There are times where I think my father has a strenuous decision making up his mind if he's a cop with a daughter or a father who is a cop. With over twenty years of experience and for most of the time just a cop with rare parental visits, Charlie's lived and breathed an analytical investigator- instead of a father who had grown up with his daughter. I guess the cop won…at least today it did.
After Jacob transformed in front of Charlie, I had the gut feeling that Charlie would figure out the rest …father like daughter. We just didn't know how long it would take. Carlisle had stressed we mislead him as much as we could, or his life as well as the Quilettes could be in danger of the Volturi. With that in mind, Edward, Jacob, and I had inexhaustible discussions over the next six months; they usually evolved around time and departure.(There were times I felt like an airline. ) Edward through years of experience knew setting up the next location and moving into a different life would take one to two months—for proper IDs to match everything and have Carlisle find a different position. Jacob's worries were always about Renesmee, and his apprehension about her accelerating growth without protection from the wolves could put not just her in danger but us too. Complete Stalemate.
After Renesmee was born, Jacob and Edward have been agreeing more than ever. With the lover's triangle dissolved and Jacob was family, it seemed like the perfect brotherly connection. Jacob and Edward were talking without any threats? This is one sentence that I thought would never utter in my entire existence, but they agreed to take it day by day with Renesmee's development.
Carlisle had calculated Nessie (ugh) would give the impression of a five or six-year old, approximately kindergarten or first grade range. Within these six months, the entire family worked around the clock to reach Nessie's needs as well as avoiding the discussion about leaving. Carlisle and Edward were developing an educational program. Rosalie and Alice were her designers and tea partners, and Uncle Jasper and Uncle Emmett took care of the physical education section as well as hunting strategies..I think. (I don't know exactly what Jasper and Emmett are teaching but for now, ignorance is bliss.) On the other hand, Esme and I would care for Ness and do what Moms and Grandmas do…we baked cookies, we fingerpainted, and we let her be a little girl. Her childhood was going to evaporate in front of our eyes, and every moment had to be treasured.
In early March the snow began to melt off the trees, and the meadow and its life began to blossom. In the kitchen, Rosalie, Esme, and I were creating puppets for her puppet show as Alice re-hemmed one of Renesmee's favortite dresses and within a blink, I heard the silk rip loudly. "Bella?"
Within seconds, I was in the living room, and Alice gripped the phone as if she was about to crush it. Holding her hand, I released her grip. "What's wrong?" The phone vibrated and chimed simultaneously.
"It's Charlie." The phone buzzed again.
"Is he okay?" The phone was the only thing I could hear.
"He knows." Nothing more had to be said—no magical power just good old intuition.
I grabbed the phone from her hand, "Dad?"
"Hey, Bells, so I was wondering….if you would like to come down to see…us. You know bring that pretty granddaughter of mine, Edward, and Jacob. We'll spend some ..time…together." His voice was trembling. I knew he practiced this phone call for weeks in his head, making sure it didn't scare me or him. I felt my body coagulate into one heavy mass—and anchoring into the wooden floor.
"Sure." When, when, when…. how long would he wait? My voice cracked, "This afternoon?"
"Yeah, whenever you get here will be fine…Ah..Sue wanted to talk to you about wedding stuff and I'd like to go on a walk with you and ….talk. " Was talk the word he wanted to use or was it strangle, throttle, or burn you to ashes? His tone was not going to give the answer. Okay, he wants to talk about the wedding. Good start, maybe we won't talk about his only daughter being changed into a vampire by his son-in-law. Sue and Charlie decided to get married almost as fast as they dated. I was thrilled Dad and Sue were able to find each other and be happy. Before my transformation, my only wish is that my parents could live happy, long lives, and if I wasn't around as much they would have someone to be with. Alice volunteered to do the wedding, but Charlie had wanted it private with friends and family and Sue wanted it a traditional Quilette ceremony. Alice was not pleased. I liked living in that reverie until, "BELLS?"
I leaped out of my skin and immediately responded, "We'll see you in an hour, okay?"
"Um..that's great. We'll see you then." After a quick goodbye and the innumerable pause afterwards, the phone disconnected, and I stood frozen.
"Bella?" Alice had placed her hand on my shoulder, but I didn't register it. This must have been how Edward felt when he found out I was pregnant. "Edward! Jacob!"
Sprinting down the stairs, both Edward and Jacob troubling faces glared at me. "Bella, love, can you hear me?" I couldn't respond as if my whole body had been injected with morphine.
"BEL-LA!" Jacob shouted and shook me. He glanced to Edward and then to Alice, "What's wrong with her?"
"Charlie knows about everything. What he didn't figure out completely, Sue filled in the gaps. It was tearing him up from the inside. He finally got the nerve to confront Bella, you, and Edward."
"Honey, it doesn't mean we have to leave. We don't know exactly what he knows or will say," Edward's eyes didn't leave mine, but he wanted more "And?"
"Charlie's has invited all of you this afternoon to…talk." In a mirror image, both Jacob's and Edward's hand met their foreheads just as Renesmee and Rosalie came down stairs with a felt multi-colored very glittered puppet. Rosalie's hand reached for Nessie's sensing something was wrong.
"Is Bella okay?"
"We think she's in shock or terror, but she won't respond," Edward glanced at his daughter and Rosalie. "Why don't you take Nessie upstairs and play…" Before Edward could finish his request, Nessie had released her hand from her aunt, dashed passed everyone, and held my hand.
"Momma, everything's going to be okay. Grandpa's not mad. …Momma, please hug me." It immediately ended the trance. I am not sure if it was Nessie's power or her voice that brought me back from the void, but I swiftly lifted her up into my arms and held her as if she was my life preserver.
"Renesmee, I love you so much." I fell into those dark chocolate pools and with her smile, it made everything okay.
We packed the car, locked Nessie in her car seat, and headed to Sue's house. Dad still lived at home, but after Sue and he started dating, he has been spending more time at the reservation. Edward drove the Volvo as humanly as possible with Jacob sitting shotgun drumming his fingers on the door, and Nessie and me sat in the back. Seeing Edward's body stiffen, he was reading every thought, every scenario that Jacob played in his head. To save Edward's sanity, I created a shield, so he couldn't read Jacob's thoughts and make him worry for two.
When Edward opened my door, he questioned, "That was you, wasn't it?" I slowly nodded, and he kissed me quickly, "Thank you."
"Thank you? I could that with Char-"
"NO, you need to have your entire focus on the situation without worrying about me. I've been practicing over the past couple of months muting some thoughts. I've learned I can mute human thoughts easier than vampires or…werewolves, so I don't have to listen to Charlie's thoughts. I'm just as curious to see how this all plays through."
"Again, thank God you're bulletproof." We smiled and grabbed all of the gear for a day's visit: car seat, sippy cups, dinnerware, clothes, toys, playpen, stroller, and everything we could think of to fill two huge diaper bags. We felt as if we were packing for a week instead of a day outing. Ah, the love of parenting…
Charlie sprung out of the door with a gigantic smile for Nessie, and he spun her until she was dizzy. She giggled and shrieked loudly until she was out of breath. After Nessie stopped giggling, Charlie focused on us. "Hey, Bells, …Edward, Jake…well, come on in. It's cold out." So far, so good—not the death glare I received when I returned from Italy; he actually smiled.
Jake was moments from Nessie, and I slowly climbed up the stairs. "Big breaths, Bella," Edward reassured me. "You're doing great." Great? Great walking to my execution? Great annihilating of my human family?
Nessie returned and dragged my hand, "Mom-ma, come on." Again, she jolted me back to reality, and we walked into the house as if nothing was wrong. Why does it feel like the calm before the storm? Oh, Yeah, IT IS.
As Nessie jumped into Sue's arms, I cringed. Some way, somehow, Charlie was going to find an excuse to get us alone….to talk.
Sue released Nessie and kissed her on the cheek, "You want to help me make cookies for dinner?" Nessie squealed in joy; she loved spending time with Sue; it was like another mother or grandmother. "Charlie, why don't the four of you go down to the lake and see if you can find fresh tinder for the bonfire tonight?" Thanks, Sue..
"Sure, Bells, Jake, Edward—"
Jacob took the lead, "Great, let's go. Edward, why don't we grab what we'll need to carry everything?" And just like the cowards they were, they left as if their jeans were on fire—knowing neither of them needed anything to carry heavy objects. For almost four years, Jacob and Edward hardly could stand being in the same area for an hour—now were best buddies and leaving me out to dry to face Dad.
Charlie grabbed his coat, and he opened the door for me. "So, how's things? You okay?"
"Yeah, Dad. I'm fine. Renesmee's running around and keeping me busy. "
"She's a great kid, and she's growing up so fast. I know Carlisle had said she might have a degenerate dis—about overactive aging."
Carlisle had told Charlie and Renee a logical excuse for Nessie's growth, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome—a disease that quadrupled a person's aging. At first, both Renee and Charlie were worried about a young married couple dealing with a disabled child, but Carlisle reassured them that normalcy was important, and they treat her the age she looked, not the age she is. For Renee, that calmed the worry; however, for Charlie, he just nodded.
"Bells, I've wanted to talk to you for awhile about some things…I know we've been busy about the wedding and Nessie, and I've always said it was always a need to know matter. I need to know." I shrugged. " I have realized I can handle a lot—after dating Sue and knowing about Jacob and the tribe, I know that things that can't be explained, can be explained.
"After you got married, well ever since you've known Edward, I've known something wasn't normal. Then, when you got home and you looked different, something wasn't right. At first I thought it was the bug you caught during your honeymoon, but even your actions weren't you. You know? Nessie is your daughter, isn't she?"
I gulped and nodded. "Yes, she is. She was born in September…"
"September…that would mean she's only a year old? Is that the disease?"
"Renesmee doesn't have a disease, Dad. She's a healthy little girl."
"And she's Edward's daughter too. I can see the resemblance."
"Yes, he is. He is a wonderful father, and Jake.."
"Is her imprint?"
"He's her protector; he and she have a strong bond…"
"So it's not anything freaky…"
"Dad, in my world, EVERYTHING can appear freaky. Dad, ask me the question, you want to ask."
"Is Edward a…Cold One as the Quilettes call him?"
Cold one? I hadn't heard that since the Cullens and Quilettes worked together to go against Victoria and the newborns. Maybe this was the way, Charlie was dealing with the news. "Yes, he is. The Cullens are and so am…I."
"You're…a …va—How the hell did this happen? He attac-"
"No, no Dad, that's not true. The Cullens only feed on animals. We don't drink…."
"We? Bella, do you know what you're saying? This is unreal…this is impossible. Why…"
"Edward and I fell in love. He knew the dangers; he tried to leave and let me live a normal human life, but I couldn't let him. He returned, and I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be with him forever. I wanted him to change me."
"You wanted this? You wanted to be a.."
"I knew the risks, and Edward persisted that I go to college, grow old, and live as a human, but I stubbornly continued to want.."
"I know. That's sounds like you. When you're stuck with an idea, you don't change it. When?"
"I got pregnant during our honeymoon. We didn't know it could happen. Edward wanted to abort the pregnancy to protect me, but I didn't. I fought him and Jacob, but I wanted to have the baby; however, Renesmee needed more than I could humanly handle.
"When Renesmee was born, I used all my humanly strength to keep my heart going until Edward could change me. If he didn't change me, I would have died in childbirth, and he would be alone with her. We knew that was a risk and she would be a part of me, but there was enough time for the venom to spread."
"So, it saved your life?"
"Edward saved me, and it has been the best decision I have ever made." Charlie's posture began to shrink, and he kneeled on the ground. There were tears in his eyes. "Dad, Dad..I've always felt out of place, not on the same path as everyone else. Mom had always said that I was a middle aged teenager.
"In high school, I didn't feel connected to anyone besides Edward and Alice, and when I figured who they were, I wanted to stay where I felt I was who I was, who am I.
"When I met Edward and the supernatural world, I found myself. I found sacrifice, devotion, and loyalty. I had power. I found confidence in myself and my abilities. I helped others and protected my family—all of my families." Dad's rigid body softened as if he absorbed what I had said.
"You're going to have to leave someday, aren't you?"
"Not for a couple of years…Jake and the tribe will protect Renesmee, and everyone will buy the growth disease story. We won't leave without you knowing. Jake would not let that happen. The whole imprinting thing has complicated relocation and other things…"
As I try to explain to my father what I had learned in over four years to minutes, Edward and Jacob carried two humongous bundles of branches. Jacob smiled, "Where you want these?"
"There's fine for now. Now the two of you…" Now it was Edward's and Jacob's time. Okay, Bella, you can breathe now. "Now, in order for me to deal with this…situation, I want three things."
"Name it," Edward was sincere and his open stance showed he would grant any of Charlie's wishes.
"First, if anything happens to me or Sue, you will not save me. I don't care if I ask for it. I want to live the rest of my life the way it supposed to be.
"Second, Renee never knows. Ever. Even if she guesses, deny it. We'll figure this aging thing later. She doesn't need it, and she's happy in the world she lives in.
"Last, as long as I live, I want a direct connection to Bella at all times. If you leave, you give me a number, an address, or some other connections, so I can talk to my daughter and granddaughter. I don't care where in the world you are. I want to know Bella is safe. I won't lose her again." Charlie choked and his eyes met mine, "I can't. …I lost you for so many years as you were growing up that I don't want to miss you becoming who you will be. Edward, Jake, I know you'll do everything in your power to protect Bella, and later, I won't be able to." Charlie was not ashamed to show tears. Tears of regret? Tears of sorrow? Tears of joy? "And Bells, even though, you've felt out of place, you'll always have a home here. You'll still be my daughter, and I will try my damnest to make sure that I'll do my best doing that." I lunged for my Dad and hugged him carefully not to crush him. "I'll love you forever."
I smiled and returned, "I always have and always will."