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The Dorothy Factor

Summary:
An unusual storm descends upon Forks, and Bella and Edward are caught in the middle. When the dust settles, nothing is the same …
Chapter Twelve: Somewhere Over the Rainbow
(the last chapter)
The only thing that had changed was Edward himself. He had returned a different man – with a new understanding about the constant ache in his chest and the vacancy he’d always sensed there in the periphery of his life.


Notes:
Inspired by actual events; (see chapter one end notes). An incredibly huge, warm thank you to vnfan – an amazing author and an indispensable asset to me while writing this story. Not only did she help fix all my typos and “dumb blonde” moments (even though I’m a redhead, I still have dumb blonde moments) – but she also helped me get through a couple rough spots. Her response, as well, was encouragement to keep me going. To vnfan – thanks for being my first and most amazing beta ever; I don’t know how I ever lived without you and your help! I had so much fun writing this story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


12. Chapter Twelve -- Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1719   Review this Chapter



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If you were to take the ratio of rainy days to sunny days in Forks and reverse the numbers, you’d find yourself with the approximate ratio of sunny days to rainy days in Phoenix. This fact does not bode well for vampires, which is why they tend to generally stay away from the southwestern United States.



Edward Cullen went to Phoenix, anyway.



Edward had watched Bella Swan – the only creature he’d ever truly loved – vanish into the storm. She’d muttered two words – his name and “Phoenix” – before her eyes slipped shut. What happened next still made his brain dizzy – a difficult feat, considering his sharp immortal intellect.



He didn’t honestly know what had happened or how. He remembered holding her – cradling her head in his arms, while her eyes searched frantically for purchase. He remembered the panic he’d felt when her skull had cracked and he’d smelled the blood. There had been panic – mostly because he wasn’t sure how badly she’d been hurt – but also because he felt an overwhelmingly strong pull towards her spilt blood. He recalled the exact timbre of her voice as she’d spoken his name – muttered the city. But after her eyes slipped shut, his memories became less focused – as if he was looking through a fog.



Had she awoken and run away from him? Had the gusts finally pulled her away? Perhaps the wind had been too much for his eyes and she’d escaped into the storm after all, lost to the tempest, while he’d been temporarily blinded. Or had she simply vanished – somehow – into the night? Every possibility sounded ridiculous even as he struggled to make himself believe.



It was all so unclear. The only real thing he could remember after that was looking down and finding his arms empty where she’d been cradled just moments before.



Edward didn’t know how to explain it when he went back to his family; he just told them she’d left. He didn’t explain that what she’d left was a gaping hole in his heart.



Forks was the same when he returned. Charlie Swan still lived alone – and his daughter was still a stranger there, just the absent child of his flighty ex-wife. The rain still fell, saturating the ground. The wind still howled at night when it blew in off the coast. And his house – though more crowded with his family moving in – still felt empty.



The only thing that had changed was Edward himself. He had returned a different man – with a new understanding about the constant ache in his chest and the vacancy he’d always sensed there in the periphery of his life. It didn’t take long for him to realize he could not continue living – existing – in such a way.



So he used the only clue he had – the name of the city she’d muttered on the cusp of oblivion – and followed it.



He found maneuvering around Phoenix more difficult than he’d imagined and not at all to his liking. But it was worth it – he told himself – when he considered the alternative.



It was sunnier than he’d imagined it would be. After his flight landed at Sky Harbor International, he hid out inside the men’s room on level three until dark – then checked into a hotel and waited out the weather.



It took six weeks, three days, nine hours and twenty-six minutes, but on an insignificant September morning, the sun refused to show itself. Instead, it remained hidden and obscured behind a bank of thick white clouds. They weren’t rain clouds – not dark and heavy and saturated with moisture – but they were enough cover to block the sun from revealing his supernaturally glittering skin.



It was on that gray dawn that Edward Cullen finally ventured from his hotel room and took a taxi to the address he’d found in the hotel’s Yellow Pages.



It was an otherwise ordinary house – pale yellow stucco with crisp white trim. The lawn was brown beneath a single yucca tree. A walkway of cement pavers lead to the front door, where the white paint was peeling from prolonged exposure to the sun and the dry desert heat. Edward knocked once, already knowing the house was empty. He snuck inside silently using the key he’d procured from under the eaves.



He didn’t pay much attention as he moved through the house, but paused at the threshold of one bedroom in particular. Photographs, poems and magazine clippings were taped to the walls, which were painted a bright sky blue beneath all the clutter. A faded patchwork quilt was folded over the bed – beneath which dust bunnies and assorted clutter had accumulated. A desk sat in one corner, a computer perched on top. Next to it, a book shelf was cluttered with dog-eared paperbacks and better cared for novels in hardback. Most notable among the books was a well-worn collection of the works of Jane Austen, as well as a tattered copy of Romeo and Juliet. A CD whirred in the stereo, left on pause from earlier that morning and forgotten.



Edward crossed the room and hit the stop button, lifting the lid to read the label. Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune. His lips twitched automatically into a smile upon reading this.



Interesting as her taste in books and music was, this was not the information he had come to find. Edward left her room – a sanctuary – reluctantly and returned to the front room. There, piled high on a console table next to a pair of sunglasses and a forgotten key ring, was a collection of letters and envelopes. Edward flipped through these quickly, finding the one he needed towards the bottom of the stack. He memorized the address, then returned everything to how he’d found it and slipped out of the house as if he’d never been there.



Edward traipsed down the sidewalk, loping along at a moderately human pace – though still faster than most. He was trying to blend in – to disappear amongst the stucco houses and the cacti and the yucca trees – but his impatience tested his willpower and he found himself struggling to maintain a human-like gait. He stood out enough as it was, with his inhumanely beautiful features and his nearly translucent pallor. He walked though, not bothering with the bus or another taxi. Even struggling to keep a human pace, he was still faster than any other sort of transportation would be in the city. He was too antsy to sit in traffic, anyway – not if someone else was behind the wheel. So he kept to the sidewalk – darting through cars at each intersection without waiting for the pedestrian crossing lights to turn in his favor.



He paused only once, when he rounded the final corner and saw Paradise Valley High School laid out before him. It was a vast, sprawling campus with nearly a dozen clusters of institutional, single-story buildings and a wide, brown lawn with football goals at either end, and a track on the far side. The campus took up an entire city block and was anchored on each side by larger twin buildings – one obviously the gym; the other was likely an auditorium of some sort. The entire complex was surrounded by an ominous chain link fence. A faded sign proclaimed it to be the “Home of the Trojans” and announced that homecoming was on the night of September 29th.



After pausing to absorb the sight of the school, Edward quickened his pace as much as he dared in public and in broad daylight. He was anxious; anticipatory. He’d read the class schedule at her house; he’d memorized it. He knew exactly where she would be in five minutes – leaving her biology class in the cluster of science buildings on the west end of campus. He found a map near the school entrance, after slipping past the security guard, and followed the hallway until he stood outside her classroom. He waited impatiently as the seconds ticked by, leaning against the peach-colored stucco wall like a statue.



He jumped up when the bell rang. Within seconds, doors on either side of the hallway banged open and students filled the passageway, their restless chatter increasing in volume exponentially. Edward kept his eyes trained on the door to Room 413, watching for her.



He had to remind himself to keep breathing when he finally saw her. She looked practically the same, maybe a year younger than the one he’d already lost. She was out of place at this school, her pale skin and long dark hair marking her unique amongst a sea of tan and blonde. She was perfect to him, in every way. He watched, his eyes tightening around the edges anxiously. She kept looking down at something, fumbling with the books in her arms and when she finally glanced up, her feet tangled together on the cement and she flew forward. She managed to grab onto the doorframe just in time to keep from falling down, but her books tumbled out of her hands, crashing to the cement.



“Damn it,” she cursed, muttering under her breath. She tucked a strand of flyaway hair behind her ear and bent to pick up the heavy volumes – but stopped, when an elegant white hand held out the biology text to her. She looked up, startled, and gasped at the painfully beautiful boy before her. He smiled at her and her breath hitched.



“Hello,” he said in a voice like satin or ivory. Edward quickly gathered the rest of her books and stood, helping her up with one hand on her elbow. When she was righted, he handed her the books carefully, making sure she had a firm grasp on them before letting go completely. “You’re Bella Swan.”



“Y-yes,” she said, still struggling to breathe normally. No one ever paid attention to her, least of all a gorgeous creature such as this.



But he continued looking down at her with smoldering eyes. His smile widened. “It’s nice to meet you,” he said. “I’m Edward Cullen …”



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The End



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