Chapter Eight: Return

“Bella, you are not coming with us,” I said firmly, crossing my arms in front of my chest in a no-nonsense stance.

We were back at the house, trying to come up with our plan of action while Alice relayed what was going on to a frantic Carlisle back home. Bella was being stubborn, refusing to stay behind while we went and took care of the situation that was brewing back in Forks. I really could understand her wanting to go: it was her father after all, but there were so many reasons why it was a very bad idea.

“It’s my father!” she cried again, slamming her hands down on the coffee table in front of her. It shattered into a thousand pieces, the glass flying from the force of the impact. She looked down at it and then back at her hands, reminded of how very strong she was.

“And you are only five months into this life!” I countered. “Do you really trust yourself not to hurt Charlie?”

Her face crumpled and she slumped back into the leather chair she was sitting in. She looked so defeated, like a heartbroken child. I wanted to reach out to her, but I knew that if I did, my resolve to keep her safe would crumble. “I can’t stay behind and wait,” Bella said, wrapping her arms around her waist, “I’ll go crazy waiting for news. Besides, Alice said that other vampires are involved. What if you get hurt?”

“Bella, sweetheart,” I said and knelt by her side, taking one of her hands in mine, “My family can protect Charlie. We can talk to this other coven and ask them to leave our area. It isn’t an uncommon occurrence, so they most likely won’t be offended.”

“If it’s so easy, why do you have to go back? Why can’t the others take care of it there?” Bella demanded, her eyes dead serious.

I sighed and turned to Alice who was still on the phone. “If things get complicated, they need the three of us to help. I’ll be able to read their thoughts and see if they will go peacefully, Alice will be able to tell if Charlie is in any more immediate danger, and Jasper can diffuse any situation with his handle on emotional climate.”

“You can’t leave me behind by myself,” she said stubbornly. “That is my father, my family. Besides, if you leave me behind, I’ll just follow you. You can’t stop me from coming.”

“She’s right, you know,” Jasper said quietly from the doorway of the living room. “She should come with us. She has more self-control than most newborns I’ve seen. If we are there to keep an eye on her, we have nothing to worry about.”

Bella sat up in the chair, her eyes pleading with me. “Edward, please,” she whispered, squeezing my hand.

My defenses fell apart the moment she whispered my name. I knew then that I couldn’t leave her behind, and not just because she wanted to be with her father. I couldn’t be without her.

I leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Okay,” I told her, “but you have to promise that you won’t leave my side.”

The grateful smile that spread across her face said more than mere words ever could. “Why would I want to be anywhere else?” she asked. Knowing that she wanted to be with me as much as I wanted to be with her put a smile on my face.

I kissed her lips as tenderly as I could manage. “Why indeed?” I said, and she beamed at me.

We decided not to take the car, figuring we could run much faster than we could drive. There would be no stops for gas, no worrying about highway patrol’s pulling us over. It would take us almost a whole day to run, but we wouldn’t get tired and we were determined not to rest until we reached Carlisle and Esme’s home in Forks.

Before we left I had taken Bella aside, giving us as much privacy as possible.

“Before we head out, I think we need to talk about what happened this afternoon,” I said the moment Bella’s bedroom door shut behind us.

Her brows knit together in confusion. “Edward, we need to get to Forks, we can talk about this later.”

I put my hands on her shoulders. “We have enough time for this,” I said seriously, wishing she could feel how important this was to me.

Bella put a hand to my face, stroking it with soft fingers. “What are you worried about? Are you upset about being interrupted or...” she trailed off.

I closed my eyes and bent my head so I could touch my forehead to hers. Being interrupted was such a small part of it. Honestly, I was glad that Alice had come when she had. I might have done something that I regretted. I wanted to be more than Bella’s mate: I wanted to be her husband. I wanted to be tied together the right way before we were intimate. Unfortunately I had let my head get away from me when I was around her. I wanted her too badly.

“No, it was probably good that Alice showed up when she did,” I admitted, frowning a little as I thought about what might have happened.

“I don’t think so,” Bella said softly, her fingers tracing my lips in a seductive way. “I told you in the meadow that I wanted you, wanted to be with you in every way. I meant that.”

I put my hand around her wrist and guided her palm up to my lips. She sighed as I placed a small kiss to the very center. “You know what you are to me, don’t you?” I asked.

Her smile lit her entire face, softening it in the process. “What would that be?” she asked.

“The girl I’ve been looking my entire life to find,” I said honestly.

Her eyes filled with pleasure and she leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss me. “I’m glad you found me. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without you.”

I smiled, touched by that sentiment.“Bella, I...”

The door to Bella’s room opened, and Jasper stuck his head in, looking apologetic. “Alice said to tell you that she is sorry for sending me up here, but we need to get going. Carlisle suggested that something else might be going on in Forks in addition to the unwelcome visitors.”

I was frustrated by the intrusion but knew that Alice wouldn’t keep interrupting us unless it was absolutely necessary. “We will be down in a minute,” I told him, trying to shoo him out the door so that I could finally confess my feelings to Bella.

“Sorry, Alice told me we couldn’t wait. She said that all of this can wait until we reach Forks,” Jasper said with a shrug, “You know Alice.”

I sighed, took Bella’s hand and followed Jasper downstairs. There was no arguing with Alice.

We didn’t talk much as we ran through the forests and mountains of Alaska, Canada and down into Washington. What I had to say was for Bella’s ears alone and I wasn’t sure that she was ready to hear it. My stress over everything made the trip so much longer, mostly because I couldn’t stop looking at Bella and wondering what was going on in her head.

When we finally reached the outskirts of Forks, I was exhausted. Not physically, because that wasn’t really possible. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted from thinking and worrying about Bella and our still uncertain future together. The fact that we were running into an fairly unknown situation made it all that much worse. Of course, we knew what to expect thanks to Alice, but we didn’t know anything about the players involved. That made things much more complicated.

“Edward, do you smell that?” Alice asked me, her face puckering in a distasteful frown.

We all stopped dead in our tracks, breathing in the strange scent in the woods around us. It was a scent we knew well, but one we hadn’t come across often in the time we had been back in Washington. We had thought that the gene had long since died out. It looked like we were mistaken. “The wolves are out here,” I said softly, a growl building in my chest, “Dammit, we may be too late.”

“But...” Alice began, her eyes wide in confusion, “that was a long time ago and besides, I didn’t see anything.”

“What are you guys talking about?” Bella asked, looking between Alice and I, “What wolves?”

Alice pinned me down with a fierce look. “You never told her about the wolves and our treaty with them?”

I shifted uncomfortably under her glare. “You were the one who told me not to upset her. I didn’t think it was something she needed to know about. Certainly not something to worry about! How was I supposed to know the gene was still active?”

“What gene? Are you keeping something from me?” Bella asked me, touching my arm and looking at me with wounded eyes.

I hesitated, knowing that we weren’t exactly safe in these woods if the wolves were around. The moment they saw Bella they would know that the treaty was broken. I had no idea what would happen if we met face to face, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be good. “Not here, we need to get to the house, we can talk about it there,” I said, looking away from Bella so that I wouldn’t be tempted to do or say something foolish.

“I don’t think that is going to be possible,” Jasper said calmly.

“Why not?” I demanded in frustration. “We are only a few miles from the house.”

“Well,” Jasper said in a matter of fact tone, “they have us surrounded.”

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