Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Angel's Embrace Chapter 8

Christmas Eve was a subdued affair. To my surprise, Tanya and Mark spent it with us. They kept mainly to themselves, but I could feel she was relaxing around us. I watched them talk quietly together, his insecurity quite prominent on his face. I remembered that feeling. To know they love you and would die for you - so much that they wouldn't wish anything bad to happen to you and that included the endless life they had.
I leaned into Edward as we sat on the piano bench. He had given me a new song for Christmas and it was unbelievably beautiful. If I closed my eyes, I could see our story, our love flow through with each crescendo. I could even feel the intensity of making love with him coming through. Baby, that's just…perfect…thank you.
I looked up at him and his smile was sweet, humble. He kissed my forehead. "I have something else, but it can wait…"
"Ok," I nodded. I handed him his present. I had a leather bound journal made, his initials embossed on the front. The pages weren't lined, so that he could use it for whatever he wanted. He could write, sketch or write music.
"You're the writer," he smirked, "but it's beautiful, love."
I enjoyed reading the way you wrote, baby, I thought to him, thinking about his journal he was keeping before we met. Sometimes…it's good to get it on paper.
I tried to encourage the family to keep presents simple. Esme agreed with me. We bought whatever we wanted throughout the year, so I told them to make the holiday more meaningful.
Carlisle and Esme had retired to their house. Mark was tired and Tanya led him from the living room to the back door. All that was left were my siblings, Edward and Demitri. I watched Tanya and Mark leave for the night and I turned to Demitri. "You don't care that he knows…" I smirked.
Demitri chuckled, shrugging as I sat next to him. Edward continued to play Christmas carols in the background. "She's mated with him…she's repentant for all that she did to Brandon, though she has yet to apologize to him. Plus, I don't follow the rules of the Volturi anymore."
"Think she will change him?" I asked, looking up at him.
But it was Alice that answered, "She keeps changing her mind." Alice's smile was funny as her eyes flickered to Edward at the piano.
"Ha, ha, Alice," Edward chuckled, shaking his head. "It's not an easy decision anyway…but worse for Tanya. She likes the human men." I wrinkled my nose at the thought.
Rose laughed, leaning into me. "Yeah, Bells, I know…you didn't like human boys when you were human." I laughed, nodding.
"Really?" Demitri chuckled.
"No," I snorted. "Not at all. I saw them as over-excited dogs." Edward chuckled from the piano. "Everywhere I turned, there was one panting in my face. I was just glad they didn't hump my leg."
"Mike wanted to," Edward laughed.
"Shut up, Edward," I snorted. I rolled my eyes as Alice and Rose broke into hysterics.
"Speaking of human boys," Jasper looked up from the book on the Civil War he had received from Carlisle. Edward growled behind me and I knew this was about Joe. "What do we do about Joe?"
"We can still track him," Demitri nodded. "It's up to you. I don't mind something to do until we know what Felix decides."
Emmett was way ahead of us. "He's been spotted just outside of Boston. But he lost them in the woods. I bet he hid in those caves up there," he was on his laptop at the dining room table. The piano stopped suddenly and we all turned to look at Edward.
"Alice," he looked at her. "What was that?"
"I don't know," she frowned. "He still wants her. He still thinks he can get to her. I think that's why he hasn't decided to go on into Canada."
"Joe?" I asked, looking between them. Sometimes the way they communicated drove me crazy.
"See?" Jasper chuckled. "Annoying, isn't it?" I bit back a laugh, shushing him. "Then I say let him try…Bells will rip out his spine and hand it to him." I slapped my head, knowing that was exactly the thing Edward didn't want to hear.
"Bet he tries when you head back to school," Emmett frowned not looking up from his computer. "I should take classes again…" He mused, taking a deep breath.
"Em, it's not necessary," Edward sighed. "Bella, it's up to you, love…what do you want to do about him?"
"Drop it for now," I looked over at him. "If he tries to touch me…which I can't even imagine the level of stupidity he would have to reach in order to do that, considering you and Jasper are with me all day…" Jasper and Edward chuckled. "I won't kill him…and you can't either…but he will certainly suffer before I turn him in."
"Fine," Edward smiled. "Then we'll let it go. There are more pressing matters than Joe anyway." He got up from the piano, walked to me and offered me his hand. From the look on his face, we were done for the evening.
He closed the door behind him when we reached our room. "Here, love," he smiled, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a long velvet box. "She doth protest," he chuckled as I rolled my eyes. "This you will need when we move, baby."
I opened the box, sitting on the edge of the bed. It was a long white gold chain. Simple, plain, beautiful. I looked up at him with a curious face as he sat beside me.
"You can't wear your ring in high school, love," he frowned at the thought, but picked up my hand and turned my ring. "But I don't want it off of you."
"What about yours?" I asked, suddenly a little upset that he wouldn't wear his ring. My habit of turning it was ingrained in me.
"I can switch hands…or you can wear both…"
"Switch hands," I blurted out, crawling onto his lap. Edward's smile was of understanding and sympathy. Our rings meant a lot to us - a symbol of our commitment. My ring was once his mother's wedding ring. To me, it symbolized everything about him - where he came from, who he was, not the vampire, but the man. I had his ring made to match and he loved everything about it. I knew taking it off would be hard for him as well as for me.
I took his arms and wrapped them around me, leaning in to kiss his forehead. "Merry Christmas, Edward," I smiled against his skin.
"I love you," he answered simply. No other words were needed.
"Edward!" Jasper growled softly and I felt him fight the lust. We were in History class and Africa was mentioned.
Alice snorted, shaking her head. I looked up at Edward, smiling as he chuckled softly and shrugged. Soon, love…we'll go, I thought to him. We both shared a fantasy of hunting lions in Africa, but with all that was going on, we couldn't leave the family.
Jake had called a few days after Christmas to let us in on a few things.
"They came through here, Bells," he growled. I could tell he was outside and I heard a few of the boys chatting around him. Seth was begging to talk to me, but Jake told him to wait. "We chased them to the water, but they'll be back…if only for revenge. We took out a female."
"Oh shit, Jake," I gasped. "Which one? Did you transform and talk to her?"
"Sure, sure," he sighed. "Her name was…what the hell was her name?" I heard him ask the boys around him. Edward was a pacing mess. Luckily, Demitri was not in the house or he would be losing his mind.
"Bree…Breanna," Seth guessed. I could almost see my step brother shrugging in indifference. "She was a newborn…that's all I know…and she was American…they're picking up strays along the way. She didn't say much, she could barely contain herself."
"Ok," I sighed, sitting down hard on the chair with relief. Edward sighed with me. He and Alice had seen Felix's future go black and we had been waiting for an update for two days. "Jake, there's one…a girl…her name is Carina…you can't touch her. Promise me."
"Bells," he whined in protest.
"Promise me!"
"Fine," he growled. "Can I ask why?"
"Yeah, she's…important, ok?"
I could hear him sigh in frustration. "Now we have to fucking interview them?" Edward chuckled if only in understanding of Jake's stress.
"Oh yeah," Jake sighed again. He sounded exhausted, because they were on constant patrols. "Ok, so he's deputized a few men and they are scouring the forest, Bells. It's a pain in the ass to watch him. They camp out sometimes, thinking they can catch them."
I groaned, putting my head in my hands. "Don't let him get hurt Jake, but don't let him see you…"
"It's cool," he chuckled. "Seth and Sam are on the force now."
"Stop it," I snickered. "Perfect."
"Yeah, undercover werewolves," Jake snorted. "Sounds like a cheesy TV show."
Edward laughed, covering his mouth. It did sound like a TV show. I elbowed Edward and he shrugged. "Whatever keeps Charlie safe, Jake, please."
"You know…I should just tell him, but my dad said no…that you guys had rules and we have rules…Rules-schmoolz…"
"Tempting," Edward mused.
"Ok, so…maybe," I sighed. "But until then…"
"I won't let you down, Bells," Jake vowed and the boys in the background all yelled, "Love you, Bells!" My silly over-confident wolves.
The discussion for allowing Jake to tell Charlie all about the world that was around him was a huge deal. Carlisle was adamant that we keep things the same. His reasoning was if the Volturi were still around and things finally settled, then Charlie would be in danger.
Edward and Demitri were of the same mind, thinking that he would benefit from knowing and that even if the Volturi were still around, so many rules had been broken already that my dad knowing would be insignificant. Esme, Alice and Rose loved Charlie, they just wanted to be able to see him again.
I was torn. I loved my dad, but he would be hurt and shocked to know I was still alive. Even worse, he would be heartbroken to know that I had chosen this life. I also just couldn't imagine how he would take it, finding out that his whole life he had been surrounded by myths and legends.
I snapped back to reality when Alice barked my name. "What?" I growled, looking at her in the backseat of the car. She had broken me out of my train of thought.
"Are you really going with Esme to Portland?" Alice asked, looking hurt.
"Oh, sorry," I frowned. "I don't know…Esme wants me to. She wants me to call Anna to have her meet us there. We're going to pay her to do a whole bunch of stuff before we move."
"Figured out a way to help them, did you?" Jasper smiled.
"Yeah," I nodded. "They could use it. Jake can't work if he's on constant patrol. I can't have them struggle with two kids."
Edward picked up my hand and kissed it. He had already set up college funds for Izzy and Eddie. Jake and Anna just didn't know it. Charlie and Renee had received a large life insurance policy when we had "died", so they were set. Renee was comfortable, Charlie worked, because he knew nothing else. When it came to money, I tried not to get involved, but Edward made me pay attention. I barely spent anything and most of the time it was on someone else. So when I expressed my concern for Jake and Anna, the whole family tried to come up with something, knowing that it would be a pride thing if we just handed it to them.
"You haven't decided," Alice stated firmly.
"No, I haven't," I sighed, looking out the window. I didn't want to go. I didn't want the pain that came with the separation of Edward. Carlisle wanted Edward at home. He would end up staying behind to protect the house if something should happen.
Edward's eyes were on me when I looked over at him. "You should hunt, love. I hear it…it's been too long." I nodded and sighed when he pulled into the garage. "I'll come with you." My eyes didn't show my hunger like everyone else's. My hunger came through in crankiness.
Jasper and Alice went on inside and we walked through the backyard into the woods. We were not in a hurry. Edward wrapped an arm around my shoulders, kissing my head. "Do you not want to go with Esme?"
"It's not that I don't want to go…"
"We have to try," he sighed, but I could hear it in his voice that he wasn't looking forward to it anymore than I was. The last time we couldn't even go twenty four hours before the pain set in. "Alice wants to go with you…"
I looked up at him. "She does?" I asked and he nodded.
"She's waiting for you to decide. She thinks she can help you get through it," he tilted his head at me. "And there's moose to the north," he smirked. "Lift your shield, baby."
"Oh," I laughed, "habit."
We hunted and my head felt much clearer afterwards. Edward and I made our way to our creek and talked the trip over. "You're my wife," he smiled in pride. "You can sign in my place." I nodded, smiling with him. "Is it better when you hear my voice?"
"Yeah," I nodded. "You?"
"Yes…why don't we call when it gets to be…too much?" He looked up at me as I sat on his lap.
"I need to go, don't I?" I asked, grimacing. "You wouldn't push if I didn't."
He smiled sadly, kissing my nose. "Esme needs you. Alice wants to help and you all want to see Anna…the only one that's losing is me, baby." He chuckled, looking embarrassed. "I'll go crazy, but you're an important member of this family…" I sighed, rubbing my chest. Just making the decision to go hurt like hell. "I know," he sighed, taking over rubbing my chest for me. "Me too."
There was an aching desperation between us as we made love in the clearing. It was quiet and frantic at the same time. Snow or not, we couldn't get close enough. If we could have absorbed each other into our skin, we would have.
"You hanging in there?" Esme asked as the plane landed in Portland. I nodded. I had been pretty quiet the whole flight. We were only supposed to be gone for the weekend. I hated it already.
"She's fine and she'll call him as soon as we get outside," Alice giggled.
"Yes I will," I laughed as she shoved me a little.
As we got into the rental car, I pulled my phone out and turned it on. "Hey, love," he answered before it could ring twice. He was right, the pain eased slightly at the sound of his voice. "Just land?"
"Yeah, we're on our way to meet the realtor…I just…"
"I know," he chuckled. "Call me if you need me…I love you."
The houses that Esme chose never ceased to astound me. They were always a perfect size, layout and location. It was a true talent. The house was located just outside of Mt. Hood National Forest. It wasn't a long drive from Portland, so Carlisle wouldn't have a bad commute. There were two high schools in the area: Hood River Valley High School and Columbia High School. We were going to be attending the latter. It was bigger and we were hoping to get lost in the swarm of students, but it never happened that way. When Emmett, Jasper and Edward looked as good as they did, it just drew attention to them.
The house was stunning. Another three story home, but gray block this time with a red Spanish tile roof. There wasn't a pool or spa this time around. There definitely wasn't a pool house either, so Carlisle and Esme would be living under the same roof as us again.
Alice and I walked through the home. Like last time, I could see where everyone was going. Carlisle and Esme's room was on the first floor like the house in Forks as well as Alice and Jasper's. The second floor was perfect for Emmett and Rose and I staked claim to the third floor again.
"And that's exactly how I saw it," Esme snickered when we came back down.
The living room area was really large and open. One end would fit the piano and Emmett's drums, the other end had a huge fireplace and was perfect for the TV and sofas. I looked around one more time and realized that there wasn't a place for the pool table. As soon as I thought it, Alice frowned. "Damn," she growled. "And I liked the game room."
"Oh well," I sighed, shrugging. "Just be glad we can hit Portland for open mike."
"Mmm, yeah," she beamed. "New places…new crowds…"
When it came time, Esme called me to sign the papers. We had to take the house. There wasn't much option. We needed to be able to move on the fly if Jake needed us sooner than our graduation in May. I've never signed my name so many times.
"The good thing is," Esme laughed as the realtor left, "the house doesn't need much redecorating." Alice and I nodded, looking around. It was going to be an easy move. "Call Anna and see if she is on her way."
"She's about five minutes away," Alice said from the room that was going to be hers.
"And there you go," I laughed, rubbing my chest out of habit. I didn't realize I was doing it until Alice appeared in front of me. She took my hand to stop me.
"He's playing video games with Emmett," she smiled. "Jasper decided to send him calm waves about ten minutes ago." I smiled, shaking my head. "What does it feel like?" She asked, her face nothing but curiosity. Esme appeared in the doorway, listening.
"Um," I sighed, blinking back the venom of dry tears. "Like there's a hole…like it's been punched through my chest…like half of me is missing."
"Would you trade it for less connection?" Esme asked.
"No." I shook my head. "Our connection is everything…I just…"
"Would rather not be apart?" Alice asked, smirking.
"Right," I smiled, hearing a car pull into the driveway. Anna had arrived.
We all rushed to the door, eager to see the friend we had missed for three years. She emerged from the backseat with a baby carrier. "Eddie," I smiled.
"Hey guys," Anna smiled. She looked amazing. Motherhood had given her a glow about her features. She was always very pretty with light russet skin and flowing dark brown hair, but she was a little older and she looked stunning. "I'm sorry I couldn't bring Izzy, but she's got a big mouth like her dad. She'd tell the whole rez about you before I could stop her."
Instantly, Esme took little Eddie from Anna and Alice and I hugged her fiercely. We led her in the house to find Esme already loving and kissing all over the baby. "You may not get him back," I chuckled.
"At least you guys don't need sleep," she snorted. "Wow, this place is perfect for you guys…" She smiled looking around.
I watched Esme hold the infant like he was the most precious thing ever. I noted that her skin barely came in contact with his, but when it did he would jump at the coolness of it. I looked at him, smiling widely. "God, he looks just like Jake…"
"He does," Anna laughed. "So, what am I here for, Esme?"
"I need your help…and I can't do it from the other side of the country, Anna," Esme sighed, but smiled. "I need you to meet the furniture people and set up the rooms…"
"Done," Anna smiled.
"We're going to take care of you for doing this…Esme's a detail queen, so it may get tedious and the drive…" I looked at her, hoping she wouldn't refuse.
"I said, done," Anna laughed. "It's just going to be nice to have you back on this side of the world…oh, and your step brother…he just has to see you. How long are you here?"
"We leave Monday," Alice smiled, taking Eddie from Esme. "So two more days. He's so freakin' cute!" Anna smiled, looking over at her son with a fierce love radiating from her.
When Alice said Monday, my hand went to my chest again. I was itching to call Edward, but it was too soon. I knew myself well enough to know that by the same time the next day I would be a mess. "Bella," Esme smiled, pulling my hand away. "He's fine, sweetie. It's all fine."
"I know, I know…" I sighed. "Just ignore it."
"Still can't be apart?" Anna frowned, looking up at me. She was all too aware of mine and Edward's past and present. I just shook my head.
Eddie started to fuss and Alice's eyes got wide. "Ok, this is where I bail…" She giggled.
"Here," I smiled. "Let me hold him." Alice set him in my arms and his fussing stuttered slightly as he looked up at me. His eyes were the same shape and color as Jake's, but he had his mother's coloring. For a split second, I wanted one - until he released the loudest scream. "Yup…I'm done," I laughed, handing him over to his mother.
We sat and caught up as Anna fed Eddie. It was all about who had a new baby or was getting married. Seth had imprinted which made me smile. She was from Forks and had run into him on First Beach. Lexi. She was the daughter of the doctor that took Carlisle's place. "And Jake caught you up about Charlie, right?" She looked up at me and I nodded. "Ok, so Sam and Seth are doing their best to keep him out of trouble. He insists on camping out to hunt for the animal that's attacking campers," she sighed. "Billy stays with him sometimes, but it's a real pain to have to wheel him through the woods…Jake's words, not mine," she laughed. "It came close one night…there was a vampire in the woods and Jake was just outside the camp. Sam and Seth had to stay in their human form and let the rest of the pack get her."
"Was that the newborn he was telling me about?" I asked, letting Eddie take my finger as he slowly fell asleep.
"Yeah, that's the one."
"Sounds like they sent her in as bait," Alice frowned.
"It does," Esme nodded. "It sounds like they knew what would happen."
"Did anything else happen that night outside of that?" I asked, looking over at Anna. Her brow furrowed and she shook her head.
"Nothing I can think of…"
"What night was that?" I asked, pulling out my phone. "Christmas Eve, right?" She nodded and I dialed Edward.
"Love?" He answered instantly.
"Hey, can you guys look up anything weird that happened on Christmas Eve…Forks, the rez…Seattle maybe?"
"Yes, ma'am…Jasper…what's that news website you use?" I heard Jasper take the computer from him, typing rapidly. "Why, baby?" I gave him the detailed story and he and Jasper agreed that the girl was used as bait.
"I don't see anything, Bells, but I'll keep looking…it could be something small…" Jasper mumbled in the background.
"Tell him thanks…I love you…" I sighed, frowning and getting up from the folding table the realtor left behind.
"I will, baby…and I love you too…we can do this."
I laughed, "Ok, but you know what? I don't want to…"
Edward's chuckle warmed my whole body. "Me either…I was just trying to sound positive, love."
"Well, stop it and whine like me, damn it," I pouted. It felt good to hear his voice. My pain eased just a little.
"No, no whining…just…yeah…damn, I miss you."
"That's better," I huffed and he chuckled again. "You should see little Eddie, baby…he's cute…but loud." We didn't stay on long, but he let me whine just a little more. He told me he would call if they found anything out.
The night was long without him. We had booked a hotel room and watched chick flicks all night. Alice insisted on the pajamas. By early morning, Edward was texting dirty messages.
"Oh, he's killing me," I growled, pulling a pillow over my head. Esme and Alice just laughed, Alice stealing my phone and sending a few herself, which caused him to call.
"That wasn't you," he laughed.
"No, Alice stole my phone," I growled, kicking her off the bed.
"Good, because I was going to worry."
"Shit, Alice, what the hell did you text?" That question alone caused another wave of laughter.
"Just something involving whips and chains," Alice smiled with pride. Esme fell over on the bed.
"Ew…" I gasped. "Ok, I want to be home…" Edward chuckled at us and let us get ready to meet Anna and one of the first deliveries of furniture.
We arrived first, but before we could walk into the house, Anna flew up in her car. Her face was in a panic. Seth was in the passenger seat and jumped out before the car came to a complete stop. "Bells!" He rushed to me, picking me up in his usual bear hug. He set me down on my feet and I heard Anna groan. "I need you to stay calm, 'kay?" I nodded, my heart sinking. "There's been a fight, Bells…"
My first thought was the pack, but when I looked at Anna, I knew it wasn't. It was Charlie.
"No," I shook my head. "Charlie…"
"Bells," Seth knelt in front of me, but I felt my shield snap. He fell backwards when I lost control.
"Jasper, I don't think that wedding announcements was what Bella meant," I sighed, rubbing my chest.
"I know that!" He laughed. "I was looking for the obituaries." My phone rang from the table and we both looked at it. "That was fast…she was doing good this morning."
"Yeah," I smiled. "Love?" I answered.
"No, Edward, it's Alice." She sounded worried. Jasper's head shot up from the computer.
"What's wrong?"
"Um…there's been an attack…" Alice paused and I could hear nothing but commotion in the background.
"Alice!" Jasper and I yelled.
"Ok, they came through the woods Charlie was camped in. They sent another decoy in…Jake, Sam, and Seth had to transform in front of Charlie, Edward…and they didn't see the other vampire…when they did it was too late."
"Shit," Jasper growled.
"Where's Bella?" I asked, closing my eyes to calm down.
"She's…fuck, Edward, Charlie's in a coma…I can't get her to put her shield down…"
"She will, Ali…you have to stay calm with her…put me on speaker phone." I heard Bella's snarls in the background and Seth and Esme pleading with her. "Bella," I said, trying to stay calm, but I knew this was what she feared most.
"Edward…my dad…" The pain in her voice was killing me.
"I know, love, but you need to calm down…I want to talk to you…please."
"Give me a minute," she growled. It might have been to me, but it could have been to everyone's pleas around her.
I looked over at Jasper and he was already on the phone with Carlisle. "I don't know where they took him, Carlisle, but I'll let you know…" Jasper spoke quickly and quietly into the phone.
"Edward," I heard in my ear. She had taken me off speaker, and she was a little calmer. "Charlie's in a coma…he hit his head when the pack shoved him out of the way. He was trying to shoot everything."
"Oh baby, I'm so sorry…"
"I need you here," her breath hitched. "I can't do this without you…"
I spun the computer around to book at flight. I heard Jasper tell Carlisle I was going. He must have felt the determination. I don't think anyone could have stopped me.
"Love…Carlisle is asking where Charlie is…he needs to know, love."
"'Kay," she sighed. My heart was breaking for her.
I looked up at Jasper and we locked eyes. "She'll go to him…I can't stop her…let him know that…" Jasper nodded and relayed the message.
"Port Angeles, baby," my angel answered. Jasper nodded and told Carlisle.
"Bella, listen to me…" I wanted to touch her, hold her. "I'm coming, but you know how long it takes. I'll have to fly into Seattle…that's the earliest flight."
Her sobs took over and Esme was on the phone. "Oh, Edward…she's breaking me."
"I know," I sighed. "Keep her calm…try to keep her from Charlie until I can get there. If you can't…I know her…she'll sneak out…then just follow her, make sure she's not seen." I didn't know if Charlie would awaken and see her or how that reaction would be. If he saw Jake transform, then everything was coming out in the open.
"Seattle?" Esme asked.
"Yeah, just…I'll be there, I promise…you might as well move hotels to Port Angeles." I ran upstairs and packed a bag.
"It's done, Edward, just hurry, son," my mother sighed.
"Tell her I love her…I know she can hear me, but…" I shook my head when I heard Bella's sobs.
"We'll meet you…just hurry," Alice had taken the phone. "And leave Jasper…he has to stay."
"Ok," I said, disconnecting the phone call.
Jasper met me in front of the garage door. "Keep in mind…the Volturi may know all about Charlie…this may be their way of bringing us all there…ok?"
"Well, I feel sorry for them if they run into my wife right this second…" It wasn't meant to be funny, but Jasper snickered.
"No shit, bro."
"Call Emmett, bring him home…I hate to interrupt their hunt, but he needs to be here," I frowned, opening the garage. I threw my bag in the Vanquish, cranked up and peeled out.
I heard the conversation that Anna was staying at the house. I even saw the delivery truck arrive. Seth kept me close, whispering in my ear that it was going to be fine, but I stopped interacting with them all.
"I'll let her know, hon," Esme sighed. "She's hanging in there." Esme turned around in from the front seat and held her phone out to me. "Carlisle wants to talk to you."
"'Kay," I took the phone from her.
"Bells, I called Port Angeles and took over his care. Charlie's being moved to the first floor, sweetie. Ok?"
First floor. "Oh, so I can…ok…thanks, Carlisle."
"That's long term care…they will report to me with his progress. Edward's on his way, Bells, just…hang in there. He has a few broken ribs, a punctured lung, but it's the head contusion that's the problem."
"Ok," I sighed, closing my eyes and leaning on my step brother. His warmth was almost searing, but comforting like a warm blanket.
I stared at the window from the line of buildings across the street. I knew that Alice was behind me somewhere, but I didn't pay her any attention. I had heard Edward tell them to follow me if I came to see Charlie. I couldn't not see my father. Guilt flowed through every pore of my being. I knew that it wasn't my fault, but no matter how hard we all tried to keep him safe, something got to him anyway. I guess I understood what Edward had tried to tell me all those years ago. Danger surrounds humans every day, especially when the human is surrounded by overly strong monsters.
I walked up to the window to his hospital room. I could pick my father's scent out anywhere. With a flick of my fingers, the lock shattered with minimal noise. Thank you, Alice, for showing me how to break and enter. I snorted to myself dryly, shaking my head.
Before I could open the window all the way, a nurse entered the room, giving Charlie the routine once over. She noted his chart after checking his temperature, blood pressure, and one last look at a bandage on his arm. Once she walked out of the room, I scanned through the darkness around me and stepped through the window.
The pungent odor of cleaning products and a sterile environment assaulted my senses. A low beeping and steady hollow breathing pulled me to the man on the bed. Without thinking, I reached down and brushed my father's hair from his forehead. "Oh Dad, I'm so sorry…" My breath hitched and I gritted my teeth to maintain my control. "I love you," I whispered. We didn't say that enough to each other when I was living with him, I realized, watching his brow furrow.
I sat in the chair next to the bed just watching him for almost an hour. I didn't know if he could hear me or feel my presence in the room. Charlie's face would flicker with different emotions. Was it pain? Was it anger? I wished Edward was there, maybe he could have told me what he was dreaming of.
Almost as an answer to my prayer I felt my chest relax and the scent of sunshine and honey wafted over me. "He thinks you're an angel…but he can't decide if it's a good thing, love. He also can't wake up…he's frustrated."
I didn't say anything, but fell into Edward's arms. He lifted me up and leaned against the wall. "I'm so sorry, baby," he whispered over and over. I buried my face into his neck, my whole body trembling with a combination of stress and relief.
The calming affect that Edward had on me was unexplainable. I breathed his scent in deeply, welcoming the smell of home and love. "Thank you…" I sighed, gripping him to me. He pulled back and gave me a look that clearly stated that nothing could have stopped him from getting to me once I asked for him. I set my feet on the floor and walked silently to my dad's bedside. Edward walked to his chart and flipped through it.
"They're keeping him under…he will heal easier, love," Edward sighed softly. "It's possible he will come out of this." He read some more, surely to report it back to Carlisle. I looked down at the man that usually was larger than life - or maybe that's how little girls always saw their dads. I touched his hand, putting mine in his for a moment.
"He really does think you're an angel, love," Edward smiled. "That you're here to take him. He's not ready…just as stubborn as always."
"No, Dad," I smiled. "Just get better…"
Edward came to stand behind me, wrapping his arms around me. "Do you feel better now that you've seen him?" I nodded, leaning back into him. "Jake's outside…he knew you'd come…he wants to talk to you."
"Ok," I frowned, touching my dad's brow one more time. Charlie frowned again, but then a calming, relaxed expression filled his features.
Edward chuckled softly. "He wants you to stay…"
"Dad, I'll be back…" I looked up to Edward to make sure I wasn't lying and he nodded.
We stepped through the window of the hospital into the shadows. I smelled Jake and my head turned sharply to the cluster of trees in the parking lot. Leaning as tall as ever, shirtless and worried was my old friend. "Jake," I sighed with conflicting emotions.
"Bells," he sobbed, rushing to me and picking me up. "I'm sorry…they…and he flipped out…and we lost two of the pack…"
"Who?" Edward and I asked.
"You didn't know them…they were young…they didn't know the newborns' strength could crush them if they got their arms around them…Colin and Brady…they were thirteen." Jake set me on my feet with a sigh.
"Jesus, Jake…" Edward growled, looking around the parking lot and running a hand through his hair.
"We didn't have a choice but to transform in front of Charlie. They hit us from both sides…" Jake stood tall in front of me. "Fuck this shit! If your dad makes it out of this…I'm fucking coming clean…all of it…these Italian bastards are done."
"Yes," Edward agreed.
"Now that Charlie's out of the forest, we can handle this," Jake looked at the both of us. "We had to accommodate him…now…not so much," he growled.
"Please don't forget the girl, Jake…Carina…she can't be hurt," I begged.
"I won't…I promise…who is she?"
"A friend's mate…and Jake, there are talents among these vampires that are very powerful, very strange…just be careful," Edward warned. Jake nodded, folding his arms across his chest.
"Are you back now?" He asked, aiming the question to Edward.
"Not yet…do you need us, Jake…that's the question…"
"I don't know!" Jake laughed bitterly. "I really don't…normally, I would tell you hell no and we got this, but they seem to know how to hit us at our weakest time."
Jake's face changed into the young face I knew years ago - before fights and before bruises, when warm soda was all it took to make us happy. "Bells, I'm so sorry," he sobbed, falling to his knees and wrapping his arms around my waist. "I promised to keep him safe…"
"He is a Swan, Jake," I sighed, ruffling his sweaty hair. "We can't help it." Both Edward and Jake snickered silently. Edward leaned over and kissed my head, mumbling something about truer words had never been said. Jake looked at me. Even on his knees he was just about my same height.
"How's he look?" Jake asked.
Edward answered, "They're keeping him sedated…it will help with the pain. His chart looks good. No internal bleeding, considering what he's been through. Just the broken ribs, the bump to his head…punctured lung…it may be awhile before they try to wake him up." He spoke this last sentence to the both of us.
"Ok," I nodded, frowning.
"When were you planning on moving?" Jake asking standing to his feet.
"I was hoping to let Bella finish school, but now…it's up to Carlisle," Edward frowned, taking my hand. "May was the goal, but if you need us…"
"I don't know yet…" Jake started. "We scared them pretty good this time, taking two out…no, not girls…both guys," he rolled his eyes before I could say anything. "One of them…did something to Brady…he was howling," Jake cringed.
"Jane," Edward growled. "I've seen her talent in Demitri's head. She can inflict pain…"
"Little thing? Looks like a kid?" Jake verified and Edward nodded. "Yeah, well I almost had her as she was doing whatever to Brady…and the big fucker…he's calling the shots. He told them when to hit the water."
"Felix," Edward sighed. "So he is running this…" Edward walked away, pulling out his phone. His conversations were fast with Carlisle and Demitri.
"Who's Demitri?" Jake asked me as Edward was on the phone.
"A good friend…he's the mate of the girl you can't hurt, Jake…she's under someone else's control…I'll have to shield her to break it," I sighed. "They haven't asked, but I know it's the only way." I frowned, looking back at the hospital and wishing I could sit and watch Charlie all night. "Demitri used to work in Italy," I raised my eyebrow. "He's lost everyone since the fire."
"Oh, can he be trusted?"
"Yeah, definitely," I nodded.
"It's good to see you—it sucks that it's under such fucked up circumstances, but still…I've missed you," Jake sighed, smiling his big grin.
"Me too…soon, we'll be closer…" I smiled. "Oh, Jake…Eddie…he's too cute!"
"My mini me?" Jake laughed. I nodded and laughed with him. "Oh, and don't think I don't know what you're doing by hiring my wife…" I started to protest, but he stopped me. "Stop, I would do the same thing, Bells…" Edward walked up and Jake turned to him. "Ok, I gotta run…we're watching the water tonight."
"Jake, we'll see you before we leave Monday," I said, tugging on his arm.
"The treaty…" Jake frowned, looking over at Edward. "It's over. You call if you're coming into the rez…but if we need you, we're going to have to erase the lines."
"Jake…" Edward said, his face in shock. "You don't have to…your people…they…"
"They trust me…and I trust you," Jake nodded. "We'll talk more tomorrow." Jake held out his hand, shaking Edward's and giving me a hug before he disappeared into the darkness. I heard a soft howl get carried off into the night.


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