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posted by groovychicklisa
Heartbeats

I woke up the 下一个 morning feeling thoroughly rested for the first time in several weeks. I was surprised that the nightmares had left me alone, considering my state of mind when I had gone to bed. I had expected my subconscious to deal with my inner turmoil while I slept, but my dreams had been unusually peaceful and non-meaningful. Normal. Just flashes of memories, colors, places, that held no threat.

I walked into the 厨房 to find that Charlie had made breakfast. Granted, it was only a ham sandwich, a bowl of cereal and a glass of 橙子, 橙色 juice, but he had tried. I felt tears rise in my eyes. Oh, goody, the mood swings that Doctor Jamieson had mentioned had decided to make an appearance.

"Morning Bells." Charlie greeted from where he was sitting at the table, engrossed in the paper.

"Morning." I mumbled back, not wanting to embarrass him with my over expressive feelings, and sat down opposite him at the table. I swallowed a spoonful of cereal, and frowned. "What's this?"

"Whole wheat cereal." He replied. "It's important with a balanced diet. I stopped 由 the store and got some stuff when I picked up the 食物 last night."

"Oh." I took another mouthful. It actually wasn't that bad; I had just been expecting the cereal I used to eat. "It's pretty good."

"Don't forget your vitamins." He indicated the medicine bottle 下一个 to my glass with his chin.

I never knew Charlie could be so overprotective. It was kind of nice.

"Thanks, dad." I 说 as he got up from the table.

"Don't mention it, Bells." He grumbled before leaving the kitchen. "See 你 tonight."

I finished my breakfast and was about to leave the 厨房 when I spotted a paper bag on the counter, a green Post It attached to it.

Thought 你 might need a snack for work was scribbled on the piece of paper in Charlie's handwriting. I opened the bag to find a 香蕉 and a bottle of 橙子, 橙色 juice. For the 秒 time that morning, I could feel tears in my eyes. If this was going to continue, the 下一个 seven months would be very long.

When I got to school, Angela was, once again, waiting for me in the parking lot.

"Hey." The concerned look disappeared from her face and she smiled when I got out of the truck, and from that I came to the conclusion that I didn't look half-dead anymore. Progress.

"Hi." I slammed the car door shut behind me, and we headed towards the school.

"We still on for tomorrow?" Angela wondered when we entered the Spanish classroom, and I nodded.

"Sure. I could use a 日 of shopping."

Mrs. Goff was already behind her desk, so we hurried to our seats at the back of the room.

At lunch, I remembered what Charlie had 说 about a balanced diet, so I picked out an 苹果 and a banana, as well as a cheese 三明治 and yoghurt. I had a feeling 比萨, 比萨饼 wasn't on the approved eating list. I would have to look at those brochures the doctor had 给 me when I got 首页 after work.

Mrs. Newton was happy to see me when I got to the store after school.

"Oh, hello dear. I wasn't sure 你 were going to make it today."

"I feel much better, Mrs. Newton." I was surprised that I didn't have to lie when I 说 it. I did feel better, both physically and mentally – probably better than I had since the summer. I still had a lot to figure out, but I didn't feel the same dread that had almost overpowered me in the bathroom in Port Angeles when I had seen the little plus sign. And the hole inside seemed to have shrunk, if only a little.

"I'm glad to hear that, dear. Mike and I were both so worried about you."

I realized that I could do this. I had my friends, and Charlie. Renée was an issue, but like Charlie said, she would come around. The sudden burst of optimism surprised me, but I welcomed it.

xxxxx

The following morning was bright, if not warm. It was almost the middle of October, after all – 你 could only expect so much of the weather in Forks. Angela was driving this time, and she picked me up a little after nine.

I had decided that, though I wasn't ready to let everyone know about the baby, I wanted to tell Angela. I wasn't sure exactly how to do that, but had decided to go with a direct approach again, despite the lack of success it had had with Renée.

"Morning." I greeted as I got into the car.

"Morning." She returned my smile. "Ready for some serious shopping?"

"As ready as I'll ever be."

I thought it was best not to spring my news on Angela when she was driving, since I wanted to avoid crashing into a tree, so I decided to wait until we were in Port Angeles.

We spent the morning aimlessly wandering from store to store, and then ended up at Café Garden for lunch. When the waitress had taken our orders, I decided that it was time.

"Listen, Ang, I wanted to talk to 你 about the other day." She waited as I tried to find the right words. "I wasn't really feeling bad, not physically at least. I just… when I gave 你 the tampons, I realized that I hadn't used them in a while and I panicked a little."

"You mean you're…"

"Yeah." I nodded. "I'm pregnant."

"Oh Bella." She squeezed my hand across the table. "Are 你 OK? I know that's a really stupid question, but are you?"

"I am." I assured her. "It was a bit of a shock at first, of course, but I'm getting used to it. I was completely terrified when I took that test, but now…"

"You've decided to keep it then?"

I nodded.

"I could never…" I shuddered at the thought of the brochure Doctor Jamieson had wanted me to look at.

"Of course not! I wasn't suggesting that." Angela looked appalled.

"The doctor did."

"No!"

"Yeah. She gave me these brochures, telling me to think about my "options"." I air quoted the last word.

"I hope 你 told her to stuff it." I was surprised at Angela's choice of words.

"Charlie did, actually. Though perhaps not in so many words." I smiled a little at the memory.

"How did he take it?"

"A lot better than I had expected actually." I winced. "Renée on the other hand… let's just say that she wasn't exactly pleased."

"She was probably just shocked." Angela suggested.

"That's what Charlie 说 too." I nodded.

"I bet he's right." She hesitated for a moment, biting her lip and looking down at the table, and I realized what was coming. "Have 你 talked to him?" I shook my head.

"Can't." I ignored the sting of pain, tried to push it into a remote part of my brain so I could keep functioning. "His phone's been disconnected, and I don't know where they moved. It's like he didn't want me to be able to find him."

"Well, that's his loss." Angela concluded. "And don't worry, 你 don't need him. You've got your dad, and me. Everything will be fine." The waitress came over with our 食物 then, and I waited a 分钟 before speaking again.

"Thanks, Ang." I have her a genuine smile. "For not freaking out."

"Of course not!" She huffed, and then a smile spread on her face. "But, hey… can I be a little excited?"

"Of course." I laughed when she jumped out of her 座位 and gave me a 熊 hug before sitting back down.

"Are you?" She wondered.

I surveyed my own state of mind for a moment.

"I think I'm getting there." The numbness of the shock was still partly clouding all other feelings, but I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Good. I know that the whole teenage-mom, high-school-in-the-way issue might put a damper on the situation, but it's still exciting."

I groaned.

"I haven't even gotten to the whole school thing yet."

"Will 你 have time to do the finals?"

"I don't think so." Finals were at the end of May. "The doctor 说 May eleventh as a preliminary date."

"You'll just have to talk to the teachers and the principal, I'm sure they'll let 你 take the finals a little earlier, 或者 during the summer."

Angela could be so practical.

"I guess I'll have to take a 年 off before applying to college, too." I realized.

"Yeah." She agreed. "It sucks that we won't be able to enroll together 下一个 fall. But you'll 加入 us a 年 later. I'm sure Seattle U has a bunch of funds for single parents 你 can apply for too. Help out with tuition and living expenses."

"You really think of everything." I was amazed. "I only just thought of the college thing at all when 你 mentioned school, and you're already several steps ahead of me."

"Well, I have the benefit of looking at the situation from an outsider's perspective." She replied. "I bet you're still a little rumbled 由 everything that's happened in the last few days."

She was definitely right about that.

We covered a few 更多 stores after leaving the restaurant, and eventually ended up in Necessities & Temptations.

"Do 你 want to look at baby stuff?" Angela wondered, an excited smile on her face, but I shook my head.

"It's still too early." I had read through the information the doctor had 给 me the 前一个 night, and also googled a little. The risk of miscarriage was the highest in the first trimester, and I didn't want to jinx anything.

"OK. How far along are you?"

"The doctor 说 about nine weeks, so I guess almost ten 由 now."

"Wow." She gave me an appraising look. "You can't tell."

"Thank God!" I pressed my hand to my still flat stomach. "I hope to keep it that way for as long as possible. Can 你 imagine the way people will react? The looks? I'll be the social outcast of Forks High."

"I definitely don't envy 你 that. It'll probably be even worse than if it had been someone else, too. Daughter of the Chief and all."

"Thank you. Now I feel much better." I scowled at her.

"I'm sorry." She wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "I won't tell anyone, 你 know that right? Not even Ben."

"Thanks." I hugged her back. "I am completely set on pushing that humiliating experience as far into the future as possible."

"Completely understandable."

"But 你 can tell Ben, I know he won't say anything if 你 ask him not to." I didn't like to think that Angela would have to lie to 或者 keep secrets from her boyfriend because of me.

We left Port Angeles fifteen 分钟 later and Angela dropped me off at 首页 at four. I knew Charlie was fishing with Billy, so I expected the house to be empty. It wasn't.

"Bella?" Renée's voice greeted me as I opened the front door.

"Mom? What are 你 doing here?" I wondered as she came into the hallway from the kitchen.

"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry!" She pulled me into a tight embrace. "I know I overreacted over the phone the other day, and I'm so, so sorry. I didn't mean a word I said."

"It's OK, mom." I tried to tell her, but she was hugging me so tightly that my words came out as a mumble against her shoulder.

"No, it's not. Unforgivable is what it is." She hugged me even tighter. "Did I mention I'm sorry?"

"Does Charlie know you're here?" I doubted it, since I didn't think he'd like the idea of leaving me alone with her after the way things had ended the other day.

"No. He 说 that I had to wait a couple of days to talk to you, so we could both calm down a little, but I couldn't, so I took the first flight out this morning. And the key's still in the same place as ever, so I let myself in to wait for you."

She still wouldn't let me go, so I carefully slipped out of her arms.

"Can 你 forgive me?" She asked, a pleading look on her face.

"Of course, mom. I get that it must have been a shock for you." I walked past her into the living room and she followed. We both sat down on the couch, and she looked at me intently.

"How are 你 dealing with this? And don't try to pull some "I'm fine" crap on me, I know 你 too well."

"I am, though. 或者 at least getting there." Angela's enthusiasm had lightened my mood even more.

She looked at me through narrowed eyes for a moment before apparently deciding to trust me.

"OK, tell me everything. What did the doctor say? Everything's OK, right?"

"Everything's fine. I'm going back on November fourth for another check-up and an ultrasound."

"OK." She nodded. "And what about Edward? Have 你 talked to him? Is he going to step up?"

I flinched at the mention of his name. Both Charlie and my 老友记 had been very careful not to refer to him 由 name, and the way Renée used it so freely unnerved me.

"I haven't been able to reach him." I 说 quietly, my eyes intently on my hands in my lap. "His phone's been disconnected, and I don't know where they went when they left Forks."

"Oh, honey." She pulled me into another hug and I leaned my head against her shoulder, allowing myself to be comforted for just a moment.

"It's OK, mom, really." I assured her. "I mean, it sucks, but I have Charlie and Angela. I'll be OK."

"Don't forget your old mom, will you? I know I reacted badly at first, but I am not going to let 你 fend for yourself, 你 hear me?" She gave me her determined look, and thought I knew from experience that there was no point in arguing with her when she had that look, I felt obliged to point out the obvious.

"Mom, you're on the other side of the country."

"Insignificant." She brushed it off with a wave of her hand. "I'll be here so much I'll get my own personal lounge at Fairchild."

I laughed at her joke, and she looked pleased.

"So, any unpleasant surprises so far? Morning sickness?"

"Actually, no." I frowned a little. "Though that probably would have made me figure it out a lot sooner."

"You're lucky. I was sick as a dog all 日 for the first three months with you." She grimaced at the memory. "Nothing else bothering 你 so far?"

"I'm tired all the time. And I think the mood swings might have started; Charlie made me breakfast yesterday morning, and it almost made me cry."

"That sounds about right." She giggled. "It'll be fun to see how he deals with it this time around. Charlie has never been good at handling crying women."

As if he had heard us, Charlie opened the front door at that exact moment.

"Bells?"

"Living room." I called back. "We've got a house guest."

He came into the living room and his eyes widened as he spotted Renée on the 长椅, 沙发 with me.

"Charlie." She greeted him.

"Renée. Wasn't expecting to see you." His voice was a little harsh.

"I'm sorry to intrude like this, but I just had to talk to Bella in person. I didn't think you'd mind." She gave him that patented smile of hers that turned most men into putty in her hands. It still worked on him.

"Oh, well… I guess not… I mean, of course." He mumbled before turning his back on us and heading into the kitchen.

"When are 你 going back?" I asked when we had stopped giggling at Charlie's retreating form.

"I haven't booked my flight yet, but I do have to work on Monday." She sounded regretful.

"Of course 你 do. 你 can't just put your life on hold because I messed up."

"Bella. I didn't mean what I 说 the other day, about ruining your life." She looked me intently in the eyes as she spoke. "You have not messed anything up, 你 hear me? Sure, this isn't the way I hoped your life would turn out, but I know you, and 你 can do this. 你 got that?"

I only nodded, overwhelmed 由 the intensity in her words.

"Thanks mom." I hugged her tightly, and she stroked my hair.

"Of course, baby."

xxxxx

Renée got a flight out of Port Angeles at seven the 下一个 evening, and we spent the 日 together in Forks. She hadn't really been there since she left almost seventeen years earlier, except to drop me off when I spent the summer with Charlie, but not much had changed.

"It seems even smaller, somehow." She 评论 as we took a walk in Tillicum Park in the afternoon. "Oh, I hated this town with every fiber of my being."

"I know the feeling."

"You know 你 can come to Jacksonville and stay with me and Phil. It might be a little easier for you, not being in this small town with all the gossip and staring."

I had actually considered the thought briefly the 前一个 night, as I listened to Renée's snores from the 长椅, 沙发 in the living room. I had a pretty good idea of how the kids at school – and everyone else – would react when my secret finally got out, and it was not a tempting thought to voluntarily put myself through that. And still…

"I know. But Forks is still my home, just like I told 你 over the summer. That hasn't changed, even if almost everything else has."

"Think about what you're in for in a couple of months, honey. Wouldn't it be easier if 你 didn't have to worry about people talking behind your back, staring at 你 wherever 你 go?"

"But I don't know anyone there." I countered. "I know that 你 and Phil would 爱情 it, but you've got your jobs and your lives. I would be completely alone. At least here I have Angela, and maybe a few other friends." I wasn't sure about the last part yet; it remained to be seen when I eventually went public.

"Angela is a good friend?"

"The best. She didn't even freak out when I told her."

"She must be a true friend, then."

"She is."

I drove Renée to the airport later that afternoon, and we 说 a tearful goodbye before she went through security. When I got home, Charlie had made 晚餐 – grilled chicken with potato wedges.

"Dad, I can still cook. I'm not disabled." I pointed out.

"I just thought that maybe we could alternate cooking duty. 你 shouldn't have to do everything." He shrugged. "I didn't grill the chicken myself."

"It smells delicious." I gave him a 吻乐队(Kiss) on the cheek before sitting down at the table, and saw him blush out of the corner of my eye.

We ate under a comfortable silence, and the 食物 was really good. I decided that letting Charlie take on cooking duty every now and then might not be such a bad idea. Under strict supervision, of course. I didn't want him to burn down the house.

"Renée get on the plane OK?" He asked as we cleared the table.

"Yeah, the flight was on time. She 说 that she'd send a text when she landed, since it'll be after midnight."

"You two talked everything through?"

"We did." I nodded. I had a feeling that Charlie was still a little mad at Renée for reacting the way she had. "She felt really bad about what she 说 the other day, she was just shocked."

"Of course." He grumbled.

"Dad, I don't want 你 and mom to argue over this. If I can forgive her, 你 can too."

He hesitated for a moment, then nodded grudgingly.

"I guess you're right."

xxxxx

Over the 下一个 few weeks, I was very observant to the way my body was changing. I did a lot of 阅读 online, and knew what to expect.

I had to go to the bathroom on every break, and sometimes during class too. My breasts became a little tender, and I thought I could see that they had gotten a little bigger, but it was difficult to tell. I still didn't have any morning sickness, but certain smells, such as 鱼 and raw poultry, made me a little queasy. And my hormones were starting to go haywire.

I realized this when Angela and I had a movie night, and I just couldn't stop crying at the end of the movie.

"But it was a happy ending." Angela insisted, trying to soothe me.

"I know." I sobbed. "I don't even know why I'm crying!" Which only made me weep harder.

Angela sat patiently beside me, rubbing my back and waiting for the tears to subside. And they did, eventually.

"Sorry." I mumbled, wiping the last tear away.

"Cry all 你 want." She shrugged. "But it was a comedy." We had watched Just married.

"But it was just so sweet, how they got back together in the end." I could feel 更多 tears rising in my eyes, and decided that a change of subject was vital. "Are 你 taking your brothers trick 或者 treating on Friday?"

"I was hoping to get out of it, Ben wants to go to this haunted house party thing that Austin is having. His parents are out of town."

"Haunted house." I shivered. "Creepy."

"It'll probably be 更多 along the lines of silly." Angela giggled. "You should come."

"I don't think so." The thought of voluntarily trying to be social to people from school an entire evening did not appeal to me. "I think I'll spend the night with my two 最喜爱的 men."

"Ben and Jerry?"

"You know it."

"Is this a definite I-really-don't-want-to-go, 或者 do 你 want me to talk 你 into it?"

"A definite no-go. But I'm sure 你 and Ben will have fun."

I had a good time with Ben and Jerry. I turned on Dirty Dancing, which I had seen 更多 times than I could count, and paused it every time the doorbell rang to hand out 糖果 to the kids. Charlie had escaped the trick 或者 treating in town and was spending the evening with Billy in La Push.

November brought with it a definite drop in temperature, and I went down into the basement to get out my parka. When I was about to head up the stairs, I spotted a box in a corner. Realizing what it was, I went over and crouched beside it. I ran a finger over the slightly dusty cardboard, but didn't open it. I wasn't quite ready for that.

xxxxx

"Are 你 going straight over there?" Angela asked as we headed towards the parking lot after school on November fourth. I had my three-month check-up half an 小时 later.

"Yeah." I checked my watch. "Charlie's meeting me there in fifteen minutes."

"You promise to come straight over after you're done? I really want to see the picture."

Angela was 更多 excited about the ultrasound than I was. I knew that there wouldn't be much to see – the baby was still only a couple of inches long.

"Yes, I promise." I assured her for the umpteenth time, unlocking the door to my car. "I've really got to go."

"See 你 later." She headed over to her car as I slid into the truck.

I started the engine and smiled as the sound of my newest musical purchase filled the cab.

One night to be confused
One night to speed up truth
We had a promise made
Four hands and then away

I had stumbled upon the song on the internet 由 mistake, and instantly fallen in 爱情 with it, but the album wasn't available in the US yet. I had been pleasantly surprised when I had come across it at Budget's in Port Angeles the 前一个 Saturday. When I paid for it, the owner told me that his wife was Swedish and that she had insisted that he order a couple of copies of the CD, since it might not be released in the US for a while.

I pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of the hospital. Charlie's 巡洋舰 was already in the visitors' parking lot, and I pulled into the 太空 下一个 to it.

Since we were a bit early, we stopped 由 the cafeteria and got some coffee. Charlie had forced me to cut back my caffeine intake to one cup a day, and I hadn't had my daily fix yet.

We brought our coffees to Doctor Jamieson's waiting room, where the nurse behind the 台, 办公桌 welcomed us with a smile.

"I can take 你 back to the examination room right away, if you'd like." She offered. "Doctor Jamieson only went to get something to eat, she'll be back in a moment."

"OK." We followed her into the room, and I took the paper 袍, 礼服 she handed me without a word. I quickly finished my coffee, and when the doctor came into the room, I had already changed and was sitting 下一个 to Charlie 由 the desk.

"Bella, nice to see 你 again." She smiled at me and nodded at Charlie. "Chief. How has the last 月 been?"

"Good." I replied. "I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes, but I guess that's normal."

"It is, unfortunately." She laughed. "And I am afraid that it will only get worse as the baby grows and presses on your bladder. Would 你 step on the scale for me, please?"

"Great." I sighed. "Something else to look 前锋, 期待 to." I did as she told me, and she adjusted the weights. I could see her frowning as she wrote the number down.

"You're eating properly?" She asked when I stepped off.

"I eat like a horse." I told her. "What's wrong?" Her concerned expression was starting to make me nervous.

"Nothing, don't worry. You've 迷失 two pounds since last time, but that can happen this early on. You're taking your vitamins?" I nodded obediently. "Anything that's been bothering you, other than the frequent trips to the bathroom?"

"Not really." I shrugged. "I mean, the mood swings aren't exactly fun, but it's OK."

"Still no morning sickness?" She wrapped the blood pressure gauge around my arm as she spoke.

"Nope." Something to be grateful for.

"OK, your blood pressure's still a little low, but within normal range. Now, I'd like to do the physical examination before we get to the fun part." She looked at Charlie. "Would 你 like to stay, 或者 wait outside?"

"I'll be outside." He left the room, and I once again climbed into the examination chair.

"Let's see how everything's getting along in there." She snapped the rubber 手套 in place, and I bit my lip.

The examination lasted a little longer than the first one had, but finally she was done.

"Everything seems just fine." She smiled at me.

I liked her a lot better now that she wasn't suggesting that I kill my baby.

"You can put your clothes back on for the ultrasound, if 你 want." I happily did. "I'll just get this thing started, if 你 want to go get your dad." She pulled a strange looking machine over to the cot and started fiddling with it.

"Dad?" I peeked out into the hallway and spotted him in a plastic chair a few feet away. "You can come back in now."

He walked into the room and closed the door behind us.

"Alright, if you'll just lie down here and pull your 最佳, 返回页首 up."

I followed the doctor's instructions and lay down on the cot, pulling my 最佳, 返回页首 up to expose my stomach.

"This will be a little cold." She warned me before spreading something sticky on my bare skin.

"A little cold?" A shiver ran through me. The gel-like substance was 更多 than a little cold, it was freezing.

"Sorry." She smiled down at me apologetically. "Let's see, then. 你 can look at the monitor right there." She indicated the strange looking machine that was positioned 下一个 to my head, and I discovered a screen on it. When she started moving a probe of some kind over my stomach, an image appeared on the monitor.

"I can't see anything." I knew the baby would be tiny, but it should still be visible, right? There was only a white blur on the screen.

"Hang on." She moved the probe a little lower, and a fluttering sound suddenly filled the room. "There we are."

"What's that sound?" I had never heard anything like it before.

"That's your baby's heartbeat."

"Heartbeat?" I felt a lump in my throat.

"Yeah." She pointed to the screen that I had forgotten when I heard the sound. "This is the amniotic sac, and right there is your baby."

I looked at the screen in awe. It actually looked like a baby. I had expected something the size of a peanut, barely visible. But there it was. It had arms and legs. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, but didn't bother to wipe them away.

"Wow." Charlie said, leaning 前锋, 期待 to get a better look.

"It's only a few inches right now, but it's got plenty of time to grow." The doctor gave me an understanding look. "I'll go print this, and give 你 a moment." She hit a button on the machine, and the image froze. She wiped the gel from my stomach before leaving the room.

I stared at the screen in silence for a moment.

"There's really a person in there." I mumbled after a while.

"There sure is." Charlie took my hand. "Did 你 doubt that?"

"No, I just… it didn't actually feel real before, I guess. Not like it does now, at least."

"I hope that's a good thing."

I nodded vigorously.

"Really good."
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