I do not own Twilight.

Hi all! First, I want to apologize for the delay in getting this to you. I had the full chapter completed last week, but while in the process of moving the text from my Gmail drafts to a Word document my PC froze... yes, that's right. FROZE. When Word crashes and you have to reboot, what is saved on the clipboard does not survive. :) So, I give you Chapter 6, round two, rebuilt from scratch.

This chapter was not written around a WitFit prompt as time has not permitted me to continue for this month and the story is its own now. Thank you to every single one of you that have contacted me, shared the story or recommended it. The outline holds twists and turns I can't wait to share with you! Enjoy!

Unlike some women in her profession, Detective Rosalie Hale never complained of glass ceilings or assignments that weren't serious enough, dangerous enough. And for that reason, the good old boys at the Seattle Federal Bureau of Investigation furthered her career. After ten years of dedication and no-nonsense police work, Hale was a rising star. Being beautiful did her favors, and about that she had no illusions. But she also had twenty solid cases a year because of her blood, sweat and tears, most resolved after the first few days.

Except for this one. And now, at 11:26 pm, four days after Isabella Swan was stolen from her home, Hale paced the floor of the headquarters, thinking.

Running through the details again was automatic, a part of her that was permanently switched on, yet this evening she was restless for other reasons. Cullen would be bringing in hunters tomorrow, and she needed to be ready. She had been waiting for Cullen to snap, to finally decide enough was enough. She was thankful when he'd come to ask her opinion about hiring private contractors, knowing Norris would discourage his decision. But not Hale. "Interference" wasn't a concern for her like it was for Norris; she wanted to find Swan, and the more resources she could employ, the better.

From Cullen's last phone call, she knew the men arriving tomorrow were former military, specially trained locators of human beings. The prospect of unleashing them on this case was secretly thrilling. And though she didn't expect them to take her guidance, she hoped to direct them in any way she could. Hope burned in her chest, praying they would find something her team had missed, though she couldn't fathom what they could have overlooked. So far, Hale and her team had done everything in their power to bring Isabella Swan home.

Within hours of being assigned to the Swan case, she unleashed the full resources of the local sheriff's department and the FBI. As her agents paired into six 25-person teams, they searched for the young woman through day-and-night shifts—re-canvassing neighborhoods, conducting interviews, and asking for DNA samples from three possible suspects.

Another 24 hours later, ten acres of deep, thick forest, trees, and shrubs had been scoured, from Cullen's backyard to the interstate behind the land. The FBI's local resources had been mobilized, as hundreds of volunteers and three teams of cadaver dogs pored over nearby forests and fields using sonar equipment, collecting hundreds of pieces of evidence. In some places, the foliage was so thickly overgrown they could hardly walk, but they pressed on, finding nothing.

Hale had no choice but to get creative. Refusing to see the press as an interference, knowing exposure would be the key to Swan's return, she blasted the television with character witnesses and pictures of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen's happy life together. Soon, the nation was enthralled.

Meanwhile, under the glare of warehouse lights, twenty hotline operators wearing headsets took tips on the case, the bureau's top special agents talking to leads, desperate to find anything. For four days, they'd taken tens of thousands of calls from people seeing brunette women in grocery stores and gas stations.

Still finding nothing.

Every hour that passed felt like an individual death sentence.

And Hale had questions as she walked the length of the room in her boots: the operation of snatching Isabella Swan was no amateur job. No forced entry because the backdoor was unlocked. There were no fingerprints, just the imprint of a man's size-eleven shoe indicating a perpetrator. Inside the home, the only signs of struggle were at the desk.

But why would a seasoned criminal slip that gun barrel into the frame of a video surveillance camera? And most perplexing, if the job was professional, what was the motive? Four days and no ransom? Revenge killings were possible, but nothing about that scenario fit. Maybe with East Coast mafia families and cartels along the Mexican border, but in Seattle, Washington? Organized crime didn't exist that way in this part of the country.

But if there were two perpetrators, how was it that the trail led right to the highway, indicating three individuals on a single dirt bike? Even if the perpetrators were thin, weighing no more than 180 a piece, with the 110-pound Swan and tracks small enough to indicate youth-sized, how did they manage to escape on one bike? There were no other vehicles on the property from all of their searching; the front driveway tapes were clean.

Lab reports on the shoe and the motorcycle tracks were due in the morning, but even with identification, nothing made sense.

Hale's mind bounced back to her partner's theory, considering it one more time. Norris believed human traffickers had taken her, but that wasn't likely, either. Why go to the trouble of taking her from her home when it was easier to steal a woman in public?

Hale had once mentioned business motivations, because Cullen was a powerful and rich. But Norris shut her down with excellent points. He was a tax-paying goody-two-shoes by all definitions. One of those men who knew little of how much he was resented, operating in a state of constant consideration for others. A simultaneously respected man.

Hale never dwelled on that lead, but didn't disregard it, either. Cullen was young, handsome, successful, brilliant and a tycoon before the age of thirty. That had to sting egos.

In interviewing Cullen's business partner, Laurent Dubois, Hale had observed that he seemed severely shaken by Swan's disappearance, leading Hale to believe they were close. Yet observations from a distance told another story. Laurent kept closed body language when speaking with Cullen, the suave persona he'd used on Hale completely absent. He was a player of men, one she could see a mile away.

Hale's stomach grumbled, breaking her from her thoughts and plans. Groaning, realizing she hadn't eaten in fourteen hours, she stopped pacing, closing up her desk to go home. Filing away her case reports, she locked her desk and put on her jacket, sighing when a soft knock sounded against her door.

"Come in," Detective Hale called, grabbing her things to indicate she was leaving.

"Detective Hale?" A small voice called from the doorway.

Looking up, Hale stopped, staring into the nervous face of Edward Cullen's sister.


Charlie's thoughts wandered as he walked, considering his strategy suggestions for new, more expansive searches. Charlie suspected they would cover the territory they had and then scan the next twenty-five miles of rivers and lakes, a possibility he hardly wanted to consider.

He'd seen what water did to bodies of the dead. Picturing his little girl in such a damaged state shattered the composure he wore, his frown and silent grimace hidden just in time.

Across the moonlit room, Charlie Swan the father took a seat, letting his silent tears fall. Staring at the moon, he too wondered where his daughter was, if he would ever see her again, regretting not arriving sooner. He had been on his annual hunting and fishing trip with no means of contact. So much time had been lost; time he would never get back.

"They'll search every inch, Edward." Charlie Swan promised to Edward and himself. His voice was gruff, thick with stress and fear.

"I know," Edward replied weakly, feeling the pain of her loss as a dull ache.

Edward stared into his phone, imagining her name lighting up the screen, though he knew that wouldn't happen. Her phone was upstairs, he reminded himself through his semi-drunken haze. When she called, it would be from a number he didn't recognize.

His eyes flitted back and forth between the phone and her photograph, the light from the screen fading every fifteen seconds. His thumb pressed the zero button methodically as he prayed she would come home to him. Tomorrow, he said again, the promise heavy and heartbreaking.

But there was new hope that Edward clung to: a special team was arriving tomorrow, one recommended by his senator. He regretted not hiring them long ago, wishing he hadn't listened to Norris. He had been persuasive when explaining the strategy to Edward, citing cases where interference complicated investigations. He said that vigilantes often tangled things up, and just to give the FBI time.

But the government had failed him. It was the fourth day since Bella's disappearance, and they had nothing substantial to offer.

After Charlie told him flat-out they could be doing more with extra resources, he decided to consult Detective Hale instead. When approached, Hale candidly agreed that the more resources on the case, the better. After listening to her suggestions, he took them.

The more time he spent with the two detectives, the more he grew to dislike Norris. He couldn't put his finger on why and had never verbalized his dislike, but he knew enough about his instincts to realize when his distrust was valid. Charlie glanced at Edward sitting on the couch behind him, wondering what he was thinking. He had been staring at that photograph of Bella and holding his phone for the last hour, unmoving and silent. The pale light through the doorway made him look dead. There was a scotch on the table next to him, but he wasn't drinking it.

"Edward?" called Charlie, catching his attention.

"Yes, sir," Edward replied, staring at Bella's waist in the picture again, remembering how soft and little she was in his arms. He wished he could hold her right then, feel her and smell her flowery perfume. He would never let her go.

"You all right, son?" Charlie asked.

That was one of those questions Edward was gradually growing angered by. Of course he wasn't all right, or okay, or feeling better, or getting some rest, or any of the other empty things people say to one another when they have nothing else to say...

Bitterness bubbled in his throat, but he reminded himself that it was just a question. One asked by the only man who truly understood what he was enduring.

"I'll be okay, Charlie," He lied, deciding again that if she never came home, he would have to do it. It would be too much to live without her. Picturing her dead somewhere in some place he couldn't reach, Edward shuddered, anger simmering inside of his heart and soul again. Sadly, he ran his thumb across her picture, imagining her rising from the field of flowers, walking toward him, touching him, hugging him. He closed his eyes, picturing it, his joy singed by anger over her loss. He tried to calm the bitter storm he could feel pulsing in him, a storm he couldn't stop from growing.

All the while, Charlie saw a man lost in terrified distress, outwardly coping, but inwardly crumbling. Though Charlie's bond with his daughter was strong, he could only imagine the pain Edward must be in. Edward Cullen missed Bella's abduction by twenty-four minutes. There wasn't just love and loss to feel, but regret and anger, too.

As he watched the young man who loved his daughter silently torture himself, he understood that Edward Cullen would eventually crack. Turning to peer into the large backyard of Cullen's home, he tried to think of how he could be useful to the young man, knowing he wasn't. Bella was in God's hands now and all they had were prayers and more men.

Coincidentally, as that silent detail crossed Charlie's mind, tainted with the uncertain dread of what-ifs, Edward recalled that night of horror, too.

"Bella, I'm home!" Edward called, loving the way that sounded.

She'd teased him over how cliché it was, but he didn't care. As an orphan who'd grown up in the houses of strangers, Edward was happy to have a place he could share with her. Setting his briefcase on the floor and kicking off his shoes, he thumbed through the bills on the table in the entryway, seeing she'd checked the mail. He never stopped enjoying little domestic things like that and seeing her name over his address thrilled him. Isabella Cullen, he repeated to himself, liking the sound of that.

An unopened envelope from Pepper Preparatory leaned against the mirror. Edward smiled, seeing that it was probably good news. He hoped she would get the teaching job and get out of that neighborhood.

She'd set it there on purpose, he decided, wondering whether she was nervous to open it alone, if she wanted to open it together.

She's so cute, Edward thought, picking up the envelope and putting it in his pocket.

Intrigued as to why she was so quiet, Edward padded in his socks across the entryway toward the kitchen, frowning at its unused state. She had said dinner would be at 7:00 and it was now 7:15.

He was disappointed at first; all day he'd wanted to have her naked in a blanket, with that new red wine and a fire. But he reminded himself not to expect that just because they were living together now.

Jogging slightly, he reached the backdoor, seeing it unlocked. He wondered if she was in the Jacuzzi, picturing her in that polka-dot swimsuit.

Once outside, Edward could see she wasn't there.

"Bella?" he called again, his voice swallowed by the dark porch, echoing quietly in the night air. For good measure, he walked the patio, just to be sure she wasn't playing a joke.

A quick check of the garage, the bathrooms and the laundry area left him a little concerned. Maybe she's waiting for me upstairs, he thought, smiling at that. He hoped so. Her truck was in the driveway, so he knew she was there.

Taking the spiral steps to the second floor, the syllables of her name bounced around the vaulted ceiling as he called out.

"Bella?... Where are you, woman?" he called again, opening their bedroom door swiftly, hoping to catch her off guard for teasing him.

But the room was still and silent.

He turned, seeing the light from her office, his heart speeding then sinking after opening the door. Her chair was empty and the computer mouse was turned on its side. All of her things were there; her purse was open and her cell phone was charging. Those little jeweled flats were under the desk.

Grabbing her cell, he reviewed her last calls, seeing Alice's number. He breathed a sigh of relief; they had been together all day and had probably gone off somewhere. Obviously, she was out.

Frowning and embarrassed by his paranoia, he pressed Send and called his sister.

During the first rings, Edward took a seat on the hallway bench, realizing his heart was racing. He had felt this same sense of fear when her cell phone had died at the train station one day. When she had climbed into the car, he had been angry, upset with her for allowing her phone to die, for placing herself at risk. Patiently, she had calmed him down, but was still concerned after his apology. If he wasn't careful, she would see how pathetic he was.

He received his sister's voice with a sigh of relief, but that feeling died quickly. Alice confirmed dropping Bella off at 5:00 and that her plans were to make dinner.

Something was wrong.

Edward hung up and called the last numbers in Bella's cell phone, including her doctor. Now frustrated, he rang around to their neighbors and Bella's friends from the school, searching for her.

When no one had information, he began pacing in her office, wondering where she was, unable to shake the bad feeling in his gut. His eyes kept straying to that mouse on her desk, looking at her belongings that lay there.

At 8:30, Edward called the police, only to be told to wait.

For twenty more hours.

He waited for two before phoning the Deputy Director of the FBI personally.


During the previous night, Bella Swan decided she was grateful for the constant pain. Fading in and out of consciousness was tiresome business, but the jabs and burns of starvation kept her awake. For better or worse, she thought darkly. This wouldn't end well, and she knew it.

Her sanity was slipping away, either from dehydration or isolation, but there was nothing she could do. Through Beethoven's masterpieces, her mind wondered and wandered, remembered and regretted. Each day brought the likelihood that she would die there closer; and she ached not for her life, but for his, because Bella understood Edward now.

All that love was given carefully, because he feared most what he was enduring now—losing her. She had seen that vulnerability in his eyes a thousand times, the temperance of his words and actions all an effort to walk fine lines he didn't need to walk. To always be good to her, and to love her—so that she wouldn't leave him.

Captured by memories of Edward touching her face and kissing her, Bella's heart ached for their love that would never be.

"Let me finish..." he said. "I have to say it because... I couldn't before..." he whispered, touching her face, his pleading eyes so genuine.

"What do you mean?" she asked, curious and wanting to understand. Was it that he couldn't say "I love you", or that he couldn't love before at all? She wasn't sure and needed to know, the latter concept tugging at the deepest parts of her love for him.

"I meant that it was hard to say… 'I love you…'"

Bella smiled at his cute answer. Her adoration of him was growing by the day. "And you couldn't say that before, but you can now?" Bella whispered, confirming the sweet truth.

"I wanted to for so long," he smiled, tracing her face softly.

"Why didn't you?"

He shrugged, his eyes avoiding hers. "I didn't want to pressure you... or move too fast."

"Be yourself, Edward."

"But what if I do something to make you leave?" he whispered, softer than before. "Sometimes we fight."

"What we do isn't fighting," Bella laughed, remembering their last "fight", a debate over whether the Caribbean or California was the better vacation. "Edward?"

"Yes?" he answered.

"I'll be here for as long as you want me," Bella promised him, kissing his chin.

"I'll always want you," he breathed, kissing her mouth. "Will you stay with me tonight?"

"I have class in the morning…" Bella reminded him, not wanting to go either, but knowing she should. She didn't have a job that allowed her to stroll in whenever she wanted. Class started at 8:00 a.m. sharp. "I have no clothes, either."

"I'll take you home. We'll get up early and make breakfast. Does that work? Please, Bella… Stay with me tonight…"

The loud click of a heel startled Bella from her hallucination, dumping her from her peace with Edward back to her Hell.

Beneath her blindfold she blinked, struggling to recall reality.

Click, clack, click, clack.

Fear struck her and she shuddered, but from more than fright. The woman was coming closer, coming for Bella again. Automatically, Bella rocked against her cuffs in fear, withdrawing her bruised legs to her chin, caring little for her aching wrist. The woman had taken to kicking Bella when she had no answers. She was clueless about Edward's finances, but the woman never believed her.

"What if I do something to make you leave..." Bella could hear the woman moving in the distance and knew she should be scared, but her thoughts were gaining momentum in another direction, backed by things she was beginning to feel only in that moment.

Bella sobbed quietly, those sincere, loving words, and the trust in his eyes hurt to recall, and the thought of Edward in agony—all of it broke her spirit again.

"What if I do something to make you leave..."

She remembered his statement again, wishing she could hold his face and reassure him, tell him he never did a thing to push her away. That he was a good man, one she loved and would forever.

But she couldn't. All those things she felt for him were snippets of a love no longer hers, a love ended by the clicking heels coming toward her.

"Why did you take me?" Bella suddenly cried in a fit of her own anger, unable to stop her words from bursting free. If she died in this place, she needed to know. "Please... tell me... why? Why are you doing this?" Her head searched for answers she couldn't see.

"She speaks!" Victoria laughed. Grabbing a metal chair and dragging it toward a cowering Bella, a rush of power made her bold. Seeing Bella at her command was something she was growing used to; the sickest, darkest parts of her reveled in the sadistic control. She knew it was wrong; she just didn't care.

"I bet you're hungry," Victoria said, nudging Bella with her heel.

Steeling herself, hate for her captor rose like bile in Bella's throat, her one determination ringing in her head: she had to know why they had taken her, why they were after Edward, and hopefully to do anything to change the crazy woman's mind.

"I should feed you, but the camera adds ten pounds," Victoria contemplated.

Bella swallowed, checking her wild emotions and humbling herself, listening hard for any sound or movement. "Please… I need food, water…."

"Oh... tsk tsk... don't beg," the woman mocked. "After our little video, I'll give you some bread," Victoria told Bella, lifting her limp, stringy hair with one finger.

Sighing, she rose, crossing the room as Bella's mind raced. What kind of video? That question burned Bella's tongue, but she stayed silent, wondering if she would really receive bread today. Her attempts to ask for food were met with silence by the mustached man. Bella hoped he would come back, but so far, he hadn't. He pitied her; she could feel it. Given the chance to spend time with him, she could persuade him to give her fresh water.

"So... your question," Victoria continued. "Why did I take you, or why am I doing what I am about to do?"

The woman wanted to talk about it. Bella caught the nuances of her statement, realizing then that this might be personal. The thought that the woman might be a jilted lover of Edward's stabbed deep, slashing at her resolve. A resolve held intact for him.

Filing that away and harnessing her bravery, Bella pressed forward. "Both..." she answered.

"Let's see? Where to begin... I guess I could start at the beginning." Chair legs scraped as the woman came closer. "All you need to know is that your man Edward betrays people, and he's very good at covering his tracks."

Bella processed that detail immediately as Victoria moved; the sense of a body flitting around her made Bella shiver again. "One cannot do what he did and expect no consequences. So… Mr. White thought it best to go for his heart, and he was right."

Bella listened, rapt and waiting for more details. Victoria sighed somewhere in the distance, suddenly far now, unlatching Velcro.

"We watched for over a month, trying to catch him in something. To see if he had any dirty secrets, but nothing... you had a really good guy." Victoria mocked the last words childishly, making Bella cringe.

Ignoring the past tense, Bella dared to ask another question. "What do you mean, you watched?"

"Oh... pinhole cameras in the kitchen, bedroom and living area. I rarely watched you, but Mr. White... he was fascinated. He'd get turned on by watching you, too. I could tell that he desired you, pictured himself in Cullen's place, fucking you senseless... I think that's why he doesn't want to see you like this. I mean... you should see yourself."

Bella didn't respond, weakened with disgust at these details. Her abduction was premeditated revenge for a betrayal? She was going to die over something that already happened. Something Edward had done? She knew Edward better than to believe the woman, ex-lover or not, but after searching her memory, Bella could find nothing that made sense.

"Don't worry... I'm going to bathe you, but not yet," said the woman from a distance.

Then a low beep sounded, and the scraping of metal on concrete.

Unsure of what the woman was doing, Bella's heart began to race, her panic in full swing now. Wanting to ask more questions, but afraid now of what she would learn, Bella froze in fear, mustering the energy to think.

"Lights..." the woman said as if to herself, flipping on lights so blinding that Bella could see them through the black cloth.

Cringing and blinking erratically behind the cover, she tried to see in vain.

"Camera..." the woman continued.

Bella heard the flip of the switch and knew she was being recorded. Her mind scrambled and she sat up, trying to move her arms suspended over her head, confused by the light and the sudden sense of moment.

"Be still!" the woman shouted, the keys chiming and clanging over Bella's head, the ache of her wrist now a series of painful stabs.

The sudden sound of cuffs unlatching shocked her. Realizing her wrist was free, Bella thought to remove the blindfold, to scurry to flee, to get out. But her captor was too quick.

Victoria laughed, grabbing a fistful of Bella's hair, digging her claws into the injured wrist. Bella cried out, the jolt of pain so disabling that her knees weakened and her stomach churned. The panic of being moved to an unknown location seized her chest, but she was desperate to see.

"Don't even think about it," Victoria warned. Painfully, Bella rose to walk, her knees weak. She could hardly gain her bearings. Edward, she kept thinking, knowing it was unfair to ask. Edward, please find me.

A cold steel chair stubbed her toe before Victoria pushed her into the seat. Situating her like an angry parent would a child, Bella felt her hair being moved and her shirt pulled down.

"Well, fuck... there's nothing more I can do."

"Do what?" Bella asked bravely, swallowing thickly, speaking without thinking.

"Shhhh!" the woman hissed, so close that Bella felt saliva land on her face.

The blindfold was ripped from Bella's eyes as the sound of clicking heels retreated. Blinking, Bella shut her now-burning lids in sensory overload, the light so painful she could hardly think. The woman Bella wanted more than anything to see was obscured behind the brightness.

"Sit up. Read the statement on this card. If you don't, I'll open your throat and go for his sister. You have one chance."

Blinded, Bella shook her head in agreement. Anything for them, for Edward and Alice.



Edward and Charlie walked with the twelve-man team, carefully searching the woods for tracks, broken branches or clues of any kind. Their thin jackets were hardly a protection from the wind. It was getting colder by the day; the weather seemed to slide closer to winter with every hour. The nightmarish vision of Bella being caught in the cold made Edward sick to his stomach.

Only now there was no folding in on himself. He had a team, a plan and hope again.

The leaves crunched under Charlie's boots as he peered into the wilderness, chanting a silent prayer that Bella be discovered.

"Mr. Cullen!" A voice suddenly shouted, breaking both men from their thoughts. Edward and Charlie turned, seeing the team lead he'd been introduced to running forward. "Sir… please come with me!"

With that, both Charlie and Edward ran toward him, each man's heart skipping with hope, prospect, with the unknown.

"We have two breaks!"

"What?" Edward shouted, nearly tripping on the branch beneath his feet. He stumbled, but recovered, running to the man, to Bella.

Winded due to sprinting from Edward's house to the forest, Jacob Black stopped, resting his palms on his knees before speaking. "We searched inside your home, found small cameras inside your air ducts. They're foreign-made, from a company in Belarus. At the same time, our north team found two trails, sir!"

"Trails? New trails?" Edward confirmed. They had come back recently? The thought angered him, electricity surging into his fingertips, sparking the urge to rage and punch. He held it in though, that storm inside him still brewing slowly, steadily.

"Yes. They were probably cut through or created when Ms. Swan was taken, sir. We found two deviating pairs of tracks off the main track, thick and deep under the bramble. They're identical, sir."

"Identical?" Edward prompted, impatient now. These men were under his employ, and he demanded results.

"Identical to each other, and to the third set… the main set."

The third set. Edward processed that new detail. Did that mean there were three people involved in this? Not one or two?

"Three purchases of the same bike would be a new search pattern. We contacted Detective Hale with the FBI and she's expecting lab results on the tread this afternoon. Once we have that, we'll have the brand…" He trailed off, all three men winded, seeing the possibility of hope.

"It's a lead," Edward said, the knot in his stomach coiling, the beating rhythm of his heart soaring with prospect. Smiling at this sickened joy, staring at Charlie with new hope, Edward felt something good bubble inside of him. Many good things, even.

Staring at the light in Edward's eyes, Charlie could see again his deep love for Bella. And he couldn't help but smile at Edward, relief washing over him, too.

"Yes. A lead."

I hope you liked it. I'll be trying to do an update a week, if that's okay! Thanks to all of you silent readers clicking on the story (HA!) and for those that have reviewed and recommended the story! I realized last week that I am not getting any review alerts, so I'll try to review-reply through FFn this week. Thank you for your patience!

And quickly... to answer a common PM: My outline has eleven total chapters, and I don't see this expanding from that. I want to update once every week until the story is over. There is no thread for the story on Twilighted, but a reader started one to discuss this update if anyone wants to check it out at Edwardville, a community I highly recommend: http://bit{DOT}ly/72sd6b

Anyhow, thank you so much for reading—I hope you liked it! Have a great week!