I pulled her closer and cupped the back of her head, pressing her into my shoulder. ‘Let it out’ I thought desperately ‘Please, just let it go.’ Once that happened, once I gave in, there would be no going back….there would be no more fighting it. I had to keep fighting. Giving up was too terrifying….the uncertainty of what would come after had me frozen in fear. Charlie and Bella's POV at the end of that first week in New Moon after Edward leaves.
2. "She's Staying"
Rating 5/5 Word Count 5560 Review this Chapter
" She's staying"
~ "I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more" ~
It truly was the last thing I wanted to do, but what other choice did I have? It has been nearly week ....a week since I found my daughter curled up on her bedroom floor. I had known it was going to be bad. Despite my dislike of the previous circumstances I knew my daughter had loved that boy.
Did love him.
I had no doubt that that was the reason for the problems now. He was the reason Bella hadn't moved so much as an inch or spoken a single word in little over five days. The muteness I could handle....to an extent. It was the non eating part that worried me.
Okay so worry was an understatement. I was terrified.
This was not normal....it wasn't normal for anybody, but it especially wasn't normal for my Bella. Something had to be done....my daughter couldn't continue wasting away right in front of me while I stood by helpless.
I was powerless. I knew what had to be done....I needed help.... No, she needed help. It was the kind of help I wasn't able to give but I was too much of a coward to make that phone call. I just couldn't do it....it wasn't right.
So I had only one option left. Yesterday I called the one person I knew who could handle this the way I never could. The one person who had a chance at snapping Bella out of this. The person who had inflicted so much pain on me....the same pain my daughter was feeling.
I might as well face the simple truth now....the plain fact that was written into every one of my mistakes...
I just wasn't cut out to be a father.
I have worked very hard over the years to earn the title ‘Chief of Police'. People look at me and what they see is a cop, a protector, and law enforcer. Others look up to me, follow my orders, and respect me on many different levels. But that is merely the clothing I wear....it goes with the badge and jacket.
Because on the inside there is one thing I could never fight.
One thing that always seemed to bring me to my knees and leave me with nothing.
The destructive power of love.
I will never understand how a meaning so large....so dangerous.... could be contained in four little letters.
Nearly 18 years ago I had been broken by this word.
And now I was seeing history repeat itself in the one thing that truly mattered.
The sound of a car coming down the road pulled me from my thoughts. With a deep sigh I pushed myself from the table and walked towards the window. Part of me was hoping it was her, and the other was hoping it was another false alarm.
Due to the early hour there weren't very many cars on this little road.
I didn't have to wait long.
My stomach dropped into my feet when I saw the yellow cab pull into my driveway. As soon as she stepped out of the car and closed the door I regretted my decision.
But I had no other option.
It was this, I reminded myself, or....hospitalization.
Four quick, sharp knocks on the wooden door made my heart skip a beat.
Taking in a steadying breath I walked the six paces it took to get to the front door. The very door where....so many years ago my love had walked out, taking my world with her.
As my hand closed over the door handle, my breath caught in my throat and froze there.
I could do this....for Bells....she needed this and so I would face this.
I pulled the door open and there she was....my Achilles heel....
"Where is she Charlie?" Renee pushed by me quickly without any further greeting. Her steps were fast and demanding as she walked down the hall pulling off her gloves along the way.
I stood there for a few seconds looking after her. By the time I managed to compose myself, close the door, and follow after her she was walking from the living room into the kitchen. When my quick glance told her Bella wasn't in either she headed straight for the stairs.
I crossed the room in three long strides and grabbed her arm.
She jerked away and turned her head to glare up at me.
The memory was fast in coming and very strong.
‘Just let me go Charlie.'
"Why?" Renee demanded. "Where is she?"
I blinked a few times....pulling myself back to the present. Having her here....under this roof after so many years was making my head spin. It was almost too much to deal with....almost. But there was something....no someone much more important than my own, un-dealt with issues.
Renee was tired of me not answering her questions and called Bella's name loudly....expecting her daughter to no doubt answer her.
"She's upstairs Renee, but...." She went to move towards the stairs but I stumbled forward quickly to block her progress. Her blue eyes widened and then lit up. Despite the rage I saw there, they were still beautiful.
"I know you're worried, I should have called you sooner but I hoped she would pull out of this on her own...."
"Pull out of what....?"
"It's bad Renee....I didn't think it would...."
"Bad?" Her brow furrowed and she went to move around me, I side stepped blocking her way again.
"I don't have time for this I want to see Bella....now."
"Please, just give me a second to explain," I stared down at her, pleading with my eyes. A moment passed where we just stood in the kitchen staring at one another and then finally she relaxed slightly.
"Fine," she sighed.
I sighed too and gestured towards the kitchen table. "Please?"
She looked at the chair and then back to me. With another sigh she pulled her purse over her shoulder and slung it onto the table before taking a seat. She was unhappy, this much I could easily see. The furrow of her brow and her slightly pouting lower lip reminded me so much of Bella.
"I see things haven't changed much around here." Renee said with a small, somewhat forced, smile, looking around the kitchen.
I took the seat across from her and tried to smile back. It felt more like a grimace than anything. I was just too tired to make those muscles work properly at the moment. "Yes well, yellow doesn't look too bad in here," I mumbled.
Renee snorted softly, "Could have fooled me."
I took a deep breath and rubbed my face roughly with my hand. I was far too tired to argue.
I was usually on better terms with Renee. Over the years we never really grew apart completely....Bella made that impossible. I suppose we could be considered very old friends. There was no bitterness between us, no resentment. She had made her choice and I had done the only thing I could at the time.
I knew the only reason Renee was acting the way she was now was because she was forced to come here....to the once place she hated. And more so than that her daughter was once again hurt. Bella has been with me a little over a year and in that short time she has gone through so much.
Happy wasn't the right word to describe how I felt when Bella made the decision to move to Forks. Despite my confusion at her choice I was ecstatic....I thought I might burst from the over load. It had been so long since I had someone else under this roof, and even longer since I had my daughter here....in her room.
I don't know what I expected when she stepped off that plane. But what I saw was not it. I was shocked. I had seen her the previous summer but it seemed in that short amount of time she had grown. Not physically so much as mentally. Bella had always been mature for her age, but there was something else.....something in her eyes.
My little girl wasn't there anymore.
When we arrived home and she got settled in it wasn't the patter of little feet down the hall, or that soft giggle that filled this empty house. I had missed those years....they were forever gone and I could never bring them back. But in the process of realizing what was gone I began to get to know someone else....she was the same, but different.
I began to finally know my daughter....not the child Bella, but the young woman.
She was quiet and reserved as always, and sometimes it seemed I was the only one still in the house.
But I knew better, I could feel her presence. She lit up these gloomy rooms like no amount of yellow paint ever could.
She made me laugh, she kept me in line....she made sure I had three squares a day.
I swear I've gained twenty pounds since her return.
But more than that she brought back something I had been missing for so long now....something I'd grown use to not having.
And I was losing her all over again.
"Charlie?" Renee said softly, her voice trembling. "Please....What's going on?"
Her voice pulled me from my thoughts....and I looked up quickly from my hands. How long had I been silent?
Renee's eyes were wide as she read the despair clearly written on my face. The failure.
I had failed her again....failed Bella.
"I don't know what to do anymore. I think...." I took a deep breath, struggling to say the words I didn't want to speak, but had to. "She needs to go home....staying here isn't helping."
"I don't understand." Renee said her eyes confused and worried. "You told me Edward left her but...."
My teeth gritted together at the name and I had to swallow before I could speak. "He meant more to Bella than I thought. I didn't think their relationship was so....developed. She's never had a boyfriend before and I figured it was like any other.... crush."
To my surprise Renee smirked and shook her head. "Crush indeed."
I raised my eyebrows. "What?"
"Bella tried to sell that word on me....at the hospital in Phoenix." Renee's smiled faded and her eyes clouded over. "I knew better though....I could see it."
"Of course you could," I mumbled under my breath, I wasn't even sure she heard it.
"I still don't understand though," Renee went on. "I watched Edward with her. I've never seen a seventeen year old boy behave the way he did. He was always so careful, he never left Bella's side. The way he looked at her was so....fierce....protective...." her voice trailed off as she stared thoughtfully out the window.
"Yes," I said, my teeth clenching together. "he fooled us all....especially Bella."
Renee looked at me then, no doubt catching the anger in my voice. "This happens Charlie. She's young, boys are going to come and go....it's just....well there was something about Edward that makes it hard for me to believe he would just up and leave the way he did."
"Apparently Carlisle got a better job offer somewhere in L.A." I shook my head in disbelief "They all just left. One day they were here and then they were gone." I wasn't just angry at Edward. Over the summer Bella had become so attached to all of them and from what I saw the feelings seemed to go both ways.
Apparently my assumption had been wrong....Just another mistake to add to the list.
"And Bella?" Renee asked softly.
"Like I told you on the phone, after I found her she seemed so out of it. Dr. Gerandy said she was in shock and exhausted, that once she got some proper sleep she would be alright."
"He must not know her very well."
I opened my mouth to comment and then closed it again. What could I say? Apparently I didn't know Bella very well either or I would have seen this coming.
Some father. Renee had seen it in the few short days she had been around Bella and Edward. I had been around them for months....I should have seen.
I looked at Renee from across the small table. "I'm sorry," I said quietly "I should have called you sooner....I know I've waited too long, it's just that....well I kind of know what's she's going through. I was just mistaken in thinking she would pull through like I did."
"She just needs some time," Renee assured me.
I shook my head "I thought that too but...." I paused, I didn't know how to explain this. I hadn't told Renee over the phone every detail. I didn't know how to voice the fact that our daughter may need professional help.
"But?" Renee was getting impatient. Her foot was tapping the ground and every once in a while her head shot towards the stairs.
I took a deep breath. "It's just I wanted to prepare you...." My voice was quite, though I knew there was no one here to overhear. "The morning after I found her, I went upstairs to check on her and she was curled up on the floor. When I asked if she was okay she mumbled some things and said she was fine but she wouldn't get up." I took in another breath, preparing myself for the anger I knew was going to come. "Since then she's been in bed. She hasn't moved once. She won't speak to me and....and she hasn't eaten either."
"What!?" Renee all but shouted jumping to her feet. "Did you at least have the sense to call a doctor!?"
I stood up quickly and moved around the table. I held out my hands, ready to stop her in case she made a dash to the stairs like I knew she was about to do. ""Yes....I did. Dr. Gerandy came and I explained things to him. He said it sounded like she was cationic....that I might have to...."
I hesitated again.
"What do you mean you explained tohim....didn't you let him check her over or something?...." Renee turned on her heal and headed towards the stairs.
I was too frozen to stop her this time. "You know Bella, I didn't want her to be frightened.....she's been through enough...."
Renee made it to the bottom step before she stopped. She paused her hand on the railing. "Might have to what?" she asked in a tight voice, glancing over her shoulder but not quite looking at me.
"He said that I might....that we might have to consider....hospitalization"
As soon as the last word left my mouth Renee was flying up the stairs.
By the time I reached the door Renee was already kneeling in front of Bella. When I saw that my daughter's eyes were open my stomach clenched. I had hoped when Renee saw her she would be asleep. That was easier to understand, and a little less terrifying to look at than the blank, dead stare.
What little hope I had died away in that second. This was my last chance, I had hoped seeing her mother would pull Bella back....that she would respond in some way. But Bella didn't acknowledge Renee's presence anymore than she had mine.
Renee bent her head down till she was eye to eye with Bella.
Renee looked back at me, her eyes wide. The terror in her face brought back my own and then some.
"She won't answer," I whispered hoarsely.
"Bella....come on baby it's me....Mom" Before I could stop her Renee reached out her hand and touched Bella's pale cheek. As soon as there was contact Bella flinched back squeezing her eyes shut.
"I should have warned you," I still couldn't raise my voice higher than a whisper. "Touching her....well, for some reason it seems to make things worse."
"How?.... I mean....what's wrong with her....I don't understand." Renee looked back at Bella but her eyes were still closed, though her face seemed to be relaxed in sleep now, instead of cringing away from some unknown pain.
Renee went to reach out again but I stepped forward. "No," My voice was a bit louder, but still a whisper. "Let her sleep."
Renee was moving fast and steady, the way she always moved when she was upset. I leaned against the wall and watched as she packed up my daughters clothes so she could take her away from me for a second time. Only this time I was the one who made the choice. Instead of having Bella taken from me, I was sending her away.
I felt like I was betraying her....it felt wrong, but I couldn't think of any other way.
I was a coward, plain and simple.
"I'll get her through this Charlie," Renee said tersely. "She just needs some time and she needs to be home."
As much as it hurt to agree, I knew she was right. "Yeah," I said quietly "I think the best thing right now is for her to leave this place....I think it just holds too many memories. She needs something new....fresh."
Renee nodded without looking up from her packing. "Bella will love Florida."
"I'm sorry," I knew I had apologized more than once today but I couldn't seem to say it enough. "it's just....I didn't know what to do and I couldn't be the one....I couldn't watch...." I swallowed and willed my voice to stay steady. "If she has to be hospitalized I just can't be the one to do it....I don't think I could handle seeing that"
Renee froze looking at the folded shirt she held in her hands. "It won't come to that," she said so quietly I had to strain to hear the words.
This time I didn't agree with her, but I couldn't voice my doubt either....not here, and definitely not to her.
"Renee?" I asked softly when she still didn't move.
A soft whimper reached me then. It was familiar but unexpected. It had been many years since I heard the sound, but I soon realized time had not changed my reaction to it.
I couldn't help my next movement. Before I even thought it through completely I had her in my arms. It was automatic. Her soft cries pulled at my insides just as strongly as they had 20 years ago.
Her face was in her hands and her hands were pressed into my chest. I opened my mouth to say it would be alright....that Bella would be alright and it would never come to that. But I couldn't find my voice nor the right words.
So I did the only thing I could. I rubbed her shoulders gently and waited for it to pass.
"I'm sorry...." She mumbled into her hands. "It's just I've never seen her like this...."
I sighed, "I know."
Renee took a deep breath and then went on. "I don't think I can...."
Renee wrenched away from as if she'd been tazered and we both froze, staring towards the bed.
"Bella?....Oh you're....you're awake..." Renee rushed forward while I stood there in complete shock.
She had spoken.
And more than that, it looked like those brown eyes were actually seeing Renee as she knelt in front of the bed.
Beneath the Joy and elation at seeing Bella awake....truly awake, I began to feel a bitter twinge of loneliness. Though my whole family was together again under this roof....I felt isolated. I felt like I didn't belong in this moment.
"What are you doing here?" I could clearly see that it was my daughter speaking but the voice was so hoarse and dry I barley recognized it.
"Charlie called and told me what happened," Renee began, "I'm so sorry baby."
Bella's eyes flickered to me for a brief second, but the eyes contact drew me back.
I did belong here. And more than that I was needed here.
"I....I don't understand."
I could barely hear Bella's words. They seemed so strained...like a great deal of effort was being pushed behind them.
"I'm here to bring you home sweetie....it's going to be okay, I'm...."
"I am home." The words were spoken matter-of-factly. Bella seemed to be confused with her mother's words but she seemed sure of her last statement.
Regardless of the situation I felt a surge of happiness. It didn't belong and it was very wrong in this particular moment, but I couldn't help it. Bella....my little girl, finally considered this her home.
Renee threw a quick glance over her shoulder at me, raising her eyebrows.
I shrugged. What was I suppose to say?
Renee turned back and I stepped forward. I still kept my distance though, standing near the foot of the bed. Bella was staring at her dresser now and though her face was still dead of any emotion I would swear I saw something flash in her eyes.
"Bella look at me," Renee's voice was stern now and to my surprise Bella responded and looked back.
"I think it's time you come home." Renee went on softening her voice again. "So I can take care of you."
Bella's eyes stayed glued to Renee's face....blank confusion filling her pale features.
Though I didn't want to say the words that would send her away from me again, I knew I had to do something. Taking a deep breath I lowered myself to the edge of the bed and reached out to give her knee a light squeeze. "She's right Bells," I said quietly. "I think it would be better for you to be with your mother right now."
I didn't know what Bella's reaction was going to be, but her next four words was the last thing I expected.
"You don't want me?"
I felt my eyes widen. How could she think such a thing....ever. I opened my mouth to tell her how ridiculous that thought was but froze when I felt a shudder run through her small frame. She took in a large gush of air and quickly squeezed her eyes shut. Then she became tense as if expecting a blow.
"Of course I do. I love having you here, more than you could ever imagine...." I went on quickly, for once unconcerned about stating the truth of my feelings. I just wanted that look gone from her face. She looked like I had slapped her and was suppressing the sting. The words ‘Not normal' ran through my head again. This whole situation was wrong. Bella shouldn't be feeling this type of emotional pain so young. If it were up to me she would never feel it.
After a moment Bella relaxed some and opened her eyes. She was looking at me but her gaze seemed unfocused again. I went on anyway. "But I want you to be happy Bells, and I don't think that's going to happen if you stay here."
Her brow furrowed and she looked almost frightened. "What do you mean?....I...."
She seemed so lost. I yearned to reach out and touch her, but Renee beat me to it. Her hand gently caressed Bella's face....trying to soothe and coax her gaze back to her.
Instead Bella Jerked away from the touch and her eyes instantly became angry as she looked back at her mother. Renee froze with her hand still in the air as she turned to me, her blue eyes were shocked and very hurt. I could see the glitter of moisture quickly building. Bella had never acted this way....especially to her mother.
Renee finally dropped her hand and before she turned away I saw her jaw set. "Bella I'm taking you back with me, back to Florida." Her voice wasn't harsh or mean, but her quite tone made it clear this was the end of the discussion. She stood up then and walked back to the dresser, so I was the only one to hear the whispered "No" that escaped Bella's lips.
"Phil's getting your room ready for us...." Renee continued packing and I could see in her posture and hear in her voice that she was not going to leave without Bella....no matter what her daughter said.
I looked between the two women warily.... and had to do a double take.
Bella was sitting up, her jaw was clenched tightly and though it seemed impossible her face had gone paler.
"I already talked to the school...." Renee went on, completely oblivious to the fact Bella had thrown her covers aside and was on her feet.
"They said all of you grades can be transferred."
All I could do was stare wide-eyed as I watched my daughter walk across the room towards her clueless mother. I couldn't find my voice, or the power to open my mouth.
"I even found out that there's a few advanced classes that Forks doesn't...." Renee flinched back as the shirt she had been holding was wrenched roughly from her hands. She threw a quick glance towards the bed, to me -still shell shocked at the foot-, and then back to Bella.
"What are you doing?" she asked, slightly breathless.
Bella had either forgotten our presence again or was flat out ignoring us as she slowly folded the shirt back up. This being my Bells I'd like to think it was the first.
When she was finished with the re-folding Bella went to place it back in the dresser drawer and froze. Every muscle in her body seemed to lock down as she stared blank eyed into one of her top drawers.
I began to feel uneasy. Something was wrong. "Bells?" I asked cautiously as I got to my feet.
As soon as her name left my mouth Bella's breathing hitched and sped up. Then in the blink of an eye her face went from bone white to dark crimson. I watched in udder amazement as deep red spread from the base of her neck to the top of her hair line.
Before either Renee or I could react Bella was moving again.
For someone who has lain in the same spot for days Bella's movements were amazingly fast. Her hands shot out one after the other, grabbing the clothing from the suitcase and shoving them back into the dresser.
As her shaking hands moved faster her breathing became shallower.
Renee was the first to pull herself together. "Bella!....Bella stop." She demanded grabbing one of Bella's hands.
I flinched. I couldn't help it. I had never heard Bella yell like that. And it was made all the worse because of who it was aimed at.
Renee stepped back, her eyes wide.
"No!....I'm staying....I'm staying!....."
Worry began to override the shock. Bella hadn't eaten in days and her breathing was becoming more labored by the second.
"Bells calm down...." I stepped forward, my hands out. "Let's just talk about...."
This was a scream. The sound tore through my ears and made my stomach clench. My heart picked up speed as the panic of what I was actually seeing and hearing sank in.
"YOU CAN'T MAKE ME LEAVE!"
That's when the storm hit.
Clothes began to fly through the air and through Bella's gasps of air the screams continued. "FORKS IS MY HOME....my....my...." She began to shake her head. All the while her arms continued to flay, throwing her clothes behind her with more force. "HE....I...." her movements didn't slow, as her voice grew louder it seemed her body moved faster.
I watched where I was glued to the floor as her shaking hands felt around for more clothing and came up empty. But that didn't stop her. With a strangled cry of anger she grasped the now empty suitcase in both hands and spun around violently. It soared across the room and crashed loudly into the wall.
"Isabella!" Renee and I shouted at the same time.
Renee reached out and grabbed Bella's arm. "Stop Bel...."
"NO!" Bella jerked away roughly and fell back into her desk, knocking the blue CD player to the ground. "You can't make me....I Won't....I can't....NO!"
Terror seized me fast and strong in that second.
I realized what being a father did to a man.
It filled him with pride and joy and great expectations. But it also cut him down....made him vulnerable to the worse fear imaginable: Loss.
I was losing her....she was breaking into pieces right in front of me.
Pure instinct took over my mind then and my body reacted.
Reaching out I grabbed Bella's thin shoulders and pulled her towards me. She gave a choked cry of protest and began to fight my hold.
"Let me GO!....I'm staying....I'M STAYING!....Forks....NO!...."
I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to detach myself from the pain....hers and my own. I needed to be strong, because I knew it was coming....I could feel it coming.
"NO!" As with any creature, just when they feel defeat coming on, they fight harder. This was no different. Bella's body strained as she tried desperately to pull away. "No!" Small fists began to beat against me roughly. "Let GO!" Ignoring the pain I pulled her closer and cupped the back of her head, pressing her into my shoulder. "NO!....STOP!"
‘Let it out' I thought desperately ‘Please, just let it go.'
"N-NO!" It burst forth then. It was the sound I was waiting for....the sound of release.
As the agonized sob filled the room I felt Bella's weight increase. She began to slip towards the floor. Slowly I lowered both our bodies and pulled her more securely against my chest.
"Ple-ease....please....please...." The words were broken up between gut wrenching sobs, and I could barely make out the one word being repeated again and again.
"It's alright....I'm here Bells, I'm here." My body was unconsciously rocking....the way I use to when she was small. Though I couldn't recall a time when my daughter had ever cried like this....even as a baby.
Just as this thought entered my head however the sobs increased, in both strength and volume.
Violent tremors rocked through her whole frame and just when I thought it couldn't get worse, that she couldn't possibly have anything left I heard a rage filled cry rip its way out between the endless tears. "He....sa-aid....He...."
I didn't understand what she was trying to say, and it didn't really matter. The only thing that mattered was holding her together long enough for her to get it out.
"Forever!....I....I told.... hi-im....I ....sa-aid..." Her head began to shake frantically against my shirt and I had to fight off the emotion climbing its way up my chest. I had to be strong.
"NO!....I can't....I....Ca-an't..." The nonsense of words continued to slip out becoming less coherent with each cry and gasp of air. "No!....No!"
Bella's next action undid what little fight I had. Her arms wrapped around my body and she pulled herself even closer. Trembling hands grabbed fist full's of the back of my shirt and her hold became strong and frantic.
"I....can't....I can't.... do....thi-is...." This time the chocked out words were full of fear.
The desperate hold she had on me, the heart wrenching sobs, and the pure terror that seemed to radiate off her body was too much.
My breathing hitched, making a painful knot form in the base of my throat.
"It's n-not real...he....he's real...he li-ied to me...h-he LIED!..."
"I know Bells...I know..."
It has been over a decade since I heard my daughter call me that and it broke me. My eyes began to sting and the brown hair that had been blocking my vision blurred.
"I do-on't....want....to leave....I don't....I ca-an't....If I...if..."
Warm moisture began to fall relentlessly down my cheeks. I swallowed thickly, trying to force the words out of my tight throat. "Alright Bella....Okay. It's okay. You can stay." If this was what she wanted, what she truly needed then I would never force her to leave.
I glanced up and blinked my eyes into focus. There Renee stood, leaning against the wall. Her hands were over her mouth while tears flowed thickly from her red eyes. She glanced up from Bella's trembling form.
We locked eyes, and without saying a word I said it all.
‘She is staying with me.'
Over the years I had been pushed aside. From one situation to the next. Renee had made all the decisions in Bella's life. Every single discussion and struggle we had had over our daughter she had won again and again. But not this time. Renee would not win this fight.
This time -for the first time- it was my foot being put down.
My daughter was staying with me.
I may not understand it....his leaving, her reaction, this pain....but I did comprehend one thing: Bella needed me right now, she needed this place, this house, this town....she needed it all.
She needed her father.
Renee didn't look away as she nodded her silent agreement.