Summary: Bella is witness to the brutal murder of her parents in Phoenix, Arizona. Now she's moved to Forks, Washington in an attempt to escape the men who want to kill her. Unfortunately, her will to live diminishes with each passing day. Can a sympathetic Edward convince her that life is worth living after all?
Disclaimer: If I owned Edward, I wouldn't be here right now. I also don't own the song, "On the Mend" by Foo Fighters, after which this story is named.
"Do you have any questions, Bella?"
I looked up into gentle brown eyes. Detective Anderson had been incredibly kind to me, a kindness I didn't deserve. In fact, everyone had been nice to me: the other officers, the lawyers, the detectives…they were all so nice. And it killed me.
"No," I said quietly.
Detective Manning next to him leaned forward slightly. "I know that you're scared," she began, "but I don't want you to worry about anything. No one's going to get to you while we're around."
At that moment, Julia Andrews walked into the room, dressed in a navy pantsuit. "Ms. Dwyer? Are you ready?"
Everyone in the room stood. Mrs. Andrews led the way and Detectives Anderson and Manning flanked me on both sides. I couldn't see a thing in front of me because Mrs. Andrews was so tall so I kept my eyes on the generically beige tile. My heart was beating in my throat and my lungs were so constricted that I could hardly breathe. Doom awaited me. I knew it.
I sat in the audience section of the courtroom. Detective Anderson took the seat on my right while Detective Manning sat on my left. Mrs. Andrews took her seat at the prosecution table and we all waited for it to start.
Five minutes later, he walked in.
The moment I heard the commotion and saw the bright camera flashes, I looked down and let my long hair cover my face. I didn't want to see him and I didn't want him to see me, but I knew by the prickling all over my skin that he did see me. And he was watching me with those loathsome, calculating black eyes.
He and his team of lawyers sat down at the defendant's table. When I was sure his back was turned to me, I looked up. My palms were sweating again and I began to tug on the already loose hems of my long-sleeved shirt.
The jury was already seated. They avoided looking at me.
"Please rise for the Honorable Judge Kevin Banner."
Everyone in the courtroom stood as Judge Banner strode into the room and took his seat at the bench. When he sat down, so did everyone else. Then he turned to the jury. "Has the jury reached a verdict?" he asked ceremoniously.
The foreman stood up. "We have, your honor."
"What say you?"
The foreman pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. "We the jury find the defendant, Alan Vickers, not guilty on the charge of murder in the first degree."
I felt the blood rush from my face. My knees buckled underneath me and both Detectives Manning and Anderson gripped my forearms tightly to keep me from collapsing to the ground.
"Thank you," Judge Banner said to the jury. Then he turned an unconcerned face to the defendant and waved his hand. "You are free to go."
As Alan Vickers exited the courtroom, he passed my seat and leaned forward. "I'm very sorry for your loss," he whispered sinisterly. Detective Manning shoved him away.
"Bella, we're not going to let him get away with this," Mrs. Andrews said the moment she reached me.
"But you can't charge him again," I said quietly. "I heard one of his lawyers talking about it—double jeopardy, right? He can't be tried for the same crime."
"Yes, but you've given us enough evidence for all his other crimes," she insisted. "We're going to get him for everything he's ever done. I promise, Bella—he's going to end up in prison. I'll make sure of it."
"He's going to come after me," I said. I heard my voice climb in hysteria. "He's going to kill me."
"No, he won't," Detective Manning said firmly.
"We're going to put you in witness protection," informed Detective Anderson. "He'll never find you. We'll keep you hidden until it's safe."
Under normal circumstances, I would have been indignant at the thought. I had been informed of witness protection as a possibility if Vickers got off. It meant I would have to go into hiding. I would assume a completely new identity: new name, new home, new school…everything. But I felt oddly apathetic to the idea of a new life. I didn't care that I was just leaving everything I had ever known behind. I had lost everything anyway—why not my identity as well?
"When?" I asked hoarsely.
"As soon as possible," answered Detective Manning. "We just need to get everything processed."
"We'll keep in contact with you," added Detective Anderson. "Me, Detective Manning, and Mrs. Andrews, we'll all visit you. We'll keep you informed of progress with Alan Vickers."
"And if I die?"
Detective Manning gently tucked her finger under my chin and forced my face upward. "I swear, Bella, you are not going to die. Justice will be served."
A/N - I know that I have another story that I should be working on right now, but this story idea just kept nagging and nagging me! I wrote the prologue really fast and before I knew it, I had three more chapters finished.
As a general warning, this story contains a lot of violence and deals with the issues of rape and self-mutilation. In fact, it gets pretty graphic. If it's not something you can stomach, then I strongly suggest you stop reading.
As always, reviews are greatly appreciated!