Elsee ran to me as soon as I walked into the house in mid-January, Sam had picked her up from school, her big brown eyes filled with tears.
'Elsee!' I gasped as I dropped the bag containing my class's books and knelt down as she flew toward me.
Her arms wrapped tightly around my body and hugging her, I stood up, looking over at Sam curiously who had appeared out of a different room. He shrugged looking as confused as I felt.
'Elsee, honey,' I said calmly and soothingly as I walked past Sam and into the lounge. 'Do you want to tell me and Daddy what's wrong?'
'That's man's following me, I'm sure,' she cried once I had sat down, balling her little hands in the fabric of my top and I tensed causing Sam to place a hand on my shoulder. 'The mean man who hurt you, he was at school today during lunch.'
I sent Sam a panicked look.
'Did you talk to him?' I asked her in a hurry. 'Elsee, did you speak to him?'
'I didn't have a choice,' she said sounding so sorry it broke my heart. 'He had my arm.'
She rolled her sleeve up and showed me her arm. I pressed my lips together as Sam shook slightly causing the couch to shake a little. Marring my daughters creamy pale skin were finger shaped bruises. I ran my hand over them gently and she pulled away.
'Elsee, thank you for telling me, okay?' she looked up at me, tears now streaming down her young face. 'We're going to sort this out, I promise.' -My voice was shaking badly with tears - 'Go with your father for a minute.'
Sam glanced at me and seeing me falling apart at the seams he picked Elsee up gentle. They were barely out of the room when the first sob broke out. I could hear Sam walking up the stairs and buried my face in my hands, sobbing so hard that it hurt. As I sat there I realised that Chris would always be a threat to my happiness and to Elsee's safety and I had no idea what to do about it.
Sam came back down eventually and just wrapped me tightly in his arms.
'What are we going to do?' I asked him pathetically.
'Whatever it takes,' he told me in a whisper and, by his heavy breathing, I could tell he was trying to keep himself calm because he knew I needed him and being a wolf wouldn't help with that.
Now I knew he was following Elsee, I was more careful and a lot more observant, so I saw him and once I had I don't know how I missed him before. He liked to lean against the street light by Elsee's school or sit in a big car across the street. I never saw him move from those positions but apparently, Elsee would tell me at night, that he came over to the school fence and tried to speak to her during her recesses. She tried to keep her distance after that first night that he left bruises on her arm but I knew she was speaking to him if only because she was scared of him, which I knew she was.
I was so wary taking her out now but I knew I couldn't just lock her in the house; this wouldn't go away unless I did something about it. So today we were going to the park, Elsee was so happy. While she played I sat on a bench at the edge and read a book, though I glanced up constantly to check on her.
'Mommy!' Elsee's voice yelled out to me and I glanced up and wondered how things could have changed so quickly, it had looked up not even a minute ago. Most the other children playing were still in exactly the same place but Elsee had moved or been forced too.
Chris had her hand and was talking to her, or at least he had been until she called my name, he sent me a grin.
'Hello, Bella,' he said as I hurried over to them but he began walking, pulling Else allowing forcefully.
'Let her go, Chris,' I growled.
'Why should I?' he asked and I saw his grip tighten on Elsee's hand causing her to wince. 'She is my daughter as well, after all.' - Elsee froze in her struggling to pull her hand free and stared at me while Chris sent me an evil grin. Chris picked her up and it broke her out of her trance, she began fighting again. - 'Beautiful, too. So small and innocent, so easy to manipulate, I would guess. You know I might keep her.'
'Chris, let her go,' I repeated and really wished I was strong enough to something about it, to force him to let her go.
He just sent me that scoundrel grin again and pulled me closer to him, pressing his lips painfully on mine. I pulled away and slapped him round the face. He glared at me.
'That was a mistake, Bella,' it was his turn to snarl and I only now noticed that we had moved far away from everyone else and into the shade of some trees. My heart began to speed up nervously. 'A really big mistake, you'll pay for that one but not now.'
As soon as he finished, he left Elsee fall and she landed face first in the mud. Moving quickly I pulled her to me and step in front of her. Her nose was bleeding badly as was her lip and her face was covered with dirt. I began leading her away, walking backwards so to keep an eye on but he stayed still, grinning.
'Take care of my baby girl, Bella, she's going to be useful to me one day,' I shuddered, not knowing what he meant by that but hurried back towards the car.
'Bella?' a voice asked and the musicality of it told me it wasn't human but it was so calming and familiar that I knew exactly who it was.
'Carlisle!' I turned in relief, picking up Elsee so she couldn't get pulled away when I wasn't looking. 'You guys are still here?'
Alice and Emmett hadn't been in their lessons for weeks and since I hadn't heard anything from Carlisle, Esme or Edward I had assumed they left.
'Not the point,' he replied, his eyes skating over Elsee's face. 'Are you two alright? What happened?'
I shook my head, glancing back at the trees, 'can we talk somewhere else?'
'Came back to the house with me and I'll have a look at Elsee,' Carlisle practically ordered, opening his car door which I realised we were standing next to and I wonder if he pulled over when he saw us. 'The others are there but …'
'It's fine,' I shrugged as best I could with Elsee in my arms, I would take even Edward over being in a hundred mile radius of Chris any day because at least he would never physically harm Elsee.
He smiled though he was still frowning slightly and we all got in his Mercedes. He drove fast back to that white house and carried Elsee into the house for me. He took her upstairs to cheek on her but I just sunk onto the sofa, my face buried in my hand trying to hold back tears. I felt the sofa sink beside me and felt a hand rub my hand comfortingly but I didn't look up to see which Cullen it was. Jasper must have been in the room though since calm seemed to wash over me like a wave of peace and safety.
Eventually I managed to get control of myself enough to look up and to my surprise I saw Rosalie next to me with a sympathetic look on her beautiful face. Emmett was leaning against the way behind her, smiling sadly at me and Jasper and Alice were on the stairs. Edward and Esme were the only ones I didn't know the location of.
'She'll be okay, Bella,' Rosalie said. 'What happened?'
'Tell us everything,' Alice added
I shook my head again but then thought about it, I need advice so why not get it from people who had been alive for years. Carlisle could hear from where ever he was with Elsee and then she wouldn't have to hear it. So I told them my story from when they left me
I started when I moved back to Arizona, meeting Chris and how he seemed so kind and loyal, and then onto how he changed and raped me, how it made me closed off for a while. I told them about my mom and Phil, and eventually got to Charlie. It moved onto how I moved back to Fork and Sam imprinted on me, to the event with Chris not even a month ago yet, to his new obsession with me and Elsee and then finally to what happened today. Rosalie seemed to relate to what I was saying the most and I wondered what had happened in her human life. Esme had come in not long after I began speaking and she was sat next to me and Edward came in near the end but I ignored him.
'I don't know what to do,' I told them. 'I'm so paranoid now and I'm constantly frightened. I hate that Elsee has to go to school where neither Sam nor I can keep an eye on what's happening and I hate that I'm not strong enough to do anything if it does. I can't let him get to her. I have no idea what he's capable of anymore and I honestly don't want to find out.'
'Isabella,' Carlisle's voice said as he came down the stairs with Elsee at his side, she looked much better now so obviously she hadn't broken anything though I could see a bad gash on her lip, 'you need to file a restraining order against him.'
I gestured for Elsee to come to me and moved my gaze to Carlisle before I took a deep breath and nodded. I hadn't wanted to go that far but if Carlisle said it was necessary then it probably was. Elsee crawled into my lap and pressed herself as close to me as she could get. We all sat in silence for a few minutes until my phone rang from my bag which I had left by the door.
'That's Sam,' I said generally before I turned to Elsee.. 'Sweetie, get you get up please so I can answer the phone. Just go to Esme or Rosalie, please.'
She knew Esme so she shifted from my lap on Esme's who wrapped her arm protectively around her and I jogged slightly to the phone.
'We're okay,' I told Sam as soon as I answered the phone without even saying hello. I looked out the window and realised that we should have been hours ago. 'We just … got held up. We'll be home soon, I have something I want to talk to you about.'
'You sound off,' Sam voice said. 'Are you sure you're alright?'
'Yeah,' I tried to smile though he couldn't see it. 'I'll explain when I get back.'
'Alright, I love you.'
'Love you too.'
I turned to find the whole Cullen family looking at me and I raised an eyebrow. They all looked away. I left as soon as I could not wanting to worry Sam any more than I already had. He was wound tight with Victoria and Laurent, who had gotten badly close to the house last night, and Chris being around on top of his normal duties and I was sure he was going to snap soon if he didn't calm down and relax for a little while. It was strange though because I was more scared of Chris than the two vampires after me.