"Who – who is this?"
"Is my identity more important than your father's life?" He sneered.
"Where is he? Where are you hiding him?" My impatience was breaking loose.
"Bring yourself to First Beach and meet me at the south jetty going to James Island. And do I have to mention that you have to come alone?"
My blood went cold. James Island. Victoria sarcastically chose an island with her mate's namesake. And she and her accomplice had Charlie.
"Don't fool me like I don't know anything. I know they're back."
"No! They left! I swear to you they left already. I'll go meet you there. I'll be alone."
"Lie to me and you get yourself a dead dad. Got it?"
"Yes, yes. I got it."
I threw the phone without thinking and took a notepad.
I wrote, Rosalie, I'm sorry. I'm going to James Island in La Push.
My hand stopped writing. La Push. They were prohibited from entering the reservation. They wouldn't be able to come and save me. I shook my head helplessly and half-ran to my truck.
Funny that many months ago, I faced James alone trying to save my mom. Now, I had to face his mate for Charlie. I didn't know why vampires had a thing for holding my parents hostage.
Alice would see this. I held on to that hope. I'm going to La Push, Alice. To James Island. Charlie used to take me there to go fishing on a boat. I hope you could see us alive. Help us please.
I felt like I was praying to Alice rather than to God, quickly chastising myself. But right now, it was really only my friendly vampires who could fight off their kind.
Fifteen minutes passed and I was finally in the Quileute reservation. I glanced at the rear view mirror. The road was dark now. I could see nothing farther than one metre from my truck's taillights.
I shivered in response. No-one could save me if something happened to me. But I threw that thought away. How worthless would my life be if I'd known I could've saved Charlie but still did nothing about it?
I thought about my promise to Edward to keep myself safe. But how about Charlie? Didn't he say so himself? I wouldn't be complete without my dad. Getting back together wouldn't be a sweet joyride to the sunset without saving him first.
Finally, I reached the jetty. I pulled my truck to a stop and got out.
Immediately, as if my eyes were trained to search for him in the dark, I saw the outline of a tall, muscular figure standing there, waiting for me. He was already watching me since I got out of the truck.
I walked up to him and noticed his blonde hair. My gaze quickly searched for his eyes. They were blue.
I sighed in relief. At least I stood a fifth of a chance surviving if it were human.
He chuckled menacingly. "Thought I was a vampire?"
"Yes," I admitted.
My forehead creased. I was surprised at his answer. He wasn't a vampire but he wanted to be one. Was he doing this as a favour for Victoria so she would change him? He looked very young. Somewhat around my age.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Call me Riley."
"Riley, please. Don't hurt Charlie." Don't hurt me.
"Come with me."
Then I noticed the boat in the water.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Not far away."
I didn't move.
"You want your dad alive or what?"
I hugged my jacket protectively and followed him to the boat. It was a small boat. Only four people could comfortably ride it. I watched him silently as he rowed the boat to the opposite island.
It was a short trip. We arrived in less than ten minutes.
When the boat reached the shore, he got out and asked me to stay. The place was eerie, and not just because I knew that a vampire was hiding there, waiting to kill me. The small island was filled with huge boulders twenty feet high. I felt like there were eyes watching my every move.
"This place used to be a battleground. The Quileutes vs the Makahs. The women went up those rocks and poured hot, boiling water to their enemies," he explained to me.
If he meant that story to calm me, he was not doing a good job. I gingerly moved away from the wall of the boulders, suddenly fearing that something might drop from there.
He lit up a torch and led me to a small, but deep cave beneath the rocks hidden in the bushes and driftwood.
Then I finally heard him. Charlie.
"Dad! Dad, I'm here! I'm so sorry!" I went to his form lying on the ground. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back.
"Bella," he said hoarsely. "Bella..." Then he fainted. I touched his lips. It was dry and chapped. I panicked and checked his heart. It was still beating. He was still breathing.
I reached for his blindfold but Riley stopped me.
"Keep your hands away from him," he ordered sternly. "Move away."
I squeezed Charlie's arm and moved back.
"What do you want from us? I'm here! You can let him go now!"
"We're going to let one of you go."
"Don't be stupid, Bella. Did you think I made you come here so you could fetch your dad and have a family reunion?"
"I know what I came here for. I know it's me you want. So why don't you just say what you want from me?!"
"This is her challenge for me. And if I succeed, she'll make me immortal as well."
"Where is she?! Where's Victoria?"
"She's coming in the morning. Isn't she as beautiful as she is clever? Your vampires and your werewolves couldn't catch her and she's only one. And she even tricked your Edward into going out of state so she could finally have her hands on you."
"What did you just say? Werewolves?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Didn't you know? Mortal enemies of the impalers. They've been chasing us all around the Quileute border." He snorted. "But they were stupid to think that we would be staying in their land when we could go to the water and off to another island. Stupid, silly creatures."
"That's why she took you in. You're human. Like me. They were tracking down a vampire's smell..."
He laughed softly. "You got that right." His eyes glimmered in mischief. "I never would have thought of this chance to be beautiful and immortal. I thought of vampires as just Dracula and shitty stories to scare kids. But it's a cake lying in front of me now, waiting for me to grab a bite."
"What did she make you do?"
He shrugged. "Follow your dad around. Follow you. Keep him company. Feed him. Follow you."
"You're willing to hurt people....Like you... To become one of them?"
"Wouldn't it be great to be strong? And fast? To be always better than others?"
"That's not a good reason to be a vampire."
"Shut it, lady!"
I did as told. I looked at Charlie again. He looked like he was sleeping.
"Didn't you bring him any food?" I asked Riley.
"I did. But he stopped eating. So don't look at me like I'm an executioner."
My tears fell freely now. I felt pity for Charlie...for losing hope that he would be freed.
"Why is he blindfolded?" I inquired.
"I dunno. Victoria said something about blinding the foreseer."
I gasped. So that was why Alice couldn't see Charlie but still believed that he was still alive. Could that be the reason?
"Enough talk for now. I already gave away too much." He spit then went out the cave with his torch. Then real blindness set in.
My mind wasn't totally asleep. It kept drifting back and forth – present to past, past to present. I wondered if Edward and his family had already flown back here to Forks in case Alice had a vision of me here. Rosalie and Emmett. I chided myself for fanning Rosalie's ire that turned herself against me.
I jerked, fully awake. I heard a loud, sniffing sound in my ears. I yelped after my senses recognised that it was an animal.
I scrambled to my feet, moving away from the source of the sound. My eyes adjusted to the light. It was daybreak.
I was staring at the big brown eyes of a giant wolf standing before me. Its mouth was open, baring its teeth and tongue to me. But it didn't look...fierce. It actually appeared like it was...smiling at me. It also had a knowing look in its eyes. As if it was talking to me.
"Werewolf..." I breathed.
He bobbed his head twice.
I laughed at his movement. He was answering me.
"My dad and I," I motioned to Charlie who was still passed out on the ground, "We need your help. He needs medical attention. And there's Riley, a tall blonde guy, he's gonna kill us if he sees you here."
I didn't know if I was already too out of it that I was asking help from a... a dog. But in this situation, I'd settle for a bargain.
He turned around until his wagging tail was already slapping my face. He raised his right hind paw and there was a piece of cloth tied to it. It was a pair of shorts.
"Is that yours?" I asked.
He bobbed his head again. He motioned to Charlie and lifted his body with his snout. He wanted me to place Charlie on his back.
I checked around for any sign of Riley, but he seemed to be gone. If he was here, he would have heard me talking already. I wondered where he was.
I tried to place Charlie on him but he kept sliding down.
I sighed impatiently. "It would help if you had two hands instead of four feet."
His snout patted my shoulder repeatedly. I didn't get it at first.
He was asking me to turn around.
"Oh!" I immediately turned my back to him.
I heard footsteps and rustle of clothing. Then his human voice spoke.
"You can turn now."
He was fixing his long, black hair to tie it in a ponytail. His golden skin was so familiar to me despite the long time that we hadn't seen each other. His eyes were smiling down at me and he said, "Surprised?"
"Oh my...Jacob...." I whispered.
"Long story, Bella. Let's get you out of here first."
"Where's Riley? He was –"
"I scared him away." He grinned as he said this.
"Did you kill him?" I didn't know why I asked when I didn't even want to know the answer.
"No. I didn't." He looked down. "I don't want to kill a person. Yet. But I'll chase him down later."
"No, it's okay. It's fine. Let's just leave as fast as we can before Victoria gets here. Right now, I couldn't care less about retribution for what they did to Charlie. I just want my dad safe again. Please." My voice dropped into a whisper.
He nodded firmly and carried Charlie on his back and we went to the boat that Riley used to take me to the island. While on the boat, I struggled to contain all my questions for Jacob.
"When...when did this happen? How did you..."
"Just weeks ago. The day you went to my house and talked to Sam."
"They are...werewolves too?"
"We prefer shapeshifters. But yeah, they are. Remember when you and your friends were down at First Beach and I told you about...the pale-faces? Well, they're just half of the legend."
My mind automatically took recognition of that day I had asked about the Cullens.
He suddenly knotted his eyebrows.
He rowed effortlessly and I watched his muscles rippling in his arms.
"Sam and Paul...I don't like them. So I quit the pack."
"Oh." That was all I could say.
"I lost my head at them last night when..." He trailed off.
"Nothing." He shook his head and somewhat...blushed. His blush reminded me of the time he was in my kitchen, trying to flirt with me. I wasn't in the mood that time, still depressed over my breakup, but now I felt like kicking myself for hurting the person who would save me and Charlie.
"Thank you, Jacob. More than words can say. I don't think I can ever thank you enough."
He smiled sheepishly. "It's nothing. Anything...just for you."
Now it was my turn to blush. Somewhere in the globe, my vampire boyfriend was probably going out of his mind looking for me and here I was letting another guy flirt with me.
I changed the topic. "Are the other shapeshifters coming?"
He sighed. "I don't think so. I lost my communication with them."
"Oh." Again, I was speechless.
"You see, just like...your bloodsucker...." I winced at the word he used. "Sorry. Edward. Just like him, we can also hear each other's thoughts. That's how we communicate even in our wolf form."
I nodded in understanding. "Amazing."
"But," he continued, "since I quit the pack, I realised I also lost contact with the rest of 'em now." He shook his head. "They probably haven't noticed that I was gone already."
Then within a second, I felt myself losing balance and being thrown into the water. I gulped a mouthful of water as the surprise of being immersed in water threw me off guard. I was sinking and I struggled to focus on what was going on.
I removed my jacket so I could lift myself up to the surface. It was painstakingly slow because of the water. When I finally took it off, I swam upwards to gather my much-needed supply of oxygen.
I gasped as I finally broke to the surface. I looked around for signs of Jacob or Charlie.
Charlie! He's unconscious! My head was screaming at me.
I dove down again but saw no sign of them. But I couldn't be too sure. The water was dark and I couldn't see anything a foot away.
Then something grabbed hold of my waist.
I blew out air out of surprise. I struggled to break free to take another breather. I was almost choking.
Then finally, my head was out of the water. I took large intakes of air as much as I could. I didn't know when I would go down again.
Then I mustered to turn my head to my assailant.
But he didn't look like one. He also had long, black hair like Jacob. As tanned as Jacob. But it wasn't Jacob. One of the pack. I was being saved.
But I couldn't take glee of that.
"Stop! Wait! Charlie..." I gurgled at him, finding it difficult to speak with my mouth still half beneath the water.
"I've got him. He's at my other arm. Just concentrate on your breathing." He answered, his eyes still focused towards the shore.
I obeyed him. I didn't want to distract him further or he might accidentally drop one of us.
After seeming like hours when it was only minutes, we were finally on shore.
"Bella..." Charlie called.
"Dad...Dad...I'm taking you to the hospital."
I turned to the tall guy who was undoubtedly one of the werewolves what with his built and height.
"I'll take him now. Thank you. Where's Jacob?"
"He's chasing the red-head leech. I should bring you –"
"No, no. Please. Help Jacob. That's Victoria. He might get hurt!"
After helping me bring Charlie to the truck, he gave a slight nod and ran away. I assumed he was changing into his wolf form.
Charlie was once again unconscious. I could take him to the La Push hospital but I wasn't sure of the way, it would be faster to go to Forks. And besides, I needed to be within reach to Edward.
I pressed the gas pedal and took off as fast as the truck could go. We were on our way. We could make it.
Then suddenly I heard four loud bangs. I cursed to myself. They busted my tires. I wasn't fazed. I would go as far as I could go before the truck gave out.
I didn't know how far I had gone when I saw him. I pushed the brake when he suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
He was holding a gun and a flaming torch. His gun was pointed straight at me. Somehow, I didn't doubt his aiming skill.
"Thought you could get away from me? The game is just beginning. Let's play," Riley said as his teeth glinted at the same time as his gun.