Chapter Thirty-Three: Fire and Ice
The rain had not let up by the time Carlisle raced into the house. Esme met him at the front door, towel in hand, and Carlisle quickly dried his rain-soaked face and hands; he obviously hadn't bothered with an umbrella for the distance between the garage and the house.
Handing the towel back to Esme, he approached the sofa, eyes transfixed on Bella. I concentrated not only on the words that crossed his mind but also on the unspoken emotions behind them; I needed to know everything that my father observed about Bella's condition.
His thoughts during his visual examination of Bella came to me with speed and force: Her flushed face indicates high fever. Heart rate at 110...rather high. Shallow breaths, quicker than normal, too. Is that sluggishness I hear fluid in her lungs? He reached out his hand to take hers, his observations continuing: Fever at least 104...very high. He reached around to feel the pulse in Bella's wrist. Pulse thready. He looked at her face, noting the slight frown on her face. She's in pain.
I felt myself blanching—my worried thoughts tumbling over each other in the sheer terror I felt. Bella was very ill—perhaps dangerously so. “Carlisle?” I choked out, unable to gather my anxiety into words.
Sssshhh, Edward. Let me listen. Carlisle tilted his head, trying to discern the sounds behind Bella's somewhat-labored breathing. Yes, her lungs are wet; not a lot of fluid, but her condition will worsen if we don't drain it soon.
His golden eyes, tight with concern, met mine. “We need to cool her down. Immediately.”
“Here or at the hospital?” I whispered.
Before I had time to register what he was doing, Carlisle had scooped Bella into his arms and raced upstairs with her, calling over his shoulder, “Esme! Bring ice! All that you can!” The urgency of his words compelled the entire household into action. Esme and Emmett were dumping the ice from the freezer's automatic ice maker into a large basin while I followed Carlisle through his and Esme's bedroom to their luxurious bathroom. Only Rosalie remained absent, a fact I only noted without tracing her thoughts to confirm my observation.
Carlisle was already kneeling, lowering Bella into the large antique claw-footed tub set along the far wall of their bathroom. I fell to my knees next to him, removing Bella's shoes and socks while he reached across me to start the cold water running into the deep tub. “Leave the rest of her clothing on...it will help protect her skin from the ice,” Carlisle directed quietly.
Bella's jeans darkened as the cold water began seeping up her body, but she remained perfectly still, her face no longer frowning but completely slack.
She should have wakened from the extreme cold, thought Carlisle. She must be unconscious from the high fever.
Carlisle's observations sent my mind into a tailspin. All this time I had hoped that Bella was resting on the sofa downstairs, sleeping off her cold.
But Bella wasn't sleeping now.
She was unconscious.
And this illness was obviously far, far more serious than a mere cold.
Emmett and Esme were suddenly behind us; I had not noticed them entering the bathroom. All I could focus upon was Bella's beautiful, immobile face as Carlisle took the basin full of ice from Emmett, distributing the oblong cubes beside and over her small, fragile body.
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