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Finished. Six years after Breaking Dawn, a brutal murder is committed near Forks. When called in the middle of the night, Charlie Swan rushes off to do his civic duty and protect the public. Three hours later, he returns home with a new ward: the only survivor of the double homicide. From the beginning, it is clear that the poor thing needs a new start, a new life- and someone to save her from her old one, especially when ghosts from the past resurface. And, with Nessie determined to overcome her own demons, the two realize that friendship can come from the strangest places.

All of this belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Duh…

10. Chapter 10

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Chapter Ten--

The hospital was cleaner than she remembered. Whiter too, more sterile…suffocatingly impersonal. She was willing to cut off a finger or two to get away from the dispassionate establishment. But she promised Seth that she would go back just to make sure that she had not infected the gaping hole in her shoulder. Iris never was one to break a promise. So she sat, twiddling her thumbs and glaring icily at Dr. Breckenridge, the young intern in charge of her case. Dr. Cullen filled the doorway, observing but never interacting. He was too aloof to be of any comfort to her. Again, Iris was alone.

Seth had left to do something. She was not sure what. He dropped her off at the hospital where the Cullens were waiting. How he told them that she would be there, Iris did not know, nor did she care. Seth had reassured her by licking the palm of her hand before darting off into the bushes. Seeing the Cullens standing before the glass doors of the hospital was an intimidating sight, but Iris was not one to crumble under fear. Shoulders squared, she walked defiantly to them, as if returning to the hospital had been her idea. They said nothing, but flanked either side and escorted her to her room. It made her feel like she was the Queen of England and they were her body guards. Shortly thereafter, the young intern had shown up.

“Everything looks good, Miss Potter,” he informed her as he wrote down on his clipboard. His writing was just as illegible as the next doctors, so she had absolutely no idea what he was writing. Not that she cared. “You should be released by the end of the week.”

“Uhm…no,” Iris snapped. “I am leaving now, discharge or no,”

Dr. Breckenridge rolled his eyes at his ill tempered patient. The night staff had known from the moment that she had been brought in that the teen would be a handful. The only reason he had been assigned to her case was because he had lost a best with Dr. Hawse. He really wished he had not bet against the Mariners. “Miss Potter, please be reasonable. You have been shot twice. This is not something you bounce back from,”

“Maybe not for you, Doc. But I’m right as rain. I’m going back to Chief Swan’s whether you like it or not. I really don’t care at this point,” Iris hotly retorted. She glared potently at the intern, daring him to dispute her. She always won because loosing wasn’t an option. If she lost, it was because she was lying on the side of the road, bleeding. No white-collared bastard was going to beat her.

“Someone is going to have to be with you at all times,” Dr. Breckenridge informed her palliatively. “To make sure that you take your medicine, get all the rest you need and to ensure that you do not tear the stitching out.”

“All of those things I can do on my own,” Iris informed him. “I’m not some helpless baby,”

“You will be when the morphine wears off,” replied Dr. Breckenridge. “Whether or not you’ve realized it, we have kept your system inundated with it. Whenever it is gone, the pain will be excruciating. You will have to be weaned gradually off of it,”

“I am capable of cutting a pill,” Iris rolled her eyes. “I’m still not seeing a problem,”

“Of course you aren’t,” Dr. Breckenridge replied. He was tired and sick of this child. She was impudent and relentless. One day, he would be treating her for attempted suicide, he was sure of it. She was one of the ones who never stopped and eventually died because they were stupid. It made him sick to know that he would have to sign her death certificate someday soon.

“How long will it be until Chief Swan is released?” Dr. Cullen interjected.

The two looked at the handsome vampire. Iris rolled her eyes. He was always butting in to matters that did not concern him. Dr. Breckenridge answered the renown doctor confidently. “No more than two days,” he said. “But he too will need someone to look after him until he returns to work.”

Dr. Cullen nodded. “I see. I would volunteer my family, but we are returning to Clarmont Saturday.”

Dr. Breckenridge nodded in return. “I understand, Dr. Cullen,” he said. “I honestly did not expect your family to do so. Does Chief Swan have any relatives in Forks?”

Dr. Cullen shook his head no. “Not that I can think of,”

“That does present a problem,”

“I’ll do it,” a cool, confident voice said from the doorway.

The three turned to look at Sue Clearwater. She was small compared to the two tall men, near Iris’s height. But she was a sturdy looking woman, one with strong arms and capable hands. She was a single mother of two, and she could most certainly handle any problem Charlie and Iris could throw at her. She had reared Leah Clearwater after all. As soon as Seth had told her that someone would need to take care of Iris, Sue had found her new calling in life. The poor child needed a mother; dammit, Sue would do it.

Dr. Cullen smiled at the strong matron as Iris’s mouth dropped. “Perfect,” he told her.


As far as she was concerned, Sue Clearwater was an awesome woman. Much cooler than any of the Cullens. One, she was actually alive and able to bleed. Two, Sue would leave her the hell alone. Three times a day, she showed up with food, and never once did she pressure Iris to eat. She left the food with the sickly girl.

For the first two days of her at home health-care, Iris had mostly slept. She lay buried beneath the warm covers, content to not move an inch. She did not touch the food that Sue brought her, but she did swallow the medicine. They had taken her off of morphine and had given her some other drug. She’d heard of it before, but it constantly slipped her mind. Apathy wormed its way through her body as she became unresponsive to everything. She wanted some kind of contact, something to make the days pass by quicker. It took too long for the sun to set, and she was tired of being tired.

She wanted company. How strange. Sue was kind but firm. She would not let anyone disturb Iris while she was recovering. The woman was strong as well; she did not relent from the girl’s harsh words and terse glares. “I raised Leah, even when she first started phasing,” Sue informed her dryly. “This is nothing new to me,”

Iris has no idea who Leah was or why she had been a bitch to Sue. Sue was perfectly nice and only Iris’s reason to be bitchy was legitimate. Leah must have been a real piece of work.

Finally, something happened that shattered the monotony. The only problem was that it was so life-threatening that Iris really was not sure that she wanted it to happen. It was midmorning, and warm, something unusual for northern Washington. She was lying in bed, as usual, staring at the ceiling, as usual. Counting the leaves on the tree outside was not boring enough to lull her to sleep. Neither was trying to memorize Malachi. Then, suddenly, Victoria was upon her.

“Iris!” she cried.

Iris sat up quickly, alarmed at the distress in the redhead’s voice. Iris peered into the blood-curdling eyes for a split second and her blood turned to ice. She had never seen such a look of pure terror. “Iris!” the vampire’s ghost cried again. “You need to get away from here! Now!”

“What’s going on?” Iris asked as she tossed aside her sheets. She flushed when she realized that she was in her underwear and a tank top. She did not like to sleep in many clothes.

The ghost was unperturbed by her scantily clad form. “He’s coming,” she told her. “He is here for you––”

Iris would have asked who but Victoria’s cry of alarm stopped her. Iris barely had time to turn around before two strong arms scooped her up. She knew that she had seen a tawny haired man crouching in her window, but she also knew that she was in his arms and they were falling to ground. There was nothing more she could do but let out a high-pitched scream. Iris hoped that Sue and Chief Swan heard her, because she wasn’t able to do much else. She tried to fight him, but found that she really could not move at all. That, plus the fact that her chest was throbbing, Iris felt quite helpless. She was due for pills in ten minutes, and was seriously needing them. That bastard Breckenridge was right; she hurt like hell.

Before she could blink twice, they were in thicket of woods. Trees were everywhere, but she could not tell one from the other. It was all blurred together, like a watercolor left out in the rain. Everything was smeared together, but she could tell that they were rapidly going south. The leaves were turning into deep reds and bright golds; the green was quickly fading. Death was imminent; life was precious and quickly killed.

Suddenly, a distressed howl echoed in the distance. Shouts of warning soon followed. Whoever was holding her snarled and increased his pace. Iris had absolutely no idea what was happening, but her pounding heart drowned out any other sound. She was going to die and die soon. Strangely, she felt fear. The girl who always was apathetic, who did not care if she lived or died, was suddenly afraid to. The world had changed so much so suddenly and she did not know why.

Garret. She could understand that. The voices were feminine and calling out to Garret. Garret must have been the man who was holding her. He was icy cold and Iris caught flashes of glittering light when they passed through a sunbeam. Instinct told her that this freaky man was like the Cullens, a vampire. Only…he was not kind and gentle like the Cullens were. He was gruff and feral––and he wanted her blood. Iris could only hope that it would be a quick and painless death. She was suddenly in no mood for pain.

“Garret!” It rang out in the woods loud and clear, a command to stop. This voice was very familiar and her heart warmed to hear it. Edward Cullen, the douche. He had come to save her and she was calling him a douche. Somethings never changed, but her being glad to see him had.

Garret suddenly stopped. He jostled Iris painfully and she screamed. Tears wormed their way out of her eyes and she scowled. She promise that she was not going to cry anymore and here she was. How irking. He dropped her to the dirty, leave-covered ground. “Ow!” she cried out. Dammit, if she was in pain, she was going to let him know. One glance into Garret’s black eyes told her that he didn’t give two fucks.

Then he was down beside her, crouching defensively behind her. His gruffly smooth hand cupped her neck. She tried to fight him, but her weak body was putty in his strong hands. He arched her neck, exposing the jugular that her crimson blood pulsated through. He buried his nose sharply into her neck and took in the most soulful breath Iris had ever heard. He made this an almost sensual experience. He licked her neck just once. Iris cringed at his icy tongue against her burning flesh. Her body felt like it was on fire and his ice-cold touch brought instant relief. Unfortunately, it also brought death.

The tongue was gone and she had been shoved to the ground. Something very heavy was laying on top of her. Her face was buried in the ground and she afraid to open her eyes. She might see something horrible; she might get dirt in her eye. Iris really did not want either. Her ears remained wide open.

“Calm down, Garret!” Edward was demanding the vampire. “You don’t want to do this!”

There was snarling. She heard the struggle. There was a lot of thumps and yelps; someone was getting the shit beat out of them. Iris prayed for once it was not Edward. Feminine voices spoke softly, soothingly, but Iris could not understand a word they were saying. They were talking too fast for her to understand, another nifty vampire trait to add to the repertoire. Garret obviously was a good vampire, one that did not like to feast on random people. Iris was his one exception, and that scared the shit out of her.

“You bastard!” a very familiar voice rang out. Her heart lifted. Seth.

“What the hell are you doing? Why are you letting him live?” Seth demanded.

“What are you saying, Seth?” Bella’s calm voice joined the conversation. Of course the prissy little thing was there, too. She did love Edward, Iris supposed, and could not bear to be separated from him. Whenever she fell in love, Iris swore then and there that she would not be the needy girl who obsessed over her boyfriend. She was independent and could handle her own problems. For example, she would beat the crap out of Garret if the heavy, furry thing would get off of her.

“He deserves to die,” Seth yelled, and Iris agreed. “He tried to kill her!”

“We stopped him,” a feminine voice snarled. She sounded beautiful. “Nothing happened the human, she’ll be fine.”

Iris changed her mind. The woman sounded like a stuck up and spoiled bitch.

“He’ll come back for her!” Seth screamed in his rage. “Kill him,”

“Emmett!” Edward yelled.

She heard a second struggle. Seth must have been trying to get to Garret to beat him up for her. How sweet. Iris also remembered Emmett. If that enormous vampire was keeping Seth away from Garret, Seth did not even stand a chance. It would take a lot to best Emmett, and Iris didn’t think Seth had it in him.

“You bastard!” Seth yelled. “I will kill you!”

“Get him away from here!” Dr. Cullen’s voice yelled suddenly. “Before he does something he will regret.”

“Come on, Seth,” Nessie voice chimed in. “Let’s get out of here,”

There was a pause. Silence descended the woods around them. Iris briefly wondered if she dreamed the entire episode. All she had to do was open her eyes and see the light of her bedroom. It was all a dream. That was it. It was a dream. Only…she was afraid to open her eyes. She might get dirt in them.

Then the pressure was off of her. Someone was gently scooping her up into his arms. Her hand splayed across a smooth chest and the scent of musky cinnamon filled her nose. She did not have to open her eyes to know who was holding her. Not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to herself and further provoke Garret, Iris stayed still in his arms. Seth would understand whenever she explained things to him. He was awesome like that.

Once again, they were running. Well, he was, and she was being carried. Iris did not think that anyone was following them. She only heard his light footsteps and quiet breathing. He was doing his best to not disturb her, she realized. Seth thought she had feinted from fear. He thought she was weak; Iris could not have that.

“Seth,” she whispered his name. Her hand reached up gingerly towards his face. She wanted to reassure him that she was okay. She was not hurt. She would surprisingly be alive tomorrow.

Seth skidded to a halt immediately. Iris wrenched her eyes open. She looked up at his face with a soft smile. He stared back down at her with wide eyes and an open jaw. He was genuinely shocked that she was awake. Rather chauvinistic of him, but she was willing to forgive him this once. He made her heart stir and she did not know why, but she most assuredly wanted to find out why.

Seth could not believe that was awake. He thought that Jake’s weight had suffocated her. He had been holding her limp in his arms, careful to not jostle her too much. He did not want to cause her unnecessary pain. Without warning, a warm hand reached up to stroke his face. He looked down at her with startled eyes as he stopped running. Iris looked up at him with shining green-gray eyes. She cupped his cheek gently and smiled at him. For once, it was a real smile, not forced or hidden. She looked up at him and smiled; adoration shone brightly in her beautiful eyes. For once, a real emotion with no motives or agendas. She looked at him contentedly.

He felt himself smiling at her. He could deny her nothing, not even something so simple. He wanted her to know that he was happy, too. She was not dead. Seth had not realized how much he was afraid that she would be, that he would not be able to stop the bloodsucker. Thankfully, his pack had not let him down. Leah had attacked the vampire with a savagery most unexpected, but nevertheless welcomed. Edward had barely been able to separate the two of them. His sister would have killed Garret in order to protect the girl in his arms, and Seth would have let her. He was willing to do anything to protect the girl in his arms. Seth had no idea why.

For some unexplainable reason, he leaned down. Iris grinned and pulled him closer, arching her back to meet him half way. He held her in one arm easily enough to he too could hold her face. His lips pressed against hers softly, but just for a moment. He was suddenly crushing their bodies together, desperate for any contact. He wanted to breath her scent, feel her warmth, hear her heart beat. He needed to know that she was alive and in his arms. She wasn’t dead; she was alive. Alive and with him, kissing him back just as passionately. She wanted him like he craved her; suddenly, all was well.

Iris nibbled on Seth’s lower lip and groaned into his mouth. A warm rush swept over her. In Seth’s arms, she felt secure and safe. She trusted him as he carried her in his back to Chief Swan’s home. Her back began to spasm. Iris fell back into his strong arms with a startled cry. Seth’s dark eyes searched her face in alarm. Iris did not offer him a smile of comfort, nor did she reassure him with her eyes. She chose to bite her lip, focusing on one pain instead of another.

“Are you okay?” Seth whispered.

Iris squeezed her eyes shut and furiously shook her head. “Yeah,” she answered just as softly. “I think I’m okay,”

“We’ll walk back slowly,” he told her. “Just let me know if you start to hurt again,”

“I’m fine,” Iris tartly informed him.

“I’m sure you are,” Seth agreed in a placating tone. He shifted her barely, bringing her into a higher, more comfortable position. “Tell me if it the pace hurts you,”

“I can walk, you know,” Iris snapped crossly. She glared up at him through her feminine lashes. She was done being the helpless damsel with everyone worrying and fretting over her. It was growing boring and Iris did not do boring. Boring made her do drastic things, and in her opinion, the Cullens would all suffer major heart attacks if she were to have some fun. Her fun was ostentatiously different from other people’s. “I’m not completely incompetent,”

“Not fast enough,” remarked Seth darkly. He looked back over his bare shoulder, tensely searching for any danger. Unconsciously, his grip on Iris’s body increased as his pace increased. Iris watched the trees zip by, still blurry but much clearer than when she was in Garret’s arms. Thankfully, she was not getting motion sickness.

“What happened, back there?” she cast a glance backwards as well. Fear crept up her spine and she briefly thought that they were being followed by the ravenous vampire. “With that man…Garret?”

Seth scowled murderously. Iris cringed. She did not like to see that look on a normally kind man’s face. “He’s a vampire,”

“Well, I guessed that,” Iris snapped.

“I thought he was one of the good ones,” Seth muttered, more to himself than Iris. It was like he was trying to figure out exactly what happened just minutes before. “Bastard had me fooled.” He must have convinced himself that Garret was evil. “The fact that he tried to drain you…” Seth’s voice trailed off in disgust.

“Drain?” Iris questioned. Vampire terminology was still novel to her.

“Drink your blood,” Seth explained. They were speeding along now. The trees were beyond blurry; she could barely distinguish the sky from the ground. The wind lashed at her entire body, burning her with its frigid iciness. Seth’s body emitted a remarkable heat, and Iris found herself snuggling into him just to keep warm.

She wrinkled her nose. “Well, that makes sense,”

“Edward said that you were his singer. Your blood smells particularly––” he barely choked out the next word–– “appetizing to him. Yours would have been the best he had ever had,”

“Oh,” Iris nodded again. There was not much else she could say.

“Supposedly, he became a vegetarian,” Seth continued to mutter curses. He glared darkly at the world, hating everything and everyone. Iris had absolutely no idea why. “I have doubts,”

“Well, he can’t help it if I smell good,” Iris bitterly snapped. She was very defensive and angry at Seth. “I should have kept my window shut.”

“You!” Seth growled fiercely. “Did nothing wrong! You could not have stopped him even if you wanted to. Your scent is everywhere, all over the damn town. If he wanted to, he could have found you. You’re just lucky we got there in time,”

“Don’t get angry at him! He couldn’t help that I just showed up out of the blue!” Iris defended her attacker. She was suddenly so angry at Seth. He thought she needed a protector, that she could not take care of herself. But, dammit, she could. She had been for years. Iris did not need some man to waltz into her life and call the shots. Just because he had a penis did not meant that he was superior than her in any way. Seth needed to be reminded of that.

“He should have controlled himself,” Seth responded heatedly. “That’s what being a vegetarian is all about: control. That’s the Cullen’s first rule, and he broke it. Without control, he is just as savage as the rest of the bloodsuckers.”

“What gives you the right to judge him?” Iris yelled. “Surely you aren’t perfect! You’ve lost control before! You can’t act all high and mighty when you’re just bad!”

“I can’t loose control, Iris,” Seth exasperatedly explained. He was breathing shallow, quick breaths. He was almost foaming at the mouth in rage but Iris could not bring herself to feel fear. She felt safe with Seth and that only pissed her off even more. “If I do, people could die,”

“Ha!” Iris exclaimed. “Just like Garret! You self-absorbed pig! You can’t judge him when you two are in the same boat!”

“Iris!” Seth barked. “I just told you I can’t lose control. I have to stay calm or else I explode into a large, angry wolf that mauls everything in its path! Get it?”

“I’ll believe that when I see it!” she yelled back firmly. Her fists clenched but it did not do much good.

“Have you seen Emily’s face?” Seth asked her. “Sam is head over heels in love with her and he still hurt her! Everyday, every time we see her, we all remember. We have got to keep control or else we hurt the people we care about!”

“Why the hell are you shaking so bad?” Iris yelled, very agitated at his jerky movements. She had wanted to smack him the entire time he was yelling at her. She was more focused on the annoyance than his words. He probably said something important, too. Damn.

“I shake when I am about to lose control,” Seth informed her through paper thin lips.

Fuck. Iris started to scramble. “Put me down! Put me down!” Seth complied. Iris dropped to her knees. From her defensive crouch, she stared up appraisingly at him through her thick lashes. He was shaking but taking in deep, calming breaths. He was desperate to regain some type of control. Without warning, she pounced.

Seth’s eyes widened in surprise. He caught her easily in his strong arms, but her weight hit him like a train. They fell backwards through the fall air together, Iris tucked safely in his arms. Before his head hit the ground, her lips were pressed against his and she was kissing him with all of her might. For several seconds, Seth eagerly responded. He knew what he was doing was wrong, that the girl in his arms was six years younger than he was and a minor, but he really did not care. She wanted to kiss him and he wanted to kiss her. That wasn’t illegal.

Eventually, when she needed to breathe, Iris pulled back. Panting heavily, she smirked at him. “Are you calm now?”

Seth shook his head. “No,” he told her. “But I’m not angry anymore,”

Iris sat up. Seth did the same. She still straddled his hips and had somehow managed to wedge herself into his waist. One wrong move and Seth was in for a world of embarrassment. They were alone in the woods; she was in her underwear and a thin cami and he was shirtless and going commando in a pair of ratty jeans. If anyone found them, there was no way he could talk his way out of this one. Shit.

Iris did not seem to have the worries he did. Her lips were attacking his mouth again. She sought skin on skin contact as eagerly as he did. Her nimble hands threaded through his short hair and she whispered his name in breathy pants. For the second time that day, Seth felt his control slip away.


He pulled away from her. His hands caught her small waist, and kept her from attacking him again before he had a chance to calm down. Besides, they needed to talk. “We can’t do this,” he told her firmly.

Iris cocked her head to the side. Those large, green-gray eyes blinked in confusion. “Why not?”

“It’s wrong, and illegal. You’re still a minor. I’m twenty-one. I could go to jail,”

“But I want to,” she told him. “And so do you.” She gave him a saucily defiant grin and she rolled her hips for emphasis.

Seth’s eyes bulged so greatly out of his head that Iris briefly wondered if she had gone too far. It looked like those inky orbs were going to explode out of his eye sockets. That would not be cool. “It’s still…”

Iris nibbled on his ear lobe. How she managed to worm her way closer to him, Seth did not know. “I don’t care,” she huskily whispered in his ear.

“Charlie will kill me if he finds out…” Seth pathetically tried to weasel out of it. Iris’s offer was more and more tempting, but it was still wrong. He did not want to take advantage of young girl, lost and confused in the world. Not only had she just lost her entire family and been shot twice, she also mysteriously discovered the world of mythical creatures. Her entire world view had changed and she was looking for some rock. Seth really did not want her to look in the wrong places.

“He doesn’t have to know,” Iris told him. “Besides,” she added, “It isn’t like we are going to do anything serious. It’s all fun,”

She saw the doubt in his beautiful eyes. “It’ll help me get over my parents’ death,” she told him, desperate for him to agree.

Seth glared. “That, I highly doubt,”

Iris shrugged. “You never know,”

“Iris,” Seth said sternly. “It’s wrong. I won’t take advantage of you when you are so emotionally distraught.”

“Bullshit,” Iris declared harshly. “I’m not emotionally distraught. Life sucks. I get it; move on. I want this Seth because I want it. It is impulsive and stupid and I don’t care. I want it because I can’t seem to have anything else in the world. And, dammit, you are going to give it to me.”

“You can’t make me,” he told her.

“No,” she agreed. “I can’t. But I can pounce on you everyttime I see you, regardless who is in the room. So… we either do this my way: clandestine and fun. Or we can do it your way: where everybody knows. It’s your choice,” she told him.

Seth sighed. “I can’t believe this,” he whispered.

Iris rolled her eyes. “Believe it and get over it,”

Seth pouted. “Yes ma’am,” he grumbled.

Iris looked him up and down. Then, she was all over him again, kissing him as passionately as she could. Seth’s arms immediately wrapped around her. He kissed her with the same intensity. All the while, he wondered why he put up such a fight. This was what he had been wanting to do ever since he saw her paint.