SM owns Twilight.
Story title comes from the song Sometimes Salvation by The Black Crowes.
The idea for this story has been kicking around for a while and I was going to wait until after I had completed Bridges before posting, but it's just been begging me to publish so here goes. Not to worry though, Bridges will finish.
This story is very different from Bridges and my other story not only in theme but also in POV. It will be third person throughout because it really needs to be in order to tell the story. It ultimately will be a Bella/Edward story but the first few chapters will be a background and build up to their story. Bella does not show up until the second chapter and Edward does not show up until the third. There is a lot of background that has to be established and this first chapter does that.
Hope you all enjoy!
"Detective Swan." The gruff voice answered the phone.
"Hello, is there anyone there?"
The sound of her voice halted his breathing. It had been a little over twenty years since he last heard it but he knew without a doubt it was her.
"Yes." Her voice answered him tentatively and small.
"What the…" He stopped himself from saying what he really wanted to say. "…what can I do for you Renee?"
"I was hoping that you would meet with me. There…there is something I would like to talk with you about."
Charlie sat there on the phone trying to find his words. How could he bring himself to meet her, to see her after all of this time? To know without a doubt that the hold that she had on his heart all of those years ago was still there, gripping him in a death like vice that threatened his sanity.
"Charlie I know I have no right to ask anything from you at all, but I am…begging…begging for you to please, please meet me so we can talk."
The cadence of her voice made him wary, not of seeing her but of what she needed to talk with him about. There was desperation and maybe even a little fear there and he was suddenly anxious.
"Where are you?" He finally asked, breaking his silence.
"I'm here in San Diego. I'm staying at the Manchester Grand. There is a bar here, could you meet me there?"
It was now or never for Charlie. He could tell her to go to hell or fuck off or some variation of harshness or he could meet with her, figure out what had her so desperate and then hopefully walk away with a semblance of his heart left intact.
"When would you like to meet?" He said with a sigh.
"The sooner the better." Renee answered him, a bit of relief filling her voice.
"I can be there in twenty minutes."
"That's perfect, I'll meet you there, just ask the hostess for me."
"Ok." Charlie said his voice unrecognizable to himself.
"I'll see you in twenty minutes." Renee said and then paused. "And Charlie, thank you." She finished before the line disconnected.
Charlie sat there for a moment dazed, his heart aching in his chest, the phone's receiver still in his hand, cradling his ear.
He thought he was over her, thought he had moved on from all of the pain he felt that horrible day, but now, some twenty years later, the pain was trying to consume him once again.
Gathering all of his wits about him, Charlie put the phone back on its hook, ran his hands over his face and stood to face his past.
Charlie Swan was numb, not just his body but his mind and most of all his heart. He did not allow himself to think of his teenage years and the wonderful summers he spent with Renee, Carlisle and Esme. He did not allow himself to think about the five months of heaven he spent when Renee lived with him and he would not under any circumstances allow himself to think about that last day when his entire world changed.
That was until the hostess lead him to the table tucked away in the back of the hotel bar and his eyes drank in Renee Higgenbotham and it all came rushing back to him.
She was just as beautiful as he remembered, even more so now. Time and age had been kind to her, her skin just as smooth as it was when he first met her at the age of twelve. Her once long strawberry blonde hair now cut in a short bob that hung just above her shoulders. She turned when she heard the hostess approach and the smile that lit up her face took Charlie's breath away, just has it had all of those years ago.
"Charlie it's so good to see you." Renee said as she stood up and wrapped her arms around Charlie.
He stood there stiffly, unable to move his arms or speak as the feel of her touch and the scent of her essence invaded him and pulled at his broken heart even more.
Sensing his unease, Renee let him go from her embrace and pointed towards the chair opposite of hers.
Charlie cleared his throat and sat down, looking all around him, at everything he could to not look at her.
"Can I get you anything?" The hostess asked Charlie.
"Water would be great thank you." He answered her, keeping his eyes fixed on her retreating form, not out of attraction but out of fear of what looking at Renee would do to him.
"So how have you been Charlie?" Renee asked in a pleasant voice. "I see you have made Detective. You must really be proud of that."
"Yes." His reply terse. He knew it was rude, but he feared his voice would quiver if he said more.
"How is your mom doing? I was so sorry to hear about your dad passing away."
Charlie's eyes finally reached Renee's face with those words. He was trying to figure out how she knew about his father's death a few years back. He was struck instantly by her eyes. The once ice blue eyes that were so full of life now looked tired and weak and the purple that seemed to have taken up residence beneath them drained the life out of them even more.
"She's doing well." He finally replied.
"I really miss her chocolate silk pies." She said as she looked down and began playing with the napkin that was in front of her. "Every time I see one of them on a menu I order it hoping they will be as wonderful as the ones she use to make, but I am also so disappointed. I would love to…"
"How can you be so casual?" Charlie interrupted her. "How can you sit there and talk about pie like we are two old friends catching up?"
Renee could hear the venom in his voice and she knew she had to tread lightly. There were things that needed to be said and she needed him in the right frame of mind to hear them.
"I thought…I guess…I hoped really that by starting out casual it would make things easier."
"Easier!" Charlie yelled. He paused and looked around him regretting instantly raising his voice the way he did and bringing attention to the table. He took a deep breath before continuing.
"What about this is supposed to be easy Renee? You show up here twenty two years later after what you did and think this is supposed to be easy."
"What I did…it…had to be done…there were so many…so many reasons…" Renee tried to get out between the choking tears that were taking over her body.
"Reasons!" Charlie yelled again as he launched out of his chair. He didn't care anymore about the attention that was being directed his way. "And what could those reasons possibly be Renee. What fucking reasons could you possibly have for just leaving me, with nothing but a note saying I'm sorry. Do you know how much I panicked? Do you know that I spent three months looking for you, going to New York trying to find you, searching databases at work that could have gotten me fired to see if I could find any trace of you what so ever! I had just gotten out of the hospital Renee, after being shot no less to come home to empty closets and drawers and a note that said I'm sorry and nothing more. You broke my fucking heart Renee, shattered it just like that bullet shattered my shoulder and you sit here and tell me you had reasons. Well you and your reasons can go fuck yourselves." Charlie seethed as he started to walk away from the table.
"I was pregnant." Renee blurted out stopping Charlie dead in his tracks. Renee looked at the once retreating form of Charlie, stiff at her words, but not moving.
"You have a daughter, Charlie. Her name is Isabella, Bella as she likes to be called. She's twenty-one, very smart, fiercely independent, and full of life and passion and looks a lot like you."
Charlie's head fell forward and Renee could see his body trembling. She waited with baited breath for him to turn around and when he did it broke her heart. The look of pain on his face was more than any person should have to bear and she knew it was all her fault, not just this pain, but everything, everything was her fault.
"Charlie, please just sit down and let me finish." She was begging and she knew it sounded desperate, but she had to finish this conversation for her daughter's sake.
Charlie turned and quietly sat back down in his chair, his head hung low, his eyes closed. Renee reached for her purse, pulled out a picture of Bella and slid it in front of Charlie on the table. The noise of something being pushed across the table drew him out of his darkness and as he opened his eyes the vision before him took his breath away.
The girl in the picture was beautiful, simply beautiful. Her long hair was the same color as Charlie's with hints of her mother's red. She had her mother's smile and pouty lips and cute button nose, but it was her eyes that drew his attention the most. Staring back at him in this picture were his own eyes. Eyes that had stared back at him in the mirror with so little life for the past twenty two years. If there was a doubt in his mind, any thoughts that Renee was feeding him a line of bullshit to keep him there, it was gone the instant he saw those eyes.
"She's beautiful." He whispered.
"Yes she is."
"Did you…does she know about me?"
"She knows that we were friends growing up. I have told her all about our summers together in Maryland with Carlisle and Esme. But she doesn't know that you are her father, although I suspect that she has guessed that you are, like I said she is very smart."
"Where is she, is she here with you?" Charlie asked looking up from the picture to Renee.
"No, she isn't here. She is in DC right now for the next three months. She is a freelance photographer, specializing in underwater photographer. She is working with NOAA right now. She lives in Wilmington, NC most of the time when she isn't traveling."
"Isn't she in school? I mean aren't most twenty one year olds in college?"
"She graduated two years ago. Like I said she's very smart. She finished high school when she was sixteen and finished Savannah College of Art and Design in three years. Along with being very smart, she is very creative and has an amazing eye. She has been passionate about photography for as long as I can remember and she knew that is what she wanted to do with her life."
"She sounds amazing." Charlie said, his eyes returning to the picture of his daughter.
My daughter. The words were running through his mind over and over again.
"She is Charlie. I am very proud of her."
"Why…why didn't you tell me? Why are you telling me now?"
"It's so complicated Charlie. Our whole lives are so complicated."
"What's so complicated Renee?" Charlie seethed again, his temper beginning to rise at her vague answers.
"Well why don't you enlighten me to the complications and I will see what I can do to keep up."
"It isn't that easy Charlie." Renee said.
"That's bullshit Renee and you know it. You left me, knowing you were pregnant and now…now what you suddenly feel bad about it and wanted to casually mention to me I am a father."
"She was one of the reasons I left Charlie."
"Why because you thought I wouldn't want her or that I wouldn't be a good father?"
"No Charlie, I knew you would be a good father. I still know that and have struggled with it every day for the past twenty-one years knowing it. But it's so much more then what I thought your reaction would be Charlie. Do you have any idea of what it was like for me? I was holding that positive pregnancy test in my hand when I got the phone call telling me you had been shot? Knowing that it…"
"It what Renee? Was too scary, too much? It is a risk of the job and it wasn't even that bad, just a clean through and through to my shoulder."
"It wasn't a risk of the job Charlie, it was a warning!"
Renee's words froze Charlie. He didn't know what to think. What did she mean it was a warning? Renee was never won to be flighty or impractical so she couldn't have seen it as being a sign could she?
"What do you mean it was a warning?"
"Fuck!" Renee said with an exasperated sigh wiping tears from her eyes. "This isn't how this was supposed to go. Look Charlie, I know you have no reason to trust me at but I need you to trust when I say that there are things that I cannot tell you right now. Wait let me finish." Renee said as she saw Charlie's mouth open to protest her words. "I will Charlie, I will tell you everything soon, but right now I need your help. It's Bella, Charlie. She is in danger, serious danger. I have done all I can to protect her but I can't do it on my own anymore. I need your help."
"What kind of danger?" Charlie asked. Although he had just found out she was his daughter, the protectiveness of a father overtook his body and he felt real fear.
"Grave danger Charlie. I need you to promise me that you will try and find a way to protect her."
"How am I supposed to do that Renee? She lives on the other side of the country and she may or may not even know I am her father."
"Because I have faith in you Charlie, not matter what you may think about me, I always had faith in you. It is that faith that lets me know that you will take care of our daughter Charlie."
The table grew silent as Charlie let her words wash over him. He knew she was right, he would find a way to protect his daughter.
He reached into his wallet and pulled out one of his business cards, writing his cell and home number down on the card.
"I will. I will protect our daughter." He said as he slid the card across the table. Renee picked the card up and looked up at Charlie, her eyes showing a semblance of hope.
"We have to talk about this Renee. I need more information."
"I know Charlie and we will but not today. Soon, I promise Charlie soon."
"I need…I need to go." Charlie said standing up to leave. "Can I keep this?" He asked pointing to the picture of Bella.
"Of course Charlie. It has all of her information on the back, just please be careful not it let that out of your sight."
"I promise." He said turning the picture over and looking at the information on the back. "Bella Cigno? Is she married?"
"No." Renee answered him, standing from her seat gathering her purse.
"Are you?" Charlie asked instantly afraid of the answer.
"No Charlie, I never got married."
"Then where did this last name come from?"
"From you Charlie. Cigno is the Italian word for swan." Renee said as she leaned in and kissed Charlie's cheek. "I love you Charlie, I always did." She said before she turned from him and left the bar.
Charlie didn't return back to work that day. He called his Captain and told him he needed to take a little personal time and since Charlie never took personal time his Captain let him without asking any questions.
Charlie barely made it home before all of the emotions that he had been trying to hold back for the past few hours hit him. He walked into his house, made it as far as the living room before he dropped to his knees and started to cry.
He stayed like that for hours. He stayed like that until he had nothing left to give. He stayed like that until he was number then he had ever been in the past twenty two years.
Around seven thirty that evening he managed to go into his kitchen and fix himself a sandwich that he really didn't want. He managed to eat half of it, not really even knowing what it was that he was putting into his mouth. When he was finished, he grabbed a beer, walked into his bedroom, laid the picture of Bella on the table so that he could see it and crawled into bed fully dressed with his shoes and tie both still on.
He laid there nursing his beer, staring at the picture of his daughter. His daughter. Two words he had given up hope of ever thinking about let alone hearing.
When he finally allowed his numb mind to think back his first thought was to the summer he met Carlisle Cullen and Renee Higgenbotham in his home town of Crisfield Maryland. He was twelve years old that summer and a total beach monkey.
He loved the water growing up, having been around it his whole life. His father was a boat man, fishing blue crab for as long as he could remember. Since he was a little boy he was on the boat with his dad at least two days a week during the season pulling pots and helping him count. Although June was the height of the season for blue crabs in Maryland, Charlie's dad wanted him to be a kid so he only had Charlie on the boat with him three days a week, giving him the rest of the week to spend being a kid. He swam in the ocean; body surfed and surfed with his board. He was constantly going, hanging out with his friends and just enjoying life.
The first of June always brought on tourists and the part timers who came and stayed for the summer. Those families wealthy enough to have a second home and they spent their summers at the beach away from the rat race of places like DC or New York.
That summer the first of June also brought storms that left behind rip tides. Charlie, having grown up at the beach and being a strong swimmer knew the proper way to handle those tides if caught up in one.
One evening as he was getting ready to go back to his house for dinner he heard the panicked cries of a woman. He looked over to see a young mother screaming for help and pointing out to the water. He saw a boy who looked to be seven or eight struggling to stay above the water, a man who Charlie assumed to be his father trying to get to him but failing.
Before he could think twice Charlie was in the water, swimming with the tide to get to the young boy. As he got closer a girl popped up beside him and began to pull the boy with her, swimming parallel to the tide back to shore.
"I got him, you help his dad." The girl called out to Charlie.
He nodded his head and made his way over to the dad who was beginning to struggle himself.
"Sir I need you calm down and listen to me." Charlie said.
"My son." The man called out.
"Someone has him; he is going to be ok." Charlie said trying to get him to calm down.
The boy's father suddenly went under water and Charlie dove under to pull him back up.
"My legs, they…are...cramping." The man said between haggard breaths.
"Sir I need you to remain calm please so we can work together to get you out of here."
"I…can't…my legs…hurt too much."
Charlie knew what this meant, he was going to have to try and support the man and himself while trying to swim back to shore in a way that the tides couldn't pull them both under. He knew it would be a struggle. The man was so much bigger than he was and even though Charlie was a strong swimmer, it would be a challenge.
Just as Charlie was about to put his arms around the man, another boy who looked to be the same age as Charlie swam up to them.
"You need some help?" He asked Charlie.
"I think so, his legs are cramping and he said he can't move them. I can swim with the tides, but I don't know if I can support us both."
"We'll do it together." The boy said as he took one of the man's shoulders over his own and motioned for Charlie to do the same. Working together the two boys were able to get the man back onto the shore. Once they did, EMT's and the Coast Guard were beginning to arrive.
The two boys fell to the sand, catching their breath and trying to slow down their heartbeats.
"Where did you learn to swim like that?" Charlie asked the boy.
"Swim team back at home. You?"
"Lived here all my life, have been in or on the water since I could walk."
"My name is Carlisle." The boy said.
"I'm Renee." The girl who had saved the little boy said as she came over and sat down beside the boys.
They sat and talked waiting for the commotion around them to die down. Charlie learned that Carlisle was from DC but was staying there for the summer with his mom. Renee was from New York and she was also staying for the summer with her mom.
By the time the boy and his father were taken away in an ambulance with assurances they would be ok, Charlie, Carlisle and Renee were friends.
They spent all of their free time together, hanging out on the beach, having swimming contest; exploring the area and just doing the things that twelve year olds do. Although Carlisle and Renee both came from money, neither of them treated Charlie as if he didn't.
From June until Labor Day weekend the three were inseparable. The next four summers were the same way. The only change coming the year they turned sixteen and Carlisle showed up with his new girlfriend Esme Platt. Luckily she fit right in and the party of three suddenly became a party of four.
The summer they turned eighteen, they all knew things would be changing. Carlisle and Esme were both going to be going to school at Harvard while Renee was going to go to Brown. Not really having money for school, Charlie decided to join the Coast Guard. Having been on the water his whole life he knew it would be something he could do well. Plus it would give him a chance to make enough money to go to school when he got out.
Carlisle and Esme got married the summer they all turned nineteen and their wedding was the last time Charlie saw either one of them. He missed them both over the years but as childhood relationships often do, they lost touch.
He stayed in touch with Renee until he was twenty and then all contact with her stopped. He was stationed in San Diego then and he fell so in love with the town he decided to stay there after his four years were up. He went to community college there, got an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice and went to work for the San Diego Police Department.
For Charlie, life was good. He had a little house that looked out over the ocean, he had a job he loved and he was in a town that he thought he could be in for the rest of his life.
Then at the age of twenty-three his world changed forever. Renee showed up at his door one day and nothing was ever the same for him again.
She told him she missed him and that she just needed to get away for a while. He offered her a place to stay and they fell into a comfortable pattern, just like they did all those summers ago. Within a few weeks, they were lovers and a few weeks after that Charlie knew he had found the one.
They had five months of bliss together, life was perfect and he had never been happier.
It all began to fall apart around him the day he was shot. It was a routine call; a drunk was harassing the patrons of a diner and would not leave as asked. Charlie and his partner were able to control the situation, get the guy out of the diner and restore order. Just as they were about to cuff the perp he pulled a gun and shot Charlie in the shoulder.
Charlie didn't remember much after that, just the burning pain that was taking over his body. He stayed conscience until they had to put him to sleep to remove the bullet from his arm. No organs were hit, no muscles were torn, and all in all Charlie was a very lucky man.
Renee was beside herself when she got to the hospital, tears flowing freely down her face. She stayed with him at the hospital each of the three days he was kept there, only leaving when they forced her out at the end of the day.
Although she was there, she was very quiet and withdrawn and Charlie began to worry about her. She told him she was fine each time he asked and he was afraid to push her further.
The day he was released from the hospital, Renee told him that she would not be able to be there to bring him home, that she had something that had to be done and that hard as she tried she could not get out of it.
One of his buddies from the force drove him home and as he entered the house he shared with the love of his life, he expected to find her waiting for him, her arms wide opening welcoming him home.
What he found instead were empty drawers and a half filled closets. A simple note on the bed they shared, the bed they made love in each night sometimes several times at night that said 'I'm Sorry'.
That was all that was left of Renee. There was no physical trace of her left in the house other than her handwriting on the piece of paper. The faint smell of her perfume lingered but there was nothing else.
She was gone and with her she took his heart. He had no need for it after she crushed it.
But now she was back and with her she brought back the heartache, the questions and the pain and his daughter. A daughter who was in danger from God only knew what and she needed her father.
As he drifted off to sleep that night, Bella's face the last thing he saw, he knew without a doubt he would give his life to make sure she was safe.
Two days had pasted since Charlie saw Renee. He went back to the hotel the next day to see her but the front desk informed him that she had checked out. He tried to get her address from them under the guise of needing to find her for a police investigation, but without a warrant they were not willing to give over the information.
One part of him began to wonder if it had all just been a game to her. Showing back up the way she did, telling him about Bella and then disappearing from his life again. The other part began to fear the worse based on what she had told him about Bella being in danger. He knew he needed to find his daughter, check on her and make sure she was ok, but he still wasn't sure of how he was supposed to start that conversation just yet.
The ringing of his phone brought him back to work and back to reality.
"Detective Swam this is Brady Smith from the ME's office. I have a Jane Doe here that I think you might be able to help me with."
"Why…why is that?"
"One of the only two things that we found on her was your business card."
Charlie's heart stopped instantly, all of his fears coming straight at him.
"I'll be there as soon as I can." He said as he hung up the phone.
The whole way there he prayed to a God he had not spoken to in years that it not be Renee. He knew it made him a bastard for wishing the fate of death on someone else, but he didn't want it to be Renee. There were too many questions left unanswered, too many things left unsaid for it to be her.
He checked in with the ME's front office and was lead down a cold dimly lit corridor to the morgue. He steeled his nerves as he pushed his way through the swinging doors only to have his senses assaulted with the smell of chemicals.
"Detective Swan, I'm Dr. Smith, thank you coming down here so quickly." The young ME said as he held his hand for Charlie to shake.
"What can you tell me about the Jane Doe?"
"Her body was found last night near a dumpster over on 5th street in a back alley but based on lack of blood and other evidence she was dumped there." He said as he walked over to the coolers set into the wall. He opened one of the doors, pausing before the pulled the body out. "She was shot in the head at point blank range. There are marks around her wrists which indicate she was bound and there are bruises on her upper body. She was not sexually assaulted but she was beaten rather badly."
Dr. Smith pulled the body out of the wall, pausing for a moment to look at Charlie as if to double check he was up to this before he pulled the sheet back.
When he did, Charlie turned instantly, ran over to a sink and vomited. His eyes shut automatically as he did and that only seemed to make him sicker because behind those closed lids was her face. His worst fears were there, staring back at him coldly.
Renee was dead.
"Did you know her Detective?" Dr. Smith asked.
"Y…Yes." Charlie managed to stutter out. "Her…her name is…was…Renee…Renee Higgenbotham."
He could hear the ME writing something down as he turned on the faucet to clear his mouth and face as well as the sink.
"I'm terribly sorry about that. It was very unprofessional of me." Charlie said as he cleared his throat and turned to look back at Dr. Smith who was standing there with paper towels in one hand and breath mints in the other.
"It's not a problem Detective. You might be surprised at how often that reaction is elicited. I take it you knew her on a personal level?"
"I…did. She is…is my daughter's mother." Charlie answered him.
"I'm very sorry for your loss Detective. Was she from San Diego?"
"No, she hasn't been here for over twenty years. I haven't seen her in that long. She showed up the other day telling me I had a daughter and that she was…" Charlie paused as the reality of everything crashed down on him.
"She was what detective?"
"She was in danger, our daughter is in danger."
"Was your daughter with her?" The ME asked and Charlie could hear traces of fear in his question.
"No she is in DC right now."
"Do you have anyway of contacting her to make sure she is ok?"
"I…I do." Charlie answered the doctor, his eyes never leaving Renee's face.
"Based on what I have found so far sir, I would say there is a very good possibility that she is in danger. From what I can tell this wasn't some random attack, Ms. Higgenbotham was executed."
Charlie nodded his head and walked closer to Renee's body.
"What was the other thing that you found on her?" Charlie's raspy voice asked.
"It was a fluke really that I found anything at all. I was cutting her clothing away from her body and when I got to the pocket of her skirt I hit a seam." He said as he walked over to his desk. "It appears she sewed your business card and this picture into the her skirt so that it wouldn't be found unless someone did what I did."
Dr. Smith walked back over to Charlie and handed him the business card he had given to Renee along with a picture. Charlie stared at the picture of Renee, Carlisle, Esme and himself that had been taking when they were sixteen. He knew instantly why Renee had done this.
"She was leaving me breadcrumbs." Charlie mumbled to himself.
"What is that a picture of?" Dr. Smith asked.
"It's from when we were sixteen. It's me and Renee and two of our friends that we spent every summer with since we were twelve."
"I really am very sorry for your loss detective. I'll give you a moment to say good bye." Dr. Smith said as he turned to walk away leaving Charlie there alone with Renee.
"Damn it Renee." Charlie huffed as he felt the tears stream down his face. "Why didn't you stay with me? Why didn't you tell me you were in danger too? I could have protected you. I could have prevented this. I could have…fuck…I just…" Charlie stopped his rambling words and sighed a heavy sigh. "I love you too Renee. I never stopped loving you either." He said before he leaned down and kissed her lips, one of his tears falling into her eyes.
"I promise baby, if it's last thing I do, I'll protect our Bella." He whispered before he turned to walk away.
After making arrangements with the ME to take care Renee's remains, Charlie stepped out into the sunny day knowing only two things.
He was about to meet his daughter for the first time and unfortunately it was so he could tell her that her mother was killed and that he would do everything in his power to protect her.
The other thing he knew was that it was time to go and see his old friends Carlisle and Esme Cullen.
A/N: So it begins.
Let me know what you think!