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Best Laid Schemes

Edward is desperate to keep Bella away from La Push and specifically away form Jacob Black. Much to Edward’s dismay, Bella made her move while he was busy hunting and went to see Jacob. Now Edward and Alice have devised a scheme that is sure to thwart Bella’s wayward travels in the future.

On a whim and suffering from an acute case of writers block, I pulled one of my previously posted stories, The Best Laid Plans (available on Ramblings and Thoughts), off the shelf in my search for inspiration. What I found was Edward impatiently tapping his foot awaiting my return. It seems I had forgotten to include some details he wanted my readers to know about when I wrote the story originally. He demanded, as only Edward can, that I revise the tale to such an extent that I had to retitle it. The fact that I made omissions did not surprise me. I am, by nature, an impatient writer. My brain sees the stories much faster than my fingers can fly over the keyboard and some details get missed in my headlong rush to the end. (Just ask my betas.) I like to think of “Schemes” as a variation of the original story much like an artist may do multiple variations of a single subject. Most of the changes are subtle but there are some new scenes and significant details added to others. If you have read the original (it’s still available because I couldn’t bear to take it down) feel free to compare. If you have not read it and are desperate to find out how the story ends, well, I can’t stop you from “reading ahead” as it were but if you can, be patient, you will be rewarded with a stronger, richer story. Best Laid Schemes will be posted very quickly as it is finished. I hope you enjoy “Best Laid Schemes” as much as I enjoyed revisiting one of my personal favorites. Many thanks to Tennyo, my very patient beta. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

4. Chapter 4 ~ Packing In ~

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Evening was well settled into the surrounding peaks by the time we parked the cars. Jasper was exasperated with me. He had had to work much harder than usual as my anxiety had grown in like proportion to the distance that separated me from Bella. I prayed that Bella would be receptive to the time with Alice, that she would be able to relax and enjoy the “girl time.” Alice had envisioned such a delightful picture that it was hard to doubt her.

“Edward, we’re in the mountains. There are not going to be very many - ifany - places with cell phone coverage,” Jasper admonished me. “The girls will take care of Bella. She’s going to be fine. You don’t need to check on her every five minutes. Stop smothering her!”

Emmett came over while Carlisle unloaded the gear from the Jeep. “I thought we had agreed to leave the cars parked twenty miles back down the road. What gives?”

Jasper answered before I could get a word in, “Lover-boy here had to find a place with cell phone coverage.”

Emmett’s booming laugh echoed and bounced around the surrounding canyons. “Edward, do you know how funny that is?” He shook his head. “You can’t get reception in these mountains!”

Carlisle approached us with two of the packs that we used for appearance’s sake. “Does this place meet your criteria, Edward? We could just set up camp here on the side of the road and hope a mountain lion comes through – so that you’re not out of phone range of course,” he teased.

Emmett and Jasper were both snickering now. First Jasper teased,“He’s hopeless.” Then Emmett added, “Do we have to put up with this?”

Carlisle offered up another jab, “We can only hope that Edward relaxes after Bella is changed. She should be able to put him in his place then.” He was really buying into Alice’s vision.

“Ha, ha, very funny.” I could feel my stomach sour at their ribbing, but I also knew that I needed to calm myself. Bella was fine. Nothing was going to go wrong. Alice surely had everything under control. I comforted myself with the vision that she had shown me. She had not seen anything happening that should have made me overly concerned. Bella was going to be mad about being kidnapped, that was all.

“Come on, let’s find ourselves a base camp and get hunting. I’m smelling a couple of bears already.” Emmett was practically salivating with anticipation.

Carlisle and I went to don our packs while Emmett and Jasper sprinted ahead through the forest in search of a suitable location to pitch the tents.

“Edward?” Carlisle’s expression had changed to that of fatherly concern.

“Now what?” I snapped at him.

Placing a soothing hand on my shoulder, Carlisle looked me in the eye. “Settle down. Bella is going to be fine. You told us that she was looking forward to having some girl-time with Alice. Esme is looking forward to having some time with Bella too. Just relax and enjoy the hunting. It’s smelling pretty promising out here, don’t you think?”

I winced at his easy belief in my lie. Carlisle’s trust was something I did not deserve right then, but what else could I have done? Enlightening him could have jeopardized the trip and my thirst had become undeniable. As much as I hated to admit it, there had better not be any humans in the immediate vicinity. I was that uncertain of being able to restrain myself.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes. Taking Carlisle’s advice, I took a deep breath. The cool mountain air, filled with the resinous scent of pine and a promising hunt, cleared my head. I met Carlisle’s gaze. “It does smell good out here. I’ll try not to worry. It’s just so hard. I’ve never felt this vulnerable before. Bella wants to see that dog. She doesn’t understand how volatile and unstable the werewolves are. Their youth makes them even more so. Factor in Victoria’s lurking about and the attacks in Seattle and I can’t help but be concerned.” I sighed and shook my head. “The only thing that Bella is worried about is Victoria. She just doesn’t seem to appreciate the seriousness of all of this. And then there are the killings in Seattle. I’ve told her I’m not concerned, but I just don’t know. There’s so much going on. ”

The night breeze ruffled our hair as Carlisle considered my concerns before replying, “Bella understands things better than you give her credit for. Jacob seems to have much better control of himself than most wolves his age. Keep in mind that he doesn’t want to see anything happen to Bella any more than you do. You might try remembering that before you run off and start a war.” Carlisle’s thoughts were in earnest. “Victoria we can manage. She’s one lone vampire.” He paused and considered, “We may need to give some more thought to the situation in Seattle, but I think we still have time on our side. Enjoy yourself for the next two days. The hunting should be better than we’ve had in a long while.”

The smell of the hunt was heavy in the night air. I needed to focus on that. “You’re right Carlisle, I’ve got to pull myself together. I know everything is going to be fine. We should find Emmett and Jasper. They’re not going to be very happy with me if I keep them waiting.”

Carlisle and I caught up with Jasper and Emmett about twenty-five miles into the wilderness, in an area we had mapped out away from the established trails. They were wandering around a moonlit clearing with their cell phones in hand, the light gently reflecting onto their faces. The surrounding trees were luminescent in the glow of the nearly full moon.

As we approached I heard Emmett call out. “Hey, Jasper, I’ve got two bars over here. What do you have?”

“Nothing right here, but if I move over about fifty feet I can get one bar. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get any better coverage than this for Edward,” Jasper snickered.

“I doubt it. I think we got lucky getting this much,” Emmett chortled in reply.

I looked from one of my brothers to the other. They may have been teasing in their comments, but they had sincerely gone to the extra undertaking of finding a place with what little phone coverage was available, just for my peace of mind. “Thanks guys, I appreciate the effort,” I remarked as I leaned my pack against a tree.

Emmett shrugged as we bumped fists, pressed palms and hooked fingers in our ritual greeting. “It was nothing. I just needed to give you one less excuse to drive me nuts.”

I punched him in the arm. He tackled me and before we knew it we were in a knockdown-wrestling match. I broke away from Emmett’s grasp only to turn and lunge at him again snarling. The crashing rumble of our bodies making contact echoed around the camp. I ignored Emmett’s thoughts as he growled and considered his next strategy. Anticipating his moves rather than knowing them made the match more interesting. We continued to circle, turn and grapple for several minutes. It was fun, the kind of tussle brothers get into when they have been teasing each other.

Carlisle shrugged off his pack. “That’s enough. Let’s get this camp put together so we can get some hunting in before morning.”

Emmett and I grinned at each other as our fists connected again in friendship. We dusted ourselves off and applied ourselves to the task at hand. I could feel myself beginning to relax just a little as we started tossing the contents of the packs to Jasper and Carlisle.

The tents quickly went up in the clearing. The moon provided all the light we needed. A breeze whispered through the trees carrying the enticing aroma of big game; bear and mountain lion - deer too, but that was not as interesting. Ah, wilderness.

It was good to be there, anticipating my favorite prey. At the same time, it saddened me. Hunting was one thing I never wanted to share with Bella. She wanted to share my life in every way, but I never wanted her to see me hunt. I never wanted to see her have to hunt. The bowls of cereal she happily consumed, though far from appetizing, seemed more desirable than watching her take down a deer - let alone a bear or a mountain lion. I knew that when she was changed, because this seemed to be inevitable despite my objections, this would not be a problem for her. But the thought of my accident prone Bella against a bear was more than I wanted to imagine.

After the camp was set we broke off into separate hunting parties. Carlisle and Jasper headed off together south and east while Emmett and I went north and west. If all of us were to feed in one area we would decimate the predator population, so we routinely split up. We agreed to meet back at camp at 7:30 the following evening.

Jasper and Carlisle took off right away. Emmett paced impatiently across the clearing as I pulled out my phone.

“You’re not seriously going to call Bella now? It’s 1:00 in the morning. She’s asleep,” Emmett chided.

“I’m not calling Bella,” I retorted, “Alice promised to tell me how things were going.”

Looking at the phone, I saw that there was a message from Alice. No, when I listened to it, it was Bella. She sounded far from happy. Nothing unexpected, given what Alice had foreseen. Emmett heard it too.

“Why is Bella threatening you with the wrath of a grizzly?” He looked at me with a raised eyebrow. Curiosity flooded his thoughts.

“Oh, I, ah, forgot to warn her that Alice wanted to give her a pedicure,” I offered in explanation.

“It sure doesn’t take much to set her off. You’ve got your hands full with that one, Lover Boy. Better you than me. I don’t have that kind of patience,” Emmett thought, rolling his eyes. “Let’s get going. I’m thirsty.”

As we headed off into the forest I heard Emmett think to himself, “and I thought Rosalie was high maintenance.”

The hunting was good. Much better than anything that I had allowed myself since coming back from Italy. Actually, it was better than anything I’d had since before leaving Forks.

* * * * *

When I left Bella after her birthday, I had left behind my reason for living. The only thing that motivated me was tracking Victoria but when I lost her trail everything fell apart and seemed to crush me. I couldn’t even hunt. The pain of losing Bella was far greater than the burning pain of my thirst. I could bare the thirst. I could not bare the loss of Bella.

The moment Bella came crashing into me in that cramped, crowded alley in Volterra, I began to breathe again. No, I began to live again. Life was worth living again, but only if Bella was in it. Just the thought of her being anyplace else except by my side was unbearable. She seemed to want me as much as I wanted her, but she was cautious, even hesitant. She held part of herself back from me. I could hardly blame her after what I had done. My stupidity had reigned supreme on that fateful day in September.

My thoughts were going around in circles. As painful as it was, I knew that I needed to allow Bella the freedom to leave me. She was human and should be living the life of a human. She had even begun to take steps away from me before I came back. I should have been relieved - but instead I was terrified. Why did the one person who had been able to reach out to her have to turn out to be a wretched, mangy werewolf? Short of losing Bella entirely, this was my worst nightmare.

Bella interrupted my musings as she murmured in her sleep. Her words were unintelligible. Lying next to her on the bed I felt secure because she was next to me, but at the same time, I felt uncertain. What if I had gone too far?

The kidnapping had clearly not gone over well with anyone save Alice, and now she was in as much trouble as I was. I could only hope that I was not around when Jasper told Alice what he thought about her part in the scheme. The idea of hearing yet another lecture was excruciating. By the same token, I realized that I should probably make myself available to Alice and give her what moral support I could. The responsibility for this whole fiasco should be on my shoulders alone.

I lifted a silky lock of Bella’s rich mahogany hair to my face again. The fragrance, so powerfully soothing, allowed me to relax a little. I yearned that she would sleep forever in peace like this. I feared what awaited me when she awoke.