Subject/Email Header: Forbidden Fruit Contest
Title: Daddy's Little Girl
Summary: What would have happened if Charlie knew everything - knew about both vampires and shapeshifters? Edward and Bella knew they were meant to be together, but how far was she willing to go against her father's wishes?
Pairing: Bella, Edward
Rating: T (for language)
Word Count: 2514
DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Come on in, Charlie. Thanks for coming so quickly." Billy Black wheeled his chair back so the police chief could squeeze through the tiny kitchen. "Grab a couple of beers on your way in."
Charlie opened the fridge and lifted two bottles of Bud Lite. He handed one to Billy before settling onto the worn couch and twisting the top off his bottle. "Must be important. I haven't seen you drink a beer since…" He stopped, nodding toward the wheelchair. "Better not let Jake catch you." He studied his friend's face. He'd known Billy all their lives, and he could tell something was weighing heavily on his mind. Billy's wide mouth was set in a thin line, his dark eyes hooded. "What's going on, Billy?"
"Jake's not home. That's why I wanted to talk to you today. Alone." Billy took a swallow of the cold brew, closing his eyes. Setting the bottle on an end table, he removed his hat and rubbed gnarled fingers against the worn felt. "I'm not sure where to begin," he said softly. "It's about Bella."
Charlie froze, the bottle halfway to his mouth, and frowned. "Well, you've got my attention. Bella was home when I left, and she seems fine. Is she in some kind of trouble?"
"Yeah, Charlie, she is." He cleared his throat and laid the hat on a chair. Finally looking the police chief in the eyes, he continued. "Jake says she's dating that Cullen kid."
The sudden silence in the room was laden with menace. Charlie shook his head. "Are you sure, Billy? I told her to steer clear of that bunch when she came to live with me. Of course I didn't tell her why. The tribe's secrets have always been safe with me." His hand trembled as he reached for the beer. "A vampire?" He took a deep swallow. "Why would a vampire date a human?" His shoulders slumped as he mentally answered his own question. "I told you it wasn't a good idea to let them settle here," Charlie muttered. "Knew they'd bring nothing but trouble."
"We don't have a choice, Charlie. You've seen the treaty. They can stay as long as they keep to their side of the line and don't harm any humans. And there's no denying the doc is an asset to the community. His reputation is excellent."
"You know, Billy, that's not very comforting." Charlie stood suddenly, towering over the larger man seated in a wheelchair. Billy looked up at him, his eyes softening. "You're telling me we can run them out of town, but only AFTER they kill my daughter?" He slammed the bottle down on the coffee table so hard it cracked, slicing his palm and splashing blood and beer onto the table and the rug.
A stunned Jacob stood in the doorway for several seconds before grabbing a roll of paper towels from the kitchen. "What the hell? Let me see that." He grabbed Charlie's hand and blotted it. "I think that might need some stitches, Chief."
"It can wait." Charlie wrapped paper towels around his hand and closed his fist. Turning to Jacob, he demanded "How long have you known about Bella and Edward?" The vampire's name came out as a snarl.
"She told me yesterday. In confidence. She knew you wouldn't approve."
"APPROVE?" Charlie shouted. "How could I approve of her dating a walking, talking, blood-sucking corpse?"
Jacob sighed. "You know that, and I know that - but I'm not sure Bella knows. And we can't tell her. Charlie. As far as I know she has no idea - about the vamps or the wolves."
"Listen to yourself, Jacob. My daughter is fooling around with a monster, and I'm not allowed to warn her! There has to be something I can do!" His voice was rising, and he paid no attention to the blood dripping off his wrapped hand.
"Look, Charlie," Billy interrupted, "you're gonna need a transfusion if you don't get that hand stitched up soon. You said Bella's home right now, so she's safe for tonight. We can talk later."
Shaking his head, Charlie allowed himself to be led out to Jacob's truck. "I'll drive," Jake said. "You coming, Dad?"
Billy waved them on. "I'd just slow you down. You'll have to come back here to get the chief's car. We'll talk then."
Jacob flashed a bright smile at the nurse behind the desk in the busy Emergency Room. "Hi, Sue. I'd make Charlie here a priority. He cut his hand on a broken bottle and it looks like he's bleeding out."
Sue handed Jacob a handful of gauze. "Get him settled in room 3, Jake. I'll send Dr. Cullen right in."
Charlie's eyes widened. "I'd rather see someone else, Sue," he growled. "Anyone else."
Frowning, Sue handed Jake a clipboard with paperwork. "Sorry, Charlie. Dr. Cullen is the only game in town tonight. And by the looks of that hand, it can't wait. He's really a very good…"
"I know he's a good doctor," Charlie snapped. Shaking his head, he added quietly, "Sorry Sue. I didn't mean to snap at you." He sighed. "Okay. I'll behave." He followed Jake to the exam room and started to pace.
"Look, Charlie, he's not going to stitch that hand while you're walking. Have a seat." He indicated the paper covered exam table. Charlie growled, then sat. Jacob carefully replaced the blood-soaked paper towels with gauze. The bleeding had slowed but not stopped.
"Well, what have we here?" The young blonde doctor appeared in the doorway and smiled, and Charlie had to physically resist the urge to bash in that handsome face and knock those perfect teeth down his throat. He managed a guttural growl in greeting.
Carlisle picked up a hypodermic needle from the cart. "We'll just numb that up a bit and I'm sure you'll be feeling more sociable."
"I wouldn't count on it," Jacob muttered, glancing uneasily at the needle. "I'll be in the waiting room."
Charlie gritted his teeth and waited for the anesthetic to take effect as Carlisle patiently cleaned the wound. "It looks nice and clean, Charlie, but we'll give you an antibiotic just in case. Is your tetanus up to date?"
Charlie nodded as Carlisle donned a fresh pair of gloves. It was time to get to the point. "Did you know," Charlie said evenly, "that your son and my daughter are dating?"
Looking up from his work, the handsome features hardened into a frown. "No, I didn't. Are you sure?"
"Yes I am. And it can't go on. Surely you understand that."
The doctor resumed his work, taking small, even stitches with a steady hand. "I agree with you. But they're both of legal age, so there's a limit as to what we can do."
Charlie's voice was a whisper, but the words contained barely concealed venom. "I know very well how old Edward really is, and that's an entirely different subject. He may be a hell of a nice guy, but he's dangerous. What are we going to do about this?"
Without looking up, Cullen sighed softly. "Let me give it some thought. Of course it's entirely inappropriate, but we'll have to tread softly. We don't want to give them an excuse to do something dumb - like running away together. And I have to admit I have a limited amount of influence over my 90 year old stepchild."
Charlie was not amused. "I'd like to think I have some control over my daughter, even though she's 18. Will you have a talk with Edward? He should be able to see how inappropriate this is."
"Of course." Carlisle wrapped Charlie's hand with gauze and anchored it with tape. "Don't get that wet, and come by on Thursday and I'll remove the stitches."
"Thanks, Doc," Charlie mumbled. He had no intention of coming back. Sue served as a modern-day shaman for the tribe on her days off from the hospital, and she would remove the stitches for him. Or he'd remove them himself. This guy gave him the serious creeps.
By the time they got back to the Black house it was after midnight. Billy was sound asleep in his chair. Charlie patted his arm and whispered to Jake, "Help him get to bed, Jake, while I clean up my mess. We'll talk tomorrow. And thanks for your help."
Jake smiled. "Hit the trail, Charlie. I'll clean up. I've got two good hands, and you don't want to get that bandage wet or dirty."
The next morning at breakfast, Bella nodded toward the bandage and frowned. "What happened, Dad?"
Charlie stared at his untouched scrambled eggs. He cleared his throat. "I got some upsetting news from Billy and I broke a beer bottle."
Bella frowned, nibbled on a piece of rye toast, and asked softly "Is Billy okay?"
"I didn't break it over his head, if that's what you're suggesting. He heard a rumor that you've been seeing that Cullen kid. I hope it's not true." He put his fork down. "Bells?"
Bella seemed to find something on her plate suddenly fascinating, and she didn't look up but nodded. "We've been going out for a few months now." She looked up at her father, her brown eyes moist, and continued in a whisper. "I knew you wouldn't approve. But you don't know him, Dad. I'd like you to give him a chance."
A muscle twitched on the side of Charlie's face. Through clenched teeth, he said "I don't think you know how dangerous Cullen is, Bells. All of them, in fact. I don't want him near you, and I plan to tell him that. Today. Doctor Cullen agrees with me."
Bella grabbed her purse from the counter, her left hand swiping at her eyes. "I have to go. I'm late for work." She slammed the door, and a moment later he heard her truck start in the driveway. He had no way of knowing it was the last time he would see his daughter alive.
Charlie arrived home from work to an empty house, which was strange. No matter what her plans were for the evening, Bella always made dinner for the two of them - or at least for her father. The kitchen was pristine, the message board scrubbed clean. "Bells?" The word seemed to echo in the emptiness.
Picking up the phone, Charlie called the diner where Bella worked as a waitress. The owner answered on the fifth ring. "Petey's," said the clipped voice.
"Pete. It's Charlie Swan. I...uh...is Bella working late by any chance? I just got home and she's not here."
"Sorry, Charlie. She left regular time. You might want to check with the Cullen kid. He's been hanging around a lot lately."
Charlie mumbled something about being the last to know, thanked Pete, and disconnected. He stood there with the phone in his hand, trying not to panic. She was 18, no longer a child, but something dark was nibbling at his nervous system. "Fuck that," he muttered, slamming the phone down and heading for the stairs.
As soon as he entered Bella's room he knew. The dream catcher that had hung on her headboard was gone; otherwise, the room looked undisturbed. Half-empty drawers and empty hangers in the closet further attested to a hurried departure. Charlie sat down heavily on the neatly made bed and closed his eyes, forcing his mind to slow down. First things first, he told himself sternly. Talk to the Cullens and pray Edward is there. Deep inside, he knew the futility of that hope.
The black and white police car slewed into the driveway and parked next to the Cullen house, lights flashing but no siren. Charlie jumped out and mounted the steps to the front door two at a time. He knocked once before the door swung open, almost as if someone was expecting him.
"Mrs. Cullen. Is Edward here?"
The pale, attractive young woman smiled serenely, which did nothing to calm Charlie's raw nerves. "Please, call me Esme. And no, I'm sorry Chief Swan. I haven't seen Edward since early this morning. Would you like to come in?"
Nodding, Charlie removed his hat and followed her up the stairs to a tastefully furnished family room. Standing in the doorway were a large, muscular vampire and a pale blonde woman. "Rosalie, Emmett, you know Chief Swan." They nodded politely and stepped aside to allow the others to enter the room. "He's looking for Edward. Have you seen him today?"
The police chief, sensitive to body language, intercepted a quick glance between the two vampires before they shook their heads in unison. "Is something wrong?" The question came from the man, broad shouldered and thick necked.
"I'm actually looking for my daughter," Charlie explained. Rosalie sighed, a gesture that struck him as out of character for someone who didn't need to breathe. She snuggled up against her mate, avoiding eye contact with Charlie.
Esme excused herself. "I'll be right back." She glided up the stairs and returned in seconds, before the silence could become uncomfortable. "He's gone," she said softly. "Edward. I checked his room. I'm so sorry, Chief Swan. I know Carlisle had a talk with him this morning...explained your concerns and his own."
Charlie sank into a nearby chair. "Any idea where they might go?" He looked at Emmett, who shook his head.
"Maybe Alaska. We have friends there. But honestly, there's no way to tell. Alice is an empath, and she might have a shot at it, but Edward's been known to block her. And Bella…"
Charlie looked up hopefully, but Emmett continued.
"Bella's impervious to Alice's visions for some reason."
Regaining some semblance of control, Charlie pulled a small notebook from his pocket. "I'll need Edward's license plate number," he said.
Emmett was shaking his head. "I just got in from town, Charlie, and all the cars are in their places in the garage. Look, if there's something we can do we'll be happy to help, but it won't be easy. Edward never uses a credit card and he doesn't have a cell phone."
Charlie nodded. "I'll do what I can. Maybe they'll come back on their own." They all knew that was unlikely.
Days turned into weeks. Spring gave way to summer. Charlie's missing person's report yielded no results, and daily checks with the Cullens were fruitless. The little house seemed empty without Bella until one August evening when he heard a tentative knock on the front door. Charlie jumped to answer it and found Edward Cullen on his front stoop. He was shielding a slender figure behind him.
"We're back, Chief Swan. My wife and I are sorry that we worried you, but we knew we couldn't ask for your blessing."
A chestnut-haired, regal woman glided into the room. Her perfect face smiled at Charlie, golden eyes bright, beautiful, and yet so wrong. His eyes rolled back in his head, and Bella's shapely arms of steel caught his limp body before he could hit the floor in a dead faint.