A/N is at the end but first:
Thank you to zgirl21 for reading and your input! Go read her stories! Seriously… You'll love them!
Now… Onto the story!
Baby You Can Stop Running
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight… Or the few, minor quotes that I have stolen for the purpose of this chapter. I promise there are only a few.
Chapter Thirty Four
"Where to love?" The endearment caught me off guard and the thoughts of Edward that I had been trying to repress as I waited seemed to spread like a wildfire in my mind. I closed my eyes, his face, contorted with the pain that I knew would be there when he learned of what I had done lingered and I had to fight the urge to cry. This wasn't the time, and I didn't want to think of him as sad or angry. I wanted to remember his smile and the way he looked at me. It was easier that way; it seemed to justify my actions.
"Where too?" The cabbie repeated; his accent was thick and he stepped out from the driver's seat, presumably because he thought I had bags that needed to be loaded into the trunk. There wasn't a point in packing; I wouldn't need the clothes. That was the one thing I was certain of. I found the strength to open my eyes, to leave Edward and I was met by the old man as he held out his hand.
"SeaTac please," I replied politely as he helped pull me up from my seat on the curb. His eyes were dulled; probably from years of reality and life and the toll it had taken. I was thankful that I would never grow to be that jaded.
"No luggage love?" I shook my head as he opened the door for me.
I sat in the back seat and absentmindedly fiddled with the cell phone that I was gripping with an intensity I was surprised didn't break it. The lights of the city began to fade as we drove further south on I-5 but I couldn't bring myself to look out the window. I was anxious enough as it was, I didn't want to make it any worse; instead, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the aged leather and concentrated on taking deep breaths.
I bit my lip and lifted my head. "Any."
I could see the face he pulled in the rearview mirror; the grimace of a man who knew that I was running. He just didn't know what it was that I was running to. He probably thought I was running from a relationship, or from my family. I wished he could have known that I was running to an end that would fix the lives of the people I have come to love.
He didn't say anything after that; instead he reached forward and pressed a button and the small cab was suddenly filled with what was supposed to be soothing jazz, but in my state seemed only to make my heart race even more. As the saxophone began to intensify, I shut my eyes again. Breathe in… Breathe out… It was my mantra and soon, I was stable enough to open my eyes once again.
White lights. Everywhere, there were white lights. There were far too many cars on the road for one in the morning; though I seldom traveled at that hour. Was it always like this? We were far enough out of Seattle that everything was dark; occasionally there was a light coming from an exit, but it was hard to make out much of anything else. Still, the cars still kept moving on the other side of the street, each one growing closer to the city that I was leaving behind, forever.
"Boyfriend cheat on you?" I shook my head at his question. "Then what has you leaving so soon without any luggage?"
"My mother." It was the cliff notes version of the story, but it was all he would get. The short, twenty minute ride to the airport wouldn't even stand to be enough time to tell him the whole thing.
"Where do you have to go?"
"I hope she's all right." His voice was marked with genuine concern and I nodded.
The rest of the drive was sat in silence save for the sounds of Miles Davis, Max Roach, and Sonny Rollins. There had been a time when the music might have been soothing, but all I could think of was that damn piano and that piano led me to Edward and I wasn't ready to deal with that yet.
He pulled up against the curb; I hadn't even noticed that we had stopped when he cleared his throat.
He frowned for a minute, his eyes looking at the meter that read fifty-three eighteen. "Thirty should do it."
I should have protested but the look in his eyes told me that it was pointless. I'd seen that look before, usually when Edward insisted on buying something even though I was more than capable.
I sighed and pulled the money from my wallet and handed it to him and as I was about to move my hand back, his fingers wrapped around it, keeping my hand secure in the warmth of his own.
"Take care." I wondered if he knew; if he could see right through me as everyone else save for Edward seemed to be able to do. Still, we sat there for a moment and I allowed myself to relax in the strangers company; to take from him the sympathy that he gave me as he squeezed my hand. It was as though he was trying to take all the strength he had and give me his own. The intensity of his compassion was overwhelming.
The bright lights of the airport were blinding after the darkness of the night but I found my way to an American Airlines ticketing booth. The woman standing behind it was annoyingly perky; I think, given even if this was a good trip, I would have found her intensity overpowering.
"Where to this morning?" She smiled.
"Jacksonville. I need the first flight out…"
I watched as she typed with fury on the keyboard. "There is a fight at 6:15. I'm afraid it's the first flight out."
I nodded. "I'll take it."
No phone calls. No text messages. I sat down in the seat and looked around as the plane began to fill up. Outside, the sun was beginning to rise and I leaned back against the chair and looked out the small window. They would call eventually, but my phone would be off; it would be fine. I would get out, and it would be over.
"Please fasten your seatbelt." Slowly, I turned to see the flight attendant as she pointed to my lap. With great show, I slipped the metal clasp together and stared at her, wide eyed as she smiled and moved on.
Minutes later I felt the plane as it began to move. I wrapped my fingers around the arms, gripping on tightly. I knew what I was going to and yet, I was absolutely terrified of the take off. It seemed ironic. I was far safer in the plane than I ever would be once I stepped foot onto the Florida soil. I didn't look out the window, instead I looked forward, my eyes not leaving the seat in front of me.
The plane jerked violently once we reached cruising level and the man sitting to my left let out a soft chuckle.
"It's just turbulence."
"I know that." I seethed.
"Afraid of flying?"
I wasn't sure anymore. I had never reacted like this in a plane; there had been the small spasms of fear that would wash over me as the plane began to leave the ground, even when it bounced up and down on the runway when it landed. But never, had I ever been this scared from turbulence. "I suppose so."
"You know that planes are the safest way to travel." He reached over and his hand touched my fingers; my knuckles whiter than the pale color of my skin. "You can relax now."
If only I could.
I unwrapped my fingers from the armrest and let my eyes travel to the window.
I began to wonder what would happen when Alice happened upon the letter. It would happen any minute now, but I was out of cell phone range and the phone was turned off. I knew, most of all that they would be furious and worried, but I hoped that my letter would explain it all. I was doing what I had to do. It was the only option and the only way that we would ever find our way out of this mess. It would hurt; I knew that they would mourn me, but as time passed, and they would be able to grow old without the threat of someone hurting them, they would thank me and I could watch over them and keep them safe. I would always be with them, and most importantly, I would always be with him.
What it was that was waiting for me, what kind of pain I would be up against, I didn't know… But as the plane traveled on, I seemed to grow calmer. My fate would be unkind, but the ultimate end would be worth it. I had never thought much about how I would die; I assumed that it was a long way off; but I never would have imagined that it would be like this. Still, I couldn't bring myself to regret the decisions that had led me here.
I had dreaded leaving California to go back to Forks when Charlie had been hurt but now, as terrified as I knew I was, I couldn't imagine not making that choice. I never would have been reconciled with Charlie, I never would have seen my brother again or known that he would be well taken care of by the woman that he loved and who loved him back fiercely; but most of all, I never would have met Edward and he never would have shown me that it was okay to love again, that not every man would disappoint me. He had been willing to die for me; and now, I was willing to die for him.
It was a noble way to die, I was certain of that; noble to die for the one that you loved. And it would be good, and it would count for something and he would know that I loved him. It would be more bearable for me to be gone than for me to be alive and without him. Any kind of pain involved in death would be insignificant when compared to the pain I would have to live if he were not by my side. Now, I knew, I would always have him; in my mind, he would always be young and happy and in love with me; and I hoped, that it was how he would see me as well. We would never have the future that I had hoped we would have, but the dreams of that would stay with both of us, forever. Then, one day, he would find a woman who would make his heart beat again and I would watch and guide him and he could create the memories and the future he always wanted with her and I could be happy for him because he would be happy. And that would be enough. Enough for forever, until we could be reunited again.
I leaned back in the seat, pressing the small, round button on the side and let it decline. Sleep. I would need it.
"Tacoma," Sam said as he and Charlie looked at a map of the state. "It's close enough to Seattle that we can keep watch on Bella, but far enough away that we can keep them away."
"What about Portland?" I mused aloud. Tacoma was far too close to Bella for my comfort. I wanted this to be as far away from her as possible. If it was possible, I would have gone to another country. My eyes fell on the phone that was resting on the table next to us. There was no word from Alice or Jasper so they had made it there safely. Bella was safe and it calmed my rapid heartbeat. So long as she was safe, everything would be okay.
Sam just shook his head. "I'd have to get the Oregon FBI involved and that would take more time. You want to get this over with no?"
"It's for the best Edward. I understand that you want to do this away from her, but Tacoma is the best place," Sam continued while I gnawed on the inside of my cheek. "I wouldn't do anything to put her in danger. I know how important she is to you… To Charlie. She'll be safe. I promise."
"I wouldn't be going along with this either Edward if I didn't think he was telling the truth," Charlie added, his hand resting on my shoulder. His temperament towards me had changed over the past few days. I wasn't sure exactly what it was that had changed; maybe the fact that he understood that I never wanted to get Bella involved and that I was willing to die for her, but it didn't matter. What mattered now, was that I had his support for this because I needed that more than anything else. I needed him around because I would need him to tell Bella how much I loved her if this all went sour.
"Alright." I nodded and stood up from the chair.
I was just anxious to get this over with. I didn't know exactly how this was going to end and yes, I hoped that it ended favorably for me. There wasn't a bone in my body that didn't want to come back to Bella. I wanted a future with her; I wanted to marry her, to give her everything that she deserved, and I wanted a house full of our children that had her soft brown eyes and my strange hair. I wanted to hold her every single night for the rest of my life and make love to her and eventually, die of old age in her arms while we slept.
"Dad?" I looked up when I heard Emmett's voice, timid, shy, almost as though he was afraid to even be there. I could see the concern etched across his large face and I watched as Rosalie placed her hand softly on his arm. I was jealous for a moment, jealous that the woman that he loved was there with him, was there to comfort him, but then again, he needed it. Still, Bella would come back, I had promised him that, I had promised him that I would always make sure that she was safe and taken care of and goddamn it, she would be.
Charlie looked up at him, his hands dropping the map. "What?"
"I wanted to go to Seattle…" He rubbed his hand against his forehead. "Bella shouldn't be there alone… And I know she's there with his sister but…"
"You've always been there for her in the past and you want to be there for her now?" I said softly and he turned to me and nodded. "I promise she'll be okay." That came out as a whisper and I felt Emmett walk closer to me.
If I didn't know him as well as I did, I would have thought he was going to pummel me, but I knew that behind his hard exterior, he was just worried. We both had that in common and he knew that too.
"I know Cullen. I trust you." He looked at Charlie who was once again talking to Sam. "I might have been angry at first… And I'm sorry about the punch to the stomach, but…"
"Don't apologize," I interrupted. "I would have done the same thing… Hell, I wanted to do the same thing."
"If you get killed… It's going to kill her." His voice was quiet as he sat down in the chair that I had been occupying. "I don't know how I'll get her out of that one. After Jake… I thought that was bad but this is going to be a whole new level of shit."
"I'll come back Emmett… I've got a pretty adept team with me. But…" He frowned and Rose was at his side again, her hand rubbing the tense muscles of his neck. "If… And I mean if something does happen to me… Just let her know how much I love her… And that I'll always love her. And that she better not do anything stupid, because you need her and Charlie needs her."
He nodded and I turned to Rose. "I…" I rubbed the back of my neck with my hand. "I wrote her a letter… Just in case…"
"I'm not giving her anything," she interrupted. "You're coming back."
"I'll hold onto it. Okay?" She sighed and I nodded before reaching into my back pocket and extracting it. Writing that thing had been one of the hardest things in my life, but I had done it; just as I had gotten my affairs in order to be safe. Bella, would always be taken care of; I had made damn sure of that.
She took it between her hands before pulling me into a hug. "If you don't come back, I'll come pull you back from wherever the hell it is you go when you die and make you come back."
I chuckled at her, knowing that she was probably only half lying, but hugged her back as hard as I could.
"Ready?" Sam asked when we pulled away, and I looked towards him and nodded.
"Emmett… Go to Seattle. Stay with her and tell her that I'll call her once it's over," I replied. "And tell her that I love her, and I'll come back."
He nodded and took Rose's hand and I watched as they left. The door shutting loudly behind them.
Three hours. The drive would take three hours and I sat in the back seat of the black Lincoln Town Car, watching as the trees passed, blurring into the darkness of the night. As I sat there, I allowed myself to think of Bella. To see her face behind the darkness of my eyelids. I pushed aside the horror stricken face of this afternoon and instead focused on the happy one, the one that I had seen every day that we had been in San Francisco.
I growling, pulling her closer to me. "Does he make your heart race?" My voice was husky and jealous and confident I pulled her closer, my cheek against hers, my lips grazing her ear. I could smell the soft fragrance of her shampoo mixed with the salty ocean air and knew that nothing would ever smell that good. "Do I need to hunt him down and show him that you are mine?"
I could hear her heart as it pounded in her chest and I wondered if she could hear mine as well. Her knees shook slightly as she went limp in my arms but I held her up and held her close, not willing and not able to let go of her. She shook her head.
"Say it." I whispered before placing a kiss against the back of her jaw. "Say it."
"I'm yours." She replied, her voice breathy and laced with a desire that made my heart soar.
"You're mine." I replied, firmly before pressing my lips against her own and kissing her hard.
When I pulled away I saw the pleasurable daze that lingered behind her eyes and I grinned knowing that I had placed that there. She was beautiful and if I had ever been unsure before, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with her.
"Now… Are you done dazzling me?"
I laughed and nodded my head. "For now."
Images of her face flooded my memories and I held on them like a child to a security blanket. I needed her to remain with me. I needed to draw from her for strength. I needed her more than I needed the air that I was breathing.
I wanted to believe that I would come back. I wanted to believe that we would have the future that I had envisioned over and over again in my mind. But I knew I had to be realistic, I had to accept the fact that I could come out of this harmed and that I could leave her behind without me. Still, I hoped that she would know that it would be worth it. Any pain that I would feel at the hands of these men would be worth a lifetime of her safety. If my death meant her life, it was enough. I drew comfort in that and that even if I were to die, I would always be with her, I would never leave her. Either way; one day, we would be together again.
Panic. Blind, fucking panic. I shot out of bed and out of Jasper's warm arms. The dream had been enough and I wasn't certain why I hadn't been able to wake up sooner. I could hear Jasper stir behind me but I was out of the room and into Bella's in a matter of moments to find it dark and empty.
Shit. Edward is going to murder me. I looked around; everything was in its place, her clothes unpacked in the drawers, her empty suitcase still leaning against the window and yet, she was nowhere to be found. Her purse, gone; her phone, gone.
I heard Jasper behind me, his arm touching my neck causing me to jump.
"She's gone… She fucking left and Edward is going to kill me." He turned me around and was wiping at the tears that I hadn't known I was crying.
"Where did she go?"
I closed my eyes, images of the dream that I had had were quickly running through my conscious mind. "Jacksonville."
"She thinks they have her mother. They aren't even in Washington anymore… She's…" I collapsed into Jasper's arms and began to sob. This wasn't how it was suppose to happen. Everything was suppose to be okay and now, nothing would ever be the same.
"She's what?" He asked softly, his hand stroking my hair. "What's wrong baby?"
"She's made up her mind… She's going to die."
Tacoma was the epitome of a shithole. I had driven though it before, but had never had to actually breathe the constant scent of the stagnant paper mills. Even though the walls of the hotel room, I couldn't escape the scent; a putrid mixture of rotten egg and something else that I couldn't quite place. My body was tired though, too tired to still be awake and I could hear the shower in the other room.
My eyes closed, but before I was able to drift to sleep and to wonderful dreams of the woman I was doing this for, I felt the vibration of my cell phone.
"Alice?" I asked, confused as to why she was calling at five in the morning. I could hear her crying on the other end of the line and I could feel my heart race as I began to panic. "Alice what's wrong?"
"It's Bella…" She managed to choke out.
My whole world stopped in that moment. Darkness took over and I could no longer see anything.
I did it again… Another cliffhanger… Sorry guys but the story is getting intense and I want to keep that kind of intensity running and the only way to do that is through a cliff hanger.
But… You did get it earlier than I had thought! I didn't think this chapter would be out until Friday! So there, two whole days early! Thank the fact that I don't want to deal with reality just right now…
And, you should be pleased to know that I have a plan for the next chapter that I've spoken about with zgirl21… Hopefully that means another update isn't two weeks away! Though there will probably be a few more things I'll need to talk with her about.
Anyways! I hope that you enjoyed the chapter! The best way to let me know is to click that button that says review!
Oh and I don't mean to offend about Tacoma... But I kind of have first hand experience with the city... And the Tacoma Aroma...