With his daughter’s wedding only a few scant weeks away, Charlie Swan suddenly finds himself in the line of fire. And in the seconds before he’s facing down the barrel of a gun, he is filled with dread that he will almost certainly not live to walk his daughter down the aisle. Not unless someone intervenes; someone strong enough and fast enough to beat a bullet.
There are a few chapters to this story, but not many. It was just a tadd too long to make a one-shot.
4. Chapter 4
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1047 Review this Chapter
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“Jake?” Charlie seemed genuinely confused; clearly, he hadn’t made any connections.
Bella coughed, clearing her throat. It felt suddenly swollen again. “Yeah, um. Remember when the Cullens moved back after spring break – and Jake and I stopped talking for a long time? And then, when we did start talking again, we kept getting into a lot of fights?”
Charlie scratched his head, his fingernails dragging along his scalp. “Yeah, you two kids used to be such good friends. What happened?”
Bella took a deep breath. “Well, what happened is Jake turned into a werewolf and found out that the Cullens are vampires and he hates me for choosing them over him.”
“What?” Charlie shrieked, his voice rising several octaves. The calm he had exuded all afternoon since learning the truth about the Cullens suddenly vanished. His face turned an unhealthy looking shade of purple. He felt the heat rise in his face, his blood pressure shooting up several notches.
“Dad, calm down, please,” Bella begged.
Charlie’s eyes darted wildly around the room, searching for purchase. “Calm down? You want me to calm down?!”
“Dad, stop it!” The pleading had disappeared from Bella’s voice. She spoke commandingly. “If you can’t calm yourself down, then I’m going to have to ask Edward to come back. And Carlisle, too, probably. And maybe even Emmett.”
“Yeah, he’s the big one, remember?”
This seemed to clear Charlie’s head. He wanted this time alone with his daughter. He wanted to sort things out; clear his mind. He couldn’t do that in a room full of vampires – especially one who could read minds, or one who exuded the same presence as a large grizzly bear.
“Jacob’s a … a …”
“A werewolf,” Bella finished. Charlie couldn’t bring himself to say it. “Dad, let me explain. At least, as best as I can. See … it goes back to the old Quileute tribal legends. About the wolves … and creatures they called the Cold Ones.”
“Yes,” Bella said, glad that her father was following along. “They’re natural enemies. That’s why the Quileutes have always hated the Cullens; that’s why they don’t allow them on the reservation. But they don’t fight the Cullens because Jacob’s grandfather made a treaty with Carlisle several decades ago when the Cullens lived near Hoquiam. But even with the treaty, the tribe doesn’t trust the Cullens. In fact, the treaty is on particularly shaky grounds right now … because of me.”
Charlie’s brow furrowed. His face had returned to the relatively calm mask from earlier as he’d listened to his daughter’s explanation. But now he was confused once more. “You?” he said. “What did you do?”
“Er,” Bella stuttered, “well, it’s not really what I did, per se … but what I’m planning to do. See, the treaty only stands so long as the Cullens do not bite a human. Not kill – bite.”
“So that means …”
“When Edward changes me, we’ll be breaking the treaty.”
Charlie sat silently for a moment. Bella glanced up and thought she saw a ghost of a figure flash past the doorway, but if Edward was pacing outside the room, he was still waiting for her permission to return to the conversation. Even if he was acting impatiently.
Finally, Charlie spoke. “Well that’s stupid.”
“That’s stupid,” he said. “Don’t they know this is what you want? That you’re letting him bite you willingly? They should make an exception for that. Especially after Carlisle helped Jacob earlier this summer. I’m guessing he didn’t actually fall off his bike?”
“Er, no,” Bella said, only half-surprised by her father’s perceptiveness. “It was during a fight with some other vampires. Long story. I’ll tell you later, promise. But what do you mean – it’s stupid?”
“You say the whole tribe knows, right? So Billy knows, too?” Charlie ignored her questions.
“Yes, but –.”
“Well, then, I’m just going to have to go straighten things out.”
“Dad, I don’t think you can really act as intermediary between the vampires and the werewolves. I mean, even I couldn’t get them to be friendly.”
Charlie waved at her, dismissing her concerns. “I don’t need them to be friendly. I just need them to compromise. Besides, you’re biased. I like them both just fine.”
“I’m not biased!” Bella declared. “I’m Switzerland!”
“You’re biased,” Charlie insisted. “You may like the werewolves just fine, but you chose the vampires. You’re marrying the vampires.”
“Oh.” Bella sank back into the sofa cushions. She’d always vehemently declared her neutrality in the disagreements between vampires and werewolves. And yet, her father was right. Even if she did feel friendly towards Jake and the other members of the Pack, she had chosen the vampires. She was becoming a vampire; marrying one.
Somewhere along the way, without meaning to, she had chosen sides.
“So what happens if you break the treaty?”
Bella blinked and looked up, silent and lost in thought. She was grateful when she saw Edward ghosting past the doorway again and muttered his name under her breath.
He breezed into the room as if nothing had transpired. “If we break the treaty, then the Quileutes have the right to start a war. To kick us off this land forever and hunt us down and kill us, if they are able. We were hoping to avoid such a conflict, but it’s not clear what course of action they will choose. We’ve already made it clear that we are not changing our decision. This is what Bella wants, whether they accept that or not.”
Edward sat on the sofa next to Bella, snaking his arm around her waist and pulling her against his chest. She melted into him, drawing strength and calm from his presence.
“I’ve got a lot to think about,” Charlie said, half-muttering to himself, half-acknowledging Edward’s return.
“Would you like us to take you home?” Edward asked. “Or Carlisle could drive you, if you’d prefer.”
“Yes, that would be fine,” Charlie said, distracted by new thoughts. Nothing had quite formed into a coherent concept yet, but there were inklings and vague ideas forming. Notions that left Edward puzzling them over, as Carlisle returned and escorted Charlie back to the Mercedes outside.
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