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Edward, presumed dead, comes back from Iraq after 6 years. Can single mother Bella ever forgive him for leaving? AU. All Human.


1. Prologue

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It could have been worse.

I mean, it’s not like she set him on fire or anything.

“Ms Swan,” Ms Davis, my daughter’s homeroom teacher calls my attention back to her. “Do you think, perhaps, that Renesmee’s behavior is a reflection on the … instability she experiences at home?”

Behavior. Christ, she just stole a couple of crayons.

And ok, yes, she did try to stab the other boy’s hand with it. Still. I met the boy’s mother, I’m sure it was called for.

“Are you calling me a bad mother?” I ask.

She frowns and I can tell that her answer is yes.

“Of course not, but perhaps a father figure or…” she trails off.

I smile tightly. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Outside the classroom, Renesmee is sitting with her legs swinging and a red backpack on her shoulders. The pre-school is empty by this time of night and the automatic lights on the other side of the corridor have already flickered off. The journey home is eerily quiet.

“Mum, am I in trouble?” Renesmee asks as soon as the door to our cramped two-bedroom apartment shuts behind us.

Her voice sounds small and I crouch down to look at her in the startling green eyes that never fail to remind me of her father.

“Yes you are young lady,” I say sternly. “What were you thinking, stealing from that boy? I thought I taught you better than that.”

She looks down at her feet, hunching her small shoulders, but her voice comes out defensive. “I didn’t steal. He said mean things about you. He had no right.”

When did my daughter become so mature? I swear I was never this righteous as a 5 year old.

“Look, people say mean things sometimes but if you respond to them, you’re just sinking down to their level.”

I can tell she doesn’t completely understand what I’m saying.

“I won’t let him insult my family.”

I sigh. “You will apologize to him tomorrow, understand?”


“Renesmee,” I warn but she just shakes her head, her braids whipping comically around her head.

“Listen to me – ”

“No,” she yells. “You can’t make me!”

With that, she runs off into her room and slams the door shut behind her.

I close my eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. I’m still wearing my waitress uniform under my raincoat and its tight grip on my waist is suffocating.

I mentally added ‘buy bigger uniform’ on my expanding checklist of ‘things I have to do when I get the chance’ but I knew I couldn’t really afford it right now, and my dad wasn’t exactly crapping money as a police man in the crime-less city of Forks. Not that I ever borrowed from him, or anyone else.

And it wasn’t this atrocious neon orange outfit that was going to push me to the dark side.

Dinner was a quiet affair. Renesmee was still sulking but I managed to get her to finish her carrots without too much fuss, even after I refused to give her desert until after she wrote an apology letter.

“Why don’t you explain to him why you got so angry,” I suggest, pushing the blank A4 sheet in front of her.

“Because he said mean things about you,” she repeats stubbornly, a frown crinkling her forehead. “Said you were ugly, that’s why daddy left.”

I barely contain the wince that slips through my teeth.

“Mum… why don’t I have a daddy?”

Renesmee looks up front scribbling a black hole in the middle of her ‘apology letter’.

I wanted to tell her the complete truth. But I didn’t really know. It had been so sudden and unexpected.

One day Edward’s telling me he wants to get married, the next he’s going to fight a war in Iraq with his brothers.

The day I find out I’m pregnant two months later, he’s MIA. It took me three days to type out those three letters in a Google search bar and find out what it means.

Missing in Action.

Killed, wounded, prisoner of war or deserted.

Almost 6 years later, I’m trying to explain to my daughter why her father left me, us, to die half-way across the world.

I don’t know. It was the only honest answer I could give her.

“Before you were born,” I start hesitantly, choosing my words carefully, “your daddy went to fight in a war.”

“What’s ‘war’?”

“It’s like a fight, but between countries.”

“Like between Ben and me? Did daddy not write a sorry letter? Is that why he’s in heaven?”

“Ben and I,” I correct her, mostly out of habit, but partially because I don’t know how to answer. “It’s more complicated than that. Even I – ,”

The buzz of the doorbell interrupts me.

“Why don’t you finish your letter in your room, here,” I give her a new piece of paper. “And I’ll just see who’s at the door.”

“You have to finish the story.”

“Later,” I answer tiredly and the strong tilt of her jaw tells me she will hold me to that promise.

I wasn’t really expecting anyone, but Jacob did have the odd habit of dropping by unannounced, almost like he could sense when I needed a drink, or someone to cry on.

And my daughter had just opened an old wound.

I knock into a chair as I stumble to the door. I resist the urge to swear, instead nursing my blooming bruise on my hip bone. I’m still grimacing slightly in pain when I open the door.

Standing there, with his perpetually messy bronze hair, and green eyes, is Renesmee’s father.