A/N: Another update, just because you're all the best!
The kitchen fell deadly silent as I stopped moving, straightening up to my full height. I listened in vain for a sound- any sound- from the living room, but the breathing behind me grew harsher, and I heard his hoarse chuckle before he spoke.
"Come here, Bella," he said, and I felt a hot, sweaty hand on my shoulder.
"Dad," I whispered, careful to keep my voice down. "I was just getting some dinner…"
"I know what you're doing," he said, stepping up behind me. "Are you hungry, Bella?"
"Are you hungry?"
I froze in place as he reached out and moved my hair, his hot breath sour in my nose as he pressed his lips to my neck. I felt a surge of panic in my belly at the thought of Charlie's brand of affection and my brothers sleeping just upstairs…
"They'll hear you," I pleaded. "Dad, not now…"
"I'll be real quiet, I promise," he grunted, reaching around to the front of my oversized shirt. His hand pressed into my belly, sliding ever upwards…
"Dad, no," I insisted, wiggling away from him. I saw the rage flash across his face.
"Don't you ever," he barked, louder than I'd anticipated, "tell me no." His hand moved to my shoulders and spun me around, the refrigerator door closing behind me. The kitchen was immersed in darkness with only a soft, low light emanating through the window from the lights outside.
Charlie's hands reached up my shirt again, grabbing as he rutted against me. I felt hot tears come to my eyes and I willed myself to call out, to just shout one word that would bring this hell to an end once and for all…
"Come to the sofa, baby," he crooned, nudging me forwards. "Daddy will take good care of you…"
"No." The word was loud and forceful in the silence of the kitchen, and I heard a bed creak upstairs.
Please, please, please…
"Little bitch," he snapped, grabbing the back of my neck to steer me in the right direction. The strength of his arm was no match for my struggling, and even when I leaned back and dug my heels into the floor, he could still move me.
"Don't you make one fucking sound," he growled lowly as my midriff collided with the armrest on the sofa. "Shut your fucking mouth and take it like a big girl."
"No," I said again, my voice losing its power. He had pressed himself onto my back, the weight making each breath a struggle. When I lurched back to take a breath, his body slammed back into mine, my right side colliding roughly with the couch. The feel of the rib cracking was more intense than I could have imagined, and it took the fight right out of me.
He pressed me down even harder as he worked on his zipper, reaching down between us to lower my pajama bottoms. Every breath I took sent a searing pain down my side, made even worse as I struggled against him.
"Stop it," he hissed, trying to get my bottoms off. "Stop wiggling, Bella."
"Fuck you," he barked, angry and frustrated. "Stop it."
"Get off of me!" I said, my voice wheezy. "Stop it!"
"Shut the fuck up!" he growled lowly, as the floorboards creaked upstairs.
"Just one shout," I thought desperately. "Just one loud noise and one of them will come downstairs to check…"
"I'll scream," I threatened, shoving back against him. He grunted in pain and let me go for a brief moment, letting me scramble away.
I backed up against the wall as he rose to full height, breathing heavily and nostrils flaring.
"Like hell you will," he said, gravelly and low. "Get the fuck over here, right now, young lady."
The word spilled from my lips in a loud, shrill tone, and Charlie's look of panic told it all.
"Dad?" came a quiet, disoriented voice from upstairs. "Bella?"
"You little whore," Charlie spat, lunging forward. He knocked into the coffee table, spilling half-empty beer cans and a cigarette ashtray on the floor. He had hidden his beer earlier in the day, but had not been able to resist once the boys had gone to bed.
There was no way sober Charlie would have touched me with his sons under his roof. There was no way he would have risked either of them finding out…
Charlie's hand cut off my inner dialogue when he wrapped it around my neck, sending me flying into the wall with a loud crash.
"What the hell? Dad! Bella!" Emmett's voice came much more urgently this time and I heard his scrambling footsteps on the upper floor of the house.
"Shut the fuck up!" Charlie growled. "Shut up!"
His hand closed around my throat and try as I might, there was no breath left to draw.
"I'll fucking kill you," he said, as black spots bloomed across my vision. My fingernails raked across his hand as I kicked and struggled, trying to throw him off. The hot blood that ran down his hands did nothing to loosen his grip, and before long, his snarling, angry face was all I could make out.
"Holy fuck! Dad! Let her go!" I heard Emmett's loud, booming voice filled with anger and fear as a hand just as large as Charlie's pulled the throttling hand back. My breath came back to me in a rush and I fell to the floor, retching on the hardwood as I did my best to breathe.
"Holy fuck, oh shit…" There was a gentle hand on my back and Emmett sounded panicky, but through my coughing and streaming eyes, there was nothing I could say to calm him.
"Get the fuck away from her," Charlie barked, his words slurring together in a way that I hadn't noticed before. I felt the hand leave my back as I took deep, shuddering breaths, trying to regain my senses.
"Fuck you!" Emmett barked, holding out an arm to restrain our father. "You get the fuck away from her! Jasper!"
"I fucking warned you!" Charlie cried angrily, struggling against his son's bulk as he pointed his finger at me. "I warned you!"
"I'm sorry," I choked out, hoping to whatever God existed that Charlie didn't hurt Emmett. Something seemed to click in Emmett's sleepy brain as he put the pieces together.
Tonight's incident, the bruise on my cheek, the oversized sweater…
"Oh fuck no!" shouted Emmett, enraged. "You fucking hit her!?"
"What the hell is going on in here?"
"Get back upstairs and go to bed!" shouted Charlie. "Your brother caught me teaching your fucking sister a lesson, that's all."
"A what, excuse me?"
"Get the fuck to bed!"
"Bella? Honey?" Jasper voice sounded worried as he approached me and I did my best to sit up, only to watch in horror as Jasper was grabbed roughly by Charlie and thrown back onto the coffee table. He caught himself on the edge with a wince before he turned steely eyes on Charlie, opening his mouth.
Emmett beat him to it and began shouting in earnest, and I couldn't help the cry that escaped me when Charlie's fist swung out and connected with Emmett's jaw.
"Get her the hell out of here, Jasper," he growled before he returned the favour, sending Charlie sprawling. Charlie cursed him and the two began to fight and as the noise grew, Rosalie and Alice peeked in from the staircase.
"What's going on?" squeaked Alice, fearful.
"Go to the car and lock the doors," Jasper ordered, handing her a keychain. "We'll be out shortly."
"Should we call the police?" asked Rosalie, nervous.
"Just go outside, please."
"Dad stop it!" I cried, finding some strength in my legs as Emmett suffered another blow to the face. "Stop it!"
"You little bitch!" he cried, turning away from Emmett. His hand swiped out at me and before either Emmett or Jasper could stop him, his hand connected with my cheek.
And again a second time.
"Oh my god!" squealed Alice, her hand over her mouth.
"Get her out of here!" roared Emmett, managing to put dad in a restrictive hold that he himself had taught Emmett in our youth.
"Sweetheart, come with me," said Jasper gently, urging me to my feet. My head was spinning as Jasper led me towards the downstairs bathroom, locking the door behind us as he sat me on the toilet seat.
The look on Jasper's tearstained face made my own feeble resolve crumble, and it took all I had to remain upright on my makeshift seat.
"How long?" he asked, gently taking my hands from my face. "How long has he been like this?"
"Mom." That lone word was all I could croak out, and I wasn't sure if I was referring to the time of Charlie's change, or my overwhelming need to have her back.
"Oh Bella," he said, drawing me in for a gentle hug. Even the gentleness of his embrace wasn't soothing to my injured side, and as soon as he applied pressure, I yelped and jerked away.
"Let me see," he said quietly, shifting immediately into medical mode.
"No, Jazz…" My protests went unanswered as he gently lifted the side of my shirt, exposing my ribs.
He pressed gently over a blossoming bruise and I felt my breath leave me, forcing me to retch once again over the edge of the tub. Jasper swore softly and held my hair for me, steadying me once the bout had finished.
"I'll fucking kill you too!" came Charlie's angry voice from the living room just outside. "I'll rip your throat out!"
"No…" I cried, reaching for the doorknob. Jasper intervened and forced my hand back, just as I felt the familiar bands of panic tightening around me.
"Emmett can hold his own," he said gently. "It's you that needs looking after. Take a deep breath for me, okay?"
I tried and tried to do as Jasper asked, but no matter what I visualized in my mind, the sounds from outside the door were too much.
I couldn't breathe.
"Jasper! Let's go!" The bathroom door burst open, lock broken, and a disheveled, bruised Emmett stormed in, stopping short when he took one look at me.
"Come on, Bell," he said, reaching over to help me up. My knees buckled when he tried to make me move, and I felt for one, sickening moment as if I would faint and throw up at the same time.
"Easy, Em," said Jasper, reaching out to steady me. "I'm sure she's got a fractured rib."
In response, my bloodied, bruised and angry brother scooped me up as if I weighed nothing at all and carried me as gently as he could. Charlie spat profanities at us as we passed him, though he made no move to follow.
Emmett had gotten him pretty good.
"As soon as we're out of this goddamn town, I'm calling the cops," spat Jasper angrily as he passed, pausing to take in the bloody sight. I saw his cold, stern visage waver for a brief moment before he asked the most burning question of all.
"What in God's name would possess you to do this? Why, dad?"
"Jasper, let's go," said Emmett gruffly.
"Why?" asked Jasper again, standing firm.
Charlie's eyes trained on me as he answered, flickering only briefly to Jasper.
"Don't ever say no to me," he growled out, leaning forward with a grimace. He fell back against the front of his chair, rubbing his side where Emmett had done him some kind of injury.
"What?" barked Jasper, keen as ever.
"Let's go, Jasper," said Emmett darkly.
"Say no to what?" asked Jasper again, ignoring Emmett.
Please don't ask…
"Let's go," said Emmett again, his voice darker and more sinister than I'd ever heard it. "Call Carlisle and the cops on the road, Jasper. Move."
Jasper moved away from our drunken father slowly and methodically, as if it took all of his control to retreat. I turned my face into Emmett's shoulder as Jasper turned to us, his face an icy mask. Once in the kitchen, Emmett readjusted me and forced my face up so Jasper could see the newest marks. The sharp, fluorescent light in the kitchen flickered to life and I flinched away, the harsh luminescence making blue and red spots dance across the ceiling.
"Deep breaths, honey," Jasper reminded me, using the light to examine my face where Charlie had struck me. He wiped a tear from my cheek and kissed the new bruise carefully, pausing only for a few seconds
"Get her out to the car and turn the heat on," he ordered carefully. "Where's your jacket, Bell?"
"Closet," I rasped out, my voice scratchy and strained.
"Get her out of here, Emmett," said Jasper urgently. "Please."
"Easy now, Bell," soothed Emmett gently, slipping on his old sneakers as he used his own jacket to cover me. It was misting outside, and even covered, the air was cold.
"We'll get you to the doctor, 'kay?" he said, rambling as he moved to the Jeep. "It'll be all right again, you'll see. No, don't fall asleep…" His words sounded urgent as I closed my eyes against his chest. I forced them open and tried to take a deeper breath, resulting in a wracking cough that made my brother pause.
The hustle and bustle of the car was noisy and disorienting, and my fatigue hit me full force once the car's heater was trained on me. I was laid across the back seat of the car, my feet in Rosalie's lap and my head on Emmett's. Jasper took the wheel and moved very quickly to the center of town, and I couldn't help but protest when he pulled into the parking lot of Forks Memorial Hospital.
"You're getting checked out," said Jasper firmly, turning the car off. Hands helped me maneuver myself out of the car and into the cold lot, and before I could process what was happening, I was steered directly through the emergency room doors.
"Oh my!" cried a familiar nurse, Julie, taking in mine and Emmett's injuries. "Come right on back."
"I don't want to," I protested, shaking my head when the nurse came back with a wheelchair. Jasper ignored my plea and gently coaxed me into sitting down, taking charge of the chair himself as we followed the nurse.
"The doctor will be right in," she said quickly, hooking me up to a machine that took my blood pressure.
The cuff tightened on the marks on my arm, and it was all I could do not to cry out.
"Was it your brother who did this, Bella?" she asked, purposefully ignoring Jasper.
"No!" I cried, my voice catching as my side flared. "No! Emmett would never…"
"It was dad, Julie," said Jasper, his voice catching. "Emmett caught him and beat the shit out of him."
"Chief Swan?" gasped the woman, staring. "No, not Charlie…"
"Yes, Charlie," said Jasper. "Can you check her ribs, please? I'm pretty sure she's got a fracture."
"I want to go, Jazz," I pleaded as Julie reached down and lifted my top. She clucked at whatever she found there, her gentle fingers sending flares of pain up my side.
"I'll send you straight to x-ray once Doctor Cullen has a look at you," she said.
"Carlisle?" Jasper asked quickly.
"You know Doctor Cullen?" asked Julie, smiling. "He comes down twice a month to take an on-call rotation and give old Doctor Gerandy a break. Such a kind man…"
"He's rents to Emmett and I," said Jasper brusquely. "Is he here now?"
"Of course," said Julie, offering me an quiet smile as she bustled out.
"Come up on the table, Bell," said Jasper gently, offering me his arms as I struggled out of the wheelchair.
"I just want to go home, Jazz," I pleaded. "I'm fine. Can we please go home?"
Jasper adjusted me on the table and took careful stock of all my visible injuries, no doubt filing them away for later contemplation.
"Change into this, Bell," he said, offering me a hospital gown from the drawer beneath the exam table.
I flushed bright red.
"Bella, you've got broken ribs, countless bruises, a black eye and what feels like a fever," he argued. "Let us help you."
Jasper was kind enough to close the curtains of the little cubicle I was in and stand guard to make sure no one slipped in. I heard the nurse return and an unfamiliar male voice spoke out just as I was tying the final knot, and Jasper peeked in.
"This is Carlisle, Bella," said Jasper gently, leading an older man to the exam table behind him. "He owns the boarding house where Emmett and I stay."
"It's not a boarding house, Jasper," said Carlisle, offering him a small smile. "You and Emmett are family."
Jasper just smiled, terse.
"Jasper tells me you've had a bit of a run-in with your father," said Carlisle gently. "Would you mind if I took a look at you, to make sure everything's okay?"
"I just want to go home," I said, trying to keep my tears at bay. "Is Emmett okay?"
"He insisted I look at you first, and I must say, I agree," said Carlisle, snapping on a pair of latex gloves. "Emmett's going to be just fine. He's just a little bruised."
"Let him look, Bell," urged Jasper. "For me? Please?"
I fell limp on the table and let the doctor do as he pleased. I felt him prodding my arms, assessing the motion of my wrists and neck, looking at all my joints and looking even more closely at the bruises.
"I'm sure you've got a fracture," he said sadly, skillfully untying only one of the knots that held my gown together at the side. I felt his chilly fingers poking and for the umpteenth time that night, I felt like I might be sick.
"Deep breath for me?" he asked, putting his stethoscope on my chest. I did my best to obey, but couldn't help the cry that escaped when my side was met the pressure from his instrument.
"I'm sending you for an x-ray," he began gently. "Is there any chance you're pregnant?"
The word surged through my brain like a jolt of electricity, and I tried to sit up.
"Hey there," said Jasper, alarmed. "Take it easy, kiddo…"
"I want to leave," I rasped, swallowing bile at the very thought. "No x-rays, I just want to go…"
"You're a minor, Bella, and you need care," said Jasper, taking my face in his hands. "What's wrong with an x-ray? You're not…" His voice turned serious as his eyes flickered down to my midriff, obviously examining me for signs of a baby.
"I don't think so," I said, my voice quaking at the very thought.
There was nothing I wanted less than Charlie's baby growing inside of me.
"What do you mean, 'don't think so'?" he asked sharply. "Have you been sexually active?"
"Jasper." Carlisle's voice was soft and warning as my brother's sharp words stung me, making me shrink away.
"Bella?" asked Jasper again, refusing to break eye contact. "Have you had sex? Is there a chance you're pregnant?"
"I want to go home," I pleaded. "Please, I'll be fine…"
"What does that mean, Bella?" he asked again, his voice going from stern to uncertain.
"Jasper!" Carlisle spoke sharply, giving my brother a stern look. "Jasper's going to take a walk. I have a few more questions…"
"Like hell I am!" said Jasper, outraged.
The very thought of Jasper leaving made me panic, and as I had earlier in the bathroom, I felt breathless.
"Don't go," I said, shaking my head. "Please don't leave me here…"
"I have a few personal questions that might be easier to answer if Jasper's not here," said Carlisle gently. "He can come right back in…"
"Alright," he said gently. "Bella, were you raped?" Jasper's eyes focused intently on the tile floor, no doubt to make me as comfortable as possible.
"I…" My voice failed me as I tried to avoid the answer I knew would make Charlie furious. The silence lasted too long, however, and Carlisle spoke again.
"Did your father ever make inappropriate advances towards you?" asked Carlisle, his voice professional and kind.
I felt my face flame red as I buried it in my palms, nodding silently.
I heard Jasper curse.
"Did he ever go further than suggestions?" asked Carlisle. "Did he ever touch you inappropriately?"
My whole body shook and I felt as though I would be sick as I nodded again, in that moment almost feeling Charlie's phantom hands where they shouldn't ever have been.
"Alright," he said. "Did Charlie ever force you to have sexual intercourse with him?" Carlisle asked gently, taking my hand.
Following my pattern of nods, I gave a small, feeble nod of assent before the dam I'd put up since the car ride broke down and I began to shake with terrible sobs. Jasper punched the side of the exam table and cursed again, immediately taking my shaking body into his arms. He took a deep, angry breath before he calmed himself.
"It'll be okay, sweetheart," he crooned gently. "You'll see. It'll be okay…"
"Bella?" Emmett's loud voice boomed through the nearly empty emergency room before the curtain around my little bed flew open, revealing a properly stitched and bandaged Emmett. Nurse Julie must have taken care of him.
"Jasper?" he asked quietly, seeing our brother's tears as he kissed mine away. "What's going on?"
"Sit down," said Jasper. "Carlisle needs to run some more tests, and then we can get out of here."
"Bella?" said Jasper, stroking a wet tendril of hair out of my face. "You can keep this as private or public as you'd like…"
I just shrugged and let my red face fall back onto his shoulder, thanking every God I knew that Charlie's sons had not turned out like him. Emmett would need to know…
I heard Jasper whisper that dirty word Carlisle had first said to me, and while predictable, Emmett's reaction was vicious.
"Calm yourself, or you'll have to leave," said Carlisle softly, returning to my cubicle with new gloves, a gurney and nurse Julie. "Keep it quiet, okay?"
Emmett's glare was mutinous, but at the threat of being tossed out, he quieted himself.
"I'll kill him myself if they don't," he growled as I was helped onto the rolling bed. "I swear to God, Jazz, I will kill him."
"Shush," said Jasper angrily. "Now's not the time. Just look at her…"
"Shit, Bell," he said, contrite as he stepped forward. "I love you, okay? Just know that. Always."
I hitched my blanket up higher as a nurse wheeled me around, facing the hallway.
"See you in a few, Bella," said Jasper. "We'll be waiting right here."
I couldn't go alone…
"Wait!" I called, jerking around to keep them in sight. "Not by myself! Please!" I never wanted to be by myself again. I twisted myself around to try and disentangle myself from the blankets and remove myself from the gurney.
My side flared with pain again and with a sharp pop, I knew I'd moved the wrong way.
"Lay down," said the nurse softly. "I'll come fetch one of them in a moment, once you're settled in…"
I tried to take a deep breath of relief, only to find that the breath I took was too shallow… too quick…
"I can't breathe," I croaked, eyes widening as the real fear took hold. Doctor Cullen arrived just in time to hear my words and he hurriedly moved nurse Julie out of his way, reaching down to press on my injured side again.
"Deep breath," he ordered sternly, pressing his stethoscope to me again. I began to feel lightheaded as I tried to do as I was told, only to have black blotches invade my vision.
"Jasper, get back," ordered Doctor Cullen as my brother rushed forward. "Julie, page respiratory and move her to Trauma 1."
"Of course," said the startled nurse. I felt myself being wheeled away from the family who loved me and into a cold, clinical medical room with a strange man I didn't know. I panicked as his hands removed my covers and began to undo my gown, the cold air hitting my chest…
"You're lung's punctured," he said gently, reaching over for scissors to undo the most tedious knots. "I'm going to relieve the pressure, but I'm going to need you to just relax and breathe, okay?"
The black across my line of sight was nearly constant now, and even as he spoke those words to me, they sounded tinny and far-away.
"Bella? Can you hear me?"
A/N: Thanks so much for all the reviews last chapter- this new chapter was a little gift to say thanks. I really appreciate hearing back from all of you.
A bit of a change from the first version, but all in all, much the same. There were elements from old chapter 3, 4 and 5 all wrapped up in this one.
Please leave me some feedback, as I'd love to hear what you think!