Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight Characters.
Graduation brought the instantaneous feeling of being an adult. One day we were kids in school, the next we are suddenly preparing for college and ready to take on the world. Our relationships changed, too. Teen romances took on deeper meaning when the possibility of being together forever became real.
"Rosalie," I yelled in protest. "You can't take that much luggage. I won't even be able to see to drive."
"I need every single thing I packed, nothing is disposable," she demanded.
"Emmett, tell her."
"Come on, Babe; let me bring some of it with me when I come up next week."
"Fine," she finally relented.
I pulled the largest bag from the pile and drug it over to Emmett. Edward continued packing my old jeep as my dad looked on in disapproval.
"Bells, come here a sec," Dad said, as he walked to the side of the house.
I knew what was coming. We had planned this getaway many months ago, and rented a large cabin in a remote area, for six couples. The girls, me, Alice, Rose, Lauren, Jessica, and Angela were going to spend a week there before the guys came up for the final weeks rental.
We wanted our boyfriends to come with us, but due to work schedules and an extended baseball season, they had to wait. I wasn't sure which Charlie was the most upset about, having the guys with us, or having the girls in such a remote area alone.
"I want you to behave responsibly and…"
"Dad," I interrupted. "When have I ever behaved anything but responsibly?"
"I know, and I am aware you just graduated and you are eighteen but, well, it's just that you and Edward…"
"If I wanted to have sex with Edward I wouldn't have to rent a cabin to do it," I pointed out.
"I'm just saying, behave responsibly," he reiterated.
"I will, don't worry," I assured him.
I actually had every intention in the world of having sex with Edward while away. We had been dating for almost six months now and I felt it was time. If the world considered me and adult now, I wanted to have an adult relationship.
I made my way back to the jeep as Edward shut the tailgate," Everything okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, he's just being protective. I think it comes with the badge," I teased. "What's up with Jasper?"
I noticed Alice trying to calm Jasper down, which was nothing new; Jasper was always worrying about something. Alice never tired of his constant hovering, but he drove the rest of us insane.
"He doesn't want her to go up early," Edward told me. "He's having a bad feeling or something."
"Jeeze, he better loosen his hold or he will drive her away," I said shaking my head.
"Why, you hear something?" Edward asked, surely wanting to warn his best friend if a break up was coming.
"No, I'm just saying." I looked over to see my dad staring at Edward in an attempt to be threatening. Edward followed my gaze.
"You know we don't have to do anything, I'm not pressuring you or anything."
"I know Edward; let's not have this conversation right now, okay?"
We had talked this subject to death. I wanted to have sex with him, and he wasn't ready. I understood his reason, but I wanted him to trust me and know with a certainty I wouldn't tear his world apart like Tanya did.
"Wait," he said in frustration. "If this is stressing you out, I can stay home and work extra hours."
I stared at him incredulously, thinking he changed his mind about moving forward in our relationship. "Do what you want," I finally answered, and headed to the drivers seat.
"What is your deal today, shouldn't you be in a good mood?" He followed me and I felt like he was trying to pick a fight. Most boyfriends would be dying to take the relationship to another level; surely desire would eventually win out.
I held onto the steering wheel and looked over at Jasper. "I just want to get out of here, we are already running late and who knows what kind of drama Jasper is going to add."
Edward let out a long breath and kicked at a rock. I sat silently waiting for him to say something, but he remained quiet. I turned on the engine and honked for the girls to hurry up with their goodbyes.
"So, should I plan on you, or not?" I asked him with tears threatening.
He looked at me for several moments then stuck his head in the window and kissed me hard and passionately, until my dad called out his name. He back away a few inches from my mouth and said, "I do love you, you know that right?"
"Is there a 'but' coming?" I asked.
He smiled one of his heart stopping smiles. "Yeah, my butt is coming up next week."
I smiled and mouthed, "I love you."
"Get out of here before your dad shoots me," he said as he stepped back from the vehicle.
Rosalie climbed in the front, giving Lauren, Jessica and Angela the back seat, but kept her legs outside the door, wanting Alice to sit in the middle. Rosalie's five foot ten inch frame could not squeeze into the small space, but tiny Alice could.
"If he drags this out I am going to run him over," I complained when Jasper grabbed Alice's arm as she tried to walk away.
He pulled her into a long kiss and I was finally grateful Charlie was there to break it up. Alice skipped over to the jeep while Jasper looked like someone ran over his puppy. I was so ready for some girl time away from it all.
We headed out screaming and honking as I turned the music loud. I fully expected to see Charlie following behind with lights flashing, but I was willing to bet he wanted a 'talk' with the guys.
We drove for over an hour before turning off onto an obscure dirt road. It was another hour of winding through thick forest before we finally hit a road block.
"What the hell is this?" I said in aggravation.
A large construction barrier with a flashing strobe was blocking the road.
"There's something written on it," Angela noticed.
We piled out of the jeep and walked to the barricade.
Pedestrian traffic only
"I am not hauling my crap in heels," Rose demanded.
"Why are you even wearing heels into the forest?" I said disgusted.
"I don't own street shoes," she responded, as if it was stupid of me to ask.
"They don't make them in her size," Lauren whispered to Jessica causing them both to laugh.
"Let me call my dad and see what's going on." I pulled my phone out to see it had no signal, "Anyone, getting coverage?"
Everyone took turns checking their phones to find we were too far from a cell tower.
"Jasper is going to freak if I can't call him for a week," Alice mumbled.
"Poor Edward and Emmett," Rose whispered to me.
I looked past the barricade and didn't see a problem with the road. Angela pulled a satellite map from her pocket and splayed it out on the hood. We weren't too far from the cabin and couldn't see any possible issues that would lead the forest service to close the road.
"Maybe it is unstable for some reason," Lauren offered.
"They wouldn't let people walk on it if it was unstable," Jessica said. "Let's just chance it."
We all agreed to drive very slowly and try to make it to the cabin. It was only a fourth of a mile away, but it took us forever to crawl there. The road curved back and forth and each turn brought a new expectation for disaster. We pulled in front of the cabin with no clue why only foot traffic was allowed.
We paid top dollar for a cabin large enough for all twelve of us, and to have it stocked with food and supplies before we arrived. When I walked in, I knew it was worth every penny.
We all screamed and ran through the house claiming our rooms. Everyone agreed to give Rosalie and Emmett the room with the king size bed. Their large bodies earned them the right to have the extra room.
Angela insisted on taking the common area with the two couches since she was sure Ben would not be comfortable sharing a room. They had been dating for almost two years, but both agreed to abstinence.
Lauren and Eric were more 'friends with benefits' than an actual couple but she wanted to share a room with him anyway. Alice and Jasper was a no brainer…they would be joined at the hip, and other bodily places, as usual.
Jessica assured me she didn't care which room she and Mike had, so I chose the one farthest from the common area. If Edward and I were going to finally move forward in our relationship, I didn't want it within hearing distance of Emmett. I would never live his teasing down.
We put our bags in our respective rooms and headed outside to look around. A huge deck sported a large Jacuzzi, built in barbeque, with hammocks and Adirondack chairs everywhere. A rushing stream could be heard just beyond our sight, so we all headed out into the woods to check it out.
"I don't know why you would wear those stupid shoes out here," I repeated to Rose.
"Just shut up and help me," she said, trying to steady her tall legs as she used my shoulder for balance.
We finally made it to the stream and each commented on how much the boys were going to love it and how we wished we could call and tell them to bring fishing gear. It was relaxing hearing the noises of nature and the feeling of cool fresh air in our lungs.
We hung out at the creek way too long and dragging Rose back up the inclined hill was even harder than it was going down. It was almost dark when we made it back to the cabin.
"Anybody hungry?" Alice asked, while looking in the fridge.
"No," we all yelled in unison, determined to take off even one pound before the guys showed up.
"Let's just have popcorn and watch a movie," I suggested.
We separated to get into pajamas, or sweats, or in Rosalie's case, a silk nightgown that barely cleared her ass.
I unzipped my suitcase and began looking for my flannel bottoms with a tee when something made my blood turn to ice. I sat back and stared at the bag in shock. I tried to remember if anyone had opened it since I brought it out for Edward to load.
My father didn't go through it looking for condoms, did he? It had to have been Edward, looking for something, or maybe adding something. I moved my stuff around and couldn't see anything like a note or a gift.
I walked down the hall to Jessica's room. "Hey, Jess, was your luggage the way you packed it?"
She laughed and lifted the lid. Everything was just thrown in with no organization at all, almost as if it was her dirty clothes basket rather than her suitcase.
"I wouldn't know," she laughed. "Why?"
"Something's not right, I have never in my life packed my shoes on top of my clothes in a suitcase, but when I opened it that's how I found them."
"Maybe Edward repacked it."
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking."
I couldn't shake the weird feeling I was having. I really wished there was a way to call Edward and find out for sure.
We settled in watching "City of Angles" and eating popcorn. Our diets quickly fell by the wayside when we found a large package of Twizzler's licorice and decided to start fresh tomorrow.
Lauren came up with a great idea and pulled out a huge knife from the kitchen drawer to cut the licorice sticks in half; helping us delude our stomach's into thinking we ate more than we did. The teenage girl psyche was a very dangerous place.
We were hyper and not ready for bed when the movie ended, so we decided to dish on our guys.
"I am not dating Eric," Lauren assured us for the hundredth time.
"What are you guys doing?" Angela asked.
"I don't know. He's going to Cal State for college and I'm staying in Washington, so we are just having fun. No strings."
"I don't know how you can do that," Angela said shaking her head.
"It is better than marrying as a teenager, just so I can get a little booty. You and Ben are going to regret getting married so young."
"No, we won't. Ben is who I want, so why should we wait….for the wedding I mean."
"You are just caving to your father's brainwashing. Do you even believe his sermons?"
"Stop it, Lauren," I broke in. "We are talking about our guys and that's it."
"Fine, Bella," she turned to me. "Are you and Edward finally going to do it next week?"
I had no idea how she knew and wondered if Edward was talking about it to his friends. I couldn't believe he would do that, but maybe it was helping him come to a decision.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, trying to look like she was the one who had her facts mixed up.
They all looked at each other and lowered their eyes. They definitely knew something and I felt my heart begin to race.
"Edward's life is not a secret," Rose said as she patted my hand.
"What happened with him and Tanya has nothing to do with me and Edward," I demanded as my hands pulled into fists.
"We know," Alice smiled softly. "Edward has been very vocal about never letting it happen again, so we just figured you guys were taking things slow and maybe it was time."
I felt my eyes tear up. I hated the fact that my boyfriend was the subject of town gossip, especially since it wasn't the real story and I couldn't set them straight.
I knew how Tanya had faked a pregnancy, and caused Edward to lose his scholarship to West Point, after having her father call an old Army buddy. Tanya came from a very powerful family and nobody messed with them.
Tanya wanted Edward, and the thought of him leaving the state was not acceptable to her, so she tried to trick him into staying. What she didn't figure was Edward's father having access to medical records at the hospital. Most of the town believed Edward dumped her after she miscarried, and Edward was threatened not to discredit the story, or he wouldn't ever get accepted into any university.
"It's not just Edward being cautious," I told them. "He's been really hurt and it is hard for him to trust now."
I quickly decided to change the subject. "So, when are you going to get Jasper jettisoned from your side? You two are like conjoined twins," I said to Alice.
"Poor, Jasper," she sighed, "he is so sensitive."
We all screamed and began throwing pillows at her. Our sugar high quickly wore off and we headed off to bed. I let Angela sleep with me, since she didn't want to be in the common area alone for the night.
It was close to noon when I finally dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom. The house was quiet and I figured I was the only one up, until I went to wash my hands. Written on my mirror in lipstick were the words, 'Finders Keepers.'
I picked up my make up bag and looked for my new lipstick that someone was going to pay me back for. I was pissed they would use it to write on a dirty mirror and then take it without asking.
I went into the common room and noticed the front door wide open. I walked outside and looked around, thinking one of the girls was going though the jeep for something. I couldn't see anyone, so I went back inside and shut the door.
I checked each room only to find its inhabitant still in bed. I guessed the wind blew open the door and we had unknowingly slept with it open.
Rose came into the room and dove onto a couch. "I'm starving, make me breakfast, pleeease," she moaned.
"Who was the funny girl last night?" I asked in irritation.
"Huh," she said into the pillows.
"Who wrote on my mirror with my brand new lipstick?"
"Not me," she said adamantly. "I was out cold as soon as I hit the pillow."
I went into the kitchen and began making pancakes. I had a huge stack by the time the others began filing into the room.
"You are an angel, Bella," Angela said.
I pulled the butter from the fridge and opened a drawer for a spreading knife. "You've got to be kidding me," I complained, "No, knives."
"There are knives," Lauren explained, "In the drawer next to the sink."
"That is where I am looking." I pushed the utensils around looking harder. "Where is the big one you had last night to cut the licorice?"
"In the sink," she called.
"No, it's not." I felt a shudder run through me.
Rose walked over to look in the sink and the dishwasher, nothing.
"You guys, this isn't funny, who wrote on my mirror?" I asked with a shaky voice.
Everyone froze and looked at me with fear in their eyes. I could tell by the looks on their faces it wasn't a prank.
"This morning when I got up the front door was wide open," I said quietly.
We all instinctively moved closer together. "And someone wrote in lipstick on my bathroom mirror." I turned and looked down the hallway.
"What did they write?" Jessica asked.
"That is freaky," Rose said, moving even closer to me.
"Everyone, swear right now you didn't do it," I demanded.
Everyone quickly swore and Angela began to cry.
"Do you think it was the guys?" Lauren asked.
"Jasper, would never allow it," Rose pointed out.
"Let's get out of here and go back to the main road and call my dad, see what he advises," I said grabbing my purse.
We all ran in a mass back to the jeep and locked ourselves inside. I put the key in the ignition and nothing happened. The engine didn't even attempt to turn over.
We all turned to look at Rosalie, since she was the one who took automotive shop to be in Emmett's every class this past year.
"Pop the hood," she said as she climbed out of the car looking around hesitantly.
I pulled the lever and she only glanced towards the engine and got back inside, quickly locking her door.
"The battery is gone!" she whispered as we all sat in stunned silence.
We sat staring forward, too terrified to move. The only sound was Angela quietly crying in the back seat. I tried to focus; my father would expect me to stay level headed. He lectured me constantly about staying calm in an emergency, and think things through.
"Lauren," I said forcefully. "Look behind you and see if the safety kit is still on the left side. Jessica, feel under the seat and see if Edward's bat is still there."
Lauren grabbed a little black bag and pulled it over the seat. "I can feel the bat," Jessica announced with hope.
I turned to look at Rose, "Take off those heels and give one to Alice."
"I can't fit into her shoes," Alice protested.
"You aren't putting it on; you are going to wield the heel as a weapon."
Alice's eyes grew wide and she hesitantly took the shoe. I began frantically looking around the jeep for anything we could use. I found a can of wheel shine under my seat and handed it to Angela.
"Ang," I said softly. "You spray this in someone's eyes and it will burn like hell. Can you do that?"
She reached out and took the can from my hand and removed the cap.
"Okay, I'm going to open my door and reach under you, Jess, for the bat. Once I get it out, you guys wait in here with the doors locked until I check the house."
"I'll come with you," Rose offered.
I nodded and saw her hold tightly to her shoe. I opened the door as quietly as I could and opened the back door by Jessica, as I continued looking toward the forest for any movement.
"Bella," she whispered, "Look under the jeep."
I felt my knees begin to shake. I had not thought of someone hiding under the jeep and I immediately began imagining hands grabbing my ankles. I ducked quickly to make a sweep of the ground and could only see Rosalie's bare feet on the other side.
"Damn it, Rose, you can't run in bare feet, get back in and let someone else come with me."
"Just hurry the hell up, while I still have the nerve," she whispered.
I pulled the bat out from under the seat and immediately saw the engraving; Edward loves Bella, on the handle. My heart ached thinking of all the time I spent at the indoor batting cages studying as he practiced his swing. Making it to the state championship was just what Edward needed after the horrible year he had. I really wanted to be there to see it.
I shut the jeep doors, and made sure Alice hit the lock, before heading into the house. Rose and I stopped in the entrance and listened carefully. Every bird, every sway of a branch, every crunch of the leaves, sent a shot of terror running through me.
We made our way down the hallway, briefly looking in the rooms; a more detailed search would have to wait. When we got to my bathroom, Rose gasped at the writing on the mirror.
"It isn't any of our handwriting," she said.
"Let's get the others and set up a safe room." I was trying to think of any little details I had learned from my father over the years. Any morsel of information that could help us make it through the night.
We waved the others into the house and they ran frantically slamming the door behind them. I grabbed a kitchen chair and jammed the back against the door knob keeping the door from opening if someone had a key.
"Okay, everyone go in pairs and check your rooms; check everywhere and bring anything we can use into this main room." I ordered.
"Like what?" Lauren asked.
"Anything, think outside the box, picture frames, hangers, check the closets for flashlights or candles."
I suddenly became very afraid. I knew the power box was on the outside of the house. It wouldn't take much to plunge us into darkness.
"Fill up the tubs and sinks with water in case we lose power we can still flush," I yelled out to them.
I began going through every drawer and pantry in the house looking for a tool box. I finally found a hammer and a screw driver.
I was franticly trying to come up with a way for us to lock out whoever was doing this and inspiration hit me. I ran to the bedrooms and began taking the closet doors off the hinges. Everyone helped me carry them to the main room and lay them in a pile.
"The chairs on the deck," I yelled. "Bring them all into the house."
We took turns hammering the chairs apart getting every spare nail we could manage.
"If this is just some prank we are going to have to pay big time," Alice noted.
"I will gladly pay if someone would jump out and tell me it was a prank," I said as I frantically worked.
We used the door panels to cover the windows and hammered the long nails to hold them. I knew it wasn't foolproof, but it gave us a sense of security. Finally, I filled large bowls full of water and placed them under the covered windows.
I took lamps and ripped the cords from the base and stripped the wires. "Okay," I began. "If anyone gets through those windows and through the wood barrier, dump the water on the ground and throw the cord into the water. If we have power we will fry the sucker long enough to get away. Don't step in the water….understand?"
"Shit, Bella, you're like MacGyver," Rose teased.
"We're gonna lose power," I told them and Angela began crying again. "I just can't think of any way to avoid it. We need candles and flashlights."
We all began tearing the house apart looking for anything we could burn when Jessica came across a box of ammo. "There has to be a gun somewhere," she squealed.
"Not necessarily," I told her. "But we can use the ammo to sound like we have a gun." I remembered my dad yelling at some kids for hitting bullets with hammers saying the gun powder could send fragments flying just like a gun. I would need to set up a shield so we wouldn't get hurt.
We finally found some candles wrapped in pillow cases, but we didn't have a lighter. If we lost power we were going to lose the stove too.
"What about the grill?" Angela suggested.
We all ran onto the deck and began hammering and pulling the wood frame from the barbeque and dragged it into the house. Alice began removing the netting from the hammocks and Lauren ran over to the Jacuzzi to get the long cleaning pole.
She placed her hand on the railing and felt something sticky. Pulling her hand slowly to her face she suddenly screamed and fell to her knees.
I saw the blood and thought she had cut her hand until I saw the Jacuzzi. It was red with blood and a head of some animal was floating in the water. I grabbed Jessica and pulled her to her feet and into the house.
Angela was sobbing hysterically and Jessica was shaking and turning white. I felt overwhelmed and couldn't see any way we were going to survive. Whoever was doing this could get us at any time; they were playing with us, taunting us for their amusement.
I had to force myself to calm down. If I lost it, the others would, too. Rose had grabbed some water for Jessica and was talking calmly to her. Alice yelled for Angela to give her the satellite map. She began looking closely for another cabin or someone else on this damned mountain. By all appearances we were alone.
I busied myself with setting up the candles and making sure I could light them in total darkness when I remembered my car kit. I grabbed it off the counter where Lauren sat it, and opened it to find a flashlight. I felt like something was finally going our way.
We pulled the cushions off the couch and sat against them in a circle. I was suddenly over come with emotions thinking about my irritation with Edward when I left. I wanted the opportunity to tell him I was sorry for my rotten mood and see his face one more time.
Edward was not the confident young man people assumed he was. His life had been so damaged and he was emotionally very fragile. I feared what this would do to him. I had always hoped going away to school would change him, now I would never know.
We were all deep in thought when we heard footsteps across the roof. Angela and Jessica were too close to shock to rely on them, but the rest of us were going to have to stay sharp.
"Shit," I yelled as I jumped up grabbing a broom. "Rose bring a chair." I ran down the hallway to the attic pull out. I shoved the broom against the square opening and placed the chair at an angle tightly under it, holding the wooden handle tight.
"We're going to die, Bella," she said calmly.
"We're going to die fighting," I told her, as my own tears began to fall.
We turned slowly towards the front door as we began hearing pebbles being tossed against the wood. We walked to the entrance, listening to the sound of steps in the gravel outside the door. I was trying to decipher if it was more than one person, but the sound was too muffled.
Suddenly a loud kick against the wood sent Rose and I stumbling backwards into each other and onto the floor. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking so badly I couldn't lift myself up.
A singsong mocking voice came through the door, "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers."
I stared dumbly at the wood separating us from our tormentor when a window shattered in the back of the house. I looked down the hallway at the bedroom doors we nailed into the frames.
I jumped up and pulled Rose back into the main room. I grabbed the bat and stood at the side of the dark hallway ready to swing if anyone came through that passage. Alice grabbed the hammer and placed herself right below me.
We waited until my arm began to cramp. We couldn't hear any sounds besides our own heavy breathing.
"Alice," I whispered. "If we make it through the night remind me to look for a hose and a sprayer tomorrow." I actually wanted to tell her if she happened to live and I didn't, she could use the sprayer to shoot cold water at someone coming in, but I finally realized it most likely wouldn't do any good. We would need some way to feed the hose into the house without allowing the intruder entrance. I was letting my mind come up with any thoughts to help us, no matter how ridiculous.
We finally made our way back into the circle and sat…waiting…listening. Out of the darkness came a horrible scream. It sounded like a baby howling in pain and we all clung to each other in fear.
"I know what that is," Jessica offered. "It is the sound rabbits make when you pull their legs apart."
"How do you know that?" Rose demanded, with tears running down her face.
"My cousin's used to do that when they found a rabbit nest. It brings wolves out to hunt."
I couldn't imagine someone doing that on purpose, the sound was heart wrenching and I wanted to cover my ears and never hear that sound again.
"Let's hope it's your sick ass cousins out there," Alice cried.
Something dawned on me as I listened to the horrible sound. "They aren't trying to come in," I pointed out. "They are messing with our minds. Either they know we are here alone for a week, and they want to terrorize us, or there is not enough of them to attack six of us."
"What are you suggesting?" Rose asked.
"Nothing, I'm just observing. Any man or woman could push in that door. They don't want to come in….yet."
I knew if they were waiting us out it would escalate over time. They were enjoying the fact we were so terrified, but soon that wouldn't be enough, our fear was only adding to their fun. We needed to act and not just react.
"Should we go after them?" Lauren said shakily.
Angela began shaking her head back and forth adamantly and I glanced at Rosalie.
"Do you think the next time they are at the door we should rush them, use the element of surprise?" Rose asked me directly.
I couldn't decide. I loved the idea of ending this, but we would be running right into the unexpected ourselves. What if I was wrong and a pack of guys were waiting out there for us.
"We have to be really certain about this. We need to understand we could be making it worse by opening that door," I said to see who was composed enough to depend on.
"I think we should try it," Rose said adamantly. "You take the bat and I take the hammer and we come out swinging."
"Only if we think there isn't more than one, okay?" I said nodding to her.
About an hour later the pebbles began hitting the door again. We all tensed and the others looked at me for direction. I whispered to Rose that as soon as the kick against the wood came I would pull out the chair and we would charge.
We tiptoed to the entrance and listened to the footsteps in the gravel. I could hear heavy breathing and the sound of something being dragged across the dirt before the taunting voice began again, "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers."
I had chills running through my body and I forced myself to think of anything to get my anger going. I imagined someone laughing at our fear and making poor Angela into a blubbering mess. Someone found this funny, or got off on scaring us, and that fueled my anger.
I motioned for Rose to get ready. A loud thud hit the door, so I pulled the chair and opened the door, screaming in rage as I ran onto the porch. I only made it a couple of steps when I instantly tripped over something, causing the bat to roll from my hands.
The sound of Rose screaming filled the air and I flipped over to see her grabbing her stomach and vomiting all over my legs.
My eyes moved to the large lump that had caused me to trip and I slowly recognized what I was lying on and screamed in utter horror.
I felt like time slowed and my movements were over exaggerated. I twisted my upper torso to see what I had tripped on, as my hand reached out for the bat, which was rolling slowly away.
I saw the wet on my legs where Rosalie had heaved onto me and the thing lying below me. I saw the red heart of my t- shirt Edward bought me for Valentine's Day, which I thought was packed in my suit case, stretched tightly across the body of a woman. A woman I recognized as the one who brought me the key and the contract to sign for the cabin.
I pulled my legs across her corpse to rid myself of the horrendous barnacle that had attached to me, pulling her body sideways to stare vacantly into my eyes. Her white face had been painted garishly with my lipstick and a noose was tied tightly around her neck.
I crawled backwards, toward the bat, or towards my own death, I didn't know which. I became aware of my screaming echoing off the trees, mixed with Rosalie's agonizing cries. When my hand touched the bat I scrambled onto my feet and looked around wildly.
Nobody was in sight and the trees were shadowed and menacing. "Who are you?" I screamed with all my might. "What do you want?"
A voice came over a megaphone, seeming to come from every direction as the sound bounced around in the thick forest, "Finders Keeper, Losers Weepers."
"You coward," I screamed. "Come out, so I can see you."
The sick singing of the nursery rhyme continued until I fell onto my knees in despair. I covered my ears and yelled louder to make my voice heard over the speaker. "You sick bastard, you crazy, sick bastard."
Alice had made her way to the porch with a blanket and threw it over Mrs. Klein as Lauren put her arms around Rose to support her shaking body.
"Bella," Alice called softly, "Come back inside, please."
I kept my ears covered trying to block out the disturbing voice, hugging the bat to my chest. I wanted nothing more than the opportunity to take one swing at the psychotic bastard.
I finally forced myself to stand with the adrenaline coursing through my body; I walked over to the small elevated slab patio and stood at the head of the covered body. I stood there, filled with rage, and fear, and hate. I stood there, waiting for either my demise or my victory, but I was no longer willing to hide behind the wooden door.
As I waited for the horrid lyrics to end I thought of Mrs. Klein. I thought of her husband, and children, and parents. It slowly began to meld into my family. My father, who would want justice and revenge and knowing he knew better than to allow me to go all along. Then Edward, who would eat himself up with guilt for not being here with me. He had such a hard year and Tanya would throw his suffering in his face, feeling validated in his misery.
"No," I screamed with such force the singing stopped. "No," I yelled again just as strong. I was not going to allow someone to do to my family what they did to Mrs. Klein's. I was not a victim and I was not about to become one.
"Rose," I called authoritatively, "Tell Jessica and Angela to get their asses up and get out here."
"Bella, come inside please," she begged.
"Go get Jessica and Angela," I yelled back at her.
She ran into the house and they all returned, looking at me like I had lost my mind. I knew they were depending on me and I tried to remain calm, but my veins were pulsing with anger.
"This will not happen to us," I said pointing at the body. "Do you hear me?"
Angela swallowed hard and straightened her shoulders a bit. Jessica looked at me through her puffy eyes. "How can you say that, are you going to defend us with a bat? Do you think that will make it all even? We're going to die, Bella."
I stepped towards her ready to slap her face when Alice grabbed my hand to stop me. "WE, Jess," I screamed at her. "WE are going to defend ourselves and WE will use our bare hands if WE have to."
I wasn't going to let my friends down. I was going to make them strong no matter what it took. I wasn't ready to die and I wasn't ready to lose a single one of them, so I knew I had to motivate them to fight with me.
The singing began again and Jessica cringed and sunk back into Alice's arms. Whoever it was stayed hidden in the trees and I began to realize something. I turned slowly towards the forest and smiled, "There's only one. He needs the megaphone when we are out here because he is alone."
I thought for a minute as we listened to the constant singing and came up with a plan. If I knew for certain there was only one surely six girls could handle it, but I had to know for sure. "Let's go back inside," I insisted.
"What about her?" Angela asked pointing at Mrs. Klein's legs.
We looked at each other warily, nobody willing to touch the body. "Leave it," I finally said and escorted them back into the house. My father always cautioned me about moving evidence and there was nothing we could do to help her, so I had to stay focused on getting us out alive.
I pulled the broom from the attic hold and tugged on the rope to lower the stairs.
"What are you doing, Bella?" Rose demanded.
"I need to sneak onto the roof. I have to see where he is and make sure there is only one. If anything happens, put the broom back in place to keep the opening shut."
I turned to look at the other girls. "If I can be sure there isn't more, we're taking him out, so prepare mentally."
"Be careful," Angela cautioned.
I smiled and climbed the stairs before my adrenalin wore off. Once in the attic I only had the hallway opening for light and tried to feel my way to the small wooden air exchange. I had the perfect view of the east side of the forest, but it was limited and too dark to see anything.
I waited several minutes watching for movement before I made my way to the arched dormer window. I stood back and watched again for movement. I tried lifting the pane and it slid effortlessly letting me know someone had used it recently.
My hair on my neck stood on end imagining someone hiding in the dark space watching my every move. I crawled onto the roof and lay flat against the smelly mossy tiles. I didn't move, but listened with every nerve of my body.
I could picture Edward's face, smiling at me and telling me he was so proud of me for making it out alive. I would kiss his perfect lips and tell him how much I loved him, and I would never hurt him like Tanya did.
I don't know how long I had been hidden in the shadows when I heard the crunching sound of footsteps coming out of the forest. I slowly slid my cheek to the other side and lay perfectly still.
He walked into the moonlight and I saw him, his long blond hair was pulled into a ponytail and his exposed arms were covered in tattoos. He walked along the edge of the trees to the far side of the house, so I had to drag myself silently to the edge of the roof line to see him. He took a small flashlight out of his pocket and flashed it towards the road.
I saw a quick succession of flashes return from about and eighth of a mile away.
Shit….he wasn't alone….and our exit was being watched.
I began sliding back towards the window when the sound of footsteps coming from the opposite direction startled me. I froze and prayed I hadn't been spotted. The sound headed in my direction and then broke into my line of sight, heading for the long haired man.
It was a woman, with fire red hair and dirty coveralls. She looked tall, as tall as Rosalie but not near as thin. She would be a difficulty for any of us.
"Now what?" she asked the man.
"Let's get some shut eye. They aren't going anywhere."
"Man, those bitches can scream," the woman exclaimed.
"Just wait until Charlie sees his daughter cut into pieces, you'll really hear screaming then." They laughed quietly and headed back into the trees.
I lay there frozen in guilt and anguish. This was about me. They were here to murder people because of me. I didn't recognize either one of them and wondered if my dad had arrested them before. They were just some low life criminals looking for revenge on a cop, and it cost Mrs. Klein her life.
I crawled back into the window and down the stairs. My legs felt numb, from either the hard roof or the awful realization I was to blame. I sat in a chair and did the one thing I promised myself I wouldn't do, I began to cry.
"What, Bella, what did you see?" Rose asked as she knelt in front of me.
"There are at least three."
Angela began to cry and turned away to avoid my wrath, but I just cried along with her. I finally took a steadying breath and looked at each of their faces. Maybe I could make a deal. Maybe they would take me and let my friends go. I doubted it, but I had to try.
"This is about Charlie," I told them. "They want revenge on my dad."
Rose knew me well enough to know exactly what I was thinking.
"Stop it right now, Bella," Rose demanded. "If they only wanted you they could have done it a lot easier than all this. They want to make this big and just you wouldn't be big enough."
"If I can save even one of you, I will," I said as more tears fell.
"So would I, so would Alice, so would….." she looked at Angela and shrugged. "Well, at least Alice and I would."
We all laughed and I was thankful for Rosalie's biting humor to bring us back together. Many people thought of Rose as spoiled or a bitch, but I knew her loving, gracious side. Girls were jealous of her beauty and Rosalie refused to dress down to appease others. She was who she was, and you could take it or leave it.
"I have a plan," Alice offered.
We all turned to look at her and she took a step forward. "Okay," she began. "I am really small and really fast. What if we make a diversion and I sneak out and go for help?"
"They have someone down the road," I informed them, "And maybe at the turn off, too."
Angela gasped and pulled her map over to her lap. "There is a road above us that leads to a turn off further down the state road. They wouldn't expect us to head further into the forest to escape. They would think we would naturally head to the road that led us here."
It made sense and I began trying to think the whole scenario through. "You can't go alone, Alice. We are not about to turn into a Hollywood movie and split up to be killed off one at a time," I said completely serious.
"Okay, who's the best climber?" she asked. "The terrain will be steep and the forest is thick up here."
All eyes turned to me. I wasn't proficient by any means, Edward and I just spent a lot of time hiking. We had to do something to expend the pent up energy our lack of sexual life left us with. It was on our many hikes he told me his deepest secrets and his biggest fears. He felt the forest was a safe place where the Denali's couldn't find out what he was telling me. His worries left him extremely paranoid.
"Okay, let's take shifts getting some sleep and see if it still sounds like a good plan tomorrow," I offered.
"What about them?" Jessica asked in horror.
"I think they are done for the night, at least they talked about getting rest, but just in case we need to keep watch." I worried they knew I was on the roof the entire time and put on the conversation to trick us.
We huddled tightly together and tried to get at least a little sleep. I couldn't get the sight of Mrs. Klein out of my head and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a plan to save us all.
I had been so adamant that I be treated like an adult, since I was eighteen and out of high school, but the only thought running through my head was how much I wanted my father. I would happily accept a curfew and restrictions if he could only rush in here to save us, but I knew he wasn't coming, so I forced myself to stop wishing.
I finally fell asleep and dreamed of Edward. He was here with me, lying in my arms telling me softly how much he loved me. He looked so real, I could see his beautiful green eyes, and the funny faces he would make when we were so close our eyes would cross.
I reached up to run my hands up and down his chest and this time he didn't tense up, or make an excuse to leave. He let me pull him close to me and just hold him for as long as I wanted. I felt safe, and whole, and this night was perfect.
I wanted to see how far he was willing to go so I reached out for his buttons and began slowly working my way down his shirt. My dream beau turned to kiss me lightly, before whispering in my ear…..Finders Keepers!