Finding the Way back – Chapter 36

BellaPOV

"Of course. Just one thing," he said. He leaned in close, putting his mouth close to my ear. "I know who you really are."

Time seemed to stop in that moment.

I couldn't move. I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe.

How could he know who I really was? More importantly, why didn't I recognize him and what exactly did he do to me? My mind was yelling at me, telling me to get out of there – to run to Edward and tell him that Gabriel was more than just Alice's husband. I needed to tell Dad that he was involved in all of this and to haul him off to jail. I needed to tell Carlisle and Esme to take my children out of here and get them as far away from him as they could.

But I couldn't.

I couldn't because the fear and anxiety that once consumed me had come flooding back. Suddenly, I felt like the girl I used to be – terrified of anything and everything. The walls began to close in on me, reminding me of the tiny room I used to sleep in. God, what if he takes me back to that hellhole? Would Dad and Edward be able to find me this time? Would he keep me around long enough to find out? I needed to remind myself that I wasn't her anymore. I was a stronger, confident Bella. I was loved and wanted. I was a wife and a mother. I wasn't the pathetic girl who let anything and everything happen to her because she was too scared to fight. But as hard as I tried to remind myself that I had changed, it didn't work. I found myself looking down toward the floor of the garage like I had been trained to do all those years ago. To say I was petrified would be an understatement. I was terror-stricken.

"Yes, I know who you are. I knew the minute Alice showed me your picture. You're Keith's girl," he said as he ran his hands up my arms. My body stiffened at his touch, and my hands released the beer, causing it to crash to the floor.

I should have been pushing him off of me and running out of the garage, but I was still frozen in place – paralyzed by my fear that if I moved this man would hurt me. I wanted to tell him to go away and leave me alone, that I wasn't Keith's girl anymore, but the words wouldn't come.

"I remember men paying double for you. They said you were the best, but I never really got the chance to experience it. I wanted to, but I never had the opportunity. But that doesn't mean I never touched you. I was there when that child of yours was born, and I took care of the one Keith didn't want." Oh God, he knew about McKenna. He was the monster that took her away from me. I wanted to run from him, pull McKenna, McKenzie and McKayla into my arms and tell Edward to take us all away from here – to take us to a place where no one knew us or my dark past – but again, my feet were cemented to the floor.

Gabriel trailed his hands from my shoulders, down over my breasts and down to my stomach. I could feel myself start to tremble even more now, as his breath caressed my skin.

Edward! my mind screamed. Dad! Edward! Emmett! Jasper! Someone!

"I remember you screaming after that little girl was born. You kept begging for me to let you hold her, just for one minute. Just to make sure she was okay. Man, Keith loved that little girl, too. Where is he, by the way? Why aren't you with him?"

"He...he's dead," I finally managed to get out.

"Dead? When did this happen?" Gabriel asked.

"A while ago." My voice was shaking so badly that I was amazed I could even get a word out.

"And what about your brother? Ian, wasn't it?"

"He's gone, too."

"Both of them...gone. What about the other girls?"

"I don't know," I quietly said. What about them? What if there were girls stuck somewhere? Alone. Afraid. Sick, maybe even near death because there was no one bringing them water or food? I couldn't live with myself knowing they were out there.

"How I would have loved to have a turn with you," Gabriel said after a long moment of silence. His hands moved back up from my stomach toward my breasts, where he caressed them as if he was my lover. "How I would have loved to watch you quiver under me; hear you beg me for more." His hands now moved from my breasts to around my neck. "Watch as your face grew terrified as I squeezed your neck as I came. I know that was your favorite thing. You were the only girl who liked it." His grip on my neck became tighter with each word. "Do you like it now?"

"P...pl...please," I begged. Darkness started closing in. I tried prying his hands off of me, but he wouldn't budge. With what little vision I had left, I could see Gabriel smiling. He was enjoying this.

Behind Gabriel, I could hear muffled laughter from the kitchen. After a moment, it seemed louder. Gabriel then released me, where I crumpled to the floor of the garage. One hand supported my weight against the floor; the other was at my neck as I coughed, struggling to refill my lungs. During my coughing spell, I vomited, emptying the contents of my stomach over his shoes. I could feel the tears stinging my eyes, but knew I couldn't cry in front of him. The room was spinning and I felt sick to my stomach.

Crying is a sign of weakness, I heard Keith say in my head. You disappoint me when you cry, Isabella...Maybe you aren't worth keeping around anymore. His voice was swirling around in my ears reminding me of the past I tried to put behind me.

I'll never be rid of this no matter how hard I try, I thought to myself.

I heard the garage door open, but I didn't look up to see who was there. Gabriel bent down and leaned towards me. "If you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut. We wouldn't want your husband's medical career to be over, would we?" he whispered.

"Is everything alright in here?" I heard Jasper ask.

"We're fine," Gabriel said as he stood to leave.

I kept my eyes and head down as he walked out. It amazed me how I could quickly snap back into the girl I was. After all this time away from that hell, knowing that I wasn't the same person I was then, I still went back to the girl who was afraid. Fear consumed me. My body started to tremble as the room started spinning. My breath started coming in gasps, and I had the overwhelming feeling to flee.

"Bella," Jasper said next to me. I felt his hand on my shoulder and I flinched.

I heard someone start to scream and realized it was coming from me. I crawled to a corner, curled my knees to my chest, and started rocking back and forth. So many memories and voices were going through my head. I felt like everything was coming back to me - that I was going to be that girl again. As hard as I tried to fight it, it was too much. I felt myself recoil inward, not wanting to be touched and being deathly afraid.

"Bella, it's alright," I heard Jasper say. He was on his knees in front of me. "Everything's alright." I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe that this was just all a horrible nightmare that I would wake up from, but it wasn't. It was real. Alice had somehow found someone from my past – either on accident or on purpose – and brought him here. I wanted to believe it was a coincidence that she knew him and that he knew of my past, but something in the back of my mind told me otherwise.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement at the door and I started screaming louder. This was all too much. I needed reassurance from the one person who mattered. The one person who existed for me now, in this moment. I needed him to say it, to make me believe that I'd changed, that I wasn't that girl anymore...and that he didn't see that part of me when he looked at me. I needed him to see a woman who loved him madly...and not all that bad shit. If I knew he saw me that way, then I'd be able to see myself that way. And I needed it if I wanted to move on.

But the only thing I felt was fear and Gabriel's lingering touch that made me feel nothing more than the whore I used to be.

EPOV

I couldn't believe the nerve of Alice. She walked in here, pretending like nothing happened, and kissed Mom and Dad's ass. Mom seemed genuinely happy that Alice was here. Dad, on the other hand, was reserved. He just sat back and watched. We all knew he would step in if needed. I was surprised that Gabriel didn't speak with Dad about his marriage to Alice. Wouldn't a normal man do that? Wouldn't you expect the man that married your daughter ask to have a conversation with you to assure you he's going to take care of her? I know I would if any of my girls did that.

After dinner, everyone moved into the living room. Rosalie and Sue each had one of the twins in their arms, while McKenna sat on my lap and looked through the Toys R Us catalog. She was getting excited for Christmas.

"Look at this Barbie house, Daddy. Isn't it pretty?" McKenna asked excitedly.

"Very. Why don't you ask Grandma Esme for a pen so you can circle everything that you'd like? That way Santa has an idea of what to get you."

"I already wrote my letter to Santa. He knows what I want."

"What did you ask for?" Alice asked. Was she seriously trying to act like nothing happened in the past? I didn't understand why she was suddenly interested in McKenna, when just a few short months ago she didn't want anything to do with her.

"I asked for -"

"You know, McKenna," Rosalie interrupted, "you should keep that a secret. Kind of like a birthday wish."

"Really? I thought I could say it out loud?"

"If you really want Santa to listen, you keep it a secret," Rosalie said.

"Is that true, Daddy?"

"Yep," I lied. I knew exactly what Rose was doing and was grateful. The less Alice knew the better.

"Edward, could I...could I maybe hold one of the twins?" Alice asked hesitantly. "Please?" I saw both Sue and Rosalie stiffen slightly. Was she crazy? Did she actually think I'd let her?

"They're pretty content at the moment," Sue said.

"Okay. Edward, I'm sorry I wasn't in town when the girls were born," Alice said. "I brought a gift for them. I hope you like it."

"That was...nice of you, Alice," I said. "I'll wait for Bella to return before opening it."

"Of course. I really hope we can move on from what's happened and become a family again. I've really missed everyone."

"Alice, now is not the time or place to talk about that. Especially with children in the room," Rosalie said.

We sat in silence for a few minutes. Gabriel entered the room, stopped and looked at Alice, then walked out. Alice stood and left as well without saying a word. What just happened? A silent conversation had passed between the two of them that, although they tried to hide it, was painfully obvious to all of us. What an odd relationship they had. I couldn't figure out why Alice was remotely attracted to him. They never touched and would sit with quite a bit of distance between them. Yet, Gabriel would look at her like she was the only the only thing that was important one minute and like a piece of property the next. I didn't get it.

A few moments after they left, I heard screaming from the garage followed by Jasper yelling, "Edward! Edward! Dad! Charlie!"

"Stay here, McKenna," I said as I moved her off my lap and headed for the garage. By the tone of Jasper's voice, and the terror of Bella's screams, I knew something was wrong. It didn't help that Gabriel had just come from there.

He better not have hurt her, or so help me I will kill him.

As I walked in, I saw Bella curled up in a corner shaking, rocking back and forth. I ran over to her, but she flinched at my touch.

"Don't touch me!" she screamed.

"Bella, it's alright," I said. I slowly reached my hand for hers, not wanting to scare her. Behind me, I heard Dad and Charlie.

"No!"

"What happened?" Charlie asked.

Bella kept rocking back and forth, burying her head in her hands. When I touched her, she continued to flinch away. I wanted to pull her to me and tell her that it would be okay, but I knew, just like in the past, that when she was like this, it was best to just let her be until she came down from her fear; until she realized that I wouldn't hurt her.

"Bella, please. It's me, Edward. I'm not going to hurt you," I said. "Please, baby, come back to me. You're fine. You're safe, I promise."

"Jasper, go and get my bag," Dad said. Jasper stood and disappeared from the garage.

"No! Don't medicate her yet. We need her to talk," I said.

"Edward, she won't talk in this state. She needs to calm down."

"Maybe she won't talk because you all are scaring her," Rosalie said from the door.

"Bella, do you want to talk to Rose?" I asked.

"Y...yes," Bella said quietly.

Charlie, Dad, and I stood and moved away to give Rosalie and Bella some privacy. We would still be able to hear anything they said, but maybe the distance would help her. Rosalie, who was holding a blanket and a glass of water, sat next to Bella, wrapping it around the both of them. She then brought the glass to Bella's lips and held it there as she took a few small sips.

"What happened?" she asked.

"I...I came in to get my Dad and Billy a beer. I felt someone behind me, and I thought it was Edward."

"But it wasn't," Rose said.

"No. It was...Gabriel."

"What did he do?"

"He said he knew me. He knew me! He...he delivered McKenna and took her away from me. He said that he wished he could have been with me," she said as she cried.

Rosalie looked over at us, her eyes wide with shock and fear. I looked over and saw Charlie was gripping the door frame, waiting for Bella to say something so he could jump into action. Jasper then reappeared holding dad's bag.

"What else?" Rose asked.

"He said men paid double for me and how he wanted to choke me while he... and he did."

"He what?" Charlie asked.

"He put his hands around my neck and squeezed." Bella looked up at us. On her neck were marks from Gabriel's hands. "I thought for sure he wouldn't stop. When he finally let go, I started coughing and I threw up. I'm sorry, Carlisle."

Charlie stormed out of the garage. A few moments later, I heard a car start and tear out of the drive.

"It's okay. Don't worry about it," Carlisle replied.

"I should clean it up," Bella said.

"We'll make sure it's taken care of, don't worry," Rosalie said.

"The way he touched me, Rose...I couldn't stop him. I couldn't move. I wanted him away from me. I tried screaming, but nothing would come out," Bella cried.

"He's gone now," Rosalie said, wrapping her arms around Bella.

"I thought...I thought he was going to take...take McKenna away from me," she sobbed. "I should have pushed him away, but I couldn't."

"It's alright. The girls are fine. Sue and Esme brought the twins downstairs after Jasper started yelling for Edward, and McKenna is finger painting with Emmett. They're all fine."

I walked over to Bella and sat next to her as Rosalie stood. Bella threw her arms around me and held onto me for dear life. I ran my hand through her hair and held her close to me.

"What if he comes back, Edward? What if he takes them?"

"It's okay," I whispered. "No one will touch you or our daughters. I promise you that. He will not get near you."

Emmett walked in carrying the house phone. His hands were covered in paint, as well as his shirt. "Charlie called. He said we need to take pictures of her neck. Mom wants to know if you guys are staying tonight. McKenna's getting pretty tired."

"Sweetheart, you have to calm down," I said. Bella was still sobbing and shaking.

"He wanted me, Edward," she said.

"I won't let him touch you."

"I'm scared. I'm trying not to completely lose it, but I'm afraid."

"Nothing's going to happen. And I'm so proud of you for talking, rather than keeping it all in. That's such a big step. I love you."

"I love you, too," she said.

An hour later, Bella was asleep in my old bed with McKenna. We had gotten her to take a sedative to calm her, and Esme took pictures of her neck and emailed them to Charlie at the station. I knew there was something off with Gabriel, and now I knew what it was. All I had to do was figure out why he was with Alice and what he wanted from us.

Edward POV

That night I barely slept. I kept thinking about everything that had happened tonight. How could Alice bring this person into our lives? Did she know about the connection between Bella and Gabriel? If she did, did she purposely do this? So many things were going through my mind. I wanted to believe that Alice was innocent and didn't know about the past, but something in the back of my mind said she knew more than what she was telling us. What happened to my sweet baby sister? Where did she go?

I kept waiting for something to happen during the night. Every noise I heard I checked out. Of course I was overreacting, but I couldn't risk not checking it and having something happen. I had finally gotten Bella to a place where she was comfortable and confident in her own skin, and I was not about to let that slip away. I would do whatever it took to keep my family safe.

Bella kept tossing and turning and mumbling in her sleep. McKenna woke up around midnight and said she couldn't sleep because of all the noise Bella was making. She ended up knocking on Mom and Dad's door and slept with them. Then, around two, the twins decided they wanted to be awake after their bottles. I took them downstairs to the living room and found a music channel to listen to thinking that would soothe them enough to fall back asleep. Around five, Mom came downstairs to start coffee for Dad, who had to work that morning.

"Edward? What are you doing up?" she asked from the doorway.

I was laying on the floor on my stomach, one hand rocking each of the girls' car seats as they cooed along to the music and pictures on the television. My back was killing me from being in this position, but at least the girls were quiet now.

"Trying to get them to sleep," I mumbled.

"How long have you been at it?"

"A few hours. Is McKenna still asleep?"

"Yes. She and Carlisle are snoring away upstairs. Do you want me to sit with them?" she asked from beside me.

"I'm fine. Can you get me a blanket, though?"

"I'm awake anyway. Go upstairs and get some rest." As I sat up, I noticed both girls were starting to doze off, and the thought of my nice warm bed was rather comforting.

Once upstairs, I poked my head in my parent's room to check on McKenna. She was laying sideways with her head on Dad's stomach, mouth hanging open while she snored and feet dangling from the side of the bed. One of her hands was draped across Dad's face, a finger dangerously close to his eye. I probably should have moved her, but decided against it. Obviously Dad didn't seem to mind. I quietly shut the door and made my way back to my old bedroom. I crawled under the covers and curled up behind Bella.

"Hey," she quietly said.

"Hey. I thought you'd be asleep."

"I was. Where's 'Kenna?"

"She's sleeping with Dad. Mom has the girls downstairs."

"Did they give you a lot of trouble during the night?"

"No. Go back to sleep, love. It's still early."

"Do you think she did it on purpose?" Bella asked.

"What?"

"Do you think Alice brought Gabriel here on purpose? I mean, she had to have known that he knew me."

"I'm not too sure, but I don't think it was a coincidence, either. We'll have to talk to Charlie today to see if anything happened. He was none too happy last night."

"Yeah," she said softly. Her voice sounded a million miles away, like she was lost in thought about something.

"What else is wrong, baby?" I asked.

Bella rolled onto her back and looked up at me. "I'm just afraid that we'll get to a place again where we're happy and content, and someone else will re-appear. I'm afraid that my dad will have to let Gabriel go and he'll do something to you or the kids. But worst of all, I'm afraid that I'll sink back into the shell I used to be. I can't do that again, Edward. I can't let McKenna see me like that. I can't have Dad worry about me like he did before, and I can't be afraid of your touch again." Her voice trembled as she spoke. I wanted to tell her that it was alright and to go back to sleep, but I could tell she needed to get all of this out.

"When Gabriel came up behind me, I thought it was you. I thought you wanted to use those few moments alone to just hold me and maybe make out a little bit. I was hoping that when we went home, that we'd put the girls to bed and escape to our room and make love. I was actually looking forward to it, because I've been craving it. I've missed the way your touch made me feel and how your words would make my body tingle. But it was taken from me the minute Gabriel said he knew me. I started remembering what it all felt like, and I can't do that again. I just can't. I've worked too hard to lose it. McKenna, McKenzie and McKayla need to see that they have a strong mother, and I'm afraid that if Gabriel is out there, then I won't be the mother they need."

"Bella, you're a wonderful mother to our daughters. Your love and patience with them makes you the best mother they could ever ask for. Sometimes, I just stand back and watch you with them and the only thing that I can even think about is how beautiful you are. I don't know what I've done to be so lucky and blessed to have you. If we decide to tell them about your past when they're older, then they'll know that you overcame some pretty big obstacles in your life and know that you're stronger because of it."

"But Edward, how are we going to explain it to them? It's not an easy subject to bring up."

"We don't need to tell them about your past, Bella. All they need to know is how much we both love them. You have to realize what a big step it was for telling us what happened rather than holding it all in. The old Bella wouldn't have done that. She would have kept it in and put on a fake smile to make us think she was okay. But you, this new you, knew you had to say something. That just proves that he can't hurt you like before – that you're fighting back. And I am so proud of you for that."

"I'm just scared, Edward."

"I know. I am too, but nothing is going to happen."

Bella reached up and wrapped her arms around my neck, pulling me down to her. I gently kissed her lips. Bella deepened the kiss, and after a few moments, I pulled away.

"Bella..."

"Edward, please? I need to feel you."

Our lovemaking was slow, sensual and deep. She always liked this type of lovemaking best, and so did I. She would let go of her insecurities and just feel. I could usually anticipate what she needed, but today she surprised me. She flipped us over and eased herself onto me. She grabbed my hands and held them to her hips. She threw her head back and just let go. Her movements were slow and I couldn't get enough of them. I knew she was getting close when she started moaning without abandon.

"Ohhh...Edward...more..."

I flipped her on to her back and kissed every inch of her I could as I moved within her. Her hands were wrapped tightly around my biceps, her back arched. She began lifting her hips to meet me, pulling me close to my release.

"Please, Edward...I'm so close..."

"Just let go, Bella. Let go."

"Promise me, Edward...promise me nothing will happen."

"I promise. He'll never get close to you," I said before taking her left nipple in my mouth and flicking it with my tongue. I made sure not to do it too hard since she was still nursing.

"Deeper...so close...please."

I lifted one of her legs and pulled it up and over my shoulder, picking up my pace. It didn't take long before she completely unraveled. My mouth covered hers and she cried out. Her hands found my hair and tugged as her muscles clenched around me, bringing me to my own release.

"I love you," she said as she pulled my head down to her chest.

"I love you, too," I replied.

BellaPOV

I heard Dad's car pull into the drive later that morning, and I felt my body relax even further than what it already had after making love to Edward. Talking to him about my fears of Gabriel helped, but I really wanted to hear that Gabriel was in jail. When Esme answered the door, I waited for him to step in before I flew to him. I needed to feel his arms around me. I needed that confirmation that everything was fine. The child in me still needed to hear her daddy say everything was okay.

I wrapped my arms around him and tucked my head under his chin, breathing in his scent. I felt his arms hold me tightly to him. I guess he needed reassurance as well. "Are you okay?" he quietly asked.

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah."

"Did you sleep last night?" I asked.

"Nope. You?"

"Barely."

I let go for a minute and kissed his rough cheek. "Promise me you'll sleep tonight."

"I will, don't worry. Sue will have my ass if I don't. I'm surprised she didn't slip me something in my beer last night."

"Come on, we're having a late breakfast."

We walked into the kitchen where Edward was waiting with a cup of coffee for him.

"Thanks."

"So, what happened with Gabriel?" Jasper asked.

"He's sitting in a jail cell...Alice too," he replied hesitantly.

"What?" Esme asked, shocked.

"I'm sorry, but she went after an officer. From what I'm told, she was trying to protect Gabriel. But the weirdest part was that he didn't say a word when he was arrested. He just kept glaring at Alice who was hysterical. I'm hoping the city attorney won't press charges on her;she owes me a favor, anyway. I figure it's the least I could do since you both have done so much to help Bella and I." I wasn't shocked that Dad would do something this big for Carlisle and Esme. After all, what they've done for us was more than I could ever repay them for. But seeing the site of Esme curled into Carlisle's chest as she softly cried broke my heart. I felt horrible that they've been brought into this mess. They were such good people and didn't deserve this. But then again, none of us deserved this – myself included.

"Has she said anything this morning?" Carlisle asked.

"No. One of my guys showed her the pictures you emailed me and she smirked."

"What about Gabriel? Has he said anything?" Emmett asked.

"The only thing he's done is ask for his lawyer, who of course told him not to say a word. They both see the judge Monday morning regarding bail."

"We'll be there," Edward said.

"What? Are you sure that's a good idea?" Esme asked.

"If we don't go, it'll look like Bella's scared."

"But that's exactly what I am."

"I think Edward's right about going," Charlie said. "He won't do anything with a courthouse full of people, and we need to show how serious we are."

"No. I don't want to see him again. I don't care if he'll be in shackles or if the courtroom is packed."

"Bella, think about it," Edward said. "If the judge sees us there, it's giving a clear message -"

"Edward, stop! I don't want to do this. It's bad enough he knows me and that he lives so close to us. But I don't want to do this. If he was anything more than just Keith's doctor, then you don't know what he's capable of."

"Bella, he won't touch you," Edward said.

"Don't you see? He doesn't have to. He's sitting in jail right now, and we're sitting here obsessing about him. I wish you'd realize how terrified I am. I can't close my eyes without seeing him or hearing his voice. I don't want to be anywhere near him, Edward. I can't and I won't," I said before storming out of the kitchen.

"Bella," Edward called after me. "Bella, wait." I stopped on the first step leading upstairs and turned to face him. "I'm sorry if you think I'm being pushy, but I really think we should go."

"I understand, but I don't agree. You have no idea what this feels like, Edward. I can't even fathom being in the same room with him. It doesn't matter that people will be there. Just the fact that he'll be there, after what he just did to me...I just can't do it. It's like a slap in the face for you to not take my feelings into consideration. You may think it'll be easy, but it won't be for me. I wish you'd see that."

"I'm not saying it's going to a picnic, but I'll be there with you."

"Ugh!" I growled. He wasn't getting just how terrified I was. He was coming across like it would be no big deal, but to me it was. I needed some time to myself to collect my thoughts and to calm down. "I'll be upstairs. Bring the girls up when they're hungry."

"Do you want some company?" he asked.

"No." I turned around and went back upstairs to Edward's room and slammed the door behind me. Maybe an hour or so apart would help him realize just how hard this would be for me – how much I was suffering after what happened.

I gathered a few drawing supplied I kept stashed in Edward's room and sat at his desk. As I drew, or at least attempted to draw, I tried to rid my mind of everything that had happened. I could feel myself slowly falling back into that dark place. I tried to surround myself with things to remind me of who I was now. Using pictures and looking at the completed drawings in my book were helping, but what I really needed was to hear my husband, the man I love more than anything else, tell me he understood my fear and that he would protect me. We had been through worse things and I never doubted him, yet today I did. I didn't understand that one bit. Edward was making me feel like this was nothing to worry about – like it was nothing more than name-calling and a slap across the face. But it was so much more than that to me. It was like Gabriel took hold of every ounce of self-confidence and security and snatched it away from me. He left me exposed for the world to see.

An hour or so had passed before I heard a knock at the door. I wasn't sure if I wanted Edward to be on the other side or not. I had hoped that he had realized how much I was hurting and how much I needed him right now.

"Bella? Can I come in?" Esme asked from outside the door.

"Of course," I replied. I expected to see the twins in her arms, but she was alone. "Where are the girls?"

"Downstairs," she replied as she closed the door and walked towards me. She sat next to me and pulled me into a tight hug. "Are you alright, dear?"

"I'm just...afraid, that's all."

"I don't blame you. What happened last night was terrifying, and I'd be worried if you weren't scared. I also don't blame you for not wanting to see Gabriel, either."

"You don't?"

"Not at all. I don't think I'd be able to see him if he did that to me, so don't be ashamed that you feel that way."

"If you can understand my fear, then why can't Edward? Why can he just dismiss them so freely?" I asked.

"I don't think he's dismissing them, but rather not realizing how overwhelming it is. I think he thought that since you were able to tell us what happened and how you were feeling, that you were better. But your little outburst made him see otherwise."

"How so?" I asked, a little shocked.

"He went for a drive with Charlie, Billy and Carlisle, which is like walking into the Lion's Den. I can only imagine what the three of them are saying to him. I'm not sure where they went, but they haven't returned."

"I just don't want him to come home angry with me. I can't help how I feel, and I wish he'd realize it."

"He will, just give him time."

"The girls must be hungry," I said.

"They're fine. I figured you needed some quiet time, so I made them a bottle. There was still some breast milk in the fridge from earlier today."

"Thanks. What about McKenna? Is she alright?"

"Sue picked her up a little bit ago and brought her back to the Reservation. I just wanted to check on you, to make sure you were okay."

"I will be. I just needed to collect my thoughts, you know?"

"Of course. Come down when you're ready and I'll make you something to eat."

"Bella..." a voice called from far away. I knew that voice. That voice was home to me. "Bella, wake up, love." I smiled as I rubbed my eyes. Edward was home. As I opened my eyes, I noticed it was much later in the day. I only wanted a quick nap, but by how low the sun was, I realized it was early evening. "Hey beautiful."

"Hi," I replied softly. I noticed then that Edward had both McKayla and McKenzie in his arms. I quickly pulled McKayla into my arms. "So how was your drive?"

"Intimidating, but good. I'm sorry if I made you feel worse than what you already were. I didn't mean to."

"But you did, and when I tried to get you to understand, it still didn't work," I said as began to nurse my sweet girl.

"I know. I'm sorry. I really am. If you don't want to go and face Gabriel, that's fine. I realize now how difficult that could be for you. I should have realized it right away, but all I could think about is showing him that he wasn't going to get away with this."

"I understand, but I really needed you today. I don't like fighting with you, and I hate that we had to do it over him."

"I know. I don't like that either. Can you forgive me for being an idiot?" he asked.

"Yes, just don't make me feel like that again."

"Never again," he said as he leaned over and kissed me.

We spent the rest of the weekend at the house, playing with our girls. Edward had called the hospital and asked for an extra few days off, explaining that there was an incident with the family. As Monday grew closer, I became increasingly nervous. I didn't want to face Alice and Gabriel, but I knew Dad and Edward were right. I knew he wouldn't try anything at the hearing. Maybe I had to face my past in order to move forward. Maybe if I did this, I could finally move on.

Monday morning Edward and I rode with Carlisle and Esme to the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles. When Alice's case was called, she was escorted in. She was in a jumpsuit and handcuffs. She looked over at us...and smiled. Alice was charged with assaulting an officer, but the charges were dismissed. Charlie had explained that the prosecutor wanted to get Alice to talk about Gabriel and his past, and that apparently her marriage to Gabriel may not be legal.

When Gabriel was brought into the Court, I grabbed onto Edward's hand. Just seeing him again caused me to panic, but I kept it under control as best as I could. Gabriel stood next to his attorney, a woman, and looked directly at the judge. He entered his plea of not guilty to assault and battery. After he spoke those words, I heard Edward and my dad mumble something under their breath. The prosecutor argued that Gabriel should be held without bail due to the severity of his actions, while the defense attorney said he had ties to the community and should be released on bail. Little did Gabriel know that the prosecutor would be asking for an Order of Protection keeping him away from me. After about twenty minutes of arguments, the judge agreed on bail and the Order of Protection and explained to Gabriel that if he were to come around, he would be arrested and kept in jail until his next hearing. Somehow I knew this wouldn't be enough.