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The Voice

Set during New Moon. Written from Edward's POV. What would happen if Edward found out Bella was in danger and he came back to Forks, but he didn't let her know he was there?


4. Chapter Four - Frustration

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Chapter Four – Frustration

After completing my hunt, I returned to my post under Bella’s window. Listening to her sleep had once been a pleasure, but tonight it was another part of my penance. Her rest was disturbed several more times by nightmares, though none were as violent as the first. It pained me, but I remained where I was until I saw the first signs of light in the east and heard Charlie’s mind wake to prepare for yet another fishing trip. It must be Saturday. Bella would be working today.

This morning signaled a return to the rain that was Forks’ signature weather pattern. It was a relief to me. The thick veil of falling moisture would provide invaluable cover for my surveillance of Bella. In addition, I wouldn’t have to worry about avoiding any stray sunbeams that might break through the cloud cover. I had missed Forks. The constant rain soothed me; here at least the outside world matched how I felt.

Once Charlie had risen, I returned to my Fusion and changed out of my drenched clothes in the backseat. Not that the dampness was uncomfortable, I would surely look odd to anyone who might catch a glimpse of me. I was down to my last change of clothes, so I would have to make a trip out to my family’s Forks home and restock from what I had left behind. A shower would be nice too, if I could find the time. Bella’s shift at the Newton’s store usually went until four o’clock on Saturdays, so I should be able to sneak away at some point. How much trouble could she get into working the cash register in a sporting goods store?

It made me nervous to leave Bella in the house alone once Charlie had left. I couldn’t track her thoughts, and without Charlie around to keep me aware of her movements I was essentially blinded. But I didn’t dare to peek in the windows, in case she should see me. Besides, she did deserve some degree of privacy, so I contented myself with scanning the surrounding area for anyone approaching. I parked my car in a new position, where I would be able to see when Bella left for work. Though I supposed it would be impossible to miss the sound of her ancient truck roaring to life.

When Bella exited the house around eight-thirty, she was dressed for work in jeans and a button-down shirt. Which were of course covered by a huge black rain slicker and rubber boots. Bella hated the rain. I wondered why she had remained in Forks, now that her mother was permanently settled in Jacksonville, Florida. I could no longer be the draw.

Once Bella was safely settled at Newton’s Olympic Outfitters, I sped home. My family and I never took much with us when we left a place. Material goods mean little when you can afford to buy whatever you want when you get where you’re going. To tell the truth, the money doesn’t even mean much once you pass a certain point. The house looked much the same as it had when I last saw it. A little dusty, perhaps, and the ferns had taken over the front yard, but the place otherwise unchanged. It was strange to return to an old home; it was something we hardly ever did, for obvious reasons. The sameness felt eerie, as though my life was just sitting here waiting for me to move back into it.

That train of thought could take me nowhere positive. I headed up to the room that had been mine. I had a nearly full closet of clothes to choose from, so I packed my bag with enough clothes to last me few days, then selected jeans and a black sweater and headed for my bathroom.

The hot shower was so soothing over my icy flesh that it was tempting to stay there forever. If I stayed long enough, the heat of the water might even start to warm me. I would feel almost alive again. Only the thought of what might happen to Bella in my absence spurred me to hurry.

Refreshed, I returned to Newton’s and settled in to wait. I discovered what was so far the only change in Bella’s life that pleased me. It seemed Mike Newton, who was working with Bella today, had given up on his hopeless crush on her. Judging from his thoughts, he barely spoke to her during their entire shift. It seemed strange that he would give up on her after I had exited the scene, when he had pursued her so doggedly before, but I was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Actually, Mike seemed to be in a state of unrelieved boredom, his main thought being a constant image of the clock over the counter, slowly ticking away the seconds to freedom. They had scarcely any customers today, but in the mid-afternoon a pair of backpackers came in and spent over an hour debating about gear. For the most part it was unbearably tedious, but I did pick up one detail of interest from their thoughts. It seemed one of the men had seen a bear of enormous size in the woods surrounding Forks. At least, he thought it was a bear. There was something about the image I saw in his mind that triggered a long-ago memory of mine, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was. It looked wrong for a bear, though. Whatever it was, it might make good hunting.

Mike had momentarily escaped from the backpackers and was urging Bella to leave early. She protested, but eventually gave in, and I soon saw her leave the store and run to her truck. She started the engine and left the parking lot with my Fusion, unnoticed, a little way behind her.

I had no idea where she was going. She was not headed toward home, or to Jessica’s house, or anywhere else that I could think of. Rather it seemed like she was just driving randomly, avoiding going home. We were in an unfamiliar residential area when she suddenly pulled over. I stopped a long way behind her and waited. And waited some more. What was she doing? I couldn’t see her clearly through the rain that was now coming down in torrents, but it looked like she was just sitting in the truck cab, staring straight ahead. Had she noticed my car following her? I had almost decided to take evasive action when she got out of her vehicle and headed for a house across the street.

She walked to the front door and rang the bell. I couldn’t see who answered, and their thoughts were unfamiliar to me, other than that I knew the boy was a freshman at Forks High School. Bella didn’t go in. It looked from her body language as though she was asking questions about something. Then she and the boy both headed back down the driveway toward the two motorcycles I finally noticed lying in a heap by the curb. Motorcycles? Bella couldn’t even walk across a flat surface without hurting herself, and she wanted a motorcycle? Maybe I didn’t have a monopoly on the insanity market. At least these particular deathtraps were in no danger of running anytime soon.

Bella and the boy struggled to load the two bikes into the back of her truck. The kid was warning her about the non-working condition of the motorcycles, but Bella reassured him that she knew someone who could fix them. Who could that be? The only person Bella knew who knew anything about engines was Charlie, and Charlie would never agree to fix the bikes for her. Years of cleaning up traffic accidents had given Charlie a healthy dose of reality; he would never allow his only daughter to do something so recklessly foolish.

Bella was definitely heading for home now, pushing her truck as fast as it would go. When she arrived she didn’t even cut the engine, just ran into the house and was back out a few minutes later. She jumped into the driver’s seat of the ancient Chevy and we were off once again.

We were only driving for a few minutes when I realized where Bella had to be headed. We were going to the La Push native reservation. I groaned. It really seemed as though Bella knew I was here and was trying to make my job more difficult.

My family had made a pact with the La Push tribe many years ago, long before any of the current tribe had been born. They believed us when we told them we did not consume humans and allowed us to remain in the area, but they were cautious enough that they made us promise never to set foot on their own land. I bristled even now as I thought of the means they had used to force us to agree, but Forks had been too perfect an area for us to pass up.

Bella had crossed the boundary over which I could not follow. I pulled over and thought for a moment. The tribal elders all knew my family had left, they would not be expecting me to be here. I knew how to be stealthy in the woods, and they had no trackers that would be able to find my trail. As the final straw, La Push was full of wooded areas much like the one Alice had seen in her vision. This could be it. I had to try to follow her.

I parked the Fusion on an abandoned side road where it couldn’t be seen from the highway and continued on foot. This was no domesticated parkland forest. It was thick and overgrown, with moss hanging down from the trees and brambles growing everywhere. And now that I was here, it was even complete with a mythical monster. The moisture on the undergrowth soon left me drenched, but at least the damp ground made my passage completely silent. I started to run, slowly for me, roughly following the highway. I listened for the distinctive sound of Bella’s truck and inhaled deeply, trying to find a trace of her scent. I found something very different.

I caught their stench before I heard or saw them. It was vile, hot and heavy. It reminded me of the reek of wet dog, but wet dog could never smell menacing. This was something I hadn’t smelled in decades; I had believed they were all passed on. But it seemed the pack had risen again. Werewolves. This was an unforeseen complication.

They stepped out of the trees a moment later. There were three of them, wolf-shaped, but much larger than any normal canine. The leader was the largest of all, black as night and standing six feet tall. He weighed perhaps three times as much as the average man. I realized that this was what the hiker had seen. Lucky for him he had taken it for a bear.

The lead wolf glanced back at his two companions and they sank to their haunches. I didn’t realize how silent they had been until the second wolf, a mottled gray, let out a deep, fierce growl. I snarled back, instinctively baring my teeth. Vampires had only one true enemy, and right now they outnumbered me.

Without any warning, the lead wolf shifted form. One second a wolf stood before me, the next there was a tall native man. He was much younger than I expected, no more than nineteen or twenty. If he was the alpha, his pack mates would be younger still. I was surprised that the tribal elders were giving this much free rein to young wolves. Revere them they might, but the elders still knew how dangerous these curs could be before they gained control over their shape shifting. As the dog took human form, his thoughts came into focus for me and I knew that he was murderously angry. Fortunately, he was surprised enough at finding me here that he was holding back his pack mates – for the moment.

“What are you doing here, leech?” He didn’t bother to mask his contempt.

“I don’t know why I should tell you, dog.” I could not afford to antagonize them, but my natural hatred for their kind was making it hard to think straight. Their stench burned my nostrils and my entire body longed to spring into an attack.

“This is our land! You should remember the terms of the treaty. You negotiated them.” And I thought your family had left Forks for good.

I answered his thoughts rather than his words. “We did leave. I found a reason to come back. It might interest you, actually.” I was fighting hard to maintain a calm façade. The reality was, the three of them were more than a match for me. I would need to negotiate with them if I wanted to stay close to Bella.

I had to hand it to this wolf, he didn’t betray any surprise at my reading his thoughts. Perhaps he was better informed than I supposed. “I doubt that, bloodsucker.” His tone was full of contempt, but I could sense curiosity behind his words.

“Someone is coming. Someone who is considerably less… benevolent than my family and myself.” I proceeded to quickly tell him of Alice’s vision of Laurent and Bella. “And so I’ve been following Bella, waiting for him to come.”

His expression hardened. “What do you care what happens to her, bloodsucker? You left her in the woods alone. You left her! I was the one who found her, you know. I know exactly how much you hurt that girl.” I saw an image in his mind, Bella lying on the forest floor, shivering and mumbling nonsense. I blinked, trying to clear it from my consciousness. The wolf-man smirked, amused by something in my expression

My self-control snapped. “You have no idea what the hell you’re talking about! I left her because I love her! I was ruining her life!” The other two wolves, whom I had almost forgotten, snapped and growled in protest at my tone. I clamped my mouth shut, shaking with rage and embarrassed at losing control in front of him. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

But the leader’s face twisted, uncertain. Somehow, my outburst seemed to have done more to convince him than all my rational explanations. I saw an image in his mind, a beautiful young woman. At least, she would have been beautiful were she not disfigured by three red, puckered scars down one side of her face. I didn’t see her name, but I knew that she was loved deeply to the man standing before me. And I knew that he had been the one who wounded her. Maybe he did understand.

I pressed whatever advantage I had. “I can’t allow her to come to harm. Please. Will you let me cross onto your land?” The words were sticking in my throat; it galled me that I needed permission from him.

“I cannot.” His face looked determined, yet almost regretful. I started to protest, but he cut me off. “We will watch. I cannot allow you to cross our land. But we will watch her while she is here.” He hesitated. I knew what he wanted, but I wasn’t going to make it any easier on him.

“One more thing,” he continued. “After your business is complete, you will be leaving again?”

I nodded. “And my family has no plans to return either.”

“I think that would be for the best.” His voice had lost some of its former antagonism, but he would still rejoice when I was gone. “My name is Sam Uley. Contact me if your source comes up with any more information.”

I recognized the dismissal and realized this was the best I would get. I could not thank him, but I nodded acknowledgement and turned to leave. I didn’t look, but I could tell by the sudden disappearance of his thought pattern that he had shifted form. I ran back the way I had come, seething with frustration and worry.

* * *

It was a long time before I heard the rumblings of Bella’s truck leaving the reserve. I waited a few minutes after she passed my hiding place, and then followed her at a distance. It was becoming a habit.

She headed straight home and started making dinner for Charlie. When Charlie got home for dinner, I could tell he was surprised at Bella’s demeanor.

Bella’s almost smiling! I haven’t seen her smile for real since that idiot left. I was ruefully certain exactly whom Charlie was referring to.

Eavesdropping on Charlie’s conversation with Bella filled in the blanks of her afternoon. She had gone to La Push to visit a Jacob Black, the son of one of Charlie’s friends. Something about the name seemed familiar, but I could not quite grasp it. I had to assume that this was Bella’s mysterious engine-repairing friend. She didn’t mention that to Charlie, though.

Whoever this Jacob Black was, he had made Bella happy this afternoon. I should be thankful, but I was torn between rage and pain. It was happening. She was finally getting over me. And I had arrived just in time for a front row seat. It was no more than I deserved, but I did not know how I would avoid killing the whelp. This wave of jealousy was a hundred times worse than how I had felt when Mike had asked Bella to the spring dance. It burned me, nauseated me. At least Bella had turned Mike down!

The evening followed Bella and Charlie’s normal pattern. Sports on TV for him, homework in the kitchen for her. The evening for me was a chaotic mix of jealousy, fear, relief – so many feelings swirled through me that I couldn’t put a name to them all. I hated Jacob, I was grateful to him, and then I hated him again. I realized that some egotistical part of my mind had relied on the fact that if I so chose, I could have returned to Bella and begged her to take me back. For the first time, I wondered if she would.

The thoughts swirled on and on in my mind. I tried listening to some music to distract myself, but I knew it wouldn’t work. Everything reminded me of Bella, and took me right back to the thoughts I was trying to avoid. My grand plan was finally working; Bella was moving on. It didn’t comfort me that I had been right.

Finally I sensed Charlie sending Bella to bed, and shortly afterwards, his own thoughts softened into dreams. I wondered if Bella would sleep better tonight. I longed to see her, to inhale her fragrance. Before I was aware of moving, I was standing under her window once again. Perhaps her dreams tonight would help me to understand what was going on in her mind. Ignoring the misty rain, I was up the tree in an instant. I could see no movement within, and before I could talk myself out of it I gently opened the window. It still swung smooth and silently; I had oiled it months ago, when I first started watching Bella. The thought made me smile. Some things remained the same.

I could hear Bella’s slow, deep breaths, and I knew she was asleep. Carefully, so carefully, I slipped in the window and padded across the floor to her bed. I knelt on the floor at her side. The night was pitch-black, but the glowing green light of her alarm clock was enough for my supernatural vision. I could see Bella clearly.

I hadn’t been this close to her in months. Her delicious scent was as intoxicating as ever, and I inhaled deeply, trying to ignore the painful burn of my thirst as I drank her in with my eyes. I didn’t touch her, but I could almost feel the warmth of life radiating from her body, and I basked in the glow. Her heartbeat filled my thoughts.

Her face was peaceful in repose, and so innocent. I remembered that Bella had asked me more than once to change her, to make her a vampire like myself. Her constant request was one of the main reasons I had left, though it was an appealing idea in some ways. If I changed Bella, I would be freed of the constant fear of hurting her. I could stop tormenting myself with the worry that I would end her life by an unintended slip or, worse, by drinking her life’s blood away as I constantly craved to do. If I changed her, Bella and I would be able to stay together forever.

Bella had never understood why I was so filled with revulsion at the idea of changing her into a vampire, and I didn’t have the heart to explain it to her. How could I tell her that I believed myself to be soulless, lost beyond hope? I couldn’t stand to take her perfect innocence and corrupt it. It would not change the way I felt about Bella, but it would change things that were even more important. She didn’t understand the consequences, and so I could not let her make the decision. It was so hard to refuse her anything… I sighed softly. If only I could believe that Carlisle was right in his idea that we vampires had not given up all hope of redemption.

As I knelt there absorbing the healing balm of her presence, Bella started to move in her sleep. Her face twisted into an expression of deep sadness. She was starting the bad dreams. I couldn’t help myself; I leaned toward her, gently brushed my hand over her hair and whispered, “Hush, Bella. Everything is fine now.”

Her eyes fluttered open and suddenly she was looking directly at me. I froze. What had I done? She smiled sleepily and mumbled my name, then her eyes shut and her head fell back to the pillow. Sleep-talking. Relief and disappointment warred within me, but I knew I had to get out of here, now. I slipped down the tree, shutting the window gently behind me.

There was love in her voice when she said my name, I could not have mistaken it. I spent the night beneath her window, getting soaked and no less confused than I had been. And Bella slept without nightmares.