Chapter Thirty-Six: Recovery

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I apologize for the delay in uploading. We had unexpected company come in from out-of-town which necessitated a thorough house cleaning, then we spent the 4th of July weekend at the beach, helping my parents set up and then clean up the all-day celebration at their house, just half a block from the Pacific. So it's been a busy week!

I promise to upload more than once a week from now on. :) 

Chapter Thirty-Six: Recovery

Bella's eyelashes fluttered, and then at last her eyes opened, their chocolate warmth engulfing me with a cascading sense of relief and joy. “Edward?” she repeated hoarsely.

“I'm here, love,” I said, raising her hand to my lips, managing a tremulous smile after the stress of the past twenty-four hours.

As she had attempted in the hospital in Phoenix, she reached with her free hand for the oxygen under her nose in annoyance. And again my free hand caught hers before she could remove the line taped to her face.

“Leave the oxygen alone, Bella. You still need it.”

She looked around, her eyes slowly regaining focus, obviously bemused at the number of people surrounding her bed. “Dad? Alice? Carlisle?” she whispered. She cleared her throat, wincing in pain, before continuing hoarsely, “What happened?”

Carlisle stepped forward. “You have the H1N1 Influenza, Bella, and you quickly developed pneumonia. Your fever was so high that you have been unconscious for the past twenty-four hours. We had to place a chest tube to drain the fluid from your lungs, so please try to stay still; we'll remove it as soon as possible. Now that your fever has finally broken, you'll be fine now.”

Charlie stood unmoving beside Bella's bed, as if he couldn't believe that she was conscious at last. “Bella?”

She closed her eyes, already tired from the conversation, but she still spoke. “Hey, Dad.” She reached for his hand blindly across her bed covers with her free hand as I held her other one, and Charlie grasped her fragile hand, careful of the IV in her arm.

“I got you, kid,” Charlie whispered. “You'll be okay.”

She nodded, eyes still closed, and, exhausted from conversing with us, fell into a natural sleep. I noticed that she was breathing much easier, and the frown of pain was absent from her face. She looked as if she were truly resting at last.

“Sleep is the best thing for her right now,” Carlisle said quietly, picking up her chart and making several notations. Then he looked at Charlie seriously, using his best physician-giving orders-voice, “And you need to go home and sleep yourself, Charlie. You aren't going to do Bella any good by wearing yourself out.”

Charlie rubbed his eyes wearily. “Yeah, Doc. I guess you're right about that. I'll head home for a bit, I think. You'll call me if anything changes?”

Carlisle smiled, replying “Absolutely, Charlie. You have my word.”

Charlie nodded, and Alice gave Bella's father a quick hug. “We all will be going home to rest, too. We'll see you later,” she said quietly, although her thoughts revealed her lie; my sister knew very well that nothing short of the apocalypse could make me leave Bella's side.

Charlie got to his feet, leaned awkwardly over the bed rail to kiss Bella's forehead, then, after glancing around the room at us and narrowing his eyes at me, cleared his throat nervously before striding out the door. I suppressed a smile; Charlie knew just as well as Alice that I wasn't going anywhere.

Carlisle placed his hands on my shoulders, the gesture reassuring. “She'll be fine, Edward. The antibiotics are doing their job, and the chest tube can probably be removed tonight, tomorrow at the latest.” I nodded, not taking my eyes off Bella's face.

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