Bringing Bella Home 1

He pulled into Forks late morning. Well it was some trip down that mountain from the sanctity of his cove. He'd camped out overnight rather than make it all in one go. He'd had something he wanted to do and he had done it. Fact he'd waited this long proved he could be patient and execute control.

Well he did that all the time. He had a son. Yet he had no wish to think of the boy now. That one…he wouldn't understand. Well the grown, randy part of him would…but other than that he was nothing more than a big baby. And he didn't answer to his son about these matters.

He'd been to the store and the wagon was full. This here was the last stop before he left Forks and it wouldn't take but ten minutes at most. Yet these ten minutes would stand out in a way…like a rainbow stood out in a bleached sky after a storm. And he would bring their memory to the fire, he knew, but maybe it had gotten in his mind too strong and if he saw her oncet he could get her right back out.

He shuffled through the goods he hauled in the wagon and opened the box with the stringer of fish. She liked these he had figured, though she said nothing. And he said nothing. But the shadow of something in her face that last time. And she had to eat. Lord knew he'd felt the bones in her hips last fall when his hands went there, when he'd pulled her to him and held her while he fornicated with her…before winter set in, him in town for winter supplies, needing her flesh much as he needed the nails to hold together that lean-to him and Emmett and his brother put on quick before winter's set.

It came on him, but never so demanding before, not since he was young and demanding about everything. But this need for the sinfulness of the flesh, with this wisp of brown hair and pale skin…was fierce.

And last time, he looked around, saw how she was stocked. Had those dried beans. And he'd left that gold piece near the door. He had three and he'd given her that one because he'd made that sound when he'd given his seed and that sound had haunted him the way his reflection did when he come home from the war and saw the scar that circled his eye first time, and more the scar of a man under it.

She lived in this shanty should have fallen to the ground years before, but it nary did, too stubborn to decay and he could respect that. When she opened the door he lost control yet again and made something like a gasp and he had faced Yank fire naked with his rifle before and never made a sound of dismay, nor raised his brow, but this….

Her face so thin and white. She coughed and gathered the blanket more beneath her chin. Her beautiful hair, rich as any pelt every pulled from the river lay lifeless and flat like something out of the henhouse.

Eyes sunken and lips cracked. He came on in and she backed up seeing he was and widened the door and he looked around and saw the bottles of tonic and smelled some sick tea and the pan on the floor for the water that spilled through the roof when it rained night before.

Two days eatables in here, if a body like boiled root soup, that is. And him standing strong and in his prime his capable hand on the stringer and his stiff leg looking healthy as a fencepost if you didn't see him move.

It weren't no hard decision. The air in them mountains, it fixed things. He took the blanket from her bed and packed her few things in there. Ever since the war he could barely stand ruination. Not in man or animal or plant or tool or building…not in anything if he had power.

She was no different than a sick calf. That's all. His own disappointment in banking the fire that seemed to burn in his loins without provocation or reason would have to go out the way it did most the time by his insistence and working himself to exhaustion.

She would get better and be fit and standing like a beauty again, he knew that, and if it took forever then it did, not that he had that long, no one did, but he would see what could be done.

She had whimpered some when he started to gather her things, but after two more trips and her loaded, the fish back in his box, he picked her up and made another sound at the slight feel of her. He carried her out to the wagon then and settled her in the bed, a sliver of space made soft with the covers from her own house.

She didn't argue. She lay like the sack of rags beneath her. He got on the seat then, asking himself in his mind, What are you doing, fool?

Then a click of his tongue and flick of the reins and those two mules of his lumbered on.

By damn he'd done it now, one sickly woman, sick enough to kill them all. And him…and his boy Emmett, and his brother Jasper and ball-o-fire.