I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, the silence deafening. My still heart clenched heavily as I tried to make rhyme or reason of everything the had occurred in the past two hours.
Alice had come flying down the stairs, sobbing and shaking, stuttering that Bella was going to leap off a cliff. I hadn't even hesitated.
Leaving Esme to console Alice, I had grabbed my black bag and left. It would take nearly fifteen hours at the speed I drove at. I prayed I wouldn't be too late.
When I arrived at the Swan residence, all the lights were off. Part of me wanted to go to the cliff and find her. Stop her, if it wasn't too late, but it seemed more realistic to wait.
I let myself in and closed the door behind me, moving into the living room. My phone rang and I quickly flipped it open.
"Alice? What's going on?"
"I can't see her, Carlisle." Alice told me in a rush, "Something's blocking it."
I heard the engine of the garbage truck Bella adored in the driveway and froze.
"I think she's here. Call you back later."
Before she could say another word, I shut off the phone and shoved it deep in my pocket, moving into the entryway. I heard her voice and nearly cried in relief. It sounded like she was arguing with someone, so I stayed where I was. If she was fighting with Charlie, that would make for an interesting revealing of myself. One that would probably end with a breaking and entering and trespassing case added to my plate. Either that or a death warrant from the Volturi.
"You're about to cross a line." I heard the other say, and it sounded too young to be Charlie.
There was a moment of silence before I heard Bella reply in a clipped tone: "Then don't draw one!"
That's my girl!
The door opened and I stepped back silently to give her a chance to get inside before I brought her attention to the fact that I was standing right behind her. Her demeanour seemed to shrink as she leaned sideways against the now-closed door with her back to me and, even in the dim light, she looked horrible.
She flipped on the light and took her sweater off, turning to hang it on the coat rack, and our eyes met. She dropped the article of clothing and inhaled harshly, coming apart before my very eyes.
"C-Carlisle?" she stuttered, and then she threw herself into my arms, and I held her to myself, feeling every bone beneath her slim frame.
I was worried to note that she was cold, even to my touch. I had thought the shaking was from the emotions coursing through her, but it probably had more to do with the fact that she was pretty well soaked.
I took a calm, unneeded breath and lifted her carefully into my arms, carrying her into the living room. I took a seat on the couch and she curled into me, shivering as I pulled a blanket off the backrest and wrapped it around her.
Nearly ten minutes passed and she finally shifted. I loosened my arms from around her and allowed her to sit up, capturing her eye and holding it.
"You're going to get a bath now, and then you're going to your bed and then you and I are going to have a serious conversation. Do you understand, Isabella?"
My voice hadn't raised in the slightest. I had kept it calm and kind, but still let some seriousness slip into the words. She nodded and I stood her on her feet, standing to face her.
She seemed to hesitate for a long moment before wrapping her arms around me and I returned the embrace.
"You're staying here, aren't you, Carlisle?" she asked in a scared voice.
"Count on it." I told her, but she didn't smile. She looked betrayed.