“Carlisle,” I spoke urgently as I walked into our house.
“What is it son?” a voice echoed through my thoughts. Often when Carlisle and I communicated with each other, he did not need to speak, only think about his message to me. I walked into his office and saw a worried look on his face.
“It’s Bella. She’s burning up and she just threw up a few minutes ago. I don’t know what’s wrong with her." The words rushed out in a panic, even though they weren't entirely true. I had a list of possible diagnoses in my head—I had gone to medical school twice after all—but I could still admit, I was no expert.
“Edward, calm down,” his thoughts echoed in my mind. He smiled gently, placing a sturdy hand on my shoulder and looking me in the eyes. “I’ll drive over and check her out to make sure she’s okay. Is Charlie still at the house?” he asked, aloud this time.
“No, he left about an hour ago. I’m going to go back to Bella. I’ll meet you there,” I called as I ran out of his office and down the stairs at vampire speed, heading towards the forest.
Trees blurred past as I ran in the direction of Bella’s house, but the normally soothing action of running did nothing to calm my nerves at this moment. I was stricken with worry. What could have happened to my Bella during the short time that I had been gone? At least running, I would get there faster than I would have if I would have taken my Volvo. No law could regulate my vampire speed, but that wasn’t the case for cars.
I was relieved to find that Bella had not gotten sicker while I had been absent, but the obvious fact that she had not gotten any better either, quickly washed away that relief. “Bella,” I breathed, as I sat down on the bed and pulled her into my chest. “I’m sorry I had to leave you. How are you feeling?”
I could tell her heart rate was up slightly. “I still don’t feel well. I just want to sleep.” She cuddled into my chest, nuzzling in as deep as she could. “Edward, are needles going to be involved in Carlisle’s visit?” I froze. I hadn’t really considered this. But that explained the rise in pulse. Bella was not a fan of needles.
“I can’t say, my love,” I answered as I brushed my fingers through her hair. “But if they are, I will be here for you. You’ll get through it.”
A moment later, I heard Carlisle’s car pull into the driveway. In only a few seconds he was knocking on Bella’s closed door. “Come in,” I spoke quietly, too low for anyone but Carlisle to hear, as I continued to rhythmically stroke Bella’s hair and face. Carlisle entered, black doctor’s bag in hand, which he set down on Bella’s cluttered desk.
“Edward if you don’t mind, I would appreciate it if you stepped out for a minute so that Bella can have some privacy while I examine her.” I glared at my father figure. Sending me out of the room was not for the sake of her privacy. I knew that if she were given the choice, she would throw all privacy away for the comfort of having me by her side. He was kicking me out because he didn’t want my concern to interfere. But he stood firm in his decision, so I sighed, and gently placed her small form on the bed so I could stand. I kissed her forehead and headed for the door. “Don’t worry Edward, she’ll be fine,” his thoughts pushed out.
Once downstairs, I paced the living room, wishing I knew what was going on. Carlisle might be able to send me out of the room, but he couldn’t turn my anxiety off. He made it more difficult for me to interfere from the opposite landing, but I could still hear his thoughts and his side of the conversation as he examined her. And I didn’t exactly try to tune out his thoughts, and I couldn’t help but listen in as Carlisle carried out the examination that I had requested. “Hmm…it looks like it’s just a 24-hour virus, but all the symptoms point to mono. I think I should do a blood test just to make sure it isn’t mono.”
“Mono?” I asked softly, stopping in my tracks. How would Bella have gotten mono? Mononucleosis is most commonly spread through saliva and occasionally through tears. Bella didn’t wear glasses and therefore couldn’t have gotten it that way and I’m the only person she kisses. I hadn’t even given the disease consideration because it seemed like there would be no way for her to contract it. “Why would she have mono? How would she have gotten it?” I asked, still too softly for Bella to detect.
“She said her, Jessica, and Angela shared a soda the other day at the mall. If one of them had the virus they could have passed it to her. But then of course they would be showing symptoms of being sick as well. The chances she has it are very slim, but I want to check, just to be sure.”
“But there is no way to treat it other than riding it out. Why do the blood test? She’s gonna kill you if you stick her with a needle to check for a virus she has to ride out regardless.” I ran up the stairs two at a time and walked into her bedroom without showing common courtesy and knocking, as Carlisle had. If Bella was going to be pricked with a needle, I was going to be there with her, to support her. Carlisle couldn’t stop me.
Carlisle didn’t protest my entrance as he dug through his bag looking for the things he would need to do the blood test. I sat down on the bed and pulled Bella into my lap. She leaned back into me and grabbed both of my cold hands with her burning ones. “Bella, I’m going to do a quick blood test to rule out a few viral and bacterial infections,” Carlisle explained gently. Bella squeezed my hands, so I began rubbing small circles into the back of her hand. She nodded, showing to Carlisle that she understood but she didn’t say anything.
Carlisle walked over to the bed carrying a tray that had all the supplies laid out on it. Bella flinched at the sight of the needle and I squeezed her hand gently. “Don’t worry Bella. I’ll be right here the whole time. You’re going to be fine,” I said soothingly.
Carlisle nodded his agreement. “Just focus on breathing and don’t watch what I’m doing,” he directed.
Carlisle wrapped a tourniquet around her arm and wiped the crease of her elbow with an alcohol swab. I knew Bella couldn’t stand the sight or smell of blood and that she hated needles, so I wasn’t at all surprised when she turned and buried her face into my chest. When the needle pierced her skin, she flinched again and squeezed my hand as hard as she could. The smell of her freshly exposed blood made my throat burn and I had to fight to contain the monster within me. I could see the slight look of concern in Carlisle’s eyes but because I loved her, I knew I could control myself.
Once three vials of blood had been collected, Carlisle removed the needle from Bella’s arm. He wiped up the remaining bit of blood and then wrapped it in a bandage. I was just as relieved as she was when the bandage had been secured.
“I’m going to take these samples to the lab,” he explained to both of us. He turned to Bella. “Bella, you need to rest. Take it easy, and you’ll feel better soon.” He smiled at her, as if exchanging a secret. “I trust that Edward can take care of you. You have the best nurse there is,” he chuckled.
“Thank-you, Carlisle. Please let me know the results of Bella’s test as soon as you can,” I said, reassuming my position on the bed, pulling her back into my lap. I took up stroking her face and hair once again.
“I will.” He reassured aloud, followed by the thought, “Don’t worry Edward. She’ll be fine.” I heard the door downstairs click close, so I sat back, pulling Bella with me. I hoped that if she were lying down, she might fall asleep. She definitely needed the rest.
Luck was on my side, and within a few moments, Bella was out. I picked up a novel from her bedside table and began to read while she slept. We laid there like that for about an hour and a half, Bella sleeping while I read and continued to absentmindedly stroke her hair. A buzzing in my pocket broke me from my rhythm and I opened my phone to see a text from Alice. “Carlisle says Bella’s tests were negative. It’s just a minor virus.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Mono would have lasted a lot longer and I couldn’t stand seeing my Bella sick.
Bella stirred next to me. “How was your nap, love?” I asked.
“Good,” she sighed. “I’m a little achy, but I really want to get out of bed for a bit.” She leaned up to kiss me and I leaned down to kiss her back. “Can we watch a movie?” she asked, following up her previous sentiment.
“Of course, love. What would you like to watch?” I asked her as I picked her up bridal style and carried her down the stairs at a human pace.
“Beauty and the Beast,” she said without hesitation. I placed her on the couch and rummaged through the DVD cabinet until I found the movie in question. I popped the DVD into the player. “I’m going to get you a blanket and some medicine. I’ll be right back.” I whispered to her. I had a few minutes while the previews were rolling.
I found an extra blanket in the closet upstairs which I grabbed to keep Bella warm. Then I walked into the bathroom to find the Tylenol in the medicine cabinet. Since she hadn’t thrown up in a couple hours, I figured it was safe to give her oral pain relievers now, and that way it could bring her fever down and help with her aches. I took the bottle of pills with me and then went back downstairs to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Returning to the living room, I handed Bella two caplets, which she cautiously swallowed and then placed the bottle and water glass on the table in front of her. I wrapped the blanket around her before settling myself onto the couch and then she snuggled into my chest.
Bella was fully absorbed in the movie, but I was absentmindedly staring at the screen playing with her hair once again. I saw Belle go to the bookstore, her father get lost in the woods, and Belle offering herself to take her father’s place in imprisonment, but I didn’t really think much about what I was seeing. We were watching the scene where Belle and the Beast dance while Mrs. Potts sings the titular song when I heard Bella’s soft voice. “This is my favorite Disney movie,” she whispered. “You wanna know why?” she asked, briefly looking up to my face before letting her eyes return to the screen.
“Why is this your favorite, sweetheart?” I asked, smiling down at her.
“It reminds me of me and you,” she said, relaxing back into me, as she had sat up to talk to me. Her words took me by surprise. I had always thought of me as the monster and Bella as the angel. Angel and the Monster didn’t have the same ring to it like Beauty and the Beast did. Of course the book that Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont wrote was La Belle et la Bête, Belle and the Beast, not Bella et le Monstre, Bella and the Monster. I had never thought about it that way before.
Belle and Bella. The names were only different by one letter. Both of them could be found reading during every spare moment they had. They both cared more for others and were selfless, unlike most humans. They were both a little eccentric. And they both fell in love with someone who put them in danger, despite drawing the attention of men more popular, and in Belle’s case, more attractive.
The Prince and Edward. Both were angry and bitter until they found their true love. Both found the girl they loved and would do anything for her.
Yet Bella et le Monstre was still slightly different from La Belle et la Bête. Underneath the fur and claws, the Beast was human. Unlike me, he had a beating heart and he had no venom or super strength and speed that could kill or hurt his love or forever silence her heart, leaving her trapped at age eighteen for eternity. In both stories, Belle and Bella were both willing to make sacrifices for their love. But in our story, the story of the Angel and the Monster, Bella would be the one making a change, for better or for worse, not me, like the beast did in Beauty and the Beast.
A sudden surge of anger washed over me, and I clinched my fists. I was not mad at Bella. Bella could do nothing to make me mad at her. I was mad at myself. Because of me, Bella could not have a happy ending like Belle does. What Bella wanted was for me to end her life for her and make her one of us. Our love was forbidden. The love of Belle and the Beast was complicated but not impossible, and certainly not forbidden. I wanted Bella to be happy, but I could not give her what she wanted. I could not send her to the eternal damnation that I had been sent to. I wouldn’t. Bella was an angel and deserved so much more than a monster like me.
As if she could hear my thoughts, she spoke up again, her voice taking on a harder tone. “You don’t get to decide what I want. What I want is a life with you, my own personal Prince Adam. I don’t want to end up with one of the Gaston’s of the world just because you want to keep my heart beating.” I sighed. Even sick, this was an argument she was hell-bent on not letting me win.
As the movie drew to a close and the credits began rolling, Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s version of Beauty and the Beast began to play. Bella stood up and only then was I fully aware that the movie had ended, and instinctively stood up to follow Bella. She wrapped her arms around my neck and stepped up to position her feet on mine, just as we had done at prom. I wrapped my arms around her as she rested her head against my chest. I gently swayed to the music. Bella looked up at me and gave a small smile. It was much weaker, due to her being sick but still a smile that could have made my un-beating heart melt. “I love you Edward,” she whispered, before tucking her head back against my chest. My Bella, my love, my angel, my Belle, my beauty.
All of my anger disappeared with those four simple words. Simple words yet they held more meaning than possibly the most complex words in the English dictionary. Perhaps Bella and I really were some masochistic version of Beauty and the Beast. Because although our ending would be very different, both Bella and Belle had been able to find the human deep inside the monster. I smiled down at my Bella leaning against me for support, showing love and devotion to no one but me, a monster, a vampire. My Bells.
“I love you too, Bella.”