AN: Hello everybody…so that last chapter was…well…
Let's get to the disclaimer out of the way first. This is a fairy tale in the traditional sense. There are terrible things in the woods, there are terrible people hanging out in Bella's coffee shop and our heroine needs to face bad things to come out on top. What do these things mean, dear readers? That bad things in this tale are hinted at or done. Not all characters will come out intact. Consider yourselves warned, but if you decide to continue to take this journey with me it will be worth it.
To answer a readers question…young Claire will remain safe. The last chapter was just my way of expressing my own unease over the idea of imprinting.
Now that we are finished with that, thank you to RMFM86 for pre-reading and mauigirl60 for being such a kind Beta. I really do get nervous before posting these chapters. I also need to thank cutestkidsmom and mosolis05 for their support.
Be strong. It's always darkest before the light!
Chapter 8: What You Discover Going Down the Rabbit's Hole
To an outside observer, the young couple would appear to be lovers. Hands tightly clasped and fingers laced. The young man looked at the woman with him with eyes of love. One could easily determine that he worshipped her. The young woman just stared stone-faced at the blank, cream walls in front of her.
The man would whisper into her ear and she would shake her head at him. The frown on her face was an indication that she was not pleased with his words.
Gus Harper had worked as a guard for forty years and though the couple was on edge, they filled him with an odd peace. A girl like that should never be in a place like this.
"Miss Swan, you can go in. Would you perhaps wish to reconsider? The men in here aren't very kind." He tried to warn her.
"I'll be fine," she whispered, her big, brown eyes wide.
The young man said, with a false bravado, "I'm going in with her."
"Edward, no," she stated.
She took a deep breath and pulled him up with her. "Keep your mouth shut."
Gus reluctantly opened the door to the visiting room. The woman strolled, in pulling her companion with her, to where the skinny boy sat at a long table, wearing his prison blues.
She sat down and crossed her arms, saying, "What do you need to say to me, Seth?"
Seth Clearwater, whose thin frame was covered in tattoos of tribal markings, pushed his greasy bangs back from his head. He frowned when he saw Edward. "What is the asshole's brother doing here?"
"Edward is with me. Wait...how do you know Emmett Cullen?" Bella looked questioningly at the little boy she used to tease and push on a swing. The idealistic, clean-cut teenager was gone. The man sitting before her was hardened. His eyes no longer held any light in them, just the grim knowledge of dreams lost. She felt saddened and knew that Seth was innocent. The realization of this bloomed, and Bella grew grave. Unrelated pieces were connecting and she didn't like it one bit.
"His friend started it all. Of course, you know all about this," Seth said pointedly to Edward.
Edward sat down next to Bella and took her hand. His body started to feel icy. It was an odd sensation in the warm prison. "I have no idea who you're talking about."
"Sam calls him 'the magician'. That model-looking guy that hung out with your crew. He made the pills Sam and his boys sold. You all were doing it. Don't lie. Do the rest of you turn into monsters too?"
Edwards's mouth dropped open and he felt the need to protest this accusation. This Seth Clearwater was obviously a madman, and Bella needed to be taken out of here immediately. He stood up. "I don't know what twisted game you're playing here, man. Are you talking about actual monsters? Like the Wolfman or Godzilla? They don't exist, buddy. If you're talking about steroids making people into monsters, then no, I don't use drugs. The rest of those guys might, but not me. Bella, this crackpot is either one step away from needing to be in a loony bin or will do anything to get out of here. Let's go!"
Bella pushed him back down in his chair. "Quiet, Edward! Seth, I need you to explain what is going on here."
"He's the enemy, Bella. You're going to run back to your brother and spill everything we say!" Seth sneered at Edward. "The wizard is messing with things that you can't possibly comprehend. Charlie was supposed to guide you, but...you need to see my dad at the reservation. He has it on lockdown over there to keep Sam out, but I can call him during my phone time today. He'll see you."
Bella gripped the worn plastic table, trying to put so many pieces together. Things were connecting, but others were not quite making a complete picture. She hated puzzles for this very reason. "They found you in the woods, by my house, covered in their blood. That was pretty good evidence."
"Bella, I don't want a 'get out of jail free' card. I can't live life outside of this place. I'm not me anymore. I've had to do things to survive in this place that I wouldn't wish on anyone." Seth looked at her sadly. "There's no place for me."
"Then why drag Bella here? What's your game?" Edward was losing all semblance of patience. "You called me a drug addict and a monster, so I wonder what you're playing with here."
"Sam has my sister, pale face! Something bad is brewing out there and I'm willing to bet that your brother and the wizard have a big part in it. Bella, you are in danger as much as Leah is. Jacob isn't here to protect either of you, so I need you to find a way to prove they're dangerous," Seth pleaded with her. "What do you remember from that night? Start from the beginning, when things started getting strange."
Edward watched Bella grow pale. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered, "I'm so sorry."
The dock that Edward asked her to meet at was their secret place. Bella wasn't surprised that was where he wanted to meet. What did surprise and, frankly, frightened her, was the dark look on his face and his black eyes.
A cool breeze lifted her hair and she noticed the water rippling. The air had been so still before. She was reflecting on this, because if she thought about the way he was looking at her, she would run away from this boy she loved so much.
"Was it worth it?" he sneered, coming closer.
Bella backed up from those black eyes. This wasn't her Edward. "What are you talking about?"
"Fucking Jacob Black, Bella. Was it worth it, whore?" He grabbed her shoulders, so she couldn't escape. "Are you that desperate, Bella?"
"What the hell is wrong with you, Edward? Why are your eyes weird?"
He took one hand and wrapped it in the chestnut locks that he had adored. He pulled those locks so hard that Bella cried out in pain. All he could see was red and Emmett's voice was calling her a dirty slut in his brain. It just wouldn't stop. "How about one more dirty fuck, Isabella? See if I can make you forget your lover."
Bella Swan was Charles Swan's daughter, this was without a doubt. It wasn't just that their coloring was warm like tree bark and their eyes could penetrate down to a person's very soul. What really made Bella just like her dear old dad was that she didn't put up with being disrespected by anybody. Her knee went immediately up and made contact with Edward's groin. He made a high-pitched cry and crumpled to the ground.
"Next time you hurt me, I'll make good and sure you'll never procreate again. I can promise you that!" She knelt down and poked Edward in the forehead. Her temper was out of control. "I never slept with Jacob Black. He's like my brother. Who told you this? It's a lie!"
"Are you going to rob my family and give it to your lover, whore? The boys have been telling me for weeks that you've been playing me. I saw you two together last night!" Edward screamed. He pointed to the boat house. "He was inside of you and ramming you against that wall!"
Bella looked at the crazed boy in front of her. The previous night she had been with Angela, trying to comfort her from another fight with that god-awful Ben. He had made her friend feel so small. "I was with Angela. You want to give her a call to confirm?"
"Your lies mean nothing to me! She'll lie for you! To think I almost disowned my brother for you! He never wanted you! He said you were always trying to force yourself on him!" Edward started shaking and stood up. "You just were angry he didn't want your filthy cunt!"
Bella tried to hold back her rage, but when he grabbed her waist hard, she winced in pain. Making a fist, Bella punched him in the face. He screamed, "You bitch! It's over! You leave me fucking alone, you whore!"
It most certainly was over. Bella was able to make it back to her truck, listening to his insults being screamed at her the whole way. Instead of listening to his words, she tried to concentrate on the crunching sounds her feet were making by stepping on the dried leaves underneath. None of this made any sense. She headed home with tears clouding her eyes.
"Edward, your eyes were black that night," she murmured. "You were out of control. I was sure you were on drugs."
"It was voodoo," Seth announced. His fingers started maniacally drumming the table. "I need a cigarette. Fuck! We're in here for life and the state is worried about lung cancer. Stupid politicians!"
Edward glared, "There's no such thing!"
"Do you really think that you saw Bella and Jacob getting it on?" Seth questioned, as he started chewing his nails.
"I might have seen people who looked like them. A simple explanation, not your hocus pocus."
"Dream on, asshole," Seth sneered in response.
Bella had a sick look on her face. "They wanted me out of the house. They used Edward to do it."
"Bingo!" Seth clapped sarcastically. "What else happened?"
Bella reached the house and sat in her truck several minutes, trying to stop shaking. If her father saw how upset she was, he would go after Edward. Right now, her concern wasn't with the boy who broke her heart, but making sure her father wouldn't get into trouble.
She parked next to her father's police cruiser and Jacob's rusty old Mustang. Getting out of the car, she felt like shivering. There was something not quite right at the Swan house. She walked up and slowly approached the slightly-opened front door. Her father would never leave the front door open.
Spying a shovel lying next to the bushes, Bella grabbed it and used it to open the door the rest of the way. She could hear the baseball game on, the television blaring, and a dim light coming from the picture of men running around the bases. The rest of the house was dark. She called out, "Dad? Jake?"
There was no reply.
Bella walked in slowly and saw that the living room was in a shambles. Drawers were overturned and emptied onto the floor. Couch cushions had been shredded. It appeared that a hurricane came through the room. She continued walking toward the kitchen when the smell hit her. It was a mix of rot, decay, rust and sulfur. The combination made her retch.
Trying not to vomit from the smell was one thing, but that was when she stumbled over an arm as she entered the kitchen. Bella quickly flicked on a light and stilled. Looking down at the unattached arm at her feet, saw the tattoo Jake had gotten of a dove that symbolized his love for Leah. She looked up and saw the carnage in front of her. Blood covered the cream floor tiles that her father had installed just that previous fall. Limbs and chunks of flesh were covering the kitchen and counters. Barely holding it together, Bella came undone when she saw Charles Swan's and Jacob Black's heads on the kitchen table, staring at her with lifeless eyes.
"The Molina's found me screaming. They called the police and Angela's parents." Bella stared at the wall in front of her. She refused to cry. "I never thought one man could do so much carnage. I told the police that. You know they pieced them together like Frankenstein, so I could identify the bodies."
She gulped and that's when she lost it. Tears overflowed and she felt Edward's arm around her and wetness in her hair. Bella looked up and found Edward crying too.
At that moment, Seth Clearwater knew for certain that Edward was a victim as well. He made a very important decision at that moment. "Edward, you're a part of this, whether you like it or not. You have a decision to make. You can either help her or that brother of yours. The choice is yours."
"I choose Bella," Edward said with certainty. He ran his fingers through that same beautiful hair he now remembered he'd hurt so badly. He kissed the top of her head.
"They were looking for something important at the chief's - you need to find it," Seth directed.
Bella sniffed and looked up. "We'll find it, Seth, and help Leah."
All Seth could do was smile at her sadly. He hoped he wasn't sending them on a suicide mission.
Back in the car, Bella and Edward were quiet. As they drove down the road, Bella noticed they weren't going the right way home. "Edward, you missed the exit."
"No, I didn't, we're heading to Forks." He looked at her, his eyes getting moist. "Our answers are there."
Their first stop was Fork's Diner. It hadn't changed at all since Bella was a little girl. The worn tables, the smell of bacon, and the weird cat's head clock were exactly the same. It was refreshing, until she saw the booth that was her father's favorite. He would eat steak and mashed potatoes every Friday night, and discuss the lack of crime with his buddies.
She felt her eyes water, when Edward squeezed her hand and gently suggested, "Let's get something to eat."
They found another booth and sat down, when Eric Yorkie rushed toward the table. "Bella! Hey...umm...have you heard from Angela?"
Bella didn't want to lie to the dark-haired man standing next to her. The shy boy who had a tendency to wear flannels and dirty jeans had grown up to a handsome and stylish adult. "She's fine, Eric. Please trust me."
"If that asshole husband..." Eric noticed Edward. "Oh fuck...you're friends with him."
"Not anymore," Edward stated. He wouldn't trust his old friend now. He was the key to this mess.
Eric looked at Bella and asked, "Are you sure?"
"I promise!" Bella waved her hand toward an empty seat. "Join us?"
"I can't, I'm supposed to deliver dinner to my parents. Please tell Ang to call me." Eric had a worried look and Bella knew that he cared for Angela.
Edward quickly asked, "Hey...before you go, is Mike still in town?"
"Mike Newton? The guy your friends used to stuff into lockers? The one your brother used to stick the poor guy's head in a toilet?" Eric gave Edward a dirty look. "Why?"
"What they did was terrible! I tried to stop them..." Edward looked upset as he remembered what poor Mike had to deal with. "Do you know if Mike would say anything to Emmett about Bella?"
"Mike hated Emmett. He would never do that to Bella." Eric looked sad.
Edward played with his straw. That poor man was blamed for something that wasn't his fault. "Do you know where he lives? I would like to apologize."
Eric looked at both Bella and Edward. He sighed and shook his dead. "He's dead, Edward. They found him ripped apart in the woods near Miller's Pond. They said it was a bear."