Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights

Anxiously, his eyes followed the secondhand slowly ticking its way around the face of the clock. He had been watching it for hours, the metal wire clicking its way around the numbers, time and time again.

He did not sleep. He could not sleep.

He could only wait.

His arm was wrapped around his wife and he resisted the urge to draw her to him tightly. As it were, he would have a difficult time extracting himself from her and the thought alone made him press his lips together in a tight line. He tried to match his breaths to her long sighing ones in an attempt to calm his rapidly thudding heart. Usually time flew by when he was with her. This time it was different and in the early morning hour, time stood still.

He had been keeping secrets from her and while it killed him to do so, he could only hope that the issue would resolve itself before her involvement became unavoidable. He had unplugged the phone in their room earlier that evening while she washed her face of the makeup she wore during the day. He reasoned he could plug it in once the morning light filtered through the windows and she would be none-the-wiser. He didn’t want to have her worry any more than necessary.

It’s nearly time.

He pressed a gentle kiss onto her forehead. The smell of cold cream remained on her face, the only lingering indication of her daytime mask. She showed her true self to him here, in their bed, and he could not stop himself from drawing in a lengthy breath through his nostrils while squeezing his eyes tightly. It pained him to know that while she was unmasked here, he was keeping secrets. His nose nuzzled her crown, her sweet caramel hair touched with strands of grey. With regret, he slipped from their bed, leaving her among the expensive bedclothes. Glancing back, he saw her shift and he found himself wishing that she would wake. She would ask him where he was going and he resolved to finally tell her. It would absolve him of the guilt he felt and she would comfort him. If she woke, it would finally open that window to the conversation he had been trying so desperately to bring up over the past few weeks.

She did not wake.

Slipping his feet into the soft slippers that rested near the foot of their bed, he crept out of the room. Near the entry of the room he nearly tripped over his black medical bag and a string of whispered curses escaped his lips before he recovered and ran his hand through his hair. He slipped down the hall, taking care to step over the creaky floorboard that was three paces outside of their door. The moonlight filtered through the large uncovered window in the front of their home and lit his path. The usually quick journey seemed to last forever until he finally reached the study he had claimed as his own.

The grandfather clock in the downstairs foyer sang out, unaware of the drama that surrounded the impending phone call. The clock chimed twice, signaling the hour. A moment later, the phone rang shrilly. In haste, he lifted the receiver to his ear.

He listened to the voice on the other end of the line and felt uneasy as they spoke their demands. Quietly he listened and when he answered, he worked hard to kept his voice steady. He assured them that he understood their demands, he would not keep them waiting and that he would not contact the police. He did not want any harm to come to him or his family. The call lasted less than two minutes.

He sat at the mahogany desk for a moment, trying to work through what he should do. Two thoughts tumbled around in the forefront of his mind and he wasn’t sure where he should start. Both would be difficult, for different reasons.

He needed to talk to his wife. She needed to know what had happened.

He thought about Edward and he knew that he needed to contact his son. He was aware of Edward’s work on the Hale case and while his heart broke for Rosalie’s losses, it also swelled with pride for his son’s involvement with the case. He’d heard through the grapevine that Edward might be courting Rosalie, which wouldn’t surprise him in the slightest. While they hadn’t been in contact for years, he knew that Edward would need a woman like Rosalie in his life. He had been the Hale’s family doctor since Lillian and Cuthbert had married and could still remember Rosalie as a headstrong tot. Perhaps she could be of assistance in bringing their family back together. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but if anyone could do it, Rosalie Hale could.

Esme sat in the bed when he returned, the small lamp on the nightstand was lit. “Sweetheart? Is everything all right?”

No, everything is all wrong.