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Mad Season

Summary:
Bella has returned to her family to heal
Edward is at a personal crossroads
With everything working against them will they find happiness with each other? AH, AU, OOC rated for mature themes, violence, and lemons in some of the chapters. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


Notes:
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight world. Stephanie Meyer does. I just get to play in her playground.


6. Chapter 6

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5401   Review this Chapter

Bella

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I grab Jake’s arm with both of mine, and gently tug him towards his friends. His expression a warning to behave, and I just smile in return. He knows my actions will be in direct response to his own. I’ll behave if he does. I notice a table of very good-looking guys staring at us. These must be his friends.


Jake takes in a deep breath. He is having trouble faking a smile, so he does not even attempt one. “Hey, guys, this is my sister, Bella,” he squeaks out reluctantly. I know how much I am torturing him right now, but he is going to have to get over it.

“Hi!” I smile and throw a little wave in their direction. Jake glares at me, and my eyes give him the answer he does not want. I’ll behave if you do. There is a hint of defeat in his expression, as he understands the unspoken message.

“Bella, these are the guys: Edward,” A tall slender guy with unruly dark hair wiggles his fingers in my direction. Why won’t he look me in the face?

“Embry,” A small dark man with a hint of red in his unkempt beard smiles at me.

“Jasper,” I remember Jasper. He has been a friend of Jake‘s since elementary school. I remember last time I came into town Jasper’s girlfriend, Lauren, was more than happy to see me leave. She was such a bitch.


“And Emmett.” A large bear of a man throws a wink in my direction as he waves a greeting. This Emmett is definitely interested, and perhaps if my brother doesn’t cooperate he’d be willing to help me display how much trouble I can be. That should give Jake something to think about.

A wave of emotion hits me like a punch to the gut. Where is it coming from? Push it from your mind, Bella. We have a mission to accomplish tonight. No time for this sort of thing. Block it out. I put on my best fake, but natural-looking, smile.

“I hope y’all don’t mind, but I am going to kidnap my brother here for a couple of minutes, and then give him back. We need to have a little talk, and I have a feeling he is going to need you guys to get him back into a good mood when I am done.” I look about the table. Did I just speak a foreign language? Or are they not used to girls talking to them? Must be the beer. No one says anything.

Looking from face to face my eyes lock with those of Rob. There is something familiar about him. Have I met him before? Nothing comes to mind, but the more I look into his gaze the more I can’t look away. Something is so familiar about his eyes, and I find myself swimming in liquid pools of melted emeralds. I can‘t look away. Oh. My. God. That’s where I know him. He is the stalker from my dream!

My throat constricts uncomfortably as the realization slaps me. The air snaps, crackling with an unexpected energy, like the room was preparing for lightening to strike. Look away, Bella. Break the connection. Run. I try to ignore my instincts and pretend to play the role I committed to earlier this evening. My arms stiffen a little, and I know Jake notices.

Emmett nudges Edward in the ribs, in a not-so-subtle motion. “Sure, no problem. We’ll be here when you two are done.” Edward says not breaking eye contact.

That voice almost does me in. My knees feel weak, and I am not sure if I am going to fall over or not. I feel a shiver dance down my spine. “Thanks.” I throw the biggest smile I can at him.

Don’t freak yourself out, Bella; he has no idea what he is doing to you.

I tug on Jake’s arm and lead him to a nearby booth. I can feel Edward staring at me. Mixtures of emotions swirl inside my head at once.

Is this me? Or are these his feelings? Turn it off, Bella. Block him the best you can. I need to concentrate on Jake. You have to get this over with, so that you can get out of here. I take a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

“What did you want to talk about?” Jake snarls at me.

“Don’t be that way, Jake. This was going to have to happen sooner or later.” I drop my eyes to the table. I can’t look my brother in the face. He’ll know something is wrong.

I close my eyes and concentrate. If I pull out Jake’s emotions maybe I can block all these others. Who knows, maybe it will help the conversation. I look up, and try to pull my brother’s emotions out of him. He rolls his eyes at me. He knows what I’m doing. He just doesn’t know why. Love is the overpowering emotion. Good, he isn’t trying to block me. Then comes concern. It is a little bitter, but not horrible. It is tangled with the love creating an unusual flavor. Anger? Yep, a little anger thrown into the mix. Of course he is angry with me. He was trying to have a life, and I barged in.

Well, how does it feel, big brother? You do it to us all the time.

I have to chuckle at that internally.

“Are you done, yet?” A smile crosses his face. He can’t stay mad at me for very long. As much as he hates to admit it, I own him, and I have since the day I was born.

“Yes, I think I am.” We both look at each other waiting for the other to start. “Do you want to start or do you want me to?” I wait for his answer. In truth, I think he wants to avoid this conversation entirely, but he knows it is desperately needed. His questions and concerns need to be addressed in order for me to make my demands.

“You really think here is the best place for this?” Jake’s eyes are intense. There is a storm he is controlling.

A waitress walks up to our booth, and places a drink on the table. “This is from the gentleman at the bar.” She looks over her shoulder, and I see super-jock wave at me. I smile back.

Jake hands the drink back to her. “Tell him thanks, but no thanks,” he tells the girl to her surprise. She looks to me waiting for my protest.

“It is for the lady,” she insists as she glares at my brother.

I have to laugh a little. “Its okay,” I tell her. “I need to stay sober. I’m driving tonight. Can you bring me a cherry coke?” The waitress grins in understanding, and removes the drink leaving Jake and me alone once again.

We stare at each other. Neither of us wants to be the one to get this started, as we both know neither of us is going to budge from our points of view.

“Go ahead,” I encourage Jake, “let me have it. I am ready.” His face holds no expression. “I mean it. Let it all out. I know you’re mad at me. I know you’re frustrated with me. I know you want to lock me up in a closet, and only let me out for family holidays.” He tries to suppress a laugh. “I know my return has not been easy for you, especially since you know I won’t let you have your way. Come on, let it all out before you explode at the wrong moment.”

“Fine,” he takes a deep breath. I wonder if he has been taking some sort of anger management courses while I’ve been away. His voice hesitates for a moment. “I want to know what happened. I want to know what he did to you, this time. I want to know what your plans are, and yes I want to lock you up in a closet and only let you out for family holidays." His words escape in a rush of a single breath as his fingers play with a straw wrapper that had been left on the table.

He stares down at his hands waiting for me to tell him to mind his own business. I won't do that this time. No, this time I will have to disclose everything. I need him to trust me. I need him to let go of what he perceives is his responsibility for me. I need to make him see that such careful protection of me, or even my sisters, is going to cost him. It already took away the love of his life.

Leah felt she had to compete with us for his attention. She came to the realization that there actually was no competition. We, sisters, would always come first to Jake. I am surprised it took her so long to leave. Jake is only 23, and too young to give up his own happiness for the likes of us. He needs to let go, and I am the only one who is able to force him to see that fact. Was I strong enough to make him see reason?

I look at Jake, his dark brown eyes intense and suspicious. He is wondering if I am going to tell him the truth or a load of bullshit. I considered the bullshit for a half a second. The truth is going to hurt him, and that is the last thing I want to do to him. I am just as protective of him as he is of me, but the cycle has to end. My love for him and my need to protect his feelings need to take a back seat to the truth. All the truth in its raw and ugly form needs to see some light.

"How much do you really want to know?" I ask him. I try to decode the expressions running across his face. I could easily get the answers from his emotions, but I want to do this right. That means no cheating. I would work with only what he wants me to know. I smile at him patiently as I wait for his answer.

"I want to know everything. Don't spare the details just because you think I won't like them. I probably won't, but I can handle it." We stare at each other for a long moment assessing the other's reactions. I wish that by the end of the evening we could both be much more than brother and sister again. I wish we could be friends again. Could this be possible? I hope so.

"How far back do you want me to go?"

"As far back as needed to get all the information. Just don't start off in the eighth grade. I was there for that." Jake puts on his more adorable smile for me. I melt. As much as I own my brother, he owns me as well. I can deny him nothing.

"Fine." I take another deep breath as I search my brother's eyes. "Do you promise to listen to everything, and not lose it like the psycho everyone thinks you are?"

"I promise to not lose it and cause a scene. I won't, however, promise to not get mad or to eventually hurt someone because of what you say tonight." The honesty of the answer rings through. It is the best I can hope for. "Do you promise to tell me everything even if you think I'll do something that will land me on Death Row?"

He would ask something so stupid. "Of course I will, but if you go to Death Row I'll be right there next to you. Someone has to be the get-away driver." I flash him a smile, and he chuckles a little.

"You can stop stalling now." The waitress arrives and places a cherry coke in front of me. Jake looks at her, "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Can I get you two anything else?" She asks him without looking at me. She must think he is so overbearing.

"No, we're fine," I answer. She gives me a careful look, and walks away. I take a sip of soda, and prepare to spill my guts.

"Everything started going bad between James and me when we found out I was pregnant," I began, still watching my brother carefully.

"He didn't want the baby?" Jake asks. His voice is full of revulsion.

"I don't think that was the problem, really." How do I explain this to him in a way that won't upset him too much? I search his face and my memory at the same time. There is no way to avoid his reactions. I will just give it to him plain, and hope I have enough strength to restrain him if I have to. "At first everything was fine. The problems came up when he wanted to get married. I told him that I was happy with the way things were, and that I didn't want to get married." I smile a little at the memory. "I really ruined a perfectly beautiful evening with that."

"Why didn't you want to get married?"

"I don't know if I can explain it right, but I could see that things were getting a little out of hand. I used the excuse that I didn't want to get married because of a baby. I wanted to get married because I couldn't live without the other person. It made perfectly good sense to me, but James didn't see it that way. At first he thought it was because it wasn't his baby." Jake growls a bit, but I don't think he intends me to hear it. "But I put that question to rest when I had one of those amnio tests where they can check the DNA while the baby was still inside of me."

"Did that make things better?" I can see the fury behind the words as he tries so hard to conceal his thoughts. His eyes don't lie, and he can never really hide his thoughts from me. I know him too well.

"Yes and no. At first things were great. I was so excited. I thought he was too. I started getting the nursery ready. He increased my allowance, and I still had my credit cards so I pretty much could do whatever I wanted."

"He gave you an allowance?" Jake is beyond irritated now, but this time at me.

"Yes, he gave me an allowance.” I roll my eyes. I really did not want to get into my life as a kept woman. “I got $5000 a month plus a bunch of credit cards I could use however I wanted." I answer as if it was no big deal. In truth, I knew that this was why James always felt his hold on me was permanent. In his mind, he owned me. "James didn't want me working. He didn't want me to be away from him, so my excuse that I needed spending money was all he needed to start giving me an allowance. Of course, he started this up way before the baby was coming."

"So, if you two were such a happy family, why did things go so bad?" Jake is playing with the straw paper again, and I take a long drink of my soda.

"I told you I wouldn't marry him, and that got him feeling anxious. He knew the baby was his, and he knew I was very excited. You know that is all I ever wanted was to be a mom and with someone who loved me."

"But you didn't want to marry him?"

"No, some little voice in the back of my head said that would be a bad idea." I try to interpret the look Jake shoots at me, but I decide it is better to just ignore it instead. "I knew James loved me. He still loves me, but it turned into something dark and wrong. It got worse when he realized that the baby would always come first. James didn't like the idea of competing with anyone for my complete attention."

"That is sick," Jake snarls.

"But true. I could feel how his feelings changed. His love for me started to turn into hate for our child. I tried to change his mind, but nothing I did seemed to calm him. Nothing I did could make him see reason. It got to the point where I was getting ready to call you to come get me."

"You should have."

"I didn't have the chance. James found my suitcase and went a little nuts. That was the night we had our accident." Jake didn't need to know that it was a murder/suicide attempt. A last ditch effort to keep me tied to James forever. "After I got out of the hospital..."

"You should have come home with us."

"After I went home with James I tried to pretend everything was the way it was before the baby. I knew I wasn't going to stay, but I had to be careful."

"We would have come to get you. You could have left everything. We would have taken care of you. I would have taken care of you." I reach across the table and take my brother's hand trying to comfort him.

"I know you would have, but by that point things had gotten just a little crazy. I didn't want to endanger any of you, so I thought I would handle it myself. I started saving my allowance. I stashed it away knowing that when the opportunity presented itself I was out of there. That was four months ago."

Jake's eyes doubled in size with the realization that I had been out on my own for the past four months without letting him or the rest of the family know what was going on. "Four months ago? What have you been doing for the past four months?" His jaw tightens with tension, and fear runs wild through my blood as I realize I need to calm him down before that vein explodes in his forehead.

"Calm down, big brother. I told you that some of this was going to piss you off. You promised not to cause a scene. Do you want me to finish or not?" I look him in the eyes, and the fury is burning within him. I can see him breathing deeply through his nose, and making his outside look serene. I can see through the lie, and he knows it. That's okay cause as long as I am the only one that knows how upset he is, no one else will pay attention to us.

"Please, finish," he hisses through his clenched teeth.

"So, when James went away for a couple of days on business I threw what I could in my car, put my savings in my wallet, shredded the credit cards and took off." Jake watches me carefully. What I wouldn't give to be a mind reader right now. "Anyway, I ended up in San Diego. I really didn't know where I was going or what I was going to do, but when I got to San Diego I thought: 'What the heck, looks like a cool place.' I got an apartment. I got a job. Everything was going good. I was actually getting ready to let y'all in on where I was and what I was doing."

"But you didn't."

"No, I didn't get the chance to. I wanted to make sure I was all settled in, so you couldn't talk me into leaving." He opens his mouth to protest, but I hold my finger up to stop him. "If I had called before I was ready you would have showed up and hauled me off."

"Maybe," he looks at the table, refusing to meet my eyes, "Probably." He looks up and tries to smile.

"Yeah. It didn't matter anyway because James found me. I thought if I didn't use the credit cards, and I didn't come here, that he would just stop looking. I was wrong."

"What happened?" I took his hands in mine again forcing him to look me in the eye. I can see the tension in his jaw as he grinds his teeth together.

"He showed up at my work. I didn't think he saw me, and ducked out as soon as I could. I explained things to my manager, and he understood. I was considering taking off again, but convinced myself that it was just a coincidence. An hour or so later he showed up at my apartment. " I bite my lip at the memory. I can feel Jake's hands try to ball up into a fist inside of my own. I rub the back of his palms gently hoping that somehow it would help control his rage. "Things got nasty."

Jake pulls his hands loose from mine, picks up my soda and takes a long drink. In a conscious effort to maintain his control over himself, he gently places the glass on the table in front of me. "How nasty?"

I can't look at him. I need to tell him what happened, but I am not sure if I should tell him all the gory details. There are some facts that need to stay hidden.

"Did he rape you?"

"Yes." My pulse quickens with my shame. I stare at the table unable to look at my brother.

"Did he hurt you?"

I pull my shirt away from my shoulder just enough so he can see a piece of the bandage covering up my ice-pick wound. I can feel the anger shaking through him.

"Did he do anything else to you?"

He already knows most of it. What is the point of trying to keep the rest a secret? "Yes, but you don't get to see those marks."

"SON-OF-A-BITCH!" His rage is only mildly contained as he hisses out the words. "I'm gonna kill him, Bella. I am going to rip his goddamn heart out and peel the muscles off his bones!"

I grab his face between my hands. "Calm down, Jake, really just calm yourself down."

"Bella..."

"Listen to me. He is in jail. One of my neighbors called 911 and they took him away. I went to the hospital and got stitched back up, and he went to jail."

"Bella..." Words escape him, and his expression is one of fury and pain. I should not have told him anything.

"After I got out of the hospital, I called my mom's house to see if I could stay there with her for a while."

"Why didn't you call me?" If he didn't think it would make him less than a man, I am sure my brother would be crying. The tears are waiting in his eyes, but his strong will refuses to release them.

"Cause I love you." I answer him. I let go of his face and place my hands in his. "It didn't matter anyway. My mom said I should apologize and go back. There was no way she was letting me stay with her. She has a new boyfriend. So, I just started driving and ended up at Dad's house. I know I didn't call first, but Dad didn't care. I knew he wouldn't turn me away. What's one more kid in the house?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I see super-jock coming towards us. What now? This guy really had to pick the worst time to interrupt a family discussion.

---------------------

Edward

----------------------

I can't keep myself from staring at her. Every small move she makes, the way she tosses her hair from her face, her soft expressive eyes, everything about her holds my attention hostage. I wonder what they are talking about. Her eyes look scared, worried, concerned, troubled, I can't pinpoint the emotion, but it lies just under the surface. Her eyes can't hide what her smile conceals.

Why am I drawn to her? I don't even know her. Who cares if she appeared in my dreams? Who cares if I can still smell her hair or feel her skin under mine? It was just a dream, a beautifully wonderful vivid dream. She doesn't even know I exist. I couldn't even talk to her when Jake introduced her. God! I'm such an idiot!

"Hey, dude!" Emmett hits me on the back of the head with his bottle cap. I turn and give him an incredulous look. "Stop staring, idiot. It's supposed to be a private conversation."

Jasper chuckles. "It's not like you got a chance anyway. Knowing Jake, he is going to lock her up in a closet somewhere and throw away the key. Not to mention that psychopathic boyfriend of hers is bound to show up sooner or later." He takes a swig of his beer before he continues. "Edward, you are better off keeping your distance."

"Well, she isn't that great looking," Embry throws in unconvincingly. "I mean she does have a little extra padding."

"Yeah, but it just makes the curves a little curvier," Emmett adds in a low hopeful whisper. I don't have to be a mind reader to know where his thoughts have gone.

I look back to the booth across from us, and continue watching Bella and Jake. She is holding his hands. What I would give to be that close to her. Jake looks like he is about to commit a murder. Is he furious with her? What could she have said to make him so angry?

"She's a little short too," Embry adds as he tries to talk himself out of his attraction for Bella. "I like girls with longer legs."

"But what she's got looks great on her." Emmett continues with his little fantasies.

I look to Jasper who is playing with the label on his beer bottle lost in his own thoughts. "Hey, Jasper, what do you know about her? You're Jake's roommate. You have to know something. Didn't you go to high school with him?"

Jasper smiles reluctantly at me as continues to play with the beer label. "Yeah, I've been friends with Jake since second grade. I know all about her, and I am telling you, boys, stay as far away from her as you can."

I look back over to Bella. Her top teeth are gently biting into her bottom lip. Her eyes look like she is about to cry. Her delicate manicured fingers hold Jake's face. Whatever she wants I know Jake is going to give her. How could anyone deny her anything? Jasper's words sprout malignant thoughts in my head. Why should we stay away? What is wrong with her? Is she a selfish bitch? Is she a psycho just like her brother? Is she one of those girls that use men up and throw them out like empty soda cans?

Jasper looks up from his beer and stares right at me. "She is nothing, but trouble, Edward. Trust me on this."

"She can get me into trouble any day," Emmett takes a swig of his beer as he continues his little fantasies.

"Hey, Emmett, Margaret just walked in with some girls from her sorority. Want to try to convince them to join us?" Embry raises his eyebrow and leans his head towards the door.

Emmett doesn't need another invitation. He puts his beer down and starts to stand up. "Come on, Embry, let's go. Jasper, get Edward to focus a little. We are about to have company." Embry and Emmett smile and head towards the group of girls that just entered the bar. I know if they are successful, that I only have minutes to ask Jasper all the questions that are invading my mind.

"Jasper?" He looks up at me. "What do you know about her?" I look at him intensely. Perhaps I look a bit too intense, but I cannot help that. Curiosity is eating me up.

"What do you want to know?"

"Why do you think she is nothing but trouble? What has she done? Is she a super-bitch or something?"

Jasper takes a deep breath looking over at Jake and Bella then back to me. "No, Bella is not a super-bitch. Actually, she is pretty terrific. She is smart and funny, and generous, likable, adorable, and a completely amazing person." His face scrunches up a bit, and I am completely confused. It looks like he is searching for an explanation. "She is totally cool, but she does something to the guys who date her. Men fall so helplessly in love with her that they go insane."

"Insane?" Like I am going to believe that.

"Totally normal guys, who would never hurt anyone or anything, suddenly do bizarre and demented things because of her."

"She makes them do bizarre and demented things?"

"No, not really. There is just something about her that pulls you in until she is your whole world." He looks to my face and sees my confusion. "Okay, when Bella, Jake and I were in the eighth grade, she was a friend of Fancy Barker and her brother, Ryan, who was in the ninth grade."

"Are they twins?" I ask. What other explanation would there be for brother and sister to be in the same grade?

"No, Jake and Bella are six months apart. Jake is older." Jasper sees the confusion on my face. "They have different mothers," he adds with an exasperated tone. "Do you want to hear this or not?"

"I'm sorry. Please, continue."

"When Bella made it clear that she was not interested romantically in Ryan, he locked her in his basement for two days. The whole city was out looking for her. Jake went crazy"

"Why? Why would Ryan do that?" It was just too crazy to even consider an adult doing much less a high school freshman.

"He was in love with her. He thought that if he kept her in that basement closet that eventually she would love him too." Jasper shrugged his shoulders. "His parents avoided jail time for Ryan by agreeing to place him in a mental hospital. I don't have any idea what happened to him after that."

"She does that to everyone?"

"In tenth grade, she dumped Louis Rothschild for Mark Dugan, and Louis lost it. He ran Mark over in the school parking lot. Broke his collar bone and his leg." He shudders at the memory. "I don't know what it is about her, but normal guys go from loving her, to being obsessive about her, to being possessive about her. I don't think she does it on purpose, but I've seen what it has done to Jake. Bella is the reason he is so protective about all his sisters. He doesn't want them to get hurt the way she's been hurt. Then again, she is the only one out of the whole bunch that'll stand up to him." Jasper lets out a heavy sigh. "I guess she's driven him crazy too."

It is hard for me to imagine that fragile creature is a beacon for danger and evil. It is a lot to take in. Will I listen to Jasper's warning? Will I be able to stay away? Save myself from the insanity, he promises I will succumb to? I just cannot believe such a thing can be true.

"Edward, Jasper," Emmett and Embry return followed by four very cute young ladies, "I want you to meet Margaret, Lila, Amy, and Jo." The girls wave a little to us. "They have agreed to join us for a drink, and then they have plans to go bowling. Now I wasn't sure about you two, or Jake over there, but I told them that it sounds like loads of fun. What do ya think?"

"I'm up for it, but I must tell you upfront, I haven't bowled in years." Jasper smiles at the girls. One would think he didn't have a girlfriend, a psycho-super-bitch of a girlfriend at that.

I look back at Bella and Jake in their booth. Mike is over there now, and it looks like it's going to get intense. Maybe I should go over there and lend a hand.