AN: I'd like to thank Alexis Danaan for being an awesome beta for this story. You've made my drafts very pretty, thank you.
JaspersWoman is my awesome prereader. Love your feedback! I also had JaspersBella and SparklingFae help out with a few of the chapters so I'd be remiss if I didn't say thank you.
Last but not least, wify, DarkNNerdy. She's the one that encouraged me to write the OS and then she's given her support wholeheartedly. Thank you wify! LOVE YOU HARD!
I don't own the story, SM does. If I did, I would have changed things up just a bit and made things more interesting.
PROLOGUE (June 2006)
Somber colors mixed with freshly pressed uniforms surrounded me as I walked quietly out of the building and into an awaiting car. I said nothing, I just stared straight ahead. The car started; one of many in the motorcade. I squeezed my eyes tightly and hoped that I could make it all disappear. I wanted things to be normal again but they weren't. They never would be.
The car followed others and drove slowly through the city. Lights flashed everywhere. Officers who stopped traffic along the way saluted as we passed by; people waved and some honked their horns. I turned my head away from the window and shut my eyes to try and make the scenery in front of me disappear. Maybe, if I tried hard enough, I could open my eyes again and it would have all been a dream. At the same time, I felt horrible at being morbidly fascinated by the rituals; the pomp and circumstance and the traditions, while my heart ached at the same time.
I opened my eyes as the car slowed to a stop and I was escorted out to the grave site. There was more slow walking as I was led to the front row. I tried to remain as stoic as possible as I took in the scene before me. More uniforms. More black; black silk, black wool, black shoes that were polished to a mirror shine. Black ribbons across shiny badges. I saw glimpses of other colors, mostly grey, but they only added to the sorrow. Hell, even the sky took part in mourning.
I wanted to block out the image in front of me so I kept my head down and stared at the grass. There were so many varying shades of green as I gazed intently at the blades. The haunting sound of Amazing Grace was being played to the left of me so I turned briefly to look. A man wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes stood on a small hill and the sound caused my chest to tighten.
No, I will not break down again. Not here.
I swallowed hard and looked back down. Words were spoken, I think they were stories. I heard them but didn't comprehend them other than they added to my sorrow.
My head lifted slightly as I stared at the polished mahogany in front of me. A flag was carefully draped over it; not touching the ground. I swallowed hard once again and quickly looked back down as I felt my throat start spasming and the tears prickle the back of my eyes. My eyes ached and burned from all the tears that had flowed out of me for the past few days. Just when I thought I was done, the tears flowed all over again.
I turned my head slightly to see if I could see my mom while still keeping my head down. I spotted her shoes. She stood a couple rows behind me with her husband, Phil. She was there and yet I stood alone. I had felt that disconnect when she arrived at the house. I would have driven out to meet her at the airport but I only had my truck. She didn't say much and I got the impression I had bothered her; that this was a burden. She didn't say it, but the way she complained about the weather and then about today, made me feel she would have liked to be anywhere but here. I didn't want to be here either but I couldn't not be here.
She even insisted that she and Phil stay at a hotel instead. Not wanting to argue, I said fine. Since that happened, I barely strung more than a dozen words together for them; mostly single vowel words were the extent of my vocabulary. I shook my head out of my thoughts. Now wasn't a time to think about her shortcomings.
Uniformed men stood before me and the flag was carefully folded. Still, I kept my head low. If I looked up, everybody would see my bloodshot eyes and the hollow look of death on my face. I didn't want to see the pity in their eyes. I didn't want to hear the words 'I'm sorry' leaving their mouths.
When I went to the grocery store the day after it happened and I got "that look". It was similar to the look I got when word got around that the prick and I broke up after my birthday. I hated that look, I hated pity. This time though, it was too much and I ran out the grocery store empty handed; my groceries still on the conveyor belt on check-stand 5. I got more looks as I cried in the parking lot and tried not to scream out loud and curse them all to hell. When I got home, I did scream. I screamed out in sorrow and in anger. I screamed because I lost a parent. I screamed because my heart broke. I screamed because I punched my hand through the window in a fit of rage.
I felt like I died that night and well, in a sense I did too. I didn't even tell him that I loved him. I didn't even say goodbye; it was just a simple, preoccupied wave as he headed out the door. Why was I on the goddamn phone trying to get my housing situated as he left? I could have done it all online. I could have waited until the next day. I should have set my cell phone down for a quick minute to say goodbye. No, I was on the goddamn phone when he called me 'Bells' for the last time and walked out for his shift. I just didn't think that was the last time I'd ever see my Daddy again.
The phone call in the middle of the night changed everything. Cops don't call you in the middle of the night if it isn't important. I actually missed the call as I nearly fell out of the bed reaching for the phone but quickly dialed back and a part of me wished I didn't. The news brought a strangled cry from my mouth and as I went to cover my mouth, the phone dropped onto the floor, cracking the screen and breaking the phone. In the span it took for that semi to cross the median, my life as I knew it, ended. Officers came to the house soon after to make sure I was alright since the call ended abruptly. They stayed for a while before saying goodnight and leaving their contact information in case I needed support.
I remembered how after they had left I sat in his favorite spot on the couch and cried. I must have fallen into a restless sleep sometime early that morning. When I woke, I hoped I was having a nightmare. I went outside and grabbed the newspaper and got the coffee started as I got ready for the day. When I sat down at the table, I saw it; through my blurry, tear filled vision, I saw the picture in the local paper; it was an image I'll never forget and yet at the same time, wanted to. His patrol car was completely mangled, crushed beyond recognition. There was no chance... none.
I felt a hand gently squeeze my shoulder as two officers walked towards me and I admonished myself for drifting off like that.
"Bella, pay attention," Renee's voice whispered from behind me. I tried not to roll my eyes but it was hard. I wish she showed some support for being here. Couldn't she tell I needed her?
I looked up slowly as the polished shoes approached me. I still couldn't look at their faces but was now looking at the one pair of white gloves holding the folded flag and another set of gloves presenting me with his badge. My jaw ached from clenching it so hard to keep from screaming. Still, I tried to remain stoic.
I will not break down again. I can't and I won't. Not here.
"Ms. Swan, I'm sorry for your loss. He was my mentor and well respected by all of us here. He helped me become the Chief of police for Poulsbo." The faceless officer said as I reached out to receive his flag.
"Ms. Swan, he was an inspiration to us all. I'm sorry." The other officer whispered harshly as he handed me the badge.
I nodded and tried graciously as possible to receive his honors. The weight of my sorrow had my knees nearly buckling as I hugged the folded cloth triangle against me. The shiny metal shield in the leather case dug into my hand. I held onto them tightly like a lifeline. I held onto both pieces so tightly that my bandaged arm started to ache. I rubbed my hand lightly over my injury and fought the gasp escaping my lips as my fingers touched where the stitches were.
The coffin was slowly being lowered and I shut my eyes. A part of me still hoped that when I woke up, this whole thing was nothing more than a damn dream. If Renee hadn't insisted on cutting my nails, I think they would have broke skin at that moment; I was clenching my hands that tight.
My chest continued to ache as I tried to fight the painful convulsions that were starting to erupt. My breathing became labored as I tried to calm myself when all I wanted to do was scream and curse and cry until my throat was raw. I wanted to fall onto the ground and beat the earth. I wanted to punch something and break things again. Most of all, I wanted my daddy back.
The dam of tears broke when the bugler played taps. It was so slow, the notes echoed in the air. It felt so final. I sucked in a lungful of air when I realized I had been holding my breath. A quick glance at the crowd told me that there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd. Even the officers that were there from all over the Puget Sound and neighboring British Columbia were teary eyed.
I wish I had known him more. 'You never know what you have until it is gone,' rang true. I really did. There were so many 'if only's' that filled my brain the past few days. So many through the day that I wished I had appreciated my time with my daddy. I wish that I hadn't fallen for that copper haired mistake when I had moved here from Phoenix. If I hadn't fallen for him or his bullshit, if he hadn't broken my heart, if I had been a little bit wiser, maybe I would have gotten more time to spend with my Daddy. I wished I could have been a better daughter. I wish-
I mentally cursed myself as I tried to stop thinking about the 'could have been'. It served no purpose and I really needed to stop but couldn't. I kept thinking and wishing I had more time, but now it was too late. There was no way of going back into time and most importantly, it was causing me more mental anguish by thinking of what could never be.
Being a daughter of a peace officer, there was a strong support system that was triggered by the accident. A trauma specialist had come by the house as I lay bleeding after busting the window. I was surprised to see her but more surprised that I didn't faint. She was the one who drove me to the hospital as I explained that I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was just pissed and instead of being catatonic over this, I wanted to kick someone's ass which was how my fist ended up through the window. I told Dr. Mathers what had happened while I was at the store and why I was so upset. Even though it had only been a few days ago, she would spent at least an hour making sure I was fine. She wasn't really clinical about it either which helped me feel like I could open up to her about anything. Well, almost; there was one subject that I had to fabricate because it just wasn't something I thought she'd understand. Nobody would. We met again yesterday and she tried to tell me not to dwell on the past. It wasn't healthy and all it would do was eat me alive with those feelings.
I jumped at the sound of the rifles.
And with that, it was over. People started leaving the area as news cameras gathered. I hated all the publicity but being that he was a public figure, this came with the territory I guess. At least they were all respectful and I never felt as though I had been harassed at all.
We all started back to the cars. Had Renee not told me prior to the ceremony at the church, I wouldn't have known that there was a wake of sorts after this. I didn't want to go but knew it was important. I would have to mourn in private tonight.
"Ms. Swan, I'm sorry for your loss."
"My condolences. He was well loved by the community."
I walked by the sea of people back to where the cars were. I wanted to leave as soon as I could. I heard more words of sympathy as I walked a little faster to avoid the tears that threatened to fall once again. Almost there, I could see the parking lot and spotted the car I was riding in.
"We're so sorry, Bella. He was our closest friend."
It was the last statement that stopped me and looked up to see Billy Black's tear streaked face and Harry Clearwater at his side. Harry had buried his face on his friend's shoulder, his body wracked in pain and anguish.
It was startling to see Billy's sunken, haunted eyes and know that they mirrored mine, right down to the color. I walked over to the two men and though I didn't know them all that well, I knew they were both really close to Charlie.
"We are both really sorry for your loss, Bella," Billy said quietly. "He always talked about how proud he was of you and..."
"Th-thank you," I cut in and quickly reached into my purse for my sunglasses as a tear fell to the ground. "I really appreciate it." I quickly grabbed their hands and squeezed before running towards the parking lot.
"Bella, can you go to the wake on your own? Your mother isn't feeling well, I will try to make it there later if I can." Phil asked as he caught up with me.
I bit my tongue in attempts to not tell Phil to take Renee and get the hell out of Forks, and tried to be pleasant. "It is fine. Go, I'll be fine," I said and I think I was able to give him something resembling a smile as I headed to the limo once again.
As we drove out of the cemetery, I thought about how I had once felt that my life had ended when I was abandoned out in the woods by Edward Cullen. At the time, I wasn't able to imagine a pain more intense. I remembered how dejected I had been and how I barely ate as I went through my loss. I closed my eyes and shook my head at the memory as tears streamed down my face. That had been a fucking cakewalk compared to this. Oh, how little did I know! I now had do deal with pensions, retirement savings, the executions of wills and a million other little things that felt so overwhelming. And the house... what was I going to do with that? I was going to be leaving for college in a couple months, now with Charlie gone, what was left here for me? I leaned my head against the cool glass as I stared out the window.
Instead of having the wake at the house, the mayor decided to have it at his house since it was one of the largest homes in Forks. I had simply shaken my head wordlessly when I received the invitation from the mayor's wife. The way she had emphasized the 'largest house' part...yeah, I didn't need to be a mind reader to know what she was hinting at.
I cursed myself for thinking about them. This wasn't the time or the place. Maybe later tonight when I was all alone once again, I would allow myself to think of the so-called family that abandoned me, but not now. Surely she should have seen it coming; Charlie, the accident, this.
Later Bella, not here.
I breathed a sigh of relief as the car stopped and the driver held open my door. I looked up into the sky and hoped, prayed really, for some strength as I walked toward the crowd and into another sea of faceless people.
One Long Ass Note: Why is this being re-posted you ask? Simple, the story was pulled earlier this week by the 'powers that be'. This story, along with Bound in Blood. I wasn't able to do much other than provide updated summaries to my existing stories along with my profile because I was grounded by said powers.
If you have ventured to my profile, you'll see I'm also on Twi-Write (where both stories have been since the beginning) and will also be using AO3 and ADF (A Different Forest) to post. Both new sites will take some time to 'catch up to real time' but eventually they will be. As far as FFn, I won't be posting Bound in Blood again because that one, is very explicit compared to this. For this story? I am not sure. I really don't have the desire to "scrub" the story so it is clean so maybe I'll slowly post it back up and see what happens. I won't solely rely on FFn though.
Y'all know I don't normally do such long notes but I just want to thank those who had reviewed my story up until it was pulled. I wish I could have responded to the last chapter. I love this story and it isn't abandoned by any means. HELL NO! I have 50 some odd chapters already written out so if you're in, you're in for a while.
Thank you again for your support. If this DOES get pulled again, please know that I'll post where I am on my profile. XOXO sushi