This chapter is Edward’s pov when he chose Bella for his gift and the first time he sees her at Charlie’s after a punishment.
I was on my couch in my condo with my feet propped up on the coffee table trying to decompress. I laid my head back with my eyes closed, listening to the stereo. It has been a hard semester. I was in the final year of my residency. I thought what this would mean for me.
I had this year left before I would officially become Dr. Edward Cullen, cardiologist, like my father. I would receive my gift on graduation from my parents. My wife. With this gift I would be ready to start my life and it would be everything I dreamed.
My father was a brilliant surgeon and was requested at hospitals across the country. He chose to settle down and raise his family in the small town of Forks, Wa. He said his decision was based on the moral decay of big cities. He said they were full of people who tried to destroy families from the outside. Small towns still valued family structure. Family was the most important thing to him. He had only left to attend college and medical school before returning and working his way up through the ranks of the hospital.
He met my mother, Esme in college and they have been together ever since. I have two older brothers, Emmett and Jasper. My father loves my mother very much. He takes very good care of her. She has never lacked for anything. Esme has always been a wonderful wife and mother.
She never had any interest in anything outside of our family. We have always been her priority.
It is evident to anyone who comes to our home. My mother has kept an immaculate home and we never had fast food burgers for a meal. My mother took pride in always preparing full well balanced meals for us. She is always respectful and never argues with my father. She understands that he knows best and only has her best interest at heart. They have a successful marriage.
It’s what my brothers and I have been raised to expect for ourselves. A beautiful dutiful wife to take care of our home and eventual children so that we could focus on supporting our families in the manner we wanted. My father has a friend Charlie that has always assisted us in finding our perfect wives. He trained both my brothers’ wives and both Emmett and Jasper are very happy in their marriages.
My father knows how hard it is to find the perfect wife. He is still saddened that his friend Charlie’s wife got it in her head to leave him years ago and took his only daughter with her. He used to tell us that she had too many wild ideas in her head and was un-trainable. He said this is why Charlie is so successful in his training methods; because he learned the hard way what can happen if your wife isn’t fully committed to the marriage.
He and Charlie carefully screen candidates before we make our final selection. It eliminates all the time consuming dating to see if you were compatible and getting to know each other ritual. Don’t get me wrong we still dated. They were just all casual nothing longer than a weekend at most. It wasn’t necessary to get to know anyone longer than that. We knew where our wives would come from.
This is a very serious undertaking because we will not have a divorce in our family. None of our extended family members or Carlisle’s close friends have ever divorced or had unhappy marriages since we started this system years ago.
Charlie is very thorough in his training. He has a son who helps him. I see Charlie as a necessary evil to a successful marriage. I have always known this was the process and I know it works. I witness it every time I see my brothers with their wives.
However, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of someone else teaching my wife how to take care of me in the bedroom. Not only did I not like the fact my wife would learn and practice her skills within limits, she would be a virgin on our wedding night, on Charlie or his son until they were perfect, but also that it just took longer to finalize everything.
This is something I’ve had many debates over with Carlisle since we started looking for my wife a year ago. Carlisle always reminds me how much time and energy it takes to train someone. None of us have this kind of time. My brothers both started successful businesses from the ground up and I would be completing my residency, which was very time consuming. I had conceded in the end that he was right as usual.
I have spent the majority of my life working harder than everyone else to get to my next goal as fast as humanly possible. I am a perfectionist and I have a problem with patience, in the fact that I have none. I also have a very quick temper that is hard to control at times. I don’t wait patiently for results. I want everything when I want it and how I want it.
I knew the timetable for getting my wife. I would have up to a year to make my final selection from the candidates Carlisle and Charlie screened for me. The screening is based on my preferences of looks, intelligence and personality. Granted the last part will be molded to my preference, but it’s easier if you have a basis to start with rather than trying to perform a complete character overhaul.
That was a disaster in the making. I had seen it happen with my cousin, Laurent. He insisted on a girl whose personality could not be remade. She didn’t have the foundation for what he was wanting. She didn’t work out and someone else was chosen. It was a very messy situation. I refused to go down that path.
I thought about my brothers and their wives. Emmett has been married to Rosalie for 4 years now. She was his gift when he finished business school from my parents. He has been very happy with her. She is blonde, beautiful and strong physically, which is good, because Emmett is built like a grizzly bear and anyone weaker he would snap like a twig. He tends to get carried away in his antics and has broken more than one piece of furniture in his roughhousing. He opened a gym in Port Angeles that is doing very well. Rosalie is perfect for him. She can handle his playfulness and keeps him very happy considering the smile he wears all the time.
Jasper’s wife is completely different. Jasper has always been the quiet one in the family. He tends to be introverted and is affected by other people’s moods. He has been married to Alice for 2 years. She was his gift when he opened his nightclub. He calls her his ‘pixie’. She is very petite and has a hard time being still. Carlisle worried in the beginning that she might be ADHD therefore would be scratched from the selection. He tested her and we learned that is just her personality, much to Jasper’s pleasure. She was a perfect balance to his quietness. She brought him out of his shell.
Now it was my turn. I wanted my gift when I graduated in May. I have been looking at profiles for a year and will tell my father my choice when I go home for the holidays. This will give Charlie 6 months to prepare her to become my wife on my graduation.
I thought over the criteria I had given them. I love petite brunettes. I wanted a calm demure woman. As much as I loved my sister-in-laws, they were perfect for my brothers. They were not perfect for me. I needed someone who could handle my mood swings and know when to keep quiet. Since I am a perfectionist I am very demanding in every aspect of my life. I need a wife who can handle this without mistakes.
I took a drink of my beer looking at the profile of the girl I was considering. I wasn’t 100% sold on her but she was the best of their selection. I really needed to decide if she was going to be it or if I wanted them to start the process over. I frowned at the thought. It would mean more waiting.
The phone rang and I reached to see the caller id. It was the hospital in Forks. I hit the button on the phone as I brought it to my ear.
“Hello Carlisle. How are you?”
“Hello Edward. I’m fine. How are finals going?”
“I’m wrapping everything up to come home in time for the holidays. I should be arriving the day
“That’s good to hear son. Listen, I wanted to ask if you’ve made your choice yet and if you have, are you sold on her?” he asked.
I sensed he had something he wanted to talk about.
“That’s what I was sitting here trying to decide when you called actually. I know I need to tell you at Thanksgiving so Charlie can get everything in motion. I’m just not 100% that’s she’s the best choice. Out of the profiles you sent she is the closest, just not perfect. Are you sure there aren’t any better selections than this?” I asked.
Carlisle laughed. “Well we all know how much you want perfect. I have always been proud of that quality in you Edward. So I take it you wouldn’t be averse to looking at one more profile?”
“Sure, if you really think you have something. Scan it over and I’ll get the laptop. Hang on a minute.”
I went to my desk and sat down opening my email. I waited for his email to come through.
“So tell me about her while I’m waiting Carlisle.”
“No, I don’t think I want to do that. I don’t want you to make a judgment call too quickly. I think you need the full effect of her. Trust me on this one.” He was chuckling.
I saw his email pop up and clicked to open it. I downloaded the attachment and waited for it to open. When it did I was speechless. She was breathtaking. She had long wavy mahogany hair with big chocolate brown doe eyes and long lashes. She had pouty pink lips that made me want to kiss the computer screen. She was perfect.
“Edward, you still there?” He was still laughing. He seemed to know what my reaction was without seeing me.
I was brought out of my stupor. “Yeah Carlisle. She’s amazing.”
I knew in that instant I’d found her, she was perfect.
“I want her,” I said with conviction. "Where did Charlie find her?” I asked.
“Well believe it or not, that’s Charlie’s daughter, Isabella Marie. Her mom died in a car accident a couple of months back and he has custody.”
“Really? That’s his daughter? I would have never guessed. She looks nothing like him.” I said.
“Wait,” I frowned, “did you say he has custody of her? How old is she Carlisle?”
I could hear Carlisle blow out a breath on the other end before he answered.
“Well that’s the only catch, Edward,” he paused, “she just turned seventeen.”
“Seventeen?” I growled. “So is this some kind of cruel joke? You get my hopes up and then crush them?”
“Well now hold up Edward. There is a way if you really want her. Charlie and I have discussed it and have a couple of solutions. Question is; how bad do you want her?”
I thought about his question while I stared at the face looking at me from the computer screen.
I took a breath, “I want her Carlisle.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say. Here’s the deal. I know you wanted your gift at the beginning of May before graduation. That’s not possible with her obviously. You will need to wait until she turns eighteen for appearances. It’s really only a few months longer than you planned. That would give you time to get established at the hospital. And with the extra time Charlie would have to work with her you know she’d be perfect. Six months was going to be pushing it anyway for any girl to be ready. It’s always better for Charlie to work with them for nine months to a year.”
I leaned forward propping my elbow on the desk pinching the bridge of my nose. I closed my eyes while I considered his plan. Almost year to wait. Time that Charlie and James would get to have her everyday while I waited, that made me think.
“Carlisle,” I asked, “since she is his daughter, how does Charlie feel about this? Are he and James really willing to fully train her and then turn her over to me in the end?” I stressed this since I knew every aspect of their training. It got very intense.
“Yes, Edward he is. It was actually his idea. He brought her to me to check out.” He chuckled at the memory. “Trust me she may be young but you will not be disappointed.”
The thought that my father had his hands on her made me uncomfortable. I knew it was necessary to be sure she was ok and that she’d never been with anyone before me. This exam would be performed again the day before I married her.
Charlie may be Carlisle’s oldest friend, but it was always a temptation to carry his lessons too far and his son had trouble with self-control. There had been a couple of mishaps over the years that weren’t discovered until later. That was why Carlisle added the precaution of another exam when Emmett was getting Rosalie.
“Carlisle, I don’t want to wait that long. I don’t trust Charlie or James keeping her that long. What’s your other idea?”
“Well this one is easier. Esme and I adopt her this spring. It’s just a technicality really. Unnecessary, but it does tie her to you so Charlie can’t offer her to someone else in the meantime. You can fly home to see her when you get a break or we can bring her to you. Then you marry her after she turns 18 next fall. You know a Christmas wedding would be really beautiful. You know you won’t need to worry about her living with us. I’ll take very good care of her for you.”
I caught a tone in my father’s voice that made me uneasy. I wasn’t sure what caused it. I’d never had any reason to take his word at less than face value. However, there was almost too much eagerness in his last comment. I thought about both solutions looking at my Isabella and came up with one of my own.
“Alright this is what I want to do. We go forward with the second solution. Call Mr. Jenks and tell him to start the adoption process. I’m going to meet with the university this afternoon and inform them to transfer everything to Forks Hospital to complete my residency there.”
“Edward that isn’t necessary for you to change your schedule around. That’s a lot of red tape and all. It’s only a few months at most. You’ll get to see her often. Just stay there son.”
He was trying to persuade me not to come home. My eyes narrowed at that.
“No Carlisle, my mind is made up. I’ll be home tomorrow to meet with you at the hospital. Please get everything started for me. Ok dad?” I threw in the ‘dad’ to appeal to his ego. My brothers and I haven’t called him dad since we finished high school.
I pulled up in front of Charlie’s house and rang the doorbell. I could hear a ballgame playing in the living room and Charlie and James yelling at the referee on tv.
I heard footsteps in the hall as someone unlocked the door. Charlie greeted me. He looked shocked to see me, but quickly recovered.
“Hello Edward. We didn’t expect you until next week,” he accused.
He looked uneasy and not sure how to act. Something wasn’t right. He wasn’t looking me in the eye.
“Well I had a change of plans Charlie. That isn’t a problem is it?”
He shook himself, “No, no of course not.” He stepped back to let me in. “Come in,” he said and gestured with his hand for me to come into the living room.
I walked in and James jumped out of his chair. “Hey Edward. What are you doing here?”
Again with the accusation, what was going on? I started to wonder if something had happened to Isabella already? I would not be happy if it had.
I stood in the room and glanced around listening. I didn’t hear her in the house. I turned to Charlie.
“Where is she Charlie?” I asked.
He cleared his throat and darted a look at James before answering.
“Well Edward we had a situation this morning.” He cleared his throat again and pointed. “She’s in the kitchen.” He looked worried.
I walked ahead of him to the kitchen not sure what to expect. I still couldn’t hear her. What I saw made me angry. She was tied naked to the kitchen table with a gag in her mouth, unconscious.
My face darkened in anger at Charlie and James unable to speak. I was livid. I walked over to stand by her. This is not how I expected our first meeting to be. I let my gaze travel over her.
Taking in what I could see. I squatted down to be level with her face and brushed her hair back gently. Even unconscious she was beautiful. Her long dark lashes hid the eyes I wanted to see.
Her mouth was distorted with the ball gag tied in her mouth. I still wanted to kiss her so I gently kissed her cheek as I stood back up. I could taste the salt from tears she had evidently cried. I continued my inspection and saw purple bruises covered her backside.
My eyes narrowed as I gently ran my hand over them. I looked back up at Charlie waiting for an explanation.
“Sit and start explaining.” My voice dropped to a dangerous level letting him know how angry I was. “Now.”
He shifted his feet uneasily and pulled out another chair from the table to sit. James sat in the chair that was already in the middle of the room glaring at me with his arms crossed over his chest.
Charlie took a moment to gather his thoughts and started explaining everything that went on at breakfast. He explained her pouring coffee in his lap burning him and ruining both their clothes. Her talking back to him when he scolded her for it.
I mulled over what he’d told me as I squatted back down behind her to massage her legs. My ministrations must have woken her. She was starting to groan. I could feel how tight her leg muscles were.
I saw her head shift a little and then she started shaking. I hit a particularly sore spot on her thigh and she screamed through the gag in pain. I hated hearing it so leaned in to kiss the place I was massaging reassuring her.
Charlie and I continued to discuss her punishment and training. I understood why she was punished and agreed her behavior was unacceptable both this morning and at the hospital with my father. Carlisle had told me about her unwillingness to let him examine her. I wasn’t happy that she was evidently going to be more difficult to train. This would mean she would probably need to be punished more than usual to bring her under control to be obedient.
I want perfection, but do not tolerate abuse or taking liberties with anything that belongs to me. And she was mine, now and forever. I was angry that he’d forgotten her. I agreed to let this time slide, but made it clear that I wouldn’t tolerate another mistake with her. She was too important.
I knew I needed to get to the hospital for my residency interview. It was a formality but still had to be done. I kissed her bruises showing her how much I would cherish her and left.