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The Ripple Effect

What if Bella’s parents never divorced & she was a normal girl. Best friends with Jacob Black for all her life & suddenly the Cullen’s moved to Forks. Everything is Alternate Universe, Romance, drama and friendships galore.


13. Chapter 13, Trackers

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Chapter 13, Trackers

It was a week after Thanksgiving and the Cullens were still unsure of who was responsible for the killings. I had learned more about their skills in one week than I had ever cared to imagine. The problem with dating a vampire is actually dating a vampire, you think normal humans have baggage? Imagine how much is piled up when you’re 100 years old.

When I woke up that morning I took longer than usual to get ready. I could hear Edward’s car idling outside but the mirror in my bathroom seemed to calm me. As I stared at the girl I had become I wasn’t sure.

“Bella?” My mother knocked on the door as I smiled sighing.


“Edward’s waiting.”

I shook my head annoyed at myself. “I know I’m coming.”

As I made why way to the door, Renee followed.

“You want to talk about it sweetie?”

I shrugged shaking my head before kissing her goodbye. “Maybe later, thanks Mom.”

She looked at me strangely, like she does every first day of school. It was hard to leave her like that, looking at me like a lost puppy. Every fiber in my being wanted to turn to her and hug her, like I did when I was five. She could sense my anxiety and I could hers, but I closed the front door leaving her empty and the guilt rushing over me.

As I pushed off the front post, Edward met me by his car, our eyes met for a moment and relief washed over me. For that brief second it was just him and I in this world. He grinned breaking the spell and I could feel a knot reforming in my stomach.

It wasn't until the Volvo's tires touched the main drag that I looked to Edward and voiced my inner thoughts.

“What if it comes to Forks?” Edward shook his head leaning back against the headrest.

“We’ll stop them, whoever they are.”

I bit my lip scared and annoyed.

“Any luck so far?” Edward shrugged. The Cullens were taking turns at night tracking the vampires.

All we knew so far was, there were three of them maybe one was female and they were good at keeping out of sight. Every time a fresh scent was found, it was too late. Even Alice’s visions were uncertain, the vampires were vagrants. They decided where to go on a whim, so they were harder to find.

A week before Jacob’s birthday and I was having no luck finding his present. I had called all the junk shops in the area and came up empty. The internet was no help since I couldn’t afford shipping. I decided I was going to bite the bullet and ask Rosalie for help.

As I sat down at my usual spot at the lunch table next to Alice, she gave me an encouraging nod. I hoped it was a good sign as Edward handed me my lemonade smiling. The table was still on edge; with rogue vampires coming closer to their territory, things weren’t safe. Emmett seemed to be the only one not affected by everything.

“Uh, Rosalie?” I asked wincing immediately as she looked up, her gaze narrowing on me, she didn’t answer.

“Do you have any idea where I could get a carburetor for a 1976 Volkswagen Rabbit?” I asked, gritting my teeth waiting for a reply.

“When?” Rosalie answered musically, my eyes opened, shocked.

“A week?” I added, “It’s for a friend’s birthday.” I didn’t want to tell her it was for Jake, thinking she may refuse if I admitted as much.

“Easy.” She answered smugly as Emmett pulled her closer, kissing her hair.

I couldn’t help but crack a reassured grin. With all the drama going on and around us Rosalie was still willing to help me with something I’m sure she viewed trivial. Edward gave my hand a reassuring squeeze as I finally took a deep breath and dug into my lunch.

While I bit into my sandwich, my gaze studied my lunch mates. Their silent conversations, the low toned whispering routine they did every afternoon; discussing things so the other students couldn't hear let alone comprehend. I couldn’t help but feel a part of something bigger than myself. Hope was ebbing around my fears it was a feeling I welcomed.

I have never really fully understood their powers, but to know that they can use all their senses. A heightened sense of smell and sight intrigued me and made me feel more assured. They had the ability to find out what and who was killing all those people. My worry blanketed everyone, for myself and my friends even the officers that were searching for the killers.

The police were combing the woods, the surrounding towns were coming together for the searches. I didn’t have the heart to ask Edward and the others to watch for my father, to keep him safe; although I felt I didn’t need to ask, that there was some unspoken understanding between us. The anxiety level kept rising day by day and I couldn’t imagine what would happen next. I imagined what it was like to be Alice, to know what was to come. She sat next to me in class smiling.

“We’re going to find them, I have a feeling.” She smirked trying to reassure me.

“You have a feeling? You don’t know for sure?” She shook her head.

“Nothing stays the same, it keeps changing.” I sighed, what was it about these vampires that kept even Alice’s powers at bay?

“Whoever they are, whatever they are they know what they’re doing don’t they? They know someone’s chasing them?” Alice gave a quick nod, annoyed that her powers weren’t affective.

“You shouldn’t worry that much though, you should try to keep your mind off of everything.”

“And do what? No, I’d rather...”

“Maybe hang out with Angela and the others this weekend, try to be normal for a while.” She frowned as if the idea hurt her. I knew what Alice was doing, trying to get my mind off anything supernatural.

I didn’t want to be in Angela and Ben’s way, and asking anyone else at this point was hopeless.

“I don’t know, Angela’s always busy and I’ll see Jacob next week so...”

“Yeah...” Alice answered, knowing my predicament. “How about some shopping, that always works for me?”

I groaned. “Fine.” I answered as she bounced in her seat.

“Great, it’ll just be you and me, nothing abnormal one hundred percent human shopping adventure.”

“Do you think Edward will let me go?” Edward had been even more overprotective since tracking the murderers.

“Yes.” Alice finally answered smiling.

“The only time I feel completely safe is when I’m with one of you, and then other times...”

“You feel like a fish out of water?” Alice finished for me whispering the exact words that I wanted to say.

I gave her a nod as she beamed nudging me with excitement.

“You’re new at this, but our lives well this is it Bella. It’s dangerous and it’s complicated, but then again that’s love.” She sang looking at the front of the class just as the teacher spotted us talking.

I was amazed how calm Alice was, how even the idea of going on a shopping trip while all this was going on could make her so happy. I felt like all the blood had drained from my face over the last few weeks. I wondered if this was what it was like for vampires. If the same things that kept me up at night didn’t even bother her. I knew Alice said everything would be alright but I wondered who that meant? Everyone? Me, my family and friends? How far could Alice’s vision blanket everyone who meant something to me? Would there be another murder?

I had a million questions and they were swirling in my head making me feel sick.

“Are you okay? Wanna go to the nurse?” Alice asked with a look of concern.

I shook my head trying to get the blood back into my cheeks.

“Oh, no I’m fine thanks.” I bit my lip hoping she would believe the lie.

I took deeper, strategic breaths filling my lungs to keep the sick feeling at bay.

The period passed quickly and by the time the bell rang, Edward was waiting for me outside with a worried expression on his face.

“You okay?” I sighed letting Edward lead me down the hall his arm around my shoulders as we walked the way towards the dreadful gym.

“I’m fine, you don’t have to watch me like that you know?” He smiled trying to make light of the situation.

“I can’t help it, I hate being away from you.” Edward replied, making me smirk leaning towards his body, the coldness made me feel at ease as I breathed in his scent.

"I wish it was Thursday, I'll take uncomfortable subjects while being stuck in desks over getting pummeled by balls any day."

"Shuttle Cocks.." He interjected.

"What?" I looked at Edward as he smirked at me, shaking his head before finishing his thought.

“Nothing, I can get us out of class, maybe come up with some sort of an excuse?”

I shook my head groaning.

“No, Ang. will be in the class she’ll help me get through it.” I slowed not wanting to part from his embrace before leaning my head towards his shoulder and separating towards the locker rooms.

As I entered the locker room I immediately searched for my friend, she was tying her sneakers with a carefree smile that I had to emulate.

“So, ready for badminton?” I rolled my eyes as Angela waited for me to get dressed.

“Just to let you know you will be hitting every stupid ball thing for me.” I mused, pulling on a pair of sweats.

“How long have we been friends now Bells?” Angela laughed as I pushed open the door smirking at my friend.

“I know the drill, keep away from Bella.” I laughed as we walked out into the gym floor.

I instantly looked for Edward who was partnered with a freshman boy I didn’t recognize. He instinctively looked my way and as usual, my heart skipped around. He was amazing, but I was still a bit scared for him.

“So, it was a good first kiss.” Angela finished as I turned to her, blushing.

“What?” Angela laughed shaking her head as she realized what I was staring at.

“Me and Ben, we kissed.” I laughed shaking my head for my friend.

“And it was good?” Angela blushed nodding slowly remembering the kiss.

“It was perfect, awe inspiring...”

“Mind altering...” I added as she laughed.

“Alright ladies let’s get into groups of two and start volleying.” I moaned as I let Angela step towards the front of the net as we met with the opposing team.

“So I feel like we haven’t really talked in forever how’s it going?” Angela asked as she effortlessly hit the birdie over the net to the other team.

“It’s...fine.” I said unconvincingly.

“Yeah, things must be weird with all the extra search teams and stuff?” Angela had a way of reading me, without digging too deep to hit a nerve.

“Exactly...” She smiled missing the ball as it went out of bounds.

“But you and Edward are good I see.” She laughed serving the birdie back over.

“Yeah, we’re good.”

Angela laughed easing more tension as I turned different colors watching in the corner of my eye as Edward monitored our conversation.

By the end of the period, I hadn’t swung my racket at all and that was fine with me. Any day I don’t injure myself or anyone else is a good day.

“I’ll see you later.” Angela called as Edward greeted us at the door to study hall.

“So we are good huh?” Edward asked smirking as we walked into the cafeteria.

“Were you spying on girl talk Edward?”

He laughed musically, as the lights of the cafeteria sparkled off his eyes.

“I was just staying in touch.”

“You were coddling.” I answered back, playfully and flirtatiously.

“More like being careful.”

“You say careful I say overprotective.” He chuckled as we sat down on opposite sides of the table.

“Sometimes, even being apart from you by merely fifty feet is torturous Bella.” He smiled crookedly and I knew the conversation was over. I couldn’t have made a rebuttal if I wanted to, lost in his eyes completely dazzled.

We were quiet for a moment as I played with his hand in mine; his fingers were so strong and smooth. He watched me observing my movements as we silently studied one another. I imagined we looked odd, like two crazy teenagers gaping at one another. To the outside world it must have seemed truly bizarre this beautiful creature watching me intently. But I was happy for a few moments of solace, where the whole world faded away and I was able to just co-exist with Edward.

As we walked out of the school, reality began to mire the fantasy Edward and I had created even for an hour. My palms began to sweat, my heart picking up speed. Edward held me closer to him as we tried not to slip across the parking lot.

“Maybe you should take Alice’s advice, hang out with Angela and Ben for a weekend?” I shook my head.

“I’d rather hang out with you, unless...?” I looked up into his eyes; the chilled wind blew across his face.

“It is just, you were right, we should double up the tracking, search where the police aren’t able to look.” He grinned reassuringly as I shrugged, looking down.

With my father leading the search-parties, my mother was alone a lot more than I liked. If it wasn’t for her job as an instructor I would have felt guilty.

“Dad’s going to be working all weekend and Renee’s in Seattle at a YMCA convention. I could just curl up alone with a nice book; maybe catch up on some of my homework.”

Edward laughed, shining his pearly white teeth as he shook his head playfully letting me into the Volvo.

“Nonsense, I would rather you curled up on our sofa in the safety of Esme and Alice than do that.” I smiled; it was almost too easy to get my way with Edward.

When I was safe at home finally able to hear myself think, all the thoughts and fears that abided when Edward was by my side came flooding back. Renee was buzzing in the kitchen trying to perfect her organic craisin-nut granola.

“Here taste this.” My mother asked spooning the warm mixture into my mouth.

I tilted my head, letting the oats crunch as Renee handed me a glass of cold milk.

“It needs something, maybe nutmeg?” My mother smirked nodding.

“I thought so.” She replied shaking the container above the pan as she mixed in more seasoning. “So do you have any plans this weekend? Feel like being bored out of your gourd while your mother geeks it up with some yoga instructors?”

I beamed shrugging, before swallowing the final drop of milk.

“Depends, can I spend the weekend over Alice’s instead?”

My mother looked shocked for a moment, shaking her head at the realization that I would not only be under the same roof as my boyfriend, but two other boys as well. A look of fear and panic flashed before I rolled my eyes.

“I’ll stay in their guest room, or I could just come home instead, keep Charlie fed so he doesn’t hit the diner.”

Her face softened as she smiled imagining Charlie.

“It would be nice to keep an eye out for your father, but I’d rather you be with the Cullens than alone in the house. Especially with everything that’s going on.”

My mother didn’t dare to mention the deaths aloud. She had a theory that actually acknowledging the real threat on our little town of Forks could make everything real. And to her, in Renee’s mind this tiny insignificant act could keep the danger at bay. Charlie was coming home later and later each night, putting the fear of God into my mother. Every night she would beg him to come home earlier, followed by Charlie protesting that this town needed him. My Dad had an obvious hero complex, but I think it came with the badge.

"Should I call Mrs. Cullen?" Renee asked as she pulled the pan from the burner.

"Sure, and we'll pack a Dora the Explorer camping bag too."

My mother nodded solemnly as I shook my head embarrassed.

"I'm sorry, it's just, I'll be fine." Renee grinned cupping my cheek in her hand.

"I know baby, you're growing up, it seems like just yesterday that I was changing your diapers." I laughed looking down slightly mortified.

"Well not yesterday, I am seventeen Mom." Renee laughed dryly, finally taking her hand from my face as she wiped a few tears away.

"Your in love, you have your first boyfriend."

"Mom, in love?" I was embarrassed and a bit overwhelmed. Maybe my mother wasn't so clueless as I thought.

"You are right? I remember first love it can take you to places, so just be careful." Renee mused skipping over her own history clumsily.

"Mom, we're not..." I protested.

"No, I know I trust you I do, I'm just saying history repeats itself and..."

"And you don't have to worry, really." I interrupted her, before things got too hairy.

"Okay." My mother threw her hands in the air, surrendering for now on the subject as I waved my way up the stairs. I couldn't help but cling to my chest as I took the stairs two at a time, trying to get away from my mother's prying.

My computer was illuminated as I saw Edward leaning over the keyboard with a smile.

"I think my character should have a few more scenes with the lead character."

"I go from one to another." I sighed closing the laptop as Edward smirked studying my face.

"Your Mother cares about you, she's having a hard time."

I gave a quick nod before falling on my bed.

"I know, I'm glad she'll have a break with this seminar over the weekend." I felt the bed sigh at the weight of Edward sitting on the edge I could feel his gaze upon me.

"I'm more worried about you, you seem off Bella." I smiled turning towards Edward.

"It's just something I have to get used to." He tilted his head looking at me, studying me.

"Something you shouldn't have to get used to." His face froze as his jaw clenched.

"Don't Edward, being the Sheriffs daughter comes with as much drama as being a vampire's girlfriend." He tried to fight a grin, as I sat up taking his hand in mine.

"I can't even imagine what my life would be like if you hadn't come to town, but I know that if it wasn't this, it would be something else. My Dad's job is dangerous; despite the idea of Forks being a small town, things happen." He smiled through his own self loathing as I tried to reassure his worries.

"I just came to say goodnight it's my turn to track tonight." I swallowed hard as he pulled me up from the bed. I lingered in his arms for a moment breathing his scent in as he tried to stop himself from kissing me.

"I can't wait until this is all over." He laughed looking into my eyes before backing away from me slowly.

"It's like you said Bella if it wasn't one thing it would be another."

"Be careful Edward." I whispered, he backed up on the window sill finding the perfect balance by instinct.

"I'll be back in the morning, sweet dreams."

And with that he was gone.

The week blurred by Tuesday bled into Wednesday and by Friday I was ready for a shopping adventure. I figured the retail torture would work wonders on my frayed nerves. When I opened the door to the second floor girl’s bathroom a faint cry muffled from behind one of the stalls. I looked around and saw I was alone except for the crier.

“Are you okay?” I asked as I heard a dry laugh and then someone blowing their nose.

“I’m fine okay, just leave me alone.”

I recognized the voice right away.

“Lauren?” The toilet flushed and out came my frenemy Lauren with bloodshot eyes and puffy cheeks.

“Great, just what I need Bella Swan blabbing to everyone that I was sobbing in the bathroom.”

She washed her face grabbing a paper towel before looking at me.

“How do you do it?”

I stared at her clueless as she shook her head throwing the paper away.

“How do you come to school everyday knowing your Dad’s in danger?"

My heart pounded in my chest, before it dropped to my stomach.

“You get used to it.” I finally answered as she turned towards the mirror shaking her head in disgust.

“My Dad’s joining the search this weekend, he says there’s a guy missing from the Quileute reservation they think he might be one of the newest victims?” All I could think of in that moment was Jacob, but then Sam came to mind and the dread lessened only slightly.

“He said if it can touch La Push it can come here to Forks.”

I gave a quiet nod as Lauren laughed pulling back her hair into a ponytail.

“You take it one day at a time. I know my Dad would drive himself crazy if he wasn’t out there trying to help other people. I’m sure it’s the same for your Dad.”

Lauren cracked a slight smile as she shook the fear away and the coldness began to creep through.

“Maybe.” She finally answered slinging her bag across her shoulder. She walked passed me opening the door ajar before turning back.

“Thanks, I mean I know we’re not really...”

“Friends?” I finished as she grinned fully nodding.

“Yeah, so thanks.” Her smile warmed her usually cold stony face and for a moment, I felt a connection to the girl who seemed to be from another planet.

I leaned against the bathroom wall thinking about the exchange. A knock on the bathroom door made me flinch and then laugh, as I went to see Edward waiting for me.

“I thought you might have fallen in Bella.” He purred making me blush with embarrassment.

“Did you hear?” I asked as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders pulling me close to him.

“You and Lauren bonding, it was quite a scene.” He smirked leaning towards me for a moment, as out foreheads touched.

“I have her this evening Edward.” Alice chimed, her arm entwined with Jaspers as she beamed at her brother in triumph.

“Well I can at least bring her home.” Edward interjected almost daring his sister to refute him.

I grinned as the two vampires stared at one another while Jasper and I waited.

“Or I can just go home with Angela?” I mentioned jolting my two friends as they took notice of me.

“No, that’s fine Edward can take you home, I’ll see you in an hour or so Bells?” Alice asked, while we walked down the hallway. The rest of the student body were rushing to leave the premises of Forks High as soon as possible.

“You can let me know where your going shopping at least Alice, throwing up distractions won’t help me be at ease tonight.” Alice scoffed winking at, me before sighing to her brother.

“If I tell you which stores we’re going to, then you won’t be able to keep it from Bella, no I’ll text you when we get there. Stop being such a Debbie Downer.” She laughed playfully squeezing Jasper closer to her as he smiled adoringly.”

Edward growled as our feet touched the pavement. But I couldn’t help but laugh at the exchange.

“She’s a little territorial huh?” I joked enjoying the sibling rivalry.

“Tell me about it.” Edward snarked looking to me for a moment as his eyes smoldered, the black lining around his golden orbs signaling a needed meal.

We drove in silence, holding hands all the way home as we enjoyed the time together. When we finally idled outside of my house Edward laughed looking to me with a warm grin.

“You’ll text me right, when you get there?” I nodded as Edward took a long un-needed breath before looking to my front porch.

“She’s been secretive lately, Alice. I’m not sure what she’s up to but sometimes she lets her excitement I just...”

“It’s a shopping trip Edward, she just wants to surprise me I’m sure it’s nothing.”I interjected.

“I know she’ll keep you safe I’m not worried about that, it’s just Alice, ever since she met you she has been keeping things from me.” He protested, annoyed.

I smirked turning towards my driveway before turning back to Edward.

“Maybe whatever it is she needs to keep from you, is for your sake or even mine. Regardless you trust Alice so I wouldn’t worry about it.” Edward gave a slow nod rubbing the top of my hand softly before letting me go.

“She’ll be here soon, I’ll let you get ready and...”

“Text you as soon as we get there, I know. Go get something to eat I’ll be fine.” He smiled nodding as his eyes became darker with hunger.

“I really want to kiss you right now Edward.” I said though the car door was closed, he nodded acknowledging he heard me.

When I made it to my front steps, Alice’s yellow sports car slid into the driveway. She danced out of the car waving her brother away as the Volvo sped down the road.

“He’s such a grouch when he’s hungry.” She commented smiling at me, clutching a purse close to her.

“Alice, you’re a little early.” I grinned as we walked into the house together.

“I thought I’d help you pick out an outfit for tonight.” She beamed as we entered the empty house.

“Renee already gone?” She asked, even though she knew the answer to the question already.

“Yeah left this morning, wait I need an outfit picked out to go shopping?” Alice shrugged as she led the way upstairs. I eyed her curiously as she opened my closet doors.

“This is Edward’s doing isn’t it? To make sure I’m not alone for even a moment?”

Alice pulled out one of my pairs of corduroys before shaking her head.

“This is girl time Bella, no boys allowed.” She smiled, beginning layering an outfit for me.

I was hesitant as Alice dressed me, but she managed to capture my sense of style or lack there of and to add some sophistication. I didn’t think I looked half bad as we drove down the road and onto the highway.

“So where are we going tonight?” Alice laughed her head tilting back as she smirked.

“I told my brother I would text him when we got there, he didn’t need to ask you to do it too you know.”

I sighed as we took the highway at breakneck speed. It didn’t take me long to realize where we were headed.

“We’re going to Seattle?” I asked, a tint of worry in my voice.

“There’s this great store there that’s perfect for you, plus I have to drop something off.” Alice looked at me with a grin that was mischievous.

“You’re the only one I can trust, Edward can’t get into your head and this is something I need to do.” I sat back as Alice sped around other cars and we made great time into the city. A half an hour later we were sitting outside some shady neighborhood as Alice shut the engine off.

“Where are we?” My friend turned to me unbuckling her seatbelt as she motioned for me to follow her.

“We’re in Seattle, but don’t worry this will only take a minute.”

I followed Alice into a building as a burly man stood guard outside an office.

“You have an appointment Miss?” The man asked as Alice tilted her head before smiling brightly. The man became uncomfortable instantly as he cleared his throat.

“Uh Boss said go right in, my bad.” The man loosened his collar while Alice took my hand and led me into the room.

It was a large office where a small balding man stood up instantly seeing the perfect beauty in front of him.

“I’m here to drop of the first payment.” The man was visibly sweating as he gave a quick nod and Alice dropped the envelope in front of him.

“I need you to do your job efficiently, don’t let me down.” Alice warned, her voice was dangerous for a moment menacing.

The man was too nervous to talk but Alice just grinned turning from him. “I expect a report soon.” She added, her eyes narrowing. He wiped his brow with a handkerchief as we walked out of the office as quickly as we had come in.

“What was that all about Alice?” I asked as we finally took off towards the City and away from this dark street.

When the city lights filtered through the car Alice finally answered my lingering question.

“I just needed him to do a little job discreetly for me, just between us girls?” She smiled hoping I would say yes. “I haven’t told the others not even Jasper yet. And I can’t explain what it is but please Bella.”

She was pleading with me to keep her secret for now and I gave her a nod signaling it was just between us. Alice would have done the same for me and I was the perfect person to keep her secret, I was unreadable and that meant safe.

She turned a few corners as my mind went through all the possibilities.

“We’re here.” Alice finally announced as the car shut off and I looked up at one of the largest book stores I could have ever imagined.

“We’re...” I questioned.

“See Bella this is called retail therapy, I figured instead of torturing you I could bring you to a place that makes you happy.” Her smile made me turn away, I knew Alice was thinking about Edward and I, on our first date. I could get lost in this bookstore it was one of the largest I had ever seen, the size of a department store.

“This is great.” I beamed, Alice laughed while we walked towards the store.

“And see I’m texting Edward now to let him know we’re in Seattle, see nothing big, we’re fine.”

I couldn’t help but enjoy myself I as followed my best friend who flitted from one section to another. Alice seemed to enjoy shopping period, picking books that she knew I would love.

By the time we were ready for home I had two large bags full of books most of them a present from Alice.

“See I knew I’d find the right store for you.” I had to smirk at my friends determination as we loaded the bags into the car.

“Thanks, this worked.”

“I knew it would and now you have something to keep your mind occupied for the rest of the week while we catch these guys.”

She said it with such finality and determination that I couldn’t help but nod in agreement. The rest of the week would be better, not perfect but I finally understood the meaning behind retail therapy and was glad to have a secret to keep for Alice. These were little things that kept my mind off of the big picture and for that I was grateful.