Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are owned by the wonderful Stephenie Meyer. The original characters, content and ideas of this story are mine.
As always to my beta, princess07890, thank you for always making time for this story!
"Hey, you've got to try to eat something; you're going to make yourself sick." I said, trying to convince Bella to eat some of the eggs I prepared for her.
It's been four days since Aro kidnapped Charlie and, along with the rest of us, my wife is barely holding on. We have only received one more call from Aro and the background noise was exactly the same, wind and seagulls. This time there was also a bell in the background, but that, so far, has not helped Garrett in his search. The rescue team has searched every beach and waterfront we could think of in Seattle and the surrounding areas. All other law enforcement agencies in the state of Washington have received a picture of Charlie as well as Aro and have been put on alert. As the hours pass, the mental and emotional exhaustion is taking its toll on all of us.
Bella had been very protective over Junior since this has occurred; she does not want him out of her sight for too long and, he has slept with us for the past three nights. I'd even woken up in the middle of the night to find her wide awake just watching our son sleep.
"I've tried Edward, I can't. I have no appetite." She said, as she bounced Junior on her knee while kissing the top of his head.
"I'm just worried about you, babe; you're barely eating, you rarely sleep and you won't let anyone help you with Junior, including me. I know you're scared, but, please, don't push me away, not now; we're in this together and in the end all that matters to me is that you and our son is okay."
"It's just… the waiting, the… not knowing…its killing me Edward. I miss him so much and…and… the thought of someone hurting him or never seeing him again, I… I… just can't live through that." Bella said, her voice cracked from her sobs as one tear after another spilled over onto her cheeks.
Helpless, is the only way to describe how I felt at that moment. With all that I have done and continue to do to make sure my family was safe, protecting Bella from this calamity was something out of my control. My cell rang and Garrett's name popped up on my caller ID. I walked out of the kitchen and into the living room as I picked up his call.
"Garret, anything yet?" I asked, hoping he would tell me my father in law is in his custody and he is bringing him to us, but I also knew that, deep inside, it was just wishful thinking.
"No, not yet, but I've been listening to that last call you received from Aro and trying to dissect the background noise. There's wind, water, birds, and the faint sound of someone talking in the background, but it's muffled. I've sent the tape to our sound lab to see if one of our sound specialists can eliminate some of the sounds in the background, so that we can focus on the ones that will help us."
"Okay, keep me posted if they discover anything new or different." I said, before hanging up and going back into the kitchen with Bella and Junior.
As I walked in and took a seat across from Bella, she stared at me expectantly and I did not have to ask what it was she was waiting for.
"Who was that?" she asked, turning her gaze to the table.
I paused for a moment, making her meet my gaze again.
"Garrett, he said he…"
"Has he found my dad?" she asked, cutting me off.
"Bella…" I blew out a long breath before answering her. "No, Bella, he hasn't, but he's working on a possible lead and just wanted to update us."
The way her shoulders slumped forward and the tears pooled in her eyes sent a surge of pain right to my heart, because I can't stop her crying, I can't ease her pain, and I can't guarantee her that her worst fears concerning Charlie will not come true.
"Hey, why don't you go lay down for a little while and I'll take Junior to the park, okay?"
"I think I may want to go to the park, too; I need the fresh air and I don't want to be alone."
After showering and getting dressed, Bella, Junior, and I headed to the park for some family time. Junior was becoming steadier on his feet, though he still stumbled a lot at times. Bella laughed as he tried to run across the grass like a big boy, losing his balance every few steps, but, he got right back up and tried again. We followed very closely behind him as we headed to the swing area. After placing Junior in the baby swing and securing the safety belt, I began to slowly push him, earning a happy squeal that made both Bella and me smile. Though her spirits seemed better, she was unusually quiet and I knew that she was dying on the inside worrying about her dad. I grabbed her hand with one of mine as I continued to push Junior with the other.
"My mom use to take me to the park when I was a little girl." She said, and, when I turned to look at her, she was staring up at the sky. I didn't interrupt for fear of her shutting down, so instead I gave her hand a light squeeze to let her know I was listening.
"I was really young, maybe five or six; and we would ride the see-saw together. She could never sit all the way down because I was so light in weight, so she would use her feet to push herself up in the air to make me think I was strong enough to do it."
She blew out a long breath and when I turned to look at her, she was staring off into the distance, not really focusing on anything thing.
"There was this slide and it curved a lot and had a tunnel; I wanted so bad to go down it like the big kids, but, because I was afraid of the dark, I refused to slide down alone. She tried to coax me into doing it several times, but I was too afraid and this made some of the other bigger kids tease me. So, one day, while we were at the local convenience store, she purchased a miniature flashlight, you know the kind you keep on your keychain so that you can find the key hole to your car door lock when it's dark? Anyway she gave it to me and told me to keep it in my pocket and to only take it out when I was going to go down the tunnel slide. It was so small that the other kids never noticed it in my hand and when I went down the slide, it shined bright enough for me to see my way. After that, I became one of the 'cool' kids at the park." She said, making quotation marks in the air with her fingers.
She had a small smile playing on her lips as she recalled one of the few times she remembered spending time with her mom. One lone tear rolled down her cheek as she continued to speak.
"She wasn't all bad and I guess none of us are, but, sometimes, the demons we wrestle with cover up the good we have in us. She did try in her own way to be a mother when I was younger, but, as time passed, she just never could get away from that street life. In the end, those same streets that she was so loyal to tragically claimed her life, leaving behind a heartbroken and very lost daughter."
Bella looked down to the ground while gently running one shoe back and forth through the wood chips under us and I continued to hold her hand, but remained silent, sensing that she was not done.
"I hated her for so long. I couldn't understand how anyone could choose drugs over their child."
She finally looked up at me and the disgust for her mom was evident in her eyes.
"Bella, I'm not going to pretend to know what you went through then or how you're feeling now; but, I will say this. I'm sure your mom loved you in her own way, despite her addiction. You were forced to grow up quickly and make decisions that no seventeen year old girl should have to make. You survived an unimaginable abusive marriage and being wrongly incarcerated for protecting yourself. To top that off, you had to take a leap of faith and pray that you were not dealing with a psycho when you trusted me to take custody of Junior until you got out. Yes, I'll admit, you were dealt the crappiest hand I've ever heard of and the odds were stacked so highly against you.
"Giving up and throwing in the towel would have been what most would have done in your situation, but, look at you; look at what and who you've become. A loving and devoted mother, a perfect wife that keeps me falling more and more in love with her every day, a loyal friend to all who are lucky enough to have you as one, and a daughter that any father would be proud to call his own and cherish forever."
I stopped pushing Junior and pulled Bella into my arms while placing soft kisses on her forehead and temples. I then pulled back and held her face between my hands, looking her in the eyes.
"I love you more than I could ever express in a million years and no matter what, I will always be here right by your side, loving you as long as you allow me to. But, I need you to promise me something."
I bent my knees and leveled her with a stare while still holding her face and she nodded while her tears began to spill over.
"Forgive her, Bella, for Junior, for me, for Charlie, but, most importantly, for yourself. Don't let your mom's demons haunt you because you won't let go of the anger, the hurt, and the hatred. You are the incredible woman you are today because of everything you were forced to deal with and, for that, I say thank you, Renee. Because though she may not have known it or took the time to realize it, she gave birth to a rare gem!"
I held her gaze until she gave me her silent promise with another nod of her head and then her into my arms. After a few moments I heard Bella chuckle and when I pulled away slightly to look at her, she simply nodded her head towards Junior, who was now fast asleep in the swing.
"We should probably get him home." Bella said, smiling up at me.
"Yeah, I think you're right." I said, placing one more kiss to her forehead before lifting our son out of the swing and heading home with the two most important people in the world to me.
Just as I placed Junior into his crib after bathing him, my cell rang and Garrett's name appeared on the caller ID.
"Hey Garrett, what's up?"
"Edward, we've got a lead."
"Oh thank God! Where is he?"
"He's has Charlie in Vancouver."
A/N: Sorry this chapter is so short, but between work, the kids, homework and sports I can barely find time to update. I am working on the next chapter and I hope to post again within a couple of days. Thanks to those who have stuck with me throughout this story I appreciate the loyalty. Please leave your thoughts/comments in a review. Thanks again.