7. On Guard
Within an eighth of a second inside I was in defense position, prepared for anything that caused me to protect my family. I could hear Jacob doing quick lapped circles around the house.
"Bella," Charlie whispered so Renesmee wouldn't hear, or what he thought she wouldn't hear. "What's going on?"
"I don't know, dad, but…something's not right," I tried to say as calm as possible.
"Hmmm." He turned to head for the front window.
"Dad, please stay close to me until Edward and Jacob come back," I commanded lightly, not wanting him near the window. Having him even a few feet away made me nervous.
He paused at the troubled caution of my tone and turned, looking at me curiously. This was the first time my father would see us in vampire mode.
I could tell by the look on his face he wasn't sure what to make of the protective stance I stood in either. As of today, the world we lived in was all was new to him.
"Sue, can you come in here please?" I requested. I didn't want her or anyone else far from me until we heard from Edward.
Charlie and Sue were the adults, but right now, I was their protector. If there was something out there, I'd have a better chance at it than they would. They were much too human, much too frail.
"What is it, Bella?" Sue walked quickly into the room, drying her hands off in a towel.
"We caught a strange scent. Edward and Jacob are checking it out. I just want everyone together until its safe." I'd made myself clear. Leaving my sight wasn't an option.
"Alright dear," she said, all too familiar with our kind of behavior.
Charlie and Sue sat down on the couch. My father picked up Renesmee and set her on his lap as they sat very still while I patrolled the room. I could feel him eyeballing me, trying to take all this in.
"It's alright, Charlie. Their senses are very keen. They are very cautious to check out any new scents they aren't familiar with," Sue said, trying to console the baffled look in his eyes. "The boys will be back soon with news I'm sure. We'll just wait here with Bella until then." She patted her hand on his knee for comfort.
"Mmm," Charlie grumbled under his breath. I'm sure it was odd for him to feel like he was the one who needed protecting. That was something my father wasn't used to.
In the distance I heard Edward coming back through the woods. Jacob met him out on the back patio when he arrived, and they stood there for a moment sharing their discoveries.
"I lost the scent past the creek," Edward told him. "It didn't come close enough to the house though; only up to that group of trees there."
I wish I could see what direction Edward was pointing in.
"That has to be the only trail too," Jacob replied. "I circled the house looking for more, and didn't find any."
Edward blew out a gust of breath. "I guess that's all we can do for now. Did you memorize the scent?"
"Of course," Jacob huffed. "And I'll keep my nose peeled for it." He continued arrogantly. Jacob could smell things just a bit farther than we could. It made him feel a little bit superior in that way, and cocky.
"Do you think it was an animal?" Edward ignored his tone, asking for Jake's opinion. I heard the metal from the screen door handle creak as it turned, and then the door opened.
I know Edward knew we were safe inside because he could hear us thinking, well, all but me. And they'd let him know by their thoughts if something had happened to me in the process.
I wasn't going to let my father know that Edward could read minds. And hopefully Jacob wouldn't either, but getting him to be quiet about anything was always so difficult. Usually what was in his head, tended to fall out of his mouth shortly after. We'll ask him to keep our extra abilities to himself if at all possible. Charlie was a private person; he liked his own space and doing his own thing. If he knew what Edward could do, he'd feel awkward all the time. And I didn't want him to have the added pressure of trying not to think.
"It was probably just an animal," Jacob replied to him when they entered the house. "I don't think we have anything to worry about. Animals come and go through here all the time."
"Hmm," Edward still sounded concerned. "Well, whatever it was is gone now."
"Whatever it was? You don't think it was an animal?" He challenged Edward with a look.
"I don't know. Maybe you're right."
It was clear Edward was wishing he knew what it was, and so did I.
I was walking the room when they came in together, unable to smell the scent anymore. Hopefully it was just an animal. We were in Forks, so anything was feasible when it came to nature.
"Everything seems to be ok," Edward announced then they reached the couch. "We think it was just a stray animal. I'm sure we scared it away when we took off after it. It headed back into the woods and its scent disappeared just past the creek."
We were all silent for a moment, looking at each other with different facial expressions.
"Ok…well…that was interesting." Charlie stood with a heavy sigh, slapping his hands to the sides of his thighs. "Anyone for a drink then?"
"I'll take a huge glass of water," Jacob placed his order.
"I'll get it." Sue jumped up. "You boys sit down and relax."
Charlie sat back down while Jake made his way to the back of the couch, standing just slightly behind him.
Sue was back with drinks for them, and then headed back into the kitchen to finish what she was doing before I called her into the room. I could hear water running in the sink, and then cut off when a plate interrupted its steady flow. She was cleaning up.
"Edward, should we stay here tonight?" My look was pleading. "Make sure whatever it was doesn't come back?"
"I think that's a good idea." He nodded.
"Grandpa," Renesmee clapped her hands, "we get to have a sleep over!"
Renesmee had never slept anywhere but in her own bed or at the Cullen house. She was obviously excited to be staying at grandpas. And so was I; because something about that burning scent had me on edge.
"Um…well…" Charlie looked up at me. I'm sure my father thought the idea of us standing guard was silly, but I nodded my head at him, making sure he knew we wouldn't be leaving, regardless.
"Well sure," he said to her. "You can sleep in your mommy's old room. If that's, ok?" He looked at me again.
I glanced over at Edward, letting him make the final call. We'd have to both be comfortable with the idea, since there was a new scent around.
"I don't see any problem with that." He smiled down at his daughter.
"Yea!" She cheered then jumped a good three feet off the floor.
My eyes widened and I froze.
"What the…? Charlie gasped.
Renesmee hadn't done things like that before. She knew she was to act as human as possible around grandpa. But I'm sure Jacob had told her what we had talked about outside, after Charlie called him out, babbling like he always does. And I'm sure she figured she could start doing things that were more normal to her.
"It's the vampire in her," Jacob blurted.
Edward growled at him, too low for Charlie to hear.
"What?" Jacob mouthed back.
We were used to leaps like that, but Jake would have to remember that our affirmation in Charlie's speculation was going to take some getting used to.
"Oh good…glad that's settled," Charlie mumbled, a little stunned.
"So, where are you two going to sleep tonight?" he asked me and Edward.
"Oh, they don't sleep," Jacob blurted out again, "but they do keep themselves busy." He laughed, implying what we all knew he meant.
Edward growled again, a tad louder, angrier.
"Jake!" I hollered. "Seriously, Charlie's had enough to take in today. Do you mind giving him some breathing room? Not everything all at once like that." I was annoyed. I couldn't believe he'd just said that. No wait, yes I could. Stupid mutt!
"Okay, okay." He rolled his eyes. "Sorry, Charlie."
"Uh, no, its okay, Bells." My father raised his palms up at me to relax. "It's actually a relief to start getting some answers. Even if most are beyond my human grasp of things. Although, I could have done without that last bit of information," he tried to play it off. But it was true; he could have done without it.
"That's the spirit, Charlie." Jacob slapped him on the back, nearly knocking him to the floor from the couch cushion he sat on.
Edward was there in a flash to catch him before his face met the floor and stand him upright.
Charlie's expression was dizzy. "You guys move like lightening, too?" He placed a hand on the arm of the couch to steady himself.
My poor father.
"Well, Edward does," I boasted, "but I'm not too far behind." I giggled once, boasting of myself, too.
"Alright." Charlie sighed. "Maybe I am getting more information than I should. Well, wait, what else is there that I don't know? Just hurry up and tell me what I'm missing." He flipped his fingers towards himself for us to let him have it, not in the mood for anymore surprises.
I looked at Edward for him to explain, he was much better at enlightenments than I was.
He nodded his understanding.
"Well," Edward sighed, preparing himself to run down the checklist, thanks to Jacob's slap. "Maybe you should sit down first Charlie," he advised. It was a pretty lengthy list.
Charlie took his advice and moved to sit down, then turned and pointed a finger at Jake before doing so. "No slapping," he warned him.
Jacob raised both his hand in the air in a promise. "They'll stay right here," he said, and then Charlie sat down cautiously and looked up at Edward for him to start.
"We don't eat or drink anything you already know….food wise that is, just animal blood," Edward began. His voice not wavering like mine would have.
Charlie's face cringed. No human would ever get used that part, even if they understood.
"We don't sleep and we move very fast," he continued, "faster than the human eye can keep up. But, you know that, too." Edward glanced down at the floor where he'd just caught my father.
Charlie nodded warily.
"Our skin is always cold, because blood doesn't move through us; and our senses are extremely sharp. We can hear, see and smell over a very wide range. We are very strong and can jump vast distances and heights."
Charlie looked at Renesmee, then at me. Amazed I hoped. But I couldn't tell by the look in his eyes and the way his eyebrows were raised. And why did I suddenly feel like my father wanted to ground me to the house after hearing such things?
"We don't go out in the sunlight because our skin isn't like human skin…"
"They shimmer, Charlie. It's hilarious!" Jacob cut him off. "You definitely have to see that!" He laughed.
Edward glared at him angrily, sighed and shook his head in irritation.
Jacob bit his lips together to stop his laughing, but I could still see the corners of his mouth turned up in a smirk.
"Shimmer?" The word fell out of Charlie's mouth, unable to comprehend what he meant.
"Yeah," Jacob controlled his giggle to avoid another glare from Edward, "like hundreds of diamond going off all at once. It's kinda creepy really." He pretended to shutter and I shot a dagger out of each eye at him.
"Oh…" Charlie made a face. "So, it doesn't burn you?" he asked Edward.
"Not at all," he replied with a hint of an amused grin. "Forget everything you've seen in movies, Charlie. What you've heard tonight is what we really are."
"That's…quite a lot." Charlie processed all the information as quickly as possible. Then he looked at me. "Bells, you can do all that? Really?"
"Yeah, dad, it's cool. I'll show you sometime. And, I don't fall down anymore. My balance is perfect." I stuck my arms out and did a perfect model's spin as a grin washed across my face.
Charlie didn't seem all that impressed with one quick spin from me, but I was. I hated falling.
It was weird, but it really was cool to be able to talk about all this with him. And he was doing so well with it, too. I was impressed with Charlie. Plus, I figured once the shock of what Jacob was had worn off, he'd be better inclined to deal with us.
Edward walked over by Jacob when I did my graceful turn, so my father couldn't see him. He pointed to his head and shook his head 'no'. Letting him know we didn't want Charlie to know about our metal abilities, or any vampire 'abilities'.
Jacob understood as he threw his hands up in a 'whatever' motion.
The stuff like mind reading, knowing the future, protective shields, emotion control and the Volturi…needed to remain secret for as long as possible. Especially the Volturi. They could never know my father now knew about the world of vampires.
"So, Jacob," Charlie turned to him, "what do you do?" I think he was looking to be just as impressed.
"That's easy. I phase into a gigantic wolf, you know, a shape shifter, like I showed you."
Charlie's face soured at the memory.
"I run extremely fast and can jump vast distances, too. My senses are also very keen. And I rip vampires apart…" He trailed off with a laugh, punching Edward in the shoulder.
Jacob was the only one who found that funny.
"Well, we used too," he backtracked quickly. "We don't anymore. They're our friends now—now that Bella brought us together." He looked at me with a semi-apologetic expression, hoping he'd recovered himself well.
Like I said…'stupid mutt'.
"You've ripped a vampire apart?" Charlie choked on his own words. "When?"
Jacob thought quickly. "Um…no," he lied. "We are trained too, but no need to worry with the Cullen's. They're good peop…" he stopped, "uh, good vampires." He corrected himself.
I was so close to killing him.
"Actually, dad," I jumped in to save any further conversations about any past vampire fights. "Renesmee's the one who brought us all together. She's had us all wrapped around her little finger since the day she was born." I opened my eyes wide at Jacob. "Isn't that right, Jake?"
He huffed a laugh. Let him explain that one.
"Right." Jacob scowled at me from behind the couch where Charlie couldn't see him.
"She is hard to resist," Charlie said, pulling her in close to him and kissing her on her head.
"Jake's my best friend," Renesmee said, followed by a yawn.
"Oh, is he now," Charlie teased, patting her shoulder.
"For forever." She yawned again, longer, deeper this time.
Jacob made a conceited face at me, as if to say "Did ya hear that? For forever, Bella."
Forever…I rolled my eyes to no one. Goodie.
Renesmee's was growing more and more tired as she snuggled up against her grandfather; her eyes becoming heavier with each blink. The light from the windows had faded a while ago, as darkness took its place. I glanced at the clock on the wall that showed it was 8:00.
"Bella, would you like me to take her?" Edward asked moving in towards his daughter.
"No, it's alright," I replied, not having been in my room in a while, and wanting to see it again.
"Okay." He kissed the top of my head, then his daughter's. "Good night, Nessie. Sleep tight," he told her.
"Good night, daddy, good night, Jake, good night, grandpa." She waved to her three favorite men as I scooped her up in my arms and carried her off towards the stairs, taking the opportunity to put her to bed while the boys continued to talk some more.
"Edward," I heard Charlie say. "Does this mean you're going to have to leave now?" And I froze. I could here the sadness in his voice, guessing he'd remembered our conversation from over a year ago. The one that said as long as Charlie didn't know what we were, we could stay.
I listened closely as I took each step as slow as possible, waiting to hear Edward's answer.
"I don't think leaving right now would be in anyone's best interest, Charlie," Edward replied, "as long as you can keep our secret. Can you do that?"
"Of course he can," Jacob intervened. "Look how good he's done with me for the last year."
"That's what we're counting on," I heard Edward say. "Are you good with that, Charlie?" He enunciated Charlie's name in a way to let Jake know he didn't' want any more answers from the wolf.
"Yes, I'm good with that," Charlie said, his voice promising. "Whatever it takes to keep you guys around; I'm good with."
"Then we'll stay as long as it's safe for us," Edward told him.
Safe for Charlie is what I knew Edward meant to say, but didn't.
Only two options, I thought to myself. And we were leaving my father with a third. A third one that didn't exist. A third one that was in direct disobedience to the law. We were leaving him human.
I continued up the stairs quickly.
It was weird to be in my old room. I had never smelled it quite so well before. The cotton in the sheets and curtains, and the metal bed frame were all so clear. I could even hear the electrical hum coming through the outlet that still had the computer plugged into it. My desk and dresser were definitely made from oak, and I don't think Charlie has dusted in here since I left. The particles tickled at my nostrils, and my daughter laughed at the funny face I made from it.
I pulled the comforter back and tucked Renesmee snuggly in. Reminding her that daddy and I still didn't want her to show grandpa the things she could show us with her touch. That he wasn't ready yet.
She nodded and placed her hand up to my face, asking me to hum her lullaby for her so she could fall asleep like at home. And I did.
After she was sound asleep, I made a quick sniff of the room. Identifying all the scents, just incase, then went to head back down.
Edward met me half way on the stairs, speaking soft enough for me to hear. "I just called Carlisle and told him we were going to be staying here tonight, as a precaution."
"Thank you," I smiled.
He sighed, then looked me up and down.
I read his mood.
"So," I raised an eyebrow, looking him up and down in return. "What do you want to do tonight?" I whispered. We weren't in the privacy of our own home, and he knew what I meant.
"Hmm…" He ran his fingers through my hair, causing me to melt into them. "I'm thinking we'll have to be quiet…tonight." He winked.
I giggled. Was that possible?
When we both arrived back into the living room, we noticed Charlie was going to be good at a normal routine after today. I'd been gone only a few minutes and already he had a ball game on TV and popcorn in his lap. Edward and Jacob joined him on the couch while I went to go catch up with Sue in the kitchen.
After the game was over, and Charlie looked bushed, Sue said goodnight to us all while gathering her stuff together.
"Jake, you need a ride?" Charlie asked half yawning and stretching.
"Naw, that's okay," he answered, waving a hand at Sue for her to go on without him. "I'm gonna stay here and help keep a look out tonight." He smiled arrogantly at Edward and me. "If that's alright, Charlie?"
"Yeah, I guess that'll be fine." Charlie stood up and stretched his back before walking Sue out to her car. "The more the merrier, I guess."
Once my father left the room, I leaned over Jacob's shoulder and whispered crossly in his ear, "What do you mean you're staying here tonight?"
"Don't worry, Bella." He ignored my irritation. "After Charlie goes to bed, I'll go sleep on the floor by Nessie and curl up like a good boy." He taunted sarcastically like a dog going down for the night.
"Edward?" I glanced at him to make sure that arrangement was okay; secretly hoping he'd send him home.
He pursed his lips. "That's fine, Jake. I know you want to keep an extra ear out for her," he was trying to be polite, even though Jacob had become a bit insensitive once things were out in the open. Something about his attitude this whole evening was over smug. He'd been making comments and decisions he shouldn't have.
"Sweet," Jake replied, clapping his hands together once, as if he knew Edward's answer already. "Just don't break anything in here, though." He pointed to Charlie's flat screen TV and the lamps around the room. "I'd hate to hear you guys have to try to explain what happened." He chuckled rudely. "Or, maybe that might be fun…" He added with a grin, unaware of the death wish he was creating for himself.
I sent a low growl and burning stare at him.
He rolled his eyes at my stern warning. "What are you gonna do, Bella? Hurt me? Rat out my imprinting to Charlie?" He laughed then, and I wanted to say 'yes' to his second question.
As soon as Jake turned, ready to head into the kitchen, still laughing; I watched Edward stick his foot out, just enough, and watched Jacob stumble, then tumble immediately head over heels on the wooden floor in loud thumps.
He jumped up instantly and lunged.
Edward eagerly awaited him with malice in his dark eyes, then crouched back in his direction, facing him, ready.
But when Jacob remembered he was not in wolf form, not phasing for Charlie's sake, he backed off angrily, staring Edward down.
Now I'd pay money to see that fight…