It has been 17 years since Isabella Swan's death, and young Adora has moved to Forks igniting gossip everywhere she turns. As Adora slowly unravels the clues that lead her down a path riddled with even more questions, she begins to realize that it seems to be more than coincidence, drawing her farther away from the life she knows, and into a world, she does not understand. The closer she gets to the truth, the more her own destiny becomes irrevocably entwined with the girl that haunts the small town. She wonders why everything that's happening revolves around the mysterious Edward Cullen, and why he seems to hold the key to the answers she's spent a lifetime searching for.
I consider this story to be pretty much the unofficial 5th installment of the Twilight Series, it takes place after Breaking Dawn, it is 100% canon, which means that it does NOT deviate from the storyline of the books, although in the first few chapters it doesn't seem like it is anything close to being like the original Twilight series, but trust me, it is.
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I heard a murmur of voices, muffled and vague, and could smell the scent of pine and salt in the air. There was something tugging at the edge of my consciousness, the feel of grass beneath my fingers, the sound of waves crashing against the shore, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't focus on the voices enough to make sense of the conversation.
"Most people would have been too scared to move." The voice sounded familiar, a young man's voice, too young to be Kevin, Connor or Dan. I tried to open my eyes but another smell caught my attention, a rusted copper scent and the spinning in my head began anew, the light through my closed lids making me nauseous.
"She's not most people, Luke." This voice, I didn't recognize. It was distinctly feminine, slightly more mature than the boy's, and there was a strange tone to the words, almost reverent, as if she took pride in that fact. I mulled over this information—feeling her hover slightly over me—I couldn't bring myself to feel irritated by the fact that these strangers already knew who I was. I tried to remember the name Luke from when my mother and I had toured Fork's but no memory surfaced from a meeting.
Luke's sudden boom of laughter interrupted my train of though. "You're right. Most people don't have such bad luck. I'm not sure she actually knows how to use her legs correctly." I wanted to frown at the remark but the muscles in my jaw were clenched as tight as they could in case my stomach decided to expel its contents. The young woman obviously didn't think his statement was as funny as he did I gathered from the resounding silence.
I heard my name being called from far off and someone close to me shifted their stance, sending a quick rush of air to wash over me, stirring the smell back up to waft into my nostrils. Realization hit me, and the light that made the thin membrane of skin over my eyes look red, began spinning rapidly like a kaleidoscope. The smell of salt and rust was blood. One thought of the crimson liquid and my stomach began to twist sickeningly. I was really going to vomit soon if I didn't get some fresh air.
"Just make sure her and her friends get home safe, okay?" There was an edge of tension to her voice. He must have nodded because he didn't respond out loud. "And help them find their Frisbee." There was amusement in her voice this time and I suddenly wondered if they'd both been watching me. "Preferably, without another run-in with any of the local wildlife," She added. "You got me?" The double meaning in her voice was obvious, even to me.
I recognized Izzy calling my name, I wanted to open my eyes, sit up, and call out to her, but that would more than likely mean that I would end up wearing what I'd eaten for breakfast.
"I'm not a ten-year-old," Luke replied tersely.
"Luke." Her voice softened, but her tone implied the use of caution.
There was a long pause as if he was waiting on something.
"Sure, sure. I got it," He acknowledged with a sigh, and his choice of words gave me that strangely familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach again. Then again…it could just be because of the whole feeling-like-I-was-going-to-be-sick thing.
I felt a quick gust of air beside me then there was a sudden silence, and I could clearly make out the sound of Dan's voice as he continued yelling my name, obnoxiously trying to be louder than Izzy. They were still a good distance away. I realized my returning ability to focus was due to the fact that, wherever the smell had been coming from, it was gone now. I let out a relieved groan when I no longer had to fight against bouts of queasiness, my muscles uncoiled, and my stomach finally settled. I was fairly confident that I could finally be introduced to the strangers discussing me without embarrassing myself.
"Oh good, you're alive." A soft chuckle made my eyes pop wide involuntarily, squinting against the shock of brightness. I propped myself up onto my elbows until my eyes adjusted enough to make out his face.
"Thanks to you," I murmured, eyeing him carefully. It was the boy from the woods, his childlike features, staring humorously down at me. As a cloud rolled across the sun I was able to wash my gaze fully over him. I noticed his tanned skin wasn't just tan but brown in fact, and his features hinted to his Native American heritage. He must have been one of the kids from the reservation I gathered as I met his eyes. His black hair touched the collar of his t-shirt and stuck out in odd directions around the oval shape of his face.
He grinned and offered me his hand. "I couldn't leave you there to be bear food could I?" I glared at him playfully as I reached to put my hand in his outstretched palm, getting to my feet, before slightly losing my balance. "Careful," He warned with a good natured chuckle as he reached out to steady me. "It would be pretty sad if all it takes is gravity to finish what that bear started."
I huffed and stepped away slowly. He was my height, and so lanky that his khaki shorts looked as if there were about ready to fall off his narrow hips. He couldn't have been older than fifteen I surmised.
Scanning my surroundings suspiciously, I noticed that we were alone. "Where's your friend?"
He frowned. "What friend?"
I blinked in confusion. "The girl you were talking to."
"I don't know who you're talking about but there's nobody here but me and you." He shrugged flippantly. I furrowed my brows.
"But I heard her," I spluttered.
"I don't know what you heard, but it wasn't a girl. I was talking to you, trying to get you to wake up, but that's about it," He claimed dully. Ok, now I was getting slightly pissed off.
"No, you were both talking about—" I stopped speaking abruptly when I realized I'd honestly had no clue what they'd really been discussing.
He raised a dubious brow and crossed his arms. He was so young the posture seemed out of place. "Yes?" He goaded.
"I am not crazy." I snapped. "I know what I heard." Didn't I?
He raised his palms in defense. "I'm not saying you're crazy," He admitted. "But I'm pretty sure that the shock and the nerves are getting to you. After all, you were almost mauled by a bear just now," He reminded me.
As if I could forget.
"They usually don't pass through this close to the reservation, you're lucky I heard you scream." He looked slightly smug as he said it.
Strange, I didn't remember screaming.
I blushed furiously but his previous words made my eyes narrow. "I thought you said most people don't have such bad luck," I stated accusingly.
His eyes tightened slightly as they met mine head on, before the corners of his lips twitched slightly revealing a knowing smile.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
He was mocking me now. Jerk.
"But it is true," He amended. "Most people don't have as much bad luck as you do." He grinned widely. "First, there was that ridiculous excuse for a proper Frisbee toss," He teased. "Then you managed the rare feat of crossing paths with a bear in this neck of the woods." He was counting each action on his fingers now. "Somehow you got yourself all twisted up in those roots back there." He threw a thumb over his shoulder motioning towards the woods at his back. "And then you go and pass out on me when I try to rescue you." He had four fingers extended now. "So yeah, bad luck galore."
I was sure my whole face was red because I could feel the heat coming off my cheeks in waves. "Don't forget hearing imaginary voices." I added derisively. He had the audacity to laugh at the insinuation. I glared at him. "So what were you doing? Stalking me?"
"I was in the area." He was being vague and I was fed up.
"Listen," I huffed, "Luke…whatever your name is, I'm not stupid, I'm not crazy, and just because you saved my life, that doesn't give you the right to treat me like I am. I know what I heard, and I don't understand why talking to that girl is something you feel like you need to lie to me about." He finally looked his age, like a kid being scolded should look. "So what, she left before I could meet her and get to know her as well as she obviously thinks she knows me, you couldn't just say that?" He actually seemed speechless, and slightly horrified. "I'm not your mom. I don't care if you talk to girls. If that's why you lied, because you think I'm going to go blabber to your parents, then you should know right now, I really don't care...at all." His face twisted into a look of confusion but then became vividly expressive as he finally understood my meaning.
"Um…yeah…it's not like that at all," He claimed. "Listen, it's a long story." He sighed nervously as a hand raked through his shaggy black hair. "Can we just drop it? You're friends are still looking for you." As if on cue, I heard my name, louder this time, coming from the forest that we'd both fled from not long before.
My stomach dropped. "Oh God!" My gasp of terror slid between my lips as I whirled to face the line of trees. "Izzy and the others are in there." I looked back at Luke with fear in my eyes. "The bear—"
"I'm pretty sure it's dead by now." He interrupted me. I stared open-mouthed at him for a few seconds as I remembered seeing the blur of something pale across my vision as the bear was knocked out of view.
"What was that thing that attacked the bear?" I asked breathily. "I only saw it for a split second."
"Don't know." He shrugged. "But it more than likely took that bear out."
"So it could still be out there, right? Hunting?" I felt the urgency in my voice nearly strangle me.
I didn't understand his nonchalant attitude. "Didn't you see how fast it moved?" He asked intently. "If it attacked humans, we wouldn't have gotten away." He made his point very clear.
I nodded, more to myself as I swallowed harshly. "Predators that fast are usually small. I don't understand what could move that quickly and still have the strength to take on a bear like that." My voice was barely a whisper. "It was too fast to be another bear." I was reasoning more to myself than to Luke.
"Adora!" Izzy's voice rang out suddenly making me turn to scan the shadows but I couldn't see anyone.
"Adora!" It was Kevin this time. Still nothing.
I looked back to Luke worriedly. "You said yourself that you didn't know what it was," I reminded him. "How can you be sure it won't attack people?"
"Quit freaking out." Luke sighed, rolling his eyes.
"That's easy for you to say," I cried furiously. "You don't have friends out there!" I pointed to the tree line.
He frowned resentfully. "I know Izzy and Connor," He said matter-of-factly.
That brought me up short. "Oh."
"They'll be fine…I promise." He winked at me suddenly before cupping his palms around his mouth like a megaphone. "Izzy! She's over here!" He called loudly.
"Luke! Is that you!" Connor's voice rang out sounding startled making me look behind me.
"Yes!" Luke called back with a laugh. I could suddenly hear the sound of rustling leaves and snapping twigs.
"Adora's with you! Is she okay!" Izzy yelled with worry lacing her voice.
"I'm fine!" I called before turning back to Luke. "We will discuss your disappearing 'friend' later," I demanded sternly. He eyes darkened as his lips mashed into a tight line, just as the sound of branches being shoved out of the way alerted us that the others were almost to the clearing.
"There you are!" Izzy's exasperation rang out loudly. I turned meeting each of their worried expressions.
"Are you okay?" Connor asked.
"Did you find the Frisbee?" Dan inquired curiously which elicited a punch in the shoulder from Kevin. "I was kidding." He whined rubbing the spot.
"We've been looking for you for over an hour!" Izzy cried.
I blinked. Had it been that long?
"We thought you'd gotten yourself lost." Kevin stated. The sincere worry in his voice made me blush furiously.
"I kind of did." I admitted sheepishly.
"No," Luke corrected me. "She did much worse than that." He explained seriously. "She almost got herself turned into bear chow." He grimaced. There were a collection of gasps and I cringed.
"How close is almost?" Izzy asked eying me suspiciously. Luke opened his mouth to say something but a quick look of warning from me and his lips pressed tightly together.
"Luke saved me—if he hadn't found me then I'd probably be fur ball food right now." I was able to make my voice even, though the memory of the bears giant paws, claws bared, poised to strike made my stomach twist.
Their eyes widened considerably as they darted from me to Luke and then back to me again.
"But you're okay, right?" Izzy swallowed.
"Obviously," I stated dryly. "I'm standing here talking to you aren't I?" She still stared at me with wide eyes. I sighed. "I'm fine Izzy. I almost twisted my ankle when it got caught in a few roots while I was running, but other than that I managed to survive fairly unscathed." I smiled wryly. That seemed to finally satisfy her.
"Well," She began, "Now we know what took you so long." She teased.
"So…you didn't find the Frisbee?" Dan spoke up. I saw the mirth in his eyes and laughed.
"Sorry, with almost being eaten by a bear and all, it sort of dropped off the top of my list of priorities. Staying alive kind of comes first, you know?" I winked at him, letting the others know we were joking.
Luke's voice suddenly called from deep in the forest startling me. "I think I saw it over here." I whirled around quickly my eyes wide with disbelief when I realized Luke was indeed nowhere to be seen.
"What the—?" My words cut off when something bright yellow came flying into the clearing to land a few feet from me. It was the Frisbee. A few seconds later Luke came jogging into view. "I didn't even see you leave." I narrowed my eyes at him.
"You just weren't paying attention." He grinned tapping my nose playfully as he jogged past me. My nose scrunched up at the contact as I glared balefully at him before I bent to snatch the Frisbee from the ground. "Seriously, if you're going to survive in Fork's you're going to have to work on paying closer attention to your surroundings." He winked at me. I fumed silently.
He probably thought he was being charming. As charming as a fifteen year old could be—I merely chalked it up to natural male cockiness. Something about his attitude irritated me. Oh, wait; maybe it was the cockiness I was referring to. It got under my skin, and not in a pleasant way. Maybe it was the way he made me feel like our ages were the opposite of what they really were— treating me as if I were merely a clumsy and childish stranger and him the responsible older one. I blushed furiously. Okay, so maybe I was the new kid in town, but this was my home now, and a random cocky boy shouldn't be able to make me feel like a complete idiot with one look.
I blinked and focused on Kevin's face. Evidently they'd been talking to me and I'd missed it entirely.
"We're going to head back over to the beach." Connor reiterated the gist of their conversation watching me.
"Oh." My eyebrows rose slightly, I turned to peer at Luke carefully and Izzy noticed my gaze.
"You're more than welcome to come with us," She offered to him with a warm smile. I pressed my mouth into a tight line to repress anything rude I might be tempted to say.
"Nah, that's okay," He chuckled eyeing me with amusement. "I've already promised that I'd go fishing with Seth and the Chief."
My head snapped up. I felt sharpness in my chest, a strange heightened awareness of the meaning to his words. A normal stranger would have assumed he meant the chief of the tribe but I knew better. It was the way he said it with warmth, as if talking about an uncle, not with reverence the way he would if it were a tribal elder.
"Chief? As in, Chief Swan?" I couldn't even try to hide the interest in my voice.
"Charlie?" He let out a surprised laugh. "Yeah, he lives here on the reservation now." I bit my bottom lip as I stared at him.
"Close by?" I probably sounded voracious.
"Uh, Adora, I don't think that's such a good idea."
I looked to Izzy with a raised eyebrow. "What?"
"Him seeing you, I mean…" Her eyes widened considerably trying to silently explain. It took me a second but the light finally clicked on.
"Hmm, maybe you're right," I mused.
"Do you know what they're talking about?" Luke whispered, trying to be cute as he leaned towards Connor.
"No clue." Connor shook his head.
We both ignored them.
"Then again, I'm bound to meet him sooner or later." I met Izzy's eyes straight on. "Might as well get it over with." I shrugged, turning away slightly.
"Hey, wait a sec," She stammered reaching out to stop me. "If you're so hell bent on making introductions, then at least call him first. Warn him." It was almost a growl and it surprised me. Her eyes suddenly softened. "He's a nice man, there's no need to give him a heart attack. I'll give you his number."
I nodded. "I can do that."
"Ugh! That's it!" The snarl of aggravation startled us.
We both turned to look at Luke.
He rolled his eyes in annoyance and looked at Connor, Kevin and Dan. "I'm sticking to Rez girls. Your pale face chicks are too bizarre to figure the hell out."
I stared at the folded slip of paper between my fingers that Izzy had given me after we'd arrived home. It had been two days and I still hadn't worked up the courage to call the numbers scratched out in black ink.
Izzy had berated me saying, "You wanted to talk to him, you practically pushed the subject until I gave in, and now you're chicken?"
I scowled at her. "It's complicated."
"How?" Her brows were furrowed.
"I don't know if I'm ready for some of the answers." I whispered with a strangled voice.
"Adora, I know this really has nothing to do with me, but honestly, you're my friend, and this whole thing has been bothering you ever since I told you about her." She lowered her voice slightly on the last part. "But you're not going to let it go until you get what you want out of all of this."
"First off, if you hadn't told me anything, I'd be much worse off than I am now, trust me." I met her eyes. "Secondly, when did her name become taboo?" I raised a quizzical brow.
She looked almost ashamed. "Mom, kind of, asked me not to mention anything to you." She bit her lip and winced. "But I'd already told you everything."
"Oh…well…not much you can do about it now." I murmured apologetically.
Her eyes flickered to my alarm clock and sighed. "I've got to go." She frowned. "Promise me you'll call." She touched the back of my hand. "Even if nothing comes from it, you'll know you at least tried." She smiled sadly. "At least you won't still be wondering 'what if'."
I focused back on the moment at hand and took a breath. My heart was pounding in my ears as the firs ring sounded in my ears. I could feel the perspiration on my forehead suddenly.
There was another ring and I felt myself tremble slightly, the knot in my stomach tightening. I was half-tempted to hang up.
The third ring began but was abruptly cut off.
I was startled by the voice on the other end—A woman's voice. "Hello?"
"Er…Chief Swan?" I felt like an idiot and mentally smacked myself in the forehead.
There was a soft chuckle from the other end. "No, this is his wife Sue. May I ask who's calling?"
"My name is Adora—Adora Swan." I cringed, wondering how well that news would be received. "I need to speak with Chief Swan if he's available." There was a pause on the other end. "Please," I pleaded. "It's important." I heard the receiver shift slightly as she covered it.
"Charlie!" She called loudly enough for me to hear. "Telephone!"
There was a soft rustling sound before she spoke in hushed quick tones.
"She says her name is Adora Swan." There was another roll of static into the receiver, until a gruff voice answered the silence.
"Chief Swan?" I asked out of courtesy. Using his former title, being a stranger to him, seemed to have caught him off guard or maybe it was the sound of my voice.
Did I sound like his daughter too?
"Er—yes, speaking." His voice jarred me slightly, as a strange wave of emotions swept me. I didn't understand them, I couldn't even decipher what they were, but the sudden feelings of the familiar, causing the ache in my chest and the burn in my eyes, caught me off guard.
"Chief Swan…" I paused composing myself. "My name is Adora Swan, I just moved here with my mom." I waited for his acknowledgement, waited to see if the gossip of my appearance had reached him yet.
"Oh, yeah, yes, Andrea's daughter." He stumbled with the recognition, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.
"My mother and I are living in your old house Chief Swan." I mentally kicked myself. What was I supposed to say to him? How was I supposed to approach this subject? "And, I uh, I had some questions about it, if you don't mind me asking them." Of course, that didn't assure me that he would answer them though.
"Uh, sure. Is there a problem with the place?" He sounded concerned.
"No, not at all. It's just that—" I took in a deep breath, it would be better to get the awkward part over with.
"Listen," I sighed, "This is going to sound really strange to you, and I know after what I'm about to tell you, you may just hang up on me, but it's about your daughter, Bella." There was a long pause, so long that if it weren't for the sound of his sudden unsteady breathing, I would have thought that he had hung up on me. "Chief Swan?" Another pause.
He cleared his throat, pausing one last time. "What about her?" His voice had gone quiet.
I prayed silently suddenly, that I was doing the right thing, and not causing this man anymore grief than he had already been through.
"I know this won't make any sense." I began. "But everyone in this town—at least everyone I've met who knew your daughter, they all look at me like—like they've seen a ghost. Mr. and Mrs. Chaney, Mr. Newton, random strangers I pass on the street." I was getting flustered. "I don't know how to say this without sounding like a total nutcase, but my room…it's Bella's old room, and ever since we moved in, I've had these strange dreams about her." It wasn't a total lie, the flashes of images were like dreams, Bella was in them…she just wasn't necessarily the focal point. "I didn't believe everyone at first, when they told me." I took a breath. "Then I saw her picture, it was linked to one of the newspaper articles about her. The one about the accident at her school." I could almost feel him flinch through the phone. "And it's true, we're identical." I stopped there, and gave him a moment to process what I had told him. There was that long silence again. "I thought maybe we just looked similar at first, but every time I see a picture of her it's like I'm looking at myself." I waited. He was still breathing, that was a good sign. "I know it doesn't make any sense, and I'm sure you don't believe me seeing as how strange this must sound—"
"I've seen a lot of strange things in my life." His voice sounded careful. "I guess nothing should surprise me anymore, but somehow you managed to say the one thing that did." He sighed heavily. "I think, I need to see this for myself."
"I'm surprised you haven't heard about me already, most people have." I could hear the resentment in my voice.
"Well, you and your mom have only been here for about a week, I'm sure I would have heard the gossip sooner or later." He sounded exasperated. "In a small town like this, nothing stays a secret for long."
"Yeah, I kind of figured that out." I sighed.
"Don't take it personally, the people here are so bored, they have nothing else to do but gossip." I could hear the edge of a wry smile in his voice.
"If I had known ahead of time how people were going to react to seeing me, it might have been easier." I admitted.
He was silent for a moment. "You really look just like her?" The question seemed to nearly strangle him.
"I've seen it myself. If I hadn't come across her picture it probably wouldn't have bothered me, but it's not just her picture. It's her room, our names, the whole town. It's all déjà vu, everywhere I go here, I feel like I've been there before, but I know I haven't. I've never been farther west than Chicago." The laughter in my voice was slightly hysterical.
"And you think because you look like Bella, it might explain why?" He asked uncertainly.
"Maybe," I offered hopefully. "Maybe not," I sighed. "If I knew more about her, it might help a little."
"That's why you called me?" He pressed carefully.
"You're her father, there's no one else for me to talk to about her." I backtracked suddenly attempting to rephrase my words. "It wouldn't be right, I mean, to not contact you first." I waited and held my breath, listening carefully.
"This isn't exactly a conversation I'd like to have over the phone." He mumbled awkwardly. "Can we set up a meeting?"
"That would help immensely." I agreed.
"Should I meet with you and your mother to explain—"
"That's not such a great idea." I grimaced. "She hasn't really noticed what's going on, I really don't want to drag her into this." I pleaded.
"You should tell her." His voice sounded odd, almost defensive. "I'm sure there were things that Bella kept from me, other things besides the stuff I know about now." His voice was full of incredulity. "It's like she was trying to protect me from things she thought I wouldn't understand. I was her dad. It was my job to protect her." He sounded sad. "I always thought that if I'd known before, then none of that stuff would have ever happened." There was a long pause. "You shouldn't keep your mother in the dark."
I was stunned into silence.
His words made me feel slightly guilty. "I understand." I conceded. "And I will, but not until I figure a few things out."
He seemed slightly mollified. "If not your house, then would you be able to come by mine?" He asked, his voice sounding firmer.
"Of course, if that's not too soon—"
"Two O'clock?" My eyes flickered to the clock.
"An hour?" I was a little surprised by his rush.
"Yes." His tone said he wasn't going to take no for an answer.
I didn't know what else to say.
It was two minutes till when I pulled into the driveway—my heart pounding, my pulse thrumming. The house was gray and rectangular, situated on a flat piece of land that like his former home had, backed up to the sprawl of the forest. I made my way to the set of tan double doors, tucking my hair nervously behind my ears before raising my fist to knock. Before it made contact though, the door swung inward.
Charlie Swan, stared with impossible calmness, his chest rising and falling rapidly, as his eyes swept my face. He was taking it better than the others had.
It was a delayed reaction, one that I should have expected when his fist suddenly raised to cover his mouth, and he choked out the words. "Impossible!" It was then that the horror, and wonder, and tenderness, too raw for me to continue to watch crept into his eyes, making me turn away. In that moment, I felt like a monster. What right did I have to bring this upon him?
"No," He called brokenly, "No Adora, please don't." I heard him take in a shaky breath, trying to regain his control. "Don't go, I'm sorry." Why was he the one apologizing? It was my face that was visibly torturing him. "I just didn't think—I wasn't ready." I flinched even as his voice regained most of its composure.
"It's not your fault, you shouldn't be apologizing." I found the courage to face him again.
"Please." He opened the door slowly. His eyes still held a trace of pain, but more so, they begged me to comply. I stepped forward until I was fully surrounded by the small confines of the entry way enough for him to close the door. He kept stealing glances at me, as he motioned towards a small dining room that adjoined the kitchen. We stood awkwardly for a moment in silence, as we both tried to figure out what to say. He cleared his throat first. "Uh, can I get you anything?"
I smiled grateful for the delay. "A glass of water would be great."
"Sure. Just have a seat." I slid into one of the chairs, my hands folded nervously in my lap, as my eyes followed his movements. Once upon a time, Charlie Swan had been a handsome man, it was still visible beneath his aged exterior, his face tanned and crinkled, while most of his short auburn hair was peppered with grey. He still moved with ease and strength, evident by the muscles displayed beneath his grey t-shirt. The only thing that age had left untouched were his eyes. Overtime, I'd noticed how the eyes of most people dulled, became flat and blank, no longer open to life before them, but rather closed to sorrows of their past. Charlie Swan still held onto the vibrancy from his youth, but in turn, it betrayed what it had cost him to keep what life he still had left in those brown pools.
I looked away nervously when I realized that we were both staring, frowning down at the tips of my sneakers as they tapped absentmindedly against the floor. "I apologize again for…startling you. I tried to warn you, I guess I didn't do a very good job."
"I don't think there's anything you could have said that would have helped." I looked up, startled when he sat a glass of water clinking with ice before me. There was a wry smile on his lips as he popped open the tab of a can of beer before taking a seat across from me.
"Sorry." I felt warmth flood my cheeks.
"Don't be." He was serious suddenly. "It's hard," He sighed, "You look just like her, sound just like her, you even blush just like her." There was warmth to his voice then. "She's been gone for so long, I'd almost forgotten what she was like at your age." There was a strange tone in the way he said that. I peered at him curiously before taking a sip of the water.
I swallowed slowly. "What was she like?"
"Bells was always very grown up for her age, responsible, smart. She was probably the most well behaved teenage daughter a single dad could ask for." He stared off as if seeing something invisible.
"Call me Charlie." He interjected.
"Charlie," I began, "I'm going to try to keep from asking you anything that would be painful for you to talk about, I know a lot already, but there were a few things I need to ask." He straightened slowly, as if preparing himself.
"I'll try to answer them the best I can." He paused for a moment. "You said that you were living in Bella's old room." I nodded. "Do you like it?"
"It's a beautiful house."
He stared curiously at me for a moment. "But?"
"The dreams I've been having ever since we moved here, have been a little unsettling. Some of them aren't even like dreams, they're like memories." I was suddenly frustrated with myself. "I'm not sure I can explain." I was reluctant to go into too much detail.
"I don't think you need to." He sighed and looked down for a long moment. "When you called me, and told me what you looked like…" He trailed off before his eyes rose to meet mine. "Let's just say Bells had a lot of…strange things happen during her life here in Forks." I leaned forward slightly. Maybe he had the answers I needed, had Bella had the strange dreams too? "I called Angela and Mike after I got off the phone with you." He looked regretful. "I wish I could tell you something that made sense, but I can't. That house isn't haunted if that's what you're thinking, and I can't explain why you look just like her." All my theories and hopes disintegrated. I felt everything slipping away, I was desperate.
"What about Edward Cullen?" I blurted out suddenly. Charlie froze.
"What about Edward Cullen?" His face suddenly darkened; his tone filling with blackness.
"I've had dreams about him too." That didn't seem to help, his face seemed to darken more drastically. "Mrs. Chaney's daughter, Izzy, said that he and Bella were married." His fingers flexed around the can slightly I heard the pop of the aluminum as it compressed. "I thought that maybe that would explain—"
"Adora." His voice stopped me. It was strained with barely contained range. "Obviously Izzy didn't tell you everything. That boy, is the reason my daughter is dead." My eyes widened slowly before I nodded.
Okay, so I wasn't exactly the brightest crayon in the box when it came to catching on to subtle hints, but his voice said it loud and clear: The topic of Edward Cullen was a sore subject.
I stumbled over an apology. "I—I'm sorry, I didn't know—"
"I know you didn't." His voice had calmed by a few degrees. I waited patiently, he hadn't let me finish so I didn't get a chance to tell him the truth.
"What I meant to say," I began in a stronger voice, "was that I didn't know it was a sore subject, but yes, Izzy did explain about Bella's death." His eyes narrowed slightly. "I promised to try to keep from asking anything that I thought would be painful," I explained. "Izzy said it was an accident, I had no idea that you blamed him." He stared for a long moment, deciphering my words.
I saw in his eyes suddenly, as clear as day, that he was reminding himself that I was a stranger.
I wasn't his daughter, and it was too late to keep her away from Edward Cullen.
I realized suddenly that I had it all wrong…
He blamed himself.
"That boy was trouble from the beginning," He muttered matter-of-factly. "Every time she ended up in the hospital, he was somehow involved." My eyes widened slightly at his implications. Izzy had painted a very different picture.
"Like the accident at Forks High School?" I asked carefully.
He leaned back in his chair slowly. "That was the first time." He shook his head slowly.
"But he saved her," I argued.
"Not when it mattered!" It burst from his lips angrily. "They barely even knew each other when it happened the first time." His voice was rising rapidly. "He should have saved her every time! He was her Husband! He was supposed to protect her!" I felt myself lean away in shock, and the look on my face must have registered with him, because I watched the anger slowly drain away by degrees until we were left with awkward silence. There was only the dull thud of my heartbeat as it slowed, and the quick rise and fall of his chest.
"I'm sorry 'bout that." He was breathing harshly, his eyes averted from my gaze. "It's hard to remain calm with you sitting here." He lowered his eyes shamefully. "I know you're not her," He paused taking a deep breath. "But you remind me of her so much. She was stubborn too." There was a wry grin tugging at his lips as he looked up. "I keep getting this feeling, like if I could just make you understand, I'd do right by her in the end. Like if I save you from making the same mistake, it'd make up for all the ways I failed to save her." I didn't know what crime I would have to commit to match the guilt I saw in Charlie Swan's eyes with my own, but I was sure that I never wanted to find out. I didn't know what to say after that. What could I say? 'I'm sorry you're daughter died'? Of course not. Was I supposed to apologize for being stubborn too?
"I frightened you." I focused back on his face where his features were twisted into a painful apology.
"No." I shook my head softly, my ponytail brushing against my bare neck. Honesty was best. "I'm just not sure what you expect me to say."
"I don't expect you to say anything," He admitted. "I just hope you try to understand where I'm coming from." His eyes held a strange warmth to them as he said that, almost fatherly.
I smiled. "I do," I said with a curt nod. "Before the divorce—out of the four of us, my dad and I were the closest. I got along with my brother Jared pretty well, and my mom and I did things together, but my dad, I trusted him." I felt a bitter edge lace the words. "He worried about me a lot growing up, he wanted to keep me from making the same mistakes he'd made, he tried to shelter me, but sooner or later I guess he realized that I had to make those mistakes to learn. There's only so much he could have done to protect me, I've always been pretty responsible for myself." I noted how Charlie's eyes suddenly brightened.
"Bella was the same way," He commented softly.
"Right," I nodded, "So, you have to realize that no matter what you said or did, things were going to happen the way they did. You couldn't have controlled her decisions. If she was as responsible as you say she was then all her life you must have trusted her judgment—"
"Not when it came to him!" He growled.
"Because, he just—he wasn't good for her," He stammered as if it explained everything.
"Explain it to me." I demanded. "Obviously, because I look like her, you're forgetting that I don't know what you're talking about." I pointed out. He sat back, dumbfounded for a moment, before he scowled slightly.
"You already know an awful lot." There was a slight accusatory tone to his words.
I rolled my eyes. "Izzy has an over active imagination, and she was chomping at the bit to explain everything to me when I asked why everyone over the age of 40 keeps looking at me funny," I explained. "I think she was trying to scare me."
He was frowning, his brows deeply furrowed against his forehead. He seemed to be contemplating something very seriously.
"What is it?"
"I'm just wondering what exactly Izzy told you." His voice was slightly curious, but it masked whatever it was that he didn't want me to know.
There was something he was deliberately not telling me, probably waiting to see if Izzy had already revealed it unknowingly. I chewed on my lip as I debated my options. So far, he was the only link I had, and I couldn't risk losing the answers he could provide. "I told you, she explained why I seem to…er…surprise most of the people I meet." He watched me carefully so I continued. "Because I look like Bella."
"That's all she told you?" His face gave nothing away.
"For the most part." I shrugged.
He sat up slowly and leaned forward, his eyes intently boring into my own. "Then how did the topic of Edward Cullen come up?" He had me there; I'd forgotten that I'd even mentioned him.
I blushed furiously. "I had a dream about him." His eyes widened. "It was so strange." I remembered the sadness in the topaz gaze. "At first it was only his eyes, back before we moved to Forks. Of course I didn't know it was him then." He actually seemed to pale suddenly. "I always felt so…" I trailed off as I tried to think of the right words.
"Repulsed?" He spat bitterly.
"No." I corrected him gently. "Protected." That seemed to surprise him making the heat in my cheeks burn hotter. "Cherished almost." He looked as if he were in physical pain. "When I wake up, I always feel very…empty. It's unsettling. Like something's missing."
"He makes you happy?" His voice was strained. It was an odd question.
"I feel happy, when I'm dreaming I suppose." I nodded sheepishly.
"You told Izzy this?" He asked curiously.
He blinked as a muscle in his jaw ticked.
"She told me what he looked like and her description described the boy from my dreams." I admitted.
"How did she know what he looked like?" He looked confused. "He died before she was born."
"According to Izzy and all her superstitious nonsense he's back from the dead, as a zombie or ghost or whatever." I sighed, sagging back into my chair. Charlie did the exact opposite. It was as if lightning had struck him. Every hair stood on end, his body tensed in a split second, his hands were suddenly fists at his side.
"What do you mean?" Each word was said very carefully and very coldly.
"Izzy said her mom had a similar experience, a few weeks ago, she saw a boy who looked just like Edward Cullen," I watched him cautiously. "And Izzy literally ran into him at the high school a few days later." I continued carefully, watching for signs that he might snap. "Charlie?" I asked warily. "Are you okay?"
He didn't say anything for a long time, he only stared blankly ahead, his tension vibrating through the room and then his lips moved slowly but he spoke too low for me to make out the words.
"What was that?" I asked leaning forward.
He shook his head and muttered something beneath his breath, finally thawing out enough to look at me. "Nothing." His voice had taken on that darkened tone again.
"Charlie? Are you sure you're all right?" I asked worriedly. He finally sighed and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, digging the heels of his palms into his closed his eyes.
"Yeah," He answered quietly. "I'm okay." He nodded sitting up to finally look at me. His eyes scanned my face carefully, for several minutes, as if measuring me, memorizing my face.
After a long silence he got up and disappeared into the kitchen. I blinked at his empty chair, too confused to speak as I waited. A few minutes later he returned with a folder piece of paper, the design on the outside looked like something you'd see on those little refrigerator magnet notepads for making grocery lists. He looked tired suddenly, as if he'd aged in mere moments as he raised the half crumpled can of beer to his lips and chugged down several gulps before meeting my gaze head on.
"Adora, I want you to listen to me, very carefully," He whispered setting the paper aside before taking my hands in his much larger ones, his suddenly hollow gaze slamming into mine. "This changes things. I don't think I'm the one you need to be talking to."
"I don't understand." I whispered frantically.
"I know." He nodded releasing one of his hands so that he could press the slip of paper between mine. "Listen to me." He squeezed my fingers gently. "You need to go see Dr. Carlisle Cullen, he's Edward's father." My eyes widened. "Tell him I sent you and he'll understand. This is his address." He squeezed my hands together indicating the paper. "Those things that Bella kept from me, I'm sure Carlisle knows what they are, and they might help you." It seemed to hurt him to say the next words. "Bella, you have to do something for me." I felt my chest tighten, as tears suddenly blurred my vision. "Don't do anything else, go straight to Carlisle. You have to stay away from that boy until you've talked to Carlisle." I felt so confused; the tears were spilling down my cheeks. "He's dangerous Bella!" He grabbed my shoulders suddenly. "Do you understand me? He could hurt you!"
I was hyperventilating suddenly, unable to regulate my breathing. "But I'm not Bella." I whispered.
"He won't care." He said harshly shaking me and the severity of his words jerked me up short. "Please, for me, find Carlisle." He urged his voice softening when he saw my face.
I nodded numbly as he stood pulling me with him. I slid the paper into one of my back jean pockets, retrieving my car keys from the other one as I followed him lifelessly to the door.
I had barely taken a step outside when he suddenly pulled me to his chest, holding me close. "I never told her I loved her enough." Charlie croaked. "I should have." He whispered. "You take care of yourself, okay Kid?" He murmured pulling back to look down on me with a sad smile. "And if you ever figure all of this crazy stuff out, come see me, if you feel like you can talk to me."
I nodded and smiled gently up at him even though I could still feel the tightness around my eyes. "Thank you Charlie." I murmured rising up to press my lips to his cheek. His eyes softened as I turned away, heading straight to my car.
"Take care of yourself Bells." I heard him whisper as I walked away.
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