Authors Note: As always, I don't own any of the characters in this story, the wonderful SM does. I just own this wee plot.
I picked up some new readers over the last couple of chapters. So thank you for not only finding my story but for choosing to read it too. And if you took the time out to review? I love ya for it!
I hope you enjoy this chapter....
Everyone turned to look at me, but I couldn't understand why. All I could hear was a ripping sound. Someone, somewhere was banging something. Hard.
"I think she's going into shock," Edward said, his voice full of anxiety.
"Let's get her home and get her warm. Quick!" Carlisle said.
I felt Edward pick me up and begin to run. "Stay with me Bella, it's going to be ok."
"I'm ok, Edward, I don't know why I'm shaking…" I stuttered, as the blackness began to creep up again. "Edward …"
As Bella lost consciousness I felt the panic creep up on me. What would she think of all that had happened here today? What would she think about Charlie? Would she be happy for him? Knowing that he was still alive; if doomed to exist as a monster could be called living? Or would she hate him now? Would she hate me?
As I began to run with her, the heavens opened and the rain began to fall. Curving my body as I ran, I tried to protect Bella's limp form from the harshness of the falling rain. It was futile and I watched in despair as the raindrops left welts on her delicate skin. I pondered the choices; do I slow down and allow her to get wet but not stung from the drops? Or do I keep this speed up, knowing that the raindrops would feel like she was on the back of her motorcycle driving in the rain?
"It would be better if you got her home faster Edward. She can't even feel the sting of the rain." Alice's thoughts clear in my mind. "Take her to bathroom in Esme's room. The tub there is deeper and it will be the quickest way to warm her."
As I entered the house I ran straight to the bathroom. After turning on the water I finally had the chance to focus solely on Bella. She looked so pale, and so peaceful. I felt saddened to realize that in mere minutes, that peaceful look would be shattered and replaced with pain.
"Bella?" I whispered as I softly kissed her forehead. "Bella, can you open your eyes? Please come back to me. I need you Bella. Please" I begged.
I felt her heart speed up at the same time Alice's thoughts pieced my mind.
"Bella will open her eyes in 15 seconds Edward. She won't want to let you go. I'm almost at the house, I'll come straight up. Until then just hold her and talk to her."
I felt a soft shudder run through Bella's body. "Hush my love, it's ok. Everything will be alright." How I hated to lie to her like that. How could anything be alright again? I feared for her reaction to the events of the day.
"Ed … Edward," she whispered as her eyes fluttered. She looked frantically around the room. "Where am I? What happened? What …" and then as her heart began to speed up I felt the tremors get stronger in her body. She gulped and then stared at me.
"Bella? Talk to me!" Fear began to creep through me. Bella was staring at me but not saying anything. Her eyes, which were usually the windows to her soul, seemed empty and devoid of all emotions. Her body continued to tremble but no words came across her lips.
I heard the thoughts of my family shortly before they entered the house. Alice and Esme came straight to the room, but Carlisle detoured to his study. I heard him think of how Bella was when he first saw her again at the same time as I saw the pictures of her in his mind.
"No …," I whispered, shocked at the similarity of the Bella in Carlisle's' mind and the one in my arms. "Bella, please look at me!"
There was no response. Bella had reverted into her catatonic state.
Once Esme and Alice reached the room, I attempted to hand Bella to Alice so that she could remove her bloody clothing and then put her in the bath. The reaction from Bella was immediate and shocking in it's violence.
"No!" she screamed as her arms clamped around my neck. Pushing herself further into my body, the tremors increased in time with the staccato of her heart. "No! Don't leave me. Not again!" Her voice was panicked.
"Hush Bella, I'm not leaving, I'll be right outside …"
"Noooooooooooo!" her scream pierced my heart. I realized that her reaction was as much to do with my abandoning her before as it was to do with the events of today. Each tremor from her body reverberated through my own; sending waves of guilt through me. What an evil monster I was to have put her through this!
"Edward, she has been through so much. Don't leave," Esme thought as she gently stroked Bella's hair.
"What am I supposed to do Esme? I can't very well stay her while you bathe her," I snapped.
"Just get in the tub with her. Let's get her warm first. We can worry about the logistics of bathing her after. Just get her calm first."
I kicked off my shoes and then stepped into the bathtub, Bella tightly latched to me. As I submerged myself into the water I drew Bella towards me. I forced my body to relax against the side of the tub, and felt Bella mimic my reaction. Soon I felt the tension drain from her arms and they fell from around my neck into the water. I kept my arms wrapped around her.
I could feel Bella's skin begin to warm up from the heat of the water. She sighed softly but her tremors didn't abate.
Her eyes were staring at me, but there was no depth to be found in them. Just a blank, vacant stare.
I gently began to rock her, as I hummed her lullaby. I hoped that she would find this soothing enough to come back to me from wherever she had retreated to in her mind.
"How is she Edward?" Carlisle asked.
"She is catatonic Carlisle. I'm afraid for her." I whispered softly, speaking so low as not to disturb this beauty in my arms.
I heard through his thoughts, that this was only to be expected. He opened his mind to me so that I could see the mental images of my Bella in the hospital when they first returned to Forks. Her delicate frame, so pale, so fragile would be burned on my mind for all eternity. Seeing her in his mind like that, seemed so much worse that the vivid picture images of her lying on the forest floor that fateful night. How could I have done that to her? Any of that?
"Carlisle?" I asked, my voice broken, "will she hate me?" I cringed at the tone; sounding so scared and young. I sounded like a child.
Carlisle moved closer to me, his hand resting on my shoulder.
"Hush son. Bella is the most caring and loving individual I have ever met. I do not believe she has the capability to hate you for anything. Today was just more than she was willing to comprehend. The human mind is an amazing machine Edward. She was unable to fully digest the horrors that she faced and so she has retreated to her 'safe place' until she can face these new demons." As he spoke his hands fluttered softly on her head and face.
"I don't know what to do Carlisle. I don't know how to fix this," I said, my voice breaking. For once I had no words. Nothing.
"I know," his eyes bore into mine, his voice full of compassion. "Just be there Edward. Let her come back to you when she is ready."
Alice brought over a brush and began to comb her hair as I held my angel. Rocking gently my eyes began to wander her body, to ensure she was unharmed. Her skin was so pale, the blue threads of her veins even more stark against her delicate skin. I could see the movement of the blood through her main artery as it pulsed in its own natural rhythm. That movement, added to the sound of Bella's heartbeat was all that kept me from panicking. Each time I looked into Bella's eyes I was terrified.
"Bella, I love you," I whispered, "please come back to me. I need you."
On and on I rocked with her gently. Alice would continually let out some of the water in the tub and replacing it with fresh hot water. I knew that the water was cooling down quicker than it would normally, my monstrous ice cold frame would see to that. How despicable I was! I couldn't even maintain a decent temperature to help my love!
"Stop it!" Alice hissed at me, her eyes filled with fury. "I will not have you thinking that way Edward. You are not a monster. WE are not monsters! This is not the time to be wallowing Edward. This is the time for you to show Bella that you are and always will be there for her. Stop berating yourself for something that wasn't your fault. You know that will just upset her more."
I just nodded. Alice was right. If I were to show my guilt to Bella this would upset her.
Bella's heart began to race. "Bella love, can you hear me?" I whispered as I peppered her hair with soft kisses. "It's ok baby. You are safe. We're all safe, please come back."
"Edward we need to wash her up now, so that we can get her dry and somewhere warm and comfortable." Esme said. As soon as I begun to move Bella gently away from me, her heart sped up again and the trembling in her slight frame became more violent.
"No…no…no…noooooooooooooooo!" she screamed. Over and over she screamed. Her fingers trembled, but she locked them hard on my shoulders. "Please don't…" she croaked.
"What do I do?"
"Edward, you will just need to remain in the tub," Esme replied, "It's clear she is aware of when you are and are not close to her. We will just work around you."
"But Esme! You can't! You cannot undress her with me here."
"Edward! You listen and you listen well! Bella needs to be bathed. She obviously doesn't want you to leave. You can avert your eyes son! I don't care how uncomfortable this makes you, this isn't about you, and we will do what ever it takes to make Bella feel comfortable."
"It just doesn't seem right to undress her with me here," I began, then stopped. I knew Esme was right. This wasn't about me, this was about Bella. If I was being honest with myself, I just hated the fact that I felt excited about the chance to have Bella's warm pliable skin next to mine. Thus proving yet again what an insidious and selfish monster I was!
"We'll keep her underwear on Edward," Alice said softly, "it will just be like she is wearing a bikini. I know Bella won't mind, Edward. She will be grateful that you put aside your own reservations and focused on her."
They were right. I nodded slightly.
Alice and Esme made quick work of Bella's clothes. Ripping the shirt and jeans from her body and discarding the wet rags on the floor. Alice removed her shoes and socks and added them to the pile on the floor. Using soft flannel cloths and a lavender scented shower gel Esme and Alice began to gently massage Bella's tender skin.
In my arms Bella sighed and I felt some of the tension ooze out of her. I felt my own body mimic hers as I too sighed. Her cheeks were slowly beginning to fill with color again. A soft peaches and cream complexion replaced the pallor she once held, her heart was still beating faster than normal but it was no longer erratic. She seemed to be calming down.
I just stared into her eyes, as my left hand softly stroked her cheek. I couldn't help but adore the way her warm skin felt pressed against mine. Her spine was slightly curved as she leaned against me, and the bareness of her skin was just indescribable. Each point where her skin touched mine inflamed me. She branded me!
In my peripheral view, I could see the matching bra and panty set that Bella was wearing. It was exquisite. So simple: so beautifully understated: so Bella. The material was a soft satin set in my favorite shade of blue. The edges of the bra and panties had a lace edging and a small blue stain bow was in the center of material, enhancing Bella's slight cleavage. My eyes couldn't help but notice the goose bumps on her skin and how her nipples were raised. Her … oh my god! Was I just thinking about Bella's body like that? How could I? Arrgh! I truly was damned.
"Edward, I need you to sit slightly forward so that I can wash her hair." Alice's thoughts broke through my mental tirade. Moving slightly, I made it easier for Alice to be able to massage her scalp.
"Make sure you don't get any suds in her eyes Alice," I hissed at her. She just rolled her eyes.
"OK Edward, it's time to get her out of the tub. If you just stand on the mat with her, I figure Alice and I can drape her in these towels, protecting her modesty while we take off her undergarments, dry her and get her in some warm clothes." Esme said, and I was grateful for her fast thinking.
Within minutes Bella was dry, had fresh clothes on and was safely tucked in my arms in her own bed. My frame wrapped around her, holding her close to me. Like this I felt safe again, and I could only hope that somewhere deep inside, Bella felt the same way.
Alice lay on the other side of Bella, facing her and gently stroking her face. As I began to hum Bella's melody Alice began a complex harmony and together we sang through Bella.
Outside a storm was raging, the thunder began to roar and the heavens rained down on us. Lightening began to light up the sky and I couldn't help but remember Bella's words at the funeral. If God cried over the death of a man such as Charlie, then this storm was his fury at the cruel hand fate had dealt him. A bolt of lightening struck a tree in the forest mere miles from our house and I felt the ground tremble.
The rain lashed at the window, seeking a way in. Bella trembled slightly as the second crash of thunder shook the house. "Hush love, everything is fine," I whispered. My eyes glanced up to meet Alice's, I felt awful for lying to Bella. How could things ever be alright for her again?
"Bella won't see it that way. She will be happy to have Charlie back Edward. You know she won't care that he is a vampire. As long as he is alive, that is all that will matter to her."
"How do you know Alice?" I asked my voice full of fear and doubt. Somehow I felt like Alice and I were two siblings who snuck out of bed to comfort each other during the storm; little kids who used this time to spill our deepest darkest fears. I was unsure of myself and scared as hell over what Bella would now think and see when she looked at me. She had been forced to watch me and my family resort to the animalistic side of us; the brutal feral side that we tried so hard to hide from others.
"You need to give her more credit than that Edward! She has always known what we are, what our nature is." Alice argued, "Besides, she will realize that we had no choice. She won't hate us for what happened. She loves us."
"I hope so Alice, I truly do."
"You can bet on that!"
As the hours passed, the storm kept up its violent torrent outside the window. Inside the room, Alice and I lay in silence, just listening to the rhythmic beating of Bella's heart and her breathing soothed me. Every now and then Bella would begin to tremble, and I would hold her tighter, rocking her gently until the terrors she was seeing would abate. Time passed slowly. Every minute she remained in this catatonic state was torture for me.
As night fell, an eerie silence fell upon the house. The storm had moved on. I could hear Esme and Carlisle wandering about downstairs. Both were anxious about Bella's state of being, and of Charlie. Emmett had called in an hour ago to let them know they were well on their way to Denali. After they left the meadow, Rose had ran home to pick up the jeep while Emmett and Jasper made sure that Charlie didn't try to break way.
Charlie, in shock at everything that had transpired was confused, angry and felt betrayed. If I thought he hated me before, I knew that those feelings would manifest a thousand fold now that Charlie knew exactly what kind of monster I was.
Bella's breathing changed, becoming more shallow and her heart rate increased.
"Carlisle," I whispered, knowing he would hear me. I heard his footsteps and then saw him in the doorway, Esme hovering closely behind him.
Carlisle slowly approached the bed frame. Alice slipped from the bed allowing him to have access to Bella. His fingers danced lightly over her head before clasping one of her hands.
"Bella, how are you feeling? Are you thirsty?" he asked.
Bella just shook her head. I felt her pull slightly away but as I began to panic at the thought she didn't want me near hear, I felt her hand searching for mine. Her fingers locked around mine as she sat herself up in the bed.
"I … I … I don't know what to think," she stammered. "What happened? Where is everyone? Is everyone ok? Emmett? Jasper? Rose? Jake? Oh my god! Jake!! Jake! Is he … where … what…" she gasped. Silence. "Charlie!"
Her heart was racing and her eyes were wide as saucers. Esme rushed past Carlisle to embrace Bella in a motherly hug. "Oh Bella, it's ok. No-one is hurt. I was so scared for you. I am so glad you came back to us." Esme's frame shook and I knew that if she could she would be crying.
I couldn't help but smile as I watched my beautiful brace Bella console Esme. Her eyes flickered around the room before resting on mine. She smiled as her eyes found me. She smiled at me!
I let out the breath I never knew I was holding. I hadn't realized I was waiting on her reaction to seeing me again. I had braced myself for her disgust and yet once again she had proved me wrong.
"Edward, are you ok?" she asked. I just smiled and nodded.
Over the next hour we talked about what had happened in the meadow. Alice was distraught over the fact that she wasn't able to warn us enough. Bella of course, was having none of it. She was just happy that none of her family was hurt.
Alice was smug in the fact Bella was ecstatic to know that Charlie was still alive. She didn't care that he was a vampire. She just wanted to talk to him, and she wasn't happy when she realized that it would be some time before she would be able to see him again. She didn't put up as much of a fight as I thought she would. I think seeing all those crazed newborns in the meadow made her realize how raw and savage Charlie would be for a while. Carlisle was a genius when he told her that it would be so much harder for Charlie to be around Bella than it would anyone else. This finally made Bella realize that it was better all around for her to wait.
We called Emmett several times, but Charlie didn't want to speak. Emmett told Bella that Charlie was unharmed, he was confused right now and a little scared, but that he loved her. This helped ease Bella's mind a little but she made it clear Charlie had 48 hours to get used to the idea. After that, he better be ready to talk to her.
I couldn't help but chuckle at the spitfire she was; my little tiger kitten.
Jake called around 8pm and we were now sitting in the front room waiting for him to arrive.
"Eat love," I said.
"I'm not hungry Edward."
"But you need to eat. Please?"
"Maybe later," she said, "just not right now."
"Leave her Edward, she has a lot on her mind." Esme's thoughts chastised me.
"They're here," said Alice, as she helped Bella to her feet. Holding Bella's hand she skipped to the front door. "Lighten up Edward," she said so softly that Bella wouldn't hear.
Bella's laughter at Alice's skipping antics made me realize how right Alice was. Again.
"Bells!" Jake shouted as he ran up the stairs. "you really are alive then eh? You sleep like the dead!" I growled slightly as he picked her up and crushed him to her. He kissed her on the cheek and then winced slightly as Juliette chastised him for leaving her in the car.
"First rule of marriage Jake, always always tend to your own wife first," Alice said laughingly as she skipped past him, slapping his arm on the way, as she hugged Juliette before dragging her to the house. "Come on! Esme has been cooking all evening. I hope you're hungry!"
Carlisle joined Bella on the front step, and invited Jake to join him in his study.
"No!" Bella exclaimed. "If you are going to talk about what happened, about Charlie then I want to be there too. I have a right to know what's going on with my dad!"
"She's right dear," Esme said as walked to stand beside Carlisle. "There shouldn't be any secrets here. Why don't we get the business side out of the way so we girls can enjoy the visit?"
Everyone followed Esme and Carlisle into the front room.
"Where are the others?" Jake asked.
"On their way to Denali," Carlisle replied. "Charlie will be safe there; he will have time to adjust to his new life without endangering any humans."
"I see." Jake said. He looked towards Bella and seemed to hesitate. I saw in his mind his question and I couldn't help the snarl from escaping my mouth.
"Edward! Stop!" Bella said her hand on my forearm. "What's wrong?"
Jake looked directly at me, gave a little shrug then looked only at Bella. "Edward is upset with my thoughts. He doesn't want me to ask this, but you know me Bells, when have I ever hid anything from you?"
"Just ask Jake, how bad can it be?" she said.
"Well, you might not like the answer Bella," he stated as he looked first at me then at Carlisle. "Carlisle, the pack need to know if Charlie has killed anyone, and what steps are being taken now to ensure the safety of the humans surrounding your Denali coven."
"I understand Jake, it's a fair question. And to be honest, I don't know if and how many people Charlie may have killed during the time that he was with Victoria. When he was changed, his baser instincts should have taken over. His natural want would be to kill and drain a human. Victoria is not like my family, she did feed from humans, I'm sure she would have tried to insist that Charlie did likewise."
Jake moved as if to speak but Carlisle raised his hand.
"Jake, please understand, Charlie could have killed Bella today if he had wanted to. But he didn't. He made it clear to Edward through his thoughts, what Victoria intended to do, and he did everything to ensure that she was unsuccessful. Once Victoria was no longer a threat to Bella, Charlie chose to sit down and allow the pack to destroy him. No matter what he did in the months after he was changed, he will not kill anyone now. He will learn of our lifestyle and be given the choice to live like us or move away. I am certain that he will choose to live like us. Charlie has never been an evil man. His actions today prove how much value he places on the lives of humans. Give him a chance Jacob. He will never be a threat to the people of Forks or your tribe."
Jake just nodded. "Sam agrees with you Carlisle. If you are willing to take full responsibility for Charlie's actions…"
"We do, Charlie is now part of our family."
Jake nodded, "then that being said, the elders have agreed that the treaty remains intact and that provided that Charlie chooses your lifestyle and is no threat to humans then he will be considered to be part of your family."
Bella flung herself into Jakes arms and burst into tears.
"Ooof.. Bells! Better watch out! My Juliette has a feisty temper; you might make her mad with these advances your making on me." His voice was full of amusement, but I saw his thoughts, I knew he was concerned and touched at her reaction. He chose to keep it light to make is easier on Bella. I'd never admit this out loud, but I was beginning to warm up to this pup.
Bella snorted, slapped him on the chest before moving. "Sorry," she said, her face blushing.
"S'ok, I still love ya!" Jake responded, "but if you don't mind I'm starving and I really want to see what Esme has baked for me." He kissed Bella chastely on the cheek before helping her stand and then pulling Juliette up from the couch. "Why don't the three of us demolish whatever goodies Esme has cooked up? Seeing as the pixie is on KP duty tonight I'll try not to dirty too many dishes," he winked as he walked by Alice.
"You better hurry up Juliette, you need to eat fast so that we can begin to talk about your wedding. You will let me help you won't you?" Alice asked as she joined Juliette and Jake in the kitchen.
"I dunno pixie, are you going to make her dress in black?" Jake asked as grabbed a plate and began ladling food onto it.
Alice just stuck out her tongue at him.
I watched Bella as she slowly let go of my hand to grab a plate and begin to fill it with some food. She seemed less anxious now that it was certain that Charlie was in no danger from the wolves. Her eyes began to sparkle and her cheeks retained some of the color from her blush. She looked alive for the first time since I had returned. Somewhere deep inside a spark had been lit. I felt hope for us for the first time.
The next few hours were spent discussing everything from baseball, to their wedding, the bridal shower and some of the Quileute wedding customs. Juliette was gracious enough to allow Alice to help her with the bridal shower, the bachelorette party and Alice promised to keep it sedate and not ostentatious.
Before Juliette and Jake left for the evening Carlisle took Jake aside and tried to thank him for saving Emmett. Jake just brushed off his thanks and said anyone would have done the same.
After our visitors had left for the evening I walked into the kitchen to help Alice and Bella clear up. Snaking my arms around Bella's waist I peppered her hair with kisses. "You alright love?" I asked.
"Never been better," she replied.
"Kids?" Carlisle began as he walked into the kitchen, his arms enclosing Emse. "We are going to leave now for Denali. Now that I know Charlie will be considered as part of the family and the treaty intact I want to help him adjust to his new life."
I felt Bella relax against me as Carlisle said that. I knew she would feel much better knowing that Charlie had someone like Carlisle to help him. I looked at my father and hoped that my eyes conveyed everything that I was feeling.
He smiled. "As soon as we arrive, we will send back Jasper and perhaps Emmett and Rose too."
"How long will you be gone?" Bella asked.
"I'm not sure, I want to see how Charlie is coping, and I'll take it from there." He replied.
"Thank you," she whispered, "For everything." She walked to Esme and then to Carlisle, hugging them both before saying "I'll miss you. Please let my dad know I love him, and I want to talk to him soon."
"We'll miss you too dear," Esme said, "Try not to let these kids exhaust you too much."
Shortly after Carlisle and Esme left, Bella and I retreated for the evening as Alice began to make plans for Juliette's bachelor party. Clasping my arms around Bella, I kissed her softly on the nose, eyes and finally her mouth.
"I love you …" she whispered as she slowly began to drift towards sleep.
"I love you too…"
End Note: Ok you know the deal, you tell me what you think I and then I will write what I want ;-p Thanks for reading!