The courtroom was cold and for a moment I regretted not listening to Charlie. I tugged at the sleeves of my sweater, covering my hands to warm them. He didn't want me to come; he didn't want me to be reminded of what had happened that night in Port Angeles.
I remembered our interaction from this morning.
"Bells, you don't have to do this. You've been through enough," he pleaded as I climbed in my old Chevy truck.
"I have to do this Dad. Someone has to be there for him. He doesn't have anyone else."
"This never should have happened to you, Bella."
He wouldn't look me in the eye. No one ever did when they brought up that night—that night that I was attacked.
"Well Charlie, it did happen and I'm not going to turn my back on him. I'll see you when I get back."
The door creaked as I slammed it closed. It took three tries before the engine came to life. Gravel crunched as I backed out of the driveway and I waved goodbye to Charlie.
He still wouldn't look at me.
There were only a handful of people in the courtroom, with the families of the victims comprising the majority. I had a hard time thinking of those men as victims. Their snarling faces haunted me in my dreams; I could still smell their beer flavored breath. My body shivered in reaction to my thoughts.
"Bella, are you ok?" Jacob asked as he rubbed my shoulder. He didn't really want to be there but had insisted I that I must not travel to Port Angeles on my own. Jacob was my only friend in the raining mini-metropolis known as Forks, Washington.
"I'm fine, Jake. Just cold."
He frowned, but continued rubbing my shoulder. "We can leave, you know." Lowering his voice in anticipation of an argument, he added, "There really isn't any reason for you to be here."
"Jake, I've told you a thousand times: I need to be here. This is the only way I can thank him."
Jake tightened his lips with disapproval. He didn't understand the reason I was so invested in being here for this man. No one did.
It was my fault that Edward Masen was on trial for murder.
Lifting my head at the sound of a door opening, I scanned the front of the courtroom to find Edward being led in, sandwiched between two officers escorting him towards the defendant's table. He was dressed in the same suit he had worn throughout the trial; dark gray to match my mood. The suit jacket was too short at the sleeves, emphasizing the length of his lean arms. His necktie was blue and though it wasn't ugly, it certainly looked outdated . . . I wondered if the clothes were his or if they were donated.
Even with his ill-fitting suit, he was still extremely handsome. His hair was neatly combed, as it had been every morning of the trial. However, by the end of the day his hair would have a mind of its own, endearingly sticking up in all directions. He seemed to have a habit of rubbing his hands through his hair, making it appear wild and unruly. I wondered if he always did that when he was nervous; I wondered a lot of things about this man. Actually, he wasn't yet a man. Edward was only seventeen.
When I caught a glimpse of the shackles binding his hands and feet, my stomach clenched in anger. Why did the authorities felt the need to shackle him—weren't handcuffs equally effective? The chains undoubtedly made him look more like a criminal, as if they wanted to make him out to be some sort of monster. He sat down at the table with a hopeless sigh as the guard removed the offending metal from his wrists and ankles. Absentmindedly rubbing his wrists where the cuffs had been tightly clasped, he then on cue ran one hand through his hair. His lawyer leaned over and whispered something in his ear and he nodded. A few moments passed before he turned his head to scan the courtroom, appearing as if he was searching for someone.
He met my gaze and stopped. Our eyes locked for what seemed like an eternity. His golden-brown eyes were sad, with dark circles underneath. I had so much I wanted to say to him, but all I could do was stare back until he silently turned away.
A minute later the prosecutors from the District Attorney's office entered the room and sat down at their table. They looked so together, so professional; a far cry from Edward's disheveled attorney, whose baby face gave away his inexperience. I figured the attorney had been court-appointed and I wouldn't be surprised if this was his first trial. It was like the stars were aligned against Edward Masen, and I couldn't help feeling like I was the one who set this whole tragedy in motion.
The jury filed in slowly to the juror's box, and I studied each face in turn, trying to glean any hint about Edward's impending sentence. Unfortunately the jurors either averted their eyes or sat with stone-cold expressions, and I became immediately filled with dread.
We rose from our seats as the judge entered the room.
"You may be seated," he announced.
I tremulously followed his instruction, desperately hoping that the outcome would not be as bad as I feared.
The jury had deliberated for two days and had come to a decision. Today Edward would discover his fate.
The judge cleared his throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you have reached a verdict in this case?" He looked expectantly toward the jury box.
A plump, older woman with gray hair stood. I assumed she was the jury foreman.
"Yes, your honor. We have."
The judge nodded at the woman to continue. She opened a manila folder and began reading aloud.
"The state of Washington, plaintiff, vs. Edward Anthony Masen, defendant.
Case number 53122.
We the jury in the above and titled case find the defendant, Edward Anthony Masen, as follows:
Count 1, Voluntary Manslaughter: Guilty.
Count 2, Voluntary Manslaughter: Guilty.
Count 3, Voluntary Manslaughter: Guilty.
Dated this fifth day of July, 2006."
I closed my eyes and placed my head in my hands. I knew this would probably happen, but actually hearing the harsh word "Guilty" seemed so final. The family members of the victims were celebrating, giving high fives, and smiling.
I glanced at Edward and his face was emotionless. He looked much younger than his seventeen years, like a lost little boy. My heart was breaking for him.
He may have killed those three men, but he did it to save me.
The Judge was speaking, but I had blocked him out. Apparently, he was about to announce Edward's punishment.
I had done research on the internet, discovering that he could receive a maximum of forty-five years in prison for the three counts of manslaughter. I quickly performed the mathematical calculations in my head. If given a full sentence, he would be sixty-two years old when he would be released. Of course there was a chance he could get out early on good behavior, but I'm sure he would still have to serve at least twenty years. I felt sickened realizing that the prime of his life could be spent behind bars. I kept my fingers crossed, praying that the judge would be lenient.
"Mr. Masen, do you have anything to say before I hand down your sentence?" The judge asked.
Edward shook his head, his gaze dropping to the floor in front of him.
"Mr. Masen, I've put a lot of thought into your sentence. On one hand, you ended the life of three men. On the other, you prevented the violent rape and potential murder of a young woman. I know your personal history—I know you've had a hard life and have endured horrors I wouldn't wish on anyone. I don't think locking you away until you are an old man is going to help anyone. I see good in you and hope that you can be rehabilitated, to become a successful member of society."
He paused before continuing.
"I hereby sentence you to Meyer Juvenile Detention Center in Edmonds, Washington until you reach the age of twenty-one. You will then be on intensive probation for an additional fifteen years. I'm giving you a second chance, Mr. Masen. This sentence is contingent on you incurring no infractions during your stay in Edmonds. It is also contingent on you obeying the terms of your probation once you are released. If you violate these terms, you will be resentenced and will spend the next twenty-five years in a state penitentiary."
The judge paused, looking at Edward. "Do you understand these terms, Mr. Masen?"
"Yes, sir," Edward replied.
The Judge then motioned to the two officers, who reattached Edward's shackles and led him out of the courtroom. As he passed by me, he met my eyes again.
I silently mouthed "I'm sorry" as he disappeared through the door.
The trial was over. Angry voices rose from the plaintiff's side, and I could tell that the families of the victims were not pleased with the judge's verdict.
Jake nudged my arm; I had almost forgotten he was there with me. "Come on Bells; let's go home."
We made our way to my truck and when Jake offered to drive, I let him. We were silent as we traveled the hour trip back to Forks. It was raining now, and I leaned my head against the cool window, analyzing all that had happened today.
Edward would only serve four years, and it was in a juvenile center—not a real prison. I was grateful for that. I shuddered at the thought of what could happen to a handsome, young man like him in prison. It would be a fate worse than death. He would be much safer where he was going.
Glances stolen in the courtroom were the only interaction I had exchanged with Edward since he had saved me. I really wanted to thank him in person; to talk to him. I wanted to get to know this mysterious young man.
Edmonds was only three hours away from Forks. From what I had heard, Edward was a ward of the state and had been staying in a foster home with several other kids. I wondered if anyone would care enough to visit him.
I made my mind up at that moment. I was going to Meyer Detention center to visit Edward Masen.