketball easily, if I could just clear out all the junk.
I turned back around to find Bella looking in the box, which had been left in the foyer on this massive table with a big fucking doily on it.
Her nose was crinkled. I couldn’t tell if she was confused, or if something smelled bad.
However, knowing Rose’s cooking as well as I did, I knew it wasn’t the brownies.
“We brought chocolate, and coffee, and all the stuff that goes with it,” Rose said.
“Thanks,” she answered.
“Um, let’s take in the kitchen,” Rose said, and picked up the box.
I followed, even though I really wanted to check out her entertainment center. I could tell she had an old projection TV, and that was just too cool for school.
Bella uncovered the brownies and cut them, pulling out three tiny pieces and putting them on saucers.
I took the offering, reminding myself these weren’t actually my brownies, and I shouldn’t be greedy. However, I decided that I wouldn’t stop whining until Ro-Ro made me a batch when we got home.
Meanwhile, my wife was making coffee. Bella did have a coffee maker, but it was old and didn’t look like it’d been used in a while.
That was fine with me; I preferred French press, anyway.
“I…um…sorry, I don’t have any coffee.”
“Hey, it’s OK! We came prepared!”
She smiled and nodded.
We stood around in the kitchen like statues until finally, Rosalie took the ball and ran with it.
“So, you have an awesome apartment!”
“It was…um…my parents’,” she said. “I…well…I don’t actually want to…um, you know, live here.”
Rose did a better job than me at not looking incredulous.
“Where do you want to live?” she asked.
“My place,” Bella said.
“Oh!” Rose said.
More crickets and statues.
“Wait. Are you saying you have another apartment?”
“Um,” Bella said and then blushed.
“S’OK,” I said. “I was just checking.”
She didn’t offer a tour, but she did usher us into the ginormous living room.
We sat on a massive couch and the girls ate their brownies (mine was already a waste of a clean plate). Rose talked a little about chocolate, desserts and cooking, and Bella seemed to relax a little.
I watched Bella while Rose talked. She blushed, nodded and sometimes commented. She seemed OK. She had clearly been crying. A glance around the room suggested cleaning wasn’t high on her agenda: books piled up everywhere, tea cups and saucers on every flat surface, movies out of their cases, clothes…shit there was a bra, I looked away before Rose caught me staring that the black lace.
Anyway, other than being incredibly messy…uh-oh. I spied an open bottle of wine on a side table. It looked mostly full.
I was suddenly glad we got here before the binge drinking started.
“Hey, I’ll bet that coffee’s ready,” I said and went to the kitchen.
“What do you take, Bella?” I yelled toward the living room.
“Two teaspoons of sugar and plenty of cream!” Rosalie said. I guess Bella was having a hard time communicating right now. That would not bode well for finding out what the fuck happened to my brother.
I wasn’t pissed at Bella, yet.
I certainly didn’t want to be, but Ed had been a yo-yo of emotions since he met her. That made me suspicious. As much as I liked the chick, Edward was always my first priority…well, Ro was my first priority, but Edward always was neck and neck.
Anyway, I wanted to find out what was going on tonight if I could. I needed to know how to approach Ed when he was able to call. Would I be supportive older brother with an ally in his girlfriend, or hard-as-nails asshole-brother, who needed to set some boundaries?
I returned with the coffees and a larger plate filled with larger brownies. I took one to set a good example.
“So Emmett, Bella was just about to tell me about what happened today.”
Fuck she works fast. How does she do that?
“Really? I mean, OK. We’ve been worried since we got the call from the hospital, and…”
“She, knows, Baby.
“Bella, what started all this?”
“He’s got the flu.”
“Yeah,” Bella said.
“What the fuck was he doing in the office, then—and with Edward there?”
“I don’t know.”
To be honest, I hadn’t known Marcus was even sick. He had sniffled a little during the presentation, but he sat over ten feet away from Edward, and everyone had gotten the memo that shaking hands with the presenter was not acceptable. Well, so I thought.
I told them, in jilted phrases and with sporadic weeping, the story of Edward’s downfall.
I could feel their eyes on me—judging me—blaming me, for what had happened.
If I’d never met Edward, he’d probably still be seeing Dr. Cullen, and he wouldn’t have been offered the job at Brandon & Brown, and he wouldn’t have had his breakdown, and he wouldn’t be in the hospital right now.
It was written on their faces, as clear as anything.
Shamefully, I admitted that my own sister had called the cops, and that only Dr. Cullen’s rhetoric kept him from being taken to jail.
“You saved the day,” Rosalie said.
“You. Not Dr. Cullen. That was just another day on the job for him. He does have other patients who have emergencies, Bella. I’m sure this isn’t the first time he’s had to make those arrangements for someone.”
“But you,” Emmett said, seeming to continue his wife’s thought. “You had the presence of mind to make that phone call, and keep my brother safe until help arrived. Thank you.”
Next thing I knew, I was in a Hale-hug-sandwich. Which wasn’t as bad as I had feared it would be…not that I ever thought about being hugged by either or both of them at the same time, but…ah, forget it.
Rose invited me to come back to their place for the night, but I told them I would be OK.
And I knew I would be. They didn’t blame me, so half of my guilt was already gone.
I could only hope that Edward felt the same way.