By: Skyela Rickman-Walters
Disclaimer: I do not in any way own any of the Twilight Saga. It belongs to Stephenie Meyer. They only thing I own is the story plot and a few original characters I have created.
A/n: Firstly I must say thank you to each and every one of YOU. My fellow readers, without your kind words and your undeniable faith, I must say that this story never would have made it. This story chapter and the next story is dedicated to all my reviewers and my readers. This story is only just the beginning and I hope you all enjoy the epilogue for STOLEN. There will be an important author's note at the end of this chapter, so please please read it :) Love to each and every one of you! Please read and review :)
Epilogue: A Soul Divided
"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour or grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing...not healing, not curing...that is a friend who cares." ~Henri Nouwen
About 6 weeks later
Life was slowly turning back to normal. The crazed paparazzi stopped flashing their cameras every second I tried to scoot out my door and slowly enough, the reunion with my parents stopped replaying night after night. Eventually the staring stopped and I was finally able to walk around the town without be leered or pointed at.
My days were filled with happiness and laughter—a time well spent, I must say. Since all of my high school friends were away at college, I spent most of my time with Jake and Edward—and sometimes Alice. On some days, we would explore the snow covered woods, taking pictures of the crystal-like scenery, and on other days, when Edward went to hunt with his family, Jake and I would hang out in his garage, have a couple sodas and reminisce; we would often make plans for warmer weather, when we could search the beach for seashells and sand dollars, but I secretly kept inside myself during these discussions. When Jake was busy, Alice and Edward would drag me to Seattle for various shopping sprees. I don't think anything so drastic could ever change my view on that matter—I didn't understand the over exceeding joy Alice felt whenever she found some cute shirts or jeans. Edward or Jake or even Alice for that matter, never tried to fill me in on what I had missed while I had been away, as though all three, simultaneously feared it would be too much for me to handle. I never questioned it out loud either, although Jake's buff physicality had me trembling in my boots. I knew that one day I would be able to ask him, but for now, I just smiled and listened to my two best friends and my boyfriend joke carelessly under the near constant clouds and partly sunny weather.
My mother had decided against moving back to Jacksonville for the time being. Instead Phil had helped get her a small two bedroom apartment just outside of Seattle. Renée about half dragged me out to thrift shops and furniture stores to find things for my room at her place. Sometimes she would even take me out on day trips, just mother and daughter, and in her silence, as she sat across the table from me, questions nearly spilling over the top, I could tell she was wondering the big question that was driving my entire family crazy. Sometimes, as we sat in silence at her apartment, I could hear the question at the tip of her tongue, taunting and waiting for the right moment to slip.
"What happened while you were away?"
They always referred to my kidnapping as me "being away." As if I had been gone on a sabbatical or I had decided to travel abroad for eight months. I think it helped ease their pain thinking in such ways, helped them to believe that I had been somewhat happy—that the person I had stayed with had cared for me. I hated when they referred to it as such, but I never said anything. I would usually tighten my arms around my middle and squeeze in on myself, trying to remember the correct way to breath. Remembering that period of my life was something I didn't want to do. I wanted to bury my past and forget it had ever happened. I was sure that the doctor who examined me in California had passed on the news of whatever she had observed to my parents. I could remember her questions easily, and I knew that her suspicions created a new nightmare entirely for my parents. What hurt the most was when Edward questioned it. I knew that he knew something—I could see it in his eyes whenever I woke up from a nightmare or when his voice would seep in during my low points of the day. During those times, I would always sink back inside myself, determined to keep Edward shaded from the darkness I had encountered. He was always polite about it—unlike Jake was—and was always willing to pick a new topic after he brought it up. But even after a new topic had been chosen, I could feel it begin to happen—that strange but comforting floating sensation would raise me high up towards the ceiling, like a lost soul searching for heaven. Edward often would find me in that state of mind—and I knew it scared him to see me so lost and dazed, but he hid his concern well enough.
Sometimes, when I was alone—after Edward "left" and before he was to arrive in my room again—I would find myself thinking about Victoria and what her plans for me and Vince had been. I wondered about Vince a lot—I thought about that strange, crazed look in his eyes the last time I had really seen him. I thought about Emma and I thought about Paulo, and I wondered if they were enjoying their immortality. My sweet baby was always, always in the back of my mind—and I often would strategize how I would get him back—so I could lay him to rest the way I wanted to. And then my shattered mind would bring me to Bren—her shattered face as her body was so savagely thrown into the wall. I felt guilty—it should have been me to die, not Bren. My number had been up the moment I moved to Forks, so why was it, nearly two years later, that I was still alive? The guilt enveloped me the worst by far—sometimes it was terrifyingly hard to resurface after I thought about Bren's death, a mini movie constantly on re-run. I often thought about Olivia too, wondering if she had found her way home, or if she was another that I had horribly failed.
One blustery afternoon, while Charlie was off at the station, I somehow found myself sitting on Charlie's couch with my mom, Edward, Jake and Alice. We were playing Uno, while watching some Christmas special that I was sure I had seen before. Renée had made some cookies, which Jake practically devoured in one sitting. The lights from my father's Christmas tree dazzled me, and I found myself staring at it in wonderment for long periods of time. At some point in the game, my attention was recaptured as Alice's eyes became large, her vision dwindling from the present, Edward tuning into her immediately; I jumped a little as Edward's hand wrapped tightly around mine in a protective manner. Jake tensed, his large muscles bulging as the flexed threateningly while watching Alice out of the corner of his eye. Even my mother seemed to notice that everything had suddenly become too quiet, but before she could question the awkward silence, Alice let out her melodious soprano laughter, laid down one of her cards and yelled, "Uno!" My eyes narrowed slightly, wondering what on earth I had just missed.
The doorbell rang sometime after that. I sighed apprehensively as I watched my mother prance around the corner to get the door, wondering just who it could be on a Sunday afternoon; my old friends weren't due home from college until next week and the reporters had slowly ceased to a stop. I leaned into Edward's arms, taking notice that he was listening to someone's thoughts; a soft smile crossed his face as he peered down at me, his eyes once more golden and loving.
"Bells?" Renée poked her head around the corner. "It's for you, honey."
I groaned softly, rolling my eyes as I pulled myself to my feet. After excusing myself from my family, I rounded the corner, eager to get the questions done and over with. Renée clapped my shoulder and kissed my cheek with adoration before she disappeared into the living room. I gave her a searching look before pulling on my jacket and mittens—I was very disgruntled about having to stand in the snow. I shoved my socked feet into a pair of old and very used boots. I pulled open the door. What stood on my front porch startled me.
"Miss Bella!" Nicky hurtled himself at my legs and hugged them tightly. My eyes widened in surprise as I awkwardly lifted him into my arms and tried to shut the door behind me.
"Nicky?" I asked just as the door clicked shut. Oh boy, have you gotten heavy, I thought, shifting him to my other side in hopes that he would be easier to hold. "How did you—?"
My eyes searched the steps before me, narrowing in on a lithe girl standing with one foot on the bottom step. She turned and gave a small wave to a woman who sat inside her Ford Taurus, waiting with kind patience before looking back up at me, holding in her arms a tiny girl with little brown ringlets poking out from underneath a pink cap.
"Hey, stranger," the girl said giving me a sheepish grin as the car pulled out of my driveway. My jaw dropped in shock as I watched the car slowly drive up the road. Nicky pointed at the girl as a quirky smiled cross her face.
"Olivia?" I whispered, staring into her green eyes, about a thousand emotions flitting through my body as if I was on fire. Olivia grinned at me and stepped up onto the stair.
"It's me," she admitted with a sheepish nod. I trembled, clutching Nicky in my arms with everything I had, blinking as though I had just seen the sun for the first time.
"Because of you." Finally Olivia reached the top step, now level with my eyes. I gave Olivia a half smile and before my mind could process my motions, I had enveloped her into a large hug, cramming both Nicky and Little Bella in between us. "I'm so happy to see you!" Olivia whispered, finally breaking apart from the embrace.
"Me too," I replied honestly. I set Nicky down on the snowy ground and outstretched my arms to take Little Bella. Olivia gladly gave her up, fondly adjusting the tiny hat that was much too big for Little Bella's head. She had definitely grown so much since the last time I had seen her—she snuggled into my arms, placing her precious head upon my shoulder, thumb in her mouth.
"How did the police find you?" I wondered out loud, staring at Olivia in mild disbelief. "I didn't know much of what happened to you—but I told them everything that I knew."
"They found Tilly and the kids first," Olivia explained while adjusting the wool hat atop Nicky's head. "Vince gave her away when they took him in for questioning." I was secretly relieved that Olivia didn't add, 'Didn't you watch the news?'—ever since I came home, the news never came on and if it did by accident, I would leave the room immediately. In my mind—as it was with my parents—no news was good news. Olivia continued, "When they found Tilly, they took my kids away from her. Nicky and Little Bella were held in protective custody while people were searching for me. Thankfully I went somewhere nice this time—the old couple who had me treated me well enough." She shrugged it off easy, as if living with a strange old couple had been no big deal. "They actually called the hotline number first, bless their souls. They were happy to help—I think they were a bit senile, though," she added as an after thought—I couldn't help but suppress a giggle—"And then I went home, easy as that. My mom wouldn't let me out of her sight for days."
"How'd you get the kiddos back?"
Olivia frowned. "It took a bit longer to get Nicky and Bella back—after telling my mom about the two of them, and then having to come forward to the authorities and then I had to go through maternity tests and all of that," she waved her hands as she spoke, trying to show how much she had been through. It seemed to me as though that had been a more stressful experience than the kidnapping itself. Olivia gave a small chuckle. "I mean, why would I lie about something like that—I'm almost sixteen for crying out loud! At first it felt as though no one believed what I was saying—sometimes I felt as though my mom felt that way. But I never gave up—I would stop at nothing until I was able to hold them both in my arms once again." She reached out to gently cup Little Bella's cheek. "Finally—after what seemed like years—we were given the okay and Nicky and Bella got to come home. I-it was like we had never been apart." She smiled, stroking the baby's cheek with her thumb with soothing gentleness. Nicky wrapped his arms around her leg and nuzzled his head into her kneecap.
"How did your mom handle….the kids?" I bit my lip as my stomach twisted nervously.
Olivia waved her right hand and grinned. "At that point, I don't think she cared. I mean, I'm sure a part of her was devastated—to have the truth in black in white right in front of her—but she was so happy and overwhelmed to see me again—and she loves the kiddos so much."
I grinned. "That's great to hear." I hugged her again, breathing in her sweet, citrusy scent. "I'm so happy you're okay—I was so worried that something horrible had happened."
"It wasn't fun," Olivia admitted. "Not in the very least. I was worried about the two of you as well."
My heart and face sank a little bit in disappointment, which Olivia was sure to catch. Her eyes narrowed in regret and I saw a ripple of tears well up within them.
"Bren is gone." It wasn't so much a question. The terrible truth reared back to bite our asses again.
The two of us stood in silence for a few moments, remembering our friend. It was strangely comforting to finally have someone to remember her with. White puffs of snow began to fall from the sky as we pensively stood.
"I didn't know her that well." Olivia gnawed on her lip and kicked the newly fallen snow with the toe of her shoe. "But no one deserved that."
I shook my head in agreement. "Not Bren." I lifted my hazy eyes to find Olivia's searching for me. "You would have loved her, Livi. She was truly a character—always had a smile for everything. Her laughter…was infectious." And I laughed as I remembered her corny jokes and her charming wit. "I think sometimes, it was Bren who kept me going for so long…she always saw the glass half full."
"How did it happen?" Olivia's brow furrowed with concern. I could see everything happening in my mind's eye—Paulo, with his monstrous red eyes glowing in the bright and balmy light of midday, his hands as they ever so carelessly tossed Bren to the wind as though she was a lifeless ragdoll. She had only died trying to help me—I should have told her to stay put no matter what. I often wondered why it had been Bren—a true fighter—instead of me.
"She…fell." I didn't know how else to explain it to Olivia. How else do you tell someone, "Oh, a vampire used his immortal strength to throw her into the back wall. It happens every day!"
Olivia didn't need any other explanation; she firmly nodded, reaching out to grasp my hand.
I don't know how long we stood like that, out on my front porch while the snow fell from the sky. I was well aware that my family was watching the two of us from the confines of my father's house, but nothing really mattered other than the moment I was in.
Just before I was about to ask if Olivia wanted to step inside from the cold, her mother's car pulled back into the driveway. I eyed the license plate carefully this time, trying to make sense of this crazy yet definite realization.
"Livi—you came all this way to see me?" I whispered incredulously.
Olivia winked. "Consider yourself well loved. I don't convince my mother to drive clear into snowy unfamiliar terrain that often. Phoenix, as you are well aware, is very dry."
I gave her mother a wave. She smiled and waved frantically back. Olivia had her arms wrapped back around me, holding me so close I could feel her heart beating. "Keep in touch okay?" I whispered, gripping her tightly.
Olivia laughed and took Little Bella from my arms. "That was my intention." I leaned forward to give Little Bella a kiss. Nicky nearly plowed me over into a tiny banking with the vigor of his hug. Before Olivia took Nicky's hand and led him back to her mother's car, she turned around, grinning ear to ear. Her hand caught mine and I felt her cram something tiny into the palm of my near frozen mit. "Don't forget to tell your parents that me and the kids will be needing place to crash for about a week this spring! I'll be back before you know it—and then we can find closure together!"
My laughter sounded foreign—even to my own ears—but it secretly felt good to let some of the butterflies flutter out of my stomach. I helped Olivia get her little ones into the back seat of the car, received a more than friendly hug from Mrs. Bennett and waved frantically as I watched them pull free from my driveway. Olivia waved back, blowing kisses to me with one of the brightest smiles I think I have ever seen. I waved until I could no longer see the tiny car and I found myself looking at the tiny piece of paper the was wadded up against my palm.
Scrawled inside, was Olivia's neat handwriting. It read:
"Here's my number—don't be afraid to call! And here is my new email address too. I love you, Bella. At the very least, we'll always have each other!"
Love you very much!
Olivia, Nicky and Baby Bella
PS-I'm very, very happy that my baby was named after someone who inspires me everyday. Without you, Bella, we would have never found our way home. You will always hold a very special place in each of our hearts.
A tear rolled down my cheek as folded the tiny piece of paper back into fourths and shoved it into my coat pocket. The wind picked up pace, blowing my hair back and causing the icy snow to whip at my face. I looked to the sky, watching the wondrous gray clouds, thankful that I had at least saved someone I loved—someone I cared about. One part of me was ready to take the next step—to finally tell someone what had happened. I could feel each and every experience at the tip of my tongue, ready to roll with the slightest push.
"Bella?" His velvet voice warmed me in way Jacob could never. His hand gently touched my shoulder and I looked up into his brilliant golden eyes. My smile grew and then faded as he led my back inside, planting secret kisses into my damp hair.
I stood as one divided forever, a girl and a woman, innocent and tainted purity.
Edward took me in his arms; I was aware of my mother, Alice and Jake laughing from the other room, but I really didn't care for what ever they were joking about. I nuzzled my face into Edward's stone chest, breathing in his scent—not wanting this to end. Edward said nothing; he simply ran his cool fingers through my hair with one hand and ran his other in smooth circles along my back.
I wasn't ready to break this silence. I had to keep those who I loved the most from the truth. They would never look at me the same way—Edward would never love me with the strange fervor that he had for me and only me. I pushed my head even further into Edward's chest, trying to block out the noise that was whooshing at me with great intensity.
Biting down on my tongue, I bit back on the scream that was desperately yearning to break free from its cold dungeon. Never…never, never, never. Silence is blissful, easy. But every silence is meant to be broken.
Yay! A completed story! Now I know many of you are wondering, "Okay. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?????????" Because naturally, you're left wondering about how Bella will heal and what will happen when Olivia comes to visit--and does Bella turn into a vampire. But I think a lot of you are wondering about Victoria and her evil plot :)
Coming soon to , the next chapter begins...
As Bella's vow of silence becomes a burden for herself and for her family, a real horror begins: Vince escapes prison. Bella tries to remain afloat for the ones she loves, but when she and Olivia run head first into untimely danger, will Edward, Jacob and both of their families arrive in time? Will Bella find the strength to speak--or will her silence swallow her down into the terrifying darkness that is threatening to take her very life?
Heehee, just a little teaser--there is much more to SPEAK that just that little blub--and so much more happens ;) Plot twists galore, that you all will be sure to love. Please expect it out in a couple of weeks the very least, and thank you all so much. Please, please, please read and review as it will get the next installment out faster--and thanks again for you dedication. If you have any questions that need to be answered, please don't hesitate to ask.
Love to each and every one of you,