Chapter 5

"Ice cream? You sent her ice cream?" Jared and Sam blinked at Paul. They were in Emily's kitchen the day after Paul brought Bella her ice cream, the smell of baking muffins had quickly ensnared the three wolves while Emily was inspecting her pantry and creating a shopping list.

Paul smirked smugly. "Oh yeah, and I heard her say to Charlie that she'll make some cookies to say thanks."

"I'm really pleased for you Paul." Sam smiled genuinely.

"When do you think she'll come down to the rez?" Jared kept glancing to the oven, the muffins smelled like they were almost done. When Kim, his imprint, wasn't around, Jared's appetite for baked goods was insatiable.

"I dunno man. She knows that she has someone to talk to, someone know knows the truth. She needs time to process what's happened to her. I'm sure she'll be here when she's ready."

"Wow, Paul. That is the most mature thing, anyone has ever said at this table!" Emily's soft voice joined in their conversation. She had left the pantry and placed her list in front of her imprint.

"Except for anything you say," Sam whispered lovingly as he pulled Emily onto his lap. He gently kissed her still healing scars. There was a tender draping of peace surrounding the pack while they congregated in Sam and Emily's house.

Emily had been injured not long before Paul had joined the pack, they all knew the story of the fight Sam and Emily had over her cousin Leah. When Sam was having a difficult day, he replayed the memory constantly in his mind. Gods help whoever was phased in the pack mind. Now that she was almost totally recovered, Sam was slowly beginning to move past the guilt. Emily was fierce and wouldn't let him wallow.

"Thanks, Em," Paul broke the soft silence with a smile, "… and thank you for the advice about the ice cream."

"You're welcome. Sometimes, after a trying day, we all need little gestures of care." Emily replied from Sam's lap.

"Speaking of gestures of care… my wolfie senses are telling me that those muffins are done." Jared piped up.

Emily mock-glared at him. "Way to kill the moment. Go on, get them out the oven."

Jared leapt to his feet and ran to the oven.

"Oven mitts! And wait for them to cool this time." Emily said, raising her good eyebrow.

Sam and Paul laughed as they remembered Jared sticking his head and hands into the freezer after last week's blueberry disaster.

Jared pouted but reached for the mitts.

"Ok guys, once Jared has his muffin fix, we need to get down to planning. If the Cullens are really gone then we need to compensate with our patrol routes." Sam shifted seamlessly from loving partner into his Alpha persona.

Paul unfolded a map he had bought from that outdoor store that his imprint worked in. He had gone there on his way to drop off the ice cream for Bella. Her scent, while not very strong, it was enough to draw him into the store.

Emily rose gently from Sam's lap and made her way to put the kettle on for some herbal tea. The wolf pack felt like a true family, Paul reflected. The smell of muffins and Emily's minty tea made him and his brothers feel comfortable and at home. They all had trying pasts, the change was the last thing anyone wanted but they had found a strong family in each other.

Emily left the kitchen while Jared was bouncing a muffin, trying to cool it down. She made her way into the cosy living room and her favourite chair while she was pondering what the future with Bella held.

Fifteen miles away, Bella was slowly preparing for the day ahead. She had slept deeply and her ankle was feeling significantly better.

She looked to the small trashcan by her desk and smiled. The empty tub of ice cream sat amongst her salty tissues from her day of grieving. Her heart still ached and she felt empty. She knew that she couldn't hide for another day, Charlie didn't deserve it.

Bella sighed heavily and forced herself to slide out of her bed. She allowed herself a few minutes to sit on the edge.

Her curtains were pulled shut, the minimal light from the near constant layer of clouds didn't do much to illuminate her room. Shadows cast by her desk and knickknacks danced on her walls. She looked up at her pictures on the wall, but it was still too dark for them to be easily visible. She knew she was looking at a picture of a forest scene, but the darkened glass kept it hidden.

The semi-darkness was comforting, Bella had a post-sob-fest headache. It was tempting to remain in the darkness, avoiding the difficult thoughts swirling round Bella's heart. Before she could lose her motivation, Bella pushed herself off the bed.

Her alarm clock read 7:30am, that would give her time to change her bedding, put a load of laundry on and prepare a decent breakfast for her dad.

Bella went about her tasks quietly, pulling a large hoody over her pyjamas to stay warm. She replaced her bedsheets and carried the bedding and her clothes from, that day, down the stairs carefully. Bella delicately stepped over the squeaky step, she was trying to avoid waking her dad up, the breakfast was going to be a surprise for him.

She was just plating up pancakes and bacon as Charlie came down the stairs.

"Damn, Bells. I felt like a cartoon character, following my nose down here."

Bella giggled, feeling warm and happy watching her dad light up. She needed to try to be the daughter he deserved.

"Well pull up a chair, paw." She raised her eyebrows and adopted an accent. "I've got fresh cawfee on its way."

"This is wonderful surprise, kid. This is the last thing I expected." Charlie picked up a fork and began to dig into his pancakes.

Bella shifted uncomfortably, guilt was twisting her gut. She gently placed a mug of coffee in front of Charlie and sat next to him. Her hands were clasped together, she was lacing and unlacing her fingers nervously.

"I wanted to apologise. I haven't exactly made life easy for you since I came here."

"Sweetie," Charlie began. Bella raised a hand to stop him.

"I am sorry Dad. I'm pretty sure those grey hairs are my fault, between what happened over Spring Break, the time I spent with the Cullens and then with what happened the day before yesterday…" Bella trailed off, with tears pooling in her eyes.

Her hands were still twisting anxiously on the table when her dad reached across and clasped them delicately.

"Bells, honey, you have nothing to apologise for. I'm just glad you're here, talking to me. This is the most important thing in the world to me."

"Yeah, but I made so many mistakes."

"God Bella, you're 18. You've barely begun living. If you could see what I was like at your age, you'd probably laugh and then knowing you, you'd put me in my place." Charlie laughed.

"Really? Like what?" Bella quirked an eyebrow, intrigued by Charlie's admission.

"We can talk about it later," His eyes glittered tenderly. "However, if you're ready, I want to know about that night."

Bella cleared her throat and nodded. "We had a fall out on my birthday, they uh, were planning on leaving. He wanted to break up, fresh start and all that. I said we would make it work. He wanted to discuss it later."

Bella paused, trying to formulate a story that was close to the truth without really endangering him. Charlie thought she was getting emotional and nodded, trying to encourage her.

"That day, he said he wanted to talk. He'd been quite distant lately. We went on a walk in the woods, the house was still in sight. I thought he had changed his mind, it took me a while to realise he was, breaking up with me," Bella's voice broke, she took a deep breath to fortify herself.

"He ran away, he always knew the woods better than me. I tried to follow and got really lost. I kept falling over and I got so cold and tired. I can't believe he left without looking back, dad. After everything."

Bella broke off with a sob, pulling away from Charlie to grab a piece of kitchen paper. Charlie felt his heart break for his little girl, and a burning desire to track the Cullens down and introduce Edward to his shotgun.

He stood up and moved to hug Bella. He stroked her hair delicately as she cried.

"It hurts, like a bitch. I promise it will get better soon though."

Bella snuffled, it sounded like she was dubious.

"Honestly, it will." Charlie reassured her with a smile. He wiped away her tears and snot, like he had done when she was a baby. It felt like the most natural thing in the world.

"Hey, did I ever tell you about the time that me, Billy and Harry got arrested by the last police chief?"

Bella shook her head, looking up at her dad with doe eyes.

"Well, we were sixteen, we had swiped some beer out of Billy's old man's fridge and decided it was an… appropriate time to take our new driver's permits out and drive to this amazing fishing place…"

Charlie opened up to Bella, distracting her slightly and making her laugh. Things felt better already and she knew that she was a step closer to healing.

A/N

Hello, thank you for reading the latest instalment!

I don't want to set a regular update schedule, so that I don't disappoint, but for now, I'm aiming for weekly/ish updates.

What do you think so far? I'm having fun jumping back into the world of the Wolves. I rewatched the films not too long ago, how could she pick the vamps over the pack?!

I hope you enjoy my fic, I own nothing, SM is overlady of the Twilight universe. I'm trying to fit the context of the story being set in the US, but sometimes little bits of British English fall into dialogue… I'll try and avoid that but if you read something and are like "Uhh what?" Please say and I'll try to clarify.

I hope you all have a lovely week