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The Dorothy Factor

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.

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.

8. Chapter Eight -- Yellow Bricks

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2537   Review this Chapter

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When Bella next woke, it was dark out. Only a thin stream of moonlight illuminated the room and there were no lights that she could see. She sat alone in the silence at first, contemplating her dreams. She’d decided several things during her sleep. First, she accepted that she did not know how to get home. Secondly, she decided that she could not find a way home while also trying to escape a pair of wicked, blood-thirsty vampires. Therefore, she decided it would be prudent to take things one step at a time. First and foremost, get rid of James and Victoria. Fight them, kill them – whatever it took. And she’d accept whatever help she could get – be it from Edward, Jacob, the Cullens, Carlisle or some combination therein. Once she was safe – at least, as safe as she ever could be – then they might consider finding a way to get her home. The trackers were a distraction, she realized, and they could not try to solve the dilemma of getting her home while also trying to escape the other vampires. One thing at a time, that’s what she’d decided. One thing at a time.

The exchange with this other Edward had also plagued her unconscious. Their conversation, his touch, his kiss. The kiss, most of all, had disturbed her. Because it felt so familiar and she’d wanted it so badly, and yet … she’d been repulsed by it at the same time. She wasn’t sure what to say to him. She wasn’t sure if he’d try to apologize, or if he’d act like it had never happened. She hoped for the latter; she still hadn’t decided how to handle a conversation about the kiss. And she’d rather not deal with it, all things considered. Part of her knew that hope was fruitless, but she didn’t know what else to do, so she let herself be deluded. At least for now.

She stood carefully and waited until she was sure of her footing before walking softly across the room. She found a small bathroom attached to the bedroom and took advantage of the plumbing. She examined her face in the mirror and groaned at the smeared makeup. She turned on the warm water and used the lone hand towel to wash and dry her face. She looked plainer without the makeup, but she felt like herself again. She’d already decided she didn’t want to get all dolled up for Customs again, anyway. Using her fingers, she combed through her hair as best she could and then straightened her clothes out. It was the best she could do without any necessities.

Satisfied that there was nothing else to do, Bella stepped lightly into the main room of the apartment. The wide, arching windows were dark and speckled with raindrops, but the room, at least, was illuminated by large electric chandeliers. Edward stood in the far corner, gazing determinedly out the window. Carlisle sat on one of the chairs, silently going through a stack of paperwork from his attaché. The others were gone. Bella padded quietly to the window and stared out, a few feet away from where Edward stood motionless. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye, barely noticing the people moving below in the shadows of the streetlights. He did not acknowledge her presence, but she knew he was aware of her. She could see the subtle tightening of his jaw as he stopped breathing – avoiding the scent of her blood as much as possible.

“Where are the others?” she finally asked. If he were going to broach the subject of their previous encounter, he would have done so already, she thought. She wasn’t about to do so, herself.

He did not turn to look at her when he spoke; he just kept staring endlessly out the window. “Alice and Jasper went to pick up a few things. I told her you might like some clean clothes. Jacob,” he said the name with some effort, “went to get food.”

At that precise moment, Jake came lumbering through the door, his movements creating a cacophony in the relative stillness of the apartment. Bella startled when he burst into the room, having grown so accustomed to the silence of the vampires.

“Bells, you’re awake!” he said brightly. He carried a bag of takeout food, the brown paper speckling with moisture, and he clutched two bottles of soda between his other fist. “I got dinner.”

“Dinner?” she said, turning to Edward. She’d gone to sleep just as it was turning dark and the moon was still out. She thought it must have been very early in the morning; she couldn’t have been asleep for long.

Apparently, she was wrong. “You slept through the day,” he said, guessing the line of her thoughts. “The sun only set about an hour or so ago.”

“Oh,” she said, surprised by her own exhaustion. It was like Italy all over again. She’d pushed herself so far and when she finally stopped to sleep, she really slept. And that’s when she realized she was hungry; ravenous, in fact. Because in all the time she hadn’t slept, she really hadn’t eaten, either. She joined Jake across the room, as he laid out containers of steaming food on the floor. She snatched up a carton of chicken yakisoba and yanked a plastic fork from the bag and began devouring the meat and noodles. When she’d swallowed about half the carton, she reached for one of the sodas and drank greedily, before finishing off the yakisoba.

When she had finished and had begun peeking at the contents of the other boxes, she looked up to find Jake staring at her, a bemused expression across his face – his lips upturned and his eyebrows raised. “Little hungry, Bells?”

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I sort of forgot to eat until now …”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Figures, the bloodsuckers wouldn’t think to keep you fed.” He motioned towards the remaining food. “Go ahead, help yourself.”

Shrugging her shoulders and blushing furiously, Bella dug into another container, this time eating more slowly. They were quiet while they ate. She noticed from the corner of her eye that Edward watched her carefully, noting each bite she took and each exchange with Jacob – conversational or otherwise. He may not love her, she thought, but he still acted incredibly jealous around Jake … some things never changed.

They had finished eating and Jake was just tidying up after their takeout meal, when Jasper and Alice returned – the latter weighted down by several shopping bags, though they did not appear to burden her beyond keeping her arms occupied. She laid them down dramatically in the corner, then picked up two of the bags, snatched Bella by the elbow and pulled her back into the dark bedroom. Alice flicked a switch on the wall, which illuminated the walls in a soft, yellow glow. Bella had not noticed the lights before.

“I got you some clean clothes,” she said. “And a hairbrush.”

Alice rummaged through the bags and from the first produced a stack of fluffy white bath towels, along with shampoo and other shower necessities. From the second bag, Alice held up a slinky, extremely stylish black cocktail dress. She looked at Bella critically and, after noting her nose wrinkled in horror, tossed the dress aside. Instead, Alice handed Bella the other shopping bag. “You’ll probably like these better,” she said resigned, giving Bella a shove towards the bathroom.

Bella was grateful for her help. It felt good to shower and really wash away the grime from the last two days; her improvised face wash earlier hadn’t done much. She stayed under the stream of hot water until it ran cold before finally stepping out and wrapping herself in one of the new towels. After, she pulled on the clean clothes Alice had provided – a pair of loose-fitting designer jeans and a fashionably worn, long-sleeved T-shirt. The fabric was soft and warm against her skin. When she finally stepped out of the steamy bathroom, Alice offered up a pair of brown sneakers and clean socks. While Bella laced up the shoes, Alice ran a new hairbrush through her tangles, blowing it dry.

Bella stood, looking down to examine herself.

“Better?” Alice asked uneasily.

“Yes,” Bella breathed, sighing contentedly. Her long sleep, Jacob’s feast, the shower and clean clothes had all done wonders. The desperation she’d been feeling before had lifted somewhat; it was less oppressive.

The uncertainty fell away from Alice’s face and she beamed, pleased that she had been able to help Bella – and that her help had been well-received.

Bella followed Alice back out to the main room, ambling casually behind Alice’s graceful, dancer’s lope. She finally felt comfortable; at ease, despite the current situation. Edward noticed from his new seat on the sofa. His eyebrows quirked up as his gaze followed Bella’s movements across the room, not leaving her face even as she plopped down unceremoniously beside him. The smell of her wafted towards him and he closed his eyes, tempering the venom that instantly pooled in the back of his throat. Her scent, it seemed, had only been made more potent by her shower, the dirt of the last two days no longer masking the true bouquet.

Of course, Bella hadn’t intended to sit so close beside Edward, with their arms brushing and their hips touching on the leather seat. But she’d felt so at ease, so comfortable, that she didn’t think a thing of it until after she’d already plopped down beside him. She didn’t even realize their proximity until she observed the subtle, but tell-tale signs of his reaction to her scent. And by then, it was too late to move without making it obvious. Instead, Bella sighed and relaxed against the back of the sofa, trying very hard not to focus on the subtle electric tingling between herself and Edward wherever their bodies made physical contact. She tried shifting away without being obvious, but only ended up pressed against him more closely. She gave up as the others gathered around them on the other empty seats.

“Feeling better?” Carlisle asked her, when the others had been seated.

“Yes, thank you,” she said. “And I’ve decided … well, I don’t know how to get home. And I don’t think any of us will be able to figure out a solution to that problem while we’re also trying to avoid the trackers. So I think we should deal with them first.”

The others stared at her in shock and surprise. Jake’s face was utterly bewildered. Jasper seemed to be contemplating her assessment. Edward’s jaw was dropped in pure horror.

“You want to fight them?” he said, practically screaming. “Are you out of your mind?”

Bella shrugged. “Maybe. But I’ve done it once before and so I’ll do it again. I don’t really see any way around it.”

“You are utterly absurd,” he continued, still angry. His tone seethed.

“Probably,” she replied. “Still doesn’t change anything.”

Edward continued staring at her, his eyes wide with distress and fury. “You … you’re being ridiculous!” he finally spat out.

Bella rolled her eyes, annoyed with his obvious disapproval. She turned to the others. Jake’s bewildered expression had faded away and had been replaced by an odd combination of a pleased smirk and a worried grimace. Part of him thrilled with the idea of fighting the two vampires; part of him also disapproved of Bella’s equal enthusiasm. As much as he loved the thought of facing the vampires, he did not want to put Bella in harm’s way.

Jasper appeared to still be assessing things, probably formulating battle tactics and plans of attack; strategy. Alice sat complacently beside him, having either already seen a fruitful outcome or else not bothering to involve herself in the planning. Bella wasn’t sure which was more likely with this Alice.

And Carlisle … Carlisle stared at her critically, assessing her words. He glanced over at Edward, whose shock and disgust was still plain on his face, and then looked back at Bella. “I think she’s right,” he finally said. He spoke to Edward, but he kept his eyes on Bella – almost as if she were a specimen in a glass jar and could not hear him. She resented the implications. “It’s the only logical next step.”

“But –.”

“You can’t keep running,” Carlisle said. “You can’t hide her forever. And unless you plan on changing her yourself –.”

“No!” Edward and Bella responded quickly, at the same time, though for different reasons. Edward, because he rejected the very notion of turning Bella into a vampire. And Bella, because she had a later appointment for her transformation – and still had a few more things she wanted to do as a human. One thing especially, in particular.

“Then I guess you have the answer. We stand and fight.”

“We?” Bella said.

Carlisle smiled and struggled to make it appear friendly, not lecherous. “Yes, we. We’ll help you, Bella. At least, I intend to help you.”

“I’m not leaving you alone with these leeches,” Jacob chimed in.

Jasper nodded solemnly. “I’ll help.”

“Of course we’ll help,” Alice added brightly, as if they were discussing a shopping trip and not a small war.

There was only one person left in the room who had not volunteered. All eyes turned to Edward expectantly. He looked away pointedly, focusing instead on a random point on the floor somewhere near Bella’s left foot. When he finally looked up, it was only at her. “You said you wanted me to leave. I’ll help if you ask, otherwise I will go. I will leave you alone.”

Bella blushed and chewed on her lip. When she replied, her voice was small – speaking only to Edward. “I only meant for you to leave the room. You don’t have to go.”

If he could have, Bella thought Edward might have blushed just then. His eyes gave away his embarrassment, a small flash before he regained his composure. As usual, he’d overreacted. “So … you want me to stay?”

She nodded encouragingly. “I’d like very much for you to stay.”

He bobbed his head in approval. “Then I’ll stay.” He looked up at the others. “I’m in. I’ll help.”

“Okay then,” Carlisle said.

“So what now?” Jake asked. “What do we do now?”

Bella restrained a smirk. “We follow the yellow brick road,” she said. “The next logical step.”

Outside a peal of thunder tore through the sky and soon thereafter, a flash of lightning illuminated the sky. The flash was bright and people all across the Portland area could see it. So bright, in fact, that it was even visible to those dozens of miles on the other side of the Columbia River, including a ravenous couple speeding through Castle Rock in a black BMW coupe. The very same flash that lit up the green road sign, telling them it was approximately 57 miles to Portland. The flash that reflected a dark, red glow in two sets of eyes.

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