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Storms

Summary:
storms banner We're far away from Forks, now. And what a lovely city Knives is- the perfect place to start afresh, don't you think? Edward is long gone and Jacob loves his wife-to-be. Bella is not happy- but then again, she hasn't been for four years. She's used to it. But mistakes have been made, and a destructive chain of events has been set in motion. Nothing can stop it. The storm is fast approaching- it's too late to get out now. Much too late. The Cullens are back.Char made my banner. She's an awesome person who has good things waiting for her in the afterlife.


Notes:
I'm alone, And more alone with every passing day; The danger is increasing every second that I stay. But the storms are fast approaching, And I cannot get away.


5. Sky on Fire

Rating 0/5   Word Count 3963   Review this Chapter

“Hello, Miss, how can I help you today?”

“You can help me by explaining why this,” I pushed my debit card across the desk, “isn’t working.”

The man looked up at me, his irritated expression speaking for how he felt about being addressed so rudely. “Certainly,” he said, curtly. He stood up, took my card and went through a door behind his desk.

I sighed, and ran my hands through my hair. I had come all the way downtown to buy my wedding dress, only to find that my stinking card wasn’t working; and there is nothing worse than a snooty shop owner informing you that you can’t buy their ridiculously overpriced satin-covered waste-of -money because “there appears to be a problem with your payment method.” Snob code for “It’s not working.”

I glanced around the room; it was a typical bank foyer, wide and carpeted and full of whining two year olds with their mothers, old women, and consultants. There were little booths for the employees to sit in, so that they were protected from any angry clients demanding money they didn’t have, in case said clients had an infatuation with explosives or something. Little pens were attached to the desks by chains, in case someone felt the urge to steal a biro (which of course a bank could not afford to replace). I glanced out through the windows at the street beyond, at the teenagers with their mobiles and the middle-aged men with their fast food and sweatpants. I could see a Starbucks across the street and I was itching for a cappuccino- and I could get one, if only my card would work.

The man came back into the room and I straightened up. He shot me a nasty, forced grin and sat down in his chair. “Well, Miss, I can tell you exactly why it isn’t working,” he said, placing my card delicately in front of me.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” he took a long, drawn out breath, and I resisted the urge to strangle him. “There is no money left in your account.”

I blinked at him, and then at my card, and then I shook my head. “No, that can’t be right.”

“Well, I suppose I was stretching the truth a bit,” he said. “You do have a whole seventy two cents on it.” He shot me another smug smile. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

“But,” I said, without a clear idea of how to finish my sentence. How could there be no money left? How? I had only paid for the flowers and catering, and that surely couldn’t have added up to too much. “That doesn’t make any sense! Are you sure?"

“Quite sure, Miss. I can check again, but there are only so many ways to interpret a zero, dot and two numbers-“

“Okay!” I interrupted, holding up my hands. “Right, I get it.” I wondered just how inappropriate it would be to shove my worthless piece of plastic down his throat. His death would certainly not be a loss to society. I ran my hands through my hair again, grasping at straws. I could not accept that I had spent all of my savings. “Could someone have taken any money from my card?”

“I don’t know, Miss, has anyone stolen it?” his voice oozed with fake concern.

“No,” I said. Murder was looking more and more attractive; it wouldn’t really be a crime, more of a public service. “But how else could it all have gone?”

He smiled. “I have no idea, Miss. Have you by any chance been mixing alcohol with EBay?”

“No,” I snapped. “No, I haven’t.” I picked up my card, and put it in my pocket. “Thanks for your help,” I said, forcing as much sarcasm into my voice as I could. “You’ve been an angel.”

“Pleasure,” he replied, his smile stretching. “Any time.”

I shot him one hope-you-rot-in-hell look, and crossed the foyer, slamming the door as hard as I could behind me.

The noise of the street and the warm April air rushed my senses. It was strangely sunny- a welcome break from the persistent rain Mother Nature had decided to plague us with. I walked along the street, just wanting to get to my bike and go home, maybe get a start on the coursework I should have completed a month ago. I didn’t want to face the huge issue that staring me in the face- you have no money left.

A man stepped in my way and offered me a newspaper, promising that it was a “Big Issue,” but I shook my head and walked past him. I wouldn’t have enough money to pay for it.

But Jacob would still have some in his account, right? He had only paid for the suits and the transportation, and I knew for a fact that he got paid more than me. And the Hospital would feed my money into my account on Monday. I could starve until then. It would all work out fine, and I’d definitely fit into my dress. If I could ever afford to buy it.

I reached the end of the street, and took a left into the back entrance of a large Park; I had left my bike in a carpark on the other side. It was one of those huge green expanses, the kind of place favoured by joggers and dog owners, and littered with benches dedicated to benevolent dead people. It was busier than normal today- the residents of Knives had obviously come out to enjoy the rare sunshine.

I made my way quickly along the path, not really in the mood for an ice-cream I couldn’t pay for or a collection tin I couldn’t put money in or a fountain I couldn’t wish upon. If I could just-

“Bella.” A high voice came from behind me.

I jumped, and turned around. My face hit the edge of an umbrella and I cried out as the spoke went in my eye. I stumbled backwards and lost my balance, my feet colliding and tipping me over-

A thin, strong arm caught me around the middle, and pulled me up. I blinked. I would have been more surprised at the face that greeted me, had my life not been riddled with vampires over the past few days. I guess my shock reflex was wearing off.

Rosalie was looking at me from under, not an umbrella, but a cream parasol. Nearly every inch of her skin was covered; she was wearing a raincoat, gloves, jeans and boots. She was looking very put-out and uncomfortable; probably because people kept staring at her, wrapt up and protected as she was. But, because she was Rosalie, a frown and pout just made her look more attractive.

“I need to talk to you.”

“What?” I asked, rubbing my eye. “Rosalie, the sun is out, what are you doing?”

“Oh, is it? Really? I hadn’t noticed,” she said, grabbing my sleeve with a gloved hand and pulling me along.

“What- what are you-“

“We need to talk.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled about being kidnapped by a tetchy blonde vampire, especially one that belonged to a family I was strategically trying to avoid. Not to mention that said vampire was one who had never previously shown any emotion towards me other than cold disdain. I pulled away. “Rosalie, what are you doing?”

She stopped and wheeled around, glaring at me with such force I almost felt the need to step back. Her face was cast in shadow, making her expression even more menacing, and as she spoke her voice dripped with aggravation.

“I’ve come all the way out here to speak to you, Bella Swan, which was no mean feat, seeing as the sun is threatening to light me up like a disco ball, and when I get home everyone is going to be after my metaphorical blood. So unless you want me to really piss Edward off by impaling you upon this parasol, could you shut up and come with me?”

I only could barely suppress my infuriation at being spoken to like this; how dare she talk to me as if I were a petty annoyance? But I realised trying to resist a vampire was useless. Rosalie could crush rock between her fingers, so my arm probably wouldn’t be much of an obstacle.

She didn’t even wait for me to reply, merely grabbed my wrist and continued her way along the path. Several people turned and watched our little procession, most eyes lingering on the dark, stunning face and figure of Rosalie Cullen, and only a few eyes resting on the small, plain girl she was dragging behind.

Rosalie only stopped when we reached a tiny, murky, deserted little pond. She heaved a sigh of relief when she saw that the waters were overhung by willow trees, casting everything under their drooping branches in gloom. She led me to a wooden jetty, then let down her parasol and shook out her hair. I stared at her, waiting. Whatever she had to say it must be important, for her to have braved the sunlight.

She turned to me. “Bella, I want you to listen to me.”

I would have protested against being ordered around, but I’m not going to lie; nobody has ever intimidated me like Rosalie Hale intimidates me. I wanted to tell her how degrading and rude it was to grab and drag a person against their will, and I wanted to tell her that under no circumstances was she allowed to treat me like a badly behaved pet; but instead I just nodded. I was the mouse and she was the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Anyway, I wanted to hear what she had to say. I focused my full attention on her next words.

“You are to stay away from my brother,” she ordered me.

I had not been expecting that.

“I mean it,” she said, watching my face. “I want you to stay out of his way.”

I opened my mouth, and then shut it again. What was she talking about? Was Rosalie giving me advice? She hated me!

She was still scrutinizing my face. “You have this great human life ahead of you, and I’m not about to let you screw that up. Don’t get me wrong,” she said, as I began to open my mouth again, “I don’t give two pins about you. I would have been much happier if we had never gone to Forks, and never met you. But I’m not going to condemn anyone to this life if I can help it.”

I still didn’t understand. What? ‘Condemn’ wasn’t a word I would use to describe giving a person incomparable beauty and immortality. I didn’t understand why she was saying this- so what if I went near Edward? Nothing would happen. “What are you talking about?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s entirely for your own sake. You don’t want this life, and quite frankly I don’t want you in it. But that’s beside the point. Stay clear of my family. Stay clear of Edward.” She gave a grim smile. “Everyone else does.”

I just stared at her. I couldn’t think of anything to say, and she didn’t bother waiting for a response. She started unfurling her parasol. “Whatever, Bella. If this wasn’t important, I would have waited for a rainy day. Steer clear of Edward. You don’t want anything to do with him.”

She started to leave, but by this time bewilderment was wearing off and annoyance was breaking the surface. “Wait,” I said, turning to face her. “Wait. You can’t just tell me all these things I can and cannot do without giving me a better explanation than that.”

I saw her shoulders rise as she sighed, then she twisted around to face me. I was hit with the full force of her angular perfection. She looked into my eyes for a second, and then spoke. “Edward is not the same person you knew. And if he makes you cry half as much as he makes Esme cry, then you don’t want anything to do with him.” She said the words with such force that I could practically feel the anger behind them. I watched her set off again, and then watched her stop. She gave me one last parting comment. “Don’t crap this life up, Isabella, because I would kill for what you have.”

And then she left.

I watched her retreating figure, my mind still stumbling over what she had told me. Edward is not the same person you knew. What did she mean? How could he not be the same? Why wouldn’t he be? Was she really so determined to keep me out of her life that she would resort to lying? I could remember how attached Edward was to Esme. He would never make her cry. Never.

But Rosalie didn’t have to worry. I fully intended on not screwing up my ‘great human life’. I had nothing to screw it up for. Despite what she seemed to think.

*****

As I drew up to the house, I spotted Jacob, perched on the top of the roof, waving at me like a lunatic. I parked, pulled off my helmet (he had gone and collected my riding stuff from the courtrooms on his way back from work yesterday) and squinted up at him. The evening was drawing close and the sun was setting behind him, causing his body to blur around the edges.

“Shouldn’t you still be at the Garage?” I yelled.

“They let me off early,” he called back. “Come on up, Bells!”

“What, on the roof?”

“Sure! The ladder’s right there!” My eyes fell dubiously on the unstable looking wooden ladder perched on the drainpipe. Jacob laughed at my expression. “C’mon, Bells, my Dad used it for forty years and only fell off once.”

“Great,” I said, sarcastically, walking up the gravel path and grabbing the first rung. I looked up, and I saw Jacob’s head grinning at me over the edge of the roof. He grabbed the top of the ladder and shook it, laughing. “Stop it!” I said, smiling. “Alright, I’m coming.”

He held it steady while I climbed, and then offered me a hand when I reached the top. He pulled me up, and then put his hands around my waist and heaved me over the edge. I cleared the edge and lay against the warm tiles of the roof; and then I suddenly started laughing for no reason. I felt suddenly giddy, like I was a teenager again- relaxed and free and randomly bursting into laughter. Jacob grinned down at me and started laughing too. He grabbed me around the middle, and hauled me up to the crest of the roof.

I pulled myself up, still giggling slightly, and perched on the top tiles. Jacob lowered himself down next to me, and draped his arm over my shoulders. It was so warm up here; a summer evening come early. A breeze ruffled through my hair and onto my face; it felt so cool against my skin. Our legs were dangling down the slope of the roof, our feet hanging in the air. I sighed, and leaned my head against his shoulder.

The sun was setting, throwing its golden rays into our eyes. I looked up at Jacobs; they were sparkling.

I felt so tall, so high. The whole of Cawdor was spread out below me, and the last chuckle faded as I looked down on my world. I could see my little back yard, with the weeds I needed to pull and the grass that I needed to mow. I could see the cars parked in the street behind, and hear the distant laughter of a family unloading shopping from a large black truck. I could see a little old lady tottering down the street with her carpet bag and her walking stick. I could see four huge teenage boys crammed into a Fiat Punto, and I could hear the heavy base beats of their music slowly fading as they sped along the roads. I could see curtains twitching in the houses. I could see a woman unlocking her front door and going inside. I could see two little girls playing jump rope and singing.

And I could see further, out past Cawdor, out to the mountains beyond and the forests that covered them. The bottoms of the peaks were misty and faded, but I could clearly see the rises and falls of the land above. I could see all the changes and differences in the landscape- I could see where the trees changed type, where they changed height, where they changed color. I could see where the forests ended and there was nothing but rock and grass, right up, up, up to the very peak. The sun cast orange hues over the tips, coloring the distant ground with unsurpassable beauty. I imagined what it must be like up there, at the top of the mountain, watching the sun set. I knew that if I climbed all the way up there, up, up, up, above the clouds and into the sky, I would be able to reach out, and touch the face of God.

And then, beyond Cawdor and beyond the mountains, I could see the sun sinking. It was falling, slowly, slowly, falling into a bath of multicolored clouds. The sun’s dying rays shone down over Jacob and me, gracing us with its last goodbyes. I could see the sky burning in a huge symphony of color; I could see the sun sending its blazing fire across the heavens, illuminating everything as it smoldered. I could see the clouds drifting along, I could see their colors deepening and darkening as the sun dropped ever further towards the ground. I had not seen a sunset as incredible as this before, and I not for a long time had I experienced such pure, unadulterated bliss.

Two birds flitted across the skyline, chasing each other and twittering away. I wanted to grow wings and fly off, fly on and on, forever and ever. Never look back, never stop. Flap my wings and disappear.

“Did the dress not fit?” Jacob’s voice cut into my euphoria.

“Not now,” I whispered. The clouds slowly drifted across the horizon, and all the time the huge orb of light slowly, slowly descended, down, down, over the edge of the world… “It’s so beautiful,” I breathed.

“I thought you’d like it,” Jacob said, and I could hear the smile in his voice. “I figured you needed cheering up. You’ve seemed so down lately.”

“I haven’t been down,” I lied, my eyes following the sun. “Stressed.”

He laughed. “So have I.” We sat in silence for a few more moments. Then- “Bella?”

“Mmmm?” I said, pulling my legs under my body and leaning heavily on him.

“I’m really sorry that I got into the fight.”

He sounded so apologetic and ashamed. I paused, and then turned my head to look at him. “It’s okay, Jake.”

His dark skin was cast in evening light as he turned again to face the sunset; the light reflected in his large eyes. I could watch the sun set in his irises.

“I don’t think you mean it,” he said, his voice soft. “I think that, sometimes, you pretend like things don’t bother you, when they really do.”

I stared at him. I had never imagined he was so perceptive. My pretence obviously wasn’t strong enough, not by a long shot. I was underestimating Jacob’s powers of attention.

He carried on speaking. “I think sometimes you are really angry, or really sad, or really lonely, and you don’t tell me because you don’t want to worry me.” He turned to face me again, and he was wearing an expression I had never seen before; caring, open, honest, innocent. “But you shouldn’t feel like that, Bella. I want to be around when you need me. I want you to tell me everything. Everything that’s worrying you, I want to know it so I can help you out with it. That’s what I’m here for.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say. How could I reply to that? I stared at him for a second, and then I leaned forward and kissed his forehead. He closed his eyes, and I rested my head back against his shoulder. The sun was getting lower, and the skies were getting darker, the colours deeper and more powerful. I gazed ahead of me. Thinking. Deciding.

“I don’t have any money left,” I said, quietly.

Jacob ran his fingers through my hair. “What do you mean?”

“My bank account is empty.”

There was a short silence, and then he put his arm tight around me and pulled me close. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, quietly. “Don’t worry about anything.”

“I…” I tried to say it, but it was so hard to voice my feelings when I had been masking them for so long. Like trying to open a locked door.

“What?” Jacob’s voice was deep and reassuring. His arm was so warm against my body.

“I can’t help but worry about it, Jake,” I whispered. “I feel like I’m in way over my head. I keep worrying about how we’ll pay for everything, the house, the wedding…food…” I sighed. “I just can’t see a way to sort it all out.”

Another pause. I waited, giving him time to think and give me his solution.

“Neither can I,” he said, and my heart fell. “But…I don’t know why, Bells, but I can’t make myself worry. I’m just too happy. All the time.” His other hand came up and stroked my cheek, as he looked down at me. “You make me so happy, Bells.”

I’d never felt so awful in all my life.

That I was letting him live under this delusion of perfection, letting him live through every day under this lie. I disgusted myself. What wouldn’t I give to be able to say the same things to him, and to mean every word? What wouldn’t I give to be able to love Jacob in the same unconditional way that he did me? What was wrong with me? How could I do this to him? How could I devote myself to a man who broke my world and my heart, but yet not to a man like Jacob? Jacob, the loving, sweet, fantastic person, with all his flaws and weaknesses and grins and laughter and all-round wonderful, lovable, perfect imperfection.

And I did love him, of course I did. Just not the same way, not with the same force. If I lost Jacob, I would loose a huge part of myself.

But when I had lost Edward, I had lost myself, in my entirety.

I hated it. I hated this horrible, horrible box I was trapped in. My life was a rollercoaster that was going way too fast in the wrong direction, and I wanted to get off.

The sun reached the edge of the horizon, and then was gone. The world around me went grey and I couldn’t see the mountains and forests anymore. I shivered. I could suddenly feel how warm Jacob was, as he tightened his grip around me and tried to keep me warm.

“Let’s go inside,” he said. “C’mon, I’ll help you down the ladder.”

I looked up at him. He was smiling down at me, a huge, blissful smile. I reached up to his face, and cupped it gently. “I really do love you, Jake,” I said, quietly.

It wasn’t a lie. I did, I truly, truly did.

I just didn’t love him enough.