AN: There was too much going on in this chapter, so for the sake of my love of symmetry, I've written more and separated it into two chapters! I was just going to post both tomorrow, but something came up and gave me the excuse to post this one early. (No fear, though! Chapter 9 will post tomorrow and we'll officially be at the Prologue!
Parachute has been nominated for FanFic of the Month on the Twilight FanFic Addicts page! Voting is only for the next couple of days, so if you love the story, please go vote for us! Link is on our Profile/Homepage!
June 11, 2010
The rain beat against the window as the lightning flashed across the sky. It was half-past midnight and Bella sat at her desk, staring at her computer screen trying to digest the information in front of her. When Angela had called earlier, Bella quickly walked over to her car and unlocked the doors so that she could sit down for this conversation.
"What? How? Who? Where?" Bella started firing off, while her heart was beating rapidly. She was both scared and excited by the possibility.
"Well if you give me a moment, I can explain everything," Angela laughed lightly.
"Okay, okay, I'll shut up. Please continue," Bella responded, shakily.
"Alright, I was asked earlier today by Mike Newton to do some research on someone he's interviewing this week, a big business man from Chicago. His name is Edward Cullen. After doing some basic research, I found out some major shit once I dug deeper. Five years ago this coming September, his three year old son, Jackson was kidnapped in Phoenix, Arizona while the wife was visiting her mother. He was never found."
Bella's heart, which had just started to calm down, started beating quickly once again. Something was niggling in her mind about Phoenix. Something sounded familiar, but she couldn't place it.
"So, wait, this is Jack's father? What was he doing in Seattle if he was kidnapped in Phoenix? He told the police that he was with his mother when she left him, did she kidnap him? Oh my God, we can finally figure some of this mess out!" she exclaimed. "What kind of people are they, Ang? Are they going to take him away if we try and contact them?"
Bella felt her chest tighten and tried to ease the panic attack that she figured was coming.
"I don't know, Bella," Angela replied sadly, "I wasn't able to dig too deep before Newton pulled me away for something else. Although, I do know that the mother wasn't charged with kidnapping and was part of the publicity campaign that they ran asking for information on their lost child. Something doesn't feel right. I think there's something much bigger going on. My suggestion would be to call your dad and Jasper, and get them in the loop. Maybe they can find out more than I was able to."
"Thank you so much, Ang," Bella replied, "I appreciate you calling me right away. I promise to call both of them as soon as I get off the phone with you. Now that I think about it, I'll call Tanya too. She might be able to pull some strings and get some dirt."
"Sounds like a plan, Bells. Do me a favor though? Don't do anything rash. Jack is important to all of us and what you need is to come up with a game plan before telling Jack, or trying to contact the Cullens."
Bella nodded before she realized that her friend couldn't see the gesture over the phone.
"I understand, Ang," she replied. "I promise I won't do anything without discussing it with Jazz and Dad first. I've got to go now, it's almost time to pick Jack up from school. Love you."
"Love you, too, Bells! It'll all work out. I'm sure of it."
Taking Angela's parting words of comfort to heart, Bella took a deep breath and started to make some calls.
Another flash of lightning pulled Bella from her thoughts and she gazed at the pictures on the screen. The young man was tall with brownish red hair, almost a copper color and emerald green eyes. The woman was also tall, with long red hair and stunning blue eyes. Victoria and Edward Cullen. It was taken six years ago at a charity ball for the hospital where his father was the Chief of Surgery. She stared into the smiling man's eyes and there was no doubt that this was Jack's father. He had his mother's facial structure, but his coloring and smile were all daddy's.
She had done some Google research to prepare her for lunch tomorrow with Jasper. He was going to find out as much as he could before meeting at the cafe where Bella had first had lunch with Tanya, who was also going to be joining them with whatever she could find out. From what Bella found on the Internet, the Cullens had done a few interviews on local television stations and put up missing poster signs and canvased the Phoenix area. She couldn't find one mention of Seattle. Angela was right. Something wasn't feeling right about the whole situation. The mother knew more than she must have been letting on. That was the only answer that she could come up with.
Apparently six months after Jack went missing, his parents divorced and Edward threw himself into work, quickly moving his company, Cullen Corporation, up to one of the top acquisition firms in Chicago. Victoria stayed in the limelight as a social butterfly, appearing as arm candy for different powerful men over the years. Looking into her smiling face online, one would never have guessed that this woman's child was ripped from her life just a few years earlier. No, Victoria Preston-Cullen either had no heart or was a very good actress. Bella was betting on the former being the main issue, with a little of the latter on the side.
She leaned back into her desk chair. Something didn't seem right and it was bugging the hell out of her. Something about Phoenix kept popping into her head. She closed her eyes and sighed.
A particularly wicked flash of lightning jerked her awake. She stretched her neck and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
She heard a noise and flashed her eyes towards the door. A tall woman with deep red hair stood there, staring at her. Bella felt a chill run down her spine as the woman's cold blue eyes bored into hers.
"He'll never be yours," she spoke in a beautiful, lilting voice as she took a step towards Bella.
Bella's heart started hammering in her chest and she felt sweat break out on her forehead.
"You can't have him back. You left him!" Bella yelled at the woman. "Get out of my house!"
She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and saw Jack standing in the corner of the room. The woman followed Bella's gaze and cocked her head to the side.
"Jackson?" she called and held her hand out. Jack walked obediently over to her, without sparing Bella another glance. They turned and started to walk out of the room.
"NO!" Bella screamed. "Victoria, no! Don't take my son!"
The woman stopped and turned to look at Bella, smirking.
"He was never in Phoenix," she whispered as the door closed behind her.
"NO! JACK!" Bella screamed.
She felt arms wrapping around her and heard a quiet sobbing. Her eyes snapped open to see Jack curled in her lap crying. She looked all around the room in panic, but no one was there.
"Oh, God, Mom, are you awake now? I heard you crying and you called my name. When I came in you were sleeping and wouldn't wake up!" Jack cried out desperately, clinging onto her. She rested her cheek on his head.
"Ssh, baby, it's okay," she whispered, "Mama was having a bad dream. It's alright now."
Jack calmed down and wiped the tears from his face.
"Well, don't scare me like that again, okay?" he admonished her. Bella smiled and nodded.
As Jack went to slip off of her lap, his hand hit the keyboard, which turned off the screen saver. His eyes widened as he was entranced by the smiling picture of Edward and Victoria. He reached out a hand and lightly brushed his fingers across Edwards face.
"Daddy..." he whispered. His head whipped around quickly. Bella couldn't decipher the look on his face. It almost looked like disappointment.
"You found him? And you didn't tell me? Why? Why wouldn't you tell me?" he asked in an accusing tone.
"Jack," she started in a soothing voice, "I just found out earlier today. I was going to tell you as soon as I found out any more information. All I knew was their name and that they live in Chicago."
She noticed his stance loosen and relax. His gaze went back to the picture. After a moment, he gave her a small smile.
"I knew, Ma," he whispered as he touched the screen again. "I knew I'd see him again. You can't give up on love." He turned and looked at her with tears in his eyes.
"You taught me that, Mom." He nodded and rubbed his eyes. "What do we do now?"
Bella breathed in through her nose and then let it out slowly.
"First things first, I'm having lunch with Uncle Jazz and Tanya tomorrow to gather some more information about the situation. I know you must be excited to find out more, but I'm scared that if we rush into this, then I'll lose you."
She blinked back her tears and Jack threw his arms around her neck and squeezed.
"As much as I want to see my family again, I love you more. You'll never lose me," Jack whispered in her ear.
They sat like that for awhile before Bella turned off the computer and tucked Jack into bed. Eventually, the thoughts running through her head slowed enough for her to fall into an exhausted slumber.
The next day, after she dropped Jack off at school, Bella headed to the cafe. When she got there, Jasper was already seated at a table, poring over some documents that he had spread around the table. She dropped into a chair and gazed over some of the papers.
"What have you found, Jazz?" she asked. He smiled at her sadly.
"Well, the information out there is a huge clusterfuck. It's really odd. Victoria and Jackson Cullen left Chicago on Saturday, September 17th to go visit her mother in Phoenix. According to the mother's statement, Victoria and her grandson were there the entire time. On the 24th, the mother phoned into the Phoenix Police Department and reported her son as missing. She said that they had been at a park and she turned to speak to another mother for a few minutes. When she turned back, Jackson was gone. She swore that it had been less than five minutes."
Jasper rested his elbows on the the table and steepled his fingers under his chin.
"It's not adding up. You found him in Seattle on the 24th. The only way that that could have happened is if the kidnapper got him early in the morning and drove up to Seattle. But that still doesn't fit in with the time frame of when you guys found him. Or the fact that he claimed that his mother was with him there. There's just no way that he could have been in two places at the same time."
"Because he wasn't," Tanya spoke as she dropped a thick folder in the middle of the table. Jasper reached out and started flipping through it's contents as Tanya slid herself regally into her seat. Even after these past few years, the confidence that she exuded still amazed Bella.
"Holy shit," Jasper said quietly. He looked quickly up at Tanya and then back to the folder. "How the hell did you get this stuff?"
"I know a guy who knows a guy," she offered, smugly. "I'd go into more detail, but then I'd have to kill you."
Seeing the look in her eyes, you couldn't help but believe her. Realizing this, Jasper let the comment go and went back to perusing the documents. Bella sat, fidgeting slightly, while waiting for someone to clue her in.
"Well? Is anyone going to tell me what's the hubbub?" she asked impatiently. Tanya looked at her and gave her a triumphant smile.
"Mama has a problem with nose candy. Five years ago, she was arrested for possession of illegal pain killers and marijuana. Her family was old money in Chi-Town, so they had it covered up. Over the years, her addictions got worse and she turned to harder stuff. Ecstasy, cocaine and Valium seem to be her drugs of choice these days. My guess is that she was either stepping out on her husband with her dealer, or she was sneaking off to rehab. My money's on the dealer. There's no doubt in my mind that she was in Seattle for something, and her mother was covering for her."
Tanya rested her chin on her hand and looked contemplative.
"I'm so tempted just to put a hit out on her ass. After just dumping your kid in a park to go off and get high, especially a kid as awesome as Jack, you don't deserve to be breathing."
Jasper gave Tanya a wary look and gestured to the folder.
"Can your guy take care of that, too?" he asked sarcastically. She gave him a devious smile.
"No, that would be my other guy from the Jersey Shore," she winked at him. Jasper blanched and went back to reading.
"If Jack was reported missing, then why didn't he come up in the system?" Bella asked, her confusion growing instead of diminishing. "My father's a cop. We should have been able to find them so much sooner than this."
"There's a copy of the Phoenix police report in there. Read it and then you tell me," Tanya gestured to the papers. Jasper fished it out and his eyes widened as he read over it.
"No fucking way," he breathed.
He looked up at Bella and handed her the paper. After skimming through it, three things stood out glaringly: Carter Cullen, red hair and blue eyes.
Suddenly, she was taken back in her memories. Back to the night when she first found Jack and he was sleeping on her lap at the station.
There had been a recent report in Phoenix, AZ about a 3 year old boy named Carter, who had wandered away from his mother at a park, but that child was described as having red hair and blue eyes. Jack's hair was more of a brown with auburn highlights and his eyes were grass green.
"Are you kidding me?" Bella almost screeched. "She described her child wrong? Who the fuck does that?"
"My guess? She was still high on whatever and the police mistook her spaciness for grief. His full name is Jackson Carter Cullen. She got confused and used his middle name and told them that he looked like her, so they put down red hair and blue eyes. No one would have thought twice to double check her report because she was his mother."
Tanya shook her head slowly. Jasper closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"That means if she skipped off to Phoenix after losing him in Seattle, he had to have been on the streets alone for what? Two or three days?" He asked, his voice shaking with barely contained fury. Bella bit her lip and felt tears sting her eyes.
"I'm afraid so," Tanya stated sadly. "There's something still not right here. How would she have known to get to her mom's, if she was out of it enough to leave her kid in a park? Someone had to have been with her. She might not remember being in Seattle, but I'm betting the accomplice does."
Tanya sat thoughtfully for a moment before continuing.
"It was probably someone that she was screwing and didn't want to get in trouble. Not only with her big shot husband and family, but also with the cops. I mean, who the hell just forgets about their kid? What kind of a woman does that?" she asked in disgust.
Jasper shook his head. He looked at Bella who had been mostly quiet throughout the conversation today. A little too quiet.
"Bells?" he asked, "Are you okay?"
She turned and looked at him with her brown eyes haunted. She smiled weakly and shook her head.
"No, how can I be okay? I couldn't love that little boy anymore if I had actually carried him for 9 months. I can't imagine what kind of a bitch his bio-mother is." She took a deep breath.
"All of his memories from when he was younger were happy and loving surrounding his father and grandparents. No wonder he would never talk about his mother. She's a monster."
Her eyes turned determined and she gave herself a quick nod.
"We have to go to them. They deserve to know that Jack is alive and he's well. I don't think just calling them and saying, 'Hey, how are you doing? I just found out that my adopted son is your kid.' would go over well. We need to do it in person."
"Hold on a sec there, Bells," Tanya started, "you need to slow your roll. You can't just waltz in there unprepared. What if they call the cops and have Jack removed from you? I'm pretty sure you would have a heart attack on the spot. Frankly, I'm surprised that you're even considering it."
"Considering it? Why wouldn't I? If that were my child that were taken from me, I would damn well want to know. Plus, it's Jack's choice. I can't keep him from this. I love him too much."
"Even if it means letting him go?" Tanya looked her square in the eyes. Bella closed her eyes to hold back her tears. When she opened them, they were glistening, but strong.
"In a heartbeat. It would kill me, but it's what he deserves."
For the first time in their friendship, Bella saw a tear roll down Tanya's face. She swatted at the irritably and looked away.
"I guess there's a first time for everything," Jasper started, "but I have to say that I agree with Tanya, to some extent. Give me some time to look over the adoption laws and talk this over with Dad. I understand you wanting to go to the Cullens, but I need to make sure that we're prepared for the possibilities on our end, okay?"
Bella nodded and her thoughts started to drift to the 'what-ifs' before the ringing of her phone pushed them aside. Smiling, she was happy to see that it was Jack on the other end.
"Hey, baby," she answered.
"Hey, Mom! Are you almost done with your lunch?" he asked. She could hear Charlie laughing at him in the background.
"Cool, cause I can't wait to show you the fish that Pops and I caught today! He said that you knew how to fillate them and cook 'em. Is that true?"
"Yes, it's true, but I think you mean fillet, not fillate."
Tanya spit her drink out when she heard that. Jasper wiped the spittle off of his cheek and glared at her. She shrugged unapologetically and grinned.
"Oh, okay. I guess I'll see you in a little while?" he asked.
"Yes, Little Bit, I'm leaving here shortly. I'll stop by the store and grab something for dessert. Sound good?"
"Yes!" he yelled. She was laughing, picturing him doing a fist pump. "Love you, Ma! Bye!"
"Bye sweetie," she said before hanging up. She looked over at Jasper.
"Do what you have to. I'm going to look into arrangements for visiting Chicago. You make sure that I don't lose my baby, Jazz."
Jasper nodded, solemnly. "I promise that we'll do our best, Bella. You know we love Jack, too."
Bella smiled slightly.
"I know. We'll be okay," she whispered, praying that it was true.