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posted by groovychicklisa
I decided that I'd might as well head over to Newton's that afternoon after school. The store was empty except for a couple who was looking at tents at the back, and Mrs. Newton welcomed me with a smile and a concerned hug.

"Hello, dear. I do hope you're feeling better."

I didn't know exactly what Charlie had told her when I hadn't come in to work, but she didn't seem to need an explanation, and I was grateful for that.

"Mike said that I should stop by to work out a schedule. And thank you so much for letting me stay on, it's really nice of you."

"Of course, dear. We all have our rough spots, don't we?" She pulled out a folder from under the counter and flipped it open. "Now, September is still a pretty busy month, so if it's possible I would like for you to come in every day after school until we close, and every other Saturday. Would that work for you?"

"Definitely." The store closed at seven, and then I would have to make dinner and do some homework. If I tried, I could probably stay busy until it was time to go to bed.

"Great! Then in October, the activity dies down a little, so I think we'll divide the shifts between you and Mike. How about if you work Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week, and then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the other?"

"That sounds great, Mrs. Newton." I looked around the store. The couple was still looking at tents, and a group of men in their thirties had come in and were checking out the fishing equipment. "Do you want me to start right away?"

"Oh, no, dear. Tomorrow will be fine."

"OK." I wished that she had said yes; I was not looking forward to going home to an empty house.

"See you tomorrow, dear." She called after me as I left the store.

I reluctantly started the truck and slowly drove home. I thought about calling Angela for a moment, but somehow company wasn't very tempting either. I decided to keep myself occupied by doing some laundry until I would have to start dinner.

I was surprised, to say the least, when I got home and found Charlie's police cruiser in the driveway. He usually didn't leave work until at least after six, and it wasn't even five yet. When I got into the house, he was on the phone.

"… I just didn't know who else to call, she's never…" He spotted me coming into the kitchen and paused mid-sentence. "Never mind, Bob, she just walked through the door. Thanks."

"Eh, hi?" I said hesitantly as he hung up the phone.

"Where have you been?" He demanded. "School was over forty-five minutes ago!"

"I didn't know you were waiting for me." I replied honestly. "Mike told me that Mrs. Newton said that I could keep working at their store a couple of days a week if I wanted to, so I stopped by there on my way home to get a schedule."

"Oh. That's good. You could use the extra money." Charlie nodded. "You just had me a little worried."

It had worried him when I hadn't come straight home from school. Putting this together with my state of mind over the past week, I realized that my basically catatonic state had scared him even more than I had thought.

"Dad." I waited until he looked up at me so that he could see that I meant what I was saying. "I'm not going to do anything stupid, if that's what you're worried about." The idea seemed absurd to me, but apparently it was something he was afraid of.

"I know, Bells, I know. I just… I overreacted a little, OK? Isn't that part of my job description as your dad?" He patted me awkwardly on the shoulder and headed into the living room.

I sighed. I would have to work really hard to convince Charlie that I was fine. Which, of course, I wasn't. But I had no intention of letting him, or anyone for that matter, know the amount of pain I was really in. I would just have to put on an act, and hope that at some point it would no longer be necessary.

That moment seemed very far away.


Nightmares and Tests

Life goes on. It's a cliché, I know, but it's also true. I didn't necessarily move along at the same pace, though; sometimes it felt like time was just skipping ahead without bothering to check if I was on board or not, and all I could do was cling on for dear life if I didn't want to be left behind.

Things got better in school after a few weeks. Most people got tired of staring at me and whispering behind my back every time I walked into a room pretty quickly, and eventually, Lauren was the only one who glared at me. Since that wasn't exactly new, I simply continued to ignore her. Even Jessica started talking to me again when she realized I wasn't going to make a move on Mike.

My birthday came and went. I had told my parents that I didn't want any presents, which they of course ignored. Renée sent me a new camera with instructions to take pictures of all my friends and send to her, so she could at least pretend to be a part of my everyday life. From Charlie, I got a gift certificate to my favorite bookstore in Port Angeles, which I was actually very happy for.

And since it was a Saturday, school wasn't a problem – not that anyone except for Angela knew that it was my birthday anyway. She insisted on treating me to coffee and a movie in Port Angeles, and I only grumbled a little before agreeing to go. I was happy to get out of the house, to be able to not have to think about not thinking for a while.

I was surprised at how draining it was to not think about a certain thing... or, more specifically, person. When I got home after working at Newton's after school, I was completely exhausted. Every night after finishing my home work, I crashed into bed, and I was sure I would be too tired to dream. And every night I was wrong.

The nightmare didn't change, but I still woke up screaming from it. Some nights I managed to go back to sleep, but most of the time I just lay curled up under the covers until my alarm went off, watching as the sky outside my window slowly became brighter with the rising sun.

I got down a routine of not thinking about anything upsetting pretty quickly. I knew that I was becoming number by the day, but I didn't really mind. I was never really happy, but I wasn't really sad either, which seemed like a good bargain to me. The only time I actually felt anything at all was when the nightmare woke me in the dead of night.

I didn't realize that September had been replaced by October until I got to Newton's one Tuesday after school. Mike and his mom looked up as I came into the store, surprised expressions on both their faces.

"Bella, what are you doing here? It's Tuesday." Mike frowned at me.

"I know." So?

"You're working Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week." Mrs. Newton said, the frown on her face matching that on her son's.

"Oh." I realized what she was getting at. "It's October?" When had that happened?

"October seventh, dear." She looked a little concerned.

"Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't realize that. I must have gotten the dates a little mixed up." I tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out what had happened to the rest of September.

"Of course, dear." Mrs. Newton nodded in an understanding way. "But you can go on home, and I'll see you tomorrow, OK?"

"OK." I left the store and drove home, wondering what I could do to make the afternoon go by faster. Since I hadn't realized it was October, I hadn't planned for my new "freedom", and spending the rest of the afternoon in an empty house with nothing to do was not a tempting idea. I needed something to occupy me.

I ended up doing the laundry that was in the laundry basket, and then the beddings from mine and Charlie's beds. Then I washed the truck and reorganized the fridge and pantry. By the time I had finished this, it was finally time to start dinner.

I made meatloaf, but must have gotten something wrong, because it tasted funny. Charlie assured me that it was really good, but I was sure that he only said that so he wouldn't upset me. I ended up eating the food anyway, since I was starving.

When we had finished dinner, I went upstairs to do my homework. It was barely eight when I was done, but I still went straight to bed. I was dreading the nightmare, but could barely keep my eyes open.

The dream was different this time. We weren't in my kitchen anymore, but outside the big, white house by the river. He turned his back on me and walked in through the front door, but when I followed a moment later, he was nowhere to be seen. I searched the entire house, but it was completely empty, deserted. When I came back to the first floor, I saw that his piano had been left behind, and when I looked at it, the sound of the song he had composed for me flowed through the air. That's when I woke up, tears streaming down my face.

xxxxx

"Crap." I heard Angela's voice through the door of the cubicle in the girls' bathroom. We were on our way to the last period of the day.

"What's wrong?"

"Girly week." I heard her rummage through her bag for a moment. "And of course, I don't have any tampons. Great. Just great!"

"Hang on, I've got some." I found a small box, still wrapped in plastic, in my bag and held it under the door.

"Thanks." She took the box, and a moment later she tossed it over the door. It fell to the floor, and when I picked it up, I suddenly froze.

"Angela? What day is it today?" My mind was desperately trying to process what had just occurred to me.

"Wednesday."

"I know that, I meant what date is it?" I was pretty sure I knew, but I still had to ask.

"October eighth. Why?"

I found my calendar in my bag and quickly flipped back through the pages.

"Nothing, I just remembered that I have to get something for my mom, it's her birthday next week." I was surprised at how calm my voice sounded.

"Oh, OK."

There it was. A tiny, red X. August fourth. I flipped forward to September first, where there should have been another X. Only there wasn't. I checked a couple of days before and after that date, but there was still nothing.

I absentmindedly noted that Angela came out from the cubicle and washed her hands.

"Bella?" Her voice snapped me out of my thoughts. "You ready to go?" I shoved the calendar back into my bag.

"Sure."

Had I just forgotten to mark the day in the calendar? Normally, I wouldn't have thought that was possible, but I hadn't exactly been on top back then. And the alternative was just… impossible to think about.

I tried to remember. First day of school. Angela had met me in the parking lot. Everyone staring. Lunch with Mike and the others. Classes all day. Nowhere in any of those memories did I find a trip to the bathroom to change a tampon.

Something else occurred to me. Even if I had just forgotten to mark the day, I should have gotten a visit from my little "friend" again the previous Monday. And I was never late.

Shit. Shit shit shit.

"Angela." I grabbed her by the arm just as she was about to enter the English classroom. "I'm really not feeling very well."

"You don't look so good." She looked at me with concern evident in her eyes.

"Could you tell Mr. Mason that I went home?"

"Of course. Do you need me to drive you? You look like you could pass out any minute, maybe you should go to the nurse? Come on, I'll go with you."

"No, that's OK. I think I can make it home."

"OK, if you're sure." She looked skeptical. "Do you want me to ask Mike to take your shift at Newton's?"

I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to work that afternoon.

"Would you do that?"

"Of course." She assured me. "You go home and feel better. I'll call you later."

In a daze, I walked to the truck. There was a pharmacy in Forks, but there was no way I could go there. Everyone would know within the hour. I would have to drive to Port Angeles.

The whole drive there, I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting. I had just forgotten to mark the date down in the calendar last month, and so what if I had never been late before? There was a first time for everything, right?

And we had always been careful, always used protection. But condoms are not a hundred per cent safe a little voice inside my head reminded me. I knew that, of course. At least on a strictly logical level. But I had never actually considered the fact that one of the times that they weren't would ever happen to me, or what the consequence would be...

I quickly found the right aisle in the pharmacy and picked a box at random. When I had paid, I asked if the store had a customer bathroom, to which the clerk shook his head. I went into the first coffee shop I passed on my way back to the car, bought a coffee to go and hurried into the bathroom.

I skimmed through the instructions, peed on the stick and waited. Two minutes. Was that some kind of torture the people who made the tests had come up with?

I ended up sitting on the toilet for almost five minutes before I dared to look at the test. When I finally did, there was a clearly visible plus sign in the little window.

Positive.

My hand, as if it had a will of its own, came up to rest on my stomach. It didn't feel any different.

It did say that the test was only 99% sure. But I knew.

I was pregnant.

xxxxx

The drive back to Forks was a big blur, and I was surprised when I found myself on the street outside my house. It was only a little after five, so Charlie wasn't home yet, which was good. I would need some time to pull myself together before facing him.

When I unlocked the door, I heard the phone ring, and I hurried into the kitchen to answer it.

"Hello?"

"Bella? There you are, I've called you three times." Angela's worried voice came over the line.

"I'm sorry, I fell asleep as soon as I got home." I lied quickly.

"You must be coming down with that flu that's been going around."

"Maybe." Or, then again, maybe not.

"OK. I just wanted to make sure you got home OK. Do you think you're coming to school tomorrow?"

"I think so." If Charlie didn't kill me first. Which was a definite possibility.

"OK, I'll see you then."

I hung up the phone and sat down at the kitchen table, unable to do anything but stare out the window, seeing nothing.

I was still in the same position when Charlie got home almost two hours later.

"Bella?" He called as he opened the front door. I heard him walk through the hallway. "Why are you sitting here in the dark?"

He turned on the lights and came into the kitchen. I hadn't even realized that the sun had set and it was pitch black outside.

"Bella?" I looked up at him. He had a concerned look on his face. "What's wrong?"

"I'm pregnant."

I leaned my arms against the table, buried my face in them and waited for the explosion

I expected him to yell at me. I expected him to call me irresponsible and ask me what the hell I had been thinking. I expected him to be furious.

I did not expect what actually happened.

"Oh honey." I heard him pull out a chair, and he sat down next to me, awkwardly wrapping an arm around me. I leaned my head against his shoulder and let the tears flow freely down my face. "We'll figure it out. Everything will be OK, you'll see."

I desperately wanted to believe him.

I don't know how long we sat there, but eventually, I ran out of tears. Wiping my wet cheeks, I sat up straight and looked over at him.

"Have you seen a doctor?" He asked in a concerned tone. I shook my head.

"I just took one of those home-test things."

"OK, then the first thing we need to do is to get you to a doctor." He went over to the phone and dialed a number. "Hello… I would like to make an appointment for my daughter with Doctor Jamieson… tomorrow, if possible… yes, that will be fine. Thank you."

I was grateful that he took the initiative, because at the moment I didn't have enough energy to even get up from the chair I was sitting in. He hung up the phone and came back to the table.

"Tomorrow at four thirty. You're not working, are you?"

I shook my head.

"I was supposed to work today, but Angela said that she'd ask Mike to take my shift." Mrs. Newton hadn't called, but I should probable make sure that everything had been fine at the store. "I should call Newton's." I used my hands to push myself up from the table.

"It's closed, Bells." He pointed out. "And I'm sure they got on fine without you. Why don't you go and lie down on the couch for a little while? You look like you can barely stand."

I felt like I could barely stand.

xxxxx

Angela met me in the parking lot when I got to school the next morning. She gave me a concerned look when I slammed the car door shut behind me.

"Are you sure you're feeling better?" She asked doubtfully. "Maybe you should have stayed home today…"

"I'm OK, just didn't get a lot of sleep." I interrupted. It was true. I hadn't fallen asleep until well after two in the morning, and even then, my mind had been too busy to relax. I didn't remember the dreams, but woke up even more tired than I had been when I had gone to bed.

"OK." She sounded skeptical. "Just give me a heads up if you plan on passing out or something."

"I'll do that." I couldn't even manage to sound sarcastic.

Angela hovered around me all day, probably waiting for me to faint or something. I realized just how bad I looked when coach Clapp gave me the once-over and sent me to sit down on the bleachers while the others played badminton.

I analyzed every little thing I felt that day, trying to make something fit with what little I knew about pregnancies.

Morning sickness, wasn't that supposed to be one of the signs? But I hadn't been getting sick, in the mornings or at any other time.

Tiredness. Got that one alright. I was so exhausted these days, I fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow. I had blamed the nightmares that didn't let me get a good night's rest, and the fact that school was getting more demanding along with working at Newton's.

Dizziness. No more than usual. Due to my blood pressure being a little low, I often got dizzy spells when I stood up too quickly.

And that was pretty much all I knew.

"Bella? You OK?" I snapped out of my thoughts and found Angela looking at me with a concerned expression on her face. "Aren't you eating anything?"

I looked around and realized that we were in the cafeteria. I must have spaced out as we walked from class. I felt my stomach growl, and quickly grabbed two slices of pizza and an apple.

We sat down at Mike's table as usual, and I gulped down the pizza before taking a bite of the apple.

"Hungry?" I looked up to find Mike observing me. I swallowed.

"Yeah." Always starving, could that be another indication? I remembered the expression "eating for two".

"Are you feeling better today at least? You still look really pale." He frowned at me.

"I'm fine, just a little tired. You won't have to take my shift tomorrow, if you're worried about that."

"No, that's not why I asked." He quickly assured me. "I just wanted to make sure you were OK."

OK was questionable…

"I'm fine, really." I tried to pull off a smile, and Mike seemed convinced, because he turned back to Eric, who he had been talking to about some game or other.

"Do you want to head over to the coffee shop after school?" Angela asked as we walked to Social Studies after lunch. We were in all the same classes this year, except for Chemistry and Math.

"I can't, I've got to go to Thriftway and do the shopping for the week before heading home." I held my breath as I waited to see if she would believe my lie.

"Oh, OK." She looked a little disappointed, but didn't push.

"We could do something Saturday, if you don't have plans with Ben." I suggested.

"Not until in the evening." She replied. "Do you want to go down to Port Angeles? I really need new sneakers."

"Sure."

xxxxx

I drove straight to the hospital after school; Charlie was meeting me there. I had told him that he didn't need to go with me, but he had insisted, and I was secretly glad that he would be there.

He guided me through the hospital and gently pushed me down on a plastic chair in the doctor's waiting room. Within a few minutes, a woman who was sitting behind a desk called my name. We followed her through a door and into an examination room, where she told me to change into a paper gown while we waited for the doctor.

I pulled the curtain between me and Charlie as I changed, and then pulled my sweater back on on top of the gown, since the room was pretty cold. The doctor came through the door just when I pulled the curtain back.

"Hello, Isabella, I'm Doctor Jamieson." She extended her hand to me, and I took it.

"Bella." I automatically corrected.

"OK, Bella then." She turned to Charlie. "Chief."

"Doctor Jamieson." They shook hands as well.

"What can I help you with?" She sat down behind the desk, and I took a seat in the chair next to Charlie.

"I think…" I bit my lip. "I mean, I'm pretty sure that I'm… pregnant."

"OK, I see. Did you take a home test?" I nodded. "And when was the first day of your last period?"

"August fourth." She raised an eyebrow at that, but didn't say anything.

"OK, first I need you to step on the scale for me, and then I am going to check your blood pressure and take a blood sample to run some tests, just to make sure."

I got on the scale and she fiddled a little with the weights.

"112, that's sounds about right." She noted it on a piece of paper. "Could you sit down on the cot, and we can get the blood work."

I did as she said, and she put a gauge on my arm to check my blood pressure.

"A little low, but that's normal."

She jotted it down on the paper before walking around the desk and opening a drawer where I spotted some syringes. I immediately felt faint and closed my eyes. I had always had a problem with blood.

I opened my eyes, but kept them fixed on the wall opposite to where the doctor was standing. Charlie came to stand beside me – he knew about my reaction to blood.

"Which arm would you prefer?" Doctor Jamieson asked.

"It doesn't matter." I said weakly, squeezing my eyes shut as I caught a glimpse of the syringe in her hand.

She wiped the crook of my right arm with something cold, and I bit my lip, waiting for the sting. I felt Charlie take my left hand in both of his, and relaxed a little.

It actually didn't hurt as bad as I feared it would. Almost as soon as I felt the stinging, it was gone.

"All done." The doctor said, pressing a cotton wad against the spot and bending my arm. I ventured a peek, and found that she had turned her back on me, probably having realized my revulsion to blood.

She pushed a button on the intercom, and the same nurse that had shown us to the room earlier came through the door. Doctor Jamieson gave the young woman the blood sample, and she left again.

"I'm just going to ask you a few questions before I do the physical exam." The doctor pulled up her chair to the side of the cot. "Have you been experiencing any morning sickness?"

"No." I shook my head. "Is that normal?"

"Not everyone gets morning sickness, it's perfectly fine. Any fatigue or light headedness?"

"I have been really tired." I confirmed. "And a little dizzy, I guess, but not more than usual."
rt
"Have you been craving anything unusual, or has anything tasted or smelled different than normal?"

The meatloaf…

"No cravings, but some things taste a little funny."

"Any mood swings, sudden fits of crying?" I shook my head. "OK, all those things are perfectly normal. Now, if you could just move over here, I would like to do a physical examination."

"I'll wait outside." Charlie squeezed my hand and left the room.

I climbed into the chair and managed to get my feet into the stirrups without too much problem.

"This is going to be a little uncomfortable." Doctor Jamieson apologized in advance. I winced as she snapped on a rubber glove and braced myself.

It was very uncomfortable, but it was over in a few minutes.

"OK, you can get dressed again. I'll go get your father in the meantime."

She left me alone, and I quickly put my clothes back on. Charlie and the doctor came back into the room, and we all reclaimed our previous seats.

"Well, I can, without a doubt, say that you are in fact pregnant. I don't need the results of the blood test to tell you that. Everything seems to be in order too, and according to schedule."

I had already known, really, but actually hearing the words from her was still a shock.

"By what you've told me about your last period, I would put you at about nine weeks." She opened one of the drawers in the desk and pulled out a couple of folders, handing them to me. "I want you to take these home and look through them, make sure you understand your options."

Options?

I looked at the top folder in my hand, and the black letters glared back at me.

Abortion.

"No." I started to shake my head vigorously. "No."

"You don't need to make any decisions right now, take some time to think about it and then…"

"She said no." Charlie interrupted her. He took the offensive folder from my hands and dropped it onto the desk.

"OK." She nodded. "There is also adoption. There are many couples out there who can't have children of their own and that would love to give your baby a very good home."

My baby. Mine and Edward's baby.

I looked at the second folder.

Benefits of adoption. There was a smiling couple on the cover.

My head started moving almost on its own accord, and I let the second folder follow the first one onto the desk.

"Maybe you could tell us what to think about?" Charlie suggested. "It has been a while since the last time I did this, and I'm sure there are a lot of things I've forgotten. We need to make an appointment for another check-up, right?"

"Yes, I'll have Sarah schedule you for a three month check-up and an ultrasound in about a month. She'll give you the date and time when you leave." She pulled more folders from the desk drawer, handing them to Charlie this time. "Here are some things that you need to think about." She turned to me. "Do you smoke?"

"No."

"Good. And obviously, no alcohol. I'm going to give you a prescription for pre-natal vitamins that you need to take daily." She scribbled something down on a prescription pad and gave the piece of paper to Charlie. "Would you like to know the preliminary due date?" I nodded. "Well, taking into account the first day of your last period, I would put conception sometime between August thirteenth and nineteenth, and your due date at around May eleventh next year. Give or take about two weeks, of course."

I nodded and, for some reason, tried to figure out what day of the week May eleventh would be.

"Thank you, doctor." Charlie stood and shook her hand, and I copied him.

"Come on, Bells." He put an arm around my shoulders and led me from the room.

We stopped at the front desk, where the nurse called Sarah was sitting.

"We need a urine sample, if you don't mind." She handed me a plastic cup. "I'll check Doctor Jamieson's calendar to see when you can come back while you do that, OK?"

I nodded and headed to the bathroom. It wasn't easy to actually hit the cup, but I managed. When I got out of the bathroom, I gave the cup back to the nurse.

"Thank you. Now, would Tuesday November fourth work for you? Same time?"

I calculated in my head. It was four weeks from now, so I wouldn't be working Tuesday that week.

"Yeah, it's OK."

"OK, then, have a nice day." She smiled as we walked away.

We drove home under complete silence, stopping at the pharmacy to pick up the prescription. I was starting to wonder if a delayed fit of rage was coming.

But when we got home, Charlie just handed me the cordless phone.

"I'll be in the living room if you need me." He was giving me privacy, but still staying close by.

I sat down at the table and stared at the phone for a few minutes before dialing the familiar number I hadn't used in over a month. When I hit the final digit, I held my breath and waited for him to pick up.

Instead, there was a female voice informing me that the number had been disconnected. It was such an anti-climax that I just sat there for a moment. Then I dialed Alice's number instead, only to get the same result.

That's when I realized that I had no idea where they had gone. He hadn't told me. I thought about calling information, but realized that they wouldn't be able to help me without a city, or at least an area.

I felt completely dispirited before I remembered that Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper were still in Seattle. I quickly called information, asking for the number to Rosalie Hale in the Seattle area.

"I'm sorry, we don't have any listing under that name." My hope fell a little again.

"How about Jasper Hale?"

"Nothing, I'm afraid."

Though I wasn't expecting a different response, I continued.

"Emmett Cullen?"

"I'm sorry."

"Do you have a number for anyone by the name Cullen in Washington?" Not that I thought they had stayed in the state.

"I can't search the entire state, I'm sorry." Of course not.

"Seattle then."

"No, nothing."

I hung up, dropping the phone onto the table with a thump. I had no idea what to do next.

Charlie must have heard, because he came into the kitchen.

"You couldn't get a hold of him?"

"His phone's been disconnected. Alice's too."

"Call information."

"I don't know where they went." My voice was barely audible.

"What do you mean you don't know where they went?"

"I mean that he didn't tell me where they were moving to. Or maybe I didn't let him, I don't know." I buried my face in my hands. Why had both his and Alice's phones been disconnected? Was he afraid that I would try to convince him to come back, to give us a second chance? Did he just not want me to know where he was? I tried to come up with another reason, one that didn't involve him cutting all possible ties between us, but I couldn't.

"I'll call the hospital; they should know where Doctor Cullen transferred to." Charlie reached for the phone, but I grabbed it first.

"No, dad. They're probably not at liberty to tell us anyway, and if he went to this much trouble to make sure I couldn't find him, then maybe I don't want to."

"He should know." Charlie objected.

"He should." I agreed. "But he's not here to know, is he?" Charlie was quiet for a moment.

"Well, you're better off without him, anyway. Both of you."

"Thanks dad." I offered him a weak smile.

"Do you want me to call your mother?"

Crap. I hadn't even thought about Renée.

"No, I should be the one to tell her." I sighed. I did not want to have that conversation.

"OK." He didn't leave the kitchen this time, but lingered in the doorway.

I pressed speed dial two and waited as the phone rang across the country.

"Hello?"

"Hi Phil, it's Bella. Is my mom there?"

"Sure thing, hang on just a minute." I heard him call her, and felt my heart rate pick up notably as I waited for her to come to the phone.

"Hi sweetie. How are you?" Renée's voice came over the line.

The jury was still out on that one.

"I'm OK. I'm actually calling because I need to talk to you about something." Might as well cut straight to the chase.

"You can't just call to talk to your poor old mom? OK, shoot."

I took a deep breath and unsuccessfully tried to steady my racing heart. Deciding a direct approach was my best option, I jumped right in.

"I'm pregnant." She was quiet for so long I started to wonder if she had hung up. "Mom?"

"You are kidding, right?" I didn't reply. "Please tell me that you're kidding."

"Mom…"

"Because the alternative is not an option. Have I taught you nothing, Bella? How could you be so irresponsible?"

"Mom, please…"

"It's fine, it's OK. You can still get an abortion, right? It's not too late for that?"

"Mom, I'm not…"

"No, Bella, listen to me. I am not going to let you ruin your entire life, do you hear me? I will not just stand by and watch while you…"

Charlie grabbed the phone then, seeing the tears that were rolling down my cheeks.

"Renée… no, you cannot talk to her… because you upset her… no, of course I'm not thrilled about the situation, but I'm sure as hell not going to yell at her, she's got enough on her plate as it is… well, then I guess it's a good thing that she's not living with you anymore, isn't it… I'll take care of her, of both of them… I'm sorry you feel that way."

He hung up. The phone rang only a few seconds later, but he just checked the display and then ignored it.

"She'll come around." He tried to assure me, patting my hand.

"I'm not so sure about that."

"Just give her some time. It was a shock for her."

"I thought you would be the one to yell." I mumbled, and he chuckled.

"Believe me, I considered it. But what would have been the point, really? What's done is done. All we can do now is accept reality and do our best to deal with it." He squeezed my shoulder. "Head upstairs and rest for a while, I'll order dinner. Anything special you want?"

"Mexican?"

"Mexican it is."
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