Prologue

.*.*.*.

From a distance, Mike Newton would have thought that the dead body was actually a log or a tree branch.

In the fading grey of Forks sky, the dull glow wrapped around her body like a silk veil. Through his many years of cross country biking, he had came across many strange forest figures and even stranger circumstances. Even though he was merely eighteen, he had found a chest full of discarded scarfs, second-hand watches, old tires; once he had even found an abandoned pistol. It was lodged between two low branches with its muzzle gently swaying in the wind. However, Mike loved the surprises and enjoyed the humidity of the forest, so he was a frequent visitor among the trees with his battered bike.

Today was an especially cold one. Even thought it was mid June, the chilliness plagued the air like a dome, but at least it was not raining. He was glad that school had announced an early dismissal today, in thanks to some graduation committees. He grasped the chance to go biking, since Jessica hadn't let him out of her cling for weeks.

He had been here for over half an hour and from all sides, all he could see were twisting mazes of green. Ahead of him, he heard the distant flow of water and headed towards the hypothesizing sound. Rounding a tree, the paleness of the small creek came into his view. Transfixed by the prettiness of the sleek strands of water hugging around jagged rocks, he didn't notice the pool of red and the dark clump of log or whatever it was until it was too late.

Caught by complete surprise, Mike clamped his fingers around the brake and the inertia threw him right off the bike and he flew forwards head first. He landed painfully on his side, several inches away from his bike. Swearing loudly, Mike propped himself clumsily from the wet mud, massaging the soreness of his arm. Turning to kick the stupid obstacle that had tripped him, he suddenly realized that it was a body of a woman clad loosely in a dark hoodie, laying facedown awkwardly on the forest floor. His legs were thrown on top of her soft waist, gently curved and tantalizing.

Mentally slapping himself for fantasizing about someone who he had just rudely pushed over, he instantly threw his legs off, ignoring the burning throb of his knees, and softly shook the woman's shoulder.

"Miss, are you alright? I'm so sorry, I didn't see you."

There was no reply. Mike thought that she must have had an accident while hiking in the woods. Maybe an adventurous tourists who had strayed off the hiking track. Shamefully, Mike immediately imagined himself throwing her over his shoulder like a hero and after rescuing her, making her falling in love with him. Pumped up by the thought, he returned to reality with vigour. It was then that he had realized that his hand, the one that was pushed against the forest floor, was bathed in a pool of dark liquid.

The last of pale daylight illuminated the trees, and in the silver glow, Mike saw the situation clearly. And what he saw, he didn't like.

Scrambling away from the body, which was lifeless and limp. Partially dyed with the redness of blood, dripping from the head. All around her, little splatters of blood painted the trees. Mike let out a strangled scream. It was like one of those horror movies, where you wanted to look away but you could not. Mike saw the picture with clear details, in bright colours. Staring at the woman's body, he saw that her arms were pulled above her head, tied to a thick tree trunk by a rough and braided rope of abnormal size and strength. It dug painfully into her wrist, which were bright red with blood wound.

Mike tasted bile in his mouth, and bend over to throw up his stomach. When he was done, the sourness in his mouth didn't leave, but his brain sent a thought through him. For a horrible moment, the dead woman resembled horribly like a classmate of his.

Bella Swan. She moved to Forks a little less than three years ago. She had rejected him with unbelievable nonchalance, but yet she was so agonizingly pretty and mysterious it only prompted his pursuit. It's impossible, Mike noted to comfort himself. She was still in school with him today. He had watched her sitting in front of him in biology, holding hands with Edward Fucking Cullen and laughing at every single fucking thing that fucking Cullen had said.

Yet the dead body in front of him looked so much alike to her. The same alluring mahogany hair, flowing like water to her waist, and there was the same curve in her hips, and the same legs which stretched on for miles long.

He probably should have ran away then. Decades later, he would still look back on that day and wished that he didn't let his curiosity win over and flipped her body to confirm the face. Because the face was so horribly familiar.

NonononotBellaforChrist'ssake. Her face was disfigured so much that he almost didn't recognize it. Her temple was blue and purple with bruises and the aghast white of her skin contrasted gruesomely with the blood. She had been shot in the face. It wasn't hard to see that the bullet had entered from her jaw to her left ear, and both her eye sockets were gaped empty. The uneven mud around her clearly stated the fact that she had struggled against whatever was done to her. The force of the bullet was so strong, that the tree she had been tied to, several yards above her, was covered with blood splatter.

Bile rose up his throat for a second time and Mike vomited until he was dry heaving. Ohgodohgodohgod.

Pulling out his phone and holding it in a death grip, Mike dialled 911. In gasps, he explained the situation in small fractures and gave no more descriptions than their location and situation.

"I think she's dead."

"Don't panic. Stay where you are until we get there."

When the line went dead, and the forest turned absolutely silent, Mike looked at Bella again and a glint caught his eyes. Of course, how could he have missed it. In the remaining light of twilight, the engagement ring from Edward shone lonesomely.


It was the most exciting thing that the citizens of Forks have seen since World War 2.

The ambulance were too big to manoeuvre through the forest so Bella Swan's body were carried away on a stretcher.

The hospital was white and sorrowful and stench of the scorching odour of bleach. Mike had been forced to sit outside of the room that they had rolled Bella into. Though he would very much liked to go home and forget about everything, he was the first witness and there were a lot of questions in need to be answered. So he had sat in the hall way, staring at the grey linoleum which was streaked with dirty slush that people had tracked in.

He had no idea why they wouldn't take her straight to the morgue. She was dead for Christ's sake. Shot multiple times and hit ruthlessly. Yet seconds after he had sat down, Dr. Cullen and a whole group of nurses had rushed out of nowhere, heading straight into the emergency room. He happened to notice the heartbreak in Dr. Cullen's eyes, and Mike wondered whether he was sad for the girl, or was just upset that his son had lost a girlfriend.

Moments after the doctor had gone, the door slammed open and Edward charged into the room only to be tackled by his brothers whom were right behind his heels.

The exchange scared him though Mike tried to conceal it, because Cullen looked absolutely feral and crazy, wrestling his brothers on the ground, trying to get to the room where Bella had gone into. The Cullen women had rushed in a little later. They also went straight to Edward, trying to calm him down, but the small pixie, Alice, just stared at the room from across the hallway with a far away look in her eyes.

Mike shrank into his seat, wanting to disappear from the scene. The Cullens were a freak show and he definitely did not want to get involved with them.

The wait wasn't long. Only minutes after Bella had gone in, Dr. Cullen came out with the most ancient look in his eyes. Edward, who had been pinned onto the ground, took one look into his adoptive fathers eyes and strangely ceased his struggles, only to drop to the cold floor, looking more dead and broken than Bella had been on the forest floor.

Mike looked away. For some reason, the moment seemed far to private for him to be a bystander. Maybe it was good that it was him that had found Bella. Mike doesn't even want to imagine what Edward would have been like if he were to see Bella torn up like that in the forest. An image of that blood bath ran across his mind and he shuddered in disgust. It was gruesome. At the same time, Edward suddenly looked up at him, with eyes like black disks, empty and hollow, letting out a strangled weak cry, before making a move towards the room and this time no one stopped him.


Hours later, Mike was sitting at the police station with the entire Cullen family, including Bella's dad, Charlie (God he looked awful). It could have took less time, if it weren't so difficult to pry Edward off Bella's lifeless body. Mike felt a sudden onslaught of pity as he fleeted a glance in Edward's way. Poor guy, Mike thought, he look as if he would have been happier in death.

"Can you describe what has happened there in the forest, Mr. Newton?" A police man with hard eyes said in a solemn and serious tone.

Mike swallowed. The last thing he had wanted to do was to recall the image of Bella's body. He was afraid that he would throw up again, if that was even possible.

"I ask you again. Describe what has happened in the forest."

Mike clamped his eyes shut and tried to force his voice. Nonononono. The entire situation freaked him out, and he was scared out of his wits.

"Do you speak English? Fran├žais?"

"I speak english sir."

"THEN ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!"

Mike flinched and shrank back into the chair. He wanted to get out of there. "I fou-ound her there. I didn't see anything else." He stuttered.

"Describe her state." The officer scribbled furiously onto his note pad.

Mike squeezed his eyes shut. "There was a lot of blood. Um, she was tied to a tree with thick ropes, and she was shot in the face." Edward let out a pained moan and threw his arms around his torso, as if he was trying to hold himself together. Mike swallowed again, "Umm, she was wearing jeans and a dark hoodie, and she was wearing her engagement ring." Edward jerked in his seat, his body was trembling like an earthquake. Mike edged away from him. Cullen was really freaking him out.

More scribbles.

"Well, I think that so far, we can be sure of one thing." The police laced his fingers before him, on the desk, "Bella Swan was murdered."