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Chasing the Storm

Summary:
AU - What if Alice had seen Bella jump... but Bella answered the phone when Edward called? What if Alice saw a vision of Bella happy... but it wasn't with Edward? What if Edward returned to Forks, with every intention to check on Bella and leave... but when he sees her with someone else, his motives change? How do you choose between the person who was there to catch you when you fell… and the person who was there to make the jump with you in the first place? He let go of my arm, but kept staring at me, and I stared back up at him, eyes wide. "If you're going to let him go, then let him go." --Chapter 12 now posted!


Notes:


1. Prologue/Chapter 1 - Broken Promises

Rating 4/5   Word Count 1948   Review this Chapter

Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle, and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild. Because after disaster strikes, the important thing is that you move on.

But if you're like me, you just keep chasing the storm.

Decisions. One word. One tiny word, but yet it’s full of so many things, holds so many secrets, so many dangerous “what ifs.”

It’s impossible to know what would have happened if I hadn’t made the choices I’d made. What if I had gone running and screaming when Edward told me what he was that day eight months ago? What if I’d run after him the day he left me, begging him not to leave?

Or – and this is the “what if” that has crossed my mind the most often as of late – what if I’d never come to Forks at all?

So many questions, but none of them have answers.

Edward once told me that what Alice sees isn’t set in stone – that the future can change if the person she sees changes the decisions they make. Their future – the possibility of tragedy – hinges on that decision.

Clearly, I’ve been thinking too hard about this, but can you blame me? The decision I’m about to make could either make me or break me, and considering my magnetism for danger, the stakes are high on break me.

But I don’t have a choice. In fact, the way I see it, that’s the problem – I have to make a choice.

Oh. Things were so much easier when I just had to choose between becoming a vampire or staying a human. This…this just hurts.

How do you choose between the person who was there to catch you when you fell… and the person who was there to make the jump with you in the first place?

---

We stared at each other for a long moment. His hand smoldered against my skin. In my face, I knew there was nothing but wistful sadness—I didn't want to have to say goodbye now, no matter for how short a time. At first his face reflected mine, but then, as neither of us looked away, his expression changed. He released me, lifting his other hand to brush his fingertips along my cheek, trailing them down to my jaw. I could feel his fingers tremble—not with anger this time.

He pressed his palm against my cheek, so that my face was trapped between his burning hands.

"Bella," he whispered.
I was frozen.

No! I hadn't made this decision yet. I didn't know if I could do this, and now I was out of time to think. But I would have been a fool if I thought rejecting him now would have no consequences.

I stared back at him. He was not my Jacob, but he could be. His face was familiar and beloved. In so many real ways, I did love him. He was my comfort, my safe harbor. Right now, I could choose to have him belong to me. Alice was back for the moment, but that changed nothing.

True love was forever lost. The prince was never coming back to kiss me awake from my enchanted sleep. I was not a princess, after all. So what was the fairy-tale protocol for other kisses? The mundane kind that didn't break any spells?
Maybe it would be easy—like holding his hand or having his arms around me. Maybe it would feel nice. Maybe it wouldn't feel like a betrayal. Besides, who was I betraying, anyway? Just myself.

Keeping his eyes on mine, Jacob began to bend his face toward me. And I was still absolutely undecided.
The shrill ring of the phone made us both jump, but it did not break his focus. He took his hand from under my chin and reached over me to grab the receiver, but still held my face securely with the hand against my cheek. His dark eyes did not free mine. I was too muddled to react, even to take advantage of the distraction. "Swan residence," Jacob said, his husky voice low and intense.

I took the time that Jacob spent waiting for a response from whoever was on the other line to get myself together, but as it turned out, I didn’t need the time at all. Jacob’s hand dropped from my face, and his brows knitted together. “Hello?” He said, staring at the receiver. He shrugged. “There’s no one there.”

I held out my hand for the phone. As he handed it to me, he stiffened suddenly, his eyes glaring behind me, eyes narrowed into slits. Alice had walked into the room, or at least was to close for his comfort. I would have bet all of the Cullen’s money on it.

“Hello?” I said into the phone. Nothing but silence on the other end. I was already frustrated and not in the mood for tricks, so I had no problem being rude with the stranger playing games. “Listen, whoever you are, I’m hanging up now.”

It might have been my imagination. It might have been the stress of the day catching up with me. It could have been any combination of things. But I could have sworn that as I hung up, whoever was on the other line very quietly breathed my name. They sounded relieved.

I stared at the receiver in my hand for a moment before setting the phone back down on it’s cradle.

“Who was that?” Jacob asked, a bit more irritated than he had a right to be, in my opinion. His eyes never stopped looking over my shoulder at Alice.

I shrugged. “Wrong number, I guess.” Something in my gut told me that it hadn’t been a prank call or wrong number, but I didn’t tell Jacob or Alice what I thought I’d heard. They probably would have thought I was crazy.

Jacob rolled his eyes. “Figures.” Then, he glanced back at Alice and his posture, which had relaxed only slightly in the past few seconds tensed up again. His hands balled into fists and he looked ready to spring as he asked, “Why are you looking at her like that?”

I looked back at Alice. She was looking at me with something between disappointment, shock, and just the smallest bit of hope in her eyes. Having seen Alice in the midst of a vision before, I knew exactly what was going on, but I could make nothing of her expressions, or why they were directed solely at me.

I held my breath as Alice suddenly closed her eyes and shook her head.

“Alice,” I said quietly, my voice now sounding just the slightest bit worried, “What did you see?”

When Alice opened her eyes, the look she gave was only for me. It was like Jacob wasn’t even in the room, no matter how angry he was with the situation. She startled me when she stepped toward me and said, “Oh, Bella.” Her voice held some emotion I couldn’t identify, and I was sure she’d done that on purpose.

“What is it?” Now I was frightened. “Is it Charlie? Oh God, is it Edward?” My voice was panicked and I hurried through the next sentence. “Does he think I’m dead?”

“No, no, Bella.” Alice grabbed my arms in a vice grip. I could actually feel Jacob tense even harder next to me. He was shaking with the force of his anger.

“Bella – “ he said, teeth clenched tight. I ignored him, my focus solely on Alice and her deep gold and black eyes, wondering what she had seen.

Then, she shocked me for the second time in as many days. Letting go of my arms for just a moment, she hugged me. I was so surprised, it took me a few moments to put my own arms around her. I didn’t understand her sudden emotional state – until she started whispering in my ear.

“Listen to me, Bella,” she said quietly, so quietly I was sure Jacob couldn’t hear, especially since I barely could, and her lips were almost pressed against my ear. “I – I have to leave.” I automatically stiffened in her arms. “I can’t tell you why,” she continued, “I can’t even tell you what I’ve seen, because even I’m not completely sure.”

“But – “ That didn’t make any sense at all to me. How could Alice not completely know what she’d seen?

“Shh,” she shushed me, and I shut my mouth at once. “Don’t interrupt.”

The sound of the front door slamming made me jump practically out of my skin.

“Hmph,” Alice grumbled turning towards the door. She spoke louder now that we were without an audience. “This is why you shouldn’t be around young werewolves – no control.” I was sure, in that instant, that Jacob had left because he’d had to transform. I was also sure that he was still nearby.

Alice turned her attention back to me. “Listen to me, Bella, and pay close attention to what I’m telling you.” Her eyes were so intense, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I took in every word she said as if they were the whole truth, and nothing but.

“Don’t make any promises that you aren’t sure you can keep. And,” she pulled away slightly so she could look into my eyes. She gazed at me for a moment. “Oh – oh, it’s still not clear, but I think it makes sense to me now.” Her voice was sad as she whispered, “Your decisions will make you or break you.”

You saw me fall.

No, I saw you jump.

Our conversation from the previous day echoed in my mind, and I wasn’t sure why. I was so stunned by her words now that I could do nothing, say nothing as she kissed me on the cheek. I didn’t even realize that had been her farewell until I’d shaken myself out of my stupor enough to realize that the room was empty of everyone but me.

“Alice,” I said, my voice taking on a panicked lilt. I ran to the front of the house, my hope dimming. I was sure I wouldn’t find her car in the driveway, but I had to be sure.

“Alice!” I yelled as I threw open the door.

There was no response but the wind.

“Alice,” I whispered. I could feel the hole inside of me begin to fray at the edges and I gasped, grasping at my stomach with both hands. I stood leaning against the doorway taking deep, calming breaths. I let the cool air wash over me and fought back the urge to cry with every fiber of my being. I refused to let a single stray tear escape.

You knew this would happen, I thought to myself. You knew at some point, she was going to have to leave.

I continued to focus on my breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Eventually, I was able to bring myself, albeit shakily, inside. My legs could barely support me and I collapsed on the couch.

The sight of the sheets and the pillows still set up did little for my self control, but I was so worn out that I could barely keep my eyes open anymore.

I curled up in a ball and hoped for only one thing as I fell asleep – that there would be no dreams.