Thanks and squeals to the excited ball of energy that is my beta, Chrisska. In case you haven't heard, she's hosting the wonderful 'Pop the Question' Contest. Voting is now open, so pop on over to to start reading and choosing your favourites. Follow @Pop_the_Q to see the winners announced on April 5th.
Thanks also to Miss OrdinaryVamp (I love you, brosefus), plus Landdownunder (and her sheep) for pre-reading and always providing such awesome and lulzy feedback.
Suggested Listening: '60 Feet Tall' by The Dead Weather
I turn to leave before she's given the opportunity to catch me lurking, managing to make it all of two steps before freezing instinctively.
There's a vibration in my pocket, followed loudly by the opening strains of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
Really, Dad? You had absolutely nothing better to do than to call me right this fucking second?
~ X ~
I know I should probably move, but vivid memories of the social worker divulging Bella's supposed 'violent' past to my parents keep me in frozen in place.
I assure myself it's ridiculous to be worried; I mean, there hasn't been the slightest hint of that side of her.
It doesn't exist as far as I can tell. The closest thing she's exhibited is throwing a fucking mug at the wall.
Oh god, hurry! Get the straitjacket! I roll my eyes.
She's half my size for Christ's sake. As long as I keep my balls covered, I'm good.
Acknowledging this now-seemingly-obvious fact, I take brisk steps across the porch, back around to the side of the house. It's still dark as shit, and I curse under my breath as I attempt to navigate the overgrown path. Failing to sense any movement behind me, I unwisely begin to think maybe Bella didn't hear Dad's announcement of my presence after all.
Either way, I just want to get back home. I can process how to use this dirt on her later.
Head, meet your ever-faithful companion, sand.
The light streaming from the street lamp thankfully comes into view as I emerge like a blind man from the side of the house. I stride across the lawn toward our discarded bikes, fully planning on taking mine and leaving the god-awful Barbie mobile for Bella to grapple with.
I make it halfway across the lawn when I begin to hear the sound of fast footfall behind me. Before I have the chance to even contemplate turning around, my center of gravity shifts as I jolt forward, finding the side of my face roughly planted into the dirt. A dull pain radiates from the middle of my back as I struggle to breathe.
Placing a forearm against the back of my neck, my attacker leans forward to yell gleefully in my ear, "Surprize!". I wince as Bella pauses a second before adding in a lower, more serious tone, "What the fuck are you doing here, Edward?"
She's thoroughly winded me and I can't reply, which only makes her dig what I now figure is her knee more firmly into my back.
"Jesus!" I manage to cough out.
"Why are you following me?" Bella asks sternly whilst putting more pressure on the side of my face.
She grabs a fistful of my hair with her other hand and jerks my head back to punctuate her question.
"Answer me and I'll let you up."
"You'll let me?" I laugh through a mouthful of grass, which probably isn't best idea, but I can't help myself. My assumption is quickly confirmed when she tugs sharply on my hair again. "Okay, okay!" I placate her as I try to discretely stretch my hands flat against the ground for leverage.
"Well?" She prods, impatient.
Pushing up on my spread palms, I manage to shove myself up on all fours and turn to throw her off my back. Bella falls like a ragdoll onto her ass in an ungraceful heap as I step away from her and begin to dust myself off.
I smirk down at her in victory. "Surpri-!"
She cuts off my taunt by clawing at the ground, scrambling to her feet and charging her way toward me, straight in the fucking stomach. Everything gets a little out of focus with the impact as I fall backward, my head hitting the ground as my lungs let out a loud 'ooof'.
We're both breathing heavily now as she frantically straddles my waist and moves to place a hand around my throat, her nails dig in as she pins me to the ground. While I'm sure our position is entirely innocent in her eyes, my traitor body begs to differ as it reacts accordingly to the sight of her bare thighs spread above me.
Jesus, not now.
I grab her narrow hips with both hands and move to throw her off me easily before she realizes my body's indiscretion. She falls to my left with a resounding thump.
I can't help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation now, turning my head to face Bella who tilts her own face to greet my amusement with only narrowed eyes.
"What? It's fucking funny!" I defend, my chest rising noticeably with each breath.
"I didn't peg you for a masochist, Edward. Do you want me to break your face? 'Cause I'm totally cool with that."
I laugh again despite myself, spying the grey cat from earlier running towards us in my peripheral. I watch as it climbs across Bella's stomach, moving up her body and placing its paws on her chest to stare directly down into her face comically. She pets it on the head briefly, before sitting up and leaning back on outstretched arms.
"You need to go." She states quietly after a moment, gazing into the distance, refusing to look at me.
"Trust me, I want to, but not before you tell me why you come here. Why you came back to Forks in the first place."
"I don't have to tell you shit. Leave. Now."
"You're right I guess. Best to save the 'good' explanation for Mom and Dad," I threaten lightly as I move to stand again. I attempt to casually wipe the mud covering my hands onto the pockets of my jeans. The cat starts sniffing around my sneakers curiously.
"Fuck off," I mutter, kicking my leg out to shoo it away. I'm careful not to actually harm it, since I doubt that would go down too well with Bella.
"Fine," she sighs dramatically. "How about you don't tell Esme and Carlisle about this, and I won't tell them about the sordid porn collection you have stashed under your mattress?"
I can't help the indignant laughter that erupts from my chest.
At least her delusions are entertaining.
"We don't have maid service, Bella. You really think Mom doesn't know about that already? Plus, I'm one hundred per cent certain my parent's porn collection is way more 'sordid' than mine will ever be."
Her expression shows only a minute amount of disappointment before she stands to try and face me, her height preventing the task. "Okay then," she says, tilting her her jaw up defiantly to look me in the eyes with an eyebrow raised. "How about you don't tell them about this, andI won't tell them about you trespassing on a crime scene?"
I can barely disguise the shock on my face before she sees it.
"That's what I thought." Bella is smug and I don't blame her; she's got me by the balls on this one. My mind reels as it tries to catch up.
"How in the fuck do you know about that?" I blurt, foolishly unguarded.
"I was staking it out. The fucker had my truck after all." Bella shrugs casually as she wipes her own hands off on her dress. "I borrowed one of Esme's cameras for that particular expedition, and it yielded some rather interesting shots." She pauses, "You know trespassing is illegal, right? It's something that really wouldn't be looked upon favourably in say, a college application."
Son of a fucking bitch!
I'm speechless. I really don't have a witty rebuttal. The sudden panicky feeling I felt at the Call house kind of makes sense now. I was being watched. By her.
"You have pictures?"
"The fact that you're even asking me that should be your answer, Edward."
"Fine," I agree reluctantly. "So I don't tell them about your crappy little hideaway and that's it?" I'm not so stupid that I don't recognise this deal is unbalanced. She holds my entire future in her hands, whilst I only hold some weird form of nostalgia- for lack of a better word- in mine.
"Not exactly, but this doesn't have to be all bad. Quit looking like I peed on your bonfire."
"What else?" I ask warily.
"Well, as you know my truck is from the fifties. It's a beast and pretty much impossible to move without the keys. I'm not even sure it would start if I had them, regardless they're not in that house anymore."
"And you know that how?"
"I looked," Bella states, scrunching up her nose up like it's obvious.
"Okay, again, what do you want?"
"Jesus, are you really that fucking dense? I think whoever killed the asshole took the keys too. I know you're into all that crime scene shit, so I need you to help me learn about him, who his friends are and stuff so we can work out who might've taken them."
"Really?" I snort. "So your theory is this guy was slaughtered by someone he knew just to take the keys to your beat-up truck? That's retarded. Are you sure it wasn't you?" I laugh, my eyes widening in horror as I actually contemplate that possibility. It kind of makes sense when I think about it.
"No, it wasn't me," she says dryly, rolling her eyes. "Look, I can't spell it out anymore clearly for you.
You get my dad's truck back, and I won't rat you out. Simple."
"That's it?" I ask, suspicious of her motives. "Wait, if the Call guy really did steal the truck like you said, then why the hell haven't the cops traced it back your family?"
"Because they forged the papers! It was in the shop down at the Res when he died, and they just lied, saying he'd asked for it to be scrapped for parts before he died."
"Then why the fuck is it still in that garage?" I ask, getting more confused by the second.
"Because it's an antique, man. The longer they keep it the older it gets, and the more money they can make on it at auction."
Bella's logic really doesn't add up. There's clearly more to this story than she is letting on. I stay silent for a long moment, pretending to think on her our potential deal. In reality I'm rationalizing that I if I can keep her pacified with this for long enough, I'll be able to work out what really happened.
"If I help you, you'll destroy the photos? Give me the originals?"
"Of course," Bella assures me. I have to read her lips because her reply is almost completely drowned out by the sound of sirens wailing on a fleet of police cruisers that surge past us.
"Deal." I reply, without another thought, holding my hand out for her.
We shake on it and Bella smiles in victory before she moves past me to stroll across the lawn toward our discarded bikes. She grabs the handle of mine, lifting it to sit upon the saddle, waiting.
"I don't fucking think so!" I shake my head. "You're taking the Barbie mobile, darling."
Bella snorts, raising an eyebrow in challenge.
"Fine." I sigh. "How about this?"
Bella watches on, slightly confused as I pick up the tiny pink bike. I carry it easily across the lawn over my shoulder and quickly dump it at the side of the house before moving back next to her on the sidewalk.
I grab her by the wrists, noticing the faint white ridges encircling them with my thumbs. My brow furrows as she jerks her arms back quickly, getting off the bike and ducking her head. I don't let my mind linger on it as I instruct her to sit on the handlebars. Surprisingly, she does as is told for once.
We weave and wobble at first, but I manage to find our balance and set off down the road, gathering more speed when I stand elevated over her shoulder on the pedals.
The ride is silent until three quarters of the way home when my phone rings loudly again from my pocket and I have to pull over.
"What?" I answer abruptly as we steady on the sidewalk. Bella peers over her shoulder at me impatiently.
"Edward that is no way to greet your father."
"My humblest apologies, Sire. How may I be of service?" I retort apathetically.
"Enough of your smart mouth, have you located Bella or not?"
"Well stop messing around and bring her home, your mother is worried sick!"
"I am doin-"
He hangs up before I finish my sentence and I glare at the phone momentarily. It really is a wonder how I managed to form actual emotions with him for a father.
"Are you okay?" Bella asks quietly, still resting her chin on her shoulder as her hands brace the handles where she's perched.
I ignore her, swallowing as I push off.
Like you fucking care.
~ X ~
Once we reach home Bella hops off the handlebars without another word. She fleets up the porch stairs into the house and up to her room. I guess I can't blame her; I really just want to be alone myself.
"Edward?" Mom collars me in the lobby. "Is she okay?" She looks back up to the stairs, obviously having heard Bella, but not been quick enough to catch her.
"Peachy," I mutter.
"Okay," is her only response and I struggle to understand why she doesn't press for more details. "As long as she's okay." Mom smiles, seeming to sense my confusion and trying to put it at ease.
"Yeah," I reply, my brow furrowed.
This is entirely too awkward and I acknowledge the expression on her face as one that I haven't seen since the months we spent hunting for Lizzy.
"Er, so, I'm going to bed now," I say, glancing at the watch on my wrist for emphasis. It's barely ten-thirty, so I'm sure she's unnerved by my early retreat.
"Okay, darling," she smiles strangely again, reaching up to briefly touch my cheek with a sad expression. "Good night."
~ X ~
Once in my room, I close the door and head straight for the shower, shedding my clothes as I go. The chill in my bones washes away nicely under the warm water and I try to reflect on what the fuck happened today. I usually do my best thinking in the shower, but it's been a long-ass day and I can hardly focus on one thing at a time.
Thirty minutes later, with a towel hung loosely around my waist, I pad back into the bedroom and begin to dry myself off. I have some history homework to finish for the morning, but I'm really not in the fucking mood. I also have a new episode of 'Criminal Minds' waiting on the DVR, but I can't even be bothered to watch that.
Who am I?
I stare vacantly out the floor-to-ceiling windows of my room for a long moment, before pulling on some boxers and sitting at my desk. I flip on the useless police scanner while I wait for the laptop to fire up.
Returning my gaze to the window, an idea begins to form in my head and, while I don't have any of that cool, colourful chalk they use on TV, I realize I can still utilize the glass.
When the computer is fully loaded, I connect my camera and set the numerous photos to print on my best quality paper. I find a roll of tape and fiddle with the ends impatiently as I wait.
God bless laser printers.
I grab the photos and stand before the window, taking a breath, kind of exhilarated by my new strategy.
The first photo that goes up is a great one of the bloodied bed.
I take it down. Chronological is best. Starting again, I put up pictures of the garage, the truck- the first ones I took.
Photos of the beloved bloody footprints- the ones that have tormented me- are swiftly followed by those of the equally bloody staircase. Next comes the bedroom pics; the best ones, I smile.
They really do look legit.
I've already done the requisite research to confirm that the blood spatter on said bedroom photos is medium velocity. This rules out firearms, which I'm certain the police were able to do weeks ago, since they have an actual body to autopsy.
I let out a deep, frustrated sigh.
This would be so much easier if I had their resources. Guns ruled out, I'm absolutely certain the scene depicted before me on the window was a crime of passion. As everyone knows, crimes of passion mean someone they know, just like Bella is assuming. I can't even interview witnesses to find out who might have been a threat.
An unexpected, quiet knock sounds at my door.
"Come in," I reply half-heartedly.
"Wow," Bella says, taking in my new decor. "So, you're like really into this shit, huh?" She teases.
"Something like that," I mutter, turning to face her. Bella obviously had the same idea as me and took a shower when she got home. Her long, damp hair is making wet patches on her the shoulders. "You kind of forced my hand."
"Bullshit. You love this whole Columbo routine."
"It's not a routine," I answer honestly. "I just find it interesting- despite the migraines it's causing, and the fact that you're threatening my entire future if I don't."
"Any leads on my truck yet?" Bella asks, completely disregarding what I just said as she moves to settle on the edge of the bed. She flounces backwards, closing her eyes as I try to divert my gaze from her obviously braless chest.
Fucking wet patches.
"No. I need more time. You can't expect instantaneous results, woman."
"Fine," Bella sighs, placing a forearm over her eyes dramatically. "But I don't have much time, so I need you to pull your head out of your ass, pronto, kay?"
"At the risk of sounding obtuse, what exactly is your rush? My parents, as inexplicable as it is, clearly want to keep you around. They're not going to send you away."
"I know that, but-" Bella's reply is cut short by the police scanner sounding from my desk.
"Unit seven, requesting Forensics on the ten-sixty-five down at Three Rivers."
Ignoring Bella, I move to fish out the manual from the desk drawer and look up the code.
Ten-sixty-five… Ten-sixty-five… I thumb through the pages.
"What is it?" Bella enquires.
"Another missing person."
~ X ~
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