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Unbitten

Summary:
When journalist Bella Swan discovers Edward's long kept secret, how they manage their attraction for each other begins to take a twist. How much will they be willing to sacrifice to be with their hearts' perfect match?


Notes:


3. Explosions and Fireworks

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3810   Review this Chapter

Chapter 3: Explosions and Fireworks

While I got ready for dinner with Charlie, I analyzed our relationship, trying to figure out why we never had a typical father-daughter relationship. My mother, Renee, left Charlie and I when I was a baby. Apparently, she wasn’t ready for the responsibility of having a child. Because I never really had a mother, people thought I should have been ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. The fact of the matter is that it just wasn’t like that with us. Charlie and I were never really close—we were far too different. Where our differences didn’t block the development of our relationship, our lack of understanding did. We never tried to understand anything about each other or the things we enjoyed. When Charlie would find my copies of local and national newspapers lying around, he would promptly throw them in the trash, citing that they were garbage. When Charlie would drag me on one of his many fishing trips, I would spend the entire time on the boat attempting to scare off the fish, thus ending the trips early. In actuality, we had never spent any meaningful amount of time together—we had never been close.

Considering the fact that Charlie and I had never really had a relationship, I was shocked at his reaction to Jacob and me moving to Seattle. He had been livid. I knew that he didn’t like Jacob, but I had never fully understood his reaction to my moving away with him.

The more I thought about our non-relationship, the more frustrated I got with myself for trying to make amends with my father. How can you mend fences when the fences were never built?

When I pulled into the parking lot of the diner, I saw Charlie leaning against the side of his police cruiser. Parking as far away as I could, I turned my car off and collected my thoughts. Even though I had been mentally preparing for this all afternoon, I was unnerved now that I was actually faced with spending time with my estranged father.

With a deep breath, I got out of my car and walked across the lot to where Charlie was standing.

“Hey, Dad,” I said with a smile.

“Evening, Bella,” he returned with a nod of his head.

With his awkward posture and the forced smile on his face, it seemed that Charlie’s nervousness had escalated to twice what it was earlier today. His anxiety caused mine to increase, thereby putting to rest any hope that this would be a comfortable dinner.

“Wanna go inside?” I asked.

He nodded and we went inside the small diner. Immediately, I noticed that the diner seemed exactly as it did six years ago. It still smelled like an odd combination of old bacon grease, chicken, and steak.

I followed Charlie to his usual booth next to the window and sat down on the still busted seat, trying to avoid the stuffing coming out of it.

“So has anything about this place changed?” I asked with a laugh, attempting lightheartedness. More than anything, I had hoped that I could do something, anything to relieve some of the awkwardness emanating from the two of us.

“Nope.”

Well, so much for that.

We were silent while I looked over the menu. Charlie sat across the table from me with his arms folded across his chest. He had been here so many times that he probably had the menu memorized.

I decided on a cheeseburger with fries and put my menu back down on the table. We sat in uncomfortable silence until the waitress came around to get our orders. Finally, in desperation, I decided to try starting up a conversation.

“So, how's Forks been for the past few years?” I asked stiffly as I played with the edge of my napkin.

“You know Forks, it never changes,” he said with a shrug. “That's just what I've always loved about it.”

I had to stifle a laugh at that fact. It was funny how everything I hated about Forks was everything that my father loved.

“That's nice,” I said politely.

“How is Seattle?” He asked, honoring the unlikely civility between us.

“It's nice,” I replied. This was a touchier subject. I knew he really didn't care about Seattle at all. One slip and we could be back to fighting. Treading lightly, I said, “I love my job.”

“That's good,” he said with a forced smile.

I checked my watch. Time seemed to be going exceptionally slow. I propped my arms on the table in front of me. As the minutes passed, I watched as people milled in and out of the diner. I began to notice a routine. Upon entering, a person would glance around the room, their eyes lingering on me. That person would then lean over to someone else and whisper something, often nodding in my direction. I also noticed that even though I didn’t recognize all the people, they all seemed to recognize me.

Somehow, Charlie and I managed to make small talk about the weather, his job, the house, and other mundane topics until our food came. It seemed that we were both thankful for the interruption. Finally, conversation could easily be avoided without awkwardness.

As I was finishing my fries, the one person I had been praying I would not have to see this week walked into the diner. I looked on as Billy Black’s smile contorted into a grimace as he walked toward Charlie, undoubtedly noticing me.

I pretended not to see him until he was standing at the edge of our table, shaking hands with Charlie. At this point, I knew I had no choice but to be polite, so I stood and offered my hand to Mr. Black.

“Hello, Mr. Black.”

Without shaking my hand, he curtly said, “Bella.”

“How are you, Mr. Black?” I asked, lowering my hand. I was trying my hardest to be polite to this man, but he was making it unbearably difficult.

“I'm fine, thank you. I assume you're moving back to town?” He asked.

Before I even had time to think about maintaining a polite expression, my eyebrows knit together into a sharp frown.

“Why would you think that?” I asked sharply.

“Well, I can only assume that, after all these years, my son has finally seen around you. You were always there, blinding him to other girls. Even when he did date, you had to weasel yourself in the picture. You couldn’t leave him alone long enough to find happiness! It was only a matter of time before he met someone that would finally shove you out of his life. Why else would you be back here instead of out there with him?” He said condescendingly.

As I was listening to his insulting tirade, I could feel the blood rising to my face in anger. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but it seemed the longer I kept my mouth shut, the more insulting his words became. Reflexively, I looked to Charlie. The part of me that desired a relationship with my father, the part that was still hurt that he never tried to understand me, hoped that he would defend me against this attack.

“Now, Billy, now is not the time or place for this,” Charlie started.

Ignoring him, Billy continued, “I can only hope that Jacob raised his standards. He could get such a nice girl. One that wouldn’t tear my family apart…one that could support his decisions instead of dragging him—“

“It's not my fault!” I screamed. “I never asked Jacob to go with me to Seattle! I didn't tell him to leave Forks! He is not my boyfriend, he never has been, and he never will be! As for me not being a nice girl, that's your opinion to have, but I would appreciate it if you kept that to yourself. Jacob loves his job in Seattle, and he is happy there. And NO- I will never move back to Forks.”

My face was now burning in anger, made worse by the adrenaline rush from yelling. I grabbed my purse and rushed out of the diner and into the cool night air. The cool breeze seemed to help me, blowing away my frustration and cooling my anger. I leaned against the side of my car, feeling too unstable to drive right away.

I glanced up when I heard quick footsteps coming towards me.

“Isabella Marie Swan!” Charlie began in a voice that I recognized as the voice that meant I was in trouble. “How dare you speak to someone like that! Especially someone who is your best friend's father and my friend! If you can't respect him at least respect me enough not to do that!”

Feeling my anger flare up again, I said, “Are you serious, Charlie? Were you even in the same room as I was? Did you not hear your friend call your daughter a whore who tore apart his family?!”

Seething, Charlie met my eyes. “I was going to defend you. Did you not hear that? Or were you so caught up in your own world that you couldn’t notice anyone else?”

“Defend me?! Is that what you call your half assed attempt at interrupting Billy’s rant? So, tell me, Dad, when is the right time and place for someone to blatantly insult your daughter? You tell me to respect you…tell me, is this how you respect me?”

Before he could respond, I got in my car and drove away, ignoring the traitor tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t even survive one day in Forks, how was I supposed to last a week?

I felt like I was fifteen again, getting yelled at in Charlie's house. I definitely wasn't going to apologize to anyone. I felt like I said exactly what needed to be said. In fact, I had been waiting a long time to say exactly that.

With a deep breath, I tried to regain my composure so I could focus on driving back to the hotel. I couldn't wait to go to bed and relax in unconsciousness for a few hours.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

I awoke with a start in the middle of the night, my back and neck loudly protesting the movement. Groaning, I rolled over to see my cell phone vibrating on the table beside my bed.

I picked it up and squinted at the caller ID on the screen.

It read “Jacob calling...” Why would Jacob be calling me in the middle of the night? With that question, I remembered that, in all the excitement of the day, I had forgotten to call Jacob.

“Oh shit!” I cried, sitting straight up in bed and answering my phone.

“So you are alive!” Jacob exclaimed.

“I'm sorry-” I started to explain, but he cut me off.

“It's fine, Bella. Really. I only thought you were dead,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “It has only been 23 hours since I asked you to call me when you got there, so it’s perfectly understandable.”

He was about to keep going in his little tirade against me, but I stopped him.

“Jacob, I know you asked me to call you when I got here, but I got really busy!” I exclaimed. “And that's still no reason for you to call me in the middle of the night to yell at me about it!”

He paused for a beat. “The middle of the night?” He asked. “It's nine in the morning, Bella.”

I groaned loudly in frustration as I glared at the clock and Jacob started laughing.

“Stupid hotel room bed,” I moaned. “I feel like I've only been asleep for an hour. And my back hurts! And I have a stupid crick in my neck!”

“Still no Hilton in Forks, huh?” He asked with a laugh.

“Not even close,” I mumbled into my pillow.

“So what’s on the agenda for today?” Jacob asked.

“I'm meeting Charlie and a few guys from the police station at ten to go up to the woods where the bodies were found. It'll be a good chance to look around,” I said.

“Um, Bella?” He started hesitantly. “It's after nine.”

Glancing at the clock, I realized that I had a total of 48 minutes to get ready and get to the police station. On some level, I was glad that we didn’t have time for a conversation about my day yesterday—I really didn’t want to rehash the confrontation with our fathers.

“Ugh, I've gotta go,” I said. “This is not a good start to my day!”

He laughed. “I'd say call me later, but I know you would forget.”

“Ha-ha,” I pretended to laugh at his joke. “I'll talk to you later.”

Hanging up the phone, I drug myself out of bed. I stood in front of the mirror and tried to pop my neck, but that made it only hurt worse. Frustrated, I got dressed carefully and made sure my hair wasn't too out of place, put on a little bit of makeup and hurried out the door.

I arrived at the police station at ten, but I just got out and stood next to my car, silently refusing to go in the building. Several officers were standing around in the parking lot looking over some paperwork. I assumed they were going up to the forest with us, but I didn't join them to ask. At that point, all I cared about was getting this story over with and getting out of this town.

Charlie came out a few minutes later. I refused to make eye contact with him, but he came over to where I was standing anyway.

“Do you want to ride with me in the cruiser?” He asked.

I wanted to snort in ridicule of his offer, but I decided to control myself. “No.” That’s all I need, I thought, an awkwardly silent car ride to start my day.

“Fine,” he said gruffly. “We're headed up the highway, but then the roads get tricky. Stick close to the group and you'll get there fine.”

I nodded and got back in my car to wait for everyone else to be ready. The group going to the site consisted of four officers, Charlie, and I. Charlie and the officers seemed to stand around forever before they finally climbed into their cars and started off down the road.

I tried listening to quiet, soothing music to calm my nerves, but it seemed like the more I tried to relax, the more I started tapping my foot, clicking my fingernails together, or beating my fingers on the steering wheel. Soothing my frazzled nerves just wasn’t on the agenda for today.

Finally, we were driving down the curvy roads through the forest. I was driving right behind Charlie, who kept glancing in his rear view mirror at me. I rolled my eyes every time I caught him doing it- as much as we disliked each other, he would never stop being overprotective of my physical being. My emotional being, on the other hand, was a completely different matter.

We finally pulled up into a small dirt parking lot in front of a small hiking trail labeled “Forest Creek Trail.” Everyone got out of their cars and congregated around the beginning of the trail.

“It’s about a half hour hike up the trail- is that alright?” Charlie asked me.

I nodded without even looking at him.

We started down the trail, and I was immediately thankful that I had worn comfortable shoes. The trail was covered with roots, sticks, and rocks; I had to keep my eyes glued to the ground in front of me to keep from tripping. Lost in concentration, I had no idea where we were until Charlie started barking out orders to the other officers.

“Bella- stay where I can see you,” he demanded.

I shot him a sharp look that was meant to say “you wish.” I was a reporter trying to track down a story- I wasn't about to stay within sight of my father like a toddler.

I glanced around the officers, hoping to find someone I could ask questions instead of having to ask Charlie, but I didn't know any of them. Because I was still far too angry to speak to Charlie, I followed two officers at a distance, learning my information from their conversation.

The officers walked further up the hill we were on, stopping every few feet to look down at the ground and shake their heads. After a few minutes of following and listening, I learned that there was some argument over what had killed the two victims. My information had said that the cause of death was uncertain, but none elaborated as to the different possibilities. One of the officers I was following believed it to be an animal attack and the other believed it to be a murder/suicide. I listened intently to their conversation.

“Did you see them, Rodney?"

“See what, the bodies? Yeah, man, I saw them. Twelve years on the force and I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I know some people are saying that this is a clear cut murder/suicide case. I just don’t think that it is, Steve.”

“Oh come on, man. What else could it be? A man and a woman are found, alone, in the middle of nowhere. The medical examiner’s report said that both of them had some serious bruising, so they must’ve gotten into a fight,” Steve stated.

“I’m telling you, man, you didn’t see these bruises. They were both covered in bruises. Strange thing was, these bruises are similar—the bruises almost looked like matching patterns.”

“Coincidence."

“And what about the cuts? Some of these marks look like something just ripped into them and others are a perfect crescent shape. How do you explain that with your murder/suicide theory?” Rodney countered.

“Simple. During their spat, they each picked up something to use as a weapon—a rock, a sharp stick, anything. The crescent cuts are carvings—torture, perhaps. After the first person died, the other couldn’t live with the guilt so they killed themselves. Though, from the sound of things, that didn’t take much.”

“I don’t know, Steve. First, we never found anything that looked like it had been used as a weapon. Second, I just don’t know how people could do those things to each other—maybe I could believe one person doing that and then shooting themselves, but they had matching wounds! Not to mention broken bones! For your theory to be plausible, someone would’ve had to inflict that kind of damage with broken bones. Murder/suicide just doesn’t fit what I saw. Truth be told, I think it was some sort of animal attack.”

“Animal attack?! Come on, man, you have more sense than that! What kind of animal makes those kinds of marks? And are you forgetting the scene? There was almost no blood! I may not know a whole lot, but I know that animals aren’t exactly neat about the way they attack people. And besides, for your theory to be plausible, one victim would’ve just had to stand back and watch the other be killed. ”

“I don’t know. Things just aren’t adding up.”

With that, Steve and Rodney moved behind a large boulder which muffled their voices so that I could barely hear them. I knew I couldn't go around the rock or else they would see me following them. Not wanting to alert them to my presence, I decided to climb up the rock to get within range of their voices, but stay on the side where I could listen undetected.

The rock was still slick from morning dew under the canopy of trees, so I had a hard time getting a good hold on the surface in order to climb. I finally found a good hold in a crevice of the rock and used that to pull myself up, trying to avoid the slippery moss that covered the rock. I sat on the edge of the rock, trying to hear what they were talking about on the other side. I heard Steve ask Rodney for a cigarette and the two agreed to sit down. After they sat down, I couldn't hear their words as well. The rock allowed for me to move up a little more before I would be visible to anyone on the other side, so I decided to climb a little more. Reaching up, I found another good hold for my hand. When I moved my right foot, I forgot to watch for the moss. The rock where my foot landed was covered by the slick substance, which quickly gave way under my foot, causing me to lose my balance and fall from the rock.

My brain registered that I had hit my head before I was overcome by blackness.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

I awoke with a start to feel something cold on the side of my face.

“No, no, hold still,” a deep, soft voice said from beside me. “You hit the back of your head when you fell. The bleeding stopped but you need to hold still so it doesn't start again.”

I tried to open my eyes, but they felt heavy, so I just let kept them closed.

“Where am I?” I asked groggily.

“You're in the forest—just off Forest Creek Trail. I found you about 20 minutes ago,” the voice replied.

I gasped in realization of my situation. Forgetting my head, I sat up quickly, looking for Charlie and the other police officers. Turning my head toward the voice, I asked, “Where are—“ but I forgot my question. Sitting next to me, on the forest floor, was the most ridiculously handsome man I had ever seen. He was looking at me curiously with eyes of sparkling honey. Upon further inspection, I realized that his beautiful eyes were framed with dark, sooty lashes accentuated by thick brows and sculpted cheekbones. His bronze hair was ruffled by the wind, but still had the appearance of being flawlessly styled. His squared jaw made his face seem more rugged. He wasn’t just handsome…he was perfect.

It did not escape my notice that, for some reason, this perfect stranger was shirtless. His pale skin was stretched taut over his lean, but muscular body. More than solid, this man was sculpted. It was as if he had been created from marble, rather than born from flesh. Looking back into this man’s eyes, I felt my last shred of composure slip away. I was trying to keep my eyes on his, rather than on his naked torso, to remember how to use my voice, and to keep my jaw from dropping in utter astonishment; I quickly felt myself slipping back into unconsciousness with the effort.