Title and writing inspiration: bit . ly/1vxyDvX
Character pics on the blog: bit . ly/1qpjRat
Thanks be to MrsSpaceCowboy and lellabeth for pre-reading.
Thanks be to beegurl13 for the lovely banner.
The moment Bella reaches her bedroom, the adrenaline kicks in. She grabs her already-packed suitcase, makes sure it includes everything on her list, and dumps out her purse onto the bed. She grabs what she needs from that pile and begins placing it into her empty backpack. She ignores the aftershave and Old Spice deodorant on the bathroom counter as she reaches for her toothbrush inside the medicine cabinet and her travel bag of shower supplies underneath the sink. She places them both inside her backpack, checks her list again, grabs his black hoodie from behind the bedroom door, and makes her way downstairs with everything.
As she's taking them to her car, she calls Charlie.
"My beautiful pain in the ass," he laughs. "How are ya, kiddo?"
"Are you working tonight?" she asks, completely bypassing his question.
"No. I worked the day shift. Why?"
"I decided to get a jump on this trip to Renee's, so I'm leaving tonight. If traffic isn't a problem, I should be there by six."
"Everything okay?" Charlie asks, his voice instantly going from playful father to concerned cop. "I thought you guys were starting tomorrow morning."
"I've been better," she admits. "But I'll see you tonight?"
"Drive safe, kiddo. Love you."
"Love you, too, Dad."
After hanging up, Bella heads back up the porch steps to lock the house. She stares at the open letter on the kitchen table for a minute before she sets the alarm and pulls the door shut.
She's in her car and pulling out of the driveway before she can change her mind.
Once she's just outside Seattle, she calls Angela, frustrated when her voicemail answers.
"It's me. I, uh…" she begins, clearing her throat. "I left."
She's quiet for a bit before she begins again.
"I need to think, Angie. There's so much…"
Before her emotions get the best of her, Bella takes a deep breath.
"I'll call you when I can. I love you."
Bella ends the call, turns up the radio, and hums along to whatever's on, needing to drown out her thoughts just for a little while.
When she arrives in Port Angeles a couple of hours later, she stops at a gas station to top off, buys a large bottle of water, and texts Charlie her ETA. As soon as she pulls out of the station, her phone rings, and she answers without checking the caller ID. She already knows who it is.
"Hey," Angela replies.
Bella immediately begins to tear up.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Angela's voice is full of concern, though it's without surprise.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Not right now."
"Okay. Just check in every once in a while, so I know you're okay."
"Okay," Bella whispers. "I love you, Ella."
"I love you, too, La La."
Bella's about to hang up before that pulling sensation in her chest gets the best of her.
"Does he… Has he…"
"I don't think he's home yet."
With that, Bella says her goodbye once more and hangs up.
She spends the next hour thinking about what she doesn't want to think about. She turns the volume up as high as it'll go in the hopes that it'll drown out the chaos that refuses to leave her.
It's not until she's almost to Forks that she feels her phone vibrate with a text message.
Be home in half an hour. Stopping to grab a pizza. Feel like watching something? Your pick. Love you.
Bella pulls over to the side of the road and stares at the message. Nothing about it is out of the ordinary. It's a message she's received many times before. But it's the ordinary that makes her realize how extraordinary it really is, and that thought is more than she can stand.
The moment she feels her emotions slipping, she shuts off her screen, effectively ridding herself of Edward's text for the time being. She collects herself and pulls back onto the road, grateful when the Welcome to Forks sign comes into view.
It's not long before she arrives at Charlie's. Her childhood home hasn't changed much ‒ if at all ‒ since she was a kid, and she's thankful for that.
With all of the changes going on around her, she needs something familiar.
Before she's even opened her door, Charlie's walking out of the house still in his uniform. His handsome face is graced by a smile she knows she's the cause of. It reminds her of another smile she knows she's also the cause of, and her heart beats harder within her chest. But she lets go of that to focus on her dad.
"Hey, old man," Bella greets, a teasing smile on her face.
Charlie keeps walking toward her as he quickly glances behind him.
"Who are you talking to?" he asks with a laugh before pulling her into his arms for a hug, the type that have always reminded Bella that everything would be okay.
"How are you? How was the drive?"
He grabs her bag for her, closes her car door, and ushers her toward the house.
"Both good. You? How was work?"
"The usual. It's Forks. You know how that goes."
Walking through the front door and into the kitchen, Bella smiles at the well-known features of the room and takes in the silence.
"Where is everyone?"
"Leah's out with Rachel. She's been running around crazy this past week over some big date she's got planned. I don't know what's gotten into her. "
"She didn't tell you?"
Charlie raises one of the only two take-out menus Forks has to offer, and Bella opts for pizza.
"Leah's asking Rachel to move in with her."
"She called me last week for tips on how to make it romantic," she laughs. "I told her I had no idea and gave the phone to‒"
Before she can stop it, the memory of Edward sitting at their kitchen table and passing on suggestions to her stepsister flood her mind. She pictures his smile, sincere in the happiness he wanted for Leah, and remembers his words about doing something that's distinctly them, not cliché.
Noticing Charlie's confusion over her sudden pause, Bella clears her throat.
"She talked to Edward. So," she begins, needing to quickly change the subject. "Jake? Sue?"
Charlie gives his order to the person on the other end of the line before he hangs up and answers her.
"He's probably at the shop with Sam."
"He still freaking out over the baby?"
"Not really," he replies. "They have their first appointment with the doctor this week, so it's safe to say he's accepted it. Actually, I get the feeling he's happy about becoming a dad."
Charlie grabs a beer from the fridge and follows Bella into the living room. He takes his seat in his favorite recliner, the bane of Sue's existence, while Bella plops down on the couch.
"And my wicked stepmother?" she asks, smiling.
"As evil as ever," Charlie laughs. "She's at some last-minute women's retreat the tribe wanted her to oversee. She gets back on Sunday. It's not soon enough, if you ask me."
As usual, Charlie's face lights up when he talks about Sue, the love he has for her plain as day. It immediately makes her think of Edward and how she can always tell what he's feeling just by looking at him.
It makes her wonder what she's doing, why she's running this time, and her smile fades.
Charlie and Bella exchange random chit-chat as they eat dinner. He keeps glancing over at her, and she knows he's going to ask where Edward is and why they're not leaving for Arizona together. Bella's not ready to voice what's plaguing her, so she hopes Charlie will give her some more time before the inquisition begins.
Sure enough, the questions start as soon as he clears the table.
"So, where's Edward?"
"Can we not, Dad? I really don't wanna talk about it."
"Bella, I deserve an explanation at the very least. I was already worried about you taking this road trip to see Renee, and now you show up early and alone. Where's Edward?"
Bella sighs and runs her hands over her face.
"He's probably at the house. I don't know," she says, shaking her head, irritated. "Seriously. I don't wanna talk about this."
Once Bella calms down and admits to herself that Charlie's only asking because he loves her and is concerned, she gives him what she can.
"Nothing's changed. I'm still driving to Phoenix. I'm still seeing Renee. I just need to do this alone."
"You need to see Renee alone because it's part of this closure you've been talking about, or you need to see Renee alone because you don't wanna do this with Edward?"
Bella exhales loudly but doesn't respond.
"Does he at least know? Did you tell him you were leaving?"
"No," Bella whispers, hanging her head.
Rather than push her for more information, Charlie simply pulls her out of her seat and draws her in for a hug. Bella manages to keep the tears at bay and is thankful that he's not pushing it.
"I hope you sort out whatever it is you're going through, kid. You know I'm here if you want to talk."
And for a few minutes, Bella holds on to her dad. When she hears the rain start to fall outside, she pulls away.
"I should get going."
"Why don't you stay the night and leave in the morning? I don't like the idea of you driving in the middle of nowhere alone, especially in the rain."
Bella quietly shakes her head before she grabs her bag from the floor next to the front door.
"It's better if I go now. I'll get a motel in Portland. Promise."
Bella gives him another hug before kissing his cheek and opening the front door.
"Keep your cell on. Call if you need anything."
"Of course. Thanks for the four-star meal," she jokes.
"Any time, kiddo. Be safe out there."
Bella knows it's not the out there so much as the inside of her mind – her thoughts ‒ she needs to safeguard from, but she nods just the same.
As always, I give no warnings regarding content, but I will say that nobody dies in this story. lol
I was going to wait until I had a majority of the story written before posting, but the nervous energy was becoming overwhelming. I don't know how many chapters it'll take, but this is a small, simple story. It won't be long at all.
I'm not sure when I'll have chapter 2 up, but I'm hoping it'll be in the next two weeks. After that, it'll post every Saturday until it's complete.
See you soon.
P.S. I missed you guys. :)