I can hear the words Nathan is saying to me, they make sense. Shay needs me, I know she does, it doesn't make sense to have any of it without Edward. Nathan grabs ahold of my body as I lounge for the door, "What about Shay, Bella? She needs her mother!"
Being stronger then I know I am capable of, isn't a new phenomenon to me as I break free of his hold, "If he's dead – she is in even more danger and I have days! Days if I'm lucky to do what needs to be done so I can come back home. Otherwise, I'm dead too. She will be next simply because they want people to think we all ran off together. A missing people case, not murder. I need you to make sure she is safe and impossible to find. She needs to cease to exist, do you understand? She is safer without me – she can't be with me. Promise me Nathan. Nate – promise me to do everything you can to protect her."
"I…Bella there has to be –" Nathan stutters before I cut him off.
"Another way? There is no other way. I don't have many choices – if that bullet hit Edward or not – either way Shay is not safe with me. Shay is not safe as Shay, do you understand?" Nathan nods, as I frantically speak.
"You know how I feel about Shay. I'll do whatever I can to protect her, Bella what the hell is this about?" Nathan asks me, holding my shoulders as his eyes bore into mine.
"It has to do with the shooting, Nate. We are alive, so we are a threat. They think we are working with police – the fact that I'm a detectives daughter is even worse. Leah lives upstairs, take Shay up there – then call my dad to help, he can get you and Shay into witness protection, or something." I tell him.
"Bella, he can do that for all of us…please whatever your thinking…"
"It's not that simple, please trust me, I have to do this." I beg him, running out of time. They know who I am, which means they know Charlie, and the Cullens, my friends…it be like asking all of them to leave their lives, because they will go after every person Edward and I care about until we are dead…or if I have my way…they are dead.
"If you need to walk away from this – I get it cause I may never make it back to her. She needs to get out of state by the morning, give me two weeks, if I'm not back or haven't made contact assume the worse, erase her existence and get her out of the country. Otherwise, I will find Shay as soon as I know it's safe." I stare in his eyes, not expecting him to do anything more than he is willing, but to understand he has to let me go either way.
"How will you find her if you don't get yourself killed?" he asks me, as a few tears escape and run down his face in surrender.
"Use the last name Denali. I don't have any more time left. I need to go. I won't get killed – but if I do, it's okay as long as Shay is safe, so promise me that, so I know, no matter what happens to me –she'll be safe." I beg him in a rush as I back up toward the door. I can hear sirens in the distance, I need to know if I'm one of two – or just one before it's too late and police take over.
"I'll make sure she is safe. I'll tell her you love her." He takes long strides quickly until he is close enough to touch me. He pulls me into a hug, and I whisper thank you. He kisses my forehead then reaches behind me to open the door. I take off his engagement ring, and he shakes his head refusing it. "You might need the money."
I'm not too proud to accept this from him under the circumstances. I slip it into the back pocket of my jeans. "Hurry up and get back to your daughter," He tells me.
I nod, desperate for the comfort that my return would be a certainty instead of doubt. I hesitate one more moment wishing I had time to see Shay one last time before I turn to leave. I know I don't, causing tears to run down my face. I think of the last time I kissed her and held her, telling her how much I loved her. It's not enough, but it's going to have to be I remind myself as I reach the stairs not far from my door down the hall. I hear Nathan call my name right before I get ready to go down. I turn and a smile naturally erases the tension and fear written on my face. He holds Shay on his hip, "I'll come to you as soon as I can baby," my voice quivers, but I keep it hidden well. I hear her say, "I wove you," her small hand lifts up and waves goodbye to me. I tell her I love her too, and Nathan mouths the words I've been repeating over and over in my mind as I run outside, "Don't die."
I have a million things I need to do – most important one is not get killed, find Edward, get my purse. I can't leave any clues behind about my identity, I don't know if this thug told anyone he found me. I can only hope he didn't have a chance, and I'm not going to be the one who solves it for them. Even if the police don't release the information, I know there are officers who aren't above selling the information
I haven't seen Edward yet – or gotten killed. My purse is the first thing I come across, I kneel down slowly, keeping my eyes open and scan the area as I pick up my purse. I use my sense of touch to collect the spilled contiants of my purse. My hand moves across the pavement feeling for things I may have missed, I glance down to make sure I have collected everything off the ground, then slowly stand up. My mind wants me to shield myself from seeing anything horrific, but I force myself to keep scanning the ground for a body.
My thoughts race all over and I find that I am mad at myself for letting Nathan call 911. I was still in too much shock. I'm very aware of how close the sirens sound. Stupid! I chastise myself. I can't trust anyone but myself and Edward. I should be able to take comfort in the protection the police can offer me, but I just can't take the chance of one bad cop selling the life of Edward, myself…our daughter.
I can't believe how many complex thoughts and actions made on pure instinct my mind is processing. I have no room for mistakes. The price is too high if I screw up right now. The clarity within my mind and of my surroundings begin to cause panic within me, why haven't I found Edward?
This flight or fight instinct that kicks into gear during life or death situations is really amazing – it makes me feel like I have super human abilities. I felt it once before, but this time I feel even more powerful. I feel as if my mind and instincts are sharper. I know it's more powerful because I am a mother. The only way anyone will lay a hand on Shay is if Edward and I are both dead, that's the only way anyone will get close to her.
"Bella?!" I hear Edward's voice, it's as if the relief of him being alive alleviates so much weight I begin to float. The panic I felt over not finding him is now replaced with the volume of his voice. I turn towards him then hunch on the ground.
"Shhh!" I insist, pulling on his shirt, I can feel this warm wetness drip down my arm as if I just wrung out a washcloth. I look at my hand, bright red blood covers it, a few drops run down my arm. Please let it be the other guys. We hunch down behind my car. "Are you okay? Is that guy dead?" I whisper in a rush as my hands explorer his face then move to his shirt lifting it up praying for him to be unharmed.
"He is dead. I'm fine." He tells me. "Cops are coming, it'll be fine."
A stab wound in his side is not fine. "This isn't fine," I tell him shaking my head in disagreement, he winces in pain as I look at the gash. I go on, so he understands when I said 'This isn't fine,' I was referring to his stab wound and the cops coming. "No police, we have to get out of here. You have to trust me, do you trust me?" I'm asking him to risk so much. I know if we stay, it will be open and shut case of self-defense. Asking him to leave – is asking him to risk his innocence if we don't do everything right. It's asking him to forget traditional safe medical treatment. It's asking him to become a vigilante alongside of me – stain both our hands further. It's the only way I can imagine ever being truly safe.
My eyes beg him to trust me, because I honestly don't know how to live each day in fear, always looking over my shoulder. I did that once, it wasn't fun. I didn't start this – but I intend to end it.
"I trust you." He whispers, his hand resting on my face. I nod my head, saying good then begin to tell him what I need him for him to understand, no questions, no time to waste, to do what I say and I promise to explain later. He nods in agreement. I know he is in shock over killing someone, but is following what I am saying.
"Where is the body? Show me where he is." I ask with a tone that gets the message across not to discourage me. Looking in his eyes, I know he won't say it so when his eyes move to the left I follow looking in the same direction. Edward's head turns, and I see the body in the distance, and suppress the instinct to gasp. There is no time to be shocked – it was him or Edward. I swallow back the bile rising in my stomach as I consider the wound in Edward's side for a second. "Take off your flannel," I tell him, as I help pull it off his weak arm. "Use it to apply pressure, take these keys and get in the passenger seat of my car, wait for me, I won't be long, and don't stop putting pressure on that okay?"
"Bella I can't lose you," Edward tells me, his voice full of despair.
"I can't lose you either," I make sure I take my time telling him that. I move closer to him, kissing him for the first time in too long. I really wish I had longer to kiss him the way I longed to. I hesitantly pull away from him, "time isn't something we have."
"Go," he urges me with complete trust. It was better than hearing him say he loved me, he was saying he loved me. He was saying it was so much more than that, he didn't need to the know why or what of anything I was asking of him or doing he would blindly follow me fearlessly.
He refused my help getting up, pushing me to go do whatever I needed as he made his way into the car.
I rush over to the body, thankful it's in a dark alley. I pull the gloves out of my jacket pocket and quickly put my hands in them. I search the body's pockets, taking his cell phone, wallet, a wad of cash...the knife, where the fuck is the knife! I finally find it on the ground a few feet from his body. I scoop it up, then I look around making sure I don't see anyone before quickly making my way back to my car.
I hop in the driver's seat and start the car I yield to the police sirens, then continue forward.
"Bella, Shay. We can't just leave her…" Edward sounds panicked.
"Shay is with Nathan. He is going to make sure she is safe until we finish this." I tell him, placing my hand on his knee, giving him a reassuring squeeze.
"I knew I shouldn't have come back. I knew – " Edward says, it's like steam is rolling off of his body he is so mad at himself.
"Stop. I need you. Shay needs you. These fuckers…let's just say they fucked with the wrong girl. I will not live another day fearful over what tomorrow holds. I can't. So if they want a fight, a fight is what we will give them. I'd rather die fighting – then live fearful."
"I won't let anyone hurt you." Edward tells me.
"I know." I whisper.
I use the Bluetooth in my car to call in one last favor. Emmett was a medic in the army, and I ask him to meet us right outside of the city at a motel a few minutes from the Philadelphia airport.
"Just get a room at Days Inn, under a fake name, on the first floor. Call me back with the room number." I instruct him, adding to bring whatever he would need for a stab wound. All the doors to each room at the Days Inn are outside, which is important since I can't parade Edward through a well lit lobby.
He sounds worried, I tell him it's okay. "Just don't tell Rosalie, please."
"Trust me, I don't plan on it." He tries to joke, before hanging up.
Edward tells me he feels sick to his stomach and dizzy, "We are almost there, just a few more minutes…okay?"
Edward just nods, closing his eyes. My phone rings, and I answer it right away.
"Em!" I answer just as I pull into the motel parking lot.
"Nine, Bells. Room nine." Emmett tells me.
"I see your car," I tell him pulling into the spot next to him. "Can you come out and help us in?" I ask him, turning off my car.
Room nine is right in front of my car, the door opens and I'm shocked to see Emmett and Carlisle come rushing out. I get out of the car, and rush to the passenger side. "Shay? It's not Shay, is it?" Emmett asks, taking in my gory appearance.
"Shay is fine. It's Edward." I tell him, opening the door.
"Has he lost consisnous at all?" Carlisle asks me.
"No," I answer quickly as they help Edward out of the car, as he winces. Emmett goes to Edwards right, Carlisle to his left as they help him inside.
"I know you told me to come alone, not to tell anyone, but Bells…this is over my head."
"It's fine, Em." I assure him, taking in all the blood. On my hands, my shirt, my face even.
"What happened? Who did this? Edward isn't involved with those drug dealers again is he? He needs a hospital…how can I be sure it didn't hit something!" Carlisle tries to remain calm, but I can hear the panic in his voice rise as he lies Edward down on the bed and begins to examine him.
"This guy attacked me tonight, Edward tried to stop him and he got stabbed. He refuses to go to the hospital. The guy ran away. I wasn't thinking…and just wanted to get Edward help. Only he was dead set against the hospital…so I just called you Emmett. " I can't tell them the truth. No one is going to give us their blessing or support to hunt these murder's down – to murder them.
No one understands how this would affect everyone, tear us all apart, force us to become strangers living in fear.
"You need to call the cops about this guy!" Emmett demands.
"There is no need to," Edward speaks up, hissing in pain. "He was creamed by an eighteen wheeler when he ran away. I guess he wasn't paying attention and just ran right into the street, and bam. Serves him right, piece of shit."
Edward sucks in a deep breath, as Carlisle cleans the area. He looks at me, "You are okay, Bella? Your head?" he asks.
"Just shaken up…my head is fine." I tell him.
Carlisle says the stab wound is no more than two inches deep, and he can't see any of the small intestines, so it's very unlikely they were hit. "If there was a chance the knife went into the small intestines, Edward wouldn't have a choice if he wanted to live. I suggest following up tomorrow in my office so I can check with the ultrasound just to be safe."
"If you say so," Edward responds.
"I mean it, Edward." Carlisle gets his point across as he jabs a needle full of lidocane before he begins to stitch it closed.
While Carlisle stiches up Edward, I go into the bathroom clean myself of all this blood, but all I end up doing is sinking to the floor, hugging my knees, and silently sob.
"Bella…" Emmett softly calls from the other side of the door. I take a deep breath, standing up. "You okay? Do you need anything?" he asks.
Am I okay? I want to laugh as I look at my tear streaked face, it looks like I cried tears of blood. My hair is a mess, and you can't see it, but I'm missing a huge part of my heart without Shay. It feels awful.
"I'll be right out Em, kay?" I respond turning on the water. I splash some on my face, scrub my hands, try to fix my hair, put on my brave face and leave that crying, mess of a girl in the bathroom.
Edward asks me if I'm okay. "If you are okay, I'm okay."
Carlisle instructs Edward to drink plenty of fluids, starts an IV antibiotic, and antibiotics to take "by mouth" for the next ten days. "Bruising could be a sign of internal bleeding, and I mean it about the ultrasound tomorrow. The shit is inside your intestines for a reason, if it is leaking you will become septic. The stitches can come out in two weeks."
Edward is laying down, his head propped up by pillows. I climb up along his right side, he puts his arm around my waist pulling me against his bare chest. Looking at the carefully stitched up wound, it's only about three inches long.
"I don't know what is going on – I'm not going to even pretend I have a clue. But if you two are in some kind of trouble, there are plenty of people who care about you enough to do whatever they can to help. " Carlisle tells us, eyeing how close we are, how our bodies respond and react to one another. The undeniable spark between us, can almost be seen it's so intense.
"Carlisle, I appreciate the concern and helping. I know I can always count on you, I am very lucky to have you. I promise you, Bella and I –" Edward pauses looking at me, smiling warmly, "we are okay. It's been a tough night. I think we both just want to put it behind us and move on."
Carlisle puts his hands up, surrendering, "Just making sure. Technically I'm your uncle, but you are my son in my heart. I want the best for you."
"I know, and the best is with me," Edward smiles again looking at me, then placing a kiss on my forehead.
"You need to rest…both of you." Carlisle isn't suggesting he is telling. "I mean it, Edward."
"Yeah, yeah…no sex." Edward rolls his eyes, as Carlisle bends down to hug him.
"I love you son. Don't do anything crazy, we can't bear to lose you again." Carlisle speaks softly in his ear.
"Love you too, dad." Edward responds, choking up.
I hug Carlisle, then Emmett thanking them both for what they did tonight. Edward and I lie once more to Carlisle when he makes us promise one last time to come see him in the office for the ultrasound. There is no way we can show up there tomorrow.
Tomorrow – it begins.