Halfway to Repentance
AH. Wild Westward. City girl, Isabella, joins her father, Sheriff Swan, in the small town of New Volterra, Arizona. Kidnapped by bandits, she's rescued by the dangerous and rugged Edward Masen. But is he her knight-in-shining armor, or as bad as the bandits he saved her from?
I do not own Twilight or 3:10 to Yuma. If I did? Well...
Just a little something I came up with after watching the music video for "Blaze of Glory" by Bon Jovi. Thank you to WolfGirlAtHeart for tackling this monster despite being heavily pregnant. Lots of love xoxo
This was originally planned as a one shot, but due to the sheer size of it, I've chopped into a much more manageable eight shot. I intend on posting a new part each day starting on Tuesday 13th September 2011.
I KNOW YOU NEVER READ AUTHOR'S NOTES, BUT READ THIS ONE. I HAVE HAD A VERY BAD RESPONSE TO THE WAY I WRAPPED UP THIS FIC, AND ALTHOUGH I DON'T WANT TO GIVE SPOILERS, CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED THAT THERE WILL BE CHARACTER DEATHS, AND NOT JUST MINOR CHARACTERS.
THOUGH MOST OF THE FIC IS CANON PAIRINGS, SOME HAVE OBJECTED TO MY USE OF WHAT THEY CONSIDER NON-CANON PAIRINGS-IN MY MIND, HOWEVER, I'M JUST ECHOING CANON. IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE ANYTHING OTHER THAN EXB AND NOTHING ELSE, THIS ISN'T FOR YOU.
I BELIEVE IN REALISTICALLY EVER AFTER, NOT FAIRY TALES. THIS IS SET IN THE WILD WEST, SO DON'T GO EXPECTING SPARKLY FLUFF. WHEN I WRITE, I'M HEAVY ON THE ANGST.
IF IN DOUBT, AND IF YOU'RE UNFAMILIAR WITH BLAZE OF GLORY AND 3:10 TO YUMA, PLEASE GOOGLE THEM QUICKLY BEFORE PROCEEDING. ALSO, IF YOU'RE THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO IS GOING TO LEAVE A REVIEW WITH A DEATH THREAT OR A RUDE NAME, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.
PS. THERE IS NO IMMACULATE CONCEPTION IN THIS FIC. IT WAS NEVER ENVISAGED AS A LEMON FIC, THOUGH THERE ARE SOME SCENES OF SEXUALITY.
As Bella stepped foot onto the sandy wooden platform, she held her handkerchief over her mouth and coughed. Though she'd already felt the dry heat in the train, here in the open sun she was almost melting. What little air her corset allowed her to take into her lungs just didn't seem enough and she felt suffocated.
Inside, she felt as if she wanted to cry. The last place in the world Isabella Swan wanted to be right now was in New Volterra, Arizona, but here she was.
Still, well brought up ladies shouldn't stand and cry on platforms, and so she gathered together her large pile of luggage. Bella gave the conductor a few coins and a condescending smile for his trouble in helping her off the train, which he gratefully accepted.
It was then that she saw her father making his way towards her. Though it had been many years since Bella had seen Charles Swan, there was no mistaking his serious expression, thick black moustache, and of course, the same eyes that stared back at Bella whenever she looked in the mirror.
"Hey, Bells," he greeted her gruffly as he grew close.
"Hello, Father." Bella pushed the mahogany ringlets that were blowing around her face out of the way, and her eyes automatically dropped to her father's outfit—the functional attire of local law enforcement, complete with the polished golden star that proclaimed his position as sheriff.
He wasted no time in taking charge of her belongings, and then led her through the wooden ticket office and out the other side, where a rickety old wagon was waiting for them.
Bella's white-gloved hand rose to her mouth in horror, but then she dropped it back to her side. There was no point in being upset in the manner with which she was to be transported—after all, this wasn't New York, and she would have to get used to it.
Remembering her previous life as a city girl, living with her mother and all modern conveniences, Bella felt a pang in her chest but soon swallowed it down. After Renee Swan's fall from grace, there was no future for her back there—Bella's reputation had been tarnished with her Mother's when her parent had run away with a young man almost the same age as Bella herself, creating quite the scandal.
She looked over at her father. Did he seem heartbroken? He had faithfully provided for his wife and daughter through the years, but he had rarely come to visit. Bella's mother had told her that she couldn't face leaving the big city to be a sheriff's wife in the middle of nowhere, and Sheriff Swan didn't want to leave the only life that he knew. On the few occasions he had come to New York, he'd seemed like a fish out of water.
Why her parents had married in the first place, Bella could never quite understand. She guessed that it showed exactly why one had to be prudent when it came to choosing a husband or wife. Love often wasn't enough, and money certainly wasn't everything—there had to be compatibility of temperament.
Climbing aboard the wagon after her father had loaded all her earthly belongings, Bella looked around the place that was now to be her home and wondered how on earth she was going to find a suitable husband here.
An hour later, Charlie Swan turned the wagon onto the dusty track that led down to the main house. Bells had hardly spoken a word since he'd picked her up and not used to speaking to women, Charlie hadn't exactly been conversant himself.
The sun was beginning to set and it cast an orange glow over the home he knew and loved. He hoped that, with time, his daughter might grow to love it, too. Right now, she seemed less than impressed.
Though he hadn't played much of a part in her upbringing, he could tell that Bells was more like him than Renee. It was obvious, however, that Isabella Swan was a city girl; it was going to be a difficult transition to life out here in the West. Looking over at her gloved hands, he wondered whether she was going to be the type to pitch in and help like the women born and bred into this life, or whether she was going to be the lady her mother had always wanted to be.
Hmmm—some lady she turned out to be.
One thing was for sure, Bells certainly wasn't the little girl he remembered. Given his knowledge of the local male population, he wasn't sure how happy he was to see her all grown up.
As he brought the wagon to a halt, Harry and Billy came out of the house to lend a hand. Young Jacob came soon after, and offered his hand to help his daughter down.
"Oh!" Bella quickly pulled her hand back.
"Ah, Bella. This is Jacob—Jacob Black Wolf." Charlie Swan scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah, they're Native Americans—good workers that I met during my time up North...and my friends. This is Billy Black Wolf, Jacob's father, and Harry Clear Water."
The three red-skinned men nodded their heads in Bella's direction, and hesitantly, Bella put her hand in Jacob's. She had never seen an American Indian before—though she'd read a lot about them. The papers said that they did all kinds of terrible things to homesteaders and prospectors out in the wild. Yet up close, Jacob seemed like any boy approaching manhood, if you could look past the tone of his skin and the long black hair flowing over his shoulders.
"Welcome to New Volterra, Bella." Jacob's English was perfect. He gave her a warm smile as he helped her down—it was impossible for Bella not to return the expression, despite his forward use of her first name. She guessed that he'd gotten that from her father.
Bella looked down and barely noticed the dust dirtying the hem of her skirt. She had thought this particular outfit was one of her more practical, but in this heat, the heavy deep burgundy material was making her sweat. She didn't want to show weakness in front of Jacob.
He thought she was a poor little rich girl, not here by choice—which was true, but she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was right.
Last night, she'd cried herself to sleep, but after waking up this morning and having the sour-faced Leah Clear Water help her lace up her dress, she'd given herself a shake and a pep talk.
She could do this, and like she'd remembered her father saying to her when she was nothing but a little girl, if you were going to do something, you should always do it well and give it your best shot.
Bella had no other choice but to tackle life out in the sticks and win. She wasn't weak—she'd practically run the household herself back in New York, with an absent father and a mother who really didn't care for much other than socializing and dress shops. There were adjustments to be made, but there was no reason why she couldn't make a home for herself here.
Right now, the first step would be to not let the heat get the better of her while Jacob gave her the tour.
"You okay, Bella? You look a little whiter than usual."
"No, I'm fine, Jacob. It's just a while since I've ridden." Bella took another deep breath and gripped her reins tighter as the corset squeezed her ribs. She brought her horse alongside his. "Tell me more about where you're from."
A white slash stretched across his bronze face—his teeth were remarkably straight and unstained.
"What? You mean up North? I don't really remember." He looked away at the horizon. "I was a baby when my father left the tribe. Mother died and he said that every tree and hill reminded him of her. He came across your father when he was pinned down by a bunch of outlaws, and later, when your father got back in touch and offered him the deputy's job here, he took it. Your father has always been good to us—he treats us like decent human beings. Pays well, too."
Grinning again, he turned and looked back at Bella. "All I remember about where I grew up is how cold and wet it was. You don't get that here, just warmth and sun all the time. This is home to me—this is where I'm meant to be."
They both trotted together until Jacob broke the silence. "What about you? How do you feel about being here? I can imagine it's pretty different from New York."
Bella laughed. "You wouldn't believe how different. You might as well have picked me up and dropped me off on the other side of the world." Bella thought for a while and took a moment to catch her breath before she spoke again. "What is it like in town? The people? The stores?"
"Volterra town? It's decent. The saloon causes your father most of his work. Pretty quiet mostly—this whole area is owned by Aro Volturi, and he and his men don't tolerate anyone getting out of line. He has his own personal army."
Bella listened intently as Jacob described how the Volturi family made sure that anyone causing trouble was swiftly dealt with, often in mysterious circumstances.
"As far as the Wild West goes, you'd struggle to find anywhere safer, I'd say. Most outlaws know better than to try anything here, unless they're stupid."
"Oh, that's reassuring," Bella almost whispered. "Is there a dress shop in town? I think I may need to purchase something a little more...practical—"
With that, the sun finally won out; Bella ungracefully fainted and dropped to the earth.
The next thing Bella was aware of was distant voices yelling, growing steadily closer and louder. There was a rocking motion and she felt strong, muscular arms around her.
Looking up, Bella met a pair of dark slanted eyes and high cheekbones.
"Don't worry, I've got you. Almost home."
In her heat-exhausted state, Bella forgot that it was rude to stare. "You're kind of beautiful."
Jacob laughed out loud. "How hard did you hit your head, Bella?"
Right then, they reached the commotion and a number of people—male and female—gathered around them.
"Bells! What happened, Jacob?" Bella heard her father's distinctive deep voice.
Jacob explained about her fainting, and that he'd brought both horses and an unconscious Bella back to the house. The chatter never ceased as Jacob was ushered inside, still carrying Bella in his arms. He never faltered or paused as he climbed the stairs and finally laid her on her bed.
"Everyone except Charlie and us women out. Did you hear me, Jacob Black Wolf?"
The woman who took charge of the situation was called Sue Clear Water—Leah's mother. At breakfast, Bella had already gotten the impression that she was a fearsome woman. Even her father sat up and took notice when she spoke.
A damp cloth was applied to Bella's head, and she was given a glass of water. Her city dress was removed, and finally, Bella could breathe again.
"Fancy clothes like this—no wonder you fainted. As soon as you're well, we need to take you into town and get you looking less like your mother and more like a real woman. I'd offer you some of mine or Leah's clothes, but a dainty thing like yourself would never fit—and they might be a little too...rustic compared to what you're used to."
Bella's head felt woozy and all she could do was nod weakly. She wasn't sure whether she was dreaming or not, but she was sure she heard Leah mutter something like, "Spoiled little bitch will never fit in here." Before she could raise her eyebrows in shock, Bella passed out once more.
Once the doctors had been to visit and given her the all clear—and Sue Clear Water had stopped administering her home remedies—Bella was finally allowed to accompany her father, Harry Clear Water, and Rebecca Black Wolf into town on the old wooden wagon. During the ride, she took the opportunity to ask Rebecca a few questions about her twin sister, Rachel, who had married and moved away.
Bella was becoming fascinated by the two families of Native Americans that her father treated as equals, and was beginning to understand why. Their customs and appearances were exotic, yet to talk with them in regular situations, she could have been speaking to any good Christian, white-skinned person.
The focus of her fascination was quickly centering on Jacob, as he had come to visit and often brought small gifts—wildflowers, a small carved wolf, and a "dream catcher"—which seemed to have done its job when Bella's bad dreams about leaving New York for this uncivilized wild place had vanished. Even better, when he visited, he would regale tales of the legends of his tribe.
Bella was enthralled. Suddenly, the prospect of her new life and her new friendships didn't seem so bad.
After she'd spied him shirtless out of her bedroom window, she'd been having all kinds of inappropriate ideas running through her head. Ideas that had no place in the real world—for all that she was beginning to open her mind to American Indian culture, there was a limit to how far a respectable lady could be expected to embrace it.
Or was there? This was a strange place and she had no idea how these things were viewed here. And there was something about Jacob that made Bella think about embraces in an entirely new light.
Bella shook her head and brought her mind back to the present.
The wagon finally rolled its way into the town and Bella looked on in interest at the people going about their daily business. She noticed that they stared back, and for a while, she wondered if she had sprouted a second head.
It was then that she noticed that there were few other red-skinned people in sight—maybe that was the reason for the stares? Or maybe it was the fact that there was no one else walking around dressed in expensive midnight blue taffeta cut in the latest New York fashion. And who could blame them? Bella was already beginning to feel the heat.
As she disembarked, Rebecca led Bella across the dusty street to the dress shop. A girl with pale blonde hair and what was probably considered to be a fancy dress here looked Bella up and down, sneered, and then walked away—Rebecca introduced her as Miss Lauren Mallory, the daughter of a local rancher.
When Bella entered Newton's Outfitters, she found the other inhabitants of town to be much friendlier. Mrs. Newton buzzed around her, and Bella faced a twenty minute questioning about the latest styles on the East Coast and the dress she was wearing from the dressmaker and another customer, Miss Jessica Stanley, before she was even asked what she wanted.
While Miss Stanley and Mrs. Newton got into a heated debate about what colors went best with Miss Swan's coloring, a quiet girl called Angela finally came over and helped measure Bella up. Miss Stanley and Mrs. Newton had forgotten that Bella existed by the time she'd handed over her father's money and left the store.
Laden with fabric in practical whites, browns, and pale blues, Bella was almost knocked off her feet by a passing gentleman.
"Oh, Miss. I do apologize." The man lifted his hat, exposing neatly styled straight blond hair. His eyes twinkled as he looked her up and down. "Why, you must be Sheriff Swan's daughter. I'm Mike Newton. So very pleased to make your acquaintance. We don't often have the pleasure of entertaining people of your class down here in New Volterra."
Bella smiled nervously and shook his hand. Another gentleman, shorter with dark hair, popped up behind Mr. Newton.
"Eric Yorkie. I run the general store—well, my father does."
A male voice from behind her also introduced himself. "Tyler Crowley. I drive the stage..." The third arrival, instead of shaking Bella's offered hand, chose to kiss it instead.
It all became too much as her impractical dress, the heat, and the crowd began to overwhelm her, but then Bella felt a hand on her elbow.
"Thank you for introducing yourselves, gentlemen, but unless you want my shotgun trained on you, I suggest you give my daughter a little space."
Bella smiled in relief as her father escorted her back across the way to the safety of the wagon. Rebecca took Bella's purchases from her and helped her climb on board.
"Looks like the local eligible bachelors have taken a shine to the city girl, Bella. Maybe we need to train you to use a shotgun to fend them off?" Harry Clear Water joked and then winked in Bella's direction. Bella grinned.
"Good idea. Lesson one begins tonight." Something about her father's tone told Bella that he was serious about the rifle lessons. "Harry, take Bella and Rebecca home, and I'll see you all later. Got to keep them outlaws at bay before they overrun the town."
Charlie's moustache twitched, and the tumbleweeds blowing down the dusty main drag emphasized his sarcasm. This quiet, pleasant town was either a testament to his law-keeping skills, or to the fearsome reputation of the Volturis.
The wagon pulled away, and Bella made herself comfortable up front next to Harry as they rumbled their way across the dry landscape. Rebecca sang in the back and the other passengers listened in quiet contentedness.
Making their way through a pair of twin rocks, the moment was shattered when there was a loud crack. A lump from Bella's throat dropped into the pit of her stomach.
"Hold it right there!"
Three riders pulled out from their stone hiding places, their horses twitching nervously. Their faces were covered and hats pulled low, but it was obvious from her voice that the speaker was female, though she dressed like a boy. Around the edge of her hat, Bella could see that the female bandit's hair was red and curly. Her companions were male—one dark skinned, seemingly Mexican from what she could tell, and the other was white with his hair in a dirty-blond ponytail.
"You're making a big mistake. Don't you know you're on Volturi land?" Harry answered calmly, his eyes narrowed. The way he spoke told Bella that this wasn't the first time the Native American had been in a dangerous situation like this.
"We know...but we'll be off Volturi territory before you get the chance to tell anyone what we've done, old man. Now hand over the city slicker and no one gets hurt." This time, the blond man spoke. His voice sent chills down Bella's spine.
"Over my dead body." Harry Clear Water moved quickly, reaching under his seat and pulling out a rifle, but before he had the chance to fire, the girl had lifted her pistol and pulled the trigger. The noise echoed in Bella's ears, and for a moment Bella thought she had missed.
Harry froze and Bella waited for his return shot, but it never came—instead, he rolled sideways and fell to the earth. Rebecca screamed.
The blond bandit trotted over and roughly pulled a stunned Bella from her seat, until she was sat in front of him on his horse.
"Now, don't be giving us any trouble, little miss, because we wouldn't want anyone else to have to die today, would we?"
Bella shuddered as she felt his breath on her ear, unable to take her eyes off the growing patch of red on the front of Harry's beige shirt. Rebecca cried, but then silenced herself as the redhead lifted her pistol in her direction.
The Mexican took a turn to speak. "We can't kill her. We need someone to pass on the message…otherwise we won't get paid."
The red-haired woman said something very unladylike, but the blond man agreed.
"Go back to town." He said to Rebecca with a victorious smile. "Tell the sheriff that we have his fancy daughter, and that if he ever wants to see her again, he'll find a way to get five thousand dollars. Once he's done that, he'll go to a little town called Repentance about eighty miles west of here—I'm sure you've heard of it. In the saloon, he needs to ask for a Riley Biers. Once Riley tells us that Sheriff Swan has held up his side of the bargain, then we'll send back word of where and when he can find his little girl." The blond man spoke as plainly as if he was simply giving directions to the next town over. "Any funny business, Isabella Swan dies. Do you understand?"
Rebecca nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Okay then. Give my regards to the sheriff."
The redhead's horse stepped over Harry Clear Water's body and with a yip, the blond spurred his ride and the three bandits took off at a gallop.