Chapter 17

 

Edward

 

Shooting had been going well. We’d gotten several scenes done and were on a roll. Rosalie was much more focused since she’d been staying in the guest house with Emmett. When Carlisle told us to take five while they changed the lighting, I went to grab a bottle of water. Out of habit I checked my phone. I had a missed call and several texts from Alice, which was odd. I checked the text first.

Is Charlie supposed to go to the photo shoot?

It seemed odd. We’d decided that he wasn’t going and the shoot was supposed to be this afternoon. I was still wondering about it when I went to the next text. Never mind the text, Tanya said you said it was okay.  

It pissed me off that they were going. I tried to call Alice and it went to voicemail. I wondered if I was having trouble with signal. I decided to text Bella. Got missed calls from Alice and a text saying that Charlie went to the shoot. Thought it was this afternoon and he wasn’t going. What’s going on?

She texted back. I guess it was moved up. I was in class. I’m heading there now. It’s in building F, in your studio.

I saw red. Tanya had taken Charlie out when he didn’t feel well? It was unbelievable. I rushed over to Carlisle, who was talking to the lighting specialist. “Hey, I need to go for a bit. Family emergency.”

“Of course,” Carlisle said. “We’ll shoot the scene with Rosalie and the neighbor.”

I didn’t tell him if I’d be back. I had no clue what I’d find over in studio F. It wasn’t far so I ran all the way. When I opened the door, the first person I saw was Bella sitting on some sort of bedroom set with Charlie and Elizabeth. I’d been furious, but when I saw them there, Charlie in Bella’s arms, my anger dissipated, slightly.

I walked over to her. “What’s going on? Why is he here?” I asked, sitting down on the bed. “And where is Tanya?” She nodded her head in the direction of makeup. I shook my head and placed my hand on Charlie’s arm. “Jesus, he’s freezing,” I exclaimed.

“I know. I just got here. Alice is looking for a blanket. I don’t know what is going on. They took a break when I walked in. I’m really sorry, Edward. I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

It wasn’t her fault and I told her so. She’d been in class. It probably wasn’t Alice’s either. It didn’t matter whose fault it was, what mattered was doing what was best for Charlie right now. I took off my shirt and wrapped it around Charlie. He was sucking greedily on the bottle, looking a lot better. “Daddy is here,” I whispered, stroking his cheek.

“Daddy,” Elizabeth said from behind us. I turned to look at her. Had she just called me Daddy? I was surprised at how much I liked it. True, I wasn’t her father, but she didn’t know that.

“Hi, Elizabeth,” I said, smiling at her.

Elizabeth pushed her way between us and climbed onto my lap. “Baby no cry,” she said, leaning down and kissing his head. It was too cute. “Edward?” Bella said, causing me to look up. I noticed Alice walking toward us. She had Charlie’s blanket. The photographer put his arm out to stop her. He was clicking away at his camera.

I stood and walked to the photographer. “What are you doing? That was a private moment.”

“I’m sorry man, it’s just that those are the best shots I’ve taken all day.”

I saw what he’d been seeing. It was breathtaking. “It’s okay, but my son is going home now.”

“You mind telling that to her?” the photographer said nervously clearly afraid of Tanya.

“No problem, I have to talk to her anyway,” I said. I just had to take care of Bella and Charlie first. I walked back over to them. “I assume Seth is still here?” She nodded. “Good, then have him take you, Alice and the kids home. Call me if anything is wrong, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, standing up. I took my shirt and I replaced it with the blanket Alice was holding. I headed to Tanya as they left the studio.

She spotted me in the mirror as I was walking toward her. I could see the scowl on my face in the reflection. I was certain she could too, but she ignored it. She turned to me, beaming. “Oh, look everyone, it’s my fiance! Maybe we can get a family photo!”

I looked at her as if she was nuts. “Charlie is gone and we need to talk.”

She looked back at the bed. “Gone? Why? We didn’t get any good pictures?”

The makeup artist stepped away, giving us some privacy. “He’s sick. He’s gone home, where he belongs. He’s where I’m going.”

She put her hand out to stop me. “No, we’re having our night out tonight. Charlie was fine. He still is fine. You promised, and you have your phone if something goes wrong or he gets worse.” I was about to protest, but she kept talking. “I feel that we are growing apart and I think we need this, Edward. It will be good for our relationship and our careers. You have the new show and I have the new movie. But most important, we can be a real couple again. I want to be a real family. I know you didn’t have that as a kid. Charlie deserves a real family.”

I’d wanted to slap her silly, but what she said hit home. I’d grown up with a revolving door of men, when all I wanted was my real dad. I thought Tanya was a terrible mother, but she had carried my child, my Charlie, for nine months. He was only five weeks old. What kind of asshole father was I if I left her after just five weeks. Yes, she’d been awful, but now she was trying. I didn’t think that I’d be able to sleep with her, not yet, and it just seemed wrong anyhow. Bella was on my mind; though I felt she deserved better than me anyhow. I’d forget what I wanted, and just do what was best for Charlie.

“If Bella calls and Charlie is worse, we’re going home,” I said, as the photographer walked up to us.

“Sounds good,” Tanya responded when he was in earshot. “And Douglas is going to be there to take photographs tomorrow morning, of us just doing our couple thing.”

“Yup,” he said with a fake smile on his face. It was clear to me that he didn’t like Tanya. I was surprised because she usually kept her bitchy personality in check in order to maintain the “America’s Sweetheart” personna.

I didn’t care about the press anymore. I didn’t want America to see us as a super couple. We were barely a couple at all. I didn’t want to make a scene, and she was right, Charlie was home with Bella and fine—and if he got worse, I had my phone.

Emmett drove us to the hotel. It had an amazing restaurant where we’d had our first date. Tanya had planned for us to eat there again. We walked up to the front desk. “Welcome,” the concierge said with a smile. “Your room is ready.”

“Just a moment,” I said, taking out my phone. “I want to check on Charlie.”

“Already did,” Tanya said, holding up her phone.

I looked at her in surprise. “I felt bad that he didn’t feel well at the shoot. I texted Bella. She said he was fine and asleep.”

“Really?” I asked. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe he was fine, but I was shocked that Tanya texted Bella and even more shocked that Tanya thought to check. I was hurt that Bella hadn’t texted me, but I understood. There was a chemistry between us and she was likely hurt that I was out with Tanya.  

We went to our room. Quickly I showered and changed into a suit. Tanya changed as well and the two of us went down to the restaurant.

With Charlie and Bella on my mind, we were seated. The food was delicious, but the company left a lot to be desired. The more Tanya talked, the more I wished she wasn’t there. This was supposed to bring us together, but the entire time I was either wishing she was Bella or wishing I was home with Bella. I thought about texting her, but I knew she’d text me or maybe now Tanya if something changed with Charlie’s condition.

“Are you even listening to me?” she asked, after I’d drifted off.

“Sure, you were talking about yourself.”

“Well, yeah.” She rolled her eyes. “But you don’t seem to care. I know what the problem is. It’s all over your face.” I felt my heartbeat pick up. She couldn’t possibly know I was fantasizing about Bella. “You just want to get to our room and have sex. I know men. It’s all you think about.”

She couldn’t be more wrong, but I did want to get out of the restaurant. I had to tell her how I was feeling, and knowing Tanya and her flare for the dramatic, discussing our relationship in a restaurant wasn’t a good idea.

“I would like to get out of here,” I confirmed. We charged the meal to the room and headed upstairs. Tanya immediately went into the bathroom, likely to change out of her dress and into something else. It gave me a moment to compose my thoughts. I’d just tell Tanya that I wasn’t feeling it anymore.

She came out of the bathroom dressed in sexy lingerie that would have driven a million men worldwide to shoot their load in their pants, but I found nothing sexy about it at all. She sauntered over to me. “Ready?” she asked, stopping only a few feet from me.

“Actually, I want to talk.”

She cocked her head to the side. “Really? Uh, what about?” She batted her eyes at me, but it had no effect.

Just then her phone rang. She picked it up, looking annoyed. “What?” she said in a snippy tone. “No. We’re busy. We’re trying to have a romantic night together.” I wondered who it was. I assumed it was James. “I know,” she retorted. She rolled her eyes. “So then everything will be fine. They will take care of it. This night was planned all week and there will be photographers in the morning. I don’t want anything to ruin this. You can take care of this. I’m turning my phone off now.”

She turned back to me and changed again, from the bitch she’d just been on the phone to acting like a sex kitten. She moved even closer to me and ran her hand up my chest. “Now, where were we, Edward?”

The phone call had distracted me, but I had made up my mind and I was going to speak it. “I just don’t think this is working out, Tanya. We’ve been heading different ways for a while now. I think it’s time to end it. You can stay in the house as long as you need and see Charlie whenever you want.” I really hoped she wouldn’t fight me on the Charlie thing. I knew she didn’t want him, but she might if it was best for her image.

My words had stopped her in her tracks and she looked confused for a moment before she regained her composure.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Edward. You’re just under a lot of stress, like I am. Once we’ve had sex, you’ll feel better.” I started to speak again, but the act of Tanya unlacing her corset stopped me. It fell to the floor and she stood in front of me with her breasts in full view. They were round and perky with tiny pink nipples in the center. Half of the women in California would want those breasts and tons of them had paid for ones just like them, but as I stared at Tanya’s breasts, all I could picture were two slightly larger ones, not exactly the same size as the other,with larger nipples. They might not be as perky, but the ones I was imagining were perfect.

“Tanya, stop!” I said, taking a step back.

Tanya didn’t stop, she just moved closer to me and slid her hand into my pants. She stopped immediately. “You aren’t excited.”

“No,” I said, pulling her hand out, “I’m not. Tanya, this just isn’t working out. We need to end it.”

Her sweet demeanor changed and there was a fire in her eyes. “Look, I was trying to be nice and put out for you. It doesn’t matter to me if we have sex, but we’re not breaking up. We’re America’s Sweethearts. Hell, I just had your baby. Do you know what the press will say about you if you leave me less than two months after giving birth?”

“Tanya, it doesn’t have to be like that,” I said, taking a step back; my legs touching the bed.

“No, it doesn’t,” Tanya replied, giving me a little push so I fell backward onto the bed. She started to climb on top of me, straddling my still dressed body. “Just let go, Edward. Fuck me and it will all be all right.”

“No Tanya,” I said, pushing her off of me at the same time there was a knock on the door.

“Did you order room service?” she asked, grabbing a pillow and covering herself.

“No,” I said, shaking my head and walking toward the door.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a message for Mr. Cullen,” a man said from the other side of the door, knocking again.

It seemed strange, since anyone I knew would call my phone. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. It wasn’t blinking. I pushed the button and nothing. I pushed it again, still black. It was off! I only got half way through my thought of how that happened when I knew. I looked over at Tanya.

“What?” she exclaimed. “I turned it off when you showered before dinner. I just didn’t want interruptions. I know that Bella texts you a thousand times a day!”

I didn’t even answer her. I was too upset. I pressed the button to turn on the phone, and while it was starting up, I opened the door. The concierge was standing there looking a bit awkward. “I know that Miss Denali gave specific instructions not to disturb you, but a man called...” The concierge looked down at a piece of paper in his hand. “His name is Jasper Whitlock and he said there is an emergency. He said that your son is ill and is being taken to Children’s Hospital. I asked for his number, but he assured me you had it.”

“I do, and thank you,” I said, my mind racing. “Uh, how far is Children’s Hospital?”

He stood at the door, holding it open, while I hurried back into the room to grab my wallet. “It’s not far. A few minutes by taxi. Would you like me to call you one?”

I cursed that I didn’t have a car here or a driver. “Yes, please,” I responded.

“I’ll see you downstairs, Sir,” he said, and was gone.

I turned to look at Tanya, who was still standing there half-dressed. “Will you hurry up and get dressed?” I nearly shouted. It was rude, but I was worried about Charlie.

“Dressed?” she asked, clearly confused.

“Yes, aren’t you coming with me?” I asked, starting to walk toward the door.

“Ugh,” she said, sitting on the bed. “I really hate hospitals. Just tell me what happened when you come back.”

I’d been nearly out the door when she’d said that. I guessed it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I turned back to look at her. “No, actually, I won’t tell you and I won’t be coming back. It’s very clear that you don’t care about Charlie, and I can’t be with a woman who doesn’t love her son. It’s over, Tanya.”

“Don’t be so dramatic, Edward! If you do this I’ll…” I didn’t hear the rest of her sentence because I walked out of the room. I half expected her to meet me in the lobby, pretending to be the concerned mother and pretending to fight for our relationship, the other half of me knew that she wouldn’t be there. I’d have been relieved it was finally over if I wasn’t worried about my son.

“Is there a cab for me yet?” I asked as I reached the lobby.

“It’s a busy night, Mr. Cullen. They said they’d have one here in fifteen or twenty minutes.” I knew what that meant, closer to half an hour or forty-five minutes.

“How far is it? Can I walk?” I really had no idea how far the hospital was, and in LA and the suburbs things were often spread out.

“It’s probably a ten minute ride from here, too far to walk, Sir.” I exhaled and paced. “There is the subway, I mean, if you take that.”

My head shot up. It had been years since I’d taken the subway. It wasn’t safe for a celebrity, but I didn’t care. I wanted to get to my son. I looked back at the concierge. “The station is two blocks east.” He pointed down the street to the right. “Take the greenline right to Mattel Children’s Hospital.”

I nodded and took off at a brisk pace. I took out my phone while walking and called Bella. It rang a few times then went to voicemail. She’d probably turned it off in the hospital or didn’t have signal, I reasoned. I tried Jasper next. He picked up on the first ring.

“Thank God!” he exclaimed. “Did you get my message?”

“Yeah, what’s going on?”

“Charlie has a fever, like one oh three. We took him to the hospital. I don’t know much more. They didn’t let Alice and I go in. Bella’s with him now. They probably think she’s his mother. Can you get over here? I can send Emmett for you. I think he’s already on his way.

“I’m going to take the subway. I think it’s faster.”

I lost signal as I made my way down the subway steps. It took me a moment to figure out how to even buy a ticket. It had been so long and there were multiple trains, but knowing that it was the greenline helped. Five minutes after entering the station I stood on the moving train. A few people had looked at me, probably thinking that I looked a lot like Edward Cullen, but no one approached me. There was a teenage girl sitting on the train who kept staring at me. She had an issue of “Exposed” magazine on her lap. My photo was on the cover. It was the story about Bella being Souper Girl. As we approached my stop, I walked over to her and picked up the magazine. Taking a pen from my pocket, I looked down at the girl, who had been holding the magazine. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“Amanda,” she giggled. I scribbled, It was nice to meet you, Amanda. - Edward Cullen.

The girl was still staring at me with an open mouth when conductor announced my stop. I rushed from the train and up to the street. The hospital was right there. I made my way to the emergency entrance. “Excuse me, I’m Edward Cullen,” I said to the woman, who was looking down at her computer.

“And I’m Queen Elizabeth,” she said to her screen, then looked up. “Oh God. You’re him! I mean...well…uh… How can I help you?”

“Edward!” Jasper called from behind me. He and Alice rushed up to me. “Bella hasn’t come out yet. Do you have news?”

I shook my head. “I just got here. Thanks for calling the hotel. Tanya turned off my phone.” I wanted to tell him everything, but I was so worried about Charlie. I turned back to the nurse. “My son is here, I’d like to see him.”

“Certainly, Mr. Cullen,” the nurse said, looking more than a bit flustered. She called over another nurse, who looked at the computer with her. “Ohhh, Charles Cullen. Yes, follow me.”

I suppose the last name was common enough that when he came in, they hadn’t made the connection. I was taken through double doors, again leaving Jasper and Alice in the waiting area. We walked quickly down a hall before the nurse stopped and drew back a curtain. She moved it aside and I saw Charlie on a table, with two people in scrubs around him. Bella was hugging her chest off to the side.

I rushed to her. “What happened? Is he all right?”

Tears were running down her face. “He seemed all right, but he’s just so hot. I gave him Tylenol, but it didn’t help.”

The doctor turned to us. “Is that all you gave him?” Bella nodded. “Motrin, 3 milliliters,” he said, turning back to the nurse, who was still standing above him. “And a saline drip.” Again he looked at us. “He has a fever, but let’s try to bring it down. I’m also putting him on an IV drip because he’s so young and can get dehydrated easily. Was the fever the only reason you brought him in, or does he have a cough?”

Bella shook her head. “No, he has a stuffy nose, but he didn’t really have a cough.”

“That’s good. It makes pneumonia very unlikely.” The doctor went on to explain that it was likely just a cold and that babies often spiked high fevers to fight off the infection. He said that Charlie did have the start of an ear infection so it was good that we brought him in. They added antibiotics to his IV. “Let’s just monitor him for a bit. I want to see if he responds to the medicine. If he does, his fever should go down in the next twenty minutes.”

The doctor left and Bella and I just stood there in silence.  He looked so small lying there. I moved toward her and put my arm around her. I could feel her physically sink into me as if she’d been using all of her energy just to stand. Her head pressed against my shoulder, and I let my chin rest on the top of her head. We just looked at Charlie for a long time.

“I’m sorry…” Bella said softly, then trailed off.

“Why are you sorry? I’m the one who should be sorry,” I said honestly. “I’m glad you brought him in. I’m sorry I didn’t answer my phone. Tanya…”

“You don’t have to explain,” she interrupted.

I felt like I did need to explain, but before I could say another word a nurse entered with a clipboard.

“I need someone to fill these out,” she said, looking back and forth between Bella and I. I was sure that the gossip was already starting. Edward Cullen’s baby was in the hospital, brought in by Souper Girl. They probably wondered where Tanya was. I was so pissed at her, I hoped the press burned her at the stake for this.

I took the clipboard and was just starting to read it over when Bella spoke again. “I think I messed up,” she said quietly. “I was scared and I didn’t want to withhold anything from the doctors.”

I looked up at her. “Of course not. Why do you think you messed up?” She was quiet a moment, long enough for me to look back down. Some of the form was filled in. Charlie’s name, weight, birthdate. There was a box checked breastfed. “Oh,” I said and looked up.

“When I brought him in they were asking me a ton of questions. They asked what medication, how much, when was the last time he ate, and how much. I said I didn’t know how much because he’s nursing, but that he barely ate all afternoon and evening. I told all of that to the doctor. I wasn’t really thinking.”

“It’s all right, honey. You did what was best for Charlie.” Bella didn’t respond. She just stared at Charlie. I could tell she was as worried as I was.

I filled out the paperwork and the nurse came back. She took Charlie’s temperature. “One hundred one point four,” she said, writing it on his chart. I gasped but Bella sighed.

“What was it before?” I asked her frantically.

“One hundred three point seven,” she whispered.

I felt like I was going to throw up. My son was so sick and where had his parents been? In a hotel. I felt like the worst father in the world. I pledged to myself that nothing like this would ever happen again.

“I’ll let the doctor know. I’m sure he’ll be right in,” the nurse said.

She was right, the doctor came in not even a minute later. “I see his fever is going down,” he said, looking first at the chart and then Charlie. Charlie had been asleep the whole time, but he woke when the doctor moved him so he could listen to his lungs. “He’s still congested, but I don’t see it getting worse. We took some blood, but I don’t think we’ll find anything. I believe it’s just a cold. I’d like to keep him overnight so that we can monitor him, make sure his fever stays down. Is that all right?”

“Absolutely,” I responded. I felt a million times better already, and I knew I’d feel a million times more if he was here in case anything went wrong.

“I’d also like to see if he nurses more. An appetite is a good thing. Why don’t you try to feed him.” The doctor looked at Bella. Her face was bright red. “Don’t worry about a thing,” he said. “Your secret is safe with me and the staff. Doctor patient confidentiality and all.”

He was right, they could get their asses sued. Bella exhaled and walked to Charlie. He had an IV and Bella had to pick him up carefully. The moment she did, he turned his head and started rooting. He nursed for about fifteen minutes before falling asleep.

Bella lay him back down and we both watched him for a bit. The nurse came in again and took his temperature. It was down to ninety-nine point four. “You know, it’s okay if you want to go back to the hotel,” she said, not looking at me. “I wouldn’t have called and interrupted if it wasn’t important.”

“I’m not going back to the hotel, but Jasper’s message did interrupt something important.” There was no response from her. I touched her on the shoulder and she looked up at me. “The important thing I was doing was ending things with Tanya.”

“Ending things?” she asked, looking up into my eyes.

“Yes, ending things as in breaking up, calling off our engagement.”

“Why?”

“Well, she doesn’t love Charlie for one, and I can’t love a woman who doesn’t love our child. And second, I’ve been fighting my feelings for someone else.”

“You have?” she asked breathlessly.

I nodded. “Yes, I have and I’m sick of it. I’m not going to fight them anymore.” My hand stroked her cheek. She bit her lower lip but that didn’t stop me. My head lowered and I brought my lips to hers. I’d dreamed of kissing her half a dozen times and fantasized about it many more, but nothing could have prepared me for the intense feeling I experienced when her lips met mine. There was a spark and then a tugging. Like somewhere deep inside of her was trying to pull somewhere deep inside of me.

The lower lip I’d watched her suck on for the past weeks became the center of my focus. I ran my tongue over it, then sucked it into my mouth. The moan that escaped her lips made my already hard cock begin to throb. Her mouth moved over mine and I released her lower lip to let my tongue meet hers. It was more than a kiss; it was like all of our pent up feelings were being released in this one kiss.

I broke from the kiss to get a breath of air, but I heard a throat clear behind me. I spun around to see Jasper and Alice standing there with big smiles on their faces. “Everything’s going to be all right,” I said, looking over at Charlie, keeping my arms around Bella.

“Yeah, I can see that,” Alice said with a smile. She walked over to Charlie, who was sleeping soundly. “So he’s getting better?”

“Yeah, but the doctor said he’d like to keep Charlie overnight for observation,” Bella explained.

“You don’t have to stay, Bella,” I said, suddenly looking around for Elizabeth. This really wasn’t the place for her. “Where is Elizabeth?”

“Emmett,” Jasper said, then added, “She was asleep when we left anyway.”

I nodded my head. “Thanks for being here. Thanks for contacting me at the hotel too,” I said to Jasper. “Tanya had turned off my phone.”

“That woman is something else,” Alice said, with a lot more venom in her voice than I thought she had in her.

“Well, I ended it with her, so I don’t think she’ll be around much anymore.” Both Alice and Jasper looked shocked.

“Like, how ended?” Jasper asked.

“I told her that I it was over, type of ended. I guess you’ve got a bit of PR work to do, huh?”

Jasper nodded, though there was a hint of a smile on his face. “Yeah, but we can do our best to spin it positively for you. We have this situation to deal with first though.”

“What situation?” I asked.

“There’s press in the lobby,” Jasper answered. “Well, actually the hospital security told them they can’t wait in the lobby, so now they’re in the parking lot.”

“The hospital said that they would honor doctor patient confidentiality,” Bella said, looking worried again.

“They probably have. There were people in the lobby, though, when Edward walked in. A few photos have been put up on the ‘Spot the Celeb’ website.” He pulled out his phone and went to show me. He gasped. “Oh God...how the hell?”

“What?” I asked, grabbing his phone. The photo on it had clearly just been taken and it must have been through a very small opening between the curtains, without us knowing. It was of Bella and me, with my arm around her and her leaning on me. We were both looking at Charlie; absorbed in comforting each other and our worry for Charlie.

The caption on the photo said, “Was in the emergency room with my friend and look who I saw!” There were hundreds of likes and already dozens of comments.

“There are comments already,” I said, and started to scroll through them with Bella; Alice and Jasper reading over my shoulder. I was afraid they would condemn me for being so close to Bella, but as I started reading them, the majority of the first comments said things like, “Awwww they look so worried.” Then the tone changed. “Where is Tanya?” became the prevalent thought. I looked to Jasper.

“Don’t be surprised if she shows up. James is going to want to spin this in her direction. I suggest we don’t try to hide anything. We just make a statement that you were out with Tanya and your son took ill. Bella, your nanny, brought him to the hospital and you rushed to be by his side. You two comforted each other.” He smirked. “No one needs to know about that kiss.”

“We can keep that to ourselves for a while,” I agreed, then hastily added looking at Bella, “It’s not because I don’t want people to know about you, it’s just that the press and public are funny. They will paint you the villain who broke up Tanya and me. If we just wait a bit to go public, then they will love you.”

“I understand,” she said, and I hoped she did.

Jasper and Alice left to go home to Elizabeth and to prepare my statement. He said he would tell the reporters that Charlie was doing better but spending the night and that I’d be staying over with him.

Bella and I were a bit more careful with our physical affection, but it was all I could do to keep from pulling her into my arms and kissing her again. I settled for sitting next to her.

A few hours later, the doctor came in again. He had some lab results. “Well, the good news is that it’s not meningitis or pertussis.”

“What is it then?” Bella asked before I did.

“It’s likely just a cold. It hasn’t settled in his chest, to where pneumonia would set in, but I can hear the congestion.”

“If it’s just a cold, then why was his fever so high?” I asked.

“It’s hard to tell with infants. Some have life threatening illnesses and never go above one hundred while others do what your son did, spike a dangerously high temperature over what turns out to be a minor infection. It was his body’s way of fighting off the disease. I’d still like to keep him a few more hours just to be sure nothing changes.” I nodded. “Let me move you to a better room,” he said.

I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but a nurse came in and wheeled Charlie’s small crib bed along with the IV stand down the hall. She opened the door to a private room. There was a recliner type chair as well as a bed near the window. “The recliner lays flat to make a bed,” she said, putting out some sheets, blankets and a pillow. Just buzz if you need anything.”

She left, and Bella picked up the linens and started to make up the chair like a bed. “Bella, I’ll sleep on the chair, you sleep in the bed.”

“I’ll be nursing him during the night, so the chair is fine,” she said.

In the end I convinced her that she could easily sit up in bed or use the other chair, so she took the bed. I thought it would be hard to fall asleep in the same room as her, but I was out like a light. It wasn’t a good night’s sleep though. Charlie seemed to wake up every hour or so. I got up with Bella. She said he was wet each time. The nurse said it was probably because of the IV. He had trouble eating because he was still stuffy, but in the morning, his temperature was good and we were released from the hospital.

It was closer to noon when we got out of the hospital. We’d eaten some of their food, which really wasn’t that bad, before heading for the exit. Emmett had come for us and said that it was an absolute zoo outside. When we walked out, Bella was carrying Charlie, and I was trying to shield them both from the cameras. We got in the car quickly, but not before I heard a reporter shout, “So, what is your reaction to Tanya and her agent?”

I turned to look at the reporter, half expecting Tanya and James to be right there, but it was just a bunch of reporters. “No comment,” Emmett said and pushed me inside the car. “We are just focused on Charlie’s health right now. An official statement will be given later today.”

I was surprised at Emmett. I’d never heard him speak to the press. “What the hell is going on?” I asked, as he got in the car and closed the door. I could still hear the reporters shouting outside of the car. Charlie was fussing, but Bella had pulled out a pacifier.

“I’ll explain as soon as we get home.”

I was going to ask him to explain then, but there were people all over the parking lot, and it didn’t get much better when he was on the road. I could tell we were being followed. I wondered what Tanya had done. She probably made a huge scene about something as way of explaining why she hadn’t been at the hospital.

Charlie fussed the whole way. Bella didn’t want to take him out of his seat to nurse him since we were driving. Alice had sent a stocked diaper bag with Emmett and I was glad that there was a bottle in there. I plugged the bottle warmer in the cigarette lighter and waited. We were just pulling up to the gate when it was ready. There were news vans from many news stations and reporters at the gates, and also at least one hundred people, a few with signs. One had bright red lettering that spelled, “Slut.” I saw Bella’s eyes go wide. The rage in me grew. Was the sign because of the photo that had been taken of  me and Bella in the hospital? I wanted to get out and scream at the woman that Bella wasn’t a slut, if anything I was the person who had started things with her. We were through the gates quickly, and I said, “Jasper will do something about this.”

“Yeah, he has been working all morning on a press release. He told me to say that to the press at the hospital, that you had no comment and that there would be a statement later.”

Emmett parked the car and we went into the house. Bella was holding Charlie, still  feeding him from the bottle. Alice, Jasper and Rosalie were all standing around a laptop in the study when we walked in.

“How’s Charlie?” Jasper asked first.

“He’s better,” I answered. “His fever is down and he’s breathing easier.”

Rosalie walked over to Bella and looked down at Charlie. “I’m glad he’s better. Can I give him his bottle?” Bella nodded and handed Charlie to her. Rosalie went into the other room where Elizabeth was playing on the floor. I was surprised by Rosalie’s maternal nature, but I didn’t have too long to focus on it. Jasper was typing on the laptop.

“So how much of what’s going on do you know?” he asked.

“Just what you told us last night, that the press knew Charlie was in the hospital and someone leaked a photo of me hugging Bella. I saw a sign calling Bella a slut outside the gate too and it pissed me off,” I answered.

“Bella?” Emmett said. “I don’t think that sign was for Bella.”

“Who was it for then?” I asked, completely confused.

“Tanya!” Jasper and Alice answered together.

I was about to ask what that meant, but the image which appeared on the computer screen explained it all. There was a picture of Tanya in the hotel room that she and I had planned to stay in. She was nude, on the bed, and on all fours. James was behind her, fucking her doggie style. The caption read, “Tanya Denali lets a lover in the back door...literally!”

I looked again at the photo, and though the area in question was blurred out, it did look like they were having anal sex. I started to read the article. “While fiance Edward Cullen was in the hospital with their sick newborn, Tanya Denali remained at the hotel where she’d eaten dinner earlier with Edward. The two were seen in the restaurant and heading to the elevators. Approximately a half an hour later, Edward was seen by guests rushing from the hotel. It is reported that he took a subway to Children’s Hospital to be with his sick son. There has been no explanation as to why Tanya did not accompany him. After reporters spotted Mr. Cullen in the hospital with his nanny (see photo below), we went to question Ms. Denali at the hotel. At the front desk, our reporter was told that Tanya had asked not to be disturbed. She failed, however, to close the curtains properly and our photographer was able to catch on camera the lewd sexual acts between Ms. Denali and her agent, James.”

I stopped reading there and looked up at Jasper. “Does this mean what I think it means?”

“If you think that it means you are free and clear of Tanya and no one would blame you for ending it, then yes.”

I smiled and for some reason picked up Bella, hugging her, spinning her around in a circle. “Oh, now where’s the press when you need them!” I heard Tanya’s sarcasm come down the hall.

I set Bella down and turned on Tanya. “What the fuck are you doing here?” I said, stepping forward. James was behind her. “And it takes some nerve for you to show up here,” I spat at him.

He rolled his eyes, but said nothing. “Look Edward, it’s been a long morning. I came over here so that James and Jasper could work together and figure out a way to spin this.”

“Spin this? Are you out of your fucking mind? How the hell is he going to spin the fact that when I was in the hospital with our sick son, you were taking it up the ass with another man? Jasper is good, but he’s not a fucking magician!”

I’d never spoken to her that way. I spun quickly to see if Elizabeth had heard and was shocked to see that both she and Charlie were gone. I would remember to thank Rosalie later, as she’d obviously taken them from the room when Tanya had arrived, knowing there would be a fight.

“There has to be a way to spin this positively. We could say it was simply someone who looked like me. You could say I was with you in the hospital. I don’t know, but there has to be something, someway to make this better.”

“But you weren’t in the hospital with me. You were fucking!”

“Oh, my God! Are you going to obsess over that little fact?” She crossed her arms over her chest.

“Little fact? You are insane! Did you even wait five minutes after I ended it to jump into bed with him?”

James’s eyes got wide. “Wait, you ended it with her?”

“Yeah, why else do you think she called…oh…” The lightbulb clicked and Tanya’s face was all the confirmation I needed. I turned to her. My voice was barely a whisper, “How long?”

“Edward, d-don’t be so dramatic,” Tanya stammered.

“How long?” I repeated.

“I don’t see how that matters,” she said, backing up.

“HOW LONG?” I screamed.

“A few years,” she admitted quietly. “Off and on.”

“Years? How could you?” I was in rage mode now.

“Oh, get off it,” James said, stepping forward. “You’re telling me that Tanya was the only chick you’ve been banging since you were together?”

“Actually, yes,” I answered, feeling dumb.

“I don’t believe that. Not with hot nanny and hot nanny’s sister running around here every day. I bet you got a little sister ménage going on there.”

I wasn’t not sure how Emmett moved so fast, but he was holding both Jasper and me back as James backed away. “You don’t wanna do this,” Emmett said. It wasn’t what Emmett said that calmed both Jasper and me down, it was Bella. She’d stepped forward and stood right in Tanya’s face.

“You bitch,” she said, and slapped her across the face. “And how dare you!” She then stormed over to James. “Edward didn’t sleep with me or my sister. And it’s not because I wouldn’t have wanted to. He’s the sexiest man I’ve ever met in my life. I’d have welcomed him into my bed or anywhere he wanted to take me, but he is too good of a man for that. He was being a good fiance.”

Bella’s words went straight to my core. It was a confession that she found me attractive, that she wanted me, but this wasn’t the time for that at all. It did give me a moment to take in all that had been said. A knot formed in my stomach as I shook Emmett off, now much calmer. I walked over to Tanya. “A few years?” I asked again, and she nodded.

“Then why even have a relationship with me?”

“It was good for our careers,” she said frankly.

“Get out. I don’t ever want to see you again. Pack your shit and get out.” My voice was void of all emotion, but she wasn’t ready to give up yet.

“I’m really sorry,” she whispered, and the tears welled up in her eyes. The thing was, her nose wasn’t red. It was her fake tears and I knew the difference. I’d only seen her cry real tears when she saw a stretch mark from Charlie.

Charlie.

“Was it going on when we were engaged?” I hissed. She nodded. “Before?” She nodded again. I closed my eyes. “Is there any chance Charlie isn’t mine?”

There was silence. I waited. I opened my eyes and looked at her. “He looks like you,” she responded.

“That’s not what I asked,” I said, my voice cracking.

“Yeah, there is a chance he isn’t yours,” she admitted.

“Get out!” I screamed. “Get your shit and get out!”

“Edward!” she shrieked back.

“Get her out of my house,” I said to Emmett, pushing past him, rushing through the kitchen, out the back door and into the garden. I couldn’t see. The tears were streaming down my face. The entire thing had been a lie. I’d been faithful the entire time, but she’d been fucking James. It wasn’t even that. Yeah, that bothered me, but I could have handled that; it was Charlie.

I felt sick at the thought, the chance, that he wasn’t mine. I loved him so much. Then a second thought hit me. What if he wasn’t mine and Tanya and James took him away from me? I’d really have no legal way of keeping him. I couldn’t let that happen. I wondered what I’d have to do to keep him. I’d give Tanya just about anything she asked for, but she wasn’t taking my son.

© 2014-2017 by NJ COLE  and Butterfly Publishing's

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