After a forced marriage filled with violence, Bella escapes from Edward with their unborn child. Almost four years later, Edward has found her and their daughter and he refuses to let them go.
"…happiness is but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain."
- Thomas Hardy
For as long as Edward could remember, Jacob had always been the bane of his existence. Edward was only a year old when Jacob was born, so he couldn't remember a time when he wasn't there. Growing up, Esme never hid the fact that she didn't like Jacob. She never treated him badly, she just never went out of her way to accept him. Carlisle never hid the fact that he'd had an affair, nor did he show any type of remorse for hurting Esme. Her feelings towards Jacob eventually lead to Edward forming his own hostility towards him. Now all these years later, Edward saw that his dislike was very much warranted.
"The damage isn't too bad," Laurent said. "The insurance will cover most of it."
"No. I don't want a paper trail. I'll have it fixed out of pocket," Edward replied sharply. He was very short on temper tonight— a combination of stress and lack of sleep.
When Dean had called and said that there had been an explosion in the car park of his company in Seattle, not much had run through Edward's mind except that he hoped no one had been injured. When Dean had said that cameras had captured Jacob on the complex moments before the explosion, Edward had been confused. Then when he was informed that a hand written note from Jacob was found, Edward was furious. Apparently in the letter, Jacob had accepted responsibility for the attack and demanded that Edward speak to him.
Edward hadn't spoken to Jacob since Carlisle's funeral, and he'd told his assistant to not inform him of any calls or messages from Jacob. According to Leah, Jacob had been trying to get into contact with Edward for quite some time. Now that he had Edward's attention, he seemed to have backed out.
"Why are you wound so tight?" Laurent asked. "It was just an accident."
Edward looked at him but didn't respond. Laurent and the media, who'd swarmed to the building on news of the explosion, had been told it was caused by a gas leak. The head of the emergency services had been bribed to remain quiet about the actual cause. Edward didn't want the truth leaking out.
"Well you're in your usual sour mood so I'm out for the night." If Laurent was waiting for Edward to ask him to stay, he was severely disappointed because Edward remained silent as he packed up and left. It wasn't until he was gone that Dean walked in.
"Have you found him?" Edward asked before Dean could even begin.
"Not yet. We've been tracing his whereabouts since surveillance footage last spotted him in the car park."
Edward sighed in frustration. He wanted to return to Forks, but he wanted to get rid of the Jacob problem before he did.
"But there is something you should know, sir," Dean said slowly after a moment. "It seems Jacob has been keeping bad company since Carlisle's death."
"Bad company how?"
"Jacob has gotten deep into the mob. The Tarasov's have a hit out on him."
"Why?" This was news to him.
"They didn't say. They just said that he better hope you find him before they do."
Even though Edward had never had any type of brotherly feelings towards Jacob, he couldn't help but feel slightly troubled. He didn't like not being in the know. There was no way to get the Tarasov's to talk, so Edward would have to wait until Jacob decided to show himself again to find out what the problem was.
"Tell security to bring the car around. I'm ready to leave."
With a slight nod, Dean left.
Once he was gone, Edward took out his phone and dialled Bella's number. It was late, and he wasn't sure whether or not she or Alexis were asleep yet.
It rang several time before Bella answered.
"Hey, I didn't know whether you were asleep or not. I didn't want the night to pass without calling."
"I was actually about to call you. Alexis has been fighting sleep for about an hour. She really wanted to tell you goodnight. Hold on, I'll go get her."
There was silence, followed by the sound of Bella talking softly to someone. Then Alexis came onto the phone.
"Hey. How are you?"
"You called late," Alexis said. Edward could hear the slight anger in her voice. It was subdued slightly by how tired she was.
"I know. I'm sorry. I was tied up at work."
She didn't respond. Edward knew she was disappointed, and it broke his heart.
"When are you coming home?" she asked.
He heard her yawn.
"You're tired. Why don't you go to sleep, and I'll call you first thing in the morning. Okay?"
"Goodnight, Alexis. I love you."
"Goodnight, Daddy. I love you, too."
Edward heard a noise as the phone was being passed from Alexis to Bella.
"I didn't realise calling late would upset her," Edward confessed.
"She'll be okay so long as you don't take too long in coming back. Are you any closer in resolving your problem?"
"Not really," he confessed.
"And you're still not going to tell me what it is?"
Edward thought it over for a second. He didn't have to tell her everything, only enough.
"I've been having some trouble with Jacob."
"Yeah. Do you remember him? You met him at the dinner party in Chicago." He tried and failed to make his voice sound like the memory wasn't important, but it was. He didn't like Jacob being anywhere around Bella.
"Of course I remember him." She paused for a second. "He was here the other day."
"What?" Edward sat up straight. Surely there was a problem with the connection and he hadn't heard her properly.
"Jacob was here," Bella repeated slowly.
"Day before yesterday."
"Why didn't you tell me?" he demanded. He'd spoken to her the day before, and she hadn't mentioned running into Jacob.
"Why are you mad at me?" Bella snapped. "You didn't mention until five minutes ago that he was causing problems."
Edward took a breath and let it out slowly. She had a point. He couldn't accuse her for keeping secrets when he was guilty of the same.
"What kind of problems is he causing?" Bella asked.
Edward thought for a quick second whether or not to tell Bella the entire story. On one side he wanted to be honest. On another he didn't want to scare her. Bella had always hated that side of his life. His hope was that he could get rid of the problem easily without her worrying.
"He's having some money problems, and I guess he's wanting me to solve it for him," he said simply, keeping out any mention of the hit out on Jacob. "What did he say when you spoke to him?"
"Not much," Bella said. "He said he just wanted to see how I was."
"That's odd." Even though he didn't understand why Jacob would go to Bella, he was certain it wasn't with good intentions. Jacob wasn't the type to stop off in the middle of nowhere just to see how someone was.
"If you see him again, stay away from him. Jacob is getting mixed up in some bad things, and I don't want you or Alexis involved."
"Whether or not you want it doesn't seem to matter. Haven't you noticed? She and I are always caught up in it somehow. Even if it is indirectly." Bella sighed sadly. "I'm kinda tired, so I'll let you go," she said.
Edward didn't want to hang up. He wanted to know more about Jacob's visit, but he knew better than to push her. "Okay. Goodnight," he said.
Before there could be a repeat of their last conversation where she'd told him she loved him, she hung up. Edward didn't stop to process this fact. As soon as he hung up, Edward began arranging for his ride home. He doubted that Jacob's real reason for going to Forks was just to check up on Bella.
Unfortunately, as much as he wanted, he couldn't leave right away. He didn't arrive in Forks until the following night. Jacob still hadn't shown himself, and the security team Edward had posted outside Bella's house confirmed that he hadn't been there either. Edward had chosen to skip going to his house first, and went straight to Bella's. He wanted to get there before Alexis went to sleep. He hadn't told either her or Bella that he was arriving, choosing instead to surprise them.
Renee answered the door when he knocked.
"You're back already?" she asked, surprised, as she moved aside to let him in. "Alexis will be happy."
"Is she asleep?"
"No, she was waiting for your call. They're in her room."
Edward saw that the door was open as he made his way to her room. Peeking inside, he saw that Bella and Alexis were lying beside each other on the bed. They were facing away from the door so neither of them noticed him standing there. Between them was a flashlight pointed up towards the ceiling. In their hands, they held small sticks. Each stick had a cut out shape of an animal on the top. When Alexis placed the animal shape in front of the flashlight, it caused the animal's shadow to appear on the ceiling. Alexis was telling Bella a story using the various animals.
"And the littlest lion got lost in the forest," Alexis said. "And then, his mommy found him."
She took one of the sticks from Bella and put it in front of the flashlight so its shadow was showing on the ceiling.
"And they lived happily ever after," she concluded. "The end."
"That was a short story," Bella said.
Alexis shrugged. "It was a small forest."
Edward tried and failed to hold back a laugh at Alexis's comment. They both looked up at him in surprise.
"Daddy!" Alexis yelled once she realised who was there.
She ran to him, and he caught her in a hug. "Hi."
"You were gone for so long," Alexis said dramatically.
"I'm sorry, but I'm back now."
"Look what mommy bought me." Alexis held out one of the sticks she had been using to tell her rather short story.
"You have to tell a story now," Alexis said, holding his hand and pulling him over to where Bella was. She'd been watching their interaction with amusement. Edward had missed both of them terribly while he was away.
"Actually, I'm pretty tired. I only came here to say goodnight," he explained.
"But you can't go already. You just got here. Please stay?" She gave him her best sad face. Edward groaned. He was sure that if Alexis ever realised just how tightly she had him wrapped around her fingers, she'd already own a car. He let her lead him over to Bella.
"She sure has you whipped," Bella said.
"I can't deny that."
As Edward laid beside Bella, Alexis returned to her favourite spot between them. She handed Edward the sticks she had in her hand.
There were two lions, a monkey, a rhino and a bird.
"I don't know any stories."
"Make one up," Bella responded. "It's what I've been doing."
Edward thought for a moment. He wracked his brain for any stories he might have been told as a child, but his mind came up blank. He couldn't remember whether or not Esme had actually read to him before bed, and he knew for a fact that Carlisle did not.
Then Edward had an idea for a story he knew very well. Bella was watching him curiously while Alexis was patiently waiting.
"Once upon a time there were two lions. One was called Anthony, the next one Marie."
Out of the corner of his eye, Edward saw Bella's eyes narrow at him. Ignoring her, he held the two outlines of the lions up to the flashlight.
"Anthony and Marie had been friends for a long time. Anthony liked Marie because she was smart, funny and beautiful. Also, he saw in her a strength that he wasn't used to seeing. Marie liked Anthony because, well, Anthony wasn't sure why Marie liked him."
Edward paused for a second, to move the lions around in front of the flash light so it looked like they were running and playing with each other.
"But Anthony was selfish and came from a bad home. While Marie showed him only love and kindness, Anthony hurt her." Edward was careful with how he worded his story. Whilst Alexis may not be able to fully understand it, he didn't want to traumatize her.
"So Marie didn't want to play with Anthony anymore."
Edward made one of the shadow lions run off.
"Anthony couldn't find her. He looked high, and he looked low. He'd realised just how badly he'd treated her, and he wanted to apologize. To tell her how sorry he was, and to show her he could treat her right. He swore that he wouldn't stop until he'd found her. Then one day he did."
Edward brought the second lion back in front of the flashlight.
"By then, Marie had a tiny bird that she was caring for, and—"
"What's the bird's name?" Alexis asked.
"She has my middle name!"
"Yes, she does."
With the relief that she hadn't made the connection, Edward went on with his story. "Marie was still angry at Anthony for what he'd done, but he was determined to show her he'd changed."
Edward looked over to see whether or not Bella was really listening to what he was saying. She wasn't looking at him, she seemed to be just as entranced as Alexis so he took that as a good sign.
"Anthony was determined to show her how much he'd changed. He still carried a lot of the problems from his childhood, and he wanted to make himself a better lion for Marie, Emily and for himself. Even if he and Marie couldn't be friends again, he never wanted to be the same lion he was before."
Edward stopped. He wasn't sure how to continue the story.
When more time passed and Edward had remained silent, Alexis looked at him, confused.
"No happily ever after?" she asked.
"I don't know. Do you think there is a happily ever after?" Edward asked Bella.
"It's time for bed, Alexis," Bella said, dodging his question.
"So what happened to the lions?" Alexis pressed. Just like her mother, Alexis couldn't take a cliffhanger.
Bella sighed. She took one of the lions from Edward and held it up to the light.
It was her turn to share some part of the story, and he was intrigued to find out.
"Marie could see that Anthony had changed, and he was trying, but she was afraid. It wasn't just her she had to worry about. Emily, the bird, was involved as well. Marie could take anything that happened to her, but she couldn't take anything happening to Emily."
"But Anthony showed Marie that he could be trusted with Emily," Edward countered. "So much that Marie let him have Emily for a few days."
Bella laughed. "Yes, that is true. Marie saw how much Anthony loved Emily, and whilst that stopped some of Marie's fears, it didn't stop all. Anthony could still hurt her. Even if he didn't mean to."
Edward brought the lion he still held in his hand so close to the one Bella was holding and whispered, "To love is to risk being hurt."
She smiled a little at his point but didn't respond.
"It's late, Lexi. You really need to go to bed," Bella said as she stood up.
"I'd better head home." Edward stood up as well.
"Wait." Alexis went over to the wall where there was a pile of books on a shelf. She picked up three and gave them to Edward. "You need to practice how to tell a story."
Bella couldn't help her laugh.
"I will," Edward said, taking them from her.
Bella went out into the kitchen so Edward could put Alexis to bed.
"Are you going to leave again?" Alexis asked through a yawn as Edward tucked her in.
"Not for a while. Even if I do leave, I'll always come back. I will never leave you."
Edward didn't understand why Alexis needed the assurance, but he wanted to give it to her nevertheless. "I promise."
Once she was asleep, Edward went outside to find Bella. He found her alone in the kitchen.
"I didn't realise she'd miss me so much," Edward said as he took a seat by the kitchen table.
"She always does. She's really taken to this whole dad thing I guess."
Edward couldn't help but feel a slight ache when he remembered that he'd only been an active father for several months. Even though he didn't blame Bella, he couldn't help but feel sad that he'd missed out on so much of Alexis's life.
"Did you fix your problem with Jacob?" Bella asked. Edward knew the question was coming.
"No. He seems to be evading me despite going through drastic measures to talk to me."
"He set off an explosion in the car park of my office building. The last time anyone's seen him is when he spoke to you." He watched her carefully. He knew she wasn't being entirely truthful about Jacob. He also knew that she knew he wasn't being entirely truthful either.
"Why is he turning to you? Is it because of his money problems? Were you two friends or something?"
Edward was momentarily confused as to why she'd called Jacob Edward's friend. Then Edward realised she had no idea about Jacob's role in his life. In all the years they'd been together, he'd never divulged that information, choosing instead to pretend that Jacob just didn't exist.
"He's not my friend. He's my half-brother."
Very rarely did Edward catch Bella off guard. Usually it was the other way around.
"Half-brother? You never told me that."
"Jacob was the product of my father cheating on my mother. I don't speak of him unless I have to." He looked away from her for a moment. He really didn't like talking about Jacob, but he felt that she should know.
"Jacob is several months younger than me. Carlisle was never ashamed of what he'd done, and it broke Esme's heart when he told her. Esme made sure Jasper, Emmett and I kept our distance from Jacob and his mother despite us living so close to each other. It wasn't until I was older and Carlisle started trying to involve me in his business that I really spend any time around him."
"Did Carlisle not like Jacob or something?"
"It's not that Carlisle disliked him; it's more that he didn't see any potential in Jacob so he took me under his wing more while Jacob just tagged along." Edward was getting to the difficult part, and he was determined to tread carefully.
"Even before Carlisle died, Jacob has wanted his business. Carlisle didn't want that. He wanted me to have it."
He saw Bella's eyes widen, and he understood her fear.
"I didn't take it. After he died, I refused to take it. Jacob was pissed that he didn't get it."
"Wow," Bella said.
"My family is even more fucked up than you thought."
"You said it, not me." She sighed. "Does Jacob know you didn't take the business?"
"I'm not sure."
They were silent for a moment, and Edward could see her mulling over what he'd just said.
"He warned me about you," Bella said after a moment.
"He said that you were only pretending to have changed. That really you were just fooling me into thinking you'd changed."
Edward felt anger flare up in him. Then it diffused when something else occurred to him.
"Do you believe him?" His voice was soft as fear gripped him. It had taken so long to gain Bella's trust so far, and to lose it, after all this time, would set him back.
"Ye of little faith, why do you doubt?" She gave a small smile. "For a while I did," she admitted. "I've been having my own doubts about you for a while, so I guess I was prepared for anyone to confirm it, but I realised what he said probably wasn't true."
Edward breathed a small sigh of relief. Jacob was going to pay for this.
"He did tell me that Esme has been wanting to take Alexis away from me. Is that true?"
Edward stopped breathing. Whilst Jacob's earlier message had been incorrect, this one was true.
Slowly he nodded. He braced himself for Bella's fury, but it didn't come. Instead she just looked tired as she patiently waited for him to explain.
"When I first found you and found out that we'd had a child, she'd wanted me to take Alexis from you. She knew you wouldn't want her in Alexis's life, but she was determined to be. I told her I would never do that to you or to Alexis. She's our daughter first and foremost." He was desperate to make her understand his position. His absolution in this decision had not wavered in the slightest.
"Does she still want her?"
"I don't think so. Since Carlisle's death, she's had a huge reality check. She loves Alexis, but I guess she's chosen not to push the matter."
Edward watched Bella's expression carefully. This wasn't how he expected her to react whenever he thought of them having this conversation. He'd expected yelling, accusation and anger. If she was angry, she was hiding it very well.
"Why are you taking this so coolly?" he asked.
"I don't even know. Despite my better judgment, I trust you way more than I probably should, and besides, if you'd wanted to take Alexis and hurt me, you could have done it a long time ago."
Bella hadn't the slightest idea how much her words meant to him. It was another small step forward.
"Do you think Jacob will come here to find you?" she asked. Edward could see the worry in her face.
"I'm not sure," he admitted reluctantly. "But it's nothing for you to worry about. It's me he wants to speak with."
Bella nodded, but she didn't seem reassured.
"How did your mother, father and brothers react to him?"
Edward was taken aback by her question. He had no idea where she was going with this.
"Carlisle ignored him just as much as he ignored us. He lived not too far from where I grew up. Emmett and Jasper picked on him a lot, then they too ignored him. I never paid much attention to him either. Esme didn't like him at all."
"That's got to be rough. Carlisle had the affair, yet everyone treated him like it's his fault."
"Are you having sympathy for him?"
"I don't know. I guess, thanks to you, I'm seeing how much a bad environment affects a person's life. You were a product of your environment. He is of his."
Edward didn't know how to respond to that. When she put it that way, he saw that she was implying that both he and Jacob were similar in that aspect.
"I hate when you drop reason on me."
She shrugged. "Most people do."
"Product of his environment or not, I'm not going to just sit back and take whatever he dishes out. I learned that from you."
"At least we've had some positive influence on each other."
Can you believe this chapter has been finished since November?
Everything that could go wrong these last few months, did. The good news is that even though I couldn't share the chapters, I was still writing them.
Thank you for answering my question in that last chapter. It was really interesting to see how this story was discovered.
INO turned 2 years this month. Whether you were here from the beginning or just arrived, thank you for sticking by me.
Lastly, thank you to kitchmill and BelleDean for all of their help.
You can find me on Twitter XxMementoMorix