Yes, I am still here. I hope you are, too.
I'm sorry for the delay. I'm still here. I'm still writing, however slow. I will finish this story. There will be closure.
I've said it before; I'll say it again. I have been slowly responding to reviews. Please know I read each one, and I appreciate them more than I can tell. Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed with writing, I reread them for some inspiration. Thank you all so much.
Thanks so much, Strider and Shasta. You rock for beta'ing this.
I do not own any of these characters, or the original plot to the Twilight Series. Everything publicly recognizable belongs to their owners. I am doing this only for the pleasure I gain from writing and I am not associated with anyone or anything to do with the Twilight Series. There is no financial benefit, whatsoever, though I may wish there were.
WARNING – this chapter may be a trigger for some people as it does reference rape. Please do not continue to read if this bothers you. I will explain anything pertinent should you need to now plot wise. Just contact me.
SUMMARY (I was told that not everyone could get to it on the forum so here it is here):
Bella woke up lost, alone and afraid. She wandered but found no one until Alice, Esme and Carlisle found her. They took her into their home. Edward reacted as expected and ran to Alaska. Bella went to stay in the cottage, where she found some information on an Isabella Swan, but strangely that information disappeared. Edward returned home and the Cullens convinced Bella to return home.
Bella was found to have a strange talent, so the Denali coven came to meet her and find out more about her gift. It seems our little Bella is a shield, but that she can also echo other's gifts. So, she can see the visions Alice sees and hear Edward's thoughts. But it's a weaker version of their abilities, and she needs skin contact.
Bella has learned about vampire mating, but she doesn't believe that Edward feels that way about her. So, she has decided to sit back and watch what happens with him. She's spent a lot of time with him, learning to drive, learning to play piano and learning a tiny bit about her past.
Then she saw Tyler get into an accident and rushed to help, falling and blacking out.
Bella had fallen and hit her head, landing herself in the hospital. When she was about to leave, the chief of police showed up. There was some sort of connection to him, though she isn't sure why. Then there was a blowup between Edward and Bella. They both said some things that probably shouldn't have been said. Bella ended up running from the house.
Bella ran off in a tiff, eventually winding up in La Push, where she met Jake. After a few days of not speaking to Edward, she decided to do something and came up with an excuse to see Charlie.
So she met and spent time with Charlie, noticing a picture of a woman whom she closely resembled while at his house.
Weeks passed and Edward paid her no attention. Finally, at the end of last chapter, Mike asked her to the dance. Edward couldn't handle that, so he finally spoke up again. Their first communication after the "hiatus" was strained. Later in the day, Edward apologizes… just as he's about to tell her something REALLY important, there's a bang at the door…
Alice takes Bella away to the cottage where she drops a bombshell.
Edward comes to find them and tells Bella about the wolves.
Dum! Dum! Dum!
So, there's this meeting. The wolves tell them that they're watching (just like Big Brother) so everyone needs to be careful.
Peter and Charlotte come for a lovely stay, so B has to be out of the house, just in case. Edward takes her to PA, where they share a lovely meal and a jaunt in the rain.
There was a kiss, then a dance. After Bella went to spend some time in Port Angeles.
So… Bella got lost in PA (which I have now been), was herded by some guys and Edward found her.
He reached over to me, grabbing my hands in his, his eyes boring into mine. "Bella, you are so much more than just the world to me. You're everything." He paused, bringing my hands to his lips, then lowering them again. "I don't know how to adequately say this…" He dropped his head so it was on the same level as mine. "You are my life now."
Warmth filled me at his words—a profession of love without actually saying the word. It could have come at a better time, sure. But it would be enough for now.
"And if he could do something to you," Edward continued, "he could do it to someone else. To someone else's Bella."
Though I was still squealing internally at his prior words, irritation started to break through my glee— actually, both irritation and fear. Would he have left me there in that alley to chase those guys down? What about in the car right now? He wouldn't hurt them in front of me; that was certain. But would he—
"Still doesn't explain why you'd leave me here… alone—"
"No," he almost screamed, dropping my hands in disgust that I thought he'd abandon me. "Not at all."
Anger burned hotter, a new excitement replacing the last. What else should I believe?
"I'd make sure you were safe first," he continued, his voice calculating. "Alice could get you home."
"Alice," I spat, disdain seeping through my words. "So you'd still go."
How could he? I muttered the obvious and shook my head as my fury gained momentum, searing through my veins. "You'd leave. You'd— "
No! My anger couldn't win—I wouldn't allow that—so I took a deep, steadying breath and decided on a new approach. Anything to change his mind. Anything to make him stay.
"Don't." I pleaded with my eyes, though he only glanced at me, and hoped they said all that I could not bring myself to utter, especially with the haze of anger still floating around. I would say something I'd regret if I allowed myself to lose one ounce of control. That couldn't happen.
He made a scoffing sound at the back of his throat. "And leave them—him—to hurt someone else? To… kill someone else? Who knows when—or if—he'd be found."
"I'm not saying to leave him," I placated.
"What are you saying, then?"
"I know the guilt would eat you up. But just— You're not— " God? No, that wouldn't work. But what would make him back down? "Let's just... let's just talk to Carlisle. He'll know what to do. I mean, he's good at that."
"I'd like to—" He shook his head and peeked at me, then away so fast I almost thought it was my imagination. "I'd just find a way to stop him from hurting someone else. Nothing more."
He was still tense, his shoulders rigid, so I reached out and rubbed my fingers down his arm, ignoring as he flinched away. I didn't want to hear what he wanted to do to those guys. And I knew that I couldn't let him wallow in his self-imposed mire. Thoughts weren't actions, but still I needed to stop this downward spiral.
"Believe me; I don't want to let them go either. But hurting them, that's not you. You are a better man than they are."
He laughed, hard and short.
"It isn't." I was sure.
"You don't know what I'm capable of."
I stopped my hand on his forearm and squeezed. "I may not know everything, but I know you—the you now—" I squeezed harder —"and I have no doubt you're above that."
He rolled his eyes and set his jaw, whipping his arm and his gaze away. "You have no idea, Bella." His voice was hollow and yet somehow angry.
"You helped me." I turned to him fully, crossing my arms across my chest. Unable to articulate myself properly, I tried again. "I mean, you left them. That's all that matters."
My fight was leaving me. His brusque was tone worrisome, deflating any tiny remnants of irritation I had remaining. I needed to distract him from his current line of thought before I lost him completely, but how?
Time. Time would distract him. "Listen, I'm supposed to meet the girls for dress shopping. And Alice is probably worried even though nothing happened. You know she saw— "
"Maybe you should, you know, come with me?"
Perhaps if I kept him in my sight, I could prevent him from going after those men—not that I had any chance of stopping him should he actually decide to do anything. But if Alice was there, it was at least two—one and a half?—against one.
He sighed. "If that's what you want."
"It is." I forced a smile, trying to lighten the situation. "I mean, I know it's not going to be much fun for you. But you could help me pick out a dress, since you are my date and all."
It wasn't a way to calm him down or change his line of thought, but it was a start. And maybe if I kept him with me, I wouldn't relive the past half hour. I couldn't think about anything but him when he was near. A distraction like that had to help.
Once I was alone, I would think about what had happened and what could have happened. It would bother me—that much was certain. The images of the guy with the dark hair, the guy from my memories, what were they about? Who was he? What had we done? Had he been significant? In a bad way? These questions were sure to haunt me tonight, nightmares that wouldn't quit.
But in that moment, sitting next to him on some sort of turnoff, there was something more pressing. Edward needed a distraction… and to be honest, so did I.
"There you are," Alice exclaimed when we exited the car after Edward's expert parallel parking job—I would never have expected the Volvo to fit in the tiny space.
"Wow!" Jessica said dryly. "Alice was right! She said you'd be pulling up, like, any minute. What took you so long?"
"Long story," I answered, looking to the ground and feigning embarrassment. "I kind of got lost coming back from the book store."
We were all standing outside a little Italian place; Angela and Jessica clearly had just left as they were just outside the door. Alice was close to them, keeping her distance while still seeming part of the group.
Edward stayed behind, walking over to Alice as I made my way to the others.
Jessica pounced as soon as I got near enough. "So you were with Edward," she prodded, a sardonic smirk on her lips. "I thought you said you were coming with Alice."
"Um, plans changed. I got to Port Angeles earlier. And I actually wasn't with him." That wasn't a lie. I'd be more believable if I stuck to a variation on the truth. "He kind of ran into me as I was walking back. Like I said, I got lost. He helped me get back." Close enough. I could get away with that. "So… um, you guys headed off to get the dresses?"
"Yeah," Angela chimed in, clearly picking up on my desire to change the subject. "But… well, you guys probably didn't eat, right?"
"No, I haven't had anything all day… and I'm starving." I looked to Alice. "What about you? You hungry?"
She laughed, and I knew she was going to shoot me down. "Actually, I'm not," she chirped, her golden eyes wide with innocence. "I had a snack on the way to town, but you look like you could stay."
I nodded and fought a sigh, unable to stop my shoulders slumping. I'd have to persuade him alone.
"So," she continued, "I know your size. I'll just pick out one for you. Or maybe I'll pick out a design I like and—"
"Off the rack is good enough," I cut in. "Besides, the dance is days away. Not enough time."
She rolled her eyes, knowing that days were far more than she actually needed, especially without that pesky sleep thing. She could probably have a custom dress available in hours.
"Mind if I eat?" I asked Jessica and Angela. I couldn't let Edward go off by himself, and I couldn't go with the girls for fear that Jessica might corner him. From the look in her eyes, she was ravenous for gossip fodder. He could protect himself normally, but in this mood? I wasn't sure he'd keep up his normally perfect façade.
"No way," Angela answered, cutting off anything the other girl could have said.
Jessica narrowed her eyes. "Fine, but we're talking later."
"Sorry, guys," I said. "I'll see you at school?"
"Definitely," Jessica said, sounding almost amazed and annoyed. What would she say tomorrow?
Angela uttered a sound of agreement with a small smile. "Have fun!"
"You too. Don't buy anything too crazy." I laughed, then spoke in an aside. "Watch her." I pointed in Alice's direction and hoped she would heed my warning.
The restaurant was nothing fancy, but it was cozy. The greeter showed a little more attention to Edward than I liked. It was all I could do not to grab his arm and claim him as mine. The strength of my possessiveness shocked me. I'd never had anything take control so fully before, not even my anger. I shook off the feeling when I saw Edward bribe the girl for a more secluded area—just like in an old movie. He was mine. I knew it. He knew it. Who cared if the girl was oblivious? She wasn't his type anyway.
We sat at a small table, our bodies leaning toward each other as if a force as uncontrollable as gravity kept us together. I leaned over and placed my hand on his. "Let's enjoy this, okay? After tonight, it's no longer just us."
He forced a smile. "You're right. It's our last time alone for a while."
"Can I get you anything?" a female voice asked, hinting at more than just food, her eyes trained on Edward. "Any drinks to start?"
Edward nodded his head toward me. "Bella?"
I ordered a soda, then looked at the menu, choosing the first thing I saw, something to do with mushrooms and pasta. Although I rushed through dinner, I kept a wary eye on Edward the entire time. I could not relax; neither could he. All in all, it was a stressful meal.
The drive home was quiet. I tried to break the silence a few times in the beginning, but nothing I said would help, so I eventually gave up. With the quiet came the memories of what had happened earlier. As I had done so many times, I pushed them to the recesses of my mind. They would come. And when they did, I feared a complete breakdown. Edward didn't need to witness that. No one did. I'd wait until I was at home, alone in my room. Alone to deal with it myself.
I thought of less important, more innocuous things. I would need to call Charlie soon. The deal for my car—well, truck—had been all but hammered out. I just needed to set up a time to pick it up. Since Charlie was such good friends with Billy, and I was such good friends with Charlie, it seemed like picking it up while Billy was visiting was the best way to go. I could drop off some food for Charlie, Charlie could spend more time with his friend driving him back to the rez, and Billy could see that I was safe and sound. Why not kill two—uh, three—birds with one stone.
We'd just made a turn when I heard Edward whip out his cell and dial. I looked out the window to see that we were racing up the driveway to the house. For once I was happy he drove like a maniac. It only allowed me a short time drowning in my own head, forcing happier thoughts.
He closed the cell and placed it back in his pocket. I hadn't heard him speak, so I wondered who at the house he'd contacted and why. I didn't ask. I'd find out soon enough.
As we pulled up to the front—rather than going to the garage—I noticed Carlisle and Esme standing on the porch, their faces grave.
"What did you tell them?" I groaned, more a complaint than an actual question. I turned to them, when instead of answering he just opened his door. "I'm fine." They'd hear me even without raising my voice.
My door flew open before I could grasp the handle, and Edward reached in to help me out. Even in his state—he was still obviously livid—he handled me as if I were as delicate as crystal.
"Thanks." I looked up to see him staring at Carlisle and nodding.
"Why don't you come with me?" Esme asked, rushing forward to meet us at the bottom of the path.
"I'm fine," I reiterated. "I'm not that fragile."
"Aren't you?" Edward muttered beside me, so low I wasn't sure he'd meant me to hear. "I'll walk her in, Esme. Then I'm off to … take care of some things."
"No!" I cried. "Stay with me."
"I won't be going alone," he soothed, knowing my fear. "Carlisle will be with me."
Good. Though there was no way he'd stay home—even with my begging—with Carlisle there, Edward's anger wouldn't get the best of him. However, since the incident before had involved me, Edward would be irrational. Carlisle would be sure to reason with him. Truthfully, he was the only one who could.
A sigh left my lips before I could control it. "So you'll get him off the streets, but he won't be harmed?"
"Don't worry about that, Bella," Edward said. "Everything will be taken care of."
"I won't… hurt him. I cannot let you care for a murderer. But leaving him free to attack again can't be the right thing either." He pulled up abruptly, stopping us both, and stood directly before me. "The less you are involved, the better it is for everyone."
What did that mean? Surely Carlisle wouldn't condone violence, no matter the crime. And those guys had only frightened me; they hadn't done any real damage… at least nothing physical.
I looked into his eyes. "I know you'll do what's right." I couldn't ask him not to go. Someone needed to stop them, and Carlisle would be the best to deal with him. Carlisle wouldn't find him without Edward. It was only logical.
I hated logic.
He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. "I will make it safe."
"I know," I mumbled into his chest. "I just wish you didn't… " have to leave. I couldn't finish the statement, disgusted at my own neediness. Once he left—once I no longer had to worry about staying strong for him—I would fall apart. I would have to push myself to piece together another part of my past, perhaps a darker part. When the dam broke and the images that had plagued me for months came again… if the nightmare began while I was awake, would I be able to step out from under it?
He squeezed me to him, then released me into Esme's waiting arms. "Goodbye, love. I'll be back soon."
"Please stay safe." I ducked my head, trying to hide the roiling emotions.
The door closed a moment later.
"How about a nice mug of hot chocolate?" Esme squeezed my shoulder.
A warm drink wouldn't fix anything, but it would be welcome. I looked to up behind me, catching her eye and nodded.
"Will you be all right?"
"I'm fine," I mumbled, nowhere near convincing myself. I was alone now, even with Esme so close. The memories I'd been fighting could come—in fact, I needed to make sure to relive them prior to Edward's return.
Needing to sit, I ambled over to a couch before plopping down. I sat for a second, before I called out to Esme. "You know, I don't really want anything to drink. I think I'm just going to go up to my room." I could feel the inevitable images and eventual tears just over the horizon; I could wait no longer.
Her head popped through the door. "Are you sure, sweetheart?"
I nodded, probably with too much oomph. "Yeah. I'm tired, and I still have to work on my paper for school." It was as good an excuse as any.
"Oh," she replied, a confused expression on her face. "Well, enjoy."
I strained out a laugh. "Yeah, Shakespeare and misogyny, a winning combination."
She chuckled—a sound just as fake as mine had been. "Will you want to eat?"
"No, I had something before we left."
"Maybe a snack later?"
I couldn't blame her for pushing. She had my best interest at heart.
"Maybe," I answered, knowing I wouldn't be up for food.
I trudged upstairs, a dead woman walking. Sure, I wanted to face my fears, to relive what I was afraid would be horror, but I didn't want to race toward it.
All too soon I reached the third floor, coming to a stop before my room. I turned to look at Edward's door, wishing I'd had the guts to break down when he was near. I could have used his compassion, the shelter he always brought, but some things needed to be done on my own.
Without looking, I grabbed the knob and twisted, walking into the darkened room. There was no need to turn on the light. I knew where the chaise was, and the dark was comforting, a security blanket. I thought about this evening, my walk through the streets of Port Angeles, the encroaching dark. I drowned in the fear, once again coming to the realization that I'd been herded, allowing that the overwhelming helplessness to hit me. It all mirrored something— a burry reflection of a past that was all but lost to me. Though I'd much rather have lived in the lighter sides of my former life, I needed to bring even the darker sides back. I couldn't be whole without it.
The man I kept flashing to, the one who had been the star of my recurring nightmares—I was sure that they were the same—had to have been part of my life before, but who?
I scoured my mind, delving deeper into recesses that left me with nothing. Yet still I tried. Now that I was ready, I had to fight to relive the nightmare. How ironic.
I sifted through the blurry dreams I'd had on occasion, picturing the outline of the brown-haired man, his bare shoulders, his broad back. He was on a small bed—a twin. As the image pulled back, I could see that he was laying on someone. Pale, shapely legs wrapped around his hips, the feet resting on his thighs. I couldn't see who the girl was, but I could make out the rhythmic movement of his hips.
Then the image disappeared. I growled in frustration, plopping down on the chaise. The rough material grazed my arms, raising goose bumps. The night was colder than I expected, and I rolled to my side and grabbed the blanket on the back of the chair. After wrapping it over me, a cocoon— safety—I pushed myself to remember yet again. I needed to know. No matter how I wished I could ignore the negatives of my past, they all seemed to push themselves out at the worst times. Perhaps if I forced them to come, I could control the circumstances.
I relived as much of the nightmare that was available to me: the image of the man writhing above the woman, his hands roaming over her body, touching everywhere. Her legs tightened around his hips pulling him closer.
He spoke. His voice was low, the words impossible to decipher.
She replied. Shock filled me at the sound. I knew her voice. But how could that be? How was that possible?
Instantly, I was sucked into the vision—a participant, no longer an observer. The man—no, boy I realized now that I could focus on his face—kissed my bare shoulder, one hand holding my right above my head, the other on my hip, moving me in time with his motions. I could feel him against me, feel his excitement through the cloth of his boxers.
The other person in my nightmare was me. I was the woman—or perhaps girl, if I was to judge by the boy's age.
He pulled back to look at me. "C'mon, baby." His other hand brought mine to meet the one above my head. Looking down, he spoke again. "We've been together for so long. And you know I love you."
His eyes burned my skin as he stared at me. Still… "I don't know," I whispered, my voice breathy. "I'm… um, I'm not sure."
"Bella?" The voice confused me. It had no place with what was happening. I looked around the room, unable to make anything out but dark shapes and the boy above me.
The vision rushed forward, skipping ahead and once again I was a spectator. The boy became more forceful. His movements frightened me. He was no longer sweet but almost violent, purposeful. And I was not ready for that purpose. Fear filled me as I closed my eyes, trying to decide what to do to make him stop.
"Bella?" That voice again. Only this time it ripped me from the swamp of my dream.
When I opened my eyes, I was not where I expected. Instead of being on that small twin bed in the darkened unfamiliar space, I was on a chaise in the bright light of my room. A figure knelt down beside me.
"E-Esme?" I croaked.
"Yes, dear." She reached toward my face, ignoring how I recoiled. "Are you all right?"
As the words left her mouth, I realized that I was not okay. Wave after wave of scenes from that night hit me.
It was real.
He was my boyfriend.
I trusted him.
My parents trusted him.
He had betrayed that trust in the vilest of ways.
I shook my head in answer to her question. "No. I'm not. I remember something. Something I wish had never happened."
She shook her head, then pulled me into her embrace. The cold arms around me were not the ones I wanted, but I was thankful for them anyway.
"I wish I could help," she whispered.
"No one can." Why had I pushed myself for this? Why had I wanted this?
I pulled away from her shoulder, noticing wet spots on her usually immaculate blouse. My cheek was wet, my nose stuffy. Had I been crying since before I woke or had the waterworks just begun? Had my body already realized what my mind just now understood?
"What did you remember?" she asked.
"I—I don't want to. No." I shook my head, then covered my eyes.
"It might help to let it out."
Maybe she was right. After a stuttering breath, I tried to explain.
"It was a boyfriend I had when I was a kid. I don't know much, but we'd been together for a while… I think." I looked away.
"It wasn't good. We weren't good. He was…"
Abusive? Could I say that? No.
"It just wasn't good. One night, I was alone in my house. My parents weren't home—I think they went away or something—and he came over."
My breath caught as I got to the part I really didn't want to tell.
"I'm here, sweetheart," Esme coaxed, squeezing my hand.
"I don't really remember many of the specifics. It's kind of like I was watching most of it." I snorted, my breath catching again.
"It's okay. If you don't want to continue, you don't have to."
Did I? No, but I had to. I needed to rid myself of this poison. Even as I told the brief version, more of my time with the boy was rushing back to me.
"I should." I looked to my window, staring blankly at the darkness outside. "So he… took advantage, I guess. He forced me… um, he took – he." I closed my eyes. "I can't say it. I—I just can't. It'll be too real if I do."
I heard her take a deep breath before she spoke again. "There's no need, dear." The understanding and reciprocal pain in her voice took me by surprise. "I know more about things like this than you realize."
I sniffed in response, unable to find the energy to even nod.
"It may not be exactly the same, but I've been through abuse, Bella." She rubbed my shoulders, quietly soothing me. "I'm here if you need. Please talk to me. Keeping it a secret won't help."
I moved my head, to look her in the eyes.
As I opened my mouth to speak, a soft voice called from the hall. "I'll take this, Esme." It was a sound I rarely heard, one I never expected to hear. I hadn't even known she was home. But when her blonde head appeared through the doorway, there was no way I could deny who it was.
Uh oh! The bitch is back?
Thanks for reading.