Bonjour reader! Its me again. With another new story. I know, I know, you don't have to tell me, I have a million yet unfinished stories. I'm awful. Truly. But this kind of...well, it literally came to me in a dream. I guess I just wanted to see what it was like in print. It's going to be a little scary, a little graphic, a little intense, but all over, a good read, I hope.
She was beautiful.
She had been beautiful when she was a little girl, but when she grew up, as she passed through her adolescent years and into her adulthood she had filled out and moved past her awkward phase. Her hips had spread around the age of eighteen and she had gotten beautiful breasts to match. Her hair had darkened and gotten fuller and wavier, turning into a mess of long mahogany curls that begged to be played with. But those eyes, those eyes were the same as they had been when she was eight, still impossibly deep drown, sweet, innocent, warm and lovely. The last time he had seen them they had been filled with such fear it made his whole body tremble just to think of it, but now she lived her life in a normal, if not overly careful way. Fear was not a part of her everyday life, she did not live in it, soak in it, breathe, eat and sweat it.
Isabella Marie Swan, the One Who Got Away, as they liked to call her. She had, very literally, gotten away. It was a mix up, an accident, a series of coincidences that had led to her disastrous, devastating escape. He hadn't found another like her since. For a long time he tried his hardest to find another one, to find release the way he had found it in the others before her.
But that stupid girl, that Goddamn bitch had taken all the joy from his world, and had thus made him feel insane with the need to release, to calm the noises and tension in his mind.
It wasn't supposed to happen that way. She wasn't supposed to run, or find her way to the police or get away and leave him there without a way to make the aching stop. But away she had gone, the police she had found and ache he had bourn for thirteen long years, no matter who he tried to take it out on. It had taken him a few years to realize that she was the only one that could take away the ache now; she was the only one that could make it better. So he found her. And he waited. He was waiting for the right moment, the perfect moment to make her remember, to put the fear back in her eyes.
It was almost time now—almost time to make her remember.
It wouldn't take long.
He picked up the phone.
The phone rang.
Bella rolled over, pushing her unbidden locks of hair from her face and reached for the phone. She lifted it off the cradle and brought it to her face, swallowing a few times before uttering a groggy greeting.
When no one answered, she spoke again, this time louder in case they hadn't heard her. Still there was nothing on the other end of the line. She waited a moment.
"Mr. Newton, if you are calling me again I am going to have to report you to HR, this is completely inappropriate for a work relationship."
There was still nothing, suggesting to her that it either was, in fact, Mr. Newton calling her and thus he was not answering to save himself the embarrassment and the trouble of having an official complaint made with human resources at their place of mutual employment, or it was someone else who wished not to be known. So instead of torturing herself over it, she hung up the phone, rolled back over and went back to sleep.
The morning came and she more or less forgot about it. She got ready for work, she ate breakfast and she caught the train into the city. The commute overall was uneventful, and her morning at work was the same. Mr. Newton was not awkward with her when she saw him at the community coffee pot. So it hadn't been him that had called her the night before. She shrugged internally. It was probably some teenagers prank calling. It did not concern her.
Until at about two thirty in the morning the next night she got another late night phone call. The same happened, she picked up and there was nothing on the other line. She reacted the same.
She got a call at around the same time every night for a full week. When seven days had gone by with each their accompanying night and phone call, when she answered she did not just hang up. Instead, she gave them a piece of her mind.
"Listen, you stupid little pimple faced asshole, I don't care who you're trying to impress, what girl's pants you are trying to get into, call someone else's house before I find out where you are calling from and make you sorry you interrupted my sleep."
The other line remained silent.
She slammed down the phone. From her bedside drawer she removed the pad of paper and pen she had stashed in there and wrote down the time and date. She checked the caller id to see if there was a number to see who had been calling. As always, it was a private number that she could not see. She marked it down nonetheless and flopped back into her bed, and mentally congratulated herself for her words. Usually she wasn't such a big fan of profanity and threats, but she thought it was called for in this case. She hardly slept these days as it was, and these phone calls we not helping.
She always had nightmares this time of year, in late July. It was almost thirteen years now since it had happened, but every year, without fail, during the last few weeks of July and the first week of August, she had the nightmares. She dreaded going to sleep at night, knowing when she did she would see things, horrible things, terrifying things that years of therapy had not purged her of. So when these phone calls interrupted the little sleep she did manage to get, it made her irritable.
So irritable, in fact, that the next morning she called out sick from that morning's meeting and after dressing and grabbing an apple from her fruit bowl, marched down to the train and notebook in hand, made her way to the police station.
She walked in to the front desk, where she sat and waited until the woman told her that unless it was urgent, she would have to wait another hour until a detective could see her. They were busy.
And Bella, on little sleep, horrifying nightmares still pulsing through her mind, snapped.
"Well lucky me, because it is pretty damned urgent. I'm being harassed, for the past week, its interrupting my sleep, making it impossible for me to function at work or with my friends or fold my laundry or anything else I need to do. So I would really like it if someone could please just help me so I can get back to normal," she interjected, rather loudly. Too loudly, she realized, when the entire front waiting area got quiet. The secretary woman, who seemed like the type not easily rattled and used to dealing with less than pleasant people just nodded, picked up the phone and told her she would get someone on the line. Bella smiled, said a nice thank you, and sat down.
Five minutes later an officer called her name and told her to follow him, please, Detective Cullen would be happy to assist her. She followed along closely behind the officer, trying not to get lost as they wove between desks with people sitting at them, talking to other people just like her, or on the phone or doing paperwork.
He told her to sit down in a chair near a desk that was literally overflowing with paperwork. There was the bottom half of a man there, bent at the knees and the waist, trying to get to something under the desk. He fidgeted underneath his desk as he fished for whatever he was looking for. Bella watched for a moment and then sighed. She knocked on the top of his desk. Her knock was immediately followed by a loud bang and an exclamation of pain. The rest of the half body she had seen rummaging around staggered out from under the desk, rubbing the head attached to the body.
Bella was glad she was sitting down.
He was tall, lithe, and unfairly beautiful. He was rubbing his head through thoroughly disheveled bronze colored hair, which managed to find its way across his brow. Beneath this was the most startling of his features, gorgeous green eyes that flared with annoyance and then calmed immediately when he looked upon Bella sitting in the chair by his desk.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to startle you into injuring yourself, it's just…they said you could help me…I'm Bella Swan…are you alright?"
He continued to rub his scalp as he pulled out his chair and point it to face her. As he sat down he pulled out a small notebook from a pocket in the jacket that hung on the back of his chair, pulled a pen magically from behind his ear hidden in his unruly hair and looked at her intently.
"Of course, Miss Swan, I apologize for being so distracted. They just called my desk to tell me you had come in. Sheila told me you've had some problems with someone harassing you?" he asked, watching her and waiting. She had to gather her thoughts.
"Yes, well, every night for the last week someone has been calling my house in the middle of the night. They don't say anything, but they just keep calling. I don't really know what to do anymore. So I thought why not talk to the police."
The detective nodded while he began writing things down, jotting notes in some sort of shorthand to keep up with her. When he finished he looked at her and smiled in a strangely adorable crooked way.
"Well, there is nothing wrong with being safe and documenting something like this. It is of course possible that it is a group of kids prank calling you. But, we can look into it just to be sure."
Bella sighed in a moment of relief. Had she really been thinking, she might have been more nervous and less annoyed by her harasser, but instead she just lamented lost sleep. She was happy to be able to put the burden of her annoyances on this attractive young detective.
"Thank you so much, Detective," she replied with a smile. He nodded, looked back at his notebook for a moment and then looked at her quizzically. "Is something wrong?"
"Forgive me, Miss Swan, but your name sounds incredibly familiar. Pardoning how cliché this is going to sound, have we met before?" he inquired. There was nothing malicious in his tone and his eyes were nothing but innocent. He wasn't mocking her, wasn't fishing for a predicted answer, wasn't trying to get a story. He was just asking an honest question. So Bella sighed and gave him an honest answer.
"How old are you, Detective?" she asked.
"Twenty-eight," he answered, not sure how it was relevant.
"So you were fifteen when the string of child kidnappings and murders hit Seattle?" she questioned quietly, trying to push away the images, the memories that boiled up in her mind at the mention of that city alone.
"Yes, I had just turned fifteen when the first victim was taken. I was almost sixteen by the time the last one was kidnapped. She was the one that got out alive, the only one. She was―"
"Isabella Swan," she finished for him. His eyes widened. She could see that he remembered it.
She remembered it better.
"You…you were the eighth victim, the last one, the one that survived?"
She nodded, suppressing the gag reflex that was fighting to function. The nightmares were bad enough as it was, having to reminisce about the ordeal wasn't something she felt particularly inclined to do.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you―"
"Its fine," she said, stopping him with her hand lifted in his direction. "You didn't know, and there is no way you could have known. It's been thirteen years since the case; I don't blame you for not putting two and two together immediately."
The detective smiled sheepishly, as though in apology for bringing up such a horrible thing in casual conversation. He looked as though he had just said something embarrassing at a dinner party instead of reminding Bella of the most horrifying week of her life. She tried to think happy thoughts while he coughed uncomfortably.
"Well, Miss Swan, like I said, I will check into this for you. If I get any pertinent information, I will contact you. Is there a number at which I can reach you?"
Bella responded with the digits of her home phone number, as automatically recited as her name or age. He jotted the numbers down in his tiny notebook and as she got up to leave, he wished her a good day and handed her his card 'just in case'. She smiled a little, her face a shade paler than it had been when she arrived and turned from his desk. She put his card in her pocket with no idea how soon she would use it.
Edward Cullen watched Bella Swan go. He was sure it was the saddest thing he had ever done.
This woman, no more than a beautiful young girl who had walked into his station house with a problem had with less than a moment's explanation turned into not only a very embarrassing social faux pas, but a strange amorphous puzzle piece. He remembered the case she referenced without a moment's hesitation. In his criminal psychology classes they had briefly touched upon it, and because it had piqued his interest he had delved deeper into the facts of the case.
There had been eight kidnappings in the space of a year. Each time it was a child between the ages of six and nine, gender indiscriminate. They were kidnapped from a familiar place—the playground near their house, the path they walked home from school, their church—and each time they were missing for two weeks. By the medical examiners reports, it was suspected that for the first week the child was not harmed, kept alive, fed and generally cared for.
The second week, the child was tortured beyond recognition. When they were found, dumped somewhere public and conspicuous, they were beaten, knifed, burned and broken. They were twisted beyond anything even the parents could identify. It was only because of the clothes they wore and their dental records the children were even positively IDed. Seven children followed the pattern, stolen, kept alive for a week and then tortured relentlessly for a week before being murdered and dumped. There was not in any of the cases any evidence of a sexual assault.
Thank God for small favors, Edward had thought.
But the eighth victim was different.
She had been snatched, just like the seven before her. She had been kept, just like the seven before her. She had lived through the first day of torture, just like those before her. But on the second day of the second week, she got away. No one knew how, not even the girl herself. All that was known was that on Day Nine of her abduction with the Seattle PD running circles around itself trying to find the poor girl before she was dead, she had been found by the lead detective on the case—Detective Jacob Black—walking the streets without any shoes, her clothes in tatters but still upon her, unable to hide the blood that had dried on her back. She was without a single mark on the entirety of her body, except for four very long, shallow and what had most likely been incredibly painful lacerations upon her back. She was shaking all over, but she was safe.
Her name was Isabella Swan.
And he had just met her, the mysterious survivor. She had been unable to identify the man who had abducted her, only able to confirm it was, in fact, a man. She could tell by his voice. She was only corroborating what the many profilers already suspected.
He didn't know what had happened to her, even though when he was at the academy he was tempted to check out where she was. He could hardly believe she had been right there, in front of him. He had thought, a few times, about what it would have been like to have worked at case, to have been Detective Black when he found her. It was what motivated him to get a spot as a detective in the Major Case Squad. He had worked his ass off to do so, and only two months after getting his shot, he met the grown version of his inspiration and motivation. He looked down at her phone number again, hearing her voice recite it as he read it to himself.
"Cullen, what was that all about?" the voice that spoke was gradually becoming less irritating and more welcome as the days went by and Edward got more used to his new partner. Emmett McCarty had been in MCS for a few years by the time Edward had won his spot, and had taken him on as a new partner. At first it was difficult to adjust to his overly boisterous, almost comically cliché city cop attitude, but over time he was able to see that Emmett was in fact nothing more than a very good man who was trying to work as one of the last honest cops in the city. He did a difficult job and he did it damn well. For that, Edward respected him.
"Do you remember that big kidnapping case from about thirteen years ago, the one in Seattle, had the whole country up in a stir trying to protect its children?" Edward asked back as Emmett took a seat as his desk across from Edward's.
"Sure I do. I was too old for the profiled possible target to fit me, but my mother threw a fit every time I left the house. She would get into a tizzy if I was late ten seconds to dinner at night, even though we lived in Detroit. What does that have to do with the knockout that just left your desk?"
"That was Isabella Swan. She was the eighth victim," Edward explained. Emmett balked.
"I cannot believe I just thought about a kidnap victim naked," he responded.
Edward stared at him a moment. Then they both broke out into hysterical laughter, like they were fifteen again and best friends, sharing some secret joke.
"I don't know why you bothered, with Rosalie to come home to," Edward eventually commented. Emmett grinned devilishly. Rosalie was his girlfriend, soon to be fiancé, if Emmett ever manned up and proposed to her. She was a tough pill to swallow the first few times you met her, but regardless, she had to be one of the most gorgeous women Edward had ever seen outside a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar. She was all American Pie beautiful—shining golden blond hair, eyes like blue ice and a figure that literally stopped traffic. But she wasn't Edward's taste, not that it mattered. She was completely enamored with Emmett and he with her.
"Oh come on, Edward, you can't lie to me. Even with a gorgeous woman at home, how could any man resist the mental imagery?" he asked. Edward rolled his eyes at the playful glint in Emmett's own and laughed again.
"She came in here with a complaint about harassing phone calls, and I knew I recognized her name from somewhere and so I asked her about it. She then told me who she was and a tripped allover myself like a top grade ass trying to apologize for bringing it up."
"Nicely done, my friend, very nicely done. Who knows, perhaps she found your stumbling charming," he offered. Edward looked down again at the sheet of paper she had handed him, the list of phone calls and the corresponding dates and time. They were placed at different times every night, but it was obvious it wasn't a coincidence that she was receiving so many late night calls.
"I think," Edward replied, "It's more likely she found being reminded of that time in her life painful and uncomfortable. But she did seem genuinely disturbed about the phone calls, not exactly scared, more like angry. I told her we could look into it."
His eyes were scanning the page over again, flipping back over the notes, his mind wandering as he spoke out loud. Edward pondered for a moment why he was given this particular case. MCS didn't handle things like harassing phone calls, but if the front desk was bogged down and she was insistent enough, she must have just gotten passed through to the first available desk, that being Edward's. Presumably he could just pass it along later to the department best trained to handle a case like hers. But thinking back to her determined face as she handed over the list of phone calls, to the way she had visibly paled when speaking of her past made him feel strangely…possessive of the case and the woman it concerned.
"Are you going to check her LUDs?" Emmett inquired. "I have to put in a call to check another set, if you were planning on it give me her information and I can pass it along."
Edward told him the number and Emmett nodded, picking up his own telephone and placing a call to get those records as well as others.
"Should be here by this afternoon," Emmett said with a smile. If they were just prank phone calls made by some teenager, the number would likely show up and he could trace it back to whoever was making the calls.
He and Emmett went through the motions on their other cases, things that had really been played out as close to completion as was possible. They were waiting for the results of their LUDs, and sometimes, even with the technology they had access to, things still seemed to take an eternity.
When the LUDs did come in, Emmett poured over his own records, while Edward was perplexed with his. He immediately skipped all impertinent information and went right to the dates and times listed by Bella.
None of the numbers were the same. In fact, the numbers were all from different phone, pay phones to be exact, at different locations through the city. Someone had, in the wee morning hours, walked or gotten a cab to different locations throughout the city to place harassing phone calls to Isabella Swan. Edward swore under his breath.
"What's the problem, partner?" Emmett asked, looking up over the papers he had in his hands.
"Middle of the night phone calls are most likely…"
"Teenage punks playing a prank," Emmett finished.
Edward handed over the LUDs with its highlighted information.
"Do teenage punks generally go to different pay phones in heavily populated areas at odd hours of the night to place the phone calls?" he asked as Emmett scanned the papers. Emmett scratched the back of his neck the way he did when he was puzzled or disturbed.
"Not many that I've ever seen, but that only leaves less savory options. I'd rather it be teenagers with some ingenuity than a stalker," he answered, handing the paperwork back to Edward.
"I couldn't agree more," Edward replied. He was troubled, more troubled than he wanted to be over what he had assumed would be no big deal past the loss of sleep for Bella.
He took that trouble home with him, ruminating and fretted over what it was going to mean for her if she did have a stalker. The poor woman had been kidnapped and tortured as a child, why did she have to go through more now? Maybe it was someone who had become fixated on her when she was in the news years ago? Maybe it was just your run of the mill man who became obsessed? He wanted it to be run of the mill. He wanted it to be an ordinary case, with an ordinary explanation, even if ordinary meant some man in her office had a shrine to her in his closet and was worshipping her from afar. He would rather it be that, than what he was getting a sneaking suspicion it was.
So Bella's phone call, the one that confirmed his suspicions was both welcome in that it corroborated his intuitions and horrifying because it was the last thing he wanted to hear.
She had come in on a Friday and through the following weekend Edward did what Edward did best—he brooded. He took home the LUDs with him and tracked down each location. They were of course public locations, each with security cameras owned and operated by the city. He knew he was going to have to wait until Monday to put in an official request to look at the tapes, and he was going to have to wait until at least Wednesday before he was able to see them and try to identify a caller on a payphone at one of those particular times on her list. It was going to be pain in the ass grunt work like he did when he walked a beat, doing door to doors and canvassing neighborhoods. It wasn't his favorite kind of work. He was better at the intellectual, better at thinking about the why instead of trying to come up with someone to say what he already knew.
But still, he made a list of the tapes he was going to need to and put it on his to do list to add it to put in a formal request first thing Monday morning. That was all he thought about when he woke up at the start of the week.
Until she called.
His work phone was strapped to his waist along with a few other indispensables, like his shield, a Leatherman and of course, his gun. When it went off as he was putting on his jacket to leave his apartment he thought for sure it would be Emmett, and so when he looked at the caller ID and saw it was not, in fact, his partner at all but instead a number he did not recognize, he was perplexed.
When he answered, he felt his stomach bottom out.
The voice on the other end of the line was quiet, panicked sounding, full of fear and what sounded like tears. It was nothing like the voice she had used when she saw him in the station house, but he knew it right away.
"Miss Swan? Are you alright? Did something happen?" he asked immediately. He felt panic rising in himself just from the edge of fright in her voice.
"No, I am not alright…something…its him. The phone calls were from him, the man who...from when I was a child. I can't believe I didn't see it before but now I do because I got this package, and it's from him. I don't know what to do," she said. Her words came out in a horrified gush, like a damn burst.
"Sit tight, I'll be over as soon as I can," he said. They said goodbye simultaneously, and even though he didn't know her address he ran out the door to his car.
He phoned Emmett while he was running down the stairs. He was, miraculously, already at the station. He provided her name and Emmett provided her address. He didn't need to explain it was an emergency, he was sure it was audible in his voice.
When he arrived at her apartment complex she buzzed him in without hesitation and he bounded up the stairs to her apartment. As he flew up the steps he took a moment to ponder what it was that made him rush over here, speeding faster than was truly safe on his car on his way to get to her apartment and then taking the stairs by twos, weaving through the people descending them first thing in the morning toward work. When he couldn't figure out the answer he decided to file it under the 'Does Not Matter' portion of his motivations and continued until he reached her door.
She demanded to see his shield through the peep hole in her door before she let him in, and when she did he could see she was shaking all over. She had been dressed for work at some point—she had on a business casual skirt suit that in any other moment would have caught Edward's attention more than anything else, but it was the way she trembled even while sitting down, the way she couldn't even hold a cup of coffee as he told her to tell him everything that gave him pause.
"Explain to me what happened, from beginning to end," he suggested gently, trying not to sound too demanding or ask her to do something she couldn't do. She took a deep breath, followed by another and then finally she began to speak.
"I was getting ready for work this morning, and there was a knock on the door. When I answered the door there was a delivery man, he had a box of flowers from a florist around the corner. I signed for them, having no idea who they were from. I thought for sure they were from my boss who has, in the past, made advances that I have shot down. When I opened the box there was a dozen roses. And when I took them out I found…I found this."
She slid a zip lock bag across the table to him. In it was a Polaroid photo of a child, about eight years old. It was a little girl, sleeping on a concrete floor in a very small room, perhaps even a closet. He stared at it and then looked up at her.
"That's me. That's me when I was eight years old. That was the room he kept me in, a tiny closet in the basement of some building, a house, I don't know. All over the walls were pictures, pictures like these of other children. The other children he had taken…he photographed them just like he photographed me. But he had pictures of them from…later in the weeks. There were pictures of them being tortured…of them screaming…of them…dead. And there are pictures of me, too, somewhere. He has them all. He is the only one who could have sent this to me. I…the phone calls were from him, too, weren't they? They weren't from some teenagers pulling a prank, they were him, reminding me. It is thirteen years to the day today, you know. Thirteen years to the day since he took me, and this morning I get these roses and this picture."
She was looking away from him, away from the picture, away from the broken vase and puddle of water and roses on the floor. Her eyes were brimming with tears that she seemed utterly determined not to cry. Eventually she swallowed them down. She looked him straight in the eye and said nothing, waiting. Edward searched for the right words. He wanted to fix it. He wanted to take it all away, the pain, the fear, the knowing in her eyes that was slowly growing in himself.
Whoever had taken her thirteen years ago, to the day as she had reminded him, was coming for her now. He didn't know when, or how, or even why, but he was coming for her. And he wanted her to know it. He wanted her scared.
That made Edward angry. He couldn't explain it. He had seen women stalked. He had fielded cases about battered wives, women terrorized by husbands, jealous ex-boyfriends and crazies who thought they had some sort of right. But it had never made him so furious as he was then. He had always been told not to take things to heart in this job, because if you did it would eat you alive. If you felt every case to your core you would never survive. You would be chewed up and spat out faster than you could blink and you'd be worthless for all your trouble.
But no matter how irrational it was, the fact that this man—this monster—was terrorizing her made him want to beat something or someone until the rage was gone. Instead he took another deep steadying breath.
"I have some calls to make so we can make sure you are safe, but I promise I am going to figure this all out," he said.
She looked at him like she didn't believe him.
He didn't know if he believed him either. But the one thing he did believe was that even if he couldn't make it all make sense he was going to try. He also believed, no, he knew that no matter what sense it did or did not make at the end of the day, he was not going to let anything else happen to Isabella Swan.
He was going to make goddamn sure of it.