Sunday, January 8, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – This Truth Drives Me
Catch me as I fall
Say you're here and it's all over now
Speaking to the atmosphere
No one's here and I fall into myself
This truth drives me
Into madness
I know I can stop the pain
If I will it all away
“Whisper” by Evanescence

My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach.
“Bella? Oh, no, no, no…” I quickly tapped redial, groaning when it went straight to voice mail.
“Hey, you’ve reached the voice mail of Isabella Masen. Leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can…”
The beep signaling the recording made me stumble over just what the hell I was supposed to say. “B-Bella? Shit, what am I doing?” I sighed deeply, squeezing my eyes closed and finally just giving into the madness I seemed to have fallen into neck-deep. “Sweetheart, if this is you, call me back. Please! I think… I’m pretty sure that… You’ve left me clues, baby, and I’m starting to put them together, so if I’m not losing my mind and this is really you, then please, please, please call me. I just… I miss you, Bella. So much, and I love you. That’ll never change, whether this is a cruel joke on me or not. So if this isn’t my wife, know that I will find who has this phone and…”

The message ran out of space, and I trailed off as tears burned my eyes. I glared at my phone, willing it to ring, but as I studied the flat, expensive piece of technology, I realized they were invasive bastards, no matter how convenient and helpful they could be, and I quickly dialed the cell phone company.
I navigated the automated menu with frustration and curses, but when it finally sent me to a real living and breathing human being, I started to babble to a poor unfortunate operator named Robin.
“This is Dr. Edward Masen. I need to find out the location of the other phone on this account. I just received a call from it.”
“Okay, Dr. Masen, let me take a look.”
There was typing and background noise from a call center in my ear, but I paced around my entire house the whole time she was looking.
“Um, Dr. Masen, you only have one line on this account. The secondary line was removed,” Robin explained, sounding confused.
“That’s not possible. It was reported missing two months ago, but I haven’t called to remove that phone from the account.”
“No, sir, it wasn’t you to remove it. It was a Bella Masen. Your wife. She severed that phone from the account.”
My heart stopped and then sputtered erratically. “My wife passed away, Robin. When did she change the account?”
“Let me check…” She typed some more, pausing for a moment, and then finally said, “August fifteenth.”
I closed my eyes, leaning back against the wall, but my legs couldn’t hold me, and I slid down to the floor. “Robin, that doesn’t make any sense. My wife died August second.”
There was a silence on the other end, but she recovered quickly. “Sir, whoever called verified your wife’s information. They knew all of the security questions, as well as her social security number. If this is a matter of theft…”
My nostrils flared as I tried to come to grips with everything I’d witnessed today. “Okay, okay… Then just tell me where the last call I received to this phone came from. What tower or location? Or however it is you can locate it. The call came from the number that used to be my wife’s, Robin, so I need to know.”
“That is so messed up,” Robin muttered, making me smirk at her indignant tone on my behalf, but I closed my eyes as she continued to type. “All I can see is that it was…a tower not far from your location now. In fact, you’re pinging off the very same tower as we speak.”
My eyes snapped open. “Thank you, Robin. I’ll call back if I need anything.”
I ended the call, staying down on the floor. Setting my phone down on the carpet, I slipped both hands into my hair and gripped hard. From where I was, I could still see the books sitting on the counter. Steve dropped to the carpet soundlessly, coming to sit by me. His yellow-green eyes were intense as they stayed locked on my face. It was almost as if he was waiting for me to either snap or come to some “Eureka” moment.
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I shook my head slowly. “Jesus, Steve, this is like a bad dream,” I muttered as I let my hands fall to my lap as I thought back to Jacob’s strange behavior the first time I went over to Charlie’s house after Bella died.
“Yeah, those were cool, old stories when I was a kid. I used to imagine myself as this massive wolf.” He grinned but shook his head. “I’m the direct descendant…of Ephraim Black.”
I chuckled at his wry smirk. “Chief?”
“Nah, more like…Alpha.”
We laughed loudly at that.
“Anyway, it wasn’t until recently that some of those old legends made sense. Not everything is what you see,” he sighed, wrinkling his nose a little. “And death isn’t always final.”
“Until recently,” I mused, narrowing my eyes on the window facing the front of the house. Rain had started to speckle the driveway. I picked up my phone and tried Jake again, but it went straight to his voice mail. I didn’t leave another message.
Swallowing thickly, I tried to recall everything he’d said that day, when he’d been acting so strangely. I’d never been one to lose myself in rumors, what-ifs, and fairytales. Bella did. She loved a story that took a wide turn from reality. I wasn’t sure what I believed when it came to life after death. I’d grown up going to church and simply accepting most of what was told to me, and being a doctor, I’d seen some death and close calls. I considered myself fairly level-headed and analytical, but if I stacked up all I’d heard since that call from Charlie a little over two months ago, then the picture that was being painted was simply crazy.
I looked to Steve, who was still eyeing me intently. “If some of Jacob’s legends are true, and Bella left those books for me to find…” I swallowed thickly again, shaking my head and frowning as my mind ticked off all I knew.
No body was found. Blood everywhere. Death wasn’t always final. Cold ones.
My beautiful Edward… Don’t you ever get too busy to play. Always play. For me. Love, Bella
Blood drinkers, cold skin like a corpse, super strength, strange eyes, and immortal.
“Cold skin,” I mumbled, glancing down at my hands as each and every time I’d shaken Carlisle’s hand, his wife’s and daughter’s hands, came to mind.
The thought of strange eyes brought three sets of golden eyes to mind, not to mention the dark, hate-filled eyes of the redhead at the park.
“No wonder she guards you… Simply delicious… She’ll leave you alone soon enough.”
My eyes squeezed closed and then snapped open when the word slammed into my mind like a Mack truck.
A pounding knock on my door made me jump and gasp a bit. Even Steve stood up and warily looked toward the front door. I stood up from my spot on the floor against the wall and glanced out the window to see no car in the driveway.
I opened the door to find Jacob standing there in just a pair of long shorts.
“I got your message,” he stated, brushing by me and into the house.
“So…you thought you’d just…run to Seattle from La Push?” I questioned wryly, folding my arms across my chest when he winced a little. Suddenly, my temper started to unravel. “Jacob Black, unless you’re standing in my house to start telling me what you know – all of what you know – you can get the hell out.”
“I can’t,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’m…bound to keep some things secret, Edward. They are not only my secrets. I wish… I want…”
He glanced down at the floor as he trailed off but then caught sight of the stuff still on the kitchen counter. “What the hell?” He huffed a small, not-so-humorous laugh as he sorted through it all – Bella’s notes, the poem she’d marked, and the Quileute legend.
I walked to him, setting my phone down next to it all, showing the last call I’d received. When he met my gaze, I raised an eyebrow, asking, “Wanna know what’s really crazy about this call, aside from the fact it’s from my wife, who—” I sneered at him “—who died August second?” When he shook his head, I continued. “I called the cell company about this call. My wife removed her own cell phone from my plan…thirteen fucking days after she died! I heard her voice, dammit! Now, Jacob, I’m going to ask you again to tell me what you know! Now, or get the hell out of my house!”
He sputtered, opening his mouth, which snapped closed again. His body shook, and sweat broke out across his forehead, in spite of his lack of clothing and the chilly fall air outside. Instead of speaking, he shook his head back and forth, and I started to walk toward the front door.
Before I could get two steps from him, he had his large hands gripping my T-shirt fiercely. “You have to guess, Edward,” he hissed in a whisper, his eyes wild and dark. “I’m not kidding. Tell me what you’ve figured out. That’s the only way this will work, man.”
I met his wild, frantic gaze, seeing nothing but sincerity, but I was afraid to utter these things aloud, so my voice was a mere whisper. “Sh-She’s… She’s left me notes,” I started so softly, and he nodded for me to keep going. “She marked books and poems – stories about your tribe, poems about…” I trailed off in describing the poem because I was too afraid to hope that she was truly trying to tell me something. “She’s calling me, Jake.” There was too much hope in my tone, but Jacob didn’t correct me or flinch at it.
I studied his face some more, coming to the conclusion that I might as well spill all my insane theories. “The legends are true, aren’t they? All of them. Today, at the park, there was a…a…woman. Red hair, weird clothes, but she… She wasn’t human, was she? Carlisle…his family… You didn’t like them because they aren’t human. You… Your people… Your ancestors fought these…these…cold ones.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Do,” I repeated, and he watched my face as I let that settle over me. He’d used present tense. “You change into a wolf? You’re really an Alpha?”
“I am.” He tugged me by my shirt and settled me on the stool at the counter, making sure I didn’t collapse to the floor.
“You told Charlie you used to hate Carlisle and his family,” I stated, looking up at him as he walked around to the other side of the kitchen counter to shuffle through all the things Bella had left me.
“Mmhmm,” he hummed, meeting my gaze. “Edward, keep going. When I tell you that you have to guess, I’m not fucking kidding. You have to do this so that bonds and vows aren’t broken, do you understand me?”
Nodding, I picked up the notes my wife had left me, examining them closely, but I continued on the same line of thinking. “But you’re okay with Carlisle now? Why? What changed? If they’re something…”
“Bella.” Jake’s voice was raspy, and he wrinkled his nose a bit. “Bella changed it.”
That fell harshly into the room, and I snapped my gaze to his, my temper unraveling and almost violent. “Jake! Dammit!”
 He leaned down onto his elbow on the counter, bringing his face close to mine. “Edward, if I told you that the legends of my tribe are true, then what else does that tell you? Think!” His face was fierce, his eyes dark, but he didn’t look away. “There is shit going on in this world that regular people can’t know. There are promises I’ve made that…” He sighed deeply, closing his eyes and shaking his head slowly. “Promises that mean life or death. And I know it doesn’t make sense, but Bella was my best friend growing up, and you became a good friend when you came along, Edward. But…this is more than just pinky swears on the beach over hot dogs.”
He stood up and walked around the counter to the front window that faced the driveway. “Trust me when I tell you, I didn’t think any of this shit was real when I was a kid. They were just cool stories. Now…I wish they weren’t true, but they are.” He turned to face me. “And it’s really, truly fucked up that you’re trapped in the middle of it all.”
My brow furrowed as I absorbed what he was saying – or at least skirting around. I looked down at the counter, picking up the book of poems Bella had left me.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die.
My Bella was smart. She was soft and sweet and beautiful, but she took her books and words so very seriously. Bella with the written word was like some people who could quote song lyrics from normal conversations. She had the ability to draw parallels between life and literature.
“I really heard her voice,” I whispered suddenly, gazing at the book and finally lifting my eyes to Jake. “I did. Didn’t I?”
He flinched a little but waved me on.
“There was no animal attack.”
“Oh, they’re animals, all right.”
My eyes narrowed. “If she’s… If Bella is… Is she?” I sputtered out, not even understanding myself, but Jacob got it and nodded a bit. “If she’s leaving me messages, calling me, then why can’t I see my wife? Why won’t she come to me?”
“She’s not your wife anymore.”
My temper unraveled, and I threw the book in my hand. “She’ll be my wife until she tells me differently, Jake! If she’s still alive, I want…”
“She can’t, Edward,” he whispered, bracing himself when I walked to him. “She isn’t Bella anymore.” His shoulders sagged. “She is, but she isn’t…”
I stepped away from him, snatching up the books and the notes, even the book I’d thrown. I shoved it into his chest. “Tell me she isn’t the same!”
“She is, but she isn’t,” he repeated a touch harsher this time.
“Why can’t I see her? Does she… Jesus, Jake, what happened out on that road that night? And what the fuck is everyone hiding from me!?”
There was another knock on my front door, and I glared at Jacob for a beat or two as my breathing was harsh through flared nostrils. I finally broke away from him when there was another knock. A glance out the window showed a sleek, black, newer-model Mercedes sitting in my driveway behind my cars.
I wasn’t sure who I expected, but it wasn’t the man standing nervously on my doorstep.
“Carlisle,” I said, now aware of what he was – or what he might have been.
“Son, we need to talk. May I come in?” he greeted softly.
“Do you need permission?” I snarked back.
A small, wry smirk crossed his face, but his response was calm. “It’s still polite to ask, Edward.”
Stepping aside, I let him in, and he greeted Jacob with a nod.
“He figured it out; I didn’t tell him,” Jake defended, folding his large arms across his chest.
Carlisle chuckled lowly, shaking his head. “Oh, I’m aware of how he’s ‘figured it out.’” He sighed deeply but smiled warmly Jacob’s way. “The treaty is still intact, Jacob. These are…unusual circumstances.”
I glanced between them at the mention of a treaty. “Will someone tell me something? Anything?!”
“Yes,” Carlisle answered, and still he was almost irritatingly calm. “Is there somewhere we can all sit down?”
Nodding, I led everyone into the living room, where we sat on the couch and chair. With my elbows on my knees, I gripped my hair as I glared at the floor. “Is my wife alive or not?” I ground out through gritted teeth, glancing up between the two of them, but it was Carlisle who answered.
“Edward…son, what I’m about to tell you can’t leave this room. You’ve put it together as to what we are, but I need to explain to you just how dangerous it is for a human to know, okay? We will address your original question, but in order to do that, I must have your complete, undivided attention as to why you can’t tell anyone what you’re about to hear. You must promise me.”
He met my gaze, and at that moment, I knew he wasn’t normal…or human. His eyes were severe and golden, and I saw that behind them was someone – or something – who was more than a gentle doctor. And he waited – eerily still and patient – for me to answer him.
I nodded a little. “Yeah, okay. I promise.” My voice cracked, but he accepted that answer and stood up to walk around the room.
“I need you to understand one thing, first and foremost. Jacob wanted to come to you immediately. He thought it unfair to keep you in the dark. So his vow was to me.” Carlisle rolled his eyes Jake’s way. “Not that he didn’t hint at it.”
Jake’s grin was wide and easy as he shrugged a large shoulder.
“However, now that you’ve figured it out, you need to understand a few things.” Carlisle stared out the window of the living room for a moment but then pushed his hands into the front pockets of his pants and faced me. “What we are…” he mused softly. “We are predators, Edward. We are what the legends describe – blood-drinking, night-stalking, hunters of men. We are impervious to human weapons, and we’re incredibly fast and strong. We can live for centuries, never changing, always the same. We are…frozen, essentially.”
His voice sounded sad and ancient at the description, but he went on.
“By nature, we’re designed to kill. Everything we are pulls a human in for our consumption, but there are a few of us who push against that instinct. We fight what we are in order to lead a better, more normal life. My family and I don’t want to be killers. We stay together as a family – another thing that makes us different from the normal vampire.”
I flinched at the word, because it was the first time it had been uttered aloud.
“Get used to it, buddy,” Jake whispered.
Nodding, I looked back to Carlisle. “I-If you don’t kill…”
“We drink the blood of animals,” he answered when my voice trailed off. “It’s not as satisfying, but it gives us the golden eye color, a calmer demeanor, and a clean conscience. Those of us on a more traditional diet would have red eyes. Like the redhead at the park today.”
My eyebrows shot up. “Her eyes were black.”
“Because she was hunting you,” Jake answered.
“Wh-What? Why?”
Carlisle took a deep breath and sat back down in front of me. “For revenge, son, and I’ll explain in a moment, but one more promise from you. My kind is governed by three very old, very strict vampires, so you must understand that me telling you is breaking the utmost law of our kind. So I’m trusting you to keep it quiet.”
“Yes, sir.”
He nodded, closing his eyes for a moment and then gazing back at me. “I owe you an apology, Edward. Actually, I owe you several. But the biggest one I owe you is…it’s my fault that you lost Bella.”
My eyes narrowed on him, but he held his hand up.
“Wait, son. Let me finish. The night Bella was visiting her father in Forks, my family and I were chasing a small coven of nomads. Jake and his pack joined us, but we didn’t know we were steering them directly toward Bella. We didn’t know she’d broken down. And we most certainly didn’t know what the coven was capable of.” He rubbed his face in weary frustration but looked back to me. “There were three of them – two men and a woman. A woman with red hair.” He waited until I nodded in understanding before he went on. “James, Laurent, and Victoria were working their way through Washington and feeding on humans, but when they stumbled upon my family, we asked them to please move on from the area. Some local residents had been found, though they blamed it on animal attacks. In fact, Charlie had investigated those deaths.”
Carlisle stood up and started to pace again. “My family is very talented, Edward, so they were aware of deception and plots against them. Words were exchanged between members of my family and this coven, which sent them on a chase. The wolves became involved when the coven crossed over the treaty line between our land and theirs, and Jake and I agreed to work together to rid the area of these three.”
“We didn’t know, Edward,” Jacob piped up softly. “We didn’t know she was there until it was too late. The blond guy, James, reached her before any of us could get there. My pack surrounded the area, and Carlisle’s family did the same, but before Carlisle could negotiate for Bella, before any of us could blink, he bit her. And then…it was chaos. We all lost our shit. We split up and worked together. One of Carlisle’s guys – Jasper, I think… He caught the one with dreadlocks. Quil, Embry, and Paul caught the one who’d bitten Bella. We tore them apart, and they’re gone, but that redhead got away. She led the rest of us all on a wild chase, and we lost her in the water.”
Carlisle sat down again. “We had to work fast, son. We… I worked as best I could on Bella, but she was bitten, and the venom was already working on her, changing her into one of us. I asked her what she wanted, what choice she wanted to make, and all she wanted was you. She said she couldn’t leave you.”
Tears burned my eyes, and I wasn’t sure if it was in sadness or regret that I’d let my sweet Bella go alone to see her father. I’d been blaming myself since the call from Charlie, but this cemented it for me.
“So she’s…” I started but trailed off because I wasn’t sure what I was asking.
“She’s one of us now,” Carlisle said gently.
I was mad, and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to direct it or what I wanted to destroy, but it was Jacob I rounded on. “You lied to me!” I snarled, my hands balling up into fists. “You told me you tracked the woods, that it was a bear. You told me there was no way she’d survive.”
“She didn’t,” Jacob countered, pointing to Carlisle. “There’s no heartbeat, no blood flow in that body. She doesn’t eat food, she doesn’t sleep, and she can’t touch you without breaking you, Edward. That’s not alive!”
“Jacob Black,” Carlisle stated firmly, the first show of temper or impatience I’d ever seen from him. “I’m aware of our differences, but I can assure you that I am every bit alive. My mind, my emotions, my intelligence are every bit intact as it was over two hundred years ago.” Jake waved a hand at him, but Carlisle turned back to me. “We are natural enemies, Edward,” he said, gesturing between himself and Jake. “However, when it came to Bella, we’ve had to put aside some of those things and focus on the big picture.”
“No offense to either of you,” I stated, standing up and pacing a bit as I gripped my hair hard. “I don’t care about your pack, or your family…or even that crazy redhead. What I care about is Bella. Now, I…I get that there were secrets that had to be maintained, but if my wife was asking for me, I want to know how someone could deny her that. I want to know where she is, because she’s obviously been trying to tell me something since this shit started.” I rounded on them both, my temper snapping. “I want to see my wife!”
Carlisle stood up and walked to me. “Edward, calm down. Let me explain, please.”
I stood tall in front of him, flinching when his hand landed on my shoulder, but I nodded a little. “Why can’t I see her? Doesn’t she…” Suddenly, the realization that my Bella may have changed her mind about me hit me like a wrecking ball, and that really hurt.
“Oh, son, she’s been fighting so hard against everything to see you, but you must understand something. She’s what we consider to be a newborn vampire. She’s acclimating to feeding and her strength and her new senses. She could kill you, in all honesty, despite the fact I believe she’s rather talented herself.” He sighed deeply, a small smile curling his mouth. “The normal thing to do is to remove all doubt of her death, sever ties from the living left behind, and not to look back.” When my angry gaze snapped up to his calm one, he continued. “We did not do that here because Bella begged us and because Jacob asked us to keep her close. Both have agreed that you would accept this – all of this – just fine. They were also worried you’d fall apart at the loss of her, and I’m beginning to agree.”
Frowning, I shook my head and let out a deep breath, my hands balling up into fists. “I want to see Bella. The fact that you stand between me and the wife I thought I’d lost makes me fucking furious, Carlisle. I’m not a violent person, but I could…” I trailed off just a bit, my hands curling into claws, but they dropped to my sides. “I don’t care the reasons, not a single one. I’ve been lied to – Charlie’s been lied to – since the beginning, and I can’t say whether I’ll ever trust either of you. And it’s obvious that Bella has tried to see me because…” I pointed toward the notes and books that were still on the kitchen floor after I’d shoved them at Jacob.
“She did that when you weren’t here, Edward,” Jake explained.
Carlisle hummed in agreement. “Hmm, yes, it seems the women in my family are hopeless romantics, and they decided to let her leave you clues as to what happened. Alice sees the future, and with you… She sees several outcomes. However, she knew the day in the hospital that you didn’t quite see through the façade we were putting on.”
“The problem we face now is Victoria,” Jacob stated, standing up from his spot on the sofa. “That crazy bitch isn’t stopping.” He looked to me. “Just when we thought maybe we’d let you figure it all out and let Bella come to you, that redheaded leech started tracking Bella. See, she blames her for losing her mate, James.”
“And while tracking Bella, it unfortunately led Victoria to you,” Carlisle stated. “Bella then went from begging to see you, to begging for us to protect you. You are always protected, Edward. You have been since the beginning. There are several of us watching you at all times. It was why I took the job at the hospital.”
I sighed deeply. “So that’s what the…the…what Victoria meant when she’d said ‘no wonder she guards you…’”
“Yeah, we were there this morning,” Jake said, wrinkling his nose a bit. “Bella came really close to catching her then.” He held up his thumb and forefinger close together. “She was really pissed when the leech talked to you this morning, but she lost her in Puget Sound. Bella was more interested in where you went than Victoria, so we stuck with you. When we heard you call the cell phone company…we knew you’d figured it out.”
I scrubbed my face harshly, raking my fingers through my hair. “I want to see her. I need to set eyes on my wife. I’m…I’d… I don’t care what she’s become; she’s still my Bella. And I’m tired of the lies and the clues and the silent phone calls. If she’s done with me, then she’ll have to tell me, but you’re not keeping me from my wife a minute longer.”
Jacob and Carlisle exchanged a glance, but ultimately, the latter finally nodded. “Okay, but we do this at my home with my family in order to keep her under control should it be too much.”
“I’m going, too,” Jacob stated.
I looked to Carlisle and nodded. “Fine. I’ll follow you in my car. Jacob, you’ll ride with me.”


smook said...

Deb, finally got to this story, wowza! It's brilliant as my friends across the pond would say! Totally hooked, love it. I am hooked on your story telling and the little hints along the way, excited for MORE! Thx you

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