The noon day sun was securely tucked behind a thick blanket of ominous grey clouds. At this time of year snow could easily begin to fall from the dreary Washington sky. But it was not deemed a total loss by Bella. Any cloudy day meant she could spend the day with her boyfriend, Edward. Boyfriend did not seem like the right word to use for what Edward was. She knew that she would be spending forever with him but he had not officially asked her to marry him although he had many times unofficially done so. Bella suspected he already had the ring and was waiting for the right moment to force it on her hand. She had made it very clear how she felt about marriage and her desire to become a vampire. But Edward wanted his one request first but Bella kept saying no to marriage. She shook her head not thinking about it but about getting ready for Edward to come and get her so they could go on a trip to Port Angeles or so he said. She never knew truly what was going on in his head.
Bella walked downstairs and into the kitchen for a bottle of water. Charlie had his guns sprawled across the dining room table as he cleaned all four of them at one time. Bella figured he was doing this mainly to show his distaste for her choice in boyfriends. She didn't mind, well it bothered her but not enough to stop seeing Edward. Charlie did not understand. He still held a grudge for those six months that Edward had left Bella in a virtual catatonic state. Bella had forgiven Edward and she felt Charlie should too. But her father was way too stubborn.
"What's this all about? You just cleaned them three days ago. There's no way they are already dirty," Bella said as she flopped down on the couch.
"Just being cautious. You know, you should too," Charlie added.
"Dad, we've been over this before. I've made my choice."
"But is he the right one? How can you know for sure? You've never given anyone else a chance."
"By anyone else you mean Jake, right?"
"Well, yea. What's wrong with Jake?"
"Nothing. He is more of a brother to me, family, not boyfriend material or husband for that matter."
]"What do you mean husband? Has he asked you to marry him?"
"Dad, I do think about the future. I love Edward. Why wouldn't I want to marry him some day? You’re going to have to accept this sooner or later. Or suck it up and act like you care. He'll be here soon."
"While I have you here I need to tell you I'll be out of town for five days to a conference for sheriffs in Seattle."
Bella felt panic grab her. The rogue vampires were in Seattle. She felt absolutely positive that it was Victoria but Edward always dismissed that thought. He didn't feel Victoria was smart enough for anything that calculated. But Bella was not about to underestimate her. So now Charlie was headed into the thick of it.
"But those murders . . .," Bella began.
"Bella, I can take care of myself. Now if you are worried about being alone here, ask Alice to stay with you or go stay with her. But just so long as Edward is not there and he is not allowed to stay here either. If you go there during the day and he is there, you need to come home that night with or without Alice. You got it?"
Bella knew Charlie was serious and he had ways of knowing, or so he thought. No sense letting him know any different. Charlie looked too smug for his own good.
As Bella was about to open her mouth in protest, Edward knocked at the door. Bella left the couch quickly to answer it. Edward stood before her and as always she was in awe.
"Hello, love. How are you today?" Edward asked as he leaned in to kiss her cheek.
Bella felt herself blush as she struggled to answer him adequately. She took in a few deep breaths as Edward stroked her cheek. He loved to look at her all flushed and flustered.
"That is not helping me calm down. But I'm fine thanks. I'll just get my things," Bella finally managed to get out.
Edward chuckled and stepped inside. He saw Charlie cleaning his weapons again. "Good morning, sir. Going hunting?"
"No, going to a conference. I have to be on the firing range for accuracy test," Charlie answered curtly as he snapped the shot gun back together.
"How long will you be gone?"
"Hmm, so will I. I am going hiking with my brothers. I was wondering if Bella might stay with Alice. I am not thrilled about her being alone what with the crime in Seattle."
"You're as bad as she is. But sure, that would be fine. Bella, remember what I told you."
"Sure. When are you leaving?"
"In a couple of hours. I left money for you in the usual place and I'll be calling to see how you're doing and to let you know if I've been murdered or not. But if I happen to miss a day, don't freak out. When me and some of the boys get going, we lose track of time."
"Sounds like a bunch of old maids to me," Bella said.
Edward tried to suppress a chuckle. Charlie gave them both a stern look.
"Ha ha, very funny. You better get going before I ground you again."
"Right. Have fun, Dad. Love ya," Bella said as she gave Charlie a quick hug.
"Love you, too, Bells. Edward," Charlie said as he followed them to the door.
"Have a nice time, sir," Edward said as Bella thought he was being too nice to Charlie and knew he did not deserve it.
“Yea and you too," Charlie replied halfheartedly as he locked the door behind them.
"He doesn't deserve that you know," Bella said as they drove down the road.
"What," Edward asked.
"You being so nice to him. I know you know what he thinks about you, about us."
"I do but I also have a sister who is a psychic and she does see Charlie coming around to our way of thinking."
"Not soon enough for you I am sure."
Bella was over talking about Charlie. The man was way too stubborn for his own good. She was more concerned about his plans for the day.
"So where are we going, Edward?"
"It is a surprise."
"You know how I feel about that."
"Which is exactly why I keep doing it."
They both laughed at this. A pure moment of bliss in their world of uncertainty.
Charlie made it to Seattle at a decent hour. He checked into the hotel and after placing his things in his room made his way down to the lounge to greet his fellow officers. It had been a very long time since he had seen some of them. But before walking inside he decided that he should check in on Bella to let her know that he had been serious about everything he had said to her. It rang six times before she finally picked up the phone.
"Hello," Bella answered.
"Hey, what took you so long? Too busy for your old man?" Charlie asked, curious but he tried not to act like it.
"No, Alice was painting my toes so I couldn't walk fast," Bella answered.
"What have you been doing since I left?"
“I went on a picnic with Edward by a waterfall."
"He sure has turned you into an outside kind of girl. You used to hate Forks weather and everything about it. Now you seem to love being outside."
"It has grown on me."
"And I suppose he had nothing to do with it?"
Charlie made sure to stress he'. He wanted his displeasure to be heard loud and clear.
"Dad, can we not do this right now?"
"Why not? He's not there is he?"
"No! Remember he left with his brothers today. What? You don't trust me?"
"Not where he's concerned! It is like you lose all your good sense when it comes to all things Edward! It's almost as if he holds some kind of spell on you or something."
"Whatever! I gotta go, Dad. My pizza is burning and I do have a guest you know. Alice, if she is still okay."
"Don't be smart, Bells. I am trying to help you see that there are other options."
"Dad, I don't want to date Jake. Not now, not ever! Are we done?"
"Sure, sure. I'll call later."
"Fine. Have fun," Bella replied curtly.
Then Charlie heard Bella hang up. Though he hated arguing with her, Bella had trouble seeing that Edward was in no way good for her. There was something about him that he could not put his finger on that bothered him about Edward.
Unbeknownst to Charlie a certain auburn tressed beauty was seated in the corner, hidden behind dark designer sunglasses. Victoria heard Charlie, whom she had seen while in Forks hunting for that murdering duo of Bella and Edward, speaking to Bella and obviously arguing about Edward. What luck! One of her favorite past times had paid off again. She loved sitting in hotels looking for her next victim. What were the odds that she would find the father of the woman who was the love of the man who had killed her mate, James?! This was perfect. She could change Charlie and have him kill Bella for her. No need to build a bigger army and have the Volturi she had heard rumors of actually showing up in her near moment of triumph. Victoria would simply destroy the rest of them. Maybe keep Riley around for fun and this Charlie around for protection. She loved the thought of Bella's father being the one who killed her. She'd toy with Charlie for a little to build his trust and go from there. If this worked out, Victoria was a genius.
Bella was still mad the following morning. Charlie had no right trying to push Jake on her. He was like a brother to her and nothing else no matter what Charlie or Jake might think.
"Still mad at Charlie I see," Edward said as he sat down on the bed beside of Bella.
"How'd you know? Alice," Bella enquired.
"Yes, she did inform me of your potential ire."
"She leave already?"
"Yes. Is that a problem?"
"You know we are in direct violation of Charlie's orders."
"Should I leave?"
"Yes and I'll go with you. Let me pack some things."
Bella ran around between her room and the bathroom. Edward watched her highly amused.
"You are aware Charlie has picked a husband for you already."
Bella stopped in her tracks. She knew all right. But it made her blood boil to hear Edward confirm it.
"JACOB BLACK?! Oh my God! I am so sick of this! I wished he'd leave me alone about this. It's like he thinks I cannot make up my own mind about anything!"
"Bella, he is just looking out for what he deems is best for you. Do not be so hard on him."
"Edward, how can you possibly take up for him about this?"
"Because I understand why he feels this way. I left you and I might add in a very bad state of mind. Jacob was here to pick up the pieces that I had left shattered behind. Which one of us looks like the more responsible of the two?"
"You need to stop taking the blame for this. I forgave you. Who else needs to? I'm the one who counts the most."
"When the time comes I would wish I could ask for your father for your hand. At least maybe he could give his blessing."
"I would not hold my breath. Or for that matter would I expect much from Mom either."
"I guess I will have to wait for when the time comes."
"You ask enough."
"And I get turned down every time."
"Maybe I'm not ready to give you the answer you want because you're not giving me what I want."
"If you are sure."
"Edward, I'm positive. Let's go."
Once in the car, Edward laughed at Bella's sullen mood.
"Love, you know sometimes I simply like to goad you."
"I know and it is one of your less attractive qualities. I expect it from Emmett but not from you."
"Now, my dear, that was low."
"Oh, you know I'm kidding."
Edward laughed and Bella snickered. She could not help herself. His laughter was always so contagious. It made her feel warm and safe. But that feeling left once Edward gripped the steering wheel so hard she expected it to crumble in his hands. Was it Victoria? The Volturi?
"What?" Bella finally blurted out.
"You have a guest waiting for you on the way to my house," Edward huffed.
"Yes, the mutt wants an audience with you."
"I don't want to see him today or any day."
"I can arrange it where you do not ever have to again."
"Don't go that crazy. What does he want?"
"Charlie asked him to keep tabs on you."
"God! That just figures. Pull over and let's get this over with."
ng here ...