The Giving Tree

Doctor Edward Cullen has never really enjoyed Christmas holidays.  His entire life is wrapped around his job and nothing else.  Walking out of hospital one snowy December night, he is drawn to the large decorated tree with tags with a number and gifts that are required.  What happens when he allows his heart to open back up and give this family a Christmas to remember?  Or will he get a surprise gift that will tear down all the walls around his heart?

 

What a long day it had been.  One critical case after another, leaving Edward little time to even sit down or even get a proper lunch.  However, this is what Edward loved or at least what he enjoyed.  He had left Seattle after high school and never thought he would ever return.  It wasn’t because he didn’t have a loving family or a happy childhood, but because of her.

They had been sweethearts since first grade.  There wasn’t one memory from school that didn’t have her part of it.  They had shared all the firsts together, the first girlfriend/boyfriend label, the first kiss, and finally, they lost their virginity to each other in his grandfather’s hunting cabin in a small town about three hours away from Seattle.  They told their parents they were going to visit his grandfather in Forks and spending the day at the lake before graduation.  However, after a short visit to cover their story, they went to the cabin and spent the rest of the day learning each other’s body and allowing their connection to grow even stronger.  Before they left, he presented her with a promise ring, which symbolized his promise to her that one day he would ask her to marry him.   However, what he didn’t know that two days later his heart would be torn from his chest and broken into a million pieces.

He felt so broken, so used, so ignorant because he had not seen that she was seeing someone else as well.

The memory of the day was always fresh in his mind.  They had just finished graduation ceremony, and they were at his graduation party at his house.  The house was bursting at the seams with his classmates.  He had been looking for her when he ran into Jessica.

“Edward, I can’t believe that we are through with school.”  She said, rubbing her hand up his arm.

“Yeah.  Where are you going to college?”

“Boston and I hear you are going to NYU.”

“Yeah.  We both got in and we can’t wait to go.”  Edward replied, excited about the fact that they weren’t going to be split up for college.  They both were going to be Pre Med students.

“Oh yeah, I think I might have heard that.”  She grumbled, then looked down at her wrist.  “Oh shit, I have lost my bracelet.  Can you help me find it?  Please?”

Edward didn’t want too, but he felt it was his responsibility to do so.  After looking around the room, she told him that she had gone outside and down at the boathouse.  As they rounded the corner of the boathouse, his world fell apart.  There she was in the arms of James, her body against the wall as they were in a passionate kiss.  The wounded gasp escaped before he knew it and they broke apart.  James looked at him with a smirk while she looked shocked.

“Edward, please it is not as it looked.  James tell him.”  She cried.  “He…”

Edward just shook his head and turned to leave.  He remembers finding the bottle of Jameson and going to his room, but he didn’t remember how Jessica got in his bed naked.  But that is what he found the next morning, both of them naked in his bed.  When he picked up his phone, he noticed there was no missed calls or messages from her and when he did, he knew that it was over.

The next few weeks, he tried not to think of her, but that was impossible.  Thankfully, his parents had seen him so devastated and they sent him to New York early.  He spent July and August getting to know all that New York had to offer.  But even though he was on the opposite coast, he still thought he saw her at every turn.  He was nervous when school started, because he knew they had several classes together, however she wasn’t in any of them.  He wondered if she had just changed classes or did she change schools altogether.  It had taken him weeks, but he finally got up the nerve and went to check it out and found that she was not a student at NYU, a matter of fact the admissions office was shocked that she didn’t even call or inform them she wasn’t going attend.  He wondered if she had decided to go to school wherever James was going.

Edward threw himself into his studies and before he knew it he was finished.  When he first started at NYU, he had transferred all his college credits that he took during high school.  He might have been a freshman, but in the eyes of University, he was a junior.  His professors told him they would write letters of recommendation at any hospital in the country.  He had looked at the job offerings, but when his father called and said that his mother had cancer, he knew where he needed to be.  Applying for a position at Seattle Children’s Hospital as a Pediatric Surgeon, he was quickly offered a position as head of the department.  Not only would he be the youngest surgeon, but also the youngest department head.

Packing up his apartment, he made his way back to Seattle.  He wondered if she was still there, but refused to ask his parents.  They had never asked what had happened and had been kind enough not to bring her name up in any conversation even though he knew that it was difficult.   When he arrived back, he was excited to hear that his mother’s cancer had been localized and after a round of radiation, the doctors felt that she would make a full recovery.  So here he was, thirteen years later back in the town that held so many memories of his past and of her.

“Dr. Cullen, can I help you?”  Mrs. Cope asked.  She had been a nurse at the hospital for thirty years and when she retired, she decided to volunteer.  She welcomed the guests, answered the phone, delivered flowers to the rooms, and each year help set up and run the Giving Tree.  This is what she enjoyed the most.  There were so many people in the city who needed help, especially this time of the year, however many were too proud to ask for help.  That is why she loved the Giving Tree.  The names and gifts needed, they were supplied by people in the community who knew the person and their needs.

“What is this?”  Edward asked, picking up one of the tags.

“It is the Giving Tree.  We have a great need in the city and this is how we ensure that the families on this tree have a special Christmas.”

“Oh.” Edward said as he studied the tag.  It had the number twelve on the front and on the back was that it was a female, age thirteen, and sizes of clothes.   “This is a child.”

“Yes.  Dr. Cullen.”

“You mean that she needs clothes and shoes?  What about her parents?”

“Let me look this number up and will tell you all bit about the parents.”  She said as she opened her book and found the number.  “She is the daughter of a single parent.  Her mother works two jobs, one as a waitress and other as an online customer service representative.  There is no listing of the father, but it says they have lived in Seattle all their lives.  The mother’s parents are dead, and she has no living relatives.”

Edward looked down at the tag and something in his heart began to stir.  After what had happened with her, he never wanted to celebrate Christmas since it was her favorite holiday.  “What do I do?”  He asked.

“You buy as much as you would like on the list and bring it back to me.  I will make sure that she gets it, but you only have a few days since we will be delivering the gifts on Christmas Eve.”

“You mean I can’t deliver the gifts myself?”

Ms. Cope was shocked.  Dr. Cullen had been at the hospital for almost six months and in all that time she had noticed that he really didn’t socialize with anyone.  She knew him as a young man who was dedicated to his job and nothing else.  Many of a nurse had tried to catch his attention, but no one had.  There had also been a rumor that was going around that he was possibly gay, but that didn’t seem to be the case either.  She felt that something in his past had broken his heart and he was very guarded about not allowing anything like that to happen again.  But she could tell by the expression on his face, that he wanted, no needed to do this himself.  Normally it was frowned upon, however, he was a doctor, Department Head of Surgery, and his family was well known in the area for their work for those less fortunate.  Taking out a slip of paper she wrote down the little girl’s first name, her address, and handed it to Dr. Cullen.

Edward looked at the name.  Faith.  Reading the name he was taken back to the summer before his senior year in high school when they were laying out back under the big oak tree discussing their future.  At that time, there was no doubt that they would be together for the rest of the lives.  As they talked about what the future would hold, the conversation of children came up.

“I have dreamed about our little girl.  She will have long brown hair, sparkling green eyes, and a cute little nose.”  She said.

“Oh really.”  Edward responded with a smile on his face.  “And what is this little girl’s name?”

“Faith.”

“Faith?  Why Faith?”

“Because I have faith in our relationship that it will last until our last breath.”

How wrong she had been.  Edward looked at the address and say that it was on the west side of the city.  He had heard that it was one of the poorest neighborhood in the entire city.  Damn this little girl was in need.  Place the address and the tag from the tree into his jacket pocket he looked up at Ms. Cope.  “Thank you for doing this.  I promise that this will be a Christmas that she won’t forget and hopefully I can bring some joy that will last for a long time in the future.”

Mrs. Cope couldn’t help but smile.  “Thank you very much, Dr. Cullen.  I am sure that this would mean the world to this family.  If you needed any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

Edward walked out of the hospital in the cold snowy evening, with a heart filled with a purpose for the first time in a long time.

He had planned on going straight home, but as he drove carefully down the street, he noticed a shop with dolls in the window.  As by some miracle, he found a parking space just outside the door.  Getting out of his car he walked up in front of the storefront window and looked at the dolls displayed.  He wondered if Faith even liked dolls, but as soon as he says the one off to the right side of the display, he knew he had to get it.  It looked just like the description of Faith that she had told him all those years ago.  He walked into the shop and was met by a short, dark- haired woman.

“Good evening.  Welcome to Alice’s Wonderland.  I am Alice, how can I help you?”

“Good evening.  I would like to see one of the dolls you have on display in the window.”  Edward said.

“Certainly Sir, which one?”

“The brunette next one on the right-hand side, with the yellow dress on.”

“Oh, what a wonderful choice.”  Alice exclaimed.  She quickly walked to the window and collected the doll.  Fluffing the skirt of the dress and smoothing out the doll’s hair, she walked back over to the man.  “This is Faith.  She is from the Promise line of dolls.”

Edward gasped at the name.  Alice gave him the doll and as he looked closely at the doll, she was so lifelike and so much like the child that she was described, even down to the color of the eyes and the little button nose.  “She is lovely.”

“That is she.  I must say she is my favorite.”  Alice replied.

“Do you think a girl of thirteen would like a doll?”  Edward asked.

“Definitely yes.  I have just sold a doll to a girl who just turned fourteen this afternoon.”

“Then I will take her.”  Edward said, confident that it was meant to be to give Faith this doll.  He handed the doll back to Alice who took it up to the counter.

“Would you like me to gift wrap it for you?”

Edward was about to say yes, but he wanted to look at the doll for a little while longer.  “No.  But do you have a box that I can put her in?”

“She has a special box that she comes in, along with a book.”

“That sounds great.”

Alice got the box and carefully placed the doll in the box and rang up the ticket.  Edward handed her his credit card and paid for Faith.

“Thank you and I hope your little girl will love her.”  Alice said.

“Oh, I don’t have a little girl.  This is for…a friend’s little girl.”

“How nice of you to do this?   Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas.”

Edward took Faith and once getting to his car, placed her carefully in the backseat.  As he drove down the street, he couldn’t stop thinking about Faith and what he wanted to give her.  Lost in his thoughts until his phone began to ring.  Pushing his hand’s free device button.  “Hello, this is Dr. Cullen.”

“I don’t I will ever get over hearing that.  Hello dear.”  Esme said.

“Oh, Mom.  Are you okay?”  Edward asked worriedly.

“Yes dear.  I am doing great.  Are you off work?”

“Yes.  Just driving home, is there something you need?”

“Yes.  I would love to have you over for dinner.  I worry that you are not eating enough.”

“I will be over in about thirty minutes and you can try to fatten me up.”  Edward joked.

“My my my, someone is in a good mood.  We will see you in a little while then.”

Edward couldn’t help but smile.  It was great to hear his mother in a good mood.  The treatments had taken a toll on her, but she never once complained or let on that it was painful.  She was the strongest person he knew, and he was proud that he was Esme Cullen’s son.

Before he knew it, he had arrived at his parents home.  Smiling as he walked up the walkway amidst the twinkling lights, he knew that it would take more than cancer to prevent Esme Cullen from decorating for Christmas.  He wondered just how many hours his dad had spent stringing and putting up lights with Esme directing his every move.

Using his key, he unlocked the door.  “Mom, Dad I am here.”  He called out.

Esme walked around the corner, wearing an apron and wiping her hands.  “Edward.”   She cooed and rushed over.  Edward engulfed her in a strong hug.  Once he pulled away, he took a good look at her.  The color was returning to her cheeks, she seemed to have put on some weight, but the major change was the brightness in her eyes had returned.

“You are looking great, Mom.”

“I am feeling great.  Come, take off your coat and come into the den.  Your dad is yelling at the TV again.”

Edward began to take off his coat but remembered his phone was in the pocket.  As he pulled it out the tag from the giving tree fell out and onto the floor.  Esme bent over and picked it up.

“What is this?”  She asked, as she turned the tag over and seeing the information on the back.

“It is information about someone that I am getting a Christmas present for.”

“Edward, this is a teenage girl.  What are your going to get her?”

“Not sure yet, but I am sure I will find something.”

Esme places the tag into his hand and grasped his hand.  “If you need help, I am here.  I do know a few things about being a girl.”  She joked.

Edward leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.  “Thanks.”

“WHAT A HORRIBLE PLAY!!!  GET HIM OFF THE FIELD!!!”  Carlisle yelled as it echoed through the house.

“See what I mean.”  Esme said, shaking her head.

Edward went in to see his father watching the Seahawks game.   “Hey, Dad.”

“Edward.  Come in and watch this shit.  I can’t believe the coach this year.” Carlisle grumbled.

Edward sat down and began watching the game, but his thoughts kept going back to Faith and what imagined she would look like when she opened her gifts.  However as imaged her sitting on a chair opening each gift, his mind’s eye focused on the possible room that she was in.  He knew that her mother was working two jobs, neither one paying very well.  Hell, she probably could only keep a roof over their head and food on the table, if she was lucky.  Damn here he was buying a doll and she must have greater needs than that.  He felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Edward, are you okay? I have been calling your name for the last five minutes.”  Esme asked concerned about her son.

“Yeah, just thinking about what you said.  Do you think you will have time to go with me shopping tomorrow?  I am off work until after Christmas, unless there is an emergency and I really want to get something she might like and need.”

“She?  Edward do you have a young woman you haven’t told us about?”  Carlisle asked hopeful that his son was seeing someone.

“Dad, she is a child from the Giving Tree at work.  I have selected a tag and I feel compelled to give her a Christmas she will remember.”

Carlisle was moved by what Edward was doing.  This was the first time in a long time that he was doing something that was not work-related.  “That is great, Edward.  Do you know anything about her?”

“Yes.  Ms. Cope gave me her information, so I am going to deliver the gifts myself.  Her name is Faith and she is thirteen.  Her mother works two low paying jobs and they live in the west side of the city.”

“Edward are you sure you want to deliver the gifts yourself?  Wouldn’t it be better if Ms. Cope’s organization did that?” Esme asked worried about her son.

“No mom, I want to do it.”

“Damn, the west side of town.  Poor thing.  Did you find out what types of jobs her mom works at?”  Carlisle asked.

“Yeah.  She is an online customer service representative and the other as a waitress.”

“Boy, you were right about low paying.  OH MY!!”  Carlisle exclaimed.  “You will never guess who I saw the other day at the diner downtown.”

“Who?”  Esme asked.

“Bella.”  Carlisle said and as soon as it came out he felt horrible.

Edward’s head whipped around and looked at his dad.  He had not heard her name for thirteen years.  But then he thought about what his dad had said.  What was she doing working at a diner?  Didn’t she go to med school?  “Did you talk to her?”

“No, I was downtown meeting a friend for lunch and I walked by the diner.  When I glanced in I saw her, she hasn’t changed, well maybe a little skinnier and she looked tired.”

“Oh.”  It was all he could say.  Just the thought of her, made his heart hurt.  “Mom, is dinner ready?”

Esme saw the hurt look on his face.  Damn, what had happened between the two of them to cause this much hurt even after all these years must have been really bad.  “Yes.”

During dinner, Esme tried to change the subject and by the end of the meal, he seemed to be coming back around.  They talked about Faith and what to get her.  By the time Edward left his mind was full of gift ideas for her.

He made it home and took the Faith doll with him into his house.  He made his way to his bedroom and placed her on his dresser.  Taking off his suit, he placed it in the dry cleaning basket and noticed that it was getting full.  Oh well, he would just drop them off tomorrow at the dry cleaners.  After a long hot shower, he was ready for bed.  Today had worn him out, but at the hospital and hearing her name again.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop thinking about that she was working in a diner and not as a doctor.  Had James caused this?  Taking out his iPad he decided to check his personal email.  Other than some junk mail there was not much in it, oh that is right he didn’t have a personal life outside of work.  As he stared at the screen, he so much wanted to type her name in a Google search and see what came up, but he didn’t think he could take it if it was a wedding announcement.  With his fingers still on the keyboard, he decided to search for someone.  Typing the name in quickly, he closed his eyes and pushed send.

James Hunter, Seattle Washington.  Age 31. 

James Hunter, Seattle Washington, arrested and convicted of drug distribution was sentenced to 15 years today in the state penitentiary.  Judge Walker based the sentence on Mr. Hunter’s past drug arrests and spousal abuse convictions.

Holy hell, James was in prison.  Was this the reason why she was working at a diner?  But then he reread the search again.  Spousal Abuse.  Did that mean that James hit her?  Throwing the iPad on the bed, he gets up and begins pacing the floor.  That son of a bitch had hit her.  Fuck.   Damn if he could treat her like she deserved, then why the hell did he take her from him.  He loved her with all his heart.  She was the most precious thing in the world to him and no one else could fill his heart with love, like she did.  Damn it.  Knowing that he had several days off, he decided to pour himself a drink to calm his temper.  After that awful night, when he had drunk all that Jameson and passed out, he had not drunk very much.  However, after a glass of Jameson and Ginger, he felt more relaxed and ready to go to sleep.  Tomorrow was going to be a busy day of shopping and he could wait to see what he could find for Faith.  Hopefully focusing on Faith would take his mind off of her.

The next morning Edward awoke, but was not refreshed.  He had dreamed all night of her and him together, however, each time James would come in and take her away.  At one point in the night, he considered not even trying to go back to sleep, but he knew he had to try.  After a shower, he felt somewhat better and dressed for a day of shopping.  As he was drinking a cup of coffee, his father brought his mother to his house.  She was still not back to 100% and Carlisle didn’t feel comfortable with her driving, especially in the snow.

“Are you ready for today?”  Esme beamed.  She had thought about it all evening after Edward left and was looking forward towards shopping for Faith.  With Edward getting older, she had missed buying gifts for a young person on Christmas and the thought of buying for a little girl was just plain exciting.

“Yes.  I need to run a few errands as well, is that okay?”

“Of course,  I am excited for today.”

Edward smiled.  It was so nice to see his mother back to the way she was before.  “I thought we would take the SUV, because it has more room.”

“Wonderful idea, because I have a feeling we are going to need it.”  Esme smirked.

Esme directed Edward to their first stop, which was a clothing boutique downtown.  Rose Blossom was well known in the Seattle area.  Rose the owner was also a designer and sold many of her designs in the shop.  She even had a large selection of young girls sizes.  She wanted to buy her a few specialty pieces, before going to a shop to make sure Faith had everything she might need.

Edward found a parking space and came around to help Esme out of the vehicle.  Walking arm and arm into the shop, where they were met by a tall gorgeous blonde.  “Welcome.  I am Rose.  Is there anything I can help you with today?”

“Hello, I am Esme and this is my son Edward.  We are here to buy something special for a young lady who is thirteen.”

“Wonderful.  Come this way.”  Rose said, directing them over to the section that held the young girl clothes.  “What does the young lady like?”

Edward suddenly felt uncomfortable, racking his hand through his hair.  “Well, we really don’t know.  It is for a child that we don’t know.  It is a surprise for a little girl who deserves a bright Christmas.”

Rose was moved by what she was hearing.  During this time of the year, she normally only heard what people wanted, not what they were willing to give, especially to a complete stranger.  “Oh, my.  Come let’s find something, worthy of this little girl.  I just finished my new collection for young girls, I am calling the Faith, Love, and Promise collection.”

“Edward, did you hear the name of the collection?  It is meant to be.”  Esme cooed.

He had to agree, but it was too strange not to be true.  Rose showed them many dress, tops, pants, and sweaters.  Edward so glad that Esme had come with him because there would have been no way he would have been able to choose.  Esme selected several pieces and Rose rang them up.  He handed her his credit card and signed the receipt.

Rose handed them one of her business cards with her email address on it.  “Would you please email after Christmas and tell me what she thought.  Please tell her parents that they can exchange anything she doesn’t like.  I promise you that I will keep what you spent totally secret.”

“Thank you.”  Edward said.

He took the bags and placed them in the back of the SUV.  Esme was going to buy some personal items for Faith and while she did, he was going to drop off his dry cleaning and go the bank.  He had planned on getting some cash to give to Faith’s mother.  He felt sure that she could use it.  After dropping off his cleaning he headed down the street to a branch of his bank.  As he walked, he actually began to look around and see that downtown Seattle hadn’t changed much over the years.  The storefront windows were filled with holiday decorations and lights.  Suddenly, he was in front of Steelhead Diner and when he looked inside, he saw her.  She was leaning over a table, cleaning it off.  She looked just like she did that last day he saw her thirteen years ago, but his father was right she was thinner.  She stood up and someone said something to her and smiled, however, it was not her genuine smile.  This was the smile she used to be nice.  As soon as the person turned, she went back to her defeated look.  Abruptly she toward the window and towards where Edward was standing.  He quickly turned and walked away.   Damn it.  His picked up his pace to put as much distance between them as possible.

“EDWARD CULLEN!!”  A burly guy yelled.

Edward stopped and looked towards the voice.  “Emmett?”

“Hey man.”  Emmett said, slapping Edward on his shoulder.  “Are you home for the holiday?”

“Actually, I moved back.  I am working over at the Children’s Hospital.”

“Cool.  You doing okay?”

“Yeah and you?”  Edward asked.

“Fucking great.  Married to a wonderful woman who doesn’t take any shit from me.  She is a designer and owns a shop up the street.”
“Rose?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“Esme just bought some Christmas gifts a little bit ago.”

“Damn, Edward Cullen.  Hell, we missed you at the ten-year reunion.  There was only two that didn’t show up.”

“I was in the middle of residences and couldn’t get off, sorry.  Who was the other?”

“Bella.”  Emmett replied.

“Oh.”  Edward murmured, but then thought of James.  “But didn’t she come with James?”

“James?  James Hunter?  Fuck, he isn’t allowed within five hundred feet of her.”  Emmett answered.

“What?”  Edward asked confused by the statement.

“Well, I think it was sometime after graduation, he attacked her.  Thankfully, Charlie taught her some self-defense moves to allow her to get away from the creep.”

“Oh.  I just thought they were together.”

“Hell no.  Hey call me sometime and we will hang out.”

“Alright.  Merry Christmas.”  Edward exclaimed.

After Emmett walked away, Edward thought about the conversation and all the pieces didn’t seem to line up.  What was the missing piece?

*

**

****

*****

Damn her feet were killing her.  She had worked fourteen straight days and it was taking a toll on her body, however, she wanted to be able to buy a few gifts for Faith.  Faith, was her light in the darkness of her life.  All her life she had dreamed of a different future, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Edward had and will always be the love of her life.  There had never been a doubt that they would go off to college together, become doctors together, get married, have children, and spend the rest of their lives together.  She could still remember his touch and his precious kisses.  If she closed her eyes she could see them together in that tiny bed in the cabin.  The first and only time they made love.  Then the graduation party happened.

She had taken extra time to look extraordinary for Edward, which made her late on getting to the party.  When she went to find a parking place, she had to pull down close to the boathouse.  When she got out of the car and started up the path, she ran into James who was looking at his phone.

“Well, look at who it is.  Bella Swan.  Damn you are looking hot tonight.”  James slurred licking his lip and eyeing her up and down.

“Hi, James.”  She said, hoping to sidestep him and get to the house.

James stepped closer and ran his hand up her bare arm.  “Why don’t you let me show you what a real man can do?  Edward is a pussy.”

“No thank you.”

Suddenly, he grabbed her and pulled her toward the boathouse.  Struggling with each step, but he had a tight hold.  Once to the back wall, he pushed her hard against the wall, knocking the breath out of her.  Then she hears her survivor’s voice.  Edward.  Just as she went to scream, James pushed his mouth against hers.  His body was pressed hard against her that she could move or scream.  At any moment she thought she would feel James being ripped away, but it didn’t happen instead she heard a ghostly gasp.  James stepped back at the point and when she looked toward Edward, she saw a broken man.  “Edward, please it is not as it looks.  He.”  But before she could finish he had turned and ran back toward the house.

“Edward doesn’t look happy.”  James smirked.  “Are you sure you don’t want me to finish what I started?”  Then took a stepped closer to her once again.

Bella knew she needed to stop him and using what her father had taught her, she kneed him in the groin and when he bent off she brought up her knee to his nose.  When he fell to the grown she took off toward the house, to look for Edward.  Looking through the crowds of people, she was stopped time and time again by people wanting to talk.  When she finally, had searched all of downstairs, she thought that he might have gone to his room.  Slowly walking up the steps, she began to think about the look on his face.  Praying silently to herself.  Please let him listen.

She got to his door and took a deep breath in and opened the door.  As she walked in, her world came crashing down.  Edward was naked in the bed, with a naked Jessica wrapped around him kissing him on the chest.  A painful cry escaped her lips.

Jessica looked up and smirked.  “Your loss is my gain.  Fuck off Bella he is mine now.”

Bella ran from the room, down the stairs, and out the door.  She wanted to get as far away as she could, but was afraid to go to her car.

“Bella, are you okay?”  Emmett asked.

“Not really.  Do you think you could walk me to my car?”

“Sure thing.”

They made it to her car.  Once she was in she drove around the city, not wanting to go home.  Before she knew it, she was at their overlook spot.  Getting out of her car, she walked over to the bank and looked towards the dark water.  The tears were running down her face and felt her heart break into pieces.  “EDWARD!!”  She screamed.

She finally made it home and crawled into bed.  When she finally awoke the next morning, she looked at her phone and she didn’t have any calls or texts from Edward and she knew that Jessica had been right, he was hers now.  Had their love meant so little for him to turn to her so quickly?

The days and weeks went by, her parents asked what was going on between them, she just said they broke up.  She had gone to the police station and showed the bruises and filed a complaint against James.  The judge issued a restraining order and he wasn’t allowed within five hundred feet of her.  She hadn’t seen or heard from him and she had heard that he had left early for New York.  Jessica had been telling everyone they were going to spend the summer in New York together.  Bella didn’t know what she was going to do when it was time to go to school, because she knew for a fact they had classes together.

But one morning in late July, her whole world changed.  She woke up sick and as she was hanging over the toilet, she saw her box of tampons.  When was the last time she had her period?  Was it last month or the month before?  When her stomach allowed her to get up, she went into her room and checked her calendar.  She always wrote when she started and stopped, she noticed that she hadn’t had a period since the end of May.  Then it hit her, they had made love right after that.  What the hell was she going to do?

When she calmed down, she knew that she needed to make sure she was pregnant and plan her future without him.  There was no way she was going to tell him because she was sure he wouldn’t care.  Going to the clinic downtown, she found out her future.  PREGNANT.  Back home she sat down and thought about the situation and she didn’t see how she could go to college and raise a baby at the same time, especially in New York, where she knew no one other than him.  She would talk to her parents and see if they would be willing to help her if she went to a college here in Seattle.  As she researched not only colleges, but what is needed to be a single parent, she didn’t pay attention to the time until it was dark outside.  Walking out of her room she went into the kitchen to see if they had left her a note that she hadn’t seen before, but as she was looking around there was a knock at the door.  Bella opened the door and their standing on the stoop was two Seattle Police Officers.

“Ms. Swan?”  One of them asked.

“Yes.”

“May we come in?”  They asked.

Bella’s world had changed so much today, but nothing prepared her for what happened next.  Her parents were hit and killed.  She doesn’t remember much about the next few days, but she remembers the cold rain falling when the lowered them into the ground.  However, what happened next changed her life and the life of her unborn child life forever.  Her parents had not told her that they were in financially troubled and didn’t have any life insurance policies other than the small one that barely covered their funeral expenses.   Her home was not paid for and she had no way to make the payments.  She was able to find a job a Steelhead Diner.  The owner had been friends with Charlie and glad he could help her out.  She had been upfront and honest with Mark, telling him that she was expecting.  He was shocked, but promised she could work as long as she could and once the baby came, she would have a job waiting for her.

Bella was able to find a small apartment on the west side of town, with her savings for college.  She was going to use them to purchase books, since she had received a scholarship.  Mark and a few people from work helped her move into the apartment.  Any furniture that she couldn’t fit, she sold and banked that money for when she would be off with the birth.

The months ticked by and before she knew it she was in labor.  Laying in the bed in a room all alone, she could help but wish that Edward was here with her.  Hour after hour of labor she endured and finally at a little after midnight on Valentine’s Day she gave birth to a little girl.

After she checked over and pronounced health, she was giving to Bella to hold.  In tear-filled eyes, Bella looked down at her daughter and she looked just like she had dreamt all those years ago.

“Do you have a name?”  The nurse asked.

“Yes.  Faith Renee Swan.”

“What a lovely name.  I will be back in a little bit.”

Bella unwrapped her from her blanket and counted her toes and fingers.  She was perfect.  Wrapping her back up she held her close.  “My little Faith, I promise to be the best mommy to you.   I promise to love you enough for both me and your daddy.  He won’t be around and I am sorry about that, but know that you were conceived in love.”

After Faith was born, Bella took her home to their little apartment.  She had found an online service representative job, which she could do until she was able to go back the diner.  When people said children were expensive, they weren’t kidding, however, no matter how many hours she worked or how many hours of sleep she lost, Faith was worth it.  One sunny day in June, she was off and was taking Faith for a walk through the park, when she ran into someone who had changed her life.  Jessica.

“Bella Swan.”

“Hi, Jessica.”

“What are doing babysitting?”  Jessica said, then looked down into the carriage she was shocked to see the baby.  There was no doubt that it was Edward’s child.  She needed to make sure to nail another nail into Bella’s heart.  She had not seen or heard from Edward since that night, but she knew for sure that after some time he would look her way.   “I will have to look you up when Edward and I move back after school.  We plan on starting a family right away.”

Bella needed to leave.  She couldn’t hear Jessica and Edward’s plans, it hurt too much.  Plastering on a smile.  “I am sorry, but I am so busy.  I must rush, goodbye.”  Pushing the carriage she put as much distance between them as she could, before she broke down.  Any thought or dream that one day they would get back together had been dashed.

The years ticked by and before Bella knew it, Faith was already thirteen years old.  Even though she worked two jobs, it never was enough money to give her everything she deserved, but Faith never complained.  Her mother’s love was all she really needed and she had it.  They attended church whenever Bella was off and one Sunday a lady came up to Bella and asked if she would mind if they put Faith’s name on a gift tree.  They explained that they knew she worked hard and sometimes everyone needs help.  Bella had prided herself in supporting herself and Faith, but for once it would be nice for Faith to get something she couldn’t afford to get.

“Bella, can you work over an extra hour today?”  Mark asked.

She had just finished cleaning off a table and really wanted to say no, but it was an opportunity to make just a little more money.

“Sure.”  She said, forcing a smile.

Mark walked away and she felt like someone was looking at her.  Looking out the window and gasped.  Edward was standing outside the diner looking in.  Had he seen her?  Did he even recognize her?  Then suddenly he turned and walked away.  All the feelings she had for him, locked inside her heart burst free, but also the pain.  She couldn’t help but wonder if they had married and if Faith might have any half-brothers or sisters.  However, the thought of that was something that was too painful to consider.

*

**

***

****

Edward couldn’t seem to get the image of Bella out of his head or the missing pieces of the past.   He finished his business at the bank and met back up with his Mom.  She had purchased everything a young thirteen-year-old girl would need in underwear, socks, pajamas, and since the tag gave her training bra size, even several cute bras.   She had the shop wrap them up, because she didn’t think Edward would feel comfortable doing so.  Their next stop was at a shoe store where once again they both went a little crazy picking out different types of shoes.

The back of the SUV was getting full, yet Edward had just a few gifts yet to buy.  The next stop was to an electronic store, where he purchased a new laptop, tablet, and smartphone.  He arranged for the billing of the service to come directly to him.

They finally finished shopping and Edward took Esme home.  He could tell that even though it had been a long day, she seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.   He made it home and after several trips, all of Faith’s gifts were now sitting in his living room.   Esme had made sure he plenty of gift bags and tissue paper, but she knew that even though Edward was a brilliant surgeon, his skills with scissors and Christmas paper were sorely lacking.

Hours later, all the gifts were in proper bags, ready to be delivered to Faith.   Edward was getting excited about tomorrow and meeting the person who had put joy in his broken heart for the first time in thirteen years.

As Edward slept that night, he was blessed with dreams of Bella and him together, happy and in love.  Each dream was better than the last and the last one before he woke ended with an image of a dark hair, a young girl with sparkling green eyes.  As the bright morning sun shined through his bedroom windows, he awoke with a smile on his face and a happy heart.   He had planned on delivering her gifts at seven pm and afterward going to Christmas Eve service with his parents.   He felt that he needed to thank God for the blessings that he had overlooked for so long.

The day rushed by, he loaded all the gifts in his SUV, saving the Faith doll for last.  He had decided not to even put it in a gift bag, instead, he wrapped one of the pre-made bows around the box.  The only dilemma was what would he wear.   He thought a suit would be too stuffy, yet he was going to service afterward.  Damn, why was this so hard.  Deciding on a pair of dress slacks, a white button ,and a Christmas red sweater.  He would take his dress jacket along for church, but would wear his winter Peacoat to deliver Faith’s gifts.

He began his trip to Faith’s home with high excitement.  He had called Ms. Cope to tell her at what time he would be delivering the gifts and she had called Faith’s mother and told her.  They would be expecting her arrival.  The snow had stopped and the roads were cleared.  At five minutes before seven, he pulled up in front of the address.  He wasn’t surprised by the dismal appearance of the exterior of the building.  Calming his nerves and then stepped out of the vehicle.  It had hoped he would be able to carry all the gifts at one time, but he didn’t know if he could.  Stringing bag after bag on his arm, he was surprised that he could, in fact, carry them all.  He made his way up the sidewalk and luckily was able to pull open the door that leads to the hallway.  The first door to the left was apartment A-1, Faith’s apartment.  Raising his hand he rapped his knuckles on the cold metal door.

“Coming.”  A female voice called out.

Edward was sure it was Faith’s mother, but there was something eerie familiar in the voice.  The door opened and standing there was Bella.

“Edward?”  She gasped.

“Bella.  I am sorry, I must have the wrong apartment.  I was looking for a young girl named Faith.”

At that moment, his dream daughter appeared beside Bella.  “Hi, I am Faith.  What is all this?”

Edward mind was running wild and he couldn’t put two words together.  Faith was standing in front of him and there was no doubt that she was his child.  She had his eyes and his nose.  How had this happened?

Bella was stunned to see Edward at her door and when he asked about Faith, she knew that fate had stepped in and brought him to them.  He had not changed much in the thirteen years they had been apart.  As much as she wanted him to go away, she needed to be the bigger person, because he was here to give her a Christmas gift.  But when she really looked at his arms, it more like gifts.

“Please come in.”  Bella said.

Edward walked in and was immediately in a tiny living room, which had the kitchen off to one end.  Sitting the bags down, he looked at Faith and smiled.  “Merry Christmas.  I am Edward and I heard you have been a very good little girl this year.”

“Merry Christmas.  Are these all for me?”  Faith beamed.

“Yes.”  Edward said with a large smile on his face.

“May I take your coat?”  Bella asked.

“Please.”  Edward whispered.  He removed his gloves, placing them in his coat pocket and removed his coat.  As he handed it to Bella, their hands touched and connection that always seemed to be between was still there.

“Is Jessica coming as well?”  Bella said, choking back the tears.

“Jessica who?”  Edward asked, confused by the question.

“Your wife.”

“I am not married, nor have I ever been.”

“But she told me you were engaged.”  Bella explained.

“When?”

“Right after Faith was born.”

“Excuse me.  But may I open my presents?” Faith asked, excited to see what was in the bags.  But she was also confused about how her mother knew the man.

“Of course.  I also have one other gift when you are finished opening all these.”  Edward said, smiling.

As Faith opened her gifts, she screamed with joy at each one, Edward took the opportunity to really look at Bella.  She was beautiful as she had been in school, but she did look extremely tired.  Then he remembered what Mrs. Cope had told him, that her parents were dead.  He knew they needed to talk about Faith, but he wanted to do to have that conversation not in front of her.

As Faith was busy opening gifts, Edward leaned a little closer to Bella.  “What happened to Charlie and Renee?”

“They were killed in a car wreck right after graduation.”  She whispered.

“I am sorry.  We need to talk.”

“I know, but not in front of Faith, please.”

“My thoughts exactly.”  Edward said.

They watched as Faith opened all the gifts and before long every surface in the living room was covered by some type of gift.  She danced around the room,  looking at the gifts time and time again.

“I don’t know which one I love more.”  She cooed.

“Oh wait.  I have one more.  I will be right back.”  Edward beamed.  He rushed out the apartment without his coat to the SUV and got the Faith doll.  Carrying it back to the apartment he hides it behind his back.  “I don’t know if you still like something like this, but I thought she was lovely.  However, after meeting you I was mistaken.”

He pulled the doll from behind his back.  Faith stared at the doll for the longest time, rubbing her finger across its face.  Looking up toward his face, with tears running down her rosy cheeks.  “I love her.  Thank you so much.”

“You are very welcome, Faith.”

“Faith, sweetie, why don’t you take some of your gifts to your room?”  Bella asked.

“Sure Mommy.  Mr. Edward thank you for all this.”  Faith said, then suddenly threw her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly.

Edward’s heart exploded, not in pain, but in love and joy.  His daughter was hugging him.  He rubbed his hand up and down her back lovingly.  “You are so very welcome.”

Faith pulled away and began taking her gifts to her room.  Once she was out of the room, Bella offered Edward a seat.

“Why did you tell me?”  Edward asked quietly.

“I thought you were with Jessica and wouldn’t want any part of me or her.”

Edward didn’t know where she got that he was ever with Jessica, then he remembers that horrible night.  “You came to my room.”

“Yes.”

“I never knew.  Bella, I never wanted Jessica or was with her.”

“And I was not with James.”

“I am now figuring that out as well.”  He murmured.  He looked down at her hands and there was the promise that he had made.  The ring that he had given her at his grandfather’s cabin, when they made love and where Faith was conceived.  Reaching out he takes her hand in his, rubbing his finger over the ring.  “You still wear it?”

“Always.  Even when I thought I had lost you forever, this was one small part of you that I had.  Then when Faith was born and she is so much like you.”

“Bella, I am so sorry.  I should have listened to you.  I was such a fool.”

“I am sorry as well.  I should have made you listen and not to listen to Jessica.”

“Mr. Edward.”  Faith said.  “I have a problem.”

“What is it, Faith?”  Edward asked, worried what it might be.

“I don’t have room in my dressers for all my gifts.”  She giggled.

Edward did something he hadn’t really done for thirteen years and that was to laugh.  He felt lighter and genuinely happy.

Bella had missed hearing his laugh.  But what was going to happen now.

Edward felt his phone in his pocket.  Pulling it out, he noticed that the alarm he had set to remind him that he would have to leave soon to make it to church on time.  However, he didn’t want to leave.

“What is it?”  Bella asked.

“I set a reminder.  I am supposed to meet my parents at church.”  He answered, then he felt compelled to ask her a question.  Taking her hand, he looked into her eyes.  “Come with me.”

“I can’t.”

“Bella, I know we have a lot to discuss, but I don’t want to leave you both.  Please, I need you both.”

“Both?”  Bella gasped.

“Oh my God yes.”

Bella couldn’t seem to find her voice, so she smiled and nodded yes.

“Faith.  How would you like to go to Christmas service with your mom and me?”

“Can I wear one of my new dresses?”

“Of course.  But you must hurry or we will be late.”

“Okay!”  She screamed taking off towards her room.

Edward squeezed Bella’s hand and gave her one of his smirks.  “Same goes for you.”

Bella hadn’t even thought of that, because she was wrapped up in her thoughts.  Thoughts of the past, thoughts of now, however, the ones of the future were the most uncertainty.

Fifteen minutes later Bella and Faith were ready to go and Edward helped them with their coats on.  They made it to Edward’s vehicle and were on their way to the church.  Edward had turned on the radio and Christmas music echoed through the car, with Faith and Bella singing along.

Ahead was the Children’s Hospital where he worked and he knew what he needed to do.

“We need to make a quick detour stop.”  He said as whipped into a parking spot.

He assisted them out of the vehicle and they walked into the hospital.  There in the middle of the room was the tree.  Walking over to it, Edward took out the tag with the number twelve on it and with a pen he made a plus sign between the one and two then add an equal sign, then in big letters wrote A FAMILY NOW COMPLETE.

Edward took Bella’s hand and then took Faith’s hand and looked at the white lights.

The Giving Tree had given him the greatest gift of all, his family.

 

The End