A/N - Wow! I can't believe I am actually writing my own author's note. I've read (and continue to read) so many great stories on this site, it's hard for me to believe that I am actually posting my own.
Thanks to KH for being a great cheerleader and for eventually coming up with the title of the story and EdwardsTrueLove1901 for accepting to beta this story, and of course all the other Twihards in my life who I can share my obsession with!
Disclaimer: This story is rated M due to sexual assault. Also - I do not own Twilight.
I could make out the weak patter of her heart. Thank God - she was alive. This, for a second, eased my mind.
I ran to her at vampire speed. The sight of her left me in more than a state of shock but a state of unconsciousness right beside her. I knew I had to do something to aid the situation, but the state I remained in paralyzed me. I looked down at her. Standing at her feet, I could see the mangled, beaten and bruised version of my Bella.
Afraid not to hurt her more in the condition she appeared to be in, I knew not to touch or pick her up. Even though I desperately wanted to caress and cradle her in my arms to comfort her, to ease her pain and tell her everything would be okay. What creature could have done this to her?
I would find them.
They would pay.
I saw that her clothes were in a mess barely clinging to her. And then it hit me. This predator, whoever it was, not only hurt her in the worse way physically, but they also took her.
OH MY GOD.
They took her.
They took what was mine.
What she had intended to give me.
I dropped to my knees at her feet. I sat back on my heels. I could feel the anger rising inside me, it was taking over. Never had I ever experienced such rage, such contempt, such unimaginable fiery.
"AAAARRRRHHHHH!" I'm positive that I had just woken up the entire western hemisphere.
And I didn't care.
I couldn't see, I couldn't focus on what needed to be done next.
"She's over here!" I heard Alice say to Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie. Alice, in a flash stood next to me with one of the loudest gasps I've ever heard from our kind.
As a vampire, it was natural for us to think ahead. As a vampire it was natural for us fix any situation where anything could have gone wrong, our speed, our mind, our muscle all allowed us to do this.
But here I find for the first time in my existence that none of those tools helped me. I couldn't rely on them. I sat there with Bella in front of me, my body still paralyzed.
"Call Carlisle!" Alice screamed to Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie all trailing behind her.
"Don't touch her, Edward. It could mean a matter of life or death for her." Jasper quickly noted.
"I know." I wanted to scream, again, but my voice could not manage anything over a whisper. My eyes were wide. I had to do something.
"Carlisle is on his way." I heard Rosalie say behind me with worry in her voice as she put her phone away in her pocket.
I shrugged off my coat, while still kneeling on the ground. I gently placed my coat over her, which hid most of the skin where her clothes once covered.
"Emmett get the blanket in Bella's truck." I said with authority. Last month I had stuck it behind her seat of her truck if it were to break down. I never dreamed that I would need it for a case where she would be beaten and assaulted in a forest.
"Edward we have to pull her over the line. I can't see her; I can't see what will happen." Alice screamed at me.
"I know, but at the moment I'm not sure how to accomplish that." My voice was starting to freeze again, not able to figure out the next step.
Bella's body was perfectly straddling the borderline to the Quilette reservation. My knees were exactly two feet from where we were strictly prohibited.
I stared at her battered face and desperately wanted to hold it in my hands.
Then I heard the voice that relieved a small fraction of my pain and worry for the moment.
"Edward, I'm here. " I heard Carlisle say next to me.
"I can't grab her, I can't grab her. She's over the line!" My mind and voice finally catching up with what my body should have been doing all along.
Carlisle secured the bottom of Bella's legs up to her knees and without further injuring her he expertly moved her over the Quilette line.
I moved up to her face quickly and touched her cheek with the back of my hand. If I could shed tears I would have filled a bucket.
"Wake up for me, love. Please, Bella, open your eyes."
"We need to get her to the hospital." Carlisle stated.
Emmett now with the blanket I had told him to retrieve stood beside us and laid it out next to her.
"I'm going to do a quick once over to see if she's broken anything or if there is any spinal damage."
Carlisle tugged outward at one of her feet and Bella unconsciously retracted it back towards her.
"Very good sign. We can move her." Carlisle deduced.
I rejoiced silently with the drop of my head while I let out a sigh of relief.
Positioned still where we were, Carlisle at her feet grabbing the back of her legs, and I at her head pushing my arms under her back we lifted her with my coat still on top of her, onto the blanket .
I wrapped the excess blanket around her. I looked at Carlisle for further affirmation to pick her up.
"It should be fine." He said.
Keeping one hand under her back and placing the other under her knees I gently picked her up and started back through the forest towards Emmett's jeep.
"I'll drive the Volvo back, Edward." Rosalie said, acting more concerned then I'd ever heard her.
Alice and I will ride with her, Edward, to leave room for Carlisle in the Jeep. Jasper told me without saying a word.
While I carried Bella to Emmett's Jeep, I stared at her face. I willed her to wake up. I wanted her to open her eyes and argue with me for taking her to the hospital. I would happily have that dispute with her here, now. I would maybe even give in.
I was approaching Emmett's Jeep with Bella in my arms. Carlisle had reassured me that there was no spinal damage, but I still kept my arms steady under her. It took an amazing amount of strength not to crush her into my chest so I could feel her heartbeat stronger against my skin. My mind finally coming out of shock I knew that was bad idea. I had to be careful with her. Eventually when she would come out of this, I would help her with her pain, physically and emotionally. I would be nowhere else, but here for her.
Carlisle opened up the door for us, and I eased her and myself into the backseat. Emmett was already in the driver seat with the engine running.
I placed her so her head was on my lap while Carlisle jumped in the front seat.
He immediately looked back and offered his hands to help me adjust the rest of her body so that she was positioned comfortably.
"Emmett, get us there fast. And safely, please." I looked up into the rearview mirror to see Emmett looking back at me with a big smile on his face.
"You got it, chief. We will be there in no time, safely."
Feeling the car under Emmett's dictation, going back and forth through the curly, wooded, road that would bring us back to Forks from the Quilette reservation, I started to feel Bella's body move in my arms.
"Bella? Love? I'm here, I'm right here."
"Agghh….." I heard her whimper. Her body shifted just a little, like when a human stretches after sitting in one place too long.
The sound of her throated awareness made me elated. To hear her again, even though it was a murmur. I was the happiest I had been since I found her.
I had to talk to her; I had to let her know that I was here with her and she was safe.
"Where does it hurt? Tell me." I pleaded, anxious to know how and where I could help her, ease her.
"Edward? Is that you?
"Yes Bella! It's me. We found you in the forest."
"The forest?" She gasped, her eyes not open yet. I was waiting for them to open; I was waiting to see the brown eyes that I was missing so much.
"Bella, who did this to you? Please tell me! Do you remember?" The words came out of me. The rage I felt earlier was coming back to me, bringing its presence to the surface. I would seek revenge on this predator.
"Aghhhrr… Charlie… it was Charlie."
What? Carlisle's head jerked to the back seat, he had a look of horror on his face. Emmett, always in control of his swift, steady driving almost went off the road.
"What the…" Emmett said finally gaining control of the vehicle.
"Bella? What? Charlie?" I asked more confused than I had ever been in my 100+ years.
"I… it was because of him… they found me…" she managed to say still with her eyes closed.
"What? Love? Tell me, can you tell me who it was?" I was so desperate to figure this out.
"I called Charlie on my way to you, after you called me. He should be waiting for us at the hospital." Carlisle added.
"Dad? Are you here? Be careful!" Bella's eyes jerked open at this point. She was looking right at me.
Oh her eyes. It felt so good to see them after all this time.
"EDWARD!" Bella sat up and her whole body contracted around me.
"AGGHHH!" She shrieked out in pain.
Clearly a broken rib, Carlisle thought.
I had to calm her.
"Bella, it's okay, it's okay." My right arm moved to stretch her out again in the back seat.
"I'm right here, you're going to be okay, I've got you."
She was trembling, violently. In the two years I have known this creature, she had never clutched at me the way she was at this moment. It scared me. Bella's strength that I have grown to love and accept even in times when I knew she was putting herself in danger never appeared to be so diluted.
Looking at her eyes I could see that she had experienced something that she would never want to re-live. She had been through something that she knew only I could have saved her from. But I couldn't. A huge amount of regret and anguish washed over me. I should have gone against my better judgment and escorted her to the line this time. I should have been waiting for her when she was on her way home. She assured me that it was a trip she made so many times. And she didn't need me to chaperone her.
For a moment I cursed out Alice's inability to see beyond the Quilette block that Bella had been in for the last 8 hours.
My mind went back to Bella. Of course: Bella. What? Charlie? I had to get to the bottom of this. I know Charlie wasn't my biggest fan, but I knew that he would never do anything to endanger his daughter. I could say a lot of things about the way he has treated me over the last couple months, but one thing I could say is that he would never wish this on his only child.
Something wasn't adding up.
Bella was still looking up at me, when we entered the ER drive-up lane at Forks Hospital.
"Where are we?" She was trying to grab her bearings.
"We are at the hospital. You need medical attention."
"No… I'm fine…"
Finally the argument I was waiting for. But now, I would not give in. I had to make sure that she was okay… physically.
"Bella, we found you in the forest… you were…"
My voice trailed off… I wasn't ready to tell her how we found her. I wasn't ready to share the details on how she looked, how she was so badly beaten.
I took the one free hand I had under her lower half and cupped her cheek. My other arm was still under her upper back, holding her close to me, helping her talk for the last couple moments.
"We're here, Bella. You need to get looked at."
"But Charlie… Charlie needs to know." She managed to get out between her mumbling.
When Emmett finally threw the Jeep into park, Carlisle was out of the passenger seat, instructing to the three ER nurses, "She's in the back seat, my son has her. Bring a stretcher."
Emmett was out of the driver's seat, opening the door for me. I eased Bella out in my arms.
"Thank you, we need to take her now." One of the nurse's, right next to Emmett, coldly told me.
A stretcher had been rolled out immediately near us for me to place her on.
Bella's eyes were still wide. She was awake now and starting to take in the reality of the situation.
Still in my arms, I had turned to place her on the stretcher. Her eyes got wider. She started to tremble more.
"No, come with me." She was frightened. "You have to come with me."
"I'm right here, and Charlie will be here soon."
"You can't leave me. They'll come for me."
"What? Who would find you here? Bella, tell me, who?"
"BELLA!" I could hear Charlie's voice from more than 50 feet away.
I tried to think of anything to say to her to comfort her. I had to take care of the center of my Earth, the person that was soon to be my wife. "I'm right here. And I'm not leaving. Look, Charlie's coming."
I pointed to him sprinting from where the cruiser was parked.
Bella was terrified. I had never seen her so scared. I could hear her heart accelerating, faster and faster. She had a death grip on my arm.
"You're the only one, Edward, you are the only one who can protect me." She was crying now, through her fright.
"BELLA, BELLA! OH MY GOD, honey, are you okay? Are you okay? What happened, I got a call… we have some guys on it… but I need to talk to you, you have to tell me who did this." Charlie was always eager to solve a crime like this, but he was even more eager now, downright desperate, to bring retribution to the person that did this to his own daughter.
"Dad… there were two of them… they knew you…."
Charlie and I were walking into the ER aside Bella who was being pushed on the stretcher. She still had an iron-clad grip on my arm. We were listening intently on what she was saying. We both wanted to know who did this.
"Bella… they knew me?" Charlie asked, confused. "But how, why would they…" Charlie's face brushed over with a pained look of guilt.
At the same time Charlie and I drew our focus from Bella on to each other. We had both figured it out at the same time.
These people whoever they were, were seeking revenge on Charlie.
I hope you stay with me for the ride! Next up - we will find out what actually happened to Bella. I hope to post as soon as I can.