A/N: Thank yous to my contest team which includes my daughter, NKubie, and Midnight Cougar.
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Butterflies,” Kacey Musgraves
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
“Mama!” Katie screams, running into the backyard. She slows down in front of Rose and me, pausing to catch her breath. “There’s blood.”
We look her over from head to toe, trying to find a speck of blood, when she opens up her glitter-speckled and dirty hand, revealing a tooth.
“Try not to touch the root.” I tilt her hand to get a better look in the fading light. “That’s too big to be one of yours. It looks like a central incisor. Is it Austin’s or Eric’s?”
“No, it’s Uncle Edward’s.”
As she says his name, he enters the backyard with a mouthful of blood dripping down his chin and Austin following behind him.
“Do we need to go to the office, Dr. Bella? I think this is an emergency,” Katie asks excitedly.
“I found the other one.” Edward holds out his hand with another tooth.
“Oh, God.” Rose spots Austin off to the side. “Who did this? You or your brother?”
“Eric. He’s hiding in the treehouse.”
“Did you take a stick or puck to the mouth?” I wonder.
“Stick,” Edward replies, but I can barely keep the grin from my face since his reply sounds closer to “dick.”
And I know I’m not the only one when Garrett and Al can’t contain their giggles either.
“Bella—” Rose hesitates, not knowing what to do first.
“You go find Eric. I’ll do what I can to help Edward.”
“Mama, if Dr. Bella has to go to the office, can I go too?”
“If she says it’s okay.”
Katie lights up at my nod, as she’s a regular visitor to our office. I wish everyone were as excited to go to the dentist as she is.
“Let’s get Edward inside and rinse off his teeth. If I can get them back in their sockets, then we may be able to save them.”
“Dr. Bella, can I be your assistant?” she asks, as we move indoors.
“Sure. Remember clean hands first.”
As Katie runs ahead of us, I grab a few paper towels from the kitchen and guide Edward toward the nearest bathroom.
“Have a seat.” I wave toward the closed toilet, wash my hands, and wet the paper towels. “Hold these in place for a moment to lessen the blood flow.”
Edward nods, but his eyes catch mine in the mirror. He shares his muffled concerns, “Are you sure about this? We’re at a party and you’ve had wine.”
I offer my reassurance while I clean his teeth. “One glass of sangria over the evening isn’t going to make a difference. Plus, I’ve had dinner too.”
Edward shakes his head. “I can’t believe 30 years behind a goalie mask and nothing. I’m in Rose’s driveway with the kids and not even 15 minutes later I’m holding my teeth. The guys aren’t going to leave me alone about this.”
“There’s hope that we can save them.” Grabbing a disposable cup, I fill it with a little water, dropping the teeth inside and turning to stand between Edward’s legs. “Tilt your head back. Let’s see what we’ve got.”
After disposing of the bloody paper towels, I gently check each of his teeth. His upper central incisor is loose, but he’s only missing the two upper teeth. Katie reappears in the doorway, getting my attention.
“Clean hands!” She shows me the fronts and backs that are still wet. “Are his teeth going to be okay?”
“We won’t know for a couple of months.”
“What can I do?”
“How about you hold his hand while I reinsert his teeth?”
“Okay.” Katie moves next to Edward, sliding her hand in his and offering her own comforting words. “It’s going to be okay, Uncle Edward. Dr. Bella is the best dentist I know. You’ll like her office. There’s a big, comfy chair and stickers when you’re done.”
I insert the smaller tooth first—the lateral incisor—while Katie distracts our patient.
“If your mouth won’t take your teeth back, you can leave them under your pillow for money. Since your teeth are bigger, you would probably get a dollar for each one, but that’s just my guess. Did you know the tooth fairy uses all the teeth she collects from around the world to build a castle?”
Edward responds with a small grunt as I feel his eyes watching me. I reach for the cup once more, taking out the larger tooth and guiding it back in place.
“I’m sure her castle is beautiful, but I’ve never seen it. She probably has someone like Daddy directing where to put all the teeth.”
“Close,” I say. “Try to keep your tongue from pushing against the teeth. I’m sure you have a team dentist, but in an emergency like this one, it’s important to get them back in their sockets as quickly as possible to prevent them from drying out. If you wait an hour until replanting, there isn’t a very high success rate.”
“Are we leaving?” Katie asks hopefully.
“Yes, that’s all we can do here, but I need to tell your mom we’re going.”
“I’ll do it. You can hold Uncle Edward’s hand until I get back.”
My stomach flutters at the thought of holding his hand, but not for the reason she means.
“We’ll meet you at my car.”
“Okay.” Katie nods, disappearing from the bathroom.
“She’ll beat us out there. How are you doing? Don’t speak. Give me a thumbs up or down.”
Edward smiles, giving me a thumb up as I wet a tissue, wiping the blood from his chin, lips, and corners of his mouth.
“You have a vampire thing going here. Not that it doesn’t fit Rose’s Halloween theme.” I chuckle. “Let’s see if we can leave without drawing too much attention. It won’t take long at the office. I’ll have you back with your teammates in about an hour.”
With most of the women and kids in the backyard around the fire and the men watching the football game, we slip out the front door with little notice. Sure enough, Katie is waiting at the passenger door of my car.
“I told Mama we’re leaving.”
“Good. Let’s put Edward up front since he’s bigger and you can ride in the back, okay?”
Once we all settle and strap into our seats, I drive the short distance to the office. While Edward is busy texting on his phone, Katie chats the entire way about which teeth I think she will lose next.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
Katie’s vibrating with excitement as I unlock the office door.
“I’ll turn on the lights and computers. I know how, and I can help with the sucker if you need it,” she offers.
“Let’s put Edward in room three. Can you show him the way while I get what we need?”
“Come on, Uncle Edward.” She slides her hand into his, guiding him past the Halloween pumpkins and decorations in the waiting area.
When I have everything in hand and turn the corner for room three, I find Katie wearing a mask and seated on a stool next to Edward. He’s bigger than my typical patients, overflowing the chair. I struggle slightly at the sight and release a deep breath, controlling my response to the view of not only the tattoos on his arms in this light but also his legs. While my curiosity about each one grows, my assistant’s voice reminds me I have a job to do. Katie is all business as she asks questions I know she’s heard me ask many times.
“Are you allergic to latex?” she asks while I wash my hands and grab a pair of disposable gloves.
Edward shakes his head as I open the bag of sterilized tools and arrange everything I need on the tray.
“What is latex again, Dr. Bella?”
“Some people are allergic to the proteins found in natural rubber latex that come from rubber tree fluids.”
“Oh, that’s right. Are you allergic to rubber fluids, Uncle Edward?”
He smirks and shakes his head while I put on my mask and face shield then take a seat on the rolling stool. I find the pedal with my foot, tilting him backward, and turn on the light, pointing it toward his mouth.
“We use latex-free gloves, but sometimes we need to take extra care in using other items which may contain latex. Open, please.”
“Do I need gloves?” Katie asks, looking on as I reexamine his teeth.
“No. You’re fine, but it would be nice to have some music. Do you know how to turn it on for me?”
“Yes.” She slides off the stool, leaving the room.
“I’m going to take a couple quick X-rays and make sure there aren’t other injuries I’m not seeing to your surrounding teeth or jawbones.”
He nods, and the pictures go quickly with Katie returning to hold his hand once they’re done.
The X-rays don’t show anything new, and I measure out a length of orthodontic wire needed to span the distance between his stable teeth. “I’ll be adding a splint to your teeth, which will provide support and encourage their reacceptance. I’m using a flowable composite and wire generally used in orthodontic procedures, but we keep it on hand for situations like this one. Would you be more comfortable with a local, Edward? I can numb the area, if you’re in pain.”
He shakes his head, closing his eyes. After my closer inspection, I decide against using the loose central incisor for attaching the splint, pausing to make notes on the computer before we begin.
“Close for a moment.” I remove my gloves as I swivel toward the computer. After opening a new file, I add Edward’s name and click through the dental chart. “Rose will fix this on Monday, but let’s see if I can make a few notes—eight is loose . . . I replanted nine and ten. So, I think we will anchor to seven, the lateral incisor, and eleven, the cuspid.”
Saving the file, I grab a new pair of gloves, readying myself for a procedure I’ve been tasked with hundreds of times as an on-call dentist.
“Katie, there will be blood as I work on Edward’s teeth. If you need to sit out in the waiting area or at your mom’s desk, that will be okay too.”
“I’m staying,” she says resolutely.
“Okay. Everyone ready?”
Katie smiles, nodding at me as she hums to the music I recognize as Radio Disney, and Edward’s eyes go closed.
I nudge his teeth in alignment with the others as the slight flow of blood never ceases, and I alternate with water and suction to maintain a good clean visual for the entire procedure. With the wire in place and the composite cured, I have the area stabilized in about 20 minutes. The only things left to do are smoothing the surface and removing the wire ends.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
“That should do it.” I reach up, flicking off the light and pressing the pedal to adjust Edward into an upright position. “How does it feel?”
I remove my face shield and mask, tossing them with my gloves in the trash. “Over the counter for pain and I’ll submit a prescription for antibiotics online to a pharmacy nearby. We can pick it up before we return to Rose’s, but we want to prevent any infection. No rinsing, spitting, or smoking for the next twenty-four hours. Do you wear a mouthguard?”
“Eat a soft food diet for two weeks. Brush your teeth after each meal, and use a warm saltwater rinse twice a day for one week. I typically tell my patients no sports for two weeks, but I doubt you’ll listen to that advice.”
“I’m a hockey player. Come on.”
I ignore his weak protest and continue. “I would like to see you in four weeks to remove the splint, but if you would prefer your team dentist take over, I’ll understand. Tell Rose and she’ll send my notes with the X-rays on Monday. It will take about eight weeks to determine if your teeth will reattach, but everything looks good. So, I’m optimistic. Any questions for me?”
“What about kissing?” He smirks.
Katie giggles as he gives her a wink.
“I’m sure your girlfriend will be disappointed, but I would hold off for a few days.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“I’m sorry—girlfriends.” I emphasize the “s” this time.
“Are you sure you’re an actual hockey player and not the equipment manager or something?” I tease.
“You should come to tomorrow’s game with Pittsburgh and see for yourself. I can get you tickets. You can bring Garrett and Al.”
“While they would enjoy that for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with hockey, I have other plans. Katie, can you go shut off the music? I’ll log off the computers and we’ll be ready soon.”
“Okay, Dr. Bella.”
Edward’s eyes find mine before he speaks again. “Well, we have another game on Tuesday with Minnesota, if you’re available, but we’re leaving for Colorado after that.”
“We work late on Tuesdays.”
“What if I have an emergency or something and need to speak with you directly?” He holds out his phone with the contacts app open and a “Dr. Bella” listing started.
I take his outstretched phone, adding my cell phone number and the office number, but enjoy toying with him a little. “You can call the office line, but we have a forwarding service to whoever is on call after hours.”
I look up, watching his hopeful smile fade a little as I hand his phone back.
“My cell is in there too. Don’t abuse it,” I warn, but have trouble concealing my grin at the thought of hearing from him again, whether or not it’s about his teeth. “Now, let’s get you and Katie back to the party before she takes over my office.”
I lead Edward toward the waiting room as the music cuts off abruptly.
“I’m almost ready,” Katie says when we stop at the reception desk, where she’s rifling through the sticker drawer.
I grab a bag pre-filled with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, then pause at our wall of handouts, locating the ones Edward will need in case he forgets everything I told him about caring for his injured teeth. I add a printed copy of his prescription to the stack of papers and store them in the bag.
“It wouldn’t be a trip to the dentist without a goodie bag.” I grin, holding it out for him.
“I’ll do the lights.” Katie darts around us, racing toward the office door.
Edward’s fingers brush against mine, and he leans in, lowering his voice. “Before we started . . .”
“Yeah?” I tilt my head toward his.
It isn’t lost on me how close our lips are to one another, and my tongue sweeps across my lower lip, drawing his notice and causing him to pause then restart.
“While you were getting everything ready, she said I could call her Dr. Katie, if I wanted. I think you’ve got a future partner whenever you’re ready.”
“She’s six going on thirty.” I chuckle, ready to follow my wannabe protégé as she shuts off all but the single light we keep lit over the main desk.
“Here you go, Uncle Edward.” She offers him a sticker that says “I (heart shape) My Dentist,” while keeping two others in her hand, turning to me. “Dr. Bella, is it okay if I keep this unicorn sticker and take the Cinderella one for Charlotte, since she didn’t get to come with us?”
I smile at her thoughtfulness. “Absolutely.”
“Did you know Charlotte has a wiggly tooth?” Katie asks, pulling open the door and walking toward the lobby.
Edward grasps my hand before I can follow behind her, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Thank you, Bella.”
“Anytime. Glad I could help.”
We stand there smiling at one another while he’s still holding my hand, and his eyes shift from mine to my mouth. If he wasn’t injured, I wonder if a kiss would be a possibility. But before I can consider pressing my lips against his cheek, Katie’s voice grows louder.
“Dr. Bella, are we leaving?”
She interrupts the sweet moment filled with unspoken expectation. The sparks I feel fade when I release his hand and he pushes it nervously through his hair.
“Yes, but we need to stop by the pharmacy,” I remind her.
“Okay, let’s go.” She points up at Edward. “And remember Uncle Edward—no kissing.”
He sighs in frustration, grumbling from behind me. “I know, Katie, believe me, I know.”
The return trip feels different from our arrival at my office. Maybe it’s because I was focused on fixing his teeth, or maybe it’s because I realize our time together will end soon. I volunteer to go inside the pharmacy, anticipating the stir his notoriety could cause, and pick up Edward’s prescription while he and Katie wait in the car.
It’s getting late, and I’m exhausted once we return to Rose’s home. Edward disappears into the kitchen with his phone to his ear while Katie sets off in search of Charlotte. I step outside onto the deck and find Rose sitting near the fire pit with Sassy on her lap and Duke at her feet. After updating her on Edward’s teeth, she asks where he is. When I mention he disappeared to make a call, Rose says the last words I expect to hear.
“Oh, that’s probably his girlfriend. She couldn’t be here this evening . . .”
I can barely focus on anything else she’s saying because the word girlfriend keeps repeating inside my head. The excited flutters I’ve felt all evening are replaced instantly with dread as my stomach churns.
He has a girlfriend, which makes him a . . . liar?
All the winks, heart-stopping smiles, and flirty conversation are part of the package. I was drawn in just like any unsuspecting fly into a spider’s web.
He’s smooth—so smooth I almost fell for it.
I need to leave before he emerges from the kitchen. After hurriedly wishing everyone good night, I hug Katie one more time when she reappears, and slip out the side gate, returning to my car and driving away without Edward’s notice.
I knew I wasn’t his type, but a small part of my heart hoped that maybe he was different. As I drive toward my townhouse, I shake my head at my wishful thinking. Recollecting our conversations during the evening, I realize giving him my phone number was a mistake. If he has a girlfriend, I need to shake off Edward’s flirtations and do the right thing for both of us by keeping my distance.
A/N: So many great things happening this week to share with you. I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday Advent calendar at TwiFanfictionRecs.com, but if you aren’t you should check it out. Each day a holiday fanfic is revealed, and on Wednesday, December 9th, it was our Firefighterward from If You Give a Firefighter a Christmas Cookie. Woohoo! I’m so excited he was included this year.
Also, If You Give a Postal Worker a Love Note has been nominated for TwiFanfictionRecs.com’s Top 10 completed fics for the month of November with so many other amazing stories. You can vote in the poll once every 24 hours here until Sunday, December 27th. I hope that you’ll check out all the nominated fanfics and share the love by supporting your favorites.