"Carlisle, will you please sit down?" My wife Esme pleaded from where she was sitting at the dining room table.
She had her middle and index fingers pressed into her temples and was watching me pace back and forth from the table to the hallway and back again repeatedly. We were both waiting for our son Edward to get home and neither of us was looking forward to the conversation we were going to have to have with him.
I had just gotten off the phone with Mr. Now, the high school principal, who informed me that my son had gotten into a fight, been arrested, and destroyed school property all in one day. He kindly let me know that Edward would be facing at least a three day suspension and at most expulsion from Forks High School. He said there was also a chance that the boy Edward had fought with would press assault charges. I was in shock.
None of this sounded like my son.
Edward was always a very smart, very quiet kid. He took after me like that. He was advanced for his age and although I hoped he would someday channel that intelligence into becoming a doctor or a chemist, I was fairly certain he was destined for a career in computers. He loved everything to do with technology and spent every waking moment playing video games with his friends. I had not been too keen on the fact that he spent more time gaming then he did socializing but Esme assured me it was a phase and he would eventually get over it. Five years later however the obsession was still going strong and I was beginning to have my doubts.
Even now, this out of character display of aggression was enough to make me want to storm up to Edward's bedroom and throw his XBOX out the window.
"I just don't understand what would make Edward fight with anyone." I grumbled resisting the urge to start pacing again and instead pressed my palms flat on the table top. I felt Esme reach over and rest her hand over mine.
"We should give him a chance to explain." She said softly and calmly. I looked up at her and couldn't help but smile. After twenty years of marriage she was still the most beautiful woman I had ever met. She had the biggest heart and loved so freely and unconditionally I found myself wishing I had even an ounce of her compassion.
We both looked up as we heard the front door open and the jingling of car keys as they were tossed onto the side table in the hallway. I straightened and put my hand on Esme's shoulder.
"Edward?" I called out. "Your mother and I would like to see you in the dining room.
I felt a knot tighten in my stomach when Edward rounded the corner. He looked distraught and his eyes were red as if he had been crying. He stood in the archway and tugged his hand through his unruly hair. I grimaced, he looked like he hadn't slept for days and I could tell he was losing weight. I couldn't imagine what could be happening to him that would cause him to transform so drastically.
He cleared his throat and nervously shifted his weight from side to side. "Yeah?" His voice was raspy and he was avoiding eye contact with Esme and I.
"Why don't you have a seat Edward." Esme said sweetly patting her hand at the spot beside her.
With another nervous tug of his hair he stepped forward slowly, pulled the chair out and sat down. His posture was slumped, his expression emotionless as he sat perfectly still and stared down at his hands.
"Edward, I just got off the phone with Principal Now." I started, trying my best to stay calm. He looked up, his eyes fixed on mine. I was surprised to see a little flicker of anger behind his cold stare.
"And I bet he told you I beat up some poor defenseless kid didn't he?" His tone was mocking and harsh.
"You didn't?" I asked lifting my eyebrows a spark of hope glimmering on the horizon. Maybe there was some misunderstanding. I knew Edward would never hurt a fly.
"No. I beat the shit out of the kid but he deserved it. Even you would agree with me if you saw and heard what I did." He clenched and unclenched his jaw as he spoke. "But no one really wants to pay attention to that side of the story."
"Honey, that is why we wanted to hear your side." Esme said with a reassuring grin. "Give you a chance to explain."
"There isn't much to explain." Edward shrugged cryptically.
I was starting to get angry with him. This was not the Edward I knew. This was some other kind of moody, rage filled, teenaged monster and I didn't understand what had gotten into him.
"You're not on drugs are you?" I blurted unable to stop myself. I seriously doubted this was the case but I couldn't come up with another explanation for his behavior.
He immediately started laughing. "Not the kind you would think."
I felt a surge of rage blindside me. "Edward Cullen!" I yelled leaning over the table and bringing my face dangerously close to his. "I am not in the mood to play games. What has gotten into you these past few weeks?"
Edward leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "I really don't want to talk about this."
"I don't care what you want. I need answers from you."
I felt Esme's hand on my arm and she pushed gently. I knew she wanted me to back off but the entire situation was infuriating me. I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere by arguing with him. The angier I got, the more he pushed me away. I needed to calm him down and get him to stop being so defensive.
I looked over at Esme who was watching our son intently. "Edward?"
He looked up at her, pursed his lips and raised an eyebrows as if to say, "what?"
"Who is she?" Esme asked quietly.
She? I thought to myself feeling very confused and out of the loop. Did Esme know something I didn’t? My gaze flew to Edward and I saw the look of confusion and shock on his face and I wondered if he was as lost as I was.
“How did you know?” He asked after regaining his composure.
“I know you.” She smiled sweetly. “You have been all over the place for about a month now. And I noticed you were spending less time playing games and more time out of the house. I only now put it together.”
He nodded and cleared his throat seeming very uncomfortable all of a sudden.
“Do I know her?” Esme asked still prodding for more information. I decided just to keep my mouth shut and let my wife work her magic. I could see Edward’s walls starting to crumble. So I sat back and watched.
“Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard of her.” He snorted.
Esme glanced at me briefly before re-focusing on Edward. “Who is she?”
“Bella Swan.” He mumbled quietly.
Esme’s eyes again found mine and I thought I saw a brief look of worry in her expression but it was gone almost immediately. She nodded. “Yes. I’ve heard of her. That is the Chief’s daughter?”
“Yeah. The Chief’s sex addicted daughter.” He spat bitterly his shoulders squaring off like he was preparing for us to yell at him.
“Were you the one who-” Esme was so shocked she couldn’t even finish her sentence before she had to stop and regain her composure. As she stared at Edward, she took a deep breath and began again. “Were you the one who caused her relapse? You are the one he caught her with?”
“Caught her with what? Can someone please explain to me what is going on?” I asked trying not to sound impatient. It seemed like Esme knew exactly what was going on and this frustrated me to no end.
“So you have heard the rumors.” Edward asked his mom. She nodded. He then turned to glare at me. “She’s a sex addict dad. What do you think we were caught doing?”
His tone was so bitter and so full of pain I couldn’t speak for several moments. Despite the fact that he was bursting with rage and taking it out on us, something underneath the surface captured my attention. He cared about this girl. A lot. He cared enough to be this pissed off and this was the first time I had ever seen him so passionate about anything other than his video games.
“So he caught you having sex then.” I said trying to sound nonchalant about the entire situation.
Edward groaned loudly and pressed the heels of his palms into his forehead and leaned back in his chair. “He thought he did. He thought she had relapsed, and maybe she did, I have no fucking clue. But we weren’t having sex that day, she was upset and she called me and I went over there and I held her until she stopped crying, that’s it. Then he flew off the handle and banned her from seeing me and from her XBOX and she looks like hell now. She’s not sleeping and she’s not eating and she’s fucking a teacher.”
He blurted this all out in a rush of jumbled words. I had to take a moment to process what he had said.
“First of all watch your mouth.” I scolded. “It is disrespectful and makes you sound like an idiot. Secondly, she’s sleeping with a teacher?”
I was completely dumbfounded. How was something like this allowed in school? Why was the teacher not being punished? Why had I not heard about this?
“What does any of this have to do with you getting in a fight and destroying a trophy case?” I asked when he didn’t answer me. “You have completely lost me. This started with you getting in trouble in school and now we are talking about a sex addict and her inappropriate relationship with a teacher.”
“Mike Newton was harassing her in the cafeteria. She was breaking down and I couldn’t just sit there and watch it happen. He was going to show her his…you know, his junk - and so I beat the crap out of him for even thinking it.”
“Oh!” Esme gasped. “Oh that is terrible.”
“Bella was getting better mom. She was getting better with me and then all of this happened.” Edward was leaning towards Esme and his tone and body language seemed almost desperate.
“Oh honey.” Esme reached out and put her hand on his cheek. “It will be ok.”
“No, it won’t.” Edward pulled away from her touch and stood up. “This thing with the teacher was the last straw, she’s going to end up back at rehab I can pretty much put money on it. I will never get to see her again. I just want to talk to her, just one more time. I need to ask her about the teacher. I need to know why she did it.”
“Teacher?” I mouthed to Esme as Edward stormed out of the room. I heard him run up the stairs and then his bedroom door open and slam shut. I shifted my gaze back to Esme who looked as distressed as I felt. “I didn’t understand any of that.”
“He’s heartbroken.” She murmured quietly.
“I guess I’m just completely lost.” I threw my arms in the air. “He has been secretly dating a sex addict who is sleeping around with the teachers?”
Esme gave me a dirty look. “Bella Swan has severe depression. She acts out by being promiscuous. I’ve heard lots of horrible things from the other moms and I’ve tried to take them with a grain of salt. She’s a troubled girl Carlisle. And obviously Edward care’s very deeply for her. That is all that we should care about.”
“Do you think they really sent her to rehab?” I asked feeling skeptical. A seventeen year old girl in rehab for sex addiction? It sounded like a Jerry Springer episode.
“I could find out I’m sure. But so could you.” She looked at me expectantly and it took me a moment to realize what she was getting at. There was only one rehabilitation facility in the area and I was involved with their volunteer program.
For about two years now I had been volunteering at Crossroads in Port Angeles and had been working with a young psychologist Dr. Amy Harper on developing a new program that used rescued dogs to aid in the recovery process for addicts. We would pair up addicts, who were at a stable point in their recovery process, with a homeless dog and they would be in charge of preparing them to be adopted by a loving family. It gave the patient a healthy outlet for their energy and it gave the dog socialization, training, and a foster home. It was a win win and had for the most part, been wildly successful.
I could find out if the Swan girl was there, what for, and maybe give Edward an update on her. Tell him that she’s ok. Maybe he would be able to put it behind him and move on if he knew that she was ok.
“I will call Amy in a few days and find out what is going on.” I assured Esme giving her a kiss on the cheek and wrapping my arms around her.
“Good.” She smiled and patted my arm.
Later that week I sat at my desk in my office and picked up the phone to call Dr. Harper. It had been three days and Edward seemed to be slipping further and further into a depression. He ate his meals in his room and hardly spoke two words to myself or his mom. Every night Esme was pressuring me to find out more about Bella Swan and I knew I couldn’t put it off for another day. She seemed to be convinced that the girl was just misunderstood and we should give her a chance.
I was less forgiving. She was a sex addict. I wanted her as far away from my son as I could get her.
“Dr. Harper please. This is Dr. Cullen.” I said when the receptionist answered the phone. I was placed on hold and I drummed my fingers in time with the hold music.
“Carlisle!” Dr. Harper greeted me happily. “What can I do for you?”
“Well I have to things for you. First of all I am ready when you are for the next batch of dogs. And second I was inquiring about a patient.”
“I am almost ready for you. I have a few candidates that I think would benefit greatly from this program and I want to get them started right away. As for patient information…you know I can’t say much.”
“I understand. I just wanted to know if you had a patient named Bella Swan.”
She was silent for several seconds. “Yes. I do. Do you know her?”
“No. But my son does. Edward thinks he’s in love with her I think. He just wants to make sure she is ok.”
“Your son is Edward?” she sounded surprised. “I’m sorry, just…such a small world. Anyway, Bella is doing ok. She’s been through a lot and she has stopped trusting the people around her. She is actually one of the candidates I have in mind for the program.”
“Really?” I was surprised. Normally Dr. Harper waited for her patients to be at least sixty days into her rehab program before getting them involved with the dogs. Bella must be a special case.
“Yes. She has been through so many therapy programs she needs something fresh. I think this might be right up her alley. I would like you to come meet with her if that’s ok with you.”
“I would love to.”
“Good. Let’s plan on meeting next week. I will discuss her progress with you and we can get her all set up.” Dr. Harper sounded excited. I hoped that for this girls sake, the program would help her.