Bella's physical recovery took weeks. Her injuries were mostly superficial, but the bruises were stubborn.
Her mental recuperation took longer.
She told the police that she only ever saw and heard James. She had no idea who the others were, all she knew was that Jasper had attempted to rescue her, but had been shot by James.
Edward, Emmett, and Jasper had been questioned, and released. There was insubstantial evidence to tie them to the crime. Charlie had his doubts about their innocence, but he was happy to have his daughter home and alive, so he let it lie. Besides, his real enemy was Aro. Charlie vowed he would hunt him down, and then make him pay.
He hated that he hadn't reached her in time. He hated that she had been reduced to killing a man, before she had found her freedom. They had actually been on their way to the house, when the call came over the dispatch radio for an ambulance. He knew the address by heart, and it was his heart which dropped into his stomach when they repeated that same address to the paramedics. Sam had looked at him, but Charlie hadn't dared return his gaze. He was holding onto the edge of sanity with just his fingertips, and any sympathetic nods or kind words would have tipped Charlie over.
Then his cell had rang, and a voice they did not recognised had told him Isabella was alive but needed her father.
The image of Isabella covered in that bastard's blood, would be forever engraved on his memory.
Bella had visited the hospital to see Jasper only once. She had asked for her father to wait outside, but he had watched through the glass window as she bent down and placed a kiss on his cheek.
Jasper seemed happy to see her, and Charlie knew his involvement went far deeper than Bella had told them. There was an intimacy between them, and it was obvious they cared deeply for one another. Charlie was no fool; he knew that kind of emotion didn't just sprout from a five minute meeting in an attempted rescue.
But she never went back to the hospital, nor did she mention his name to Charlie again.
He had tried to ask her why she never went back to see him again, but she had used some excuse about mistaking her gratitude for real feelings, and she needed distance from him to be sure.
He kept a close eye on the brothers, and heard the family had left town some weeks after Jasper's hospital discharge.
Charlie was not ashamed to admit he felt relief knowing they were no longer close by.
He knew what had happened to her was bound to change her. She had survived a terrible experience, but the most surprising thing was when she asked everyone to call her 'Bella' instead of her full name.
Charlie guessed it was an effort to throw off the painful memories of what had happened to 'Isabella' and embrace the new life she now had as 'Bella'.
He didn't care what her reasons were; he loved her and made sure to tell her every day.
He watched her now as she sat in the garden, writing in her journal. He didn't think she had ever kept one before, but again he assumed it was all part of her healing.
He wondered what she wrote about, and if he would ever get to hear the full sordid details about her nightmare. He wasn't sure he wanted to, but he would listen if she ever told him.
Walking over to her, he handed her a glass of lemonade and then sat on the chair opposite.
"What are you writing about?" he asked.
Bella stopped writing and placed the pen in the spine of the journal, then closed the book. "I'm writing a story," she told him.
"About what?" He hoped she didn't say romance.
"About my kidnapping."
Charlie looked at her, the shock evident on his face. "Why would you want to do that?"
Bella shrugged. "It helps."
Charlie nodded, he had guessed as much.
"It's not for publication," she told him. "I wouldn't want my poor dad to suffer any more shame at having his home broken into when he is head of a very successful security comapny."
It was only a joke, but it still stung Charlie.
Bella stood and placed the book on the chair. "I need a snack," she said. "Would you like one?"
Charlie shook his head and watched her walk inside. Then, carefully, he lifted the journal and opened it. He wasn't planning on reading the whole thing, but his curiosity got the better of him.
He found just three words on the first page, and upon reading them, he decided he had already intruded too much.
Closing the book, he placed it back on her chair and went inside to tell his daughter, once more, how much he loved her.
"Horror and Hope," he whispered, recalling those three little words from the first page.
It was simple, but to the point.
It said it all.
Thank you Readingmama/vampmama for hosting another awesome gift exchange. FAGE just wouldn't work without you. I'd also like to thank you for your amazing support and enthusiasm for my writing. You inspire me.
Thank you again, to AcrossTheSkyInStars aka Tanya Zedor for being the little sister I never had, and the best beta ever! She has also made me the most beautiful banner for 'The Stockholm Syndrome' which you can view if you join my page on facebook. Find me under 'Claire Bloom Guyan writes'
The song which was on continuous repeat for this story is by Angie Mattson and is called 'Cold Soul'. It's not really relevant to the story, but it is lovely and that song, along with layingawake, acted as my muse. Thank you, I love you so much x
Thanks to all of you who read and reviewed. I owe you so much x