"I don't see why we'd need to talk about that, Jasper. How is it even relevant?"
"It will most likely come up," Jasper said gently.
"What if they can't find any evidence of it? Then it'll just be my word against his. I doubt Alice took pictures of my female regions to capture any evidence of rape." I hadn't expected it to be so difficult to talk about this. Sometimes I felt like I was in over my head.
"I know it's hard. It's not easy to talk about, but if we're going to win this, we need to know everything, and you need to be prepared for any questions you may be asked at the hearing."
"Well, we've been married for almost two years," I said, shakily. "I guess it happened at least two or three times a week, sometimes more. It was all dependent upon his mood."
Jasper had been taking notes on a legal pad. It wasn't really necessary to him—I knew he'd have no problem remembering every word I said, and I knew this was extraordinarily difficult for him. Not only spending so much time with me, but feeling the emotions I was feeling at the same time. He'd kicked Edward out of the hotel a long time ago. When we first started talking, Edward could hardly control himself. One minute he was pacing, the next he was trying not to break something. In fact, Jasper kicked everyone out except for Alice and Carlisle. The others went out, shopping or hunting. Hopefully not cage fighting—I knew Edward was in the mood to do some damage.
"I hate to ask," he mumbled, toying nervously with the pad of paper. "But were you ever receptive to him?"
I scoffed, almost laughed and shook my head. "God, no. Not even on our honeymoon."
"Ouch," Alice whispered. I shrugged, trying to calm my nerves.
"Alice, do you have the pictures you took?" he asked.
"Of course I do, and Bella, I hope you aren't angry," she said. "When I saw the trial happening, I knew I had to do something."
"No, I'm not angry. Kind of embarrassed, but not angry."
Seconds later, Alice produced a thick envelope, filled with photos of my body. "I made sure they were dated," she said proudly.
"I was thinking it might be a good idea to contact your general practitioner," Jasper piped up. "Carlisle, aren't you familiar with Dr. Snow?" he asked.
"Of course," Carlisle said, taking his own notes as well. "I've worked with him before. I'm sure he noticed that something was going on—he's not the type to meddle, but he does catch on to a lot of things, and quickly."
"He never really asked me too many questions about my accidents—the nurses were more nosey than he was," I explained.
"Can you tell me about how you two met? Was the relationship always like this? Or did things slowly change?"
I sighed and my shoulders went limp as I explained the entire story of how I met Dan, and what life was like with him.
By the end of three days, it felt like we'd gone through everything, ran through every single possible scenario. No one was allowed back into the hotel until Jasper and Alice felt like I was prepared for what lay ahead of me.
I eventually called Charlie to tell him we were coming back. When I asked him if he'd found Dan, he got quiet.
"I'll be honest with you, Bella, after I talked to you the other day…I didn't know what to do with myself. I feel so guilty all the time now, like I could have done something to stop it. And now that I think about it, the signs were right in front of me. Right in front of my face!"
"Dad, stop it," I said, almost angrily. "It wasn't your fault at all. And we're going to fix this now."
"For a while, I couldn't leave the house. I knew I'd go find him, but I didn't know if I could keep myself from killing him. I even put my gun away, Bells. I didn't know what I was going to do. "
"Well…have you found him yet?" I asked. It was the hardest for me to talk about this with Charlie. He blamed himself for everything.
"Of course I have. This morning. He's locked up tight."
I felt almost all of the air in my body rush out in a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
"There's a hearing in one week, on the twenty first" he said. "I didn't know what number to call you on, so I guess it's a good thing you called me now so I can let you about as soon as possible. Have you found a lawyer yet? I can get you some help down at the station," he offered.
"No, I have a lawyer. We've been preparing for the last few days," I said.
"That's great, who is he?" Charlie asked, protective. "I hope you didn't get one of those cheap lawyers with a fake license. Those have been floating around lately."
"His name is Jasper Whitlock," I said, gazing over at him and Alice on the couch. "And he's really good."
"…Why does that name sound familiar?" he asked. "He's one of Edward's brothers, isn't he?"
"Would you be mad if I said he was?" I asked, my heart rate accelerating. I was extraordinarily sensitive lately.
"The Cullen's were always good kids, and I have respect for their parents. I'm not angry, just a little worried," he answered.
"I just…I don't want you to get hurt again, that's all. I don't want to see you go through that again."
"I know." That was all I could bring myself to say. Jasper called Edward after I ended my phone call. Everyone needed to come back so we could plan to leave.
Edward was all over me as soon as he walked through the front. "I missed you," he said, cradling my face.
"I missed you too," I replied, smiling. Jasper rolled his eyes.
"It's not my fault you can't control your anger, Edward. Don't get pissed at me because I made you leave." I nodded in agreement with Jasper.
"There's a hearing in one week," Alice announced. "And Dan was arrested." Rosalie and Emmett high-fived eachother. Edward still looked completely stressed out.
"Lighten up, will you?" I asked, practically begged.
"This isn't funny," he said quietly. "I don't want to see you hurt any longer."
Esme was already packing food for me to eat in the car while Alice and Rosalie gathered up my things. Everyone else was packing the car while Edward still checked to make sure my mental faculties were in order. It didn't matter how many times I assured him, he was completely paranoid.
Eventually, Alice stomped her foot. "Edward! We can draw the car ride out if necessary and take a day to get there if that's what you really want, but you'll have plenty of time with her in the car. Let's. Go."
And so, we left.
"I'm not going to primp you up and make you look perfect," Alice mumbled as she helped me fix my hair. The trial was in less than two hours.
"Why not?" I asked. "I really don't want to look like this in front of a judge…and my dad."
Alice sighed and twisted my bangs back. "Yes, Bella, you do. We want the judge and jury to see exactly what you look like. Exactly how much damage he's done."
The dark circles under my eyes still hadn't gone away, even though I'd been sleeping much better. Alice bought a cream colored v-necked sweater for me to wear—I still had bruises along my chest and neckline. Though some were fading, they were still visible, especially against the color of my top. She helped me into a pair of black designer slacks and pulled out a pair of black slacks. I slipped on a pair of flats and then she allowed Edward to take over. He helped me walk to the car and get settled. The drive to the courthouse was almost torturous.
I saw Charlie the day before the hearing. He nearly collapsed in my arms after seeing how different I really was. We ate lunch together, he even asked Edward to eat with us. To my surprise, he was actually civil. I felt horrible for Edward, who actually chewed and swallowed his food. I knew he'd be hacking it up later.
Now, as we pulled into the parking lot, I felt numb. I didn't know if I'd be ready to see Dan or not, but when I felt Edward's cool fingers lace through mine, my stomach unknotted myself and I walked forward with my head held high.
A security guard at the entrance stopped us and we had to go through metal detection scanners and were essentially frisked, just to get into the courtroom. The room was full of people, and my lungs felt like they were constricting. I walked forward with Jasper, while everyone else found seats in the audience. Alice slid along the bench next to Charlie and the others followed. You could cut through the tension in the air with a knife. Then the questions started.
"The jury calls Mrs. Isabella Baker to the stand." I wanted my real last name back. I'd have to change it after the divorce. I eyed the portly, balding man who announced my name as I walked toward the witness stand. My nerves were out of control—I felt like I was burning alive on the inside, but I managed to keep a straight face. Jasper, looking professional as ever in his pressed, black suit, began by asking me the questions we'd rehearsed. How did I meet him? When did he first start to get violent? Could I recount the events up to the accident. I answered them all the way I was supposed to –this was cake. Until Dan's attorney was up to question me.
This woman was the epitome of the devil. No doubt, she was hired by Dan's disgusting, overbearing mother, Esther.
"Mrs. Baker," the attorney started. "Are you aware of what adultery is?" I looked over at Jasper, nervously.
"I'm sorry?" I asked.
"Just answer the question," she replied, bluntly.
"Yes, I am fully aware of what adultery is," I answered, trying to keep my temper under control.
"Why don't you tell us about your high school sweetheart," she said, raising an eyebrow. I saw Dan smirk out of the corner of my eye.
"My high school sweetheart?" I asked, my hands shaking slightly.
"Objection, your honor," Jasper butted in.
"Sustained," the judge agreed. "Ms. Hallsworth," the judge said, addressing the attorney, "where are you going with this?"
"Your honor, there's reason to believe that after the alleged car accident, Mrs. Baker ran off with her ex-boyfriend, a Mr. Edward Cullen."
"Who she left with after a car wreck is irrelevant. Ask your questions and sit down, Hallsworth," the judge said, irritated. I breathed a sigh of relief.
"What happened between you and Mr. Cullen," Hallsworth asked. I cleared my throat.
"His family was moving, so we broke things off."
"Now, tell us, did you ever really break things off with him?" she asked, narrowing her eyes.
"I never heard from him again," I replied, smoothly.
"Until recently, is that correct?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"Did you ever really get over him?" she asked, walking closer to the stand. "The two of you were inseparable, were you not? It would be pretty hard to just drop someone off like that. After all, first loves never die," she trailed off.
"I married Dan, didn't I?" I replied shortly.
"I have no further questions at the moment."
After that, I was called down from the stand to be replaced by Dan. He looked so small. Jasper started off the questions by asking about Dan's childhood. Dan was probably lying through his teeth, swearing that he had a perfect childhood. Both of his parents were very loving and caring. He had everything he wanted.
"Did you ever attack Isabella Baker?" Jasper asked, casually, like a candid conversation. Dan acted appalled.
"God, no. I loved her." Lies.
"You never got a little too angry and hit her? Never got a little too rough?" Dan's faced hardened.
"And, you never raped her, right?"
"No." Dan's voice shook.
"Well, it must have been hard, trying to have a relationship with this woman who was unresponsive to you."
"I didn't…rape her," Dan practically hissed. "I never touched her against her will."
"So, she asked you to beat her? Is that it?" Jasper asked, keeping a perfectly calm demeanor. I knew in the back of my mind that pretty soon, he'd be manipulating Dan's emotions. Any moment now.
"I never beat her," Dan whined. A few questions later, Dan was called down and replaced by Dr. Snow. He was such a humble little old man.
"Dr. Snow," Jasper began. "You've been treating Mrs. Baker for years now, is that correct?"
"Yes," he replied. "Since she was seventeen years old."
"What can you tell us about her medical history? Anything…unusual?"
"Well, as a teenager, she was certainly very clumsy. Always having silly accidents."
"What about when she was an adult?" Dr. Snow paused, thinking.
"I never wanted to jump to any conclusion—it wasn't any of my business—but she was in the emergency room much more frequently than before. And her accidents never quite added up. And the bruises. She never explained the bruises, even when I asked her about them. It was always about how she bumped into the wall, or fell down the stairs, slipped in the driveway."
"Can you tell us how many visits she's had in the last year?" Jasper asked, politely.
"Twenty three." The room got quiet. Not long after that, Jasper presented the photographs of my body as evidence. When I saw Charlie's facial expression, my heart clenched. "Bruising patterns like these are not consistent with the reports she gave the nurses," Dr. Snow explained.
"I've seen many domestic violence cases," he stated. "This is quite severe."
"Thank you, Doctor," he said, dismissing him. Then the judge called a recess. Edward kept his distance from me, and for good reasons. Dan's lawyer had accused me of adultery. How this was relevant to Dan being abusive, I had no idea, but we still didn't want to give her any reason to push the issue. Jasper took a walk with me outside in the hallway. I leaned against the wall and sank down to the ground, running my fingers through my hair.
"How are you holding up?" he asked .
"I'm alright, just tired. This is exhausting. Hallworth is a piece of work."
Jasper laughed quietly and extended a hand to help me up. "We have to be back inside in a few moments," he said, straightening his tie. I brushed off my blouse and we walked back inside.
After Hallsworth had a few rounds of questioning, practically throwing fireballs at anyone speaking in my favor, Jasper had another go at Dan. This was it.
"Dan, when did you fall in love with Bella?" he asked, again striking up a casual conversation. He was good at this.
"What do you mean?"
"When did you know you wanted to marry her?"
"Oh…well, we'd been dating for almost a year and I asked her to marry me," he said simply.
"Where'd you go for your honeymoon?" Jasper asked, putting his hands in his pockets and pacing. Dan rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
"Oh, I bet that was special, wasn't it?" he asked. I eyed the judge, thinking she might think Jasper was going in the wrong direction.
"Uh…" Dan trailed off, looking confused.
"Why don't you tell us about it," Jasper coaxed. I knew he was playing his tricks now. And right on cue, Dan snapped.
"We didn't do anything."
"Why not?" Jasper asked, feigning curiosity. The veins in Dan's neck protruded slightly. Anger.
"She wasn't in the mood. She never wants to."
"Well, she has the right to not want to sleep with you, does she not?"
"She's my wife," Dan growled. "She does what I want her to do. She. Belongs. To. Me."
I fought back a smile. I knew we'd won by now.
"So when she didn't do what you wanted her to do, what happened, Dan?" Jasper asked, his voice rising just slightly.
"She'd get punished," Dan hissed, glaring at me. "The bitch needed to be put in her place." That was the final straw. The judge pounded her gavel, trying to calm the audience, which was in an uproar.
"Daniel Baker, how do you plead?" she asked, angry.
"Not. Guilty." He said through his teeth.
"Jury, have you reached a decision?" she asked, rolling her eyes.
"We have, your honor," a tall, lanky gentleman announced, holding a small piece of paper in his hands. He stood and cleared his throat. "We, the grand jury for this trial, find the defendant, Daniel Baker, under the charge of domestic violence guilty. Under the charge of rape, guilty. Under the charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we find the defendant also guilty."
I breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed Jasper's hand. He stiffened slightly, but smiled at me.
"Mr. Baker, you are hereby sentenced to fifteen years in prison with no chance of bail. Guards, get him out of my courtroom."
I felt a small spasm of fear wave through my body as I watched Dan struggle against the security guards. He was practically spitting at me, screaming that he hated me, calling me names. All I had to do was look over in the audience and stare at Edward. He gave me a small smile, and I turned just in time to see the guards drag him out of the building.
I never through I would see the day where vengeance felt so good, but I suddenly felt elated, like a 50lb. weight was being lifted from my chest. Like I could breathe again.
Like I was finally safe.
AN: Okay, before I get any harsh criticism, I apologize if I completely butchered the whole trial scene. I'm not very good with the stereotypical phrases and statements, so I just went off the top of my head. This is also sad and ironic, because I work at a law firm. With lawyers. Who use these terms a lot. Show's how well I pay attention, huh?
Anyway, I'm sure the chapter has lots and lots of typos in it, which I also apologize for.
Let me know your thoughts or comments, what you liked and what you hated. Thanks (: