Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

L'Heure Bleue

Summary:
L'heure bleue, the blue hour: Rosalie and Emmett didn't wait until September to return to Forks. Instead, they came back in August -- and, unfortunately for Bella and the other Cullens, they didn't come back alone. Bella and Rosalie get thrown together when a new and unexpected enemy arrives in Forks. When their freedom -- and their lives -- are in danger, can Rosalie's animosity last? Set Post-Twilight; it's my version of the events following that novel. Pre-New Moon.


Notes:


7. Charlie

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4151   Review this Chapter

--

Chapter Six
CHARLIE

--

Despite Edward’s protests that anyone could walk quicker than my truck drove, the trip to my house went far faster than I would have liked. Once the pain in my tongue seemed to subside, I enjoyed our time together. Edward had given in and turned the radio on; he spent the rest of the ride back through town serenading me.

I didn’t want to see him go. I suddenly felt very childish—I didn’t want to let him out of my sight. It had been so easy to forget in those last few minutes just how moody he’d been today.

I suspected that had been his intent, to make me forget, and it worked perfectly. I only remembered the scene back at the Cullen house when he pulled up to my house and killed the truck’s engine. He wouldn’t be driving it back home but I was pretty sure that was where he was heading off to.

I had to swallow the pout that threatened to form as I casually asked, “Are you staying?”

It made me wince to hear the slight pleading in my voice. And here I’d thought I was trying to sound cool, calm and collected.

“I really should get back.”

But he didn’t remove his hands from the steering wheel. Still looking straight ahead, he remained in the truck. I didn’t miss the piercing stare he gave the darkness. I wondered what he could see. As far as I could tell, there was nothing out there.

I squinted a bit, just to make sure. It had been quite a while since the last time I saw Jacob Black and his father, Billy, at my house—in fact, I had the feeling that Jacob was avoiding me. After the way his father had sent him to crash my prom so that he could warn me to stay away from Edward, it didn’t surprise me that he was too embarrassed to come back and visit me and Charlie in Forks. I was embarrassed for him, and I didn’t appreciate the way that Billy—whether he though he was doing it for my own good or not—was butting into my affairs.

It was a shame, too. I liked Jacob. He was a good kid, someone I thought I could easily be friends with. It was a pity that his father’s superstitions and unexplained (and totally uncalled for) dislike of Edward created such a barrier for a possible friendship.

I couldn’t make out the car that Jacob had used to drive Billy over that last time they’d left La Push. In fact, between the hazy mist of the falling summer’s night rain and the darkness that had settled over the sleepy town, I couldn’t see anything except for Charlie’s cruiser. That was parked in the driveway; Charlie, as if I hadn’t known from the dark, was already home from work.

Finally taking his attention off of whatever it was that had captured it, Edward turned his head and followed my gaze. He saw Charlie’s cruiser and nodded solemnly. “Charlie’s wondering where you are.”

“I never told him I was going to your house after work,” I realized, feeling guilty all of a sudden. I automatically reached for the door handle. “I hope he’s not too worried.”

Edward’s soft touch on my left hand stopped me from climbing out of the truck. “He’s not. He assumed you were with me, but he’s waiting with a head full of questions. One of which, I might add, regards a chaperone.”

There was no mistaking the gentle ribbing in his tone. Edward was all too happy to be proven right.

“Then I guess it was a good thing that Esme was there to watch every move we made.”

“Exactly.”

Leaning to his side, he moved his torso slowly towards me. I remained still as he lightly, gingerly, placed his frozen lips against my neck. Pretending like he couldn’t hear the frantic beat of my heart, or smell the rush of my blood as my pulse went crazy, he pulled back.

“It’s glad to know we have our stories straight.”

That incredible smell of his, coupled with his feather soft kiss, served to muddle my brain completely. “Hmm? What was the story again?”

He laughed as he lifted his hand to stroke my hair. “We were at my house today, remember? With Esme?”

“Oh, yes. That story.”

I wondered where Edward’s unexpected reaction to Emmett and Rosalie’s arrival fit in with my story. I guess it was something that Charlie didn’t need to know about—but it didn’t mean that I would forget. I wouldn’t, and I was pretty sure he knew that.

It took us a few minutes but we both eventually got out of my truck. I didn’t want him to leave and I could only assume his dawdling meant that he wanted to stay with me. But he wouldn’t… he couldn’t. I understood that. For some reason or another, his place was back at his house with his family. Maybe then, after he’d had his say and Rosalie no doubt had hers, he wouldn’t seem so preoccupied.

He joined me on my side of the truck, carefully wrapping his arm around my waist as we headed down the sidewalk that led up to my front door. He’d pulled me close to him and I was reminded of the way he’d searched the darkness when we were still sitting in the cab. What was he looking for?

As soon as we were on the porch, vaguely illuminated underneath the dim porch light, he finally let go of my waist. I missed his embrace immediately.

“Are you sure you won’t stay?” I wasn’t pleading this time. Actually, I sounded resigned. I had a hunch that, if I pushed it, he would stay but only because I really wanted him to, not because it was the best thing for him to do.

Besides, he could probably run back to his house, talk to his family and make it back to my room before I even woke up if he wanted to. I liked it better knowing that he was being honest with me.

He almost looked pained as he shook his head. “I really should go back,” he repeated.

“Okay.” I worked hard to keep any lingering disappointment out of my voice. “But tomorrow?”

“What? No shopping with Alice?”

It was nice to see that, despite his obvious worry, he hadn’t entirely lost his sense of humor. I raised my eyebrows. “I’m sure Alice would be thrilled if I went shopping with her, if you’re too busy for me.”

He didn’t seem to like that idea too much. Barely hiding a scowl, he leaned in towards me. His arms moved faster than I’d thought and, the next thing I knew, they were wrapped around my shoulders. Edward had pulled me into a hug that put the bear hug Emmett gave me earlier to shame. “I will never be too busy for you, Bella.”

His whisper was hot on my ear and it was all I could do not to melt right on my front porch. Actually, only the knowledge that I was standing on the front porch of Charlie’s house, being held tightly by my vampire boyfriend while my father was just on the other side of the door, kept me from giving in entirely to Edward.

I could just imagine Charlie’s face if he happened to peek out of the windows or, even worse, chose that moment to open the door. He already disliked Edward, blaming him for everything that happened last spring; it wouldn’t be that short of a jump to “get your hands of my daughter” if he caught us in such a compromising position.

“What’s wrong?” he murmured, his hold unyielding. He wasn’t letting go of me for anything and, ordinarily, that would make the butterflies in my stomach go wild. The panic I felt at imagining Charlie’s reaction must have been obvious, though, because he sounded concerned all of a sudden.

“Charlie,” I answered, sighing.

Just saying my dad’s name out loud was enough to break the spell. Lowering his arms, Edward took a step back.

“He’s waiting for you,” he said quietly, “and, unless I’m mistaken, we’re later than expected.” In the glow of the porch light, I watched as he sniffed and then wrinkled his perfect nose. “He has pizza.” He sniffed again. “Pepperoni.”

I giggled at the face he made. I don’t know what amused me more: that Charlie was beginning to give up on the hope that I’d spend more time in the house, or that the idea of eating pizza for dinner repulsed Edward so much.

“Oh, goody. Human food and I didn’t even have to hunt for it,” I teased before I took a deep breath. I didn’t have his extraordinary sense of smell so it was no surprise that, from my place outside, I couldn’t make out the aroma of a fresh pepperoni pizza. I took his word for it, though, and patted my belly. “Mm, pizza. Smells delicious.”

He raised his eyebrow, and I laughed. I knew exactly what that face meant.

I pretended to be offended on behalf of all the pizza aficionados out there. “Hey, it’s not the pizza’s fault that it doesn’t smell as good as me.”

I didn’t mean for it to, but my comment wiped that mocking disgusted expression right off of his face. He was frowning as he looked down at me, his eyes nothing short of smoldering. “Nothing smells as good as you do.”

His words sent chills up and down my spine. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or intimidated by the strength behind his statement. He meant what he said.

I’d expected my words to get a chuckle out of him, and the heat behind his meaning was surprising. This wasn’t the first time I’d teased him about his attraction to my blood. If there was one thing that I’d gotten used to since spending all of my time with Edward, it was hearing just how good I smelled. It was almost like a little joke between us. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was so serious, it would be even funnier.

Still, he seemed more agreeable, not so torn, when I made light of the seriousness of his temptation. It was the only way I could deal with the knowledge that I was, as he put it, his brand of heroin. I had to turn it into a joke because, if I was being honest, I wished it was a joke.

I loved Edward. I loved him for who he was, even if that was a dangerous vampire who thirsted after my blood.

And I would never leave him, no matter what. If ever there came a time when there was no more us, it would be because of Edward’s decision—it was just a decision that I would never, ever let him make. Ever.

I was confident that I didn’t really have to worry about that, even if my insecurities kept me up at night sometimes, wondering when he would finally get around to leaving. He told me he loved me—even if I didn’t understand why myself—too many times now for me to question his sincerity.

But that didn’t mean that, in the moments when he looked at me that way, like he was memorizing my face for the time when he wouldn’t see it any longer, that it was easy for me to remember that he was still there.

I was too used to his heavy stare to be that unnerved by it. I was still extremely self-conscious—I wanted to turn away, but I didn’t. Instead, I met his gaze, questions in my eyes. He hadn’t said anything else after that and that made me nervous.

“Edward?”

Sometimes I worried that I would say or do something that would give him a reason to leave. He promised me in Phoenix that he would stay as long as it was best for me. It was my greatest fear that I would do something stupid that make him believe that he had to go.

I had the sinking feeling that my ill thought out quip might’ve just been another push in that direction.

Quickly, before I gave him the chance to answer me, I began to backpedal. “Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“Oh yes, you did. And you should, Bella, because you’re right. Nothing smells as delicious as you do, and nothing else tastes so good.”

He hesitated for only a second before his hands were on my shoulders. My heart started to pound, but in a good way. I recognized this look on his face, too—it was one of my favorites—and I knew what was coming.

We were still standing on my front porch, with Charlie in the living room, but I forgot about him as Edward placed his lips against mine. I imagined there was an urgency behind his kiss and it took all my restraint—and I barely had enough where he was involved—not to wrap my arms around his neck and never let go.

When he moved back and let his hands fall at his sides again, there was a pleased gleam in his eye. Not to mention that crooked smile I loved so much was back in place. If I’d upset him at all with my teasing, I was forgiven.

I was all but breathless. Just then, I decided I didn’t care what was going on at his house. I wanted him with me. He could find time to argue with his sister and scold his brother later.

However, before I could attempt to persuade him to stay, his topaz eyes flashed in the darkness as they flickered over my head and glanced at the front door. “Charlie’s coming.”

Now I was breathless. It had been too easy to forget all about my dad. “Tomorrow?” I asked, my words whispered all too theatrically.

There was a tug at the right side of his mouth. His smile deepened. “Tomorrow,” he promised. “Bright and early.”

And then he was gone.

It was amazing how quickly he could disappear. It was as if the darkness swallowed him whole and, if I wasn’t marveling at his trick, I might’ve worried what else could be lurking out there, unseen by my eyes. There wasn’t even a single sound that alerted me to his flight; silent as the wind and just as fast, Edward was gone and I was alone.

But not for long.

“Bella?” I heard Charlie’s muffled voice come from inside before the front door swung inward. I spun around, taking my attention off of the darkness. “I thought I heard someone out here.”

There was a suspicious look on his face and I knew what he was expecting to find. I was never more appreciative of Edward’s special talents than at moments like these—anything to save Charlie from having a coronary that walking in on something he didn’t want to see could cause.

Standing in the entrance, he held the door open for me. I didn’t miss the way his eyes searched the darkness as I walked passed him. At least I knew what—or, who—he was looking for.

“It’s just me, Dad,” I said brightly, wiping the mist from my face. I sounded awfully fake as I offered him a guilty smile. “You weren’t waiting up for me, were you?”

“Oh no, honey. It’s still early.” He sounded just as fake as me. Charlie was definitely lying. “Just got up during a commercial to stretch and thought I heard someone at the door. I’m glad it was you.”

He followed me into the living room, explaining himself as he went. I could see that Edward was right—there was a half-eaten slice of pizza on top of a crushed pizza box on the coffee table.

“I didn’t know when you would be home,” he admitted, gesturing towards the baseball game on the TV and the pizza mess.

I felt that familiar rush of guilt again. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d left work after an afternoon shift and come home to cook dinner for me and Charlie. When someone spend all their free time with someone who didn’t need to eat, it was really easy to forget that food was a necessity.

As if on cue, my stomach gave a loud growl. I hadn’t had anything to eat except for a candy bar on my lunch break, and I was pretty hungry.

Charlie laughed. “Hungry, Bells?”

“I guess you could say that.”

He took his plate off of the pizza box and flipped the top open. There was more than half a pie of pepperoni pizza left. “I picked up some pizza on the way home from the station. It’s still hot.” Picking up one of the slices, he set it on a napkin and held it out to me.

I took it gratefully. “Thanks, Dad.”

“No problem. I’ve got to handle dinner every now and then.”

There was nothing but humor in his voice and it helped ease my guilt a bit. It would do no one good for me to feel guilty when Charlie didn’t blame me. Still, I couldn’t help myself. “Ordering pizza is a little different from cooking a real meal, you know,” I pointed out as I took a seat opposite of him on the couch.

“If you say so.” With a small smile on his lined face, he added another slice of pizza to his plate. Lifting it up, he took a big bite off the end.

I rolled my eyes at his antics, but I couldn’t stop the grin that spread across my face as I ate my pizza. As small as Forks was, it was still a trying job being the police chief, especially for a man like Charlie. It was nice to see him relax, and even nicer to spend some time with him. I didn’t spend as much time with him as both of us would have liked.

I thought of Edward then and what he was doing at that very moment. Knowing his speed, I had no doubt that he’d made it home already. I couldn’t help but wonder what was so strange about Rosalie and Emmett cutting their vacation short. For all he knew, maybe they were homesick. It was possible that the missed their family.

Or maybe they were just tired of touring Africa. He didn’t know. Or maybe he did—he did have the ability to hear what they were thinking.

I couldn’t fight back the nagging worry that something was still wrong. I’d let him off the hook too easily by accepting his weak explanation on the truck ride over to my house. Now that I was home, without the distraction that Edward himself presented me, I saw that I had been too gullible. He conned me, and I let him.

Frowning, I stood up. I had half a mind to get in my truck, drive over to the Cullens and demand that Edward fill me in on what really bothered him about his siblings’ return. I was going to believe that he was annoyed that they came back without telling anyone that they were coming back. I remembered how distracted he’d been for most of the afternoon, how wary and alert he was when he took me home.

I’d thought he was looking for something but I brushed it off. I was beginning to think that my first instinct just might have been right and I was itching to confront Edward. He was going to have to learn sooner or later that he couldn’t keep everything from me, no matter how hard he tried or how protective he wanted to be.

Look what happened the last time he tried to keep me safe by keeping me ignorant. I have a crescent-shaped scar on my hand to remind him to keep me in the loop.

Before I could storm off to my truck, Charlie nodded over at me. “Going to bed already, Bells? It’s only nine o’clock.”

“Huh?” His voice took me right out of my thoughts of staring down Edward Cullen. Confused, I shook my head. “Bed? Wha… no, I’m not going to bed yet.”

“You looked pretty focused there, kiddo. Something on your mind?”

For just a second, I entertained the idea of telling Charlie about my concerns.

You know Edward, right? Well, his brother and sister came back from Africa today and, for some reason, that bothered him. It made him moody and he won’t tell me why. He fed me some story that he’s annoyed that they just popped back up but I sure don’t buy that. He’s acting way too protective all of a sudden… just like he did when James, that stupid tracker, was trying to hunt me down.

Oh, sorry… did I forget to tell you that a sadistic vampire tried to kill me last March? Oops...

Yeah… that wasn’t going to happen.

“Nope,” I lied, picking up my dirty napkin, my unfinished piece of pizza and Charlie’s empty plate. I wasn’t tired—I couldn’t even think about bed just yet—but I couldn’t just leave again. I’m glad that Charlie had that same sixth sense that all parents had, the one that told them that their kid was about to do something stupid; if it wasn’t for him, I would’ve been halfway out the door already. “I just thought I would clean up a little and get some soda.”

“Could you get me a Coke while you’re in the kitchen?”

“Sure, Dad.”

The pizza box was still open and it was empty. I tossed the garbage inside before lifting the entire box up and carrying it into the kitchen. I didn’t bother bringing it outside. Sunday was garbage day and we didn’t need squirrels digging through the trash again.

Though the pizza was salty, I wasn’t very thirsty, but I’d told Charlie I was getting sodas so I did. I grabbed two cold cans of Coca Cola from the refrigerator before shutting the fridge door with my hip.

I handed him his soda before taking my seat back on the couch. I set my can on the coffee table. Maybe I would be thirsty later.

Focusing his attention on the can he was opening, Charlie didn’t even look at me as he asked, “So, no plans tonight?”

I could tell that was one of the questions that must’ve been whirling around his head since I came home. Whenever I came home nowadays, I usually had Edward with me; he usually stayed until I was getting ready for bed—and, unknown to Charlie, he then usually stayed over. It must be as strange for him to see me without Edward as it was for me to be alone in the house on a Friday night.

Stalling for time by taking a big swig from my can, I shook my head. After I swallowed, I told him, “No, not tonight. It was a long day at work and, besides, Edward was busy. Emmett Cullen and Rosalie Hale came back from Af—from checking out colleges today.”

Charlie was like the rest of the townspeople in Forks—he thought that the older Cullens were all preparing for college. I wasn’t about to correct him.

I didn’t miss the frown that flashed across his face. “Emmett… he’s the big one, isn’t he?”

“Yes, Dad,” I sighed. “And he’s one of the nicest.”

My tone was sharper than I meant it to be but that was all right. Charlie took the hint. He immediately changed the subject. “There’s a really good game going on right now, the Mariners versus the Mets. Do you want to spend the night with your old dad and watch it with me?”

I nodded, relieved that he hadn’t pursued the other conversation. “Sounds good to me.”

He looked surprised that I said yes and I didn’t blame him. It was baseball, after all. I’d never really been a fan of the game before; after watching the Cullens plays their own brand of vampire baseball, it was even more boring to watch a regular MLB game.

But, if that made Charlie happy, then I could spend a couple of hours on the couch, pretending to watch the game.

I think he took my acceptance as a sign that he was finally converting me into a sports fan, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. I forced a vaguely interested expression to form on my face as my normally quiet father launched into a one-sided debate centered on the American pastime.

I caught a mention of something called a “force-out” and “interleague play” before I tuned him out entirely. I kept that look on my face, though, as my eyes stared at the television. According to screen, the team in blue and orange was up at bat and it was the top of the fifth.

The game was almost over, thank goodness. But I would watch it—for two reasons, too: one, because Charlie seemed especially pleased to share his affection for this game with me and two, because it was something to do. It was something to keep my attention away from worrying about Edward and whatever was going on back at his house.

Anything to take my mind off of everything.

Tomorrow, though… that was a different story.