In a Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat – Chapter Two

Beep, beep…beep, the monitor sounded. Bella turned her head and saw that her mother was sitting in the chair by her bed, asleep, while her father was asleep in the recliner. This was their family life for the last three months. She was getting weaker by the day and it was only a matter of time before her defective, worthless heart would beat for the last time. How had her life come to this?

Bella was the only child of Charlie and Renee Swan. They lived in a home in the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. Her father, Charlie, was a Federal Judge and her mother was a stay at home mom, well, at least, she was now. Renee had been a prima ballerina at the Washington Ballet and was in high demand; however, that changed one winter night. She had just finished a performance for the Nutcracker and was walking out of the Kennedy Center. It was snowing heavily and the wind was blowing. Wishing she had worn her boots to the center, she slowly maneuvered in her heels to her car, but when she turned the corner, she was attacked. The masked man pulled out a knife and threatened to kill her if she didn’t give him her purse and keys to her car. As she handed both to the man, she prayed that those were the only things he wanted. Thankfully, he jumped in her car and drove off. As she stood shivering along the side of the road, Charlie pulled up.

“Miss, are you okay?” He asked.

“No, I was just robbed,” Renee cried.

Charlie jumped from his car, took off his coat, and wrapped it around Renee’s shoulders. “My name is Charlie Swan and I am a Judge in Maryland. I promise not to hurt you, but we must get you out of this weather.”

Renee nodded her head and allowed him to help her into his warm car. When he got in on the driver’s side, he picked up his cell phone and called the police.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“This Judge Charles Swan, I am two blocks from the Kennedy Center and a young woman has been robbed.”

“Judge Swan, I will dispatch a patrol car immediately,” the operator said.

After hanging up with the police, he turned toward the young woman and was captivated by her beauty. As he stared at the woman, he couldn’t help but think that he had seen her somewhere before. “What has you out on such a cold snowy night?”

“I just performed at the Kennedy Center,” Renee said, as gazed upon her hero. She was mesmerized by his dark brown eyes and little amount of grey hair on his temples. His voice smooth and comforting, yet his deep voice pulled at her interior core. How could she be thinking of how sexy this man was right after her attack?

“You are the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Charlie stated in amazement. He had just attended the performance and was enchanted by the ballerina.

“You were in attendance?”

“Yes, I am a member of the Maestro’s Circle. I love the arts.”

Renee, of course, knew the different levels of support for the center and, on a few occasions, had the chance to meet some of the high-level members, but never had she met a Maestro. “Thank you so much for your support. I, too, love the arts.”

“Is your family close; I could call them to come for support?” Charlie asked, wanting Renee to have as much support as she could get. He had this overwhelming need to ensure that she was safe and happy.

“No. My parents were killed a few years ago in their home by a robbery went wrong and I have no other relatives,” Renee explained.

Charlie’s feeling of protectiveness multiplied by ten when he heard that. This beautiful, talented young woman had no family, but then, it hit him, she could be married or have a boyfriend. “Is there someone else I can call for you, a husband or boyfriend perhaps?” He asked, even though he hoped not, not for her, but for his own heart.

“No, I have been too busy to have either one of those.”

The police pulled up and began talking to Renee. Charlie remained by her side and, at times, placed his hand on the small of her back for support. They took all her information and said they would be contacting her when they had any information, but instructed her to cancel her credit cards and change the locks on her house. This was something she hadn’t thought about, the robber not only had her home address but also the keys to getting inside. She physically shook in fear with the thought that the person who had already violated her, could do it again, maybe even worse.

Charlie could feel Renee shaking, so, pulling her close to his body he whispered into her ear. “I won’t let him touch you.” From that night on, he made sure she was safe. They spent as much as they could together and soon they realized that they had fallen head over heels in love with each other. Even though Charlie was sixteen years older than Renee, it didn’t matter. Renee decided to give up the ballet so they could start a family. Charlie tried to convince her to continue with her talent, but she wanted to be a full-time wife and mother. On a bright, clear autumn day Isabella Marie Swan was born to two enamored parents.

As soon as Bella began to walk, Renee began to work with her, perfecting each move, but also making it fun. It was always Bella’s decision if she wanted to continue her training, but there was no way she could stop; it was her heart and soul. Her hard work paid off when she was offered to be a Principal at the Kennedy Center Ballet, just like her mother. Her opening night, she stood in the wings, preparing herself mentally for the performance. After hours of practicing, sore muscles, and bloody toes from the slippers, she was now only moments away from showing the packed house her talent.

“Miss Swan, one minute to curtain,” the stage manager stated.

The orchestra began and the curtain rose, Bella stepped out and began the performance. Each move was graceful and precision, midway through the second act, Bella was in her arabesque penchée when she felt light headed and suddenly all went black and she fell to the stage.

Dr. Carlisle Cullen and his wife were in the audience for the performance. As soon as the young lady collapsed on the stage, Carlisle was to his feet and rushing to help.

“Sir, please return to your seat,” the guard told Carlisle. He wasn’t going to allow a crowd of people on the stage.

“I am a doctor,” Carlisle informed him.

Hearing that the man was a doctor, the guard stepped aside and allowed Carlisle up the steps. Carlisle rushed over to where several people were crowded around the young woman. He quickly stepped in and began taking her pulse and accessing her vitals the best he could. Damn, he wished he had his case from the trunk of his vehicle. Her pulse was weakening and her lips were turning blue. This was bad, very bad. “We need an ambulance, NOW!”

Suddenly, Carlisle could no longer feel a pulse and immediately started CPR. With each chest compression and breath, he prayed that she would respond. In the background, he could hear the cries of her parents. After what felt like an eternity, her heart began to beat again, even though it was still very faint and weak. The EMTs arrived, rushing on the stage with their equipment.

“Sir, we can take it from here,” one EMT said.

“I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen. This young woman needs to be airlifted to Johns Hopkins immediately.”

“But we can,” the EMT began.

Carlisle stood up and looked the guy straight in the eyes. “Listen to me, get me that medical transport and get it for me now. If you don’t, she will surely die and the blood will be on your hands.”

The guy finally got it, he wasn’t in charge, Dr. Cullen was in charge. He called for air support and assisted Dr. Cullen as he began an IV and began taking her vitals, this time with the instruments that he needed.

Carlisle didn’t know what was going on with the young woman’s heart, but he knew that it was serious. Looking up at the couple who was sobbing off to the side, he needed to get some answers. “Are you her parents?”

“Yes. What is wrong with her?” Charlie asked.

“I am not sure, does she or anyone in your family have a history of heart disease?”

“No.”

“I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen, head of cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. We need to get her there as soon as possible, so I can run the test and find out what is going on.”

“Please do what you have to do, we can’t lose her,” Renee cried. “Our Bella is our life.”

“What is her full name and age?” Carlisle asked.

“Isabella Marie Swan and she just turned twenty-three. She is not allergic to anything that we know of and has always been a very healthy young woman,” Charlie said.

As the minutes ticked away, Carlisle continued his monitoring her vitals. He was pleased to see that the medivac had arrived quickly and was waiting to transport her to Johns Hopkins. “Mr. & Mrs. Swan, I am going to ride with her in the transport. I will see you when you get to the hospital.”

Bella was on the gurney, being wheeled off the stage as Carlisle followed close behind. As they rounded the corner, he saw Esme standing patiently. “Esme.”

“My darling, is she going to be alright?”

“I don’t know for sure. She is very sick and I must go with her. I’m sorry.”

“No, my love, you take care of her and just call me when you can,” Esme said.

Once they were loaded into the medical transport, it didn’t take them long to arrive at the hospital. Carlisle had already called ahead and had his team ready for them as soon as they landed. Bella was rushed to the hospital. Carlisle ran his tests and, in the end, the diagnosis was grim. Walking out of the examining room, he went to break the bad news to Mr. and Mrs. Swan. He found them in the waiting room, but what shocked him was that Esme was sitting with them. How did he ever deserve such an angel in his life? “Mr. & Mrs. Swan.”

“Dr. Cullen, how is she?” They asked together.

“Please sit down,” Carlisle said, knowing that they would need to after he told them the news. “After some extensive tests, I have determined that Bella has Dilated Cardiomyopathy.”

“What is that Dr. Cullen and what is the cure for it?” Charlie asked.

“It is a disease of the heart muscles. I am sorry but Bella’s heart can’t be repaired; her only hope is a transplant.”

Renee began to cry, her little girl was sick and there was nothing she could do to fix her. If she would be allowed to give her her heart, she would in a second. “How long does she have?”

“I believe we have a little time, but we must have her quiet and stress-free as possible,” Carlisle explained.

“Can we take her home?” Charlie asked.

“Maybe in a few weeks, but right now she needs to under constant monitoring. Right now, we have her sedated, but I want to bring her out soon. I think you should be with her when I tell her the news.” A little while later, when they were all in the room, Bella’s eyes began to flutter.

Bella fought to open her eyes and, finally, she did, however, instead of the stage lights, she was faced with the blaring light of a fluorescent light. Turning her head she saw he parents, who looked as if they had been crying and a man in a white coat. “Where am I?”

“You are at Johns Hopkins, sweetie,” Renee cooed.

“What happened?”

“Isabella, I am Dr. Cullen.”

“Damn, it must be bad if you are using my full name. Please call me Bella.”

Carlisle couldn’t help but chuckle. She was full of spunk, which meant that she was a fighter and that was needed. “Bella it is. I am not going to sugarcoat it, because I have a feeling that you wouldn’t want that. You have a serious heart disease and there is no cure for it, other than a heart transplant. I have already put you on the list.”

Bella was shocked by the news. How could this be? Just a few hours ago, she was dancing on stage and now she was being told that she had a bad heart. “How long will it take until I get a new heart?”

“I don’t know, but I promise you that we will do everything possible until we find one,” Carlisle declared.

Bella was finally released from the hospital and over the next two and half years, they did everything possible to keep her alive. Every time the phone would jump, they would think it was a call that a heart had been found. Bella knew that if she had any chance of life, that someone would have to die. The very thought of that was very sobering and she hoped that, if by some chance she was blessed with a heart, she made the donor proud.

The years ticked by, the months ticked by, the days ticked by, and with each passing moment, no heart was found. So here she was with only hours, maybe days to live. Bella had lost all hope that a heart would come in time. All the fight and determination was gone.

Carlisle came into Bella’s room to check on his favorite patient. If she had been better, he would have gone to New York to witness the birth of his first grandchild and possibly repair the relationship with his son, Edward. Walking in, he found Charlie and Renee asleep in their chairs. Looking at Bella’s face he saw the look that he hoped he would never see, the look of defeat.

“Bella, please, you must not lose hope,” he implored.

“I’m tired of fighting,” she whispered, her voice weak and shaky.

“You just need to hold on, please don’t give up.”

“Carlisle, make sure they know that I loved them and was so happy to have such great loving parents.”

Suddenly, Carlisle’s cell phone went off. “Dr. Cullen.”

Then, the news that he and Swans had been waiting and praying for, a heart that was a perfect match was available and would be here in a few hours.

“Bella, hold on, there is a heart and it will here in a few hours,” Carlisle said, with a huge smile on his face.

“Really?”

“Yes, now you hang on, while I get everything set up for the surgery.”

Carlisle left her room feeling lighter than he had in months. Going to the nurse’s station, he informed them that a heart match had been found and to call the team in for the surgery. He was headed to the operating suite to mentally prepare for the surgery when his phone rang again. Looking at the screen, he saw it was his lovely wife.

“Hello, my love, are we grandparents yet?”

“Yes. A little girl,” Esme said, with a broken voice. “But.”

“Oh, how wonderful. I can’t wait to meet her, but I have wonderful news as well. I just,” Carlisle said but was interrupted by Esme.

“Carlisle, something terrible has happened.”

“Is the little one okay?”

“Yes.”

“Please tell me that Edward is okay,” Carlisle pleaded.

“It is Maggie. Oh, Carlisle, something happened after the delivery and she died.”

Carlisle almost dropped his phone, his sweet daughter-in-law was dead; how was his son going to survive?

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