Chapter 7: For Family, We'll Do Anything
When Paul and Bella emerged from the woods, Billy was slowly packing up his things. "I trust everything went well?" He asked, glancing at them both. Bella nodded, relief flooding her face. He smiled softly at them, glancing down at their hands. He didn't comment on it, but glanced at them again, this time as a man who could guide them. Even someone as dangerous, cold, and practically emotionless as Paul needed someone.
Billy handed Paul the keys, and Bella stayed behind, her eyes drifting after him before netting Billy's wise, brown ones. "Is Jacob…I know I made him pretty upset," She said, frowning at him. Billy could only chuckle. "Only you would be concerned with someone else's feelings after facing death. He'll be fine Bella. He doesn't understand what is going on, but one day he will. I want to tell him the truth every day, but I can't. He must trust his destiny. Like you have trusted yours. Jacob will one day take over, and as much as I want to prepare him for this, I can't. I wouldn't be able to. It's impossible. If you two are friends, good friends, it will survive this tough time," He smiled, patting her hand. "You need to clean that. To be honest, I think his feelings are a little more than friendly, but that may just be me," He chuckled.
Bella chuckled, looking down. "You and Charlie both," Billy patted her hand once more, and Bella looked back at him, brows raised. "Just, if it comes down to it Bella, just be honest with him," Bella squeezed his hand, nodding. "Of course," She promised, pushing him in the direction of the truck. Billy had to admit that Jacob was all he had, the only child he had left in his life, and he didn't want to see him get hurt. Bella probably would've been a good match for him, but he was slowly realizing that Sam was right. It was no coincidence that Paul is the only one to not imprint and to fight by her side. There was a bigger picture there, and you'd be dumb not to see it.
The ride to Billy's was silent for the most part. Suddenly, Billy leaning forward a bit. "What was it out there? The shadow?" Bella turned around in the seat, holding out her arm. "The scar that I got last year was from a vampire named James. I guess you were right. He somehow, despite being dead manifested himself into some physical entity. The vampire that the guys dealt with is his mate. Victoria…she could be out to get me, I don't know, but hey, what's new?" Paul glanced at her briefly before turning back to the road.
Sam was on the phone with Emily, updating her on the issue when Bella knocked on the porch door, before coming inside. "Here she is Em. Got to go, love you. Wait, what? No, no way, no in-laws. Bye Em," Sam chuckled to himself as he set the phone on the hook. "You're okay," He said in relief.
Bella smiled, nodding. "Yeah, Paul took care of it," She leaned against the door frame, tugging on the torn fabric. "Where is he?" Sam asked, glancing around her. "He went home. I rather told him to go. He doesn't need to be around me 24/7. I'm taking enough time from all of you as it is," She pulled off the black cloak, draping it over her arm.
Sam shook his head, sitting on the barstool. "It's our job Bella," Bella sat on the couch, leaning heavily against the cushions. "I know, but you protect people, not do this guard detail," She closed her eyes, relaxing a bit. "You're one of us, we do things differently," Sam explained. "I'm not winning this one am I?" She asked, her lips quirking upward in a tired smile. "Not today," Sam whispered.
"Is Levi alright?" She asked, stifling a yawn. "Yeah. I gave him the night off. I think he had enough for one day. Go on and get cleaned up. You need some rest," Sam advised. Bella nodded and leaned on the arm of the couch. "So do you. You can't run on 2 hours every day. Victoria hasn't been around since that day. Everyone is fine now," She mumbled, taking deep and evened breaths. Sam tilted his head, frowning slightly. "You know her how?" He asked, hoping that she'd give him something in her tired state. "Um, the Cullen's played baseball last year and her mate, the shadow out there tonight, hunted me. He gave me the scar. Jasper and Emmett killed him, and she's obviously out for revenge… she lost the love of her life…" She mumbled letting out a long sigh. "So it's a warning," Sam whispered to himself.
"Hmmm?" Bella hummed, opening an eye. "Nothing. Do you need help to the room?" Bella shook her head and pulled on the quilt that sat on the back of the couch. "This is fine Sam," She whispered, sleep taking over her.
Sam knew she was right, and he could worry tomorrow. He stood slowly and walked over to the couch. He moved some hair from her face, smiling down at her fondly. Leaning down, he kissed her forehead. He gently pulled the quilt from her grasp and draped it over her whole body before shutting off the lights. He trudged back to his own room, praying to the gods that he could fall into bed without an issue.
He crashed down on the bed, turning on his side. He grabbed his pillow, his body unable to fight itself any longer. He succumbed to the darkness, his body shutting down to regain some much-needed energy. Subconsciously, his ears were on alert. The faucet dripping in the bathroom, the wind picking up outside, and the even breathing of Bella as she slept. Their bodies change, and they don't realize it.
When he sleeps next to Emily, his breathing often matches hers, and any shift she makes, his body goes still until he's certain that she's comfortable. His body is doing the same thing, listening for any disruption in Bella's breathing and while the man may be mentally exhausted, the wolf was prepared for anything.
Sam gave Jamie a heated look when he walked through the door. "You wake her, and we'll have a problem," He warned. Jamie held his hands up in surrender, glancing at Bella as she snored softly. "Hungry?" Sam asked, handing him a plate. He turned to get Jamie a fork, but Jamie shook his head, shoveling his food into his mouth with his plate. "We really are animals," Sam muttered, turning back to the stove.
"Where is everyone else?" He asked after swallowing. "Jared and Embry are at school, which you and Levi need to be doing, but we need to work on some things. I'll write a few sick notes. Levi…is coming up the driveway," Levi came in seconds later, his eyes going to the small frame on the couch. Sam sat a plate on the table. Levi smiled lightly in thanks, sitting at the table. "Alright kid?" Sam asked concerned. Levi gave a one-armed shrug. "Just didn't sleep too well,"
Levi glanced once more at Bella before turning back to his breakfast. "I don't know how she could," He mumbled. Sam ran a hand through the teen's hair, offering some comfort. "It's over now. The Shadow is gone, and we only have one threat to worry about now," The boys nodded in relief, the kitchen descending into silence. "Is the vampire back?" Jamie asked curiously. Sam shook his head. "Haven't seen her yet. We can't let our guard down. We know that she wants Bella and it's for revenge. The murders happening in Seattle is a warning. She's making it clear that Bella is who she's after,"
"We'll catch her," Levi stated, and Jamie nodded, a smile forming on their faces. "Isn't Charlie in Seattle?" Paul's voice startled Sam and he growled low at the wolf. "Can you please make noise?" Sam groaned, shaking his head. The twins snickered. "Oh, the pranks you could do with us," Jamie smirked, totally comfortable around the wolf. Sam found it odd but went with it.
Paul just raised a brow before turning back to Sam. "Yeah, he is. Might give him a call," Sam murmured, turning to look at Bella. "She wouldn't go on if something happened to him. I think we should tell him the truth," Sam said, turning off the stove. "Probably. He wouldn't know what to look for," Paul agreed.
Sam sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Do you think she'd go after him?" After shoving a piece of toast in his mouth, Levi nodded. "I would," He said behind his chewing. Jamie nodded in agreement. "If I can't get what I want, which is…." He pointed in the direction of Bella. "Her. I'm going to go after what she cares about the most,"
Jamie was right, and it sent red flags down all their spines. Paul turned his attention in Bella's direction, watching for a moment as she shuffled around on the couch. "What is it?" Sam asked, watching Paul curiously. "Nothing," He murmured.
Bella awoke in the early afternoon, well-rested and somewhat relaxed. She sighed, yawning as she realized she finally slept without a looming presence over her. "Slept good?" She glanced up at the giant before her, giving him a soft smile. "I did, felt nice," Paul swiped his thumb across her forehand, smiling softly. "There's a plate for you in the kitchen," She turned her head in that direction, sending a small wave at Sam.
"Thank you," She whispered, the warmth of his body slowly trailing away as he walked back into the kitchen.
Hours later, the majority of the wolves were in the living room, and Bella stood in between Levi and Jamie. "Do you guys not pay attention in class?" She asked, chuckling softly. "Nobody reads these books B," Bella gave Levi a warning glare. "I have a few copies of each of these back at my place, so there's no excuse. Pick one and I'll go get them. Jane Austin isn't really that bad," They groaned, and Bella laughed softly. "If you want me to tutor you guys when not on patrol, I will, but you have to do some work," Levi grumbled softly to himself. "Sam is making us so that even if we miss school, we're not failing. I mean we're keeping people safe. That should count for something," Bella ruffled their hair shaking her head. "Oh trust me, Sam is serious about school," Jared piped in from the living room.
The twins groaned again, and Jamie banged his head against the table. "You two," Bella laughed. "Don't you have school too?" Jamie asked, glancing back up at her. His brows crinkled and he tilted his head. He shook his head, blinking a bit. "So that's what that feels like," He whispered, and Bella smiled down at him. "Hmmm, and to answer your question, I plan to test out,"
A knock on the door sounded and Bella glanced at it for a moment. "I got it," She called, heading for the door. She opened the wooden door, brows raised in surprise. She opened the screen, "Quil," She said, standing in the doorway. She frowned, her eyes raking over him in worry.
"Um, Jake isn't…" She trailed off, frowning as he started to pace in front of her. "Why were you out with Billy last night?" He blurted, running a hand through his curls. "Excuse me?" She asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Quil stopped in front of her, looking frustrated and distraught. "You're all he talks about. How he lost you and Embry. Embry doesn't even talk to us or sit with us at lunch anymore. He hangs with that Cameron kid all the time. I want to know what the hell is going on. It's like everyone is conspiring against us," He let out a deep breath, looking around for a moment before looking back at her.
Bella felt guilty and pity just looking at him. These secrets helped no one. "I'm sorry, but I can't help you. One day you just might understand. I think it's best you both stay away," She advised wanting to keep confrontations like this avoidable. "I'm sorry Quil," She whispered, turning around to head back inside. His hard grasp around her upper arm made her wince and she stopped, turning her head to look at him. He squeezed his fingers a bit more, adding uncomfortable pressure.
A grunt of displeasure left her throat, and Bella shook from his grasp rubbing her arm. Quil immediately frowned, looking down at his hands in fright. "I don't know what's wrong with me," He whispered. She stepped back into the house, her shoulder making contact with a hard abdomen.
She craned her neck up and Paul's gaze was trained on Quil. She stood on the tips of her toes, and Paul leaned down for her. "I don't think he can take anymore, look at him," She whispered, eyeing young Quil. Quil looked like a mess, bags under his eyes, his hands balled into fists, the brown t-shirt her wore was wrinkled all over, and his shorts had holes and tears in them like he outgrew them.
"He's confused, hurting, and stronger than the average boy," She said softly. She didn't blame him for getting angry, she would be too, she only wished to help him. "He either needs to know the truth or…" She trailed off, leaving Paul to put two and two together.
"Go on inside," He instructed, moving to the side. Bella moved around him, and Sam was already by the door, nodding at her. "Stay here okay? We'll be back. Levi, Jamie, come on," Bella rolled her eyes at them, smiling as they were too enthusiastic to get up from the table. "Bye guys," She whispered, watching as they all slowly led Quil into the woods. She could hear Quil asking where they were going, and she frowned at the fear in his voice.
She wished potential boys, the ones who they knew for sure would phase, could be somewhat prepared. The legends didn't do enough in her opinion, and many people, like herself, didn't believe them at first, and it was only natural that these boys wouldn't.
She made a mental note to ask Sam about it and started to tidy up around the house. She bit her lip as she thought about making lunch. She looked through Sam's fridge, sighing as she didn't see anything worth making. She grabbed a piece of paper from her room, and her wallet before heading towards the phone book. Grabbing a pen, she wrote went to the store. She couldn't guarantee if she'd be back before them, but she didn't want Sam or the guys to worry.
She set the pen down and slipped her phone into her back pocket. Sam's house phone rang, and Bella picked it up. "Uley residence," She answered. "Hello?" She asked into the phone, only silence greeting her. "I'm hanging up now," She responded. "Bella," Bella froze, brows pulling together. "Dad? Why didn't you say anything?" She asked, setting her wallet down. "Bella…I uh," Charlie hesitated on the other line, and Bella became worried. She never heard her father sound scared. "You sound…off. Dad…is someone with you?" She asked, swallowing the lump that was forming in her throat.
Charlie was always able to handle himself, and it strikes her odd that someone got the jump on wasn't invincible of course, but Charlie was smart. She started to wonder if it was someone at all. "Is she there?" She asked quietly, her bottom lip trembling as Charlie sniffled. She had never seen Charlie cry except when Renee took her away when she was young. It broke her heart.
Bella closed her eyes, a tear slipping down her cheek as the cold, light voice filtered on. "It wasn't easy getting to you. I saw Daddy one night, and well I'm sure you can already guess what happened afterward. He tastes very good," She purred. "Don't you touch him," Bella snapped, her free hand balling into a fist.
"I already have. He's a strong one. Hmmm…but like most humans, they become useless. You have 3 hours. If I smell dog, I will snap his neck. Come alone. 1628 Silverwood Drive. Seattle. Leave your phone. Take the taxi," Bella wrote down the address, tearing off the piece of paper. "It takes a minute to get a taxi and it takes 3 hours just to get into Seattle. I need more time," Bella pleaded, tapping her foot against the floor.
"Tsk, tsk. You should listen better. I said the taxi. It should be out there now. I think you better make haste. 2 hours and 59 minutes," The line went dead, and Bella rushed to the door, stopping short as a yellow taxi pulled up to the door. She rushed outside, memorizing the address, the slip of paper falling from her hands.
Paul wrinkled his nose as he bent down, Bella's scribbled handwriting facing him as he picked up the piece of paper. "She left in a hurry to just be going to the store," Sam murmured placing the phone back onto the hook. "Your truck is still here, her wallet, phone, why didn't she take it?" Jared asked, turning to face Sam. "I don't know. Paul, find anything?" Sam turned in the direction of the porch, but Paul was nowhere in sight.
Bella tossed what cash she had on hand, and scrambled out of the taxi, staring at the small house. It was late in the evening, and there was nothing but woods surrounding the old-looking place. She steadied herself before walking forward. Her heart raced in her chest as terror filled her body. What she was doing was incredibly stupid, but this was her father. She didn't have time to wait. She would always die for the ones she loved. No question about it.
The small wooden door was like death, and she reached out her hand, her fingers curling around the glass knob. She pushed the door open, the smell of stale air greeting her. "Close the door Bella," Victoria whispered, and Bella peered into the darkness unable to see a damn thing.
Bella shut the door, and as it slammed shut, a dim lamp cut on. Bella froze at the sight before her. Charlie sat in the middle of the bare room, bound to a chair. He looked like he'd been through hell. His face was all cut up, bruises littering every visible part of his body. Bella let out a small whimper at the sight of his broken fingers. Bella rushed forward, dropping to his knees in front of him. "Dad..." She whispered, her shaking hands running over his bruised hands.
He opened his mouth to speak, but no words would come out. "Let him go," Bella demanded, looking around for Victoria. Woosh. "I don't think so. You have caused me so much pain…..it's only right I return the favor," Victoria whispered in her ear. Victoria's hand connected with Bella's cheek, sending her flying against the wall. She slid down the wall, breathing heavily as she stared Victoria down.
Bella could feel the pain of her rib as she breathed. Victoria was in front of her in seconds, crouching before her, a small smile playing on her lips. Her finger moved a strand of hair from Bella's face. "You're so willing….the cow walks towards slaughter…"
Victoria wrapped her fingers around Bella's neck, slowly dragging her up the wall. "Maybe I should be a little gentle hmmm? I want you to slowly feel pain…" Cold, hurt, black eyes stared Bella down, Victoria's smile dropping from her face. She dropped Bella to the floor and crouched back down in front of her. Victoria wrapped Bella's hair around her fingers, dragging her back into the center of the room. She sat Bella across from Charlie, holding her face in her hands. "Look at him Bella. Look at where you put him. Look at what you and your precious Cullen's did. The girls didn't have to die Bella. Pity,"
She pushed Bella to the side, standing once again. Bella shook her head frantically as Victoria circled Charlie. "No! I'm the one you want. You don't have to do this!" She pleaded, going still as Victoria punched Charlie in the face. It was hard enough to knock his head to the side, and Bella realized that this wasn't going to be fast. She was going to draw it out.
Charlie, a brave man, didn't even grunt as Victoria beat him blind. She raked her claws down Charlie's face, licking the blood off her fingers. "I wonder if she tastes just as good," She whispered, grabbing Charlie's arm. "NO!" Bella screamed, unable to hold back her cry as she heard the sickening break of his bone. Charlie this time could only yell, his body in between consciousness and unconsciousness.
"HURT ME! YOU WANT ME! He's got nothing, NOTHING to do with this. This is between me and you," Bella snapped, moving to stand on her feet. Victoria let Charlie's head drop to the side, and she raised a slim brow in return. Bella only had to blink once, and Victoria's curls were swaying in front of her face. Bella hunched over, gasping for breath as the rock-solid fist connected with her gut. Her eyes watered, and her knees buckled as swift feet swiped under her own legs.
Her knees hit the hard floor and Bella fell forward, a knee hitting her lower back. She curled on her side, a stone-cold foot bruising the flesh over her ribs, kicking her hard enough for her to roll over. Her head lolled to the side, and she raked her eyes over Charlie's broken form. "You'll die for them Bella?" Victoria asked, her black eyes staring into her own as she laid on the floor next to her. Bella spit the blood from her mouth, nodding weakly. "Always," Victoria smiled a sinister smile, moving the hair from Bella's forehead.
"You must be good at making promises," A small glint in her eyes reflected at Bella like a warning, and Bella clenched her teeth together. She wouldn't give Victoria the satisfaction of her pain. As sick as it sounded, broken bones and bruised body parts, were nothing compared to the bite mark of James, and she'd rather face this brutal torture than to see Charlie suffer.
Bella shut her eyes as Victoria played her sick game of beat and bleed. She wasn't sure how long it had been going on, but she remembered Charlie waking up at some point, screaming for Victoria to lay off and kill him instead, but his pleas were ignored.
Bella couldn't feel one of her legs, an ankle hurt, and her elbow was at a crooked angle, and she was sure her nose was broken. She pursed her lips together, somehow keeping in a scream as her left wrist was squeezed, almost to the point of being broken. Victoria growled low in Bella's ear. "I'm getting bored Bella," She hissed. "You won't even scream…I should snap your neck right now…"
Victoria slowly stepped over Bella and behind Charlie, running a finger down his neck. "Think he'll scream some more?" She taunted, laughing softly at Bella. Bella shook her head no. "Me for him! That's the deal!" She rasped. Victoria growled, gripping Charlie's hair, forcing his head back. "NO! Don't you fucking dare!" Bella screamed, reaching out for Charlie. "I swear to god! Don't you touch him!" Bella yelled, tears leaking from her eyes.
"M-make it quick…" Charlie whispered, holding eye contact with Bella. "Dad…" She whimpered, eyeing Victoria's fingers. They were coiling and uncoiling, and she knew that Victoria was done. 'I love you' Charlie mouthed, closing his eyes. "VICTORIA!" She screamed, drawing out her name.
Victoria stopped, shocked at Bella's outburst. She suddenly tilted her head, letting Charlie's head go. The sound of a door breaking took Victoria's attention, and Bella blinked slowly, her vision blurring slightly. "You found my hiding spot," Victoria whispered, her body tensing in preparation. The man before her said nothing, his eyes quickly taking in the scene around him.
Victoria narrowed her eyes as he suddenly burst into nothing but fur, and she sprang, heading for the walls, barely missing the large teeth. She aimed for the semi-broken window, crashing through it. She took one glance behind her, and her eyes widened as the beast was on her tail.
She flitted up into a nearby tree, sneering down at it as it clawed at the bark. "Risk killing me or letting them die!" She hissed, smiling to herself as it growled at her one more time before shooting off in the opposite direction.
Bella grunted as she used her working hand to untie the knots around his wrists and ankles. "Dad…are you okay?" She asked, loosening the last knot. He slumped to the floor, and Bella cradled his body. Charlie's face was covered in scars and blood, his breathing raspy. "I'm in a…lot of pain…but.." He swallowed, grunting softly as he ran a thumb over her busted lip. "I know. Listen to me, y-you can't tell anyone, no one a-about what happened in here tonight. If they ask who did this, say they wore a mask and that …t-they used a voice m-m-modifier," She gasped, leaning back against the wooden floor.
"What about the m-man?" Charlie asked, his eyes drooping. "He's going to save us," She whispered.
As Bella's eyes started to flutter close, a tan figure stood over her, and Paul's muffled voice barely registered to her ears. "I've got you now,"
She reached for his hand, and his long, slim fingers intertwined with hers, squeezing her hand tightly. She held his hand to her chest, her heart beat strong, fighting on as much as it could.
White lights blinded Bella as she opened her eyes, blurry faces above her own, and a horrible beeping noise echoed throughout the area. "Charlie?" She asked softly, unable to get a response as the people staring down at her were talking over her.
"W-where's Charlie?" She questioned again, her head moving to the side, trying to catch someone's attention. "She's saying something. Sweetheart, can you hear me?" An older man asked, and Bella could barely move, and her body felt like it was on fire. "Where's my dad?" She asked, her eyes looking around for any sign of anything.
"Do you know where you are?" Another one asked and Bella grunted as everything was starting to go fuzzy. A sudden surge of adrenaline rushed through her veins and Bella suddenly sat up, her hand gripping onto the scrubs of a nurse. "CHARLIE SWAN! WHERE IS HE?!" She yelled in her face, panic slowly settling in as she tried looking around. She couldn't see much over their heads and she couldn't remember if Charlie was alive. All she saw was white. And blood.
"P-Paul. I want….where is Paul?" She asked one of the nurses, ignoring them as they tried to get her to lay down. "Ma'am, ma'am please," One of them asked, gently pushing on her shoulders. Bella fought against the hands, her heart hammering in her chest. "PAUL!" She screamed, trying to push her body upwards to see over their heads. Her eyes caught the tips of black hair, and through the small gap of people, her eyes widened, and she pointed in his direction. "Stop! He's… Paul!" One of the nurses held up his hand, and the gurney she was on stopped. The nurses closest parted ways, and Paul grasped her hand once in proximity. "Charlie. Is he okay?" She asked, letting him push her back down.
"He's in ICU. You need to relax," He soothed, holding their hands to his own heart. "Sir, we need to hurry this along. The morphine is about to kick in," Paul lifted his eyes, growling low, and the nurse looked away, audibly gulping. He glanced back down at Bella then, squeezing her hand. "Don't leave me," Bella mumbled tiredly.
Paul shook his head, following along with her as they rolled her into the emergency wing.
"Is she going to be okay?" Sam asked in a hushed whisper, glancing over his shoulder. The doctor nodded, removing his mask. "She will, lots of recovery. Sprained nose, broken leg so she's going to be on crutches for a few months. Her wrist is sprained so that'll be in a splint for a few days, and then we'll sling it before she leaves. Foot too. Whatever happened, the guy did a number on them. Her father has similar injuries but not as extensive. He has some broken fingers and he'll be in a boot. Deep gashes all over his body, he needed a lot of stitches, but he'll make it out okay, he just needs to regroup," Sam nodded gratefully. "When can they both be released?" He asked.
"The girl needs at least a week here. Her father, just a few days maybe," Sam nodded, looking back at Bella. "Can you move her father to her room or the both of them to a bigger room? If I have to pay for the accommodations, I can," The doctor shook his head. "That won't be necessary. It can be done. He's an officer of the law. I'll get someone on that right away," Sam shook his hand, running a hand through his hair. "Hey doc, how long is she going to be out?"
The doctor poured some sanitizer on his hand, leading Sam to Charlie's room. "She'll be out for the rest of the night and early morning. She was hysterical. Nurses didn't expect her to wake but she did, a classic rush of adrenaline, asking for her father, asking for a guy. He came and calmed her down, and she's been out since. She's lucky to even move anything,"
"Once we move him, you can visit him. He's stable and given that they'll be taken care of once they leave, he should recover nicely. I've monitored her a bit and him too, so don't be surprised that they may experience PTSD. They were tortured, it's only common," The doctor left Sam alone, and he watched Charlie sleep before heading back into Bella's room.
"Hey…" Sam whispered, going to the other side of her bed. Paul didn't look up, but his shift in body was an acknowledgment of his presence. "She'll be here for a week or so. The boys are holding things down, and until they're released, we're here 24/7. I'll watch over Charlie while he's in ICU. Was it her?"
Paul slowly looked up, a murderous look in his eyes. He nodded, looking back down. "I almost had her, but they needed me," Sam nodded in understanding. "You made the right decision. Even leaving without saying anything. You're faster," He glanced down at their adjoined hands, leaning back into the uncomfortable chair. "We'll catch her," Sam vowed.
Two Weeks Later
Bella thrashed around in the bed, fighting the arms that reached for her. A hot hand smoothed over her forehead, and a rough voice was speaking to her. "Bella…" Her eyes snapped open and she gripped Paul's shirt tightly, meeting his dark eyes. "It's okay," He whispered, leaning down to lay his forehead against hers. Bella let out a shaky breath, grabbing onto him for dear life, using him as an anchor.
"It's okay," He whispered in her ear, gently lowering himself into the bed, careful of her leg. As she slowly fell back asleep, her grip never loosened on his shirt, and he wrapped an arm around her waist, keeping her close in the night. She talked in her sleep off and on throughout the night. Mostly pleading or calling Charlie's name. Paul's name slipped past her tongue and with each mumble, name, or whimper, his anger only grew.
Over the next several weeks, the Uley pack was anything but calm. Bella's nightmares were more frequent, and Charlie didn't want to sleep. No vampires had been in the area, but Sam was still seeing signs. These boys were changing, and it wasn't because of a close threat. He got the shock of a lifetime when his ex-fiancé Leah Clearwater phased into a wolf, causing her poor father to have a heart attack. The shock of his death triggered the phase of Seth Clearwater, and the pack had a new addition. Leah was, as expected, bitter, unable to even look Sam or her cousin in the eye. She didn't blame Sam or Emily for what happened, and once she knew the truth, she blamed life. She was having a hard time adjusting but sometimes found comfort in Bella who was still on mandatory bed rest.
They connected instantly, and Leah found that she wasn't alone. Her heart had been scorched at one point too. Paul was hard to get around, and he mostly, well always, stayed by Bella's side, alternating sometimes to check on Charlie. He paid Leah no mind each time she came to visit, but Leah could feel his eyes watching her. The younger boys would get testy, and Paul was even more on edge when their emotions got high.
While Charlie was slowly recovering, Sam broke everything down. Charlie was finally let in on the secret, and the truth about what really went bump in the night, and his daughter's role it in all. It was a hard pill to swallow, but in true Swan fashion, he took it in stride. He was able to witness the weird relationships between his daughter and this pack.
He kept an eye on Paul, realizing that he acted differently around Bella. He never strayed too far, and he kept the boys in check when Sam was off to work. If they got too close, it only took one look, and the others would be turning tail.
He observed the way she looked at him, and he knew that look. He held that same look when he met Renee. His daughter didn't realize it, but she loved Paul, maybe or maybe not in love with him, but she had love in her heart that went past friendly. When she was finally able to move around on her own, Paul would sit within her proximity, but would otherwise leave her to her own devices, so far as to blend in with the silence that Charlie would forget he'd even be in the room.
Bella would explain how everything started; Charlie would glance in Paul's direction, and he found it quite interesting that he'd shift, just barely, and incline his head towards her. He was very in sync with Bella, and Charlie found it fascinating.
The Swan's stuck to their cover story when officers from Seattle came down to speak with them, and since Charlie barely remembered the whole ordeal, nothing seemed amiss. Charlie had a newfound hatred for vampires, and his injuries made it harder for him to get back to work. At the current moment, he was on paid sick leave until he had a psych evaluation. With Sam's advice, Charlie was able to convince his Super to get a psych eval from the tribe's own therapist.
This world was a weird one, and he would've never known it existed. It brought he and Billy's relationship further and strained it somewhat when it came to Jacob. Charlie knew now that Jacob would be like the others and he didn't know what that meant for Bella. You were a fool to not see that the boy was in love, and the sad truth was that Jacob had loved her before the poor boy knew what love was.
Charlie was slowly falling into step with this new life, and despite the weirdness of it, he was just happy to see his daughter happy, and they've never been closer. Once he was healed, he'd go back home, but for now, he was content.
Bella leaned on Paul's arm as she hobbled into the office of Forks High School. She smiled at the receptionist. "I'm Bella Swan. I'm here for the final exam," The receptionist smiled, shooting out of her chair. "Oh yes! Bella! Right on time. Your friend can accompany you to your chair and can wait out here," Bella nodded, and they followed behind her towards the gym. There weren't many students, 30 at most, and as usual, they watched her every move. "I hate when they stare," She whispered, knowing Paul could hear her.
The small squeeze of his fingers made the nerves die down a bit. She internally groaned as she was placed next to Mike. He smiled up at her, glancing at Paul warily. Paul paid him no mind as he leaned down to whisper in Bella's ear. "I'll be right outside," Bella nodded, and sat down in her seat, missing the heated glare Paul sent Mike's way. "Bella," Mike whispered, and Bella glanced over, raising a brow.
"We heard what happened. Glad to know you're okay. Who's your boyfriend?" Bella chuckled to herself, shaking her head. "He's not my boyfriend, he's my friend," She clarified. Mike stared at her incredulously, glancing behind him. Paul was sitting in the lobby area, his arms crossed over his chest. "A friend? A guy that looks at you like that is not your friend," Bella blushed, looking back down at the turned over test. "Girls can really be dense," He whispered, and Bella snorted. "Us? Jessica's been crushing on you since I got here. Don't call me dense," Mike reared back, clearing his throat. "Really?" He asked. Bella nodded, "Really,"
Soon, students started filling in and the test began. Bella concentrated and almost laughed at the simplicity of it. She was probably the fifth person to be finished, Mike finishing 6th. "What are your plans now?" Mike asked, helping Bella to her feet. "Apply to the college here on the outskirts," She answered, letting him lead her to the lobby. "You're not going to the college in Seattle?" He questioned curiously. Bella softly laughed. "No, I got enough of Seattle. Besides, I want to stay close to friends and family," She responded.
Mike slowed down a bit, and Bella glanced at him. "I don't have a chance, do I?" Bella patted his hand but shook her head. "I'm sorry. But trust me when I say this, Jessica has it bad for you," She laughed as his cheeks turned pink, and she let him go on, Paul standing from his spot on the bench, taking Bella's arm.
"Were you by any chance listening to our conversation?" She asked. "Which part?" He responded, and Bella chuckled, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Hey, maybe after my foot heals up nice, we should have a movie night or all of us go out to the movies. I know with everything going on it is not the most brilliant of ideas, but you guys need a break. Charlie and I are with you guys 24/7, and I don't think Victoria's down for another tango. I think it'll ease things up a bit, don't you?"
She questioned as they walked towards his truck. He didn't answer but sent a smile her way.
Bella smiled in return, her eyes sparkling for once since the ordeal with Victoria. Paul drove out of the parking lot, holding Bella's hand in his, and Bella glanced down at them. She knew one thing though; you don't hold hands for this long with friends.
AN: Hope you all enjoyed! Below is a sneak peek for the next chapter!
Bella ran her fingers along the smooth skin of Paul's back, her fingers grazing over a scar. "You don't mind?" She questioned softly; the soft glow of the lamp illuminated him in soft light. He shook his head, watching her intently as she explored some of the year-old scars.
"What happened to you?" She whispered, her eyes glossing over as she ran her fingers across a large scar that wrapped from his chest to the side of his body. He gently grabbed her hand, placing it over his heart. Bella felt his heart beating steadily under her palm, and she splayed her fingers, staring into his eyes. She leaned her forehead against his, carefully wrapping her arms around his neck.
His hands rested against her waist, and he closed his eyes. "Come on, everyone's waiting," She whispered into his neck.