Authors Note: I know that this has been done, just about a million times before, so I won't expect tons of reviews or readers. My take however, is something I haven't seen done before. The setting is about two months after Bella's fateful birthday, and the readers are Charlie and Renee. So far...
Let's pretend for a moment, that the visit from Renee in New Moon happened in November, instead of the few weeks after Bella's birthday that it did in the book. It helps my story more.
Unlike most Reading stories, this will have some angst, due to who is doing the reading. Just a warning.
He couldn't help but think of how long a day it had been, when he stepped over the threshold to his home. He sighed deeply, silently wishing he was back at the station. Dealing with his daughter, when he was so tired, didn't sit well with him. He wanted to be able to be there for her, without being dead on his feet.
Thankfully, it seemed that she had already turned in, when he checked the downstairs area. He hung up his thick, heavy coat and put his hat on the small table in the front hall, before turning for the upper level himself. He knew he would be asleep, before he barely had time to lie down.
Of course, it didn't help that he woke up every night as well, like clockwork.
Sleep wasn't something he was used to getting anymore. Not since that dreadful day in September, almost two months ago. He quickly pushed that thought away, he didn't like thinking about it. In all his years on the force, he could honestly say that he had never been as scared, as he was that day.
The relief had yet to come.
He turned on the light as he stepped into his bedroom, staring longingly at the small bed. After a quick trip to the bathroom and a look in on his resting daughter, he undressed and lay down under the soft covers. His eyes closed of their own accord, but before he could relax enough to let sleep take him, a shrill tone forced him to shoot up in confusion.
It took him a few seconds to realize that it was the phone ringing, downstairs in the kitchen.
The only phone in the house, he thought while grumbling.
Knowing it would be a cold experience, he hurriedly pulled on a pair of sweats and ran down the stairs, reaching the phone on its seventh ring. Obviously the person on the other line was anxious to get a hold of either him or his daughter, having not given up yet.
He had a feeling that he knew exactly who it was.
As he grabbed the incessantly ringing object, his eyes noted the clock on the microwave. 00:13. Why was she calling at such an hour?
"Hello," he let out, gruffly.
"Charlie, it's Renee. I'm sorry if it's late, but I think it's important." His ex-wife responded, sounding slightly hysterical. He rolled his eyes and silently wondered where her husband was and why he hadn't put a stop to this very late call.
"Calm down, Renee. Now, tell me what's so important that it couldn't wait until a more reasonable hour?" He asked, irritated and frankly, very tired. He lost patience when he was sleepy.
"Okay, well, you see, a few hours ago when I came home, well, I just flew in from another one of Phil's games and..."
"Renee, the point?" He said, slightly guilty for being so rough with her, but eager to get to it, so he could go back to bed.
"Oh, right, sorry. Well, there was a package waiting for me on the doorstep. I hadn't ordered anything, and there was no return address, so it took me a while to open it. Anyway, it was four books, some type of novel or something. It seemed harmless, but..." Her voice had turned extremely worried now, which in turn woke Charlie up more.
Although it didn't take much to worry someone like Renee, he could hear the difference in her voice.
She was scared.
"What it is, Renee? Just tell me, I'm sure it can't be that bad." He said, wondering what had her so fearful of a few books.
"I think the books are about Bella, Charlie." She whispered, utter fear in her voice.
"What? Oh, don't be ridiculous, Renee." He was now completely convinced that she was pulling his leg.
"I'm serious, Charlie." She snapped, grabbing his attention once more. "Listen to this; When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human."
Charlie was speechless. He knew it couldn't be a joke for two reasons. The first being that Renee was not as cruel as to pull something like that and she certainly wouldn't use his love for his daughter either. The second was the way this summary of sorts was written. While Renee was a very smart woman, these weren't words she would use.
And what the hell did it mean, not wholly human?
He was officially too frightened to speak.
"Charlie? Are you still there?" The almost shouting voice came from the other end of the line.
"Yeah, I'm here," he finally choked out, blindly reaching for one of the kitchen chairs, which he then proceeded to fall into.
Renee sighed. "I'm scared, Charlie. I've already spoken with Phil, though something stopped me from telling him about the books, and I'm flying down tonight. Phil just thinks that I want to spend some time with Bella. Anyway, my plane leaves in two hours and I'm already packed. I just wanted to warn you. I think we need to read these books, Charlie."
She said, gravely, and Charlie could do nothing but nod, despite the impossibility of his ex-wife seeing the gesture.
After curt goodbyes and a promise to pick her up the next day around seven o'clock, they finally hung up and, dazed, Charlie made his way back upstairs and into his bed.
He didn't sleep a wink.
After the first time he heard his daughter's terrified screams, he stayed in her room, until it seemed that she was waking up. Not wanting her to know, and feel guilty, that he stayed by her side all night, he silently slipped out of her room just before her alarm went off. He was already dressed and so he walked down into the kitchen, waiting for her to join him.
He knew there was no use in telling her that her mother was coming, she would still be surprised when she saw her. Bella hardly listened to anything he said these days. In fact, she hardly listened to anything, anyone said anymore.
At least her grades weren't suffering.
Breakfast was quiet, and just as he had expected, Bella didn't seem to notice the redness of his eyes or how he seemed to have to force himself to stay awake. As she left for school, he wondered if he shouldn't get Renee to take a cab. He might very well end up in an accident this way.
As the clock told him that it was time to go, he decided to take the chance and simply have Renee drive them back. He grabbed his keys and coat, and stepped outside, where the snow was laying heavily on the usually green ground. It crunched under his boots, as he made his way to the cruiser.
An hour later found him standing in the same spot as he had almost a year ago. This time his emotions were different though. Instead of being happy to have his daughter back, he was worried, anxious and so many more negative emotions. He had no idea what this visit would bring, but he couldn't imagine that it would be anything good.
His mind kept coming back to the 'not wholly human' comment.
He knew there was something off with that boy.
"Charlie?" A voice brought him out of his musings and he looked up to see Renee heading his way, a suitcase in one hand and her carry-on in the other.
She looked as tired as he felt, and he suddenly remembered that she had only just come back from a flight, before she left again. Maybe it would do them both some good, to get some sleep before they started reading these books. Even if the curiosity alone would probably kill him.
They said their awkward hello's and Renee agreed to take over the wheel. She exclaimed that she was far too anxious to get any sleep, so Charlie decided to slumber in the one hour drive back to Forks and just hoped that it would be enough.
At the calming humming of his ex-wife, he slowly relaxed into the passenger seat and allowed his stressed out body to fall into a somewhat deep sleep. Before he knew it, he was out like a light and Renee gave him a quick, sad look.
She had seen the shadows under his eyes and knew who was responsible.
Maybe these books could help her to help her daughter.
With new hope in her heart, she drove the slightly familiar road to her old home, keeping the radio to a low volume. It seemed no time passed, before she was parking in the overgrown lawn, looking at the house that seemed to be falling apart right in front of her eyes.
This was the first time she was back, since leaving all those years ago.
She took the key out of the ignition and turned to the sleeping man at her side. She felt horrible about what she had to do, he obviously needed his rest, but there was nothing else to do. She gently shook his shoulder, remembering how light a sleeper he had always been.
Sure enough, he coughed slightly, before blinking his eyes open. It took a few seconds for him to realize where he was and why Renee was sitting in the drivers seat of his cruiser, but as soon as it all came back to him, he sat up straight and rubbed his eyes. He noted the anxious look in his ex-wife's eyes and, without saying anything, smiled slightly and opened the door.
Together they stepped into the house and put her luggage just inside the living room. Renee unzipped the large suitcase and pulled out four books, laying them softly on the small table in front of the tattered couch. She tried to ignore how little the interior had changed since she left, and sat down, waiting for Charlie to join her.
When he did, he grabbed the book on top of the pile. The title glared out at him, Twilight, and he suddenly became wary of what was to come. How much would these books change their lives and, more importantly, how much had the events changed Bella's?
"I think we should just jump right in." He looked at Renee, as she spoke, and realized that she was right.
Rip the band-aid off.
"Alright, why don't I go first and then we can take turns reading out loud. It won't make it go faster, but I think it's the best way." He left out the part about it being more comforting, to have someone to share this with. Besides, he wasn't sure how he would handle actually reading it, with silence surrounding him.
No, this would be much easier.
Renee simply nodded, her fists clutched tightly to her jean-covered knees, as she waited for him to begin. He flipped the book open, passed the chapter index and stopped at what appeared to be a quote from the Bible.
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." He stopped for a moment, confused, until Renee gestured for him to move on.
"Okay, the first page here says Preface. I'll just jump right in," his voice shook but he ignored it, pushing forward.
I'd never given much thought to how I would die -
Renee kept quiet but let a small gasp escape, wondering what reason her daughter would have to think such things. She was brought back to that horrible time, six months ago, when her baby had been in the ER. Could that be what she meant? But that had been an accident... right?
though I'd had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.
"A hunter?" Charlie said, his voice shaking even worse now. "What is she talking about?"
Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved.
Charlie's thoughts flickered to the boy that had caused such happiness and sorrow in his daughter. Was she talking about him? Renee wasn't really surprised, she had always known how selfless and caring Bella was. The worry was still there, though, and she had a feeling it wouldn't be going away anytime soon.
Noble, even. That ought to count for something.
"Yes, I suppose it does," Charlie commented, but didn't look at Renee for her reaction. Bella was proving to be as sweet as he had always suspected, not like those kids that had two different faces for their friends and parents.
I knew that if I'd never gone to Forks, I wouldn't be facing death now.
"Oh, no," Renee gasped, thinking about how little she had fought against her daughter's insistence back then. "I hope that's not true," but Charlie had a feeling it was, thinking about the day of Tyler's van and, of course, the hospital trip in Phoenix.
But, terrified as I was, I couldn't bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it's not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.
Charlie shook his head, at the thoughts of his daughter. While not surprised, he did find it amazing how her mind worked. It was so typical and it gave him some insight into the pain she was going through at the moment. She obviously loved that boy more than he had given her credit for.
The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.
A shiver ran down Renee's spine, at that particular phrase. It was such a wrong picture. Why was this hunter smiling? What kind of psychopath took joy in taking the life of an innocent girl. She had no idea if this had happened yet or if it was coming, but she did know that as soon as Bella came home she was giving her a big hug.
Even if it was more for Renee's sake than Bella's.
"Well, that was the Preface," Charlie stated, closing the book and putting it back down on the table. "I think I should make some coffee."
Authors Note: Well, how did I do? Personally, my favorite Reading... stories are the ones Choices wrote, but the whole 'Cullens reading' thing has been done to death. Besides, this came about due to an idea for what happens after they're done reading all the books.
Btw, just in case you're wondering, Bella will join them in New Moon :)
Any questions? Comments? No? Huh...
Remember to review, people! xD