ok ik i keep saying this but here's another brief chapter so i can really focus on the next one lol, hope u enjoy :)
Sam's cult. Gang. Band of thieves in ripped up jeans. Whatever they were. They must've lured Jacob in with whatever they were offering, just like they had with Embry. No wonder Billy hadn't told her much.
She respected Billy, more than most adults, but she couldn't be sure she trusted him. After all, wasn't he the one who suggested that Jake hang out with Sam and the rest of them? Even after they'd all seen what had happened to Embry. Billy's scheme to get Jacob along with them for whatever reason had worked.
"Dad, I know what's going on with Jacob," she said breathlessly, downstairs again.
"Hm?" her father responded, barely glancing up from his paperwork.
"I need you to listen to me," she insisted.
Charlie dragged his eyes away from his notebook and set it aside, twiddling his pen in his left hand. "What's going on, Bella?"
Charlie looked at her, alerted. "Yes?"
"He's not sick anymore, right? We know that." She began pacing back and forth in front of the table, pounding her left fist into her other palm for emphasis. "And he promised he would call me when he wanted me to come over. Then Billy told me he was better now. But he's not hanging out with Quil and Seth, which is the weirdest thing. So he's avoiding me, I guess."
"Avoiding you," Charlie repeating. "For what reason, exactly?"
Bella took a deep breath. "See, there's some sort of gang down at the reservation, and I think they got to Jacob," she said, the words spilling out in her haste.
Charlie nodded in disbelief. "A...gang," he said slowly.
"Led by Sam Uley," she told him. "They're all huge, really buff, like they take a bunch of steroids, or experimental growth hormones or something. And they follow him around everywhere. You know, you saw them at Christmas dinner. They're keeping Jacob away. Maybe even forcing him, Dad."
Her father's eyebrows shot up, evidently surprised they were the ones she brought up. "Right, well, they're not a gang, Bella. At least not a bad one. Sam's a good person."
"Everyone's saying that he's a nice guy, Dad, but you don't know that!" she cried in frustration. While Bella knew her father heard her worries, it didn't feel like he was listening. Couldn't anyone besides her see that this meant trouble?
"Woah now. How about we take a little time to calm down." He steered her to the table and she sat down reluctantly. "Do you know anything about these people?" he asked.
She noticed with relief that he was using his professional policeman voice- he was paying proper attention to her now. But he had a point there. She didn't know Sam, not really, but she wasn't going to say that.
"Besides what you've been told by others?
"No," she admitted, feeling like she was stuck in an interrogation room.
"Well, if anything Sam's helping clean up the rez, Bella. Took a boy down to the station for shoplifting the other day and stayed to clear things. He's reliable. And you know, he's the one who helped me find you that day."
He watched her expression carefully.
Bella didn't have to ask to know which day he was talking about. She could connect the dots. So the man in the woods who had rescued her, that must've been Sam. She had never asked about it before, she hated every detail she already knew, and she didn't want to think about it too much.
She brushed it aside.
"But Jacob, Quil, Seth- they were all scared of him, Dad."
His mustache twitched. "That's what happens with rumors. They spread like wildfire, and before you know it, the man's apparently a drug lord."
Her case was lost. Her father had instantly cleared Sam of all accusations in his mind, then. Clearly both Billy and Charlie believed Sam could do no wrong.
"It doesn't seem like Billy's concerned, so I'm sure everything is alright. Jacob will come back. He can't spend all day every day with you, after all. That's not realistic."
"I don't want him to," she snapped, although that was far from correct. Her father kept spouting truths, and that irritated her right now. "I just want him to be safe. No one else cares, apparently."
Charlie seemed to be able to tell she was stressed, maybe more than she should be, and he began to soothe her. "It'll be okay. Jacob's got a good dad. Billy will take care of him."
"Because he tried to protect Jake from them in the first place, yes," she said curtly.
Her father raked his hands through his hair. "Bells, listen, honey, I care about Jake just as much as you do, really." – Doubtful. – "I just got a lot on my plate right now."
She turned away. Fine. If no one would help her help Jacob, she would do it all by herself.
"Two more people were reported missing at the station just this week, by the way," her father called after her. His voice had a hint of trepidation to it.
Bella blinked and turned around, distracted from her issue for the time being. Again? And this time it was two people gone. She thought the situation would've been solved by now, but it seemed it had gotten uglier.
"I'm guessing no one's caught the mountain lion, then?" she said, trying to keep her voice light.
Her father shook his head. "This wolf problem is getting out of our control."
"Wolf? Didn't you tell me it was a mountain lion?"
"Yeah, well, one of our officers spotted an animal that looks more like a wolf up near the mountains. Real large one too."
A wolf. Near Forks. That was unexpected.
"Did you..." she began cautiously, "...did you find any bodies?"
"No bodies," her father assured her. "But..." And he hesitated a bit, contemplating whether he should say anything more. "There were huge tracks and some traces of blood on trees."
The thought made Bella sick to her stomach. "On trees?"
Her father nodded. "Listen, Bells, you know I don't feel comfortable with having you out by yourself until we catch this thing. Remember that, please. School is an exception, of course, just come straight home."
"Okay, yeah. I will."
"That includes leaving the house unless you absolutely have to," he said sternly, glancing up.
The last three words were pointed enough. Bella nodded.
She didn't know how or why, but she got a response.
Her father had somehow coaxed Billy into giving the letter to Jacob, and while she knew his father had most likely scanned the contents before handing it to his son, she was grateful for the cooperation.
Bella tore the letter open, her fingers trembling with both excitement and relief. She refused to think of what she'd do if she never got a response. But her face fell as her eyes traveled down the page, realizing it answered none of her questions in the way she would've liked.
i'm doing better but i can't see you anymore
i want you to know that i would never exchange these last couple of months for anything
i miss you a lot but i can't change it
The spacing was noticeably strange, with enormous gaps between the lines, as if he had scribbled it as an afterthought before heading out the door. And as she stared at the words, Bella wondered why all the sentences started with the letter i. Was he just trying to mess with her head? Maybe she was psychoanalyzing it, but she knew that was because she was bitterly confused.
A part of her was slightly saddened by the lack of some small comforting message she'd imagined he would send along with it about how he would never ever see her as dumb, or stupid, or any of that. Totally unrealistic, considering the circumstances, but still.
At least he had replied, though. She was lucky for that. And he was better. That's what mattered the most.
Bella turned her focus back to the letter again, her eyes resting on the second to last word for longer than she would ever admit. After all this time, his unchanged affection for her still amazed her and filled her with a sort of bubbly joy that welled up inside her each time she thought about it. She felt like she might pop with happiness. It felt so good to be loved, and to love.
I would never exchange these last couple of months for anything.
A smile crept onto her face. Then her attention reverted back to the first line and she reread the words she'd already mostly memorized.
Well, she reflected, he can't see me. Not that I can't see him.
Sam had to be keeping him away. That was the only viable explanation.
That, along with the news that neither Seth nor Quil had seen Jacob was worrying, to say the least. For all she knew, his father was holding Jake hostage in his own house. Whatever it was, he was clearly unhappy. She could tell by the tone of his words.
She pushed her lower lip out and glared at the phone. Damn it all, she decided, and dialed the familiar number, waiting on an answer without many high hopes.
To her surprise, Billy picked up after less than five rings.
"Uh, hi Billy, it's Bella. Again," she said, more tersely than she had meant to come across. She tried to keep her voice lighter as she continued. "May I speak with Jacob, please?"
"Jake's not in right now, Bella."
She should've known. "Oh, okay. Can I ask where he is?"
No kidding, she nearly responded.
"I see," she said instead. "Uh, is he with anyone I know? Like Seth, or Quil?" She could tell she sounded more helpless than she wanted to. In a way, she was.
"I don't believe he's with them today," Billy told her, dragging the sentence out slower than Bella thought was possible.
That was something. Her suspicions were nearly confirmed. She just needed to find out exactly who his new friends were. But nothing could have forced her to bring up Sam's name. Billy seemed to have a soft spot for Sam, and she honestly expected Billy to slam the phone down if she mentioned him in an accidentally negative tone.
"...What about Embry?" she asked tentatively.
Billy seemed more willing to actually answer this question. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure Embry's with him."
Embry was one of them, now at least. This was enough to shoo away any lingering doubts that were gathering dust in her mind. He might even be willing to count as some sorta witness, she thought, getting far ahead of herself.
So it wasn't that Jake didn't want to see her, then. He just had to obey everything Sam said and did. Realizing that, relief flooded her, washing most of the built up stress away. So that must be why Sam returned the truck. Jacob wasn't allowed to, maybe. She had no idea how the group worked, but they probably had a bunch of rules, number 1 being Don't Interact With That One Pasty White Girl.
"Well, you already know what I'm gonna ask," she said, slightly sheepish.
Billy chuckled quietly, and Bella was surprised to hear the sound. "I will let him know you called," he agreed in a more serious tone.
"And, Billy, thank you for giving him my letter." She thanked him sincerely, even though he hadn't been much of a help.
"My pleasure, Bella. We miss you around here."
That surprised her even more to hear. It sure didn't seem that way. His voice was even warmer. Was he finally softening up?
"I miss you guys too," she said. "Lots."
"Well, see you around, Bella," Billy announced, his sympathy faded now.
She had heard enough anyway. "Bye, Billy. Thanks again."
Click, went the phone, but this time it was okay. Her mind was now made up.
Bella went into the bathroom and stared in the mirror, brushed her teeth for no reason, then reflectively ran a comb through her hair. I should've washed it, she thought in regret, but it was too late now. She had to rush- she didn't know how much time she had.
Wrinkling her nose as she realized she was wearing Charlie's flannel, she decided she had to change, and dug through her dresser to find something else. Everything seemed drab and dull, and she had no idea she owned that many beige clothes.
She picked out a dark red long sleeve with a scooped neck and held it against her chest, smoothing out the wrinkles. She had forgotten she even owned that. Renee had bought it for her on Bella's last full day in Arizona, first offering her a maroon spaghetti strap top. Is it too flashy for you? Renee had teased when her daughter had said she would prefer something else. It wasn't exactly that, just that her skin was far too washed out for it to look good. But Bella folded like she normally did, and let her mother buy her a different shirt in the same color. She hadn't liked this one either then.
Slipping it on over a white lace tank top and putting on her good pair of jeans, Bella pursed her lips as she looked in the mirror again. It looked a lot better now, she decided as she sized herself up. The shirt showed off her collarbones nicely, and her hair even looked pretty against the burgundy tones. The neckline plunged a bit deeper than she would've preferred, but, she decided, this was a special occasion. Technically.
Besides, she wanted to look cute. As a sort of jab, like a You see what you've been missing, as petty as it might be.
"Maybe I am petty," she said out loud with a grin. Who cared?
Bella settled into the front seat of her truck minutes later, becoming more and more determined by each passing second. The seat was clammy and her jeans stuck to it when she raised her legs.
Sam sat in my truck, she suddenly thought in surprise. Right here.
She brushed the thought away. Never mind that. It didn't matter now, nothing mattered more than getting Jacob back. It was finally time, and that made her nerves jittery.
She gritted her teeth, shivering. Her coat was gone, probably still in Emily's house, and Bella had only a black sweater over her shirt. She didn't feel cold, though, not very. The thought of reuniting with Jake warmed her more than a jacket could.
What exactly she was expecting to discover, she didn't know, but if she couldn't find anything satisfactory, she planned to barge through the doorway of the Blacks' house to confront Billy, and hopefully Jacob. Maybe Billy would take pity on her and let her see Jake. Then she would joke "Remember me? We used to be friends" the second she saw him and he would smile 'cause the joke was dumb, one of those huge grins she missed so bad. And maybe she would hug him, tell him how much she missed him, then everything would be okay again. Then they could talk. About everything.
She didn't even have to have a full explanation for his disappearance. A very detailed one, at least.
She thought about her– friend? special someone? possible lover?– now, anxiously drumming her fingers against the steering wheel to build up enough courage to start the engine. It's gonna be okay, Jake, she willed, hoping he could somehow hear her telepathic message. I promise.
She sat for a second longer, pulling her thoughts together.
Drive, Bella. Just start driving.
The engine whirred to life, but before she drove off, Charlie's warnings of the wolf up by the mountains darted through her mind. She paused for an instant, then patted her jean pocket to make sure she still had the fist-sized can of pepper spray her father had insisted she carry around these days. She might be willingly going against his instructions, but at least she had that. "You never know what could happen, Bella," he had said, but honestly, Bella couldn't help but wonder how much good a spicy spritz would do against a wild animal like that.
She began to think about what the wolf looked like, and if she ever happened to cross its path one day, recalling all the pictures of rabid animals she had seen. Froth would probably drip from its bared fangs, and a crazed shine would flash across its eyes as it spotted her. Then it would begin a menacingly slow amble over to her, and she wouldn't be able to run, probably frozen in shock. Then it would viciously shred her to pieces.
She wondered if she would taste good. Edward had certainly liked to think so. Shut up, she thought, angry that she had entertained the idea of him, and how the thought barged into her mind like that.
Returning to the much preferred topic of the lone creature roaming the mountains, it could be more like the wolves she had seen in a zoo in Arizona, a sickly, mange ravaged animal that was more dog looking than wolf. Was it bigger than her? Could she take it on, tackle it if she had to? She doubted it.
Oh well, she decided with a sudden rush of nonchalance. If Charlie found her mangled body he'd at least know she tried to fight.
With that thought, Bella slammed her foot down on the pedal.
she's finally going over! only took her three hundred centuries
thank you for reading ! xoxo
also, i just added silly little chapter names which was really fun. how do we like them? lol