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Not Going There

Chapter 1

I never thought I'd wish for rain, but I was sorely mistaken. Rain beat muggy weather hands down.

My first day back from vacation found me assigned to babysitting duty for some young punk inside of my non-air conditioned cruiser, and surveying the house in front of me. For five nights now the rest of the department had been trying to catch this asshole…kid…whatever, who'd been evading Forks' finest on his four wheeler. He taunted the guys each and every night by racing up and down city streets without a helmet, recklessly endangering others before disappearing into thin air.

Although the town was laid out as any other small town—small cul de sacs, neatly placed houses that formed safe neighborhoods and assorted trailer parks full to the brim—the town was also surrounded by thick, dense woods, easily allowing perps to disappear in the blink of an eye. I looked over to the left, noting movement from the house. A tabby cat padded languidly across the driveway.

Well, this was just awesome.

The scanner crackled and popped and I heard Newton respond to a possible domestic disturbance. There were only four of us on duty tonight, and I wondered why I was here when I would be of better use on patrol. We didn't know if it was Connor Mallory or not, but when you lived in a small town, no one could keep their mouth shut for long—especially the one who committed the crime. I looked over at the house again and, from my secluded vantage point, noted the small bathroom light turn on for a few minutes and then back off.

…and then nothing for the next ten minutes.

At that point, I picked up my radio handset, ready to shut down this "stakeout," when I noticed a figure sliding around the side of the house. In the distance, I heard the motor of a quad rev to life.

You little fucker.

The kid shot across the road and straight past me on the four-wheeler, and in turn, I whipped the cruiser around, driving in the same direction as my heart rate jumped to catch up. I was certain he was headed to a trail on the east end of town that would take him into the woods—then it was anyone's game. I got on the radio requesting back-up so we could head him off. Sam responded and verified he was in transit.

In no time, my pursuit of Connor escalated to close to fifty miles an hour down one of the main roads in town, and although it was the part of the job that I liked, there were innocent people in close proximity, so I needed my senses on full alert. It was my job to apprehend him but not at the expense of others or myself—for someone needed me at home. I was thankful that no one was on the street at this hour but had to watch for the resident herd of elk that lived here in town.

I was gaining on him…only the smart ass cut across someone's lawn and turned down Palmer Road at top speed. There were only two options down there: a dead end and a turn that would take him to another group of homes—but also easily into the woods.

I hoped it wasn't the second.

But of course he took the turn that would take him to a short cut and out of my reach. Thankfully, I saw Uley's flashing lights come up behind me. The kid reached the end of the road and took a right turn onto the trail, but he stopped, hesitating only for a moment before he took off running on foot. When I came up behind him, I bailed out of the cruiser, knowing that particular trail like the back of my hand. Ahead of the quad, I noticed a large log and a bed of river rock piled around the base.

Thank you, Mr. Cope.

Cutting off to the left through someone else's yard, I ran down the embankment trying to anticipate his next move. A sound like something crashing through the bushes sounded to my right, and I darted in that direction.

"Aaah. Fuck!"

Connor instantly began to struggle when I tackled him, kicking and twisting and landing a hard elbow in my side. My breath whooshed out as I felt the sickening crunch in my rib cage, which only served to make me that more determined to nail his scrawny ass. It just figured that his mother and father hadn't taught him proper manners and how to treat a lady.

Pissed now, I wrangled him into an arm lock and counter-rotated his wrist with just enough pressure until he stopped resisting.

"Ow! Stop! It hurts!" he shouted, seething as I gained control and got enough advantage on him to finally get him pinned.

In the periphery I noted that the neighbors' dogs were barking and a porch light turned on in the yard next door. I called out a warning for whoever had decided to see what was going on to stay in their house, and then refocused all my attention on the kicking legs beneath me.

"Really, Mallory?" I said, grunting. "Can't hide on your quad anymore, can ya?" My muscles were on fire from the workout.

Sam called from behind, "You alright, Swan?"

"Yeah, thanks, Sam. Got restraints?"

Sam knelt down next to me to cuff Connor, and then began to read him the Miranda Rights.

With the arrival of backup, I slid off to the side, huffing a little from the exchange. While Conner was led away by Sam, I got to my feet, wincing at the pain in my side. I put my hands on my knees and tried to breathe deeply, but it hurt.

Damnit, I thought. I was going to catch hell on this from not only the guys at the station, but also at home—something I really didn't want to think about right now. With one last painful breath I straightened up, re-securing my mag light into my belt, and followed Sam up the hill.


"Nice job, Swan. Looks like you accomplished more in one night than we could in a week," Mike said from the doorway.

"Thanks. Helps to know the trails around here, know what I mean?"

"You rocked it, no doubt about it," added Sam.

Uncomfortable with the praise, I simply nodded and pushed back from the desk. "And with that I'm ready to go home."

I'd already handed Conner off to corrections and had just finished the last of my paperwork. I was looking forward to my bed now. Night shifts sucked for me, but it would be another couple of months until I had enough seniority to get day shift.

I said my goodbyes and headed out to the parking lot to my old truck. Unlike my dad had in the past, most days I preferred not to drive the cruiser home—but, then again, he was the Chief then, so I imagine it was somewhat of a necessity.

Pulling my truck into the driveway of my dad's home, I noticed his silver truck was still there with Sue's car parked right behind it.

Huh. That was odd; Sue didn't need to be here today.

I walked through the carport, around to the back door and stepped into the den just off of the kitchen. I slid my belt and firearm into the safe, and then spun the dial to make sure it was secure. Lowered voices were coming from the kitchen, so I poked my head around the corner. Sue and Charlie, too immersed in conversation to look up, were sitting there with their heads together over the Peninsula Daily News.

"Morning Dad, Sue."

"Hey Bells," Charlie said, looking up. Sue gave me a small wave.

"Is she still asleep?"

"Yeah. For now anyway."

"Be back in a few," I said, heading into the hallway.

I walked to the stairway and slowly climbed the stairs, noting that I had a pretty sore rib and what felt like the start of a good, deep bruise on my hip. Great. That was gonna be colorful.

When I got to the top of the stairs and peeked into her room, all I saw was a small mass of brown hair peeking above the purple and white bedspread. There were about fifteen stuffed animals around her head and body. I had to chuckle looking at her all burrowed into her little nest. She let out a heavy little sigh and an arm pushed out the top, knocking a few of her friends onto the floor.

My Katie-bug.

"You awake, baby?"

From under the blanket came the sweetest little voice, all sleepy and soft. "Mama?"

I crossed into to room. "Yes, love, I'm here."

"Crawl into bed with me?"

"Sure." I shrugged out of my uniform, wincing as the polyester slid roughly over my newly acquired road rash. I cursed silently when I noticed the small tear along the bottom—and I'd just gotten new ones, too. Double damn.

As I stood there in only a t-shirt and boy shorts, I made an attempt to slip into the bed without disturbing the pile of her stuffed toys, but inadvertently knocked off one of the dogs.

"Mom!" she said, sitting up, "Watch out for Ozzy! He needs to be here." She pointed to her knees.

I smiled at that—here I was getting scolded when she'd already scattered the other poor little beasties on the floor.

When she was two, she'd disappeared out of my sight. I had only gone outside to grab the garden hose to bring it around back to fill the wading pool, and she'd disappeared into thin air. Frantic, I'd had the neighbors looking everywhere within walking distance. Panic had me close to calling the police, but something prompted me to take one last look in her bedroom. I saw the pile of stuffed animals in the corner move and fell on my knees as I discovered she had completely buried herself underneath them and fallen asleep.

The stuffed-animal-nest habit had stuck, especially when I started working for the Forks P.D. I think it helped ease some of her fear of having me away from her at night.

"Sorry, honey," I grabbed the black dog and placed him on her knees. "I don't know how you have room for you in here." I tickled her tummy and adjusted the blankets around us both.

She giggled. "But they're my family. Like you and Grampa. They keep me safe."

I sighed and brought her closer to me, snuggling into her tiny body. Instantly the drama from the previous night melted away; I always felt better when she was beside me.

I was thankful every day that she was safe and sound, as happy as possible with all we'd been through.

I still felt guilty taking her away from her father, though. She didn't mention him much. But amazingly enough, she didn't complain or cry when it was her time to visit. I constantly wondered how I ended up with such a stoic kid?

My ex-husband James and I had split a little over two years ago; with the ugly terms of our relationship being what they were, I was fully prepared for an uphill battle when I announced that I wanted to return to my hometown. Forks was quite a bit away from Spokane, and I'd learned since that logistics didn't always pan out the way you planned.

Surprisingly, he gave me full custody, agreeing to everything, including us moving back here. He'd go through phases where he wanted her all of the time then nothing. I needed her to have stability, especially with my life the way it was.

James and his girlfriend, Victoria, a fellow officer from our old department were still going strong—for now. I think that if their relationship had happened after the fact, I wouldn't care so much. It would suck that he'd moved on so fast, but it was something I thought I could have dealt with. But that wasn't quite the way it happened.

It really burned that he'd cheated on me with her; probably more so that it happened under my nose and everyone else on the force knew.

When James and I met, we dated briefly before we got married, and I left the force when I got pregnant so he could 'provide' and I could be home. After Katie was born, I hardly saw him. When I did, it was full of alcohol fueled fights. We separated when she was two, but I didn't want her to have a broken family, like mine, so I tried again. But he just couldn't stop—the drinking or the cheating. He'd profess his love, be devoted for two years, and then start roving again.

He had one thing going for him, though: if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have Katie.

So, there I was, a broken-hearted, freshly cheated on, newly single parent. When my father suggested I come home, I jumped at the chance, figuring I could rebuild my life and go back to the job I loved. There was a position open in the Forks Police Department, and I had no problem securing it…though I was sure dad may have called in a few favors.

Dad loved it. He was only a few years retired from the force, and was thoroughly enjoying his new life of fishing, and playing Grandpa.

I secretly thought that he also enjoyed all the help he got from his "friend" Sue in watching Katie.

Katie broke me from my thoughts. "Mama? Grampa's going to take me to the beach today… Sue's beach. Are you gonna come?"

"No," I said, sighing. I tucked a piece of hair behind her ear."I'd love to, but mama's gotta work again tonight, so I have to get some sleep."

"Okay, I'll bring you something home. Something pretty."

I smiled and hugged her tighter, and tried to ignore the soreness in my ribs. That tactic didn't last for long…

"Let's get you some breakfast, kiddo." As I sat up, a sharp pinch in my side caused me to gasp.

First day back and I'm already injured.

There was no denying it, either. I probably didn't notice last night, being so pumped up on adrenaline after the pursuit, but reality was settling in—my body was letting me know I wasn't getting any younger.

Katie chattered loudly at me as I walked down the hall to grab a pair of sweats, brimming over with plans for her day, and listing all the cool things to see at the beach.

When we were downstairs, the smell of Sue's blueberry pancakes made me smile, and I watched as Katie hopped onto the bar stool, chattering away at her Grandpa about her visit to Disneyworld. I loved watching those two together—Charlie was wrapped around her finger, and so, so eager to do anything for her.

When I hesitated at grabbing a plate, he noticed, though. Charlie cocked an eyebrow at me immediately as Sue handed me a cup of coffee. I gave him a don't ask look and leaned against the counter, reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen. We didn't talk shop around Katie, I made sure of that.

When I was home, I just wanted to spend time with my daughter and my dad, and get in some much needed family time.


That song. Again?

One eye opened, realizing it was that obnoxious ring tone alarm on my cell phone—I hated it. But it always got me out of bed.

More of the soreness from last night had settled into my body. I sunk deeper into the bed, not wanting to get up or move at all. Crap. It was three o'clock, they'd be back soon and I had to get some stuff done before my shift tonight.

I'd planned on getting a run in today but thought better of it. Instead, I gently stretched, drew myself a hot bath, forgoing a shower in the hopes it would help my muscles relax. I hissed as I sank into the hot water, but pushed myself further in, knowing the end result would be better. The warmth soothed my body, gently lapping over my skin as I let the heat do its thing.

Eventually the hot water worked, and either the incredible feeling of being enveloped or the fact I was extremely relaxed got me feeling…well, a little horny. I quickly shoved that out of my mind because one, I didn't have time for it, and two, I would have preferred the real thing.

After I became thoroughly pruned, I started to pull myself out of the tub and slipped, landing on my newly acquired bruised rib. The pain that shot up my side about buckled my knees.

"Fuck!" I shouted to no one in particular. Catching my breath, I gingerly climbed the rest of the way out, and attempted to survey the damage. A large softball size bruise was now showing toward the bottom of my left side. I gently dried the other raw areas before shrugging on my bathrobe.

The rest of the time before my shift, I tried to do as much as I could before Charlie got back: finished laundry, picked up the scattered toys and started a pot of spaghetti sauce for him and Katie. It was a little slow-going though, and the longer the pain stayed, the more I realized it wasn't going to just go away.

That Mallory kid would be lucky if I didn't stun him the next time I saw him acting up.

The phone rang and I grabbed it as I stirred the tomato paste into the sauce.


"Hey, Bella."

"Hi, Dad. You guys having a good time?"

"Always. Mind if Katie and I stay down here at Sue's for dinner? If you want us to come home, I don't have a problem with that. She's just wrapped up in Sponge Bob at the moment."

I was a little disappointed but said, "No. Stay. Have a great time and I'll see you tomorrow morning. Give Bug a kiss for me, will ya?"

"Sure thing. Love you."

"Love you, too."

When I was growing up here, Charlie and I weren't as close. I don't think he knew what to do with a moody teenage girl, but over the last couple of years, we'd grown pretty tight. We to the point now that he was finally okay with showing me affection, like he knew that I'd never leave him behind—as my mother had done.

With dinner plans postponed, I finished the sauce and left it to simmer for a while, figuring I'd freeze it for a day later in the week. I glanced at the calendar as I was finishing, and saw that Katie had circled the first day of school. I'd have to take her shopping soon, and I reminded myself to request a personal day to take her shopping in Silverdale.

My cell rang then, and I fished it out of my sweats. "Swan," I said.

"Hey, it's Sam."

"What's up?"

"I need you to come in for a meeting an hour earlier than your shift. We're going to meet up with the Sheriff's department tonight for a quick brief."

"Not a problem. See you at eight."

Sam had recently become Chief of Police for the City of Forks after serving as interim chief over the last couple of years. When Charlie had retired six years ago, right after Katie was born, the idiot that was hired for the post brought on an embarrassing scandal and created bad feelings with other law enforcement agencies and the community. They had to all but dismantle the force, and Sam had come in to help out. He previously served as the Chief in La Push so he was well known around here.

Even in his temporary post, he made the effort to bring everyone back on the same page. Newton was the only one left from that tenure. That's when Sam brought me and others in to create a stronger, more unified force. Initially, I was afraid of being harassed because of nepotism, but being known around the community like I was, most people didn't seem to have a problem with it unless they were the ones getting arrested.


When I arrived at the station, I looked around to see if anyone was watching as I slowly got out of my vehicle. The pain was steadily getting more intense, which must have been from the extra spill I took in the tub, but I was determined not to take the night off.

Most everyone had arrived, and I glanced over at Sam talking to a few of the other guys, our dark blues in contrast with the brown and tan of the county sheriffs. There were a few Staters on the other side of the room congregating around the beverages and I noticed the Deputy Sheriff of Clallam County, Lee Stephens, was here as well. Anything that wasn't included in the Forks city limits was handled by the Sheriff's department. Often, our investigations and coverage overlapped.

I thought I ought to grab a cup of coffee before we started, so I headed to the side bar where there was coffee and snacks. Our dispatcher, Shelly Cope, was the best. She liked to mother all of us, making sure we always had what we needed.

I was in the process of stirring tons of cream into my coffee when I sensed someone come up behind me.

"Hey, Bella."

I turned around to find none other than Edward Cullen standing in front of me.

Completely caught off guard, I was mesmerized by how devastatingly handsome he was—still. I hadn't seen him for at least ten years, but I'd always thought so when we were in high school. Now, his face held the lines of experience but his natural ease set him apart from every man in the room.

I felt like I was sixteen all over again as my stomach twirled and flipped inside.

Surprisingly enough, he stood before me dressed in a county uniform. My mind started whirling, trying to find any pertinent information. I didn't recall hearing he was with Clallam County...

"Long time, Bella. How are you?" he asked, the light in his green eyes matching his smile.

"Huh?" I said, jarred out of my thoughts.

"Should I start over? Hi—"

"Oh, sorry." I said, laughing dryly. "Just surprised, that's all. I haven't seen you in forever. Did you move back here?"

"Just this week. I just got hired after being in Vancouver for ten years. Been trying to come back home for the last couple." He looked at me, slightly pleased by the look in my eyes.

We were interrupted by Mike, who threw his arm around my shoulder.

"Hey, Cullen. Hear about Swan last night? She kicked the ass of some punk we'd been trying to catch all week." His fist came in to playfully punch me in the side, but the impact, however light it was, made me lose my breath. I dumped my coffee and grabbed the table.

Edward immediately grabbed me under the arm.


"Shit, you alright?" Mike asked. By then, Sam had noticed our little tussle.

"Bella, what's wrong," said Sam, clearly alarmed.

I finally found my breath to answer. "Just a little sore, boss. That's all."

"Doesn't look like 'a little sore' to me. You're going to ER to get it checked out. Now."

I realized that Edward was still holding on to my arm, and I turned to see the look of concern in his eyes. Warmth flooded my body—in embarrassment or attraction, I didn't know. I disengaged my arm from him and stepped away.

Like I'd said: I didn't date cops. And, sure, he certainly lent credence to that whole "men in uniform" thing, and I could absolutely appreciate how good he looked, but I wasn't even trying to think about it any further than that.

And, well, I had to face it: it had been a while since I'd gotten laid, and any man touching me that looked like that? Even if he wasn't throwing off an interested vibe, not that I thought Edward was, I'd still get all worked up.

"Sam, I'm fine. Really. Just start the meeting. I'll be okay."

"After the meeting, hospital." Sam said sternly.

I muttered "Yes, sir," under my breath and moved to sit down with the other guys.

Mike came to sit next to me.

"I'm really sorry, Bella. I didn't know."

"Don't worry about it Mike, it's all good," I lied. Mike was a good guy. He was very athletic in school, playing the part of jock really well. Married his high school sweetheart, Jess, and had a couple of boys on every sports team Forks had to offer. He was kind of like the goofy brother I never had.

The meeting lasted about an hour with each department explaining what our goals were individually and together. I watched as Edward made his way up to Stephens in the front of the room.

"I'd like you to welcome Deputy Cullen back to the area; I understand he grew up here with some of you." My eyes caught Edward's but I quickly averted them back to pay attention to Stephens. "He'll be in charge of the County's coverage of the West End as we move forward in our partnership with the City of Forks and Clallam County."

My heart sped up at the thought of him here, again. No cops, Swan, I reminded myself. Besides, last I'd heard he was married, and I had enough experience to know that I was staying far away from anything like that.

But damn if I didn't start fantasizing about him, just like I did in school. We were friendly then, because I hung with his sister Alice, but I stayed safe and admired from afar. I'd spent a lot of hours reading on the bleachers, watching him play basketball or hanging on the grass of the baseball fields secretly stealing looks. He was always just out of reach—for me anyway. I never felt like we were on the same playing field.

I lightly bit my lip and smiled about how girly I was being, only to be caught again by a green pair of eyes.

Okay, so you caught me, Cullen. I smiled over to where he had retaken his seat.

His mouth turned up a bit with a slight smirk and a small nod of the head.

The meeting adjourned, and Sam immediately caught me heading out the door.

"Can I trust you'll go on your own or do you need an escort?"

"I'll do it right now." I said, grumbling.

"I want to see a release before you come back. You can't be on duty injured, Bella."

I scowled at him, knowing he was right but pissed about it none the less.

"Heading there now, Chief."

He smiled. "Good."

I'm sure the frustration showed on my face. I didn't want to be seen as weak. That was the old me—in high school. I was a different person now and better for it; I'd worked hard for this. As I deliberately climbed into my truck, I heard a voice coming from behind me.

"Would you like a ride, Bella?"

Oh, that voice. Yes. I would. In more ways than one…

I sighed and wondered if I'd bumped my head tussling with Connor without my knowing it.

"Thank you. I'm fine, really. I've had worse." I said in a clipped tone, frustrated.

He frowned, creating a little wrinkle between his brows. Years ago, I had that tic memorized, and knew it meant that he was concentrating hard on something.

"Right, then. I guess… I'll see you soon."

"See you around."

He abruptly turned on his heel and headed back into the building. I watched his lean frame as he walked away, noting the muscles in his shoulders as he moved. Seriously—I think he broke the stereotype of men in uniform and made it even sexier.

Double damn.


A/N: Special thanks to these wonderful ladies for all of their invaluable help…caren, kimmydonn, theresa and always nic, my Seche Vite. You ladies rock with your encouraging words and I am forever indebted .

Song: Bitch – Meredith Brooks