AN: This came to me in a dream and wouldn't leave me alone.
HEA. Also, I never follow any rules. Just enjoy the ride.
Thanks to mauigirl60 for editing this for me!
Isabella "Bella" Black concentrated on the raindrops hitting the window that faced the beach near the motel.
She listened to the sounds of animated ducks frolicking on the television.
The breathing of her two little ones, as they tried to stay as quiet as mice, filled her ears. They were far too afraid to speak.
The mumblings of her manic husband, as he pored over an old book on the bed about legends of the tribe. She remembered hearing them in passing when she was a child and they'd terrified her.
In the dingy room, these sounds were keeping her in control, so she could figure out a plan of escape.
It was supposed to be a vacation to visit their families; but, instead, they'd been holed up in this hotel for three days.
"You'll see Charlie when the time is right, Bella! It'll be a great surprise," Jacob explained. "It's too small for all of us."
That was the explanation he gave the first time she'd asked why they couldn't have stayed at her father's home.
The second time she'd had suggested staying with her father instead of the dirty dungeon of a room, Jacob had punched Bella in the face. The bruise was a shining example of how out of control the situation had become.
That was bad. Very, very bad, indeed.
She was not normally the victim, so she had to think about plotting an escape.
"Blood," Jacob mumbled. The word made Bella's head jerk toward her husband. He started mumbling as he stared at the children. That's when fear paralyzed every inch of her muscles and bile rose up into her throat. This trip was terribly wrong.
They'd been best friends since diapers. This beach was the same one that their parents had placed Bella and Jacob side-by-side with their plastic buckets and shovels. Giggling and happy, the duo created castles by the sea decorated with shells. Those memories had been tarnished by the past weeks.
She needed to get to her dad. She breathed in deeply to settle her nerves. There was no way to get the car keys. They hadn't left the front pocket of his jeans. He hadn't changed clothes since they'd arrived, either, and the smell was rotten.
Little Jason started weeping silently, as Sarah wrapped her arms around her brother. Three-year-old boys shouldn't be so afraid and six-year-old girls shouldn't have to be so brave.
"Goddamn it!" Jacob smacked his hand down on the table next to his book, making everyone jump. "It has to work! Fucking Sam!"
He started texting on his phone. It had to be Sam. His phone calls had been the start of Jacob's descent into insanity.
"Dude, it's not going to hap..." Jacob paced around the living room, his face tight with worry. He listened for a few minutes. "They're my...
Bella stood in the doorway listening, holding the beer Jacob had asked for. "Honey? You still want this?"
He looked over at her, his eyes turning dark with rage. "What the fuck are you doing listening to my calls?"
She held up the beer with wide eyes. "You asked me for this!"
He looked shocked. "Oh, babe, shit! I'm sorry. Thanks. Just leave it on the coffee table."
Bella looked at him as he returned to his conversation. For the first time, she was afraid of her husband.
That was the beginning of Jacob's personality change. He wanted his meat rare and would eat nothing else. He hadn't slept. Not really, since they'd left Pennsylvania. If Jake would only sleep, Bella would have a chance to escape.
Would lack of sleep cause insanity?
Charlie would know what to do. Her father could get them help.
"Mama, I'm hungry," Jason whispered.
Their meals had been few and far between. A breakfast of packaged peanut butter crackers wasn't going to cut it for two growing children.
"Shut him the fuck up!" Jacob yelled, grabbing the little boy by the scruff of his neck and shaking him. "Why do you keep whining!"
Bella jumped out of her chair and pulled Jason away, holding the child tightly. "Stop it, Jacob! He's your son!"
He glared at them. "He doesn't need to eat!"
"Jake!" Bella looked at him with dread. He was going to kill them. She knew it. "Please!"
Her plea meant more than just food. She was hoping he would come to his senses…that he'd remember he loved them. He'd be her Jake again.
"Shut the fuck up, bitch!" he screamed in Bella's face.
He would never be the same again.
Sarah cried softly behind her.
Bella needed to get out of there with them right that very minute, before he snapped.
"Jake, honey, let me take the kids to that little burger shack on the beach. Please." Bella hated begging, but she was left with no other options. "They'll be good if they get something to eat."
They'll be safe if their previously-doting daddy wasn't such an asshole, she thought.
"You'll run with them. I need them," he snarled.
Bella was certain that he didn't mean that in a loving way. She was terrified about the real reason he wanted his children around.
"You know me, Jake! We've been together since we were babies! I would never!"
She was lying to him. He knew her as well as she knew him, which wasn't much at all. This man in front of her was a monster inside her husband's body.
"Fine!" Jacob spat. "I'll be watching from the window."
Help. I can get help.
"Sarah, baby, put on your shoes," Bella directed her daughter, as she dressed Jason in his rain gear.
"It's pouring, Mommy," Sarah quietly pointed out, eyeing her father warily.
Bella ushered them out the door, grabbing her coat. "It'll be okay. We'll be okay."
"Don't try anything stupid. You know what'll happen when I get angry," Jacob warned Bella. She shivered at his words.
Bella knew for certain she'd kill Jacob before he touched a hair on either Sarah or Jason's head. That was a promise.
The air was cold, but the rain had decreased to a drizzle. It was a small blessing, but a blessing nevertheless.
The children remained mute about their difficulty with trudging through the wet sand in their galoshes. They'd get their little feet stuck and lift their hands up to be helped.
Bella helped them wordlessly, as the sea breeze and drizzle kissed her face.
The dark waves were rough and the gray skies set the appropriate mood for Bella's thoughts. If only they were able to turn into mermaids and dive deep into the ocean to safety.
She smiled sadly at her flights of fancy. Bella had been a child with her head in the clouds who believed in otherworldly things. The real world was horrible now, and dreaming of mystical creatures was far better than weeping over the real-life monster she was married to. She felt Sarah tugging on her sleeve.
"I wish we could turn into butterflies and fly away from here, Mommy."
The little girl most surely took after her mother.
They reached the stand and Bella glanced over toward the motel. She knew that Jacob was watching her every move.
"Hi. We need an order of chicken tenders and fries. Umm...grilled cheese and more fries, I guess. A cheeseburger..." Bella was fumbling in her pockets to find some money, but came up empty. "Oh shit! I... I..."
She couldn't go back and ask Jacob for money. Bella wiped away her tears.
"She'll take onion rings with the burger. A Coke and two juice boxes," a musical voice interrupted. Bella turned to see a slight and beautiful woman with the most unusual gold eyes smiling at her. Her dark hair was a stylish mess. "I've got this. Your children look hungry."
"Thank you. I forgot to bring money... "Bella trailed off tearfully, grabbing the woman's hands. They were frozen. Bella dropped them. "I'm sorry! That was very forward of me and..."
"Are you okay?" the woman asked, as she handed the boy at the counter money. She waved at him to keep the change.
Bella didn't know what possessed her to confide in this stranger and not a police officer. "No."
"No, you really aren't, are you?" The woman traced Bella's bruise with one of her cold fingers. Suddenly, her face grew tense. "I need to go! Will you still be here tomorrow?"
"I think so." Bella wanted to run away with the stranger. It made no sense as to why.
The woman smiled down at Bella and the children. "I'll help you! Just let me get some things worked out."
The woman ran off and Bella watched her, finally feeling a glimmer of hope.
They sat at a bench, the wetness seeping through their pants. Bella watched as the children devoured their foods like small beasts. Their hunger was finally being sated. Bella tried to swallow down her food. She would need the strength to run.
She looked out toward the horizon at the water lapping the sand. There stood a man, his jeans rolled up and wearing only a black t-shirt. His feet were in the water. It was far too chilly, but he looked comfortable enough.
His head turned away from the sky and he looked right at her. His ruddy hair was tossed by the wind and he had the face of an angel. Bella was transfixed. Then, she noticed his eyes. They were as red as a freshly-picked apple.
She rubbed her eyes. It must have been the dark sky combined with her exhaustion.
Looking back at him, Bella wished for the happier times she used to enjoy with Jacob; his sweet kisses every morning when they woke up. The way he would tickle the children making them laugh with joy; the way his touch was so very gentle when they used to make love. That had been so long ago and there she sat, admiring a mysterious man on the beach.
As if he could read her mind, the man waved, a lopsided smile upon his lips. Bella waved back.
"Do you know him, Mommy?" Sarah asked solemnly.
Her fickle heart wished she did, but her mind told her to be afraid. Very afraid.