Hello all! And Happy New Year! I hope you all had an excellent holiday season and are not as depressed about getting back to work as I am.
Chapter 9 is FINALLY here. There are many reasons why this took so long, and I won't bore you will all of them. It's been a rough year, and I'm looking for a new year to start that'll hopefully be a bit brighter. I may have also procured an Xbox 360 and started playing Skyrim. Boy, is that a time suck. As a result, there may be some references to that game in future chapters as it takes up a lot of time in my head. We'll see.
A HUGE thank you to my beta Inspired By Lemons. I always look forward to your little notes along the margin. And I promise I will try to gain a better relationship with the comma. No promises, though.
As always, Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and it characters. I own a Be Safe decal that's on my car window. I may have mentioned that before, but I need to again since I'm getting a new car tomorrow and my husband will get my car. Therefore, he will then have a Be Safe decal on his car window. Lucky bastard.
Careless…unobservant…sloppy…reckless: all are adjectives to describe my current state. If I'd have just paid closer attention I wouldn't be staring into the eyes of one bug-eyed, un-breathing Carlisle Cullen. Next to him, Edward's surprised eyes keep flashing between me and the man who, at one time, had essentially become my second father.
I know how Edward's family is. I know that they frequently visit him. But the excitement I had at remembering the risqué book I used to keep in his dresser had me completely ignore the fact that there was a second scent mingled with his in the hallway. I'd thought nothing of it, being that many different scents from all the residents and their guests permeate the whole building. The sound of a second heartbeat hadn't registered in my mind as anything to be acknowledged either, since Edward's neighbor is home and I assumed he was the tenant with a guest. The sound of all three heartbeats are resonating from the same area which leads me to believe that the neighbor is now pressed up against the wall trying to listen carefully. After all, I just shouted the words 'sex positions'. Nosy perv.
If only I had paid closer attention, I would have known exactly where the heartbeat was coming from. My vampire card should be revoked. Ah, if only it were that easy.
After staring in surprise for a few moments, I eventually close the door behind me. My hair falls down my back as I pull Edward's cap from my head, and I slowly remove my bag and the denim jacket, hanging them on the chair across the table from Carlisle. His expression morphs to one full of wonder as he watches me.
"Dad?" Edward asks, trying to get a reaction from his father, but Carlisle continues to stare.
Slowly placing my hands on the chair in front of me, I regard him carefully. I don't want to do anything that could frighten him like I did with Emmett. One person in Edward's family completely terrified of me is one too many. Hell, one person in Edward's family even knowing about me is one too many. If I want to get really technical, not even Edward should know about me. There was a lot to think about while I spent time alone today, and I know what I have to do to keep myself out of the eyes of the Volturi, but Edward is going to have some decisions to make.
"Hi, Carlisle," I say softly in my own effort to bring him out of his trance.
My words seem to do the trick when he quickly stands, rounds the table, and throws his long arms around me, making it necessary for me to cut off my airways. His grip around me is tight—secure. I feel safe wrapped in these arms, and I relax into his body, letting him hold me as he starts to quake with quiet sobs.
The embrace is coupled with a sense of familiarity and a memory trying to work its way to the surface of my mind. I remember Carlisle hugging me like this once when I confided in him after having a fight with my dad about spending so much time with Edward. I was jealous that Edward's father was much more understanding about the issue. Carlisle had assured me that there is a rather unfair bias when it comes to fathers and their daughters. He sheepishly admitted to me that he may have fabricated some kind of tedious chores that needed to be done when he thought Alice was spending too much unsupervised time with Jasper. He also swore me to secrecy with a pinky swear, causing me to smile, which was the desired effect of the gesture.
A chuckle escapes me as the memory unfolds causing Carlisle to pull away from me slightly with an inquisitive look.
"I remember you," I mumble into his chest while pulling him back to me, not yet ready to let go of this familiar, yet foreign security his hug is providing me. Until this moment I hadn't been aware of how much I craved a paternal presence in my life. Carlisle's embrace made me feel both protected and cherished; something which I haven't felt since…well, since I was human. The intensity of the emotions flowing through me is almost crippling, and I can only imagine how much more heightened they would be if I was hugging my actual father. I almost whimper at the thought, but choke back the sound instead. Charlie can never know that I still exist; the danger to him is too high. The danger to Carlisle is no different, and I wouldn't have put him in this position purposely, but I am quite selfishly glad that I was so careless today. Regretting my mistake is difficult in this moment.
And it's not as if he needs to know that I'm a vampire. I can just tell him that I suffered from amnesia and randomly ran into Edward who awoke my memory. That can't be too far-fetched of a story. In many ways it is true.
"I never broke my promise," I tell him when I need to distract myself from my more depressing thoughts. He only looks at me in confusion, not knowing what my statement is referring to.
I pull his hand from my shoulder and link my pinky with his. A wondering smile breaks across his face while his eyes fill with fresh tears, and I know he remembers the talk we had years ago. He pulls me back to him with a sound that's a mix between a cry and a chuckle.
The sound of a camera shutter interrupts us and we see Edward holding up his phone.
"Sorry," he mumbles. "I thought I would text this to Mom—"
Before Edward can finish the sentence I'm in front of him with his phone in my hand, deleting the picture, leaving Carlisle staring in bewilderment at the speed at which I left him. I am very much failing at stealth vampirism today.
"You can't do that," I tell Edward quietly. "No one else can know. First Emmett, and now your dad; that's already too many people. We need to be more careful."
Edward's face crinkles in confusion while he shares a look with Carlisle. "Why?" he asks, looking at me again.
"It's not safe for any of you," I whisper, not really knowing how to get into the dynamics of the Volturi with him. I assume the less information he knows, the better off he is.
"Not safe from whom? The other vampires?" Edward asks, looking for clarification.
"The others are a danger to us?" Carlisle's question is directed at Edward, who averts his eyes and nods sheepishly. "Why didn't you tell me that part of the story?"
"There is nothing you can do to protect yourself from them, so I didn't want you to worry. The wolves are your best form of protection and have been doing it for the past eight years. They'll make sure you're safe."
"But Bella was attacked five years ago. That was the first time you saw the vampires, not eight years ago."
"I didn't see them eight years ago, but they've been frequenting the area for that long," Edward explains.
"You just said a few minutes ago that you told me everything. Are there any other omissions that I need to know about?" is Carlisle's annoyed retort.
"Wait, wait, wait," I interrupt while Edward is sporting a guilty look at his father's words. "You told him everything?!"
"Of course I did," he answers. "It's not like I could have hidden you from them for long. Especially with what happened with Emmett."
"Them? You told them? As in your whole family?!"
"Yes?" Edward answers carefully in response to my panic.
"You idiot!" I exclaim with a slap to his shoulder, making him stumble into a kitchen chair. He rights himself and massages the muscles where I hit him, grumbling through the pain.
"What the hell, Bella?!" he exclaims before I can apologize. "Don't you want your family back?"
"This isn't about what I want! It's about what's safe for all of us. And you just signed everyone's death warrants, including mine!"
Edward's face falls with the accusation, followed by confusion. Carlisle seems to be in no better state of mind.
"Let me explain," I start. So much for keeping Edward in the dark about this. "Humans are not allowed to know about vampires, and any vampire that exposes what we are to a human is punished by death, along with the knowing humans. Breaking our anonymity is not tolerated."
"By whom?" The question is asked by Carlisle, who now seems to have taken on a more business like quality.
With a resigned sigh I explain, "There's a group of us in Italy who are basically the self-appointed rulers of our kind. They've held up their...royalty, you could say, for the past three thousand years. They make the laws and we follow. Or law, I should say. There's only the one. They couldn't care less what else we choose to do with our time."
Carlisle sits down at the table and scrubs his face with his hands while mumbling, "Three thousand years." He's obviously trying to get a healthy grasp on what he used to know as fiction now being not only reality, but his current reality. My existence and Edward's ignorance have brought upon his family a danger that no man as good as Carlisle should ever have to face.
While Carlisle battles his thoughts I recall the words that were spoken by him and Edward just a few moments ago.
"Vampires have frequented the area for eight years?" I ask Edward.
"I just found out today," he says to reassure me that he hasn't been keeping any secrets from me. "I visited Jacob today to ask about the lies he told me about your death. I ended up getting the full story about how the vampires were after me in the first place."
"After you? But they changed me."
"According to Jake, that wasn't supposed to happen. It was an accident," he explains reluctantly.
"An accident?!" I exclaim angrily, causing Edward and his father to shrink away in fear. "A fucking accident?! This…" I gesture to myself, "…is an accident?!" The news causes unexpected rage to surge inside of me. To know that my life—my extremely blessed life—was taken from me because of someone's accident just makes all the horrible things I've lived through during the past five years seem that much worse. My change should never have happened. I should have just finished college and be looking into grad programs. Edward should have gone on to med school and be on his way to becoming a successful doctor and building his life with me. All the people I killed should still be alive. But none of those things are reality. Because of an accident!
The surge of rage is too much to handle and my fist forces its way through the granite countertop of the kitchen's island. Shattered pieces of the surface fall all over the floor while others fly through the room. Edward shields his face with his arms while Carlisle flees the kitchen altogether. He peeks around the entryway looking like a scared little boy.
After one more angry smash to the countertop, I fall to my knees as my emotions turn to a more vulnerable place. Sobs rip through me and, for the first time, I finally mourn the loss of the life that I've been slowly remembering.
"It's not fair. It can't be an accident," I sputter through my garbled cries. "I had so much. So much."
Warm, consoling arms find their way around me, and I'm surprised to see that the embrace is not Edward's. Carlisle is on his knees beside me, clutching onto me in what seems like an effort to keep me from falling to pieces. I rock slowly in his arms, continuing my sobbing, and accept his comfort. Carlisle holds me and strokes my hair as he lets me cry into his shoulder for however long I need to.
"It's not fair," I mumble again after I start to calm.
"I know. It's not," he agrees. "But it's not an accident."
His statement gets me to pull back to look at him in confusion.
"I don't believe in accidents," he explains. "Everything happens for a reason."
I snort at his overused cliché. How does he think that will help me right now?
"So I'm meant to be this? You think this is my destiny, or that God wanted this for me? Or even that I deserved it?"
"No, I don't think you deserve it. You of all people, Bella, don't deserve this. No goodhearted person deserves the bad things that life grants them."
"Then why would this happen to me? Why would I be forced to lose everything I had?" I choke out in question.
Carlisle sighs before answering. "I think mankind, as a whole, has strongly veered far past what we were purposed to be. I believe everyone is good and has a destiny to bring light and love to others around them," he says with a wistful smile, showing the intentions of his kind heart. "But somewhere along the way greed and selfishness became a stronger motivator for too many. Thousands of years later we've created a world where wealth and power reign far above love and caring for our fellow man. People are dying needlessly, millions starve, disease runs rampant, wars rage, and hate fuels the actions of so many. All because we've created pieces of paper that we stuff into our wallets, and bank accounts, and think that its value is greater than that of the livelihood of our fellow man. Even our food and water supplies are being made toxic so that a small few can benefit from the profits to be made from such an act. Mankind has put this world in such a downward spiral of destruction, I'm not sure we'll ever find our way out of it," he says with a note of sadness.
"I think all the 'bad' things we face are merely the consequences of the society we've created; no one is exempt, we all fall prey to the negativity somewhere throughout our lives. No one has it perfect.
"I believe man has destroyed the purpose of our kind so badly that we all now carry the burden of those choices whether we're deserving or not. Some are afflicted with society's consequences much worse than others, and you're right, it's not fair. Some of us try to do the right thing, and can be rewarded for our hard work, but we can still reap a harvest that we didn't sow.
"But I also think that these hard times can be a way for us to show our strength—to show that the bad that someone else has brought us doesn't have to change who we are, that it doesn't negate the love and good we have in us and darken our hearts. We can show others how to overcome the bad and bring light back into our world.
"Bella, you are a strong, beautiful person. If there is anyone who can overcome your...unique situation, it's you."
I think about Carlisle's words and how ideal they sound to someone like me. Without blatantly saying it, he just admitted to accepting me despite what I am, and he already believes that I can be something greater. I don't know whether I should be moved by his faith, or deem it as ignorance. If I'd have heard this speech six days ago I would have absolutely taken a cynical approach to its interpretation. I would have laughed at the person who lived in this fantasy land, and then I would've probably eaten them for lunch just to try to prove them wrong. But finding Edward has changed my previous outlook and behavior. Before, I had no purpose, and the only thing fueling my actions and decisions was the fact that I'm a vampire. My life consisted of finding prey, hiding my eyes, making sure there is proper cover when the sun chooses to appear, and trying to be inconspicuous. Everything I did was done because of what I am.
Now, because I found Edward, everything I do is because of who I am, and I absolutely love it. I spend time with him, I attempt to prepare him food; I play video games with him, and learn about my past and my family. The things that I have to do due to vampirism now seem secondary. It feels like I am no longer 'Bella the vampire'. Now I'm just Bella...who happens to be a vampire. Edward really helped me see that this morning.
This new person who I am now—or perhaps I should say this person who I am again—loves Carlisle's words, and takes them to heart, believing them. Until...
"I've killed so many people. There is no light in me," I say, disheartened.
Carlisle's hands encircle my face and force my gaze to his. "I don't know the true purpose of...what you are, but I truly believe that you're not meant to be the killer you think you are, or have become. We will find another way for you. I'm sure of it."
As I stare into his earnest eyes; I so badly want to believe him. I want to believe that there is something other than 'murderer' for me to be. My instinct is to argue with him, telling him that he has no clue what he's talking about. But he speaks with so much conviction in his faith. He's not saying nonsensical words which are supposed to make me feel better. He truly believes everything he says, and that alone gives me the encouragement I need. Carlisle Cullen has never once steered me wrong. I trust him with my life.
I give a small nod as my only response to his statement—emotion choking away my speech.
After a few moments, Carlisle reaches a hand toward my face again. This time he strokes my cheek in wonder, feeling the hard smoothness of the skin. His hand moves to my hair, where he drags his fingers through the extraordinarily soft strands. A softly whispered "amazing" falls from his lips.
Quickly, his expression turns serious as he lifts my left hand and begins to inspect it.
"Did you hurt yourself on the counter top?" he asks, even though he can see that my hand is in no way marred.
"No. Things like that can't hurt me," I say as he continues his examination, fascination all over his features.
"What can hurt you?" he asks.
"Only other vampires, because they have the necessary strength. Oh, and I guess werewolves," I add on as an afterthought remembering what Edward has told me about them.
"That's it? Not even a person?"
"A person wouldn't be able to hit me hard enough. Not even with a weapon," I explain carefully, not knowing how he'll respond to such bizarre information.
His face crinkles in thought before his eyes meet mine with a look of realization.
"So...you mean to tell me that you're primarily indestructible?" he inquires with an amused quirk on his lips.
"Yes," I answer while trying to understand his amusement.
My answer is met with Carlisle throwing his head back in laughter while I look on in confusion. I gaze at Edward hoping that he understands his father's reaction, and his smirk tells me that he's in on the joke.
Carlisle regains his composure and looks to Edward. "Bella is indestructible," he states before starting a new round of laughter. Edward chuckles until he notices my glare. I think I have a good idea where this is leading.
Carlisle calms when he sees my narrowed eyes, but he still can't hold back a few chuckles.
"I'm sorry, Bella," he apologizes. "But that is why you needed to become a vampire." More laughter follows his statement regarding my clumsiness in my 'previous life'.
"Yeah, laugh it up, Doc," I say to him. "You'll have to break it to Edward that any hope of a college education is useless now since I've put you out of business."
Carlisle just laughs harder, and I can't help but smile with him when I realize that I've again been blessed with something that I didn't know I was missing. I can now freely laugh with people that I love, and there really isn't a much better feeling in the world than that. I hope that whoever is responsible for returning me to this family knows how grateful I am.
After our laughs quiet down, Carlisle stands and offers his hand to help me up, and I allow him to guide me to my feet. As he witnesses the grace with which I now move he questions, "That was unnecessary, wasn't it?"
"Yes, but not unappreciated," I answer. "Thanks."
"We should probably get this cleaned up," Carlisle suggests while gesturing to the granite mess that I've created throughout the kitchen.
"I'll take care of it," I say sheepishly, now embarrassed at my actions. "It's my mess. You don't have to trouble yourself."
"Helping you has never been any trouble, and it never will be. You don't have to do this alone," Carlisle says pointedly, not only acknowledging the mess in the kitchen, and I smile gratefully.
After I help Edward locate where I have stashed the cleaning supplies, the three of us get to work sweeping and mopping.
As I bag up the pieces of the counter top I can't help but feel horrible about destroying something of Edward's. My fist flew through the granite so easily and without thought. The event has me thinking about what else of his that I could easily destroy. I could lose my composure and decimate any of his possessions, as I demonstrated today. Or, a more frightening scenario, my presence could destroy his family. Edward and his father are joking and laughing about how much Esme hates white granite and how she'll be thrilled about being able to replace it. Watching them interact, it's very easy to see how great a relationship they have—how close they are, and how much me being here could tear this family apart.
I don't even want to acknowledge that truth. I don't want to think about the fact that the world I exist in will not tolerate my proximity with Edward and his family. The leaders of my world would rather us dead than to continue being with each other. But how would they really know? What are the chances that one of the Volturi guard would make their way to this small town in northern Washington? James and Victoria were fearful of the trio, but always seemed to lean more toward the realm of thinking 'don't get caught', rather than 'don't do'. But any indiscretion they may have committed would be seen as child's play compared to what I'm doing. But will I get caught? What really are the chances if the Volturi reside on another continent?!
I was prepared to limit my interactions with Edward's family, but after today with Carlisle I just can't bring myself to not give myself back to this family completely. It feels as if it would be physically painful to leave Carlisle again. I can't even imagine what it would be like to deny myself Esme...or Alice. Oh God; Alice. How did I survive these past five years without my best friend? After I remembered Edward my memories of Alice came flooding back. I pushed them to the back of my mind, not wanting to torment myself with something that I thought I couldn't have. But now that Edward has told her that I'm here, can I stay away? I don't want to stay away from her. I want all of my life back, and I'm going to take every bit that I can get. It belongs to me, and I won't let anything stand in the way anymore. I've been without too much for too long, and I deserve my happily ever after. The Volturi can suck on that.
"Bella?" I hear Edward call my name with concern. "What's wrong? Why do you look so angry?" He's in front of me and his hands soothingly caress my upper arms.
"I'm not. Just...resolved," I answer.
"Can we go see the rest of your family now?"
Edward looks a bit confused at my question.
"Earlier you said that it would be too dangerous."
"I can make it work. I'll think of something. I won't let anything happen to your family. I promise. And you said that the wolves help keep them safe, too. I'm sure everything will be fine," I explain, hoping that the doubts that I have don't make themselves obvious in my voice.
"Bella, how dangerous is the group of 'royal' vampires you spoke about?" Carlisle asks seeming to pick up on some of my anxiety.
"Maybe we should sit down to have this conversation," I suggest. Carlisle deserves the complete truth about what my participation in his family would mean, and whether or not he thinks I should have the right to stay. As much as I want to just go running to Forks and immerse myself back into the Cullen life, I respect Carlisle enough to let him choose what he thinks is best for his family. If need be, I'll take Edward away from here and we'll protect his family from afar. But if I know Carlisle, I know that he won't hear of that either. And the very selfish part of me is hoping that he'll decide to keep us all together no matter what the consequences are.
We head into the living room, and Edward and I take our seats on the couch while Carlisle opts for the love seat.
"The first thing you need to know is that if you're human any vampire is a danger to you that you have no hope of protecting yourself against," I begin. "We're equipped to be the ultimate, unstoppable predator. So, short of you having a nuclear weapon, you're helpless." Both Edward and Carlisle look uncomfortable at the information. "I don't know a whole lot about the Volturi, but the abilities they possess are more to scare me than you. You are in no greater danger from them than you would be from any other vampire that you come across. And your danger from the Volturi depends completely on them finding out about your involvement with me, which is a pretty unlikely scenario since they reside in Italy."
"What do you mean by 'abilities?" Carlisle asks. How to explain this...
"Some of us are, for lack of a better word, gifted. We can have physical or mental abilities that manifest in any number of ways. From what I know about the Volturi, they possess a large amount of gifted vampires. I only know what a few of them can do, but the lot of them are unstoppable by any other vampires. This is how the Volturi keep their rule—no one can challenge them."
"What can they do?" is Carlisle's next question.
"I only know about three of them. The leader himself possesses some kind of mind reading ability, but he has to have physical contact to do it. Then there is a girl who can cause physical pain just by looking at you. Some say she's the scariest of the group. And there is a man who is capable of finding anyone in the world. They call it a tracking ability. That's why no one can hide from them, but he has to meet someone first before he can start tracking them."
"Earlier you were more afraid of their threat. What has you skeptical now?" Carlisle asks.
"After thinking about it I'm not sure how easily they'd find out. They do make trips to America—all over the world really—to look for indiscretions, but they concentrate more on the south than the north. For whatever reason there are nasty territorial disputes down there that can get out of hand. In five years I've never encountered any of the guard. I don't think they would concern themselves with small, underpopulated towns. They probably wouldn't even think of it."
Carlisle scrubs at his face and sighs. "I'm sorry," he apologizes, seeing his actions as rude. "Between you being a vampire, and then hearing about a vampire ruling class, disgruntled southern vampires, and vampires with abilities, I've taken in a lot today. Bella, I'm extremely grateful that you're back, but this is going to take some getting used to."
"I understand. It was a lot for me as well."
"What if someone told them?" Edward asks seriously.
"What do you mean?" I ask, not completely understanding Edward's meaning.
"What if someone told the...Volturi about us?"
"Someone could tip them off, yes. But who would do that?"
"Someone who wants something from me. They could use the threat as leverage. They were after me that day. They've been in our house a few times looking for something of mine."
Hisses and growls make their way from throat. "They've been in your house?! Why didn't you tell me?" Edward and Carlisle wear matching fearful expressions. I need to calm myself before I scare them further.
"I just found out today. I haven't had a chance to discuss it with you yet," Edward quickly tells me. "The last time they were in the area was about a year ago, so they could come back at any time and find you with us."
"If they come back here, the last thing they'll get the chance to do is leave the area alive," I say in a threatening manner. Whoever is responsible for all that we've gone through is definitely going to pay for their actions. While I'm imagining my retribution something Edward said sticks out to me.
"Have you seen them?" I ask Edward.
"No. The only glimpse I ever got of them was in the meadow. And it wasn't long enough to see any of their features. My best guess is that there was a man and a woman, but they ran off so quickly," he answers.
"A man and a woman?" I ask with a bit too much intensity. "And they were here about a year ago?" Edward nods his head in affirmation.
An angry grunt escapes me while my fist seeks out the closest inanimate object...again. The coffee table crumbles into three pieces at the force of my blow. Edward shields his face...again, and Carlisle flees the room...again. With my anger in no way sated I get up from the couch and pick up the largest piece of coffee table.
"That son of a bitch!" I exclaim as I hurl the piece of wood into the wall. I pick up a second piece of the coffee table and it's given the same fate as the first. With one last angry scream I throw the last piece of the table. The wall is now marred with nicks and scratches, the table in splintered pieces on the floor, and one remaining table leg sticking straight out of the dry wall.
"I'm gonna kill him! I'll kill that bastard!" I yell as I now pace the room.
Carlisle slowly makes his way back in and inspects the protruding coffee table leg with surprised eyes. I don't know what's so surprising—he saw what I did to the counter top.
In a dangerous but caring maneuver Edward steps in front of me and places his hands on my upper arms. I allow him to stop me and will myself to calm. I stare into his eyes, trying to utilize them as my anchor, and after a few deep breaths my snarls stop altogether.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry!" I say, panic clear in my voice. Now that I'm out of the anger-induced haze I can clearly see the destructive effects of my reckless behavior. "I just fed, and when I do it's a lot harder to control myself, and I'm so angry right now. I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch." I explain probably a bit too quickly.
"It's okay, it's fine. Just relax," he says soothingly while stroking my arms. I revel in his touch and allow his ministrations to distract me from the anger that could cause me to be more destructive. "Who are you talking about?" he asks with concern.
"James," I answer with a resigned sigh. "He and Victoria are two vampires that I encountered a year ago. They were in this area and told me that they had some unfinished business nearby. I didn't know at the time that I was a part of their unfinished business. It's probably why James wanted me to join them; I'm technically his responsibility if he's the one who turned me. But they vanished so quickly and without a word, and I haven't seen them since. I don't know why they left like that."
"The wolves ran them off. They're making it too difficult for the vampires to return. Jake thinks they're planning and regrouping. He doesn't know what to expect when they do decide to come back, but he's very confident that his pack can handle them. And the one you're calling James didn't do this to you. Jake and Paul killed the one responsible. From what Jake told me today, I don't think either of us were to be turned. It seemed too reckless for what they were trying to do."
"Jacob, always looking out for me," I muse with a small smile. I try to imagine my good friend as an angry wolf disemboweling one of my kind and it's quite difficult. He was the happiest kid I knew. Well, until I started dating Edward.
"What else did he tell you?" I ask, wanting to know more of the details of my last moments as a happy human.
"I think I should let him tell you his story. But I will tell you that it's because of him that you didn't die. I owe him for that," Edward says with his eyes cast downward. "He wants to see you. When you're ready."
I nod my head in response, not knowing how to react to his last words. He spoke them uncomfortably, like he didn't want to tell me about Jake wanting to see me. I'm about to question him when I notice Carlisle seated on the love seat again, but now with his face in his hands. Edward follows my line of sight with a concerned expression.
"They've been...in our house?" Carlisle asks in a strangled voice, never lifting his gaze.
Edward exhales before sitting on the couch and places his elbows on his knees. I sit beside him, recognizing that easing Carlisle is the more important task at hand.
"Yes," Edward answers. "A few times."
Carlisle shows no outward response, but I can hear the changes in his body. His heart is beating harder and faster, and his breaths are shallow and quick: probably not the best scenario for a man approaching, if not already, fifty years old.
I place a hand on Edward's arm to get his attention and mouth the word 'careful'. At Edward's quirked eyebrow I flutter my hand quickly against my chest to indicate what is happening with his father.
Edward nods in understanding and chooses his words carefully. "'Dad, there is no reason for you to worry about this—"
"What?!" Carlisle shouts. "Nothing to worry about?! Bella is concerned about some...magic, rule-keeping vampires in Italy when we have our own vindictive ones in our own...fucking...backyard..." He trails off while he stands, placing a hand to his hip and one to his forehead. "Edward, I want you to honestly tell me how much danger our family is in."
"I don't know," Edward says carefully.
"You don't know," Carlisle states more to himself. After a small sigh he quickly picks up one of the broken pieces of the coffee table and hurls it at the same spot on the wall as I did. His action is coupled with an uncharacteristic angry yell, and both Edward and I watch with matching expressions of awe. Edward reaches for my hand looking for some form of comfort, showing me that he is actually afraid of his father right now.
Carlisle stares with heavy breaths and his hands on his hips at the piece of wood that fell to the floor. After a moment he looks to the ground, closing his eyes while his breathing slows.
"I'm sorry," he states. "I just..." He trails off with a sigh.
Edward stands and approaches his father, placing a hand on his shoulder to gain his attention.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, but this is what I wanted to avoid. You shouldn't have to worry about it. The wolves keep an eye out and make sure the vampires can't get to us. Jake said that they're ready for their next arrival."
"You're wrong, Edward," Carlisle retorts. "I should have to worry about it. This is my family and my responsibility. And just to know that all of us have been in danger from a force that we can't even defend ourselves from for the past eight years... I don't know what to do. There has to be something I can do to help my family. There has to be. I don't want to be worthless to all of you," he says with agitation and doubt.
"You will never be worthless to us. I can't believe you'd even think that," Edward says, and Carlisle sighs.
"I can't stand to be helpless here. I can't lose any of you," Carlisle says, allowing emotion to creep into his voice. "What we went through with losing Bella was too much to handle. I can't have this family torn apart again."
"Then we'll be as proactive as we can. There isn't much we can do, but if it makes you feel better we can go speak with Jake and his pack to see if there's anything he wants us to do. At least it's something," Edward suggests, and Carlisle nods.
"I'd like that. As soon as possible. For now, I need to get back to Esme. She's probably worried sick because she hasn't heard from us yet."
"What do you want to tell the family?" Edward asks. "I don't think we should get into the dangers still looming just yet. I think just the idea of Bella and vampires is going to be a lot. Especially judging by Emmett's reaction. He's not ready for it."
"Agreed," Carlisle says, trying to add an air of confidence to his tone. "One step at a time. We'll use our judgment as new information becomes available. But right now, Bella has a family to get reacquainted with," he says with a small smile. He's obviously trying to distract himself with something more pleasant.
Edward takes a moment to examine his father's face, making sure that he's in a healthy state of mind before turning to me and extending his hand for me to take.
With a smile he asks me the one question I've been waiting to hear for the past five years, "Are you ready to go home?"
Taking his hand and standing to my feet, I match his happy expression.
"I can't wait to go home."
As always, I'd love to know what you think, and hear your theories. Thanks for reading!