The Change-Up Chapter 2
Chapter 2

Bella is nervous about the prospect of a new job, especially under the circumstances of how she came across the opportunity. But, an opportunity is an opportunity, and she can’t pass it by.

Bella never had been the type of girl to get all frilled up; most of her wardrobe consisted of jeans and t-shirts. She occasionally wears skirts and blouses when it is required of her, but she mainly choose to stay casual. Besides, most of her "dress-up clothes" leave her feeling more like an old lady than a twenty-something-year-old. She curls the last strand of her long hair with the curling iron and unplugs it from the outlet.

Bella looks in the mirror one last time before she walks out of the bathroom, fidgeting with the tattered hem of her shirt. "That'll have to be good enough." She speaks to herself through the mirror and shrugs her shoulders. She received a text from Rose earlier in the day detailing her on what time she should arrive for work and what type of attire she should wear. Rose told her to dress comfortably, so here she stands, in her holey skinny jeans, her Chucks and an old t-shirt she picked up from Goodwill that is so old it is a bit worn through.

She moves through her apartment to make sure she turned off the TV and any other appliances. She grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and makes her way to the front door. Grabbing her corduroy shoulder bag and keys, she locks the door and lets herself out of the apartment.

On the walk to the bar, Bella thinks back to three nights ago, to the night she met Rose. Bella had always been a 'made for a man' kinda girl. She never thought of experimenting in college or after, for that matter. What happened with Rose was completely spontaneous and totally out of character for her. It was exactly what she needed. She and Rose had not gotten together since that first night, hadn't even spoken on the phone, but here she is, on her way to a new job and working for Rose.

Bella can’t help but worry that it might be weird working for Rose and is a bit confused about what comes next. She doesn’t know anything about Rose, and curses herself for not asking nearly enough questions. With everything happening so fast, there hadn’t really been time to. She knows both in her heart and her mind that if she'd had the time to think it all through, it never would have happened.

As Bella walks to her new job, she wonders what will come of her and Rose. Will they become friends? Is what happened three nights ago the first and last time that kind of contact will ever happen between the two of them? Does she want more? Does Rose want more? They are going to have to have a talk.

Before Bella turns the corner, to walk just a few more steps to the bar, she pauses, steeling herself. She takes a few deep breaths and once again, straightens her shirt out and turns the corner. The moment of truth is upon her.

It is a Tuesday evening - a slower night for the club - so there is no one at the door to allow her entrance or check her ID this time. Bella pulls open the heavy, blood-red door and steps through. The music in the club is loud, like the last time she was here, and the lights are dim. Strobe lights move over the dance floor where a few bodies sway to the music and into one another. Bella takes another deep breath and heads toward the bar.

There are only a few people, mostly women, who sit at the bar. Angela leans against the bar at the far end but notices Bella as soon as she is in sight. Angela holds up a finger to the woman she is speaking to and gives her a charismatic, yet flirty smile. She makes her way over to Bella.

"Hi! Bella, right? How are you? Rose said you would be in tonight." Angela beams at Bella and tosses her long, black hair over her shoulder.

"Hi, Angela. I'm good, thanks for asking. Rose said for me to come in tonight, and I have no idea where to go. Is she here?" Bella is beyond nervous and wonders if Angela is able to decipher anything in what she just said.

"First off, it's Ang or Angie. Only my mom calls me Angela. Ick. And Rose is in the office, let me show you," Ang says as she lifts the bar divider and steps out from behind it. She walks in front of Bella and down a hall to the right; Bella quickly follows her.

Ang knocks once and opens the door, ushering Bella inside with a light push on her lower back.

"Rosie, she's all yours,” Ang says to Rose. Ang turns and winks at Bella, then goes back out the door.

Bella stands rigid with her back up against the door, nervous, and wonders if Rose can hear her breathing loudly or the way her heart beats manically in her chest. Bella looks around the small, cluttered office and everywhere else but at Rose.

"Are you going to avoid looking at me all night or what?" Rose is the first to speak, breaking the deafening silence.

Bella finally turns her gaze to Rose, who wears an amused smile on her perfect mouth. Bella feels the smile slowly stretch across her own face and shakes her head. "No, I'm not. That would be hard to do; you're like a beacon in the room."

Bella can't be sure, but she thinks she sees a bit of a blush rise across Rose's sharp cheek bones and down her neck, into the collar of her shirt. She feels pride that she is the cause of that blush.

Rose stands from her chair and walks around to the front of her desk and leans against it. She folds her arms across her chest, "This isn't going to be weird Bella. I won't let it. What happened between us was great. Actually, it was fucking fantastic and I don't regret it for a second. To be honest, I haven't stopped thinking about you. Let's just have fun, okay? Can we do that?"

Bella is relieved and smiles widely at Rose. This is what she had fretted about for three full days and Rose laid it all out for the both of them without Bella even having to say anything. Bella wants to have fun, and she wants this job to work. She nods at Rose, "We can definitely do that, Rose."

Rose smiles, "Good. Okay, so I know that I said book work and computer shit, but would you mind learning the front too? Chances are you won't ever have to work up there, but just in case. You can say no, of course, but it could be kind of fun for you. Besides, it would teach you to loosen up a bit."

Bella thinks about that for a second. Can she bartend? Better yet, does she want to? Fuck yeah she does. "That would actually be kind of awesome, Rose. I'd love to."

"Kick ass, Cookie," Rose smirks.

"Cookie?" Bella asks. A pet name she thinks and shudders a little. Tyler had given her a pet name, but it was a terrible one that made no sense: Booba. Bella still has no idea where the fuck he came up with such a horrific name for her.

"Ang called you Cookie the Bookie when I told her you were going to start on here. It kind of stuck," Rose explains to Bella as she begins to clear a space around the computer where Bella can work. "She meant nothing by it, only as an endearment."

Bella chuckles. "It's okay." She pauses and looks around, "So, is it okay to pick things up in here, or is this, like, an organized mess or something?"

"HA-HA. No, you can clean, if you really want to. Actually, if you do, I will give you a lovely surprise." Rose replies back and then licks her lips at Bella. "Listen, I need to get up front for a few minutes. Just hop on the computer and see what you find. I left a list on the notepad beside the mouse of file names and passwords for you. I'll be back in twenty minutes or so."

Rose walks to the door and yanks it open, but before she walks through it, she stops and looks back at Bella. "A friend of mine is stopping by tonight. I want you to meet him, if you don't mind?"

Bella bites her lip, and Rose sees her hesitation, "He is a true friend of mine Bella, he doesn't judge."

Bella nods at Rose, "Okay, I trust you, like I said."

Rose smiles and walks through the door. She closes it behind her and leaves Bella to get acquainted with the computer and the programs she will be using.

Out in the club area, Rose hops behind the bar to help Ang out as the crowd begins to thicken. It is nothing like the crowds she sees Thursday through Saturday, but it is enough to keep her cousin busy and just barely on top of the next order.

"Need some help, Ang?" Rose asks as she immediately begins to replenish the bottles on display. She reaches into one of the cupboards that sits below the display and searches for another bottle of Cuervo. Rose hears a whistle behind her. God, she hates that. She finally locates the bottle and extracts her head from the cupboard. She doesn’t face the patrons yet as she places the bottle in its designated spot.

She hears a throat clear behind her. "Excuse me, Miss, but I couldn't help but notice your fine ass." The voice is deep and smooth, velvety.

Ignoring the jerk, she walks to the cooler and pulls out a bottle of beer and pops the top off. She walks back over to the voice, the man.

Rose sets the bottle down in front of the one man in her club tonight. "You know, you're damn lucky I love you Edward, if you had been any other motherfucker, male or female, I would have busted your head open!"

At this, the man, Edward, lets out a hearty laugh and shakes his head at Rose. "Always the charmer, Rosalie." A large smile breaks across his face, and Rose rolls her eyes at him.

"I turn it on just for you. The switch is in my panties." Rose smiles at him and moves off to take a couple of orders. After she helps Ang out for a bit, the crowd disperses, allowing Rose to fetch a beer for herself. She moves around to the other side of the bar and stands beside Edward.

"You're here a little earlier than usual, Edward. Plans fall through for today?" Rose asks, truly curious.

Edward has been Rose's good friend for many years. They tell each other everything, and it would be a lie if she said that they haven’t ever been together. In actuality, they are together quite frequently, but have somehow managed to never let it ruin their friendship. Edward had had a date set up for earlier in the day. That is a rule of his: always plan first dates in the afternoon. Good lighting is on your side and for the most part, it keeps you safe from getting groped. It also keeps the kisses from getting too heated when he doesn’t want them to. Not that Edward offers kisses very often, but that doesn’t mean that his dates don’t try to steal them from him anyway.

"Oh Christ. She was frightening, that one. I think she had recently gotten Botox or something, her lips were ridiculously fat and she had a hard time speaking around them. She couldn't have been more than twenty-four either. I spent most of the date either deciphering what she had said through her blow-job lips or attempting to contain my laughter and not piss myself. Truly terrifying, really." Edward shakes his head as he remembers his date with-as he now calls her-Luscious Lips Lauren. Luscious in that sense, is just not good, though.

"Awww. Poor Eddie." Rose ruffles his hair as he pinches her in the side and swats her ass. He is the only man Rose allows to do that to her.

"So when do I get to meet the girl, Rose?" Edward has heard all about this woman that had accidentally stumbled into Rose's club and had taken Rose home. After Rose had left the girl's place three days ago, she had immediately called Edward and unloaded the whole story on him. Truth be told, he has never heard her gush the way she had that day. Part of him is ecstatic for her, the other part, a little jealous. He has always tried so hard to help Rose get over her pleasure barrier with men and with women, too, for that matter. He thought he had been getting close, but it doesn’t matter now. This girl has knocked Rose's world off its axis and left her spiraling into God-knows-where.

Rose says something, breaking Edward from his inner musings, "I'm giving her some time to adjust in the back and get a feel for the programs. I'll go get her in a little while."

Rose and Edward continue to talk for a while about random topics. Sometimes about Bella but mostly not. They are oblivious to the newcomer that walks through the door and plants himself on a barstool four seats down from them.

He orders a beer and sits, watching the sexy blonde talk to the brown-haired guy. The blonde laughs at something the guy says, tipping her head back as she laughs. He feels his dick twitch.

He clears his throat and summons the petite bartender, "Can I get another?"

As he waits for his beer he looks around the establishment. All fucking chicks. Save for him and the brown-haired dude talking to the statuesque blonde...who is now staring at him. He nods his head in a hello and she turns her attention back to the dude. When the bartender finally comes back, he asks her, "Excuse me, but do you know if Bella is here?"

The bartender looks to the blonde and the blonde looks at him again, this time she pays him more attention.

"Rose?" The bartender addresses the blonde but still keeps her gaze on him.

The blonde moves from around the other guy and walks over to him. "What's your name? Bella didn't say she was expecting anyone." She flicks her long honey-hair over her shoulder.

The man swallows thickly and feels his dick twitch again, harder this time. "You can tell her Emmett is here." 'Rose' smirks at him and walks off, down a hall. Emmett looks over to the only other dude in the place, who stares at him, but nods a hello. Emmett takes a swig of his beer and turns back to face the liquor bottles in the bar display.

Down the hall, Rose raps once on the office door before she opens it and lets herself in. "How are things coming along, Bella?" Rose sits down in a chair across from Bella and crosses one leg over the other.

Bella notices Rose's long legs that are covered in skin-tight skinny jeans and end with black stilettos. When she reaches Rose's face, she sees the smirk the woman’s face holds, and she feels the blush rise up her neck. "You've got the wrong programs. Things could run so much smoother, and you could do so much more with the business and the books with other programs that I have used before. You should think about it."

Bella worries that maybe she has overstepped her boundaries after saying that. This isn’t her business, but it’s the truth and figures Rose will appreciate it.

"Write it down and I'll get it. Doesn't make sense to have crappy or antiquated systems. Thanks for the tip." Rose smiles and walks around to stand behind Bella. "There is someone asking for you at the bar, a big guy. Says his name is Emmett. You expecting anyone or should I kick him out?"

Bella jumps up out of the chair and nearly knocks Rose over in her excitement. "Shit, sorry, Rose. Don't kick him out, I'm expecting him. He's here a little early, though."

Bella hears Rose mumble something about a bad date and gets confused, but Rose shrugs her off. "You'll see soon enough. Come on out and talk to your friend, I have a friend here that I want you to meet, anyway."

Rose walks to the door and opens it. She looks back to see Bella pulling at her shirt and looking a little shy. "What's the matter, Cookie?"

Bella blushes once again, "I didn't know I'd be meeting anyone, or that I'd be out in the front area, I'm not really dressed for it." She feels self-conscious.

Rose shakes her head at Bella and puts a finger under her chin, pushing her face up so Bella will look her in the eyes. "What did I tell you? I said to dress in whatever makes you comfortable. If that is this..." Rose motions to Bella's outfit, "...then it's perfect."

Rose throws her arm around Bella's shoulders and pulls her through the door. The two women walk down the hall and emerge into the club area. Next to the bar, both men, Edward and Emmett, are staring at them. Lust swims in their eyes.

Rose drops her arm from Bella's shoulders and goes back over by Edward, while Bella walks toward Emmett. Bella wraps her arms around him and gives the large man a hug. "Thanks for coming, Em, it means a lot to me."

Emmett smiles at her, "Of course I came, you asked me to." He gives Bella a peck on the nose and looks in her eyes. "You gonna introduce me to your new boss?"

Bella smiles at him and turns toward Rose, "Rose, this is my good friend, Emmett. Emmett, this is Rose, my...erm...boss." She doesn’t really know what to say-boss, girlfriend, bi-sexual lover? Oh God. She has to lock her fingers together behind her back to keep from slapping herself in the forehead; it is such a weird situation.

Emmett stands up and offers his hand to Rose; she takes it and gives a strong shake. Emmett is impressed and even more turned on.

"Pleasure to meet you, Rose,” Emmett has his charm turned on full-scale and the needle is in the red.

"Likewise, Emmett," Rose may have batted her eyelashes at him, just a tad. She quickly drops Emmett's strong, warm grasp and turns toward Bella. "Bella, this is Edward. Edward, Bella...and Emmett." Rose motions between Bella and Emmett.

Edward stands to shake Emmett's hand first, as he is closer to him, then turns to Bella. He takes Bella's hand and something long, dead and forgotten in him stirs. He can’t explain it; it is like a hole in his chest that he never knew existed is suddenly filled, complete once again. He clears his throat, unsure of how long he has been holding the woman's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Bella."

A smile lights Bella's face, "It's very nice to meet you, too, Edward."

Rose watches the two of them and thinks that maybe she should be jealous of them, or angry. She has never seen that look on Edward's face, ever, but the more she sees it, the more she likes it there. That look belongs on his face, that look of almost...completeness. It confuses her, but she doesn’t say anything, she needs to study it.

"Why don't we grab a table?" Rose ushers the group over to a table and looks back at Ang. She puts her hand in the air and circles it, asking for a round. Rose turns back around and sits at the table in the last available seat between Emmett and Edward, and across from Bella. Perfect.

Rose has always been a watcher. Growing up, she had seen so much, too much. She had been burned by her first impressions of people and quickly learned that she couldn't dive into any kind of a relationship with a person until she truly knew them, whether for friendship or sex. Even then, once she thought she knew their ins and outs, Rose still felt the need to take precautions to protect herself. As a child, many times over she had made the mistake of trusting people too quickly. Rose's mother was of a promiscuous brand and often brought home new men; it was expected of Rose by her mother to automatically feel comfortable with “Uncle Marcus”, “Uncle Tommy” or “Uncle Jaime.” Rose made the mistake of trusting her so-called mother to take care of her and protect her, so Rose trusted the men that traipsed through her life like a parade. It was a mistake. It was her own mother where Rose went wrong to begin with; she should have been able to have faith in the woman that birthed her; a mother was supposed to love unconditionally and never harm or judge. Believing this, Rose gave her trust without question, which was the biggest mistake of her young life.

Rose already knows she can trust Bella, without a doubt, which for her is something entirely foreign. That first night when Bella had given herself so fully over to Rose, Rose knew she was special. Part of her was scared for Bella, that Bella trusted others so easily to be gentle with her and not harm her; Rose found herself wanting to protect Bella. Rose already cares for the woman a great deal, but what are they getting themselves into?

What Rose also notices as the group sits at the table talking is Edward, and the way he keeps sneaking peeks at Bella. Rose had a feeling that he would be attracted to Bella, but normally, Edward is the type to completely ignore looks. With Edward, looks mean nothing if a woman lacks brains and confidence...not that Bella lacks any of those. Actually, just the opposite, but Edward doesn’t know that. Something else that Rose is trying to figure out, is who the bear of a man that Bella invited to the club is. Could Bella and he possibly have a relationship? Or have they been together in the past? Rose finds it hard to say yes due to the massive difference in size between the two. Emmett is huge; it wouldn't take much for him to break Bella.

Rose is interrupted from her inner musings by Emmett asking her a question. "So, Rosalie, this is your place then?"

Emmett is genuinely intrigued with Rosalie; he has never seen a woman as gorgeous as her in all his life...and he means ALL his life. The second he walked into the all-female club he saw her with her golden hair and legs for days. The fact that she speaks mostly to the other guy, who is attractive in appearance, doesn’t matter to him one bit. The fact that Rosalie, or Rose as Bella and the other man are calling her, owns this place only makes her more interesting to him. Rose doesn’t look like the average all-female club owner...not that there is a type, but if he had seen her anywhere else, he never would’ve put her in this scenario. Emmett feels like things are going to get very interesting.

"Yes, Emmett, this is my place. I opened it about three years ago, and it has really taken off. I'm a bit slow Monday through Wednesday, but that is typical for dance-type clubs during the work-week. It tends to pick up on Thursdays, like any other bar." Rose takes a swig of her beer and sets it down on the table, offering Emmett her attention.

"If you don't mind me asking, why an all-female club? Are you a lesbian?" Emmett is never one to mince his words, and he doesn’t feel that he should start now.

Rose snorts, then looks over at Edward; all eyes are now on her, waiting to see her reaction. Normally, with anyone else she would’ve gotten pissed, but for some reason, with Emmett she finds it amusing. She begins to laugh and quickly takes another pull from her beer.

"Ah, no. I'm not a lesbian, per-se, Emmett, although I'm not exactly shy around the ladies either." Rose looks over at Bella, "Am I, Bella?"

Bella feels herself grow crimson as all eyes at the table fall on her. "Wow, I think it's time for another round!" Bella responds and quickly shoots out of her chair, walking off toward the bar to fetch another round.

"Shit. I shouldn't have done that. I'll be right back gentlemen." Rose excuses herself and quickly hurries off to the bar to do damage control. She didn’t think of how it would make Bella feel to be called out like that, especially in front of her friend who may or may not have known about Bella's “wild” side.

As Rose walks off, the men watch the two women walk away. Edward clears his throat, "So, that was quite the bomb that was dropped just now, wouldn't you say? Leave it to Rose, though." He shakes his head and chuckles.

"How so? I've only just met her and Bella hasn't told me anything about her...or what happened between the two of them, which is obviously something." Emmett wants more information, but just as Edward is about to say something, his jaw drops down to the floor. Emmett follows his dumbfounded gaze to the dance floor.

In the middle of the now crowded dance floor, Rose pulls Bella by the hand closer to her body. They both need to let off some of the steam that has been building between the two of them all evening. It is to be expected, considering what has happened between them, and then to have their closest friends here to witness it makes it all so much more real. Not that real is bad. Rose needs real, and Bella is very real. They aren’t exactly ready for it to be public, which it now is, but they will deal with it.

Out of nowhere, a finger taps Bella's shoulder. She turns her head to see Emmett standing just at her shoulder with an unfamiliar look in his eyes. "Mind if I cut in, ladies?" Emmett asks, looking between the two women. Bella looks back to Rose, smiles, and allows Emmett to take Rose's place on the dance floor. As they both begin to move to the music, Bella thinks she should say something, but what she should say, she has no idea.

"You know that I would never judge you. Don't you, Bella? I mean, I know your not full-fledged gay, because I've been with you, and you can't enjoy sex with a man that much and then just completely switch teams," Emmett pauses, waiting for Bella to say something. She doesn't. With a heavy sigh, Emmett continues, "So have you switched teams, or are you just sticking your toe in and testing the water? I gotta say, if you are going to switch for her..." Emmett motions over his shoulder toward the table, where Rose sits with Edward, chatting, "...then I don't blame you. She's hoooootttt!"

Bella pinches Emmett right on the nipple and he winces, "Mmmm, Baby, do that again."

Bella laughs and shakes her head at Emmett, "You are the same as always, Emmett. Such a ladies man...or a man whore. It's one of the two." Emmett smiles at her and waits for her to continue. "I honestly don't know how it happened, Em. I accidentally walked into this place. Really, I just needed to get drunk, forget myself for a little while, ya know? And then somehow, I ended up with Rose in my bed...and I liked it. No, I fucking loved it. But I'm just sampling from the tray. I know that I want to be with a man, it's just that, lately, my record with men hasn't been so swell." Bella looks up at Emmett, surprised at what she sees.

The smile that is plastered across Emmett's face makes his eyes shine, he chuckles, "That's fucking hot, Bella. Seriously. Can I watch? Please?"

Bella laughs and shoves Emmett's shoulder just as Rose re-appears next to them. "My turn again, big guy."

Emmett rolls his eyes and leans down to whisper in Bella's ear, "Please?" He turns, walks back to the table, and orders another beer.

Bella begins to sway with Rose and just lets the music and the beautiful woman in front of her lead the way. She has so many things racing through her mind, fighting for attention. She cares for Rose, is attracted to her, but she isn’t sure if she wants Emmett to see it and know of it. And then there is Edward. Something in her sparked when she first saw and spoke to him. It scares her to death because he is Rose's friend, and she doesn’t know what kind of relationship Rose and he have. What if it is actually kind of serious? Bella can’t begin to think about what it would do to Rose if she wants Edward. It is all so confusing. She doesn’t know what to say to Rose, so she says nothing. She just dances.

Rose lifts her hand and tucks a strand of Bella's long hair behind her ear. "I'm going to kiss you Bella. I'm going to kiss you in front of Emmett and in front of Edward and in front of all of these other women. Trust me, okay?" Rose looks at Bella, stares straight into her eyes and wordlessly begs for her trust.

Bella looks over at the table where their two male admirers sit, their mouths agape. Bella giggles and looks back at Rose; she reaches her hand up to the back of Rose's head and pulls her head down. Bella kisses those sexy, pouty lips in front of all who care to see. She kisses Rose with the passion she has felt for her since that first night, along with the confusion that plagues her. Bella kisses. She just kisses, and Rose kisses her back with as much fervor.

The two women break away from each other, panting from their long and sensual kiss. Rose leans her forehead against Bella's as they continue to sway and grind against each other a bit. When the song ends, they both walk back to the table with their hands linked together.

Rose and Bella approach the men, who both sit with their legs crossed and with looks of lust in their eyes. If anyone dares to look at their crotches, they will see massive bulges to show how turned on they are.

Rose smiles and asks, "So, you guys want to go to my place?"

Then men stand so fast they knock their chairs over. At once, both Emmett and Edward reply, "Let's go!"

The four-some leave the bar and decide to walk the six blocks to Rose's place. Edward and Emmett walk ahead of Rose and Bella, chatting and getting to know each other. Rose and Bella keep back a bit, remaining silent for most of the walk. Rose finally breaks their silence, "So, did you tell Emmett?"

Bella doesn't respond right away, but as they walk under a street lamp, Rose gets a good look at Bella's face and sees the devious smile there. Bella looks up from the sidewalk and glances at Rose, "Yeah, and he wants to watch."
The Underside of Earth - Chapter 3
Edward POV

I don’t know why I let Alice drag me to Port Angeles in this weather, but she wanted to go shopping. I told her I was NOT going shopping with her. She said fine, but asked if I could drive her. I caved in and agreed to drop her off, en route to the library.

So here I am, at the library. I grab a few books from the history and biology sections, and return to the atrium part of the library so I can see the rain. I truly love thunderstorms; I love Washington. There is something about the rain when it comes down, soothing in its monotonous roar and when thunder accompanies it, it seems as though things just fall into place, nature feels true and intact.

Much of the seating in the front part of the atrium is taken up, so I find a seat facing toward the check-out desk. I prefer to face the storm, but that option isn't open at the moment.

I pop the ear buds of my iPod in and lose myself for a while, reading and absorbing the music. After a while, boredom sets in with the biology book, so I move on to the history book. The storm outside is really raging now, the thunder shakes the old building and the window panes rattle with each boom; I couldn't feel more comfortable.

When I first dropped Alice off and got to the library, it was raining pretty good but it is nothing compared to the torrential downpour out there now. There is no way I will be making it to pick up Alice any time soon.

I take out my phone to call her, she won’t mind shopping for just a bit longer…she never does. The call connects.

“Yes, Edward?”

“Alice, the sky is spewing water. You’re going to have to shop a little longer. There is no way I am leaving the library in this. I’ll be drenched in seconds.”

“That’s fine. I’m not quite done here anyway. Just call me before you leave so I can hurry up and pay. Then we have to go eat somewhere. I’m starving.”

“Fine. I’ll talk to you in a while.”

I snap my phone shut just as a tear-streaked face blows by me and out into the insane rain shower.

I look around; other people sitting in the atrium stare at the door, wondering what is going on. Most of them shrug and go back to their reading, but a few still watch the door, like me.

The door is pulling at me and questions scream in my head. What just happened?

I contemplate it for no longer than a second, and then I move. I leave my iPod, phone, books and car keys behind, sprinting out of the door and into the downpour. I search for the body that just fled the library and see nothing, no one, close by.

I squint my eyes a little tighter, trying to see. Finally, about a block down and heading toward the beach front, is the person, a woman. I’m sure of it from the dark long hair that clings to her neck and from the bun it escapes. I can't tell for sure from the thickness of the rain, but I see her bend over, and then straighten again. I wonder why she bent over as I stand there for a moment and take stock of the weather. I weigh my options for just a second, to leave her be or go after her; I run after her.

As I run, I become nervous. What could she be doing? Is she crazy? The rain and air are cold; she's going to get sick...we both are. I’m not sure what else this storm is going to blow in, but I know it won’t be good. Dad told me that it is supposed to get ugly later tonight. These thoughts make me push my legs faster, harder.

Why in the hell am I running through this, and after a complete stranger? I don’t know, but I refuse to stop. I can’t stop.

It is only after four in the afternoon, but already, it’s quite dark out. Every once in a while, the sky flashes bright with lightning. It actually helps me find my way and follow the girl.

After running what has to be close to eight or nine blocks, I can see the pier. The girl runs down the steps and into the sand. I push myself to run faster, still a block behind her. Just as I am going down the steps, I see her enter the ocean. What the hell is she doing?

“HEY! STOP!” I yell as holler as I can. I’m not sure that she can hear me with the rain pounding so loudly; the thunder is also coming more frequently and it too, drowns out most sound, momentarily deafening me.

“PLEASE STOP! MISS!” I yell as loudly as I can, which in turn, is enough to hurt my throat.

She moves farther into the water, waist deep, while I am still on the sandy beach, still some forty yards or so away from her.

I watch her move in further, now chest deep and she keeps going while I am finally at the water's edge. I don't think, but just plunge right in; I try to run to her through the crashing tide but the waves are quite large and push against me. The water is freezing, and I know that I don’t have much time, neither does she.

As the water hits my waist I gasp as it completely soaks my shirt. Her head goes under and I immediately panic; I dive under the icy water and open my eyes, looking for her. I feel the immediate assault of the burning salty sea water, but keep them open and search for her.

The lightning flashes above us once again and finally, I see her; she floats with her arms wide, like she is waiting for an embrace. Her long hair has completely escaped its enclosure and slowly wisps around her head, locked in the silence of the water. Her back is to me, but all at once, I can’t see her again; the sky has gone dark. I keep swimming in the straight forward path and wait for more lightning to illuminate my way.

As I swim toward her, part of me thinks that maybe I shouldn’t be saving her life. Maybe she went into the cold ocean on purpose. What if she wants to die?

I come up for air and go back down. I can no longer see her, so I begin to flail my arms in an attempt to find her.

Lightning flashes above us once again and I see her no more than an arms length away from me. I quickly grab onto her but I’m only able to get a hold of her by the neck of her shirt, but it has to be good enough. I hold on as I claw us back to the surface and break through, gasping. She lies limp as I bring her head back against my shoulder and kick our way back to shore.

I’m completely aware of the tingling that begins to fill my limbs, what I am not sure of is if it's from the exertion and adrenaline, or the cold of the water. I kick harder in an effort to both get us to the beach and then more quickly, to keep my blood flowing. Every once in a while I kick the girl; part of me feels bad about it, but not bad enough since I am trying to save her life

I feel my legs beginning to slow, but not of my own doing. In my mind I am trying to push them faster, but know that the water is beginning to affect me. I’m not sure how she was able to get so far out as quickly as she did, but we ended up just past the end of the pier; I'm sure the water carried us out fast. My arms are also beginning to feel like jelly and my legs feel quite numb. The tide crashes forcefully into us and I figure I better change my technique or we are both going down. I move, trying to grab around the girl's waist, as I attempt to move onto my side, but then I feel big arms loop under my own arm pits, pulling us out of the water.

I kick as hard as I can to help my helper but quickly realize I don't need to as we are on the sand. The tide still laps up at us and I reach for all of my reserved energy to pull the girl further up out of the water and lay her down; I check her vitals, nothing, so I immediately begin CPR. She had been under quite a while.

"Do you know what the fuck you are doing?" A large deep voice booms directly into my ear.

“I’m a doctor. Shut up so I can do this," I reply hastely.

I work on her no more than thirty seconds and she quickly begins to expel the water; she took in a lot more than I expected.

She takes a deep breath and rolls to her side, away from me and looks up. She sees the hulking man that pulled us out and immediately starts sobbing.

“I’m…s-s-sooo…s-ss-ssorrry Em.” She sobs and her shoulders heave. The large man that pulled us out shushes her, then picks her up under her arms and knees.

As he picks her up, I finally get a real glimpse of her face. She is beautiful, but gaunt. Her lips are blue and her eyes have big, purple shadows under them. She can’t weigh more than one hundred pounds, if that. The man looks like he could easily toss her thirty feet in the air. And her hair is long and brown with the ends curling in its wetness.

“Shhh. Bella sweetie. It’s okay. Shhh. I’m going to get you home now. ROSIE! GET THE CAR!” The large man hollers.

He starts running for the stairs that lead to the pier and I run after him.

“You know this woman?”

“Yeah, I do,” he huffs out as he runs.

“You need to get her to the hospital, she’s showing symptoms of hypothermia.”

“I planned on it doc. And thanks. Truly.” He looks down at the woman again. "Oh shit!"

"What? What's wrong?"

"Her eyes are rolling around. What the fuck, doc?"

I look at him, seeing the deep sadness and fear in his eyes.

“I’m following you to the hospital. I’ll be right there. Drive FAST!”

“No man, I’ll get her there. You don’t have to come.”

“NO. I’m coming.”

He looks at me, nods, and then runs towards a jacked-up Jeep. I immediately run the eight blocks back to the library and inside. One of the concerned readers is standing by the door with my iPod, phone and keys in his hand. I grab them from him.

“Thanks.” I run to my car and jump in, hitting the “2” to speed-dial Alice.

“Where are you Edward, it has been an hour?” Alice asks, sounding a little miffed.

“Alice, I have to go to the hospital. I’ll explain later. Can you take a cab to the hospital? You can take my car from there.” I’ll be surprised if she understands any of that at all.

“Edward? What’s wrong? You’re scaring me!”

“It’s okay Alice. I’m fine, but I came across a woman in the water. I told the man who was with her that I'm coming to the hospital. I’ll leave the keys at the nurse’s station.”

“I’m getting a cab now. I’ll see you there, Edward.”

“I gotta go, Alice, I’m just pulling up, and I see them in the ER drive-thru.” I hang up, not waiting for her to respond.

I park the car and run into the ER, looking for the big man. He is pacing over by a sofa; a blond woman sits on the couch, with her head in her hands and watching him. I clear my throat, gaining the man's attention.

Just as he is about to speak, the ER doctor walks over to him.

“Mr. Black?” The doctor asks.

“McCarty. Emmett McCarty,” his voice quakes with emotion.

“Ah. Mr. McCarty, your sister’s body took quite a beating and she started to go into shock, but we were able to quickly get her warmed up again and she is stable. We knocked her out so that she can rest and so her body has time to bounce back. Do you have any idea how she got into the ocean?”

Still trying to get past the fact that the large man was that little woman’s brother and just before he was about to tell the doctor that she ran in, I cut in. I don't know if he saw everything that went down, but if he did, it won't help his sister to tell anyone that.

“She fell in. I was standing inside a shop and saw her on the pier. I think she was chasing after something, and she slipped and fell in. I ran to help as soon as I saw her.” The lie oozes from my mouth easily.

The doctor nods and looks down at her chart. I lock eyes with the brother, a silent conversation, begging him to stay quiet.

“Okay, well if you have any questions for me, Mr. McCarty, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you can’t find me, just let a nurse know and he or she will find me. Oh, and your sister is in room 227.”

“Thanks, Doc.” The brother replies in a soft voice and sits down by the blond.

I lift a finger at the girl’s brother, asking for a moment, and run after the doctor.

“Excuse me, doctor? I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Dr. Oliver Marcus. And you are?” He sticks his hand out for me to shake.

I take his hand and offer a firm hand shake. “I’m Dr. Edward Cullen, of Seattle Children’s.”

“Aren’t you a little young to be a doctor?” He asks.

I smile; I get this reaction from people a lot. “Technically, yes, but I went to college at a young age.”

“Wait, Cullen? As in Carlisle Cullen? Are you his son?” His eyes rake over me, reassessing me.

“Yes, I am.” I reply.

He looks me over, appraising me and smiles. “I’m happy to have you in the hospital, Dr. Cullen. If there is anything you need, please, just say the word.”

“Thank you Dr. Marcus. I will only need the information on Bella Black, for her family of course.”

I hold my breath while he eyes me, sizing me up. I assumed her last name is Black when Dr. Marcus tried addressing her brother as Mr. Black. I didn’t get a funny look from him using that name, thankfully.

He nods at me. “Of course you can have the information that is released to you, as you know I can't give you much more than that, Dr. Cullen." I give a small nod in understanding and Dr. Marcus turns and heads down the corridor. I turn around and walk back to the brother, Emmett; he stares at me, as does the striking blond beside him.

The woman looks a little pissed off, but Emmett just looks confused.

“So, Cullen, as in Carlisle Cullen, of Forks?” Emmett asks me, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly.

“That’s right, he's my father. You know him?”

“Carlisle is a good man; he worked on my father, well, step-father several years back.”

“What is your step-father’s name?”

“Charlie Swan. He was the police chief of Forks.” The man’s eyes look away from me when he says the name.

I narrow my eyes. “You’re Charlie’s son? My dad was torn up about your dad for a long time.”

I couldn’t be sure, but his eyes almost appear to go a little glossy. The woman with him softens up a bit and lays a well-manicured hand on his shoulder.

"I wasn't always close to Charlie, but he was a good man, and he took very good care of Bella. Excuse me a moment." He walks over to the nearby ER station and grabs a tissue. I take that as my cue to introduce myself, and to give Emmett a few moments to compose himself.

I offer my hand to the woman. “Hello, I’m Edward Cullen.”

She takes my hand, shaking it, rather firmly I might add. “Rosalie Hale-McCarty. A pleasure. And thank you for saving our Bella.”

Our Bella?

Emmett rejoins us and I address them both, “Look, I hope you don't mind me speaking up like that, but I did it for the sake of your sister. I don’t think she or you really want to deal with a psyche evaluation right now. And if I had let you tell the truth, that is where it would have gone.”

“No man, I appreciate it. That is not what Bella needs right now. She’s just having a really bad year,” his voice is back to booming and loud.

I nod, but then feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see Alice looking up at me, her face is one big damn question mark.

“Hey Al.” I'm relieved to have her here.

“Hey yourself. What’s going on, Edward?” She asks; she still sounds a little peeved.

“Alice?” Rose asks from behind us.

Alice peers around my shoulder at the calling of her name.

“Rose? What are you doing here?” Alice looks confused. Heck, I’m confused. She knows them?

“Dr. Cullen...” Rose begins to say.

“Edward,” I cut in.

Rose nods. “Edward helped us tonight, with Emmett’s sister.”

Alice looks at me, and then at Emmett. “What happened, Edward?”

Now they are all looking at me.

“Why don’t we have a seat and I will tell you, she will probably be sleeping for a while. Actually, I am going to get us a private lounge to wait in. I’ll be right back.”

I approach the nurse’s station and introduce myself. The nurse practically falls over herself when she hears my last name. My father is that well known. We have a private waiting room in minutes. We all grab something to drink, coffee for me, and sit down on the two sofas that face each other. Alice pulls a blanket off the back of the couch and places it over my legs. I hadn’t paid attention to it until now, but the cold really is settling in on me.

“Okay, first I have to ask how you two know each other.” I motion between Alice and Rose.

Alice looks at me. “Edward, this is Jasper’s second cousin, Rose.”

I haven't met much of my future brother-in-law’s extended family, but now the features do look familiar. “I see. Okay.”

“Alright. I’m just going to start at the beginning.” And so I tell them what happened from the beginning; I was in the library when I saw a crying person flying by me and out into the rain. I couldn’t NOT do something. So I went after them, and only realized it was a woman after I followed her for some eight blocks. I told them how she ran all the way to the pier and down the steps to the shoreline. I told them how I yelled, begged for her to stop, and how she gradually went under water.

I could feel my hands shake, and Alice must have seen it, as she grabbed my right hand and gripped it. I looked down, trying to gather myself.

Looking back up, I found the tear filled eyes of Emmett. I kept going. “I’ve never been that scared. Ever. I thought she was gone. And then the lightning flashed when I was under the water, looking for her, and she was right there, floating in the stillness. So I grabbed her and pulled us to the surface. I don’t think I had ever been so thankful of lightning, especially when submerged in water.”

I look at Alice, and she gives me a limp smile.

I look over to Rose to see the tears doing their free fall down her porcelain cheeks, and then back to Emmett, as he finally loses the battle with his own tears. I take a deep breath and let my head fall into my hands, and then before I know it, Emmett has me up off the couch, hugging me in his bear hold. Sobbing.

“Thank you. Thank you so much. She would have just…she would have died. I can’t lose her too,” Emmett mumbles into my shoulder.

He lets me go and grabs onto his wife.

I look at Alice again and even she has tears streaking down her cheeks. I sit down and wipe them away with my thumb and hug her.

“I’m going to call mom and tell her that we are not going to be home tonight. Maybe I could run back to Forks and get clothes and such for everyone?” Alice looks to me, and then to Rose.

“That would be great Alice, thanks.”

“Al, is the weather okay to drive in? I don’t want to be worrying about you all night.” I say. I have had enough worry to last me quite a while, thank you.

“No, the weather is fine now Edward, back to a drizzle. I think it is supposed to pick back up, but not until later on,” Alice says as she hugs me once more and turns to the McCarty’s. “Would you like to me to get something for you?”

Rose fishes their keys out of her purse and hands them to Alice. “That would be great of you Alice.”

As Alice gets the directions to their house, I walk over to the windows that overlook the ocean and stand beside Emmett. He looks at me and nods, deep emotion shining in his eyes. I simply nod back, not sure what to say.

“I’m going to go and see what I can find out,” I say to him as I stare out the window at the drizzling rain.

Emmett nods again. “That would be great, thanks.” He turns back to gaze out the window as Rose comes to stand beside him, she slips her hand into his. I quickly turn to leave the room and give them privacy.

Whatever it is they are going through, I can help them. I want to help them, I want to help her.

The doctor told us earlier that Bella is in room 227, but before I go in there, I want see if I can find out anything about her. I'm not allowed to look at her file, but I wonder if I stand around the nurse's station long enough, if someone will say something that I can eavesdrop on. Pathetic, I know. There is just something about the look I saw on her face, and on her brother's as well. It seems like there is something else going on. I am sure that if she was ever treated for anything in Forks, it was either under the care of my father or Dr. Gerandy.

I locate the nurse's station close to Bella's room and find it empty. I look around a bit, attempting to locate a nurse, but the halls are quiet. I don't even hear voices coming from any of the patient's rooms. I walk back to the station and wait a few minutes, but still, no nurses show up. My hands begin to fidget so I pick up a pen to play with. I twirl it around my fingers for a minute and think about the day; what a crazy day. The pen drops back onto the station desk and lands on the corner of a file with her name on it. I look back up and around myself, checking the halls for anyone, but it is still quiet. Really, I shouldn't look. Getting caught wouldn't result in anything good, but I need to look. I quickly snatch it up and dart down a hall to find a dark corner to hide in. The folder flips open to the first page, it shows the usual stuff: her contact info, her address, date of birth and such; regular stats and any of the notes the nurses want acknowledged. The second page is related to today’s admission and I read a little, but it says what I already know. Her file is thick, much thicker then I expect. I read a few pages and see that she must have been a clumsy child, and on the next page, I see some photos. It looks like her upper arm and some stitching done on a large gash. I flip to the next page, but then I notice that she has a surgical procedure tab.

I steal a glance around, feeling slightly guilty, but then I look. I can’t help but look. Just as I open up to it, a nurse walks past me and turns into the nursing station. She thumbs through folders and papers on the desk, looking for something and muttering under her breath. Not finding what she was searching for, she quickly strides down the far hall toward Bella's room. I dart over to the station and set the file down. I don't have permission to be reading it, and thankfully, wasn't caught doing so.

Taking a chance, I flip back to the procedures tab one more time and now, it opens up closer to the middle. There are x-rays, CT reports and pictures of a surgery while in progress. It’s quite sobering, and suddenly, I don’t want to read her file anymore. I want as far away from her file as I can get, and closer to her in that room. I close the folder and put a few papers and other folders over top of it in case that is what the nurse was looking for in the first place.

Just like the pull to run out of that library and towards her, I feel that here, now. And before I realize I even took a single step, I am standing in front of room 227. My heart thunders in my chest as I put my hand on the door, and slowly, push it open.

There she lies, her small form the large hospital bed. The bed sits in the center of her private room, and only the muted light from a lamp lights her face. Besides the usual beeping of the machines, the room is silent. She only has an IV hooked up to her and several thick blankets covering her to keep her temperature up. There is no foil over her, so she must be retaining her body heat well.

I walk to the foot of her bed and lift the covers to check her feet, dragging my finger from heel to toe, up the bottom of her foot; it twitches, as does the other. Circulation is fine. I was worried about that after the cold of the water. I grab her wrist, and check her pulse. Golden.

Why do I feel so nervous? I saved this woman’s life, just like the many others I have saved. I haven’t ever been nervous around them in the quiet of their room.

But you’ve never felt like this about any of the other lives you’ve saved. Have you?

And now I’m hearing voices. But it's true; I've never felt the need to go against the rules and sneak peeks at other patient's files. Why do I feel like this?

As I look at her, it feels like my heart is clenching in my chest and like my stomach has gone to live in the upper part of my esophagus. This woman stirs things in me that I haven’t felt for some time, and never before with this magnitude. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but what exactly is this?

I pull the chair over closer to the bed and sit down. After just a few short minutes, I notice that her heart rate has sped up a little bit. And then she starts panting, like she is running again. She starts making little whimpering noises, and it has to be the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever heard.

Not thinking, I take her hand, and a jolt goes through her, making her back arch of the bed a little. My eyes go wide, and then I feel my hand begin to tingle, but she calms a little. I hold her hand a bit longer, and when she has completely calmed and her heart rate is back to normal, I put her hand back on the bed.

She begins to whimper again, but her vitals don’t change. She lets out a little gasp then her eyes fly open. That shouldn’t be possible as heavily sedated as she is.

She sits up in the bed.

“JAKE!” It comes out of her breathy and she takes a weird chesty inhalation and falls back to bed, back to slumber.

It scares the shit out of me. Really, what was that? The look in her eyes was indescribable, like she was here, yet vacant.

I run out into the hall to find Dr. Marcus. I search for a while, then finally find him and tell him what happened.

"Dr. Marcus, I was just in to see Bella Black. Something odd happened."

"What has happened, Dr. Cullen. Is something wrong?" He makes to move toward her room, but I grip his arm to stop him.

"She is okay, but oddly enough, she sat up and said someone's name. I think she was dreaming, but you said you sedated her."

He nods, "I did, heavily at that. She must have been having one hell of a dream. I will check on her soon, and after that, her family may see her. I will come to the lounge and let them know when."

I take my time on the way back to the lounge, once again, plagued by the days events. I mostly wonder what the woman had gone through to push her so far over. When she ran out of the library she looked vacant, kind of how she looked when she had screamed out just minutes ago. What happened to her? And who is Jake? Questions run rampant through my brain, but there is one single question that scares me the most. What if I hadn't been there to go in after her? Would someone else have gone after her, or would she be gone, to the bottom of the deep ocean to never return.

I reach the door and pause before turning the knob, a shiver goes through me. I feel cold from the inside out... What do I tell her brother?

All of a sudden, a hand grips my shoulder and I jump, not expecting it. I turn to see Rose behind me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you, Edward. Are you alright?” She asks me, the concern apparent in her eyes.

I let out the breath I had suddenly taken when I was startled. “It’s alright, Rose, and yes, I’m fine. How are you holding up? How is Emmett?”

“He’s scared shitless, and so am I. These are the greatest two people I have ever known, and what they have been through already, just isn’t fair. I love them both more than you can attempt to measure,” her voice begins to tighten up in emotion.

I hear the tears in her voice, and simply nod my head. I open the door and usher her in.

“After you.” She dips her head at me and walks in. I follow behind her.

Emmett is across the large room in a few strides, standing in front of me. “Edward, how is she? What does the doctor think? Is she awake?” The words tumble quickly from his mouth.

Rose touches him on the upper arm, silencing him. His eyes plead with me, but I can’t help what comes out of my mouth.

“Emmett, who is Jake?”