I rode Midnight hard as I left the shelter of the castle walls. I thought briefly of the times James and I had raced the two stallions and gladly remembered that although James had the faster horse, Midnight always won hands down on distance and stamina. He wouldn't have travelled far without Dante tiring and slowing down, so there would be every chance that I'd close the gap.
The ground sped quickly beneath us, as I urged Midnight on. With the wind swirling around us I barely registered the sound of hoof beats approaching from behind.
"Edward! Wait!" the voice called out anxiously from some distance behind.
I threw a glance over my shoulder and was surprised to see Emmett and Jasper pushing their mounts hard in an attempt to catch me up.
Pulling firmly on his reins I brought Midnight to a standstill as I waited furiously for the pair to catch up. The stallion reared in frustration at being halted so suddenly, but soon quieted as I waited for the others to catch up.
The pair drew alongside me as they slowed their horses down in a more gentle fashion.
Jasper spoke first as Emmett caught his breath.
"We heard about Bella going missing and we came to help you get her back!" there was real concern in Jaspers voice and the tone was mirrored by the expression on both of their faces.
"Missing!" I laughed derisively "She's run off with James! I will not be made a fool of, I'll find her and take her back to her father to deal with. I think he will understand me breaking the betrothment under the circumstances"
I could hear the bitterness in my voice and I winced inwardly. My heart sank at the thought of her leaving with James, but however close I was to Emmett and Jasper I could not admit to the depths of my feelings for Isabella and how this betrayal had hurt me.
"There is no way that Bella has run away with James!" I looked up in shock at Emmett's outburst. His voice had rung out loudly across the cliffs. His face had turned an angry shade of red and his stare so intense that I almost looked away.
"Bella is one of the most gentle and innocent girls I have ever met and I know she was terrified of James! How did you never see that Edward!" anger was poured into every word and I began to question what I believed I had seen.
"Emmett is right Edward, we've got close to Bella since she came to stay here and all we've seen is a young girl who is sweet and caring. I saw the way James looked at her, as if he wanted to devour her, but I never saw anything but fear in return. That's why we followed you. Jessica told Alice about Bella going missing and when she told us our first thought was that James had taken her against her will" Jaspers quiet calm voice seemed to penetrate the fog in my head and I finally began to think more clearly.
What if Isabella hadn't run away with James? What if he'd taken her? My stomach felt sick, a knot tightening there as I felt my anger begin to burn stronger. I looked from Jasper to Emmett as I tried to think where James may have taken her. Guessing my intention Emmett suggested the same place that had been my first choice – his fathers cottage. James' father had died two years previously, leaving little to his son but a dilapidated old cottage a few miles from the castle. I couldn't be sure, but it may be the first place that he would go.
Turning Midnight into the direction of the cottage I urged him on, the sooner I had Isabella back at the castle, the sooner I could stop this empty feeling that had settled in the minute I realised she was missing.
In little under an hour we were within sight of the cottage, it was as I remembered it, barely standing but still habitable.
I motioned to Jasper and Emmett to keep quiet as we dismounted from the horses and secured them out of sight of the place.
There was little sign of life as we approached the door slowly until I caught sight of a familiar grey horse. Silver! My heart somersaulted and I signalled to the others that we were in the right place. As we approached the door I could hear sounds of distress coming from inside. I didn't wait to hear any more, standing back from the door, I kicked it hard, it flew open banging hard against the wall. I didn't wait for any response but strode straight on in.
My heart broke at the sight before me, James had an unconscious Isabella pinned to the bed, her hair loose and tangled around her bruised and swollen face, streaky with tears and dirt, her lips swollen and split. As I took in what he was doing and trying to do to her half clothed body I felt myself erupt with an anger that I had never felt before. My hand shot out and pulled him physically off of her body before my fist connected with the soft flesh of his face. I felt myself hit him again and again as the rage consumed me. I don't remember anymore until Jasper pulled me away from James' prone form lying on the floor.
I shook my head side to side as I felt reason coming back to me. I'd almost killed him, but I really didn't care. Without Jasper's intervention I would have finished the job. I looked back to the bed where Isabella lay. Emmett had covered her nakedness with a rough blanket and was trying to wake her up but as of yet she remained in a dead faint.
I crossed to the bed and knelt beside her, stroking her hair as I had done on previous nights.
"Isabella? It's Edward. You're safe now, he won't hurt you anymore" my voice cracked as I spoke and I noticed my hands shaking as they smoothed back her hair.
Her eyes fluttered before they opened, and the peaceful face that she'd worn whilst sleeping was replaced by sheer panic as she tried to make sense of what was happening. Her eyes darted madly around the room before finally settling on me and widening in surprise.
"Edward! You came for me!"