Leaving Behind the Rain
AU - Renee hates Forks. She takes her baby and leaves. This is the story of what Bella's teenage years would have been like if Charlie had followed them.
Disclaimer: This is fan fiction.
7. Chapter 6
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2477 Review this Chapter
By the end of October Bella had become complacent on the subject of vampires. Alice was disarmingly pleasant, and they spoke regularly. She was constantly aware of the color of the girl’s eyes, and she tended to hold long conversations only on days when her eyes were very light in color. When Alice’s eyes were black, Bella simply said hello, and went on about her business. She had found that if any of them had dark eyes, it made her uneasy. In retrospect, that had probably been a dead give away that she knew something was different about them.
She would defend herself to Uncle Billy later by saying that she was busy thinking about her birthday, and schoolwork, and Mike, and taking her driver’s test, and all the various other things that made up her daily life. But the truth was, she’d just sort of grown used to the idea that she went to school with five beautiful, mostly anti-social vampires. Also, she was a very bad liar.
The first person to confront her wasn’t Alice, as one might expect. Instead, it was Edward Cullen. He waited until she was on her way to the ancient truck her father had just purchased for her, and he chose a day when Mike was home sick in bed.
“Bella Swan?” he asked, sounding hesitant, though she doubted very much that he was. She turned, shifting her bag onto her other shoulder. The amount of homework they were already being given was excessive. Midterms were still nearly two months away, and they were all feeling put out by the workload. Well, almost everyone. She didn’t suppose the vampires much minded. Alice had been just as cheerful as usual, earlier in the day.
“Hi,” he began, holding out his hand for her to shake. “We didn’t get a chance to really be introduced before the school year started. I’m Edward Cullen.”
“Nice to meet you, Edward,” she replied, trying not to be nervous. His eyes were so dark, and when she shook his chilled hand, he held onto her for an instant too long. He seemed tense, and that made HER tense, which probably only made him think he was more justified for what he was about to say.
“I wonder if you might have a moment? I wanted to ask you about something important.”
Bella blinked. For an instant there’d been that dazed sensation she’d first experienced with Carlisle. She was brought out of it as soon as her mind managed to register what he’d said. “I – Honestly, I need to get to the Newton’s to take Mike his homework. Maybe we can talk another time,” she said, all in a rush.
Edward’s dazzling smile faltered only slightly, but his warm tone chilled a bit. Bella got a sinking feeling in her stomach. She glanced around nervously as he replied. “I think we really ought to discuss it now. Why don’t we take a walk?”
Bella tried for an indifferent sort of shrug but only managed to remind herself that her bag was too heavy. “Let me put this in the truck,” she said resignedly. She almost expected him to prevent her when she turned away to stow the bag in her vehicle, but he didn’t. He simply followed, half a step behind.
When she’d closed the door, not bothering to lock her bag inside (after all, she wouldn’t really be upset if someone stole all that homework), she followed him in the direction of the picnic tables that rested on the far side of the school property, behind the gym.
The picnic tables were wet from an earlier rain, and Bella grimaced as she sat, feeling the water soak into her jeans. Edward showed no sign that he even noticed. His eyes were on her, even as he swung a leg casually over the bench and sat down opposite her. She was starting to realize that his eyes were always on her. In the lunchroom it was unnerving, but out here alone it made her downright nervous.
She met his gaze just long enough to verify the color of his eyes, and then looked away. She completely missed the knowing look that crossed his face in response.
“I wanted to ask you about something you said to Alice while I was still in Alaska,” he began carefully. He paused, but Bella only looked at him expectantly. She was fairly certain she was rumbled, but she wasn’t going to make it easy for him. “You mentioned bag lunches,” he prompted, “but you never bring your lunch.”
Bella debated. She could say that the school food had improved, and he might believe her. He obviously had no way of knowing, since she was certain that not a single bite of school food had passed his lips. But in the end, her curiosity got the better of her. “I wonder why Alice sent you to ask, instead of asking me herself?” she mused aloud, keeping her eyes carefully turned away from his.
“I don’t think she’s noticed,” Edward replied. Bella was fairly certain he was lying, though there was no nervousness in his tone to give him away. Her occasional conversations with Alice had taught her that the tiny vampire noticed everything. They probably ALL noticed everything.
“But you did,” she stated. “I’m surprised you didn’t also notice how much better the food has been lately.”
“The food is exactly the same as it’s always been,” Edward contradicted impatiently. Bella tried not to grimace. She knew she wasn’t a very convincing liar.
“Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it,” she suggested evenly. But his tone had irritated her, and she couldn’t help but add, “I imagine a person can get used to almost any outrageous sort of diet.”
When she realized what she’d said, it was all Bella could do not to clap her hand over her mouth. She did, however, look up to gauge his reaction with wide eyes. If he hadn’t been sure that she knew his secret when the conversation began, he certainly knew it now.
She rather expected him to look angry, but she was amazed to find him staring at her – tense, but sporting a breathtaking, lopsided smile. For several long instants she forgot to breathe. The dizzy feeling Carlisle’s gaze had inspired was nothing compared to her state at that moment.
Dazzled by the supernatural. The phrase whispered through her mind and snapped her out of her daze. To her surprise, Edward appeared just as off balance as she, for a fraction of a second.
“I suppose that’s so,” he replied, his face falling into a more serious expression. “Why haven’t you told anyone?” he demanded in a quiet voice. He sounded more confused than angry.
Bella took her time on this answer as well. There were a lot of reasons not to tell. There was the treaty, of course, as well as the fact that her father would be furious with both her and Billy, and there was also the stigma of being associated with such a crazy-sounding theory. But those weren’t the only reasons.
She didn’t get an opportunity to decide upon an answer. Edward leaned forward. “I’m aware that the longer you think about it, the more likely it becomes that you will lie,” he warned.
“I’m just deciding which reason is the most important,” she snapped, exasperated.
“Tell me all of them.”
Bella looked at him again, this time trying to appraise his trustworthiness. “I don’t want you to hurt the Quileutes, for one thing. I keep quiet to uphold the treaty.”
Edward’s eyes narrowed at this confirmation that the Quileutes had broken the treaty by telling her. Until that point, she supposed he couldn’t have known whether she’d been told, or just worked it out on her own. She felt a surge of panic when she realized her mistake. “You won’t, will you? It was only me they told and only because we’re like family and they didn’t want me walking into a dangerous situation without knowing!”
Since Edward made no further sign that he was listening, Bella’s worry increased. “Please. They were just trying to protect me, they –“
“Bella!” he interrupted her finally, and she fell abruptly silent, biting her lip, afraid for the first time since Billy had explained the situation before the school year began.
“We will not attack the Quileutes. Once we realized that you knew us for what we were, Carlisle decided just to watch you to be sure you were trustworthy before making any decision about the pack. You haven’t told anyone. They are in no danger from us.”
Bella exhaled a relieved sigh and looked down at the table to hide her blush. She felt embarrassed for her fearfulness, and her cheeks felt hot. It wasn’t like her to get worked up, but she worried a lot about her friends on the res. Especially Uncle Billy, who couldn’t exactly defend himself anymore.
“Before you give me the rest of your reasons, will you answer another question for me?” Edward asked, his voice suddenly much gentler. Bella nodded, but didn’t look up. “You’ve been afraid we’d retaliate against the wolves for breaking the treaty. Did it never occur to you that we might just have eliminated you?”
Bella raised her eyes slowly, wary. “That thought also crossed my mind. I knew it was a possibility, if you ever discovered that I knew,” she whispered.
“You all but begged me to spare the Quileutes. Don’t you have anything to ask with regards to yourself?”
If Bella had been less offended by this statement, she might have noticed how awe tinged his voice. “You’d like me to beg for my life?!” she demanded angrily, standing. Edward’s arm shot out and grasped her wrist, pulling her forcibly back down onto the bench with no more effort than if he’d caught a falling leaf out of the air and placed it on the table.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I was simply surprised by your selflessness. And do keep your voice down,” he added sternly. Bella pursed her lips and waited, stoic, until it occurred to him to release her wrist, which she quickly hid beneath the table, massaging it gently.
“You had other reasons,” he reminded her.
“The men in white coats would drag me away if I told anyone,” she said quietly. She could feel his eyes on her face, studying her as he often did in the cafeteria. She wondered what he learned from it.
“And it’s possible you’ve just shot holes in the last one,” she returned. She looked up sharply, her anger breaking through to the surface again.
“Please?” he whispered, staring into her eyes.
“I’m – impressed by the way you choose to live,” she stuttered out, wishing she hadn’t looked at him, but unable to look away. For once, as she stared his eyes grew lighter in color rather than darker. “Your family respects my right to live, and so I respect yours.”
Edward didn’t seem to have a response for this. He just continued to look into her eyes, making her feel less and less comfortable with every moment. Something about the way her mind reeled and her stomach fluttered made her think that it was very wrong of them to look at one another that way. The thought finally allowed her to avert her eyes, and she immediately stood. “I should go. Mike will be waiting for his homework,” she mumbled, turning to leave.
Predictably, she caught her foot on the bench in her hurry to escape. She threw out her hands, and squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the burn of concrete against her palms, but it didn’t come. Instead, her fall came to a sudden stop in mid air, and she felt the chill of Edward Cullen’s arms around her waist.
She shifted her feet until she was supporting her own weight again and muttered a ‘thank you’ under her breath, but he didn’t let her go. She looked up at him, though she was already telling herself she shouldn’t.
“You aren’t the least bit afraid, are you?” he asked in a whisper, sounding more shocked than he had any right to, considering that SHE was the one who had just been impossibly rescued from a nasty fall. He didn’t give her a chance to respond. His eyes had darkened again, and she wondered suddenly if her tendency to blush so hotly was making him uncomfortable. But he seemed perfectly in control as he lowered his lips to gently graze hers. Bella’s hands fisted at her sides, and she forced herself to at least remain still, since she didn’t seem to have the will to pull away.
This was nothing like kissing Mike. The air of restraint was stifling, and she could almost feel how hard he had to work to be this close to her. Mike’s kisses were never that way. In fact, in the month since he’d first kissed her, they’d only become more urgent. And yet she could recognize the beginnings of the same emotions in this brief kiss. She was relieved when Edward straightened up, and immediately took a step backwards, releasing her.
She stared at him for a long moment, breathing much harder than such a brief kiss should have warranted. “I wish you hadn’t done that,” she whispered finally. Then she ran for her truck, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t follow her. But she was sure he would, and she was right.
“Wait. Wait, please?”
The worried tone of his voice was the only thing that kept her from slamming her door closed and starting the loud engine as soon as she sat down. Well, that, and the fact that she’d sat on her over-stuffed book bag, and it took her a few precious seconds to wrestle the thing into the passenger seat.
To her surprise, though, Edward didn’t say anything about the kiss. He just snagged her cell phone out of her coat pocket and dialed something with blurring fingers. “In case you ever meet someone who DOES frighten you,” he said quietly.
Bella swallowed hard. “You know I’ll never call,” she replied, because no matter what he said was the reason, she knew exactly why he was programming his number into her phone. She barely registered the fact that he'd finished doing it in almost the same instant that he'd began.
“Even if it’s forty years from now, if you ever need –“
Bella took the phone from his outstretched hand and then pulled the door closed, forcing him back a step and effectively cutting off the rest of his sentence. Then she backed hurriedly out of her space and took off through the empty parking lot as quickly as her ancient truck could go.