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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.


5. Chapter Five -- Cowardly

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2536   Review this Chapter



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Edward groaned, an obnoxious sound of disgust, as he pulled up in front of the large, Craftsman-style mansion tucked into the trees outside of Denali National Park, a few miles off Route 3. “Disgusting,” he muttered, climbing out of the car swiftly. He began marching toward the house, not offering to help with Bella’s door or allowing her time to catch up with him. He waited only after he’d climbed the porch steps and stood outside the front door, and Bella got the impression he only waited because he wanted to delay going inside and not out of any kind of courtesy to her.



She shivered as she tromped up the front steps. It was summer and there was no snow on the ground, but it was still cold and the light khaki trench coat Edward had purchased to go with her passport-substituting outfit did little to keep out the chill. He’d only added it to her pile of clothes because the sales girl thought it would complete the sky blue skirt-sweater ensemble she’d put together, along with the three-inch red heels. (The sales girl said they would be a nice punch of color; Edward had quipped that at least she’d have her ruby slippers now, but complained that the shoes probably wouldn’t help her get home.) Bella had slipped them off her feet in the car after they’d crossed into Alaska and pulled her ratty, worn sneakers back onto her feet. She didn’t care if they didn’t match her outfit. At least she could walk in them without risking life and limb. Now shivering in the cold outside the Cullens’ Alaskan house, she hoped Rosalie might have a pair of pants she wouldn’t mind lending her. Otherwise, she’d be sneaking back out to the Volvo for her too-small jeans. She hoped Rosalie might have a warm coat she didn’t need, too.



When Bella had reached the porch, Edward rapped once on the door. It opened almost instantly; the person on the other side had been waiting.



“You’re late,” Alice said, stepping aside as Edward trudged in. Bella followed meekly and started when Alice addressed her abruptly. “He almost ate you, you know.”



Bella stared at her, trying to determine what her reaction should be. This Alice was just as forward as the Alice she remembered; but she wasn’t clear yet if her visions worked the same way or if she’d view Bella in as favorable a light, considering her brother wasn’t in love with her in this world.



Alice rolled her eyes and pulled Bella along with her, following the same hallway Edward had disappeared down. “I know everything,” she said. “Well, mostly everything. I have these visions, you see …”



“I know,” Bella said.



“Oh, so that’s the same, too, then?”



Bella looked at her appraisingly. “So you know what happened to me in the tornado?”



“Pretty much,” Alice said. “At least, I know what you told my brother happened to you in the tornado. I only have visions of my family members, no one else. And I didn’t give him a warning because he doesn’t like to hear from us.”



Bella sighed, relieved. At least she wouldn’t have to try and explain her ordeal yet again. It had been difficult enough to figure things out with Jacob around – and painful enough explaining it to Edward. But there was still something nagging her about Alice.



“I really wanted to tell Edward about you coming,” she continued, prattling on. “Because I didn’t want him to eat you. But the others said I should leave him alone. So I did.”



That was it, Bella realized. Alice had gone against her better judgment. The Alice from her Forks would do whatever she wanted, regardless of what she’d been told to do. Just like the time she’d come to check on Bella post-cliff diving, even though Edward had ordered her to stay away after they’d left Forks. This Alice, Bella realized, would have obeyed. She was frank, but meek.



“Those are hideous, by the way,” Alice said, pointing towards Bella’s sneakers. She didn’t give Bella time to respond. “Come on.”



Alice dragged her into a grand sitting room. The other Cullens sat around in sofas and chairs – Esme, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie. Edward stood brooding as far away from them as possible. His brow had settled into a furrowed crease atop his eyes. He stood silently while the others complained that he’d arrived; that he’d brought that girl with him. Clearly, Alice had filled them in before Bella and Edward had arrived.



“Why should we help her?” Rosalie shrieked. Bella instantly regretted coming here, especially since it seemed this Rosalie was just as standoffish. But it soon became clear that Rosalie’s hostility was not what Bella was used to. This Rosalie seemed to hold no grudge against Bella for being human. Her opposition seemed to come from her own cowardice. “She’s going to get us in trouble,” Rosalie whined. “If the Volturi find out …”



“They won’t find out,” Edward snapped.



“But if they do,” Emmett said, “Rosalie is right … we could all be in big trouble.”



Bella looked around the room in disbelief. She could tell that except for Edward, these Cullens were all afraid to help her. The Cullens she knew were fearless. They had saved her from a malicious vampire tracker. They had gone up against the Volturi to protect her. They had even teamed up with a pack of young werewolves to fight a crazed vampire and her newborn army out for revenge. But now, the people Bella had come to think of as valiant warriors cowered at the mere notion of conflict. They weren’t even discussing a confrontation or a battle. Just assisting Bella in getting home, the only risk of which was the slight chance that it might raise the ire of the Volturi. Certainly not enough to bring real trouble down upon them. Bella felt bile rise in her throat and realized she was disgusted by their cowardice.



“Look,” she said, keeping them from protesting further. “If you don’t want to help me – fine! Just tell me where Carlisle is and I’ll see him myself.” She was met by silent stares – six sets of dark golden eyes. “What now?” she said, exasperated. She was growing more disappointed with these Cullens with every passing second.



Edward finally responded, glaring at her with his perpetual annoyance. “No one sees Carlisle.”



“What do you mean no one sees Carlisle? He’s the head of your family!”



“No one sees Carlisle,” Edward repeated, speeding across the room so that he could speak to Bella’s face. His breath was icy on her face, but still sweet like she remembered. She fought to remain in control – to not go dizzy and become lost in the familiar scent. “It isn’t done. Carlisle runs things from wherever he chooses to be. And he does not choose to be with the family. He has his own things going on. He’s a doctor and a businessman and he chairs several committees. He does not have time for his so-called ‘family.’ No one bothers Carlisle.”



Bella closed her eyes and took a step back from Edward, taking a deep breath of fresh, non-Edward-scented air. “Well I’m going to bother him,” she said once she was composed. “I need to get home and the rest of you are completely useless!”



“What did you think you’d find here, anyway?” Rosalie said meanly.



Bella turned and looked at her – looked at all the Cullens, sitting so quiet and meek. “I was expecting sincerity and unfailing bravery,” she said. “I was expecting immortals that recognized their own immortality and strength and weren’t afraid to show it in the face of even the most slight opposition. I was expecting my friends; I was expecting the people I considered my family. I was expecting a powerful coven of vampires. Instead, I found a bunch of suckling leeches.”



Bella was surprised by her own candor and even more so by her use of the werewolves’ most favorite derogatory term for the vampires: leeches. She’d always chastised Jake and the others for calling the Cullens leeches and bloodsuckers. But these Cullens were leeches. They drank blood and did nothing else; they feared the world. They did not live in this mansion in the Alaskan wilderness for privacy or luxury. They were hiding. And faced with their cowardice, Bella suddenly found she was much braver than she imagined herself to be.



“They love each other too much to risk a damn thing,” Edward said finally, breaking the silence that had fallen after Bella’s rant. “Come on,” he said, pulling her by the arm back towards the entryway. His cell phone was in his hand and his fingers flew across the keypad, dialing a number. “I’ll take you to Carlisle.”



But before Edward could hit the call button, his phone began ringing in the palm of his hand. He cursed and answered with a curt, “Hello.” Instantly he scoffed in disgust and thrust the phone at Bella. “It’s your dog,” he said and walked several steps away, as if to distance himself from the presence of the caller.



“H-hello?” Bella said into the phone, surprised.



“Bella?”



“Jake? How did you get this number?”



“Er, Sam has it … for emergencies. So I guess you’re still with the leech?”



Bella stopped herself from correcting his slang, having just used the term herself, and sighed instead. “Yes. I’m in Alaska with the rest of his family. They’re not exactly very helpful.”



Jake was silent for a moment and she guessed he was biting back an I told you so. She was grateful. Instead, he breathed loudly and continued, “I wanted to warn you. There are two vampires following you. We found out a couple hours after you left. We noticed their scent – it was different from Cullen’s because they drink human blood. And, well, Bella?”



“Yeah?” she said, growing impatient – despite the fear suddenly filling the pit of her stomach. She’d already escaped from a pair of bloodthirsty vampires once before and it had not ended very well. Flashes of blood and broken mirrors in a hot, dark ballet studio filled her memories still.



“Bella – we found a body. They killed some guy and stole his car and we think they’re pretty close behind you. You’re not safe.”



Bella meant to respond, but at that moment, Edward came rushing back down the hallway. He snatched her wrist and pulled her out to the car. “We have to go,” he said, stuffing her into the passenger seat. She barely had time to notice that Alice and Jasper had climbed into the backseat with them, when Edward was already speeding back towards the highway.



Somewhere in the commotion, Edward snatched the phone away from her. “I’m taking her to Portland,” he said. “You can meet us there if you want to help.” He started to snap the phone shut, but paused. “Thank you,” he said curtly, then hung up and dialed again. Bella noticed his eyes flicker towards the rearview mirror. She twisted in her seat and looked out the back window. The road was empty behind them, but Alice and Jasper were still on edge in the backseat.



“What’s going on?” Bella asked.



Alice and Jasper looked at each other. When Alice finally spoke, she didn’t answer Bella’s question. “This is a bad idea,” she said. “We should have stayed behind with the others.”



Bella rolled her eyes and turned back to Edward. He was murmuring quickly and softly into the phone. When he hung up, he glanced at her sideways, his eyes still focused forward. “I’m taking you to Portland.”



“I gathered that,” she said. “Why?”



“We’re meeting Carlisle. He said he’ll help you.”



“Why did we run out of the house just now?”



“Because the trackers had found us. They were about to attack you.”



“The trackers?”



“The vampires the dog told you about,” he said. “I could hear your conversation. They followed us from Forks. They’d been lurking outside my house there; I never gave them much thought. But apparently they thought you were too appetizing to ignore and they resented the fact that I didn’t kill you and drink your blood. So they’re tracking us to do the job themselves.”



The muscles in his jaw flexed again and Bella saw his hands tighten on the steering wheel. She looked at him curiously. This Edward carried a constant anger around with him; a chip on his shoulder. But this new hostility felt much more familiar – this was the hostility her Edward had shown any time her safety had come into question; anytime she’d been in danger. Was this Edward really worried … about her? Bella wanted to ask him about his sudden, apparent change of heart, but she imagined doing so would be tempting fate. Instead she asked, “So Carlisle’s in Portland?”



“He’s in San Francisco. He’ll meet us in Portland.”



Bella nodded. “Thank you for helping me,” she said softly.



From the corner of her eye, she watched the muscles in Edward’s face tighten reflexively once again. But then they did something different – they relaxed, ever so slightly. And his face softened instantly; it became much more familiar. “I should apologize,” he said. “I should have been paying more attention before. I knew those two vampires were watching us back in Forks, but I didn’t realize … I didn’t realize they were trackers.”



Bella felt the pit in her stomach welling up again as he once again described the two vampires now chasing them. “Um, Edward?” she asked. “You didn’t happen to ever see these vampires, did you?”



“Yes, why?”



She bit her lip, almost afraid to ask. Almost. “The man – he’s about average, with brown hair, right? And the woman – kind of crazy, with bright red hair?”



Edward turned to look at her directly, for once taking his eyes off the road ahead of him. “How did you know that?”



Bella closed her eyes and tried very hard not to cry. Haunting, horrifying images filled her mind – the broken mirror again. The crescent-shaped scar on her hand. A fight on a snow-covered cliff. A cloud of purple smoke rising into the air. Despite her best efforts, a few hot tears spilled over and left tracks running down her flushed cheeks. “Because this has happened before, too,” she said, her voice barely a whisper. Slowly and without much ado, Bella told Edward – and Alice and Jasper, who listened silently from the backseat – about her near-death at the hands of James and Victoria’s subsequent quest for revenge.



During her story, the muscles in Edward’s face pulled taught once again – small lines forming around his eyes. The purple bruises beneath them seemed heavy on his countenance. “I won’t let them hurt you,” he said gravely, his fists tightening around the steering wheel – his knuckles turning whiter against his pale, alabaster skin. “They will not hurt you.”



His words – a promise – hung heavy in the air.



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