dark moon

a twilight fanfiction.

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21. Chapter 20 Charlie

The flight duration seemed unbelievably short considering the endless amount of unanswered questions still flowing through my mind. When we landed at Atlanta airport, Bella became immediately alert despite fighting the exhaustion that was physically visible within her posture and appearance. Her expression transformed into anxiety as we exited the plane and proceeded into the airport. She often took swift glances at me as she stumbled alongside, but she looked away just as quickly.  I aided her by holding her up to prevent her from collapsing. Her quick stares bore right into me, and I realised she seemed to be checking to ensure my presence was maintained as if she was worried I was going to leave. Perhaps, she assumed that now we were back that I would just disappear again.
I would not.
I would stay until she told me to depart.
The thought of leaving her again was beyond painful.
I was determined not to lose the light that had re-entered my life.
The light that Bella brought.
I did not want to misplace the stars….again and return to the dark vacant loneliness.
 
Alice had informed me on the plane that our family would meet us at our destination. So I wasn’t surprised when I located my parent’s fretful thoughts the moment we had landed, or to see them waiting at the arrivals gate. Jasper made his way through the crowd to make his reunion with Alice. When they found each other, they just stared lovingly into each other’s eyes. I never fully understood the intense love and connection they shared – until I met Bella.
 
Carlisle and Esme were standing in a quiet corner, away from any suspicious looks. Suddenly, I was penitent for my recent behaviour; my self-absorbed state had almost cost my life as well as my sister’s and my love’s. If the outcome of the events that occurred in Italy had been different, then I would have been responsible for depriving my adoptive parents of two children and for that I was unreservedly remorseful. Esme, having already lost a child, would be devastated. I knew how she felt about all of us. We were her children. She had become a vampire whilst being on the verge of death. She had attempted suicide because she lost her first baby. I had almost put her through that terrible grief…again.
 
I heard their almost inaudible exchange as we made our way through the gate.
            “Thank goodness.” Esme breathed as we came into their view.
            “Alice informed us of their safety, dear.” Carlisle replied.
            “I know, but I had to see to believe.”
 
As we came to a halt in front of them, Esme almost snatched Bella out of my arms to give her a fierce hug, but I kept my arms tightly around her – not willing to let her go. I realised it could have been potentially three children lost because Esme thought of Bella as a daughter; she had been just as concerned for her safety as much as mine and Alice’s.
            “Thank you so much.” Esme said into Bella’s ear as she embraced her.
            Edward! What were you thinking? I couldn’t lose you! She thought as she threw her arms protectively around me.
“You will never put me through that again.” She reprimanded me deservingly.
I smiled tenderly at the woman who had been my mother for such a long time.
            “Sorry, Mom.” I said, filled with sincere remorse.
            Edward, you can’t believe how happy I am that you are all well. She is a remarkable girl. My father spoke to me in his thoughts. He then turned to Bella to thank her for her actions in coming to my rescue.
            “Thank you, Bella. We owe you.”
            “Hardly.” She mumbled tiredly.
            “She is dead on her feet. Let’s get her home.” Esme ordered.
She supported Bella’s other side as we walked out towards the cars, where Rosalie and Emmett waited. My vengeance towards my sister who was the cause of my trip to Italy became my dominant emotional expression as I stilled at the sight of her.
I knew a furious confrontation should be avoided at the present time, therefore to prevent it I wanted to evade her by any means. 
            “Don’t. She feels awful.” Esme whispered as she noticed my hesitation.
            “She should.” I replied.
I was mostly annoyed that she had almost killed my Bella.
            “It’s not her fault.” Bella stammered beside me.
            “Let her make amends. We’ll ride with Alice and Jasper.” Esme encouraged. I would like to know what happened from Alice anyway, and we will meet you at the house. She continued in her head.
She meant the house in Forks.
My true home.
My family would convene there to discuss future plans once I had reluctantly taken Bella home to Charlie. 
I glared at Rosalie with accusing eyes, about to refuse to travel in the same vehicle as her, but Bella managed to convince me. I could not refuse her.
            “Please, Edward.” She almost begged for the comfort of no longer standing.
I sighed and towed her towards the sedan. We silently got into the car and Bella instantly leaned into me, resting her head on my chest and closing her eyes, finally giving into the fatigue that possessed her. As the engine ignited, Rosalie began apologising profusely in her head to me.
            I’m so sorry, Edward. I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t think. I was dense. I am truly sorry. Please can you forgive me?
When I did not dignify her remark with a response, she spoke aloud.
            “Edward?” I’m sorry.
            “I know.” I said indifferently.
Once I had given her a sign of recognition of her apology she turned to Bella, which irritated me – I wanted Bella to rest. However, she rightly owed Bella at least a request for forgiveness.
            “Bella?”
Bella’s eyes fluttered open abruptly in what I presumed was astonishment since Rosalie had never gone out of her way to address Bella directly due to her envy of her.
            “Yes, Rosalie?” Bella asked warily.
            “I’m so very sorry, Bella. I feel wretched about every part of this, and so grateful that you were brave enough to go and save my brother after what I did. Please say you’ll forgive me.”
Rosalie began hoping that if Bella was able to forgive her misdemeanour then it would persuade me to absolve her also.
            “Of course, Rosalie. It’s not your fault at all. I’m the one who jumped off the damn cliff. Of course I forgive you.”
It was characteristic of Bella to take the blame for everything.
            “It doesn’t count until she is conscious, Rose.” Emmett chuckled.
            “I’m conscious.” Bella slurred.
            “Let her sleep.” I interjected.
The car became silent and Bella was soon sleeping soundly.
 
Emmett decided to interrupt the hushed silence, when his inquisitive mind provoked him to ask questions.
            “So, how’s everything been going, Edward? Well, before all of this happened? Did you find that tracker’s mate?”
I let out a low growl at the memory.
            “I will take that as a negative.” I should have gone with you, even though you didn’t want me to, I could have helped. He continued in his head.
 
            “How do you suppose Charlie will react when we arrive with his runaway daughter?”
            “I don’t suppose he will be pleased.” Rosalie answered for me, thankfully.
I didn’t want to answer questions.
I didn’t want to explain myself or describe the recent events that had occurred in my life.
I wanted to take pleasure in the moment.
To enjoy Bella sleeping peacefully in my arms.
Holding her close to me.
Feeling her body.
Inhaling her scent.
Watching her chest rise and fall as she breathed.
Listening to the thrum of her heartbeat.
Just being in her presence.
I would deal with Charlie’s inevitably furious reaction when the time came, which would be too soon. 
 
As Emmett speedily approached the small town of Forks, I became increasingly fearful that Bella would soon be taken away from me. I longed for Emmett to drive slower, just to prolong the seconds I had left holding my love in my arms. I never wanted my eyes to be averted from her ever again.
As we rounded the corner onto Bella’s street, I clutched her tighter against me, very reluctant to let her go. The car came to an abrupt halt outside Bella’s father’s house. I heard Charlie trot to the window curiously, and I saw the curtains twitch in my peripheral vision.
            What the -! Charlie thought.
I opened the door and stepped out, walking round to the other side to carry Bella out.
            What the hell is he doing here? Charlie yelled in his head as he rushed to the front door.
As I lifted Bella into my arms she began to wake.
            “Do you want me to wait, bro? Emmett asked in rapid words.
            “Yes, I think that will be for the best, judging from Charlie’s temper.” I replied before I shut the car door.
            Charlie bustled out of the house. Jesus, what has he done to her? He thought as he saw the worn out Bella in my arms.
            “Bella!” he shouted.
            “Charlie.” Bella mumbled as she stirred in my arms, still clearly exhausted.
            “Shh. It’s okay; you’re home and safe. Just sleep.” I whispered.
            “I can’t believe you have the nerve to show your face here.” Charlie bellowed at me. Why couldn’t you have just stayed away? Stayed away from my baby, and stayed away from Forks.
            “Stop it, Dad.” Bella slurred incoherently.
            “What’s wrong with her?” Charlie demanded. She looks half dead! What has he done to her?
            “She is just very tired. Please let her rest.”
            “Don’t you tell me what to do! Give her to me. Get your hands off her!”
I could understand Charlie’s anger. I was the reason for his daughter’s disappearance over the past several days. He had been concerned, and with good reason. I figured the easiest option would be to concede to Charlie’s demand and hand Bella over to him, if only to ease his mind slightly. I shifted Bella in my arms, ready to surrender her to the comfort of her father’s, safely away from the vampire. But Bella held onto me, tightly for a human, probably afraid that Charlie might drop her. My mighty strength allowed me to carry her effortlessly. Charlie tugged on her arm trying to unlock her grip on me. I did not want to unlock her fingers attached to the front of my shirt. It was exactly what I was terrified of – someone attempting to seize Bella away from me.
            “Cut it out, Dad. Be mad at me.” Bella said in a more coherent voice.
            “You bet I will be. Get inside.” Charlie ordered.
            “Kay, let me down.”
I carefully released Bella to set her feet on the ground. She tried to take a step forward, except her feet did not move and instead her body fell forwards toward the concrete. I swooped down to catch her as fast as humanly possible without Charlie becoming too suspicious. She couldn’t walk by herself because of the incredible tiredness, so I pulled her back into my arms, welcoming back the warmth against my body.
            “Just let me get her upstairs. Then I’ll leave.” I told Charlie.
            “No.” Bella cried.
Did she not want me to carry her? Now that she knew she was home, did she want me to leave?
Or did she not want me to leave?
I found myself even more perplexed now trying to interpret Bella’s behaviour since our reunion. I had already established that Bella didn’t want me, hadn’t I?
What did she truly want?
I would give her anything.
 
Then it hit me.
I had left her.
No explanations.
No reasoning.
My enigmatic and abrupt departure must have left her with so many unanswered questions of her own – why did I leave? Why didn’t I want her all of a sudden?
Quite understandably she wanted and deserved answers.
 
I would give her answers.
I would answer honestly.
I would tell her how dark my life was without her.
I would not leave Forks again until Bella told me herself that she didn’t want me around.
Until she ordered me away.
 
            “I won’t be far.” I reassured her quietly out of Charlie’s earshot. I headed toward the house before Charlie had the chance to stop me taking Bella inside. He ran after me, struggling to keep up.
            “No. What do you think you are doing?” he stuttered from behind me.
 
Bella drifted back off to sleep as I carried her up the stairs to her room. She was still clinging to my shirt as I laid her down on her bed. Unwillingly and unhappily I unclenched her fingers gently. It felt like my newly restored heart was being ripped from my chest again as I prepared to leave her. I placed her blankets over her as Charlie appeared at the doorway. He looked at his daughter with love. He was immensely relieved that she was home and safe. I could see in his thoughts how panicked and scared he had been when she had left and he had no idea of her whereabouts or her wellbeing. He had been frantic; going out of his mind with worry.
After satisfying himself that Bella was all right he turned to me.
            “Get out of my house.” He said between gritted teeth to prevent himself from shouting it and waking Bella up.
 
As he followed me downstairs, the volume of his voice increased.
            “I don’t want you in this house. I don’t want you anywhere near Bella.”
I spun around to face him and he stepped back in surprise at my swift movement.
            “I’m sorry, Charlie, but don’t you think it is up to Bella whether I see her or not?”
            “No, I don’t.” he barked. “I’m her father. I know what is best for her. You…” He pointed his finger directly at me, shaking slightly from the anger pulsating through him. “You have caused enough misery in her life. I will not tolerate it. You are never to set foot through my door again, do you hear me?”
I was about to reply but my words constricted in my throat as a disturbing image filled Charlie’s thoughts.
Bella.
She was being carried by a man I did not recognise.
She was suffering from what could only be described as terrible pain.
Or loss.
Like she was dying.
Had someone died?
Someone had hurt her.
Someone had killed her emotionally. Charlie’s memory shocked me to my core as I recognised the clothes Bella’ was wearing – the same as she had been wearing the day I left Forks.
The day I had left her.
She was mumbling something – “He’s gone. He’s gone.”
It was me.
My fault.
I had hurt her.
I had broken her.
I was appalled at what I had done.
I had hurt her so much more than I had ever imagined.
 
I gaped at Charlie for a long moment whilst my insides crumbled. How could I have done that to her?
No wonder she didn’t want me anymore.
No wonder Charlie was beyond furious and didn’t want me around her.
I had to leave…now.
 
I turned and swiftly exited the house, with a new stabbing pain in my chest as I left my re-shattered heart behind once again. I got back in the car completely flabbergasted by what I had just witnessed in Charlie’s thoughts.
            “How did it go, bro? Charlie looked pretty mad. “
I was too shell-shocked to reply.
            Edward, you okay? He thought.
            “Just drive.” I managed to choke out.
The car sped away from where I left my sleeping beauty.
 
            “Drop me off at the end of the driveway, Emmett. I want to walk.” I demanded, hoping my sudden change of mood wouldn’t cause any unwanted questions to be asked. Fortune seemed to be on my side for once, as Emmett pulled over without thinking or speaking another word. I jumped out of the car and walked into the forest with only my thoughts for company.
 
The memory that I had viewed in Charlie’s mind distressed and revolted me. I could not believe nor understand how I could have devastated Bella’s emotions so completely. Now I could comprehend the dramatic change in Bella’s physical state, and why she had been distant with me.
The guardedness.
The apprehension.
 
She had believed me instantly when I had told her that vicious lie; that I no longer loved her. I was the something that had damaged her soul. I had tarnished the most precious thing in the world.
 
I had been correct in my previous conclusion – I had hurt her so deeply that she would never forgive me.
Now all I could think of was how to rectify my wrong doings.
My departure had without doubt caused many more problems than it solved.
By leaving, I had hurt Bella heinously, and I had also put her in more extreme danger than ever.
 
The walk to the house at human pace seemed short as I processed all the information spiralling in my mind.
There was one person in the house who could provide me with some answers.
The creature that had spent time with Bella recently, since my family’s absence from Forks.
The pixie like vampire who had been hiding something from me since Volterra; Alice.
 
My sister waited for me outside the front door.
            “I don’t know everything, Edward. But I can tell you what I do know.”
We walked into the house where the rest of my family was gathered.
            “You knew why Bella was different. You knew what was wrong with her. You know it was because of me.” I accused Alice.
            “Yes, I saw it straight away in her appearance when I arrived in Forks. She didn’t tell me herself though, she couldn’t bear to think about you let alone talk about you. I got the information from a conversation with Charlie.”
            “And, yet you didn’t tell me. I sensed you were hiding something from me. You were very controlled with your thoughts.”
            “I didn’t think it was the appropriate time or place to tell you, considering the situation we were in.” Alice replied. You were exceptionally insecure, Edward. I could see that. We needed to focus on getting out alive, and protecting Bella. Alice continued in her head.
I couldn’t dispute that. If Alice had informed me in Volterra it would have affected me, clouded my mind. Alice was right, I had to keep Bella safe - that was my main priority. Nothing had changed, even if she could no longer love me, the reason for my existence was to ensure Bella’s happiness.  I was always putting Bella’s life in jeopardy in whatever action I took and now I feared she was in the worst possible danger.
The werewolves.
A sadistic vampire out for revenge.
And the Volturi who wanted to commit Bella to eternal damnation.
 
Bella was a force field attracting danger in all forms.
            “What has been going on? Laurent? Victoria? The werewolves? What did Bella tell you, Alice?” I questioned.
            “Laurent came back to the area as a favour for Victoria, to help her locate Bella. It seems that he discovered her alone whilst he was thirsty, but the werewolves arrived just in time and chased him away. They killed him. Victoria has been trying to get to Bella relentlessly, but the werewolves have been protecting her.”
            “Protecting her?” I echoed.
How could that be? She shouldn’t be near them, they are perilous. I reminisced back to the last time my family inhabited Forks, many years ago, before Alice and Jasper had found us. There were werewolves here then. I remembered them as angry and unstable creatures. It was only because of my father’s peaceful and diplomatic nature that we could establish a truce in the form of the Treaty.
            “What are the werewolves even doing back, Carlisle? Rosalie asked.
            “I’m not sure.” He replied.
            “Well, I certainly don’t want them around Bella. What if one phased around her? It would kill her, or at the very least severely injure her.”
            “Maybe they aren’t bad. They have been protecting her after all.” Esme suggested, showing her ever compassionate nature.
I scoffed. There was no such thing as a good werewolf.
            It might be Bella that you need to keep away from the wolves. Alice mumbled in her thoughts.
            “Why?” I asked. Surely Bella knew the danger – no, I dismissed that thought. Bella did not fully understand the hazards in her life. 
            “She seems quite attached to them.”
            “You are hiding something else from me.” I addressed my sister again.
She did not reply.
            “Alice?” I said, getting irritated.
            “Just tell him, Alice.” Jasper said, nodding at her in encouragement.
            “Her best friend is a werewolf. Jacob Black.”
            “Woo, seriously?” Emmett chuckled. “Typical Bella. Vampire boyfriend and a wolf for her best friend.”
Rosalie nudged him in the ribs to make him shut up.
            “There is something else you should know, Edward.” Alice said with concern and annoyance in her tone. “I can’t see the werewolves. That’s why I thought that Bella was dead. Jacob pulled her out of the water after she jumped off that cliff. He saved her. But I didn’t see that because whenever the werewolves are around everything goes black.”
 
I was speechless for a moment.
I was unsure what to say or how to react.
Except I knew I needed to be with Bella. I felt cold without her, lost somehow. I missed her and was anxious to be where I belonged – by her side.
 
            Are we staying? Rosalie asked in her head.
            “I don’t know.” I replied. “It depends on what Bella decides after I explain to her why we left. I am going to tell her the truth. Alice can fill you in on the events from Volterra. I am going back to Bella now.”
            “Edward…” Carlisle started.
“Let him go.” Esme interjected. I shot her a grateful smile and swiftly exited the house in the direction of my love.

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