The Whispering Woods

Chapter Forty-Five


"I feel as if we've known for a long time when in reality it's been a few days." Edward pushed his car to the limits, needing some breathing room once their parents started arguing about their sex life. "Despite the obvious attraction, I'm not sure I can do anything."

Bella appeared confused and asked him to explain. She knew he had to leave back home for a reason; rumors at school stated he nearly beat someone to death. Did she know everything?

"You know why I beat the crap out of James, right? He used to be my best friend growing up until he moved and had to go to another school. We were on rival teams in baseball, but we talked, still hung out at parties. But I had no idea what he was capable of until I shook his hand after a game."

"People tend to believe there had been no signs, until they look back."

Edward nodded. "Maybe, but he'd never done shit in front of me. There were rumors, after though—about women. His mother was a bitch, but that doesn't excuse what he did to those girls."

Bella's hand slipped over his white-knuckled fingers on the steering wheel, grounding him in a way no one else ever could.

"We had plans after the game to party together no matter who won. I was a cocky shit, smirking and laughing, and he punched my arm, then I pretended not to want to shake his hand. He sort of forced me to take his hand, not knowing that I would be able to see his most…" Edward had to swallow, bile threatening to come up. "…his favorite memories."

Bella's breath hitched as her fingers tightened around his. "You saw what he did to them."

"Yes, but worse, from his point of view."

"Fuck."

Edward could only shake his head. "I was seriously messed up after that. They dropped the charges on me, and no matter what I said, they refused to open an investigation based on 'visions' and rumors. I didn't know any of the girls personally, no one had come forward."

It was at that point he had to pull over. He felt his face flush, along with the back of his neck. "I can't believe I'm telling you this, but here it goes."

"You can tell me anything. It wouldn't change how much I want you."

"I couldn't be with my girlfriend after."

Bella's eyebrows rose. "You've been, um, hard around me, Edward."

He groaned; she was not getting it. "That's not the issue. It's not staying that way!"

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Have you talked to anyone about it?"

"A therapist—he's looking for someone in Port A for me. For now, we're doing FaceTime sessions."

"And has he made any suggestions?"

"Start slow, more foreplay maybe." He rubbed his hands and made a choked sound. "This is fucking embarrassing."

Bella's hand on his shoulder startled him. "You're scared to associate intimate moments between us with what you saw in James's memories. I understand, Edward."

"What if I start channeling that disgusting mother-fucker when we're making out? I'm afraid I'd hurt you." There it was, almost all his secrets laid out, spilled out from his heart for her to see. The question was what would she do with the information? Poke fun of him, hurt him, tell the fucking world, he wasn't sure.

He didn't know her, but in some way, the mate thing had formed a connection between them. It didn't, however, tell him anything about her.

"What's your favorite color?"

Bella arched an eyebrow in question, but he said nothing, waiting for her answer.

"Depends on my mood—used to be purple until assholes at school found some fake ass bullshit about people with purple eyes. Lately, it's been green, though, a dark shade." She looked away then, a wash of pink on the apples of her cheeks.

He grinned, ecstatic to have something to pull them out of the somber mood. "Green, huh? Why is that? Forks is pretty fucking green." Or was it his eyes?

She shrugged. "What's yours?"

Edward waggled his eyebrows, making her smack his arm gently. He wanted to try with her. "It depends on my mood. Black most days, but red and pink are top contenders…" He shifted to whisper in her ear. "…like the second I have you under me, all that flushed pretty skin."

Her gasp ended on a moan, her thighs slamming tight. "You're being unfair. We can't try to do anything here. They'll find us." She looked at him then, those amethyst eyes keeping him from looking away. "Besides, it was only minutes ago that you told me what you witnessed and there's more. I know there is."

There was more. James might not be in prison physically, but Edward made sure he wouldn't hurt anyone else. No one knew the extent of his ability, but it had grown the night before they left for Forks.

He grunted and sat back, and seconds later, he pulled onto the road. Her stare remained on his profile, as if she was reading his thoughts. There was shit in his brain, most not his, which he didn't want her to see. Not only what James had done, but also the number of nights her father sobbed for his wife as she slept.

"Sorry, you're right, probably getting ahead of myself anyway." He sighed and tried to smile at her. "Wouldn't want to put that in your head and anything we do on the same fucking day."

She hummed in agreement. "That's not to say I'd object to some kissing or whatever soon."

Something to look forward to in this godforsaken town.

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Mike Newton wanted to get drunk, to forget everything and everyone. He had shit to do though, things his father would kill him for if he knew. First, he needed to find it and the copy he started to make. Now that he knew they stood a chance...It wouldn't be much longer. His mother managed to smuggle the book from the other side, and once he copied everything, he'd hand it to Bella and disappear.

For good. The woods were whispering for him.

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Bella and Edward had been watching videos on her father's large screen television that was bigger than his was when Charlie had come home. They needed some alone time, but there weren't many places to go that allowed them to have privacy. Those that did were too damn close to the woods. Its reach seemed to be growing, and until they had more answers, they couldn't risk getting too close.

"Sir, Charlie," Edward started, but felt himself blush hard. "I would really like a moment to talk."

Charlie's eyes narrowed in on his daughter's proximity to Esme's boy. "What's this about?"

"And is this something you can't talk about in front of me?" Bella's hurt came through her whisper-soft voice.

"I need to talk to your father first, and then if he's okay with it, I'll tell you."

Charlie nodded. "Bella, why don't you go order us a pizza for dinner tonight and pick it up, now."

"I'll call it in and have it delivered." She pulled out her cell phone, but Edward placed his hand over it. "I promise not to listen."

"Please, Bella."

She looked at her father, who seemed to agree with Edward. They all knew she could overhear any conversation they had if she remained at the house.

"Fine!" She stomped her way toward her wallet and grabbed her keys. "This is weird to have you both agreeing with each other. I hope this doesn't become a habit."

Edward chuckled as she growled at them and slammed the front door behind her. And then he was alone with a magic-wielding man whose daughter he wanted to fuck.

Eventually. He swallowed hard and turned to face him.

"What's this about, Son?" Charlie gestured toward the couch while he sat in his recliner. "I can't imagine what you'd want to talk to me about and not my daughter."

Edward sighed and couldn't meet the man's eyes. "The day in the coffee shop…"

That got Charlie's attention and had him sitting straight in his chair. "Are you talking about what you saw?"

He couldn't help wincing as he nodded. "Sir, there's a lot of information that comes through sometimes, some worse than others."

"How much information? Are we talking about what I'm thinking about at the moment or the entire day?"

"Most of the time, just that. Sometimes my gift gives me exactly what I need when I need it." Rifling through people's memories hurt his head a bit, but nothing compared to getting everything.

"And the other day?"

Edward exhaled sharply and met Charlie's eyes. "I'm still processing, but I think I got everything."

"Everything?"

He nodded, rising to feet, needing to move. "That was only the second time it happened. Like I said, I'm still processing."

"Are you saying you saw something in my head that you didn't want to discuss in front of Bella?"

"I couldn't; it would get her hopes up, and if I'm wrong…it would crush her." His chest hurt, and for a moment, he wondered if his heart was missing, too

"What is it?"

Edward sat down heavily and sighed. "Do you remember your dreams?"

Charlie shrugged. "Bits and pieces." A red hue took over his face. "Everything?"

Another nod from the young man and Charlie wanted to curse his inability to stop from blushing. Like father, like daughter.

"Sir, in a lot of your dreams, your wife called her and Bella Dreamwalkers."

The older man looked thoughtful and shook his head. "I don't remember hearing her say that before."

"I think dreams are your wife's way of communicating." Edward stared at the man and clarified. "From the other side."

"The other side of what?"

"I don't know the answer to that, but you and I both know the answers lie in Crescent Hill Woods, the whispering woods."

Charlie shot up from his chair, pointing his finger at Edward. "You listen to me. You are never to go exploring for the sake of answers. It's not worth it."

"Does Bella know that you and your wife, the others, started to chart the area and that you were supposed to go with her on the hike that led to her disappearance?"

Charlie's face had gone pale, sitting down as if the fight had left him. "I was called away for a gas station robbery, the little place across town. The first time we had a shooting in fifteen years. She wasn't supposed to go without me."

"Bella doesn't know," Edward stated as fact. "You need to talk to her before her gift tells her the truth. If the dreams are some kind of gateway, there's a chance through Bella, you can communicate with Renee and that's how we'll get the answers we need. The safest way probably, too."

Hypnosis may not work on them anyway.

"I'll talk to her in a few days. Not sure my heart can take it, wherever it is, this soon."

They needed answers to save Bella's father, but Edward knew there was much more than his heart at risk.

Charlie dropped a bomb on him. "Does Bella know that you imprison people within their minds?"

Damn his parents for communicating with the man.

"No, she doesn't."

Charlie hummed. "Can you control it?"

Edward pointed at himself and Charlie. "I didn't put you in a coma, so I hope so."

Charlie looked skeptical. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with you around my daughter unless you know."

He couldn't help feeling offended. "Whatever this guardian shit means, I know one thing, I could never hurt her."

Charlie had to accept it because he knew to hurt your mate would mean hurting yourself. Soon his daughter and the young man wouldn't be able to stay away from each other without causing each other pain.

That was a conversation they needed to have. Soon.