Where It All Began
30 Years Later
Edward and I just returned from hunting when a frantic Alice met us at the doorway, a look of desperation on her face. Edward gasped and ran back outside before anyone spoke a word aloud. I looked back to Alice's eyes trying to figure out what was going through her mind.
"Alice, what's wrong? Is everyone alright?" I was beginning to panic at her wordless stare.
Before she could answer my question, Edward pulled the car around to the front of the house and Esme ran down the stairs with two suitcases, shoving them both into my hands. Her face was pulled into the most motherly pain I had ever seen. It absolutely hurt to witness on her features.
Before I could question Esme what was happening again, Edward had me and the suitcases scooped up and placed into the car. We were speeding out of our driveway before I was able to think semi clearly.
Not trusting my voice to form words, I lifted my shield to ask him mentally. Over the past thirty years I was able to learn to control it to my liking.
"Edward, what's going on? Where are we going?"Even my thoughts were shaky and panicked.
He sighed but didn't turn to look at me. Anguish filled his features and I could hear the steering wheel threatening to give way under his hands. Taking a deep breath, he relaxed his grip slightly.
"Bella, we're going to the airport. We're on a tight schedule here but Alice assured me we would have little difficulty." He took another breath forcing me to wait longer for his answer to my first question.
"I don't know how to say this love but… Charlie is dying. He had a stroke and his body isn't handling it enough to function. Alice thought it would be best if you were able to be by his side as he passed. I didn't think you would argue."
"Oh… That's not what I was expecting." Relief and anguish filled me at the exact moment. Relief that my family was safe, but anguish knowing my father was about to leave this world behind.
I let my head drop to my hands and began to dry sob into them. Of course I lost Renee seven years earlier, but she was in a car crash. There was nothing I could have done to make her passing easier. The paramedics reported that she died on impact. That thought alone always made me feel better that she hadn't suffered.
Her funeral was beautiful, though I had to hide in the trees to avoid the sun. She was buried in late June in Forks of all places. She wrote in her will that though she hated Forks while she was alive, it was her home… She wanted to be buried next to me. My entire family was amazed that it was actually a sunny day that she was buried on. It couldn't have been more perfect. My mom loved the sun.
I made one other appearance to Forks before her death. It was only five years after I left to move away with my family. I went for my father's wedding to Sue. Edward and I stayed out of sight but I still swear my father made eye contact with me through the trees and smiled. It was like he knew I was there with him.
While I was there, I got to see Jake, Jasmine, and their children. They only had two at the time but the last time I saw them at Renee's funeral, they were a completed family of five.
None his children showed signs of becoming wolves throughout their adolescence. I was afraid to spend too much time near them just in case I triggered something. Jake laughed away my concerns. Since he found Jasmine, he couldn't be happier that he was able to be a wolf and imprint on his one true love. Edward told me Jacob secretly hoped his kids would all be wolves, tough it seemed a little too far past the normal age by the time of my mother's funeral.
The other members from the pack weren't as happy to have vampires in Forks as Jacob was. We tried our best to keep our distance from them with promises to be out of their hair as soon as we were able. Each of the old members were able to imprint and have children, even the sole female wolf named Leah. Jake always assumed she would be alone forever, literally.
Thinking back to my previous visits to Forks left an ache in the pit of my stomach and brought me back to the reason I was in the car right this very second rushing to the airport. Charlie is dying right now, all alone now since Sue passed away in her sleep months before and Billy over two years before that.
"Bella?" Edward's voice brought me back to the present. "Love we need to hurry. Alice called ahead to get our tickets. The plane will be boarding in a few minutes." Looking around, I realized we already made it to the parking garage and Edward stood with the door open for me.
I jumped out of the car a little too fast to appear normal but luckily no humans were around to see my movements. For the past thirty years, my family and I bounced around to different places in Europe. Alice and Rosalie refused to go back to the states before they had to. The shopping was too good in Europe, as they said. On occasion, Edward and I would go off on our own for some alone time but we never stepped foot in the states outside of Renee's funeral and Charlie's wedding.
We checked in our luggage, picked up our tickets, and boarded the plane without incident. I flopped down into my seat and let my head fall against Edward's shoulder. He wordlessly stroked my hair and allowed me to wallow in grief.
After six hours on the plane, I lifted my head to look into his eyes, "How much time will I have with him before he…"
"Five minutes." His eyes fell as the venom welled up in them. He was hurting for me.
"Edward… I'll be okay. I knew this day would come eventually. There's nothing I could do to avoid it. I'm just glad Alice was able to see this so I could have a chance at seeing him one last time."
I took his hand into mine and tried to give him what I thought was a reassuring smile. The look in his eyes told me I failed at my attempt.
We spent the next few hours of the plan ride in silence before we landed in Seattle. Edward turned his phone on as we touched down. Instantly it buzzed in his hand.
"Have you seen something else Alice?" He asked in a hushed whisper. I listened quietly to her voice from where I sat.
"I had another vision. If you run rather than rent a car, you won't be seen and Bella will get an extra ten minutes before he passes." If my heart were able to beat, it would be racing. I just went from five minutes to a full fifteen. I couldn't be happier with the turn of events.
"How do we pull this off?" Edward asked in an even more quiet tone.
"Simple. Walk into the parking lot like you're getting into a car. When you see a green Silverado, you're free to run to the woods. You'll be out of sight and have a human free run to Forks." I could hear Alice's smile through the phone. It was a blessing to have her as a sister.
Edward and Alice said their goodbyes quickly after Alice pinpointed our luggage for us and gave me a few pointers for the hospital.
We left the plane, had our suitcases, and were running in the next five minutes. It felt amazing to be surrounded by the luscious green of the forest again. Edward and I discussed moving back to a town in Washington but we had yet to come to a decision. Just the run from Seattle to Forks made my mind up for me. It didn't matter which town we chose, I just wanted to come back home.
"Okay," Edward said as we came to the edge of the forest, "Alice said to just walk in the front doors and ask the nurse at the desk to go to Charlie Swan's room. Since he's not expected to live much longer, the nurse won't ask for your name or give you any trouble. Apparently only Jacob has been to visit him. Where would you like me to wait for you?"
He placed his hand over mine and looked me in the eyes. There has not been a day in which I've regretted taking him as my husband.
"The waiting room is fine, or here. It's your choice." I embraced him quickly and made my way across the parking lot and into the hospital at a normal human pace. As normal as I could muster at least.
"Yes ma'am, may I help you?" I glanced at the nurse's name tag. Judy, it read.
"Yes Judy, I would like to see Charlie Swan please. Could you tell me which room he's in?"
Her eyes filled with pain as she listened to my request.
"Of course dear, he's in room 301. He's such a nice man, this town was lucky to have him."
I smiled my least threatening smile and thanked her before making my way to the stairs. I didn't plan to waste time with the elevator like a typical human. Alice assured me there were no cameras in the stairwell to see my speed.
I reached the third floor within seconds. Gathering my thoughts, I took a deep unneeded breath and stepped into the hallway. I could smell my dad from where I stood. The faint thumping of his heart reached my ears with ease. The sound of the blood moving through his veins made venom slowly form in my mouth but it was easily swallowed and ignored. I shook off my stupor and at a slow human pace, I made my way to his open door.
I peeked inside quietly and saw that his eyes were closed and his head was facing the ceiling. I walked even more slowly to his side and sat down on his bed taking his hand in mine. He jumped slightly at the cold temperature of my skin, signaling that he was actually awake.
"Daddy?" I whispered into his ear.
"Bella?" He spoke but didn't open his eyes.
"It's me Dad. Please open your eyes."
"I… I can't Bella. If I do, you'll be gone… Just like all the other times."
His words were coming short and I knew I was running out of time with him. Gently, I stroked his cheek with my free hand and placed a feather light kiss on his brow. I jumped when his eyes snatched open to stare at me.
"You're really here? You said I would never see you again. I can't believe it's you."
I smiled gently at him and gave his hand a light squeeze, still stroking his warm cheek with my other.
"I'm here Daddy. It's me, I promise. I know what I said but… I had to come back."
"You're just a beautiful as you were the night in my bedroom. I haven't forgotten."
I smiled at him as we sat in silence for a few more moments. He continued to run his eyes over me, his breathing beginning to slow.
"It's my time isn't it Bells? That's why you're here? To take me home?"
"I'm not here to take you home Daddy. I'm just here to wish you well and see you off in peace. I told you that I couldn't see you again all of those years ago for a reason. I won't be joining you and mom in death."
"I know Bella. I've known for many years that you were alive, at least in all sense of the word. I saw you at your funeral, at Renee's funeral. I even saw you at mine and Sue's wedding." He took a breath before he continued. "I never searched for you, though I knew you weren't in that patch of dirt in the Forks Cemetery."
The look of shock on my face must have been humorous. The gleam in my father's eyes as he stared at me was one of amusement and boyish glee.
Shakily, I looked at my watch to see that only five minutes remained before Charlie would take his last breath. Venom welled up in my eyes at the thought.
"Alice sent you, didn't she?" My breath caught in my throat. He only smiled.
"Bella, don't be shocked. I've been alive for a long time and I've spent many hours on the reservation. Though I don't know what you are now for sure, I know you're with the Cullen family, and I know you're happily married. I also know that Alice has visions and Edward is a mind reader, which explains a lot. Is he taking care of you baby?"
I was too shocked to form words for a moment. After a breath, I knew I couldn't force myself to lie to him in his state. What difference would it make anyway?
"Dad… Yes… Edward and I are very happy. My only regret is not helping you to understand... To understand why I left you. I planned the funeral for you and mom in hopes of bringing you closure in my absence. I wanted you to move on. I will regret that decision for all of eternity. I should have stuck around to make sure you understood…"
"Don't regret it baby. I'm happy that you found the happiness you deserve, even if I couldn't be a part of it." He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. His grey curls lay lightly against his head. His eyes, though dull with age, were still just as deep as they were when I left.
"How long Bella? How long did Alice give me?" His grip on my hand tightened.
"You have two more minutes Dad." I managed to choke out. I closed my eyes as the venom covered them. How badly I wanted to cry for my father.
"It's okay sweetie. I'm ready. I'll give your love to your mother."
"Daddy… I love you. Please forgive me for staying away."
"I forgave you years ago baby…" He smiled and squeezed my hand with, what I was sure, was all of his strength. "Bella… I only have seconds left… Can you tell me what you are? I'll take your secret to death with me. I promise."
I looked at him for a moment, a mental clock counting down in my mind until he would take his last breath. With a pained expression on my features, I leaned my face down to his, my lips on his skin. As lightly as I could, I kissed his temple and moved my lips to his ear. As quietly as I could manage, I choked out the word that would be an answer to his last request.
At first I wasn't sure he heard me. I leaned back to look at his face knowing he had fifteen seconds left before his final heart beat. For a moment, I was afraid that I would see fear in his eyes but as I took in his features, he looked at peace with my answer.
"Thank you for telling me Bells. Give my love to your husband and your… family. I lo…" He took a shallow breath, "I love you. I'm proud of you baby. Never forget."
I reached zero in my mind as his hand fell slack in my hold. I barely registered the frantic beeping of the heart monitor behind my head. The nurses walked into the room unnoticed and unplugged the machines to silence the noise. There was no rushing, no medical crew to come revive him from death. Everyone smiled over his peaceful form knowing he was already into the next life.
I wasn't sure how long I sat there but after a moment I realized something. There was liquid running down my stone cheeks. I touched it gently with my index finger and looked at the small wet drop in front of my face.
"I'm… Crying? How is that possible?" I whispered to myself.
"You loved your father." Edward's velvet voice came from behind me. I felt him as he wrapped his arms around my waist and allowed me to sob into my hands. Though it was impossible for a vampire to shed tears, somehow, I found a way to cry for my dad. It felt incredible, though it lasted only momentarily.
"Love, we need to go. Angela Weber is a doctor here now. I have no doubt that she will recognize us."
"Angela… She was such a good person." I sighed as I remembered her face.
"Yes she was. That's the reason I helped her gain Ben Cheney. Her thoughts about you were always pleasant."
"You… You did that?" I looked at my husband shocked.
"Yep. They're happily married now. They have twin girls actually. They're twenty-two now and in college."
"Wow." I sighed. "Angela must me so happy."
"She is, from what I can tell. Do you know what she named her daughters?"
I stared at him silently for a moment waiting for him to continue.
"Isabella and Marie. They are named for her best friend."
I began to sob again though no venom fell from my eyes this time. I was in shock to say the least.
"That was so kind of her."
Edward agreed and took my hand to help me stand. I kissed Charlie's cheek lovingly one last time before I turned to leave the room.
On the day of the funeral, I put on the wig Esme packed for me and got dressed to go to the graveside. Edward gave me small words of encouragement as I tried to calm myself before we arrived. He elected to hang back away from the gathering so as not to draw attention to ourselves. Though I wanted him by my side, I knew it would be best. All of Forks was to attend the funeral to honor the retired police chief. There was bound to be someone who would see us together and remember even with my wig and my face covered with a black veil.
No one cast me a second glance as they mourned the death of my father. I was thankful for that. I'm sure if someone had noticed who I was, I wouldn't have been in my own mind enough to realize it. Thankfully, Edward kept track of their minds for me from a distance.
I made my way slowly to the front of the group when I felt a hand on my arm about midway through my walk. Slowly, I turned my gaze to the owner of the hand. A smiling Jacob met my vision.
"Talk to you after?" He whispered only loud enough for me to hear. I smiled and nodded slightly. I didn't want anyone to see that he knew me. Forks was known to be centered on gossip. Glancing around, no one noticed our quiet moment. I continued making my way through the crowd to the front of the group.
Standing next to the coffin as they lowered it into the earth, I dropped a single strand of yellow freesia on top of it, one small piece of me to go with my dad to the next life. Feeling content with myself, I turned and made my way slowly through the small crowd and to the woods where Edward waited for me. I couldn't have been more thankful to have him with me than at this very moment.
I cast one final glance at the gathered crowd and picked out the faces of all of my former classmates and their grown children. I smiled over these people and allowed my blurry human memories to engulf me one last time.
I rested my gaze on Angela Cheney as she slipped away from Charlie's grave to walk to mine and place a rose on the empty mound. I wanted nothing more than to hug her close to me. I made a note to come back and pick up the rose to take with me. I knew this would be the last time I ever saw her, or any of them for that matter. The thought left my body feeling empty but I quickly pushed it aside when Edward wrapped his arms around my waist.
After the funeral, Edward and I met with Jacob briefly. It was good to see my friend again even considering the circumstances. We quickly hugged before Edward and I went back to our hotel to gather our things.
As soon as darkness hit, I ran back to the graveside to collect the rose Angela left for me. I planned to save it and keep it with me always. I then ran to my old house to gather a few keepsakes from my father. Knowing no one was coming to claim anything of his, I grabbed pictures from before my mom and I moved away and I grabbed his watch. I was also sure to grab the picture of the two of us that my mom held on to so tightly thirty years earlier. I didn't pay attention to the other pictures I snatched up. I would look at them later.
Edward and I made two stops on our run back to Seattle. One at the old Cullen mansion, and one at our meadow. Taking in the surroundings as we lay on our backs, I knew I made the right choice in choosing forever with Edward. We kissed softly, a promise of our eternity in utter bliss.