Murder on the Moonlight
AU, All Human. There’s been a murder and it’s up to Bella Swan to discover whodunit. On this cruise ship, there’s plenty of suspects. Was it the honeymooning newlyweds, the young fashion designer or, perhaps, that brooding, handsome stranger? You decide!
6. My Father, the Hero
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My Father, the Hero
Congratulating myself on how quickly I’d taken to navigating this part of the Moonlight—not to mention, how sneakily I’d left the fashion talk behind me—I made it back to my room in a timely manner. The walk around the deck had done me well and, without the handsome face of that boy to cause the butterflies in my stomach to flutter, I’d completely gotten over my earlier seasickness. I just had to remember to drink some more ginger ale if I felt queasy again later.
I kept my room key in my back pocket and, after a few second’s frantic search when I thought I’d misplaced it somewhere, I pulled it out. I must have bent it slightly while I was sitting down but it still worked. I only had to insert it into the slot and pull on the door handle a couple of times before I was back in the room.
It seemed even smaller now than it had before. That, and the stupid candy bars right there made me realize how hungry I was. I’d spent all that time in the dining area and I hadn’t had anything to eat at all.
Shaking my head, I wondered if I should go back out and actually check out the Moonlight menu. I knew I wouldn’t, though. If there was even a chance that that boy was there, watching for whatever reason the table I’d been sitting at, I knew I wouldn’t return just yet.
Instead, I thought I should finally get around to finishing my unpacking. I could just imagine the smug look on Jessica’s face if she returned and I hadn’t even gone through both of my duffel bags yet. At least I’d gotten the chance to open one before my abating nausea sent me on my mission out of the room. Now that I was back, that was the first one I reached for.
After going over to where I kicked my bag and picking it up off of the floor, I sighed and set it on my bottom bunk. Unpacking my bags was the worst part of going anywhere, I thought as I reached in and grabbed all of the clothes I’d packed. They were disheveled after being knocked over and flung across the floor, the shirts wrinkled and my socks unmatched.
Feeling a little frustrated, I sighed again. Before I could put them in the dresser drawers I would have to fold them all over again.
However, as I reached for a pair of underwear, I saw the familiar silver shine of my cell phone. I’d almost forgotten that I’d thrown it in there before leaving home this morning.
Out of habit, I turned it over and checked to see if there were any missed calls. I gulped when I saw there was one.
Charlie’s number flashed up on the screen.
I felt a touch of guilt that I’d missed his call. He probably wouldn’t be too happy when I returned it; even though Jacob hadn’t made it to the cruise, I had promised my dad that I would keep my phone on and charged at all times in case he wanted to check up on me.
Weighing the silver phone in my hand, I wondered if I should get it over with now or wait until later. Deciding it would be better to get it over with now than deal with an overly concerned father later—and, quite possibly, a mother if Charlie decided to involve Renee—I quickly dialed the numbers.
Tapping my sneaker against the floor, I almost hoped that Charlie would be busy doing whatever it was as Police Chief of a rinky dink town like Forks.
The phone rang a couple of times, the obnoxious ring sounding in time to my anxious rap-tap-tapping. Just when I thought that my luck might finally be changing, that I could leave a message on his phone assuring him I was fine without actually having to talk to him, the phone cut off mid-ring.
"Hi, Dad." I bit my lip, trying to anticipate Charlie’s reaction. Like me, he wasn’t a really big talker and it was a rare occurrence when we spoke on the telephone. However, every now and then—more often when Jacob and his hare-brained schemes were involved—Charlie surprised me by being too overprotective. I just hoped this wasn’t one of those times.
"Bells? That you?"
He seemed a little more uptight than usual. I slumped my shoulders. It was going to be one of those times. "Yup, it’s me."
Charlie let out a sigh of relief that was audible even with my crappy service. "I was wondering what happened to you." He paused. "I thought you were supposed to keep your phone with you?"
That touch of guilt I felt before bloomed into full grown remorsefulness. His words tumbled out like a question and, if I wanted to, I could sidestep them very easily. But I wouldn’t—it wasn’t the responsible thing to do.
Keeping the phone to my ear, I sat down on my bunk. "I know, Ch—Dad. And I am," I said, silently meaning ‘I will’, "it’s just that I don’t get much reception out on the open seas. I barely have two bars." Trying to keep my tone apologetic, I crossed my fingers with my free hand.
"That’s okay, honey. I understand," Charlie said agreeably. I let out the breath I hadn’t known I was holding—even if it was the smallest fib, I hated lying to my dad. "In that case, I’m glad I got a hold of you. How’s your trip going?"
Small talk, that was okay. Me and Charlie were pro’s at small talk. "It’s going well, Dad. I found the docks okay and I haven’t fallen into the ocean and drowned or anything," I added, smiling a bit to myself. Charlie knew all too well what it was like to be clumsy.
"That’s amazing, Bella," he answered, chuckling. "How about the infirmary? Did you check it out yet?"
I wasn’t sure if Charlie was asking from experience as the father of an accident-prone daughter or because heading over to the medical station was the first thing he would have done. Either way, I rolled my eyes. It was one thing for me to poke fun at my clumsiness… but my dad? I was seventeen—almost eighteen, after all—and I was more than capable of taking care of myself while on this cruise.
"Not yet. And I’m still in one piece, too. Amazing."
In the wave of my sarcasm, I conveniently forgot to think about the fact that one of the first things I had wanted to do upon boarding the Moonlight was search out the medical center. That, and that—ever since I boarded—I’d already had one collision and one very near-miss. I was lucky that I haven’t really needed a doctor yet… but there was no way I was going to tell Charlie that.
Instead, I changed the subject.
"So, how’s Jacob?" I still felt guilty about wishing him sicker just because the cruise didn’t start of well. Now that I was feeling better myself, I was prepared to hope that his food poisoning was letting now. Well, at least a little bit. And, besides, Jacob was a much safer topic of discussion at the moment than my balance problems.
If Charlie noticed that I had purposely switched from talking about doctors to talking about Jake, he didn’t comment on it. I guess he was used to me skirting around certain issues at hand.
"He’s doing better, Bells. Billy told me about an hour ago that Jake’s finally got his head out of the toilet. He should be a hundred percent for when you get back and he’s already talking about meeting you on the docks when you get back."
I can’t explain what I felt in that moment. Normally, I would’ve felt a rush of excitement and the warm fuzzy feeling of affection for my best friend/whatever’s plans to greet me when I made it home—but I didn’t. I was glad Jake wasn’t as sick as he had been but, the second Charlie mentioned the idea of me coming home… me coming home to Jake… the most confusing reaction came over me: my attention immediately turned to that beautiful, bronze-haired boy I’d met twice already.
And that terrified me more than I can say.
"That’s… that’s nice."
I grimaced. I wasn’t fooling anyone. Just why was my subconscious choosing to fixate on him at the strangest of times? Sure, he was gorgeous, and, yeah, that was the most alluring smile I’d every seen in my life… but—no.
Jake, Jake, Jake… I was chanting his name to myself. Jacob Black, his beautiful russet skin and thick, lustrous black hair that was so soft I would use it as a pillow if I could—
Oh, goodness. I really wasn’t fooling anyone… including myself. Ugh.
I exhaled, all too aware that the stupid, stupid butterflies had returned. Waving my hand flippantly, I tried to push them away. The cabin room was cramped enough already. There was no room for sudden doubts or nagging metaphorical insects.
But, you know, Charlie could be a lot more perceptive than I give him credit for. He waited a second before saying cautiously, "Bella, honey? Is everything all right?"
I was just about to come up with some sort of excuse for my lack of enthusiasm when I heard the sudden approach of high-heeled shoes. Against the polished wood of the ship’s hallway, someone was clack—clack—clacking this way. The sound, as obnoxious as it was, was probably only obnoxious because I recognized it.
It sounded just like Jessica’s shoes had earlier when she was leaving. I guess it was about time for her to return to the room.
And I still haven’t unpacked one bit.
I frowned before remembering that I was still on the phone. Actually, it was Charlie’s gruff yet quiet voice that reminded me.
"Bells? You still there?"
I gave myself a little shake. "I’m sorry, Dad. I thought I heard something outside of my cabin door." The sound of the shoes got louder and I decided that it would be better for everyone if I ended this conversation now. The last thing I needed was for Jessica to start a round of Twenty Questions if she walked in and I was on the phone. "Everything’s okay, I promise. I’m going to go finish unpacking and then take a tour on deck," I improvised, figuring that that would be the truth eventually. "I’ll keep my phone on me."
"Of course. You take care of yourself, kiddo. I mean it."
For just a second, I imagined that his voice sounded a bit graver than usual. It reminded me of those times when he came home from work after visiting a crime scene. He sounded serious—almost as if he was dreading something that was about to happen.
But, honestly… what could happen on a cruise ship? I’ve already gotten over my seasickness and I think I’ve already reached my embarrassment quota for the day. What else could go wrong today?
I offered Charlie a quick chuckle. "I will, Dad. And I’ll see you in a couple of days."
We said our goodbyes then and, after closing my phone and marveling at the fact that that was probably one of the longest phone conversations I’ve ever had with my dad, I set my phone down on my bunk. I would have to slip it into my pocket later on but, as the footsteps seemed to stop right outside my door, I decided not to worry about it just yet.
Looking back on it, that probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.
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