Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended. With the exception of Renée's comments, the brief snippets dialogue are taken directly from the Twilight and New Moon.
In the first chapter of Eclipse, Charlie seems to have put more thought into parenting. How did he get to that point? Charlie's thoughts during the Epilogue of New Moon.
Thanks to Bronzehairedgirl for a wonderful and thought-provoking beta, and to Be My Escape, Butterscotch, Cocoa and I Heart Edward Cullen for the help with Charlie.
by silly bella
I sat waiting for Bella to come home from work. I wasn't sure what to say to her. Had Renée had problems like this with her? She'd never mentioned any to me. I'd certainly never dealt with anything like it when Bella visited during the summer, either. Could it be normal teenage rebellion? Renée did have that wild streak. Maybe Bella had inherited it, even though I'd always thought she was more like me than her mother.
Regardless, the last year-and-a-half had been quite a shock to my system, especially tonight, when Jacob Black showed up on a motorcycle. A motorcycle he said belonged to Bella. I didn't believe him at fist. After all, Bella had promised me she'd never ride a motorcycle. But as he explained how Bella had come to him with two bikes and asked him to fix them so they could ride together, it started to make sense. Riding motorcycles. Jumping off cliffs. Maybe she wasn't intentionally suicidal, but it sure sounded like there was a death-wish somewhere inside that head of hers.
All because of some boy. And not just any boy – the one who seemed to be joined to her hip these days. He'd hurt her so much, and she still had taken him back so easily. Did he have any idea what he'd done to her? That he'd left her in such pain she'd taken to thrill-seeking?
And all the while, I'd had no idea what she was doing. What kind of father did that make me?
What kind of father had I been? Besides an absent one, I guess. It made me so happy when Bella decided to come live with me that I didn't ask a lot of questions. And there wasn't any trouble at first. In fact, she made my life much simpler. She cooked and did the grocery shopping. She even handled the bills. She was better at managing money than I'd ever been. Of course, she'd lived with Renée. It might have been more necessary than I liked to imagine. Bella probably had no choice to be anything but responsible.
Maybe it had been too much. Or maybe I'd just been too lax in my own responsibilities as a father. Maybe I was just glad to have her here and scared that she wouldn't stay if I was tougher.
Either way, the problems didn't start until that Cullen boy came into the picture. Carlisle Cullen was a good man and a great doctor. It made me angry when people said otherwise. His kids, all of them, were well-behaved. They never got caught at vandalism, no under-aged drinking, not even smoking. But the first time Bella went anywhere with him was the same night she left.
I shook my head, remembering. I thought I'd never see her again and I wasn't even sure why. It never made any sense. She'd chosen to live here, and she left, telling me how much she hated Forks. That she felt trapped in this stupid, boring town, just as her mother had. I'll never forget her standing in that doorway, just as her mother had seventeen years before, and shouting, "It didn't work out, okay? I really, really hate Forks!" The words had cut me to the bone.
If I'd been a better father, I would have known something was wrong. I'd have been able to keep her here, safe. But I let her go, just like I let her mother go, and she was nearly killed in Phoenix. And Renée nearly killed me. I can still hear her screaming at me over the phone, "For seventeen years I've kept her safe. She spends a few months with you and almost dies. She's coming back to Jacksonville with me."
But after all that, Bella decided to come back to Forks. I wasn't sure why, but this time I had an idea. His name was Edward Cullen. I felt my gut wrench just thinking his name. The boy was going to give me an ulcer.
That whole experience gave me a rude awakening. I needed to be stricter. Bella wasn't an adult. Not yet. Teenagers needed curfews. Visiting hours. Rules. I was a cop. I knew about rules. It meant I could watch her with him, too. Make sure things weren't getting out of hand.
Things seemed better. The boy treated Bella and me with respect. I was just starting to warm up to him again when, right after her birthday, he left. Well, the whole family did. It was sudden and unexpected, here one day and gone the other.
But it wasn't just the moving away. He left her alone in the woods. The same woods where we started finding mauled bodies. We still hadn't found the pack of wolves that was attacking people, although there hadn't been any bodies recently. But Bella could have been one of those bodies. When it took so long to find her, I was afraid. I'm a cop. I know that the longer people are missing, the more likely you are to find a corpse instead of a person. She wasn't gone for anywhere near the forty-eight hours that are so important. Life or death. But it was long enough. I'd have been happy to have the chance to wring his neck with my bare hands.
I can't even describe the relief I felt when Sam Uley showed up with her. I couldn't really believe she was alive until I held her in my arms, warm and breathing instead of cold and dead.
Renée threw a fit again. Two, in fact. The first over the phone and the second in person. I was a disaster of a father. In less than a year Bella had nearly killed herself falling through a window and had been lost in the woods. That didn't even count that Crowley boy nearly hitting her with his van. She'd blamed me for that, too. And to be honest, I wasn't sure whether or not it was my fault, every bit of it.
Bella surprised me again, insisting on staying. She may act like me most of the time, but when it comes to the bottom line, she can throw a fit as well as her mother can. It made me wonder, for the first time, if it might not be a good thing that I hadn't lived with both of them in the same house since Bella was a baby. I'm not sure I could have survived the hormones.
I couldn't bring myself to be too harsh on Bella after he left. Curfews and rules went out the window. Not that I needed them. She never went anywhere to stay out late. She never did a damn thing. It was like she died. Renée had no idea what to do. I even asked Billy for help.
Then she started hanging out with Jacob. If it hadn't been for those bikes… I fumed. She'd been more rebellious than I liked to believe. She was just good at hiding it. And Jacob. How could he have agreed to that?
No, I couldn't go blaming this on him. He was a kid, too. He was not responsible for my daughter. I was. I hadn't paid enough attention. All those visits to the emergency room. It was from riding those motorcycles. She's lucky she didn't kill herself on them. I'm beginning to wonder if that wasn't her intention. I was just so glad she seemed happier. Not happy, really, but happier, just the same. I let her do whatever she wanted in the hope that she would not just be happier, but be happy again.
What kind of father was I? I wanted the best for her, but I hadn't done my best as a father. I'd been missing in action while she was living right here with me as much as I had been when she was in Phoenix with her mother.
She knew I'd be angry when she left with Alice. I still didn't have the full story on that, and I wasn't sure she planned on sharing it. Three days. Three days of utter hell. I was sure I'd be getting a call to go somewhere to identify her corpse. But instead, he comes traipsing through my yard carrying her like a sack of potatoes. I still wasn't sure she was alive as she hung, draped over his arms, completely limp. I wondered if he'd drugged her, or what else he might have done to her.
She'd taken her punishment, mostly, at least. She even told me she expected it: curfew, visiting hours, grounded except for school and work. But that was after she gave me the ultimatum that she was eighteen and if Edward wasn't welcome in this house, then she was moving out. How could I not back down to something like that? I'd rather have him visiting where I could watch her than her moving into that house with him, because I'm pretty sure that's what she meant. What kind of father wants his daughter moving in with some guy?
And tonight, Jacob showed up with that motorcycle. I can't believe I had no idea at all what Bella was doing. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I needed to be a better father. I was a cop. I should be more observant of things that went on in my own home. Had Billy's girls ever been rebellious? Maybe he had some ideas about that. I'd be watching that boy, too. I might need to have a talk with both of them, in fact. I would read a book if I had to. There was one about tough love. That might work. But for now I needed to deal with the motorcycle.
She could have gotten herself killed on that damn thing. She promised me years ago she'd never ride one. And now she owns one? She's going to wish she had killed herself on that thing when I get through with her. I might kill her myself.
I glanced at the clock impatiently. Bella should be home by now. I stalked to the front door and opened it. I couldn't help noticing that damn bike, but it wasn't what I was looking for. His car was there. But he wasn't, and neither was Bella.
"BELLA! YOU GET IN THIS HOUSE THIS INSTANT!" I took a deep breath and watched the edge of the woods. What were they doing in there? "BELLA! I SEE HIS CAR AND I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE! IF YOU AREN'T INSIDE THIS HOUSE IN ONE MINUTE…!" …I'd go looking for them in the woods. Bella was in deep trouble, and depending on what I found there would determine if I killed or just injured that boy. I thought about taking my gun, but it might be just a little too tempting. "ISABELLA SWAN!"