Walking upstairs with Bella’s breakfast, I found her tangled in our bedding and drooling on my pillow. Max, who had snuck into our room, was curled around her and growled lowly when I entered. “Relax, dog. I won’t hurt her. I’m the good guy, remember?” Max’s tail thumped the bed as he moved closer to Bella. “I know you’re worried about her, Max. I am, too.” Max whimpered, putting his head on Bella’s leg. “Hopefully we’ll figure something out tonight, bub.” I handed him a piece of bacon. He chomped on it happily, snuggling back to Bella’s side.
I put the tray of food on the dresser, climbing into bed with my wife. Max watched as I caressed her cheek. His golden brown eyes watched me, almost with concern as carefully roused the love of my life. “Gorgeous,” I cooed, tracing her delicately beautiful features. “My Bella, please, open your eyes for me.”
Bella let out a little groan, pressing her face into my pillow. I rubbed her back gently and continued to wake her up. After a few moments, her eyes opened, squinting at me. “What time is it?” she asked, her voice raspy and deep from her slumber. Max’s tail thumped as he put his head on her thigh. She ran her fingers over his fuzzy head. “You protecting me from my nightmares, Max?” He panted, almost smiling at her question. “I’m so groggy, Edward.”
“It’s because you took a tranquilizer around four,” I said, helping her sit up and cradling her to my chest. She snuggled in my arms, quiet and tense. “How bad last night?”
“He succeeded,” she spat, her tiny fist clenching my shirt and her body shuddering. I didn’t need the specifics, but with that one statement, her mind had twisted what happened to her into something dark and violent, violating her in the most sadistic of ways. “Why can’t I move past this, Edward? I don’t want to keep reliving and imagining what could have happened if the cops hadn’t arrived!”
“Bella, for the better part of the past year, Jacob has been torturing us. He wormed his way into our lives and caused this massive upheaval. Despite our best efforts, he still managed to get his hands on you, Alice, Kyra and Gianna. He was ruthless. He broke an innocent girl and convinced two former employees that you were meant for him. What’s worse is that he was once someone you cared for and seeing him so changed impacted you,” I said, kissing her forehead.
“Do you hate me?” Bella asked, her voice tiny.
“What? Never! Bella, I could never hate you,” I growled, gently cupping her cheek and forcing her to look up at me. “Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know. It’s just that my insecurities are coming back. I feel so worthless. Jacob knew what I went through when I was a kid and he …” she muttered, tugging her face from mine and laying back on my chest. Her body shook with silent sobs and her tears soaked my shirt. “I just want to feel normal! Why can’t I get past this like Kyra?”
“Baby,” I whispered, tightening my arms around her. “Children are resilient. Besides, they didn’t endure all that you did. It’s understandable that it will take time. I promise you, though, that I will always be with you. I love you and I will do everything in my power to make you feel better.” She nodded, tightening her arms around my waist. “Now, I have some breakfast for you and then we have an appointment.”
“For what?” she asked.
“A psychiatrist. The counseling is helping, but perhaps there’s something more that they can do to help with your anxiety attacks,” I said. “And the nightmares?”
“You think I’m crazy,” she said flatly.
“No, I think you need help. I’m worried about you and concerned that I am not able to help you. You remember Alice and her issues when she began her ‘change’? I think it’s similar with you, but instead of dealing with menopause, you’re coping with this traumatic event,” I said softly. “I will be here for whatever you need, but you need help.”
Bella sighed, shuddering as she sat up. Her face was puffy and red from her crying jag. “You’re right,” she whispered. “But you don’t think I’m crazy?”
“Never. Just in pain and in need of extra assistance,” I said.