4 Years Ago, Forks
It’s been years since Bella’s life changed so much. She changed when she moved to Forks. She changed again when she met and fell for Edward Cullen and his family. What he didn’t know was that he forced her to change again when he broke her that fateful day in the woods. No matter what Charlie did to help her, Bella remained trapped in a world that waited for a boy she thought she was in love with to return, only he never did.
She knew she would have to force herself to change again. Dragging herself out of that darkness, Bella felt nothing but apathy for a long time. Looking in the mirror, day after day, waiting for something to happen, but having it never to occur, was a disappointment. It wasn’t until her father began dragging her to the reservation that her life shifted again.
Since the pack knew that she was aware of vampires, they were comfortable enough to share their secret with her, in hopes to help heal the girl. Initially Paul wasn’t very welcoming to her, which she didn’t care about, but his anger stirred something inside, sparking the first emotion that she had felt since the Cullen family had left. Each time he mouthed off at her, Bella’s unexpected smile confused everyone, until she responded similarly, which seemed to break the ice between the two and created an unusual friendship between the human and shape shifting wolf.
Bella continued on through her senior year of high school in a semi-functioning lifestyle for her father, that just days before she was to leave for college in Seattle, she received a package in the mail. It had been nothing extravagant. Only a simple manila envelope addressed to her and no return. The contents however fueled how she would spend the following years.
Photos of someone she had been struggling to forget, appearing to be happy wherever he was. Staring at the glossy images in her hands, her mind kept going back to the promises and lies that were made in the days they shared together. Feeling stirrings of something deep inside, Bella shoved the photos back into the envelope and called her father to let him know that he was on his own for dinner before heading out to the reservation.
By the time she reached her friend’s house, the pack knew she was on the land and were gathered to find figure out what her reason was for the unannounced visit. By the time she revealed the photos, the only thing that kept the boys from wolfing out was her cold and calculated decision to get her revenge on him. One way or another. Bella knew it would take time and planning, but she was more than willing.
No one could figure out who would send such incriminating evidence to her, and if Bella had to guess, it would have been Rosalie. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t put much stock into her, or any of them because no one had attempted to contact her and Rose had been the least interested in becoming friends with her in all the time she had tried. Little did she know, that package was only the first of many surprises to come over the coming years.
Bella received more anonymous packages of photos over the following months with similar photos of her ex-boyfriend, living the good life around the globe. With each envelope, her anger grew more and more and her thirst for retribution, for the pain he caused her the prior year, increased. One afternoon, While she was in class, she had gotten a video on her cell phone from a blocked number. It was of Edward entertaining a human girl somewhere. It had taken everything in her from reacting outwardly and causing a scene.
It had been the final straw for her. She had left her class, calling her friends to fill them in on the newest update, before she made the sudden decision to do what she never allowed Alice Cullen to perform. By the time she was done, Bella walked out of the salon with darker hair, a sexier hair style, and a mischievous glint in her eyes.
4 Years Later, Present Time, Seattle
Charlie couldn’t be more proud of his girl. His daughter was a college graduate and she was a beautiful young woman. He had joined her at her apartment to help her pack up and move back home, as she had chosen not to live in the city until she decided what she wanted to do with her life, and he wasn’t going to argue with her on that. He was more than happy to have her home with him again, even if it was just temporary.
Having taken the weekend off of work to help with the move, he was sound asleep on the tight couch. Bella, though, had become an increasingly light sleeper the previous year as the news reports of missing people from her neighborhood left her with a sense of unease. That night, she found it impossible to sleep, allowing her to hear what was supposed to be a quiet entrance into her apartment.
The sound, echoed in her ears, had made her jump to her feet. Being a cop’s daughter, she had her phone next to her pillow and dialed 911 quickly. When she rushed out to the living room, the sight before her caused her to stop short, knowing that she would stand no chance.
Victoria had found her and held her father by the throat. Charlie looked back at her terrified, not knowing what was going on, but Bella was unable to show any emotion in the face of the vampire as she stared her down.
No words were ever exchanged. They didn’t need to be. Both women knew the reason for the situation and there was no way to stop it for the human. The police sirens in the distance distracted Victoria for half a second allowing Bella to express her love for her father with her eyes because when she turned back, Victoria was vicious in his death before promising hers and disappearing into the night.
Collapsing onto the floor, Bella was balled up in tears as she stared at Charlie’s body, silently promising revenge, when the police arrived. She was lucky that they didn’t ask her many questions right away because she wasn’t capable of getting much out and for the ones they did ask, she didn’t care to answer because right now, she only had thoughts of how to take Victoria down, and then get back at Edward for changing her life.
Present Time, Mystic Falls, Virginia
It was a bright sunny day in Mystic Falls when Jenna woke and started a fresh pot of coffee for her boyfriend. When he finally dragged himself down the stairs, he was still very much half asleep, making her smile at his ruffled appearance. As he poured himself a mug and sat down to his newspaper, Elena and Jeremy slowly reminded the adults of the house that they were still alive, figuratively speaking of course for the girl.
“Morning,” Elena grumbled as she went straight for the coffee, receiving similarly enthusiastic responses from everyone but Jenna, who was more awake than the rest.
Shaking her head in amusement, Jenna looked around at everyone. “So what is everyone doing today?”
“Grading papers,” Alaric replied with a grimace as he flipped the newspaper page.
“Nothing much. Probably just hanging around,” Jeremy answered as he hung on the refrigerator door, trying to decide on what he wanted to eat.
Elena didn’t get to respond, as the cell phone that had been left charging on the counter beside her, began vibrating. Looking down at it, she raised an eyebrow as she glanced at her friend with concern and a bit of suspicion. “Who’s Bella?” she asked as she held up his phone.
Alaric’s head snapped up at the name, eyes wide with surprise as he blinked back his shock. He seemed to be frozen as he stared at Elena, causing Jenna’s own hackles to rise at who this person could be with his lack of response. “Another ex?” she asked herself, narrowing her eyes, not so subtly reminding him of his not sharing the detail of his ex-wife being her niece’s biological mother.
Shaking his head, he scrambled from his chair and snatched the phone from Elena’s hand before it could go to voicemail. “Isabella?” he greeted as he answered it in a rush, confused and concerned as he strained to listen.
The others watched him initially with anger and frustration but as the whatever the caller said continued on, the humans could see the grief slowly take hold in the man. Elena however had been able to eavesdrop on both sides of the call, learning that the girl was calling regarding some man named Charlie and that he was dead.
“I’m so sorry Bella. Look, I have some sick days at work saved. I can take some time off and come out to give you a hand with the funeral. You don’t need to go through it alone,” Alaric said as he moved around the kitchen to finish up his breakfast, ignoring the questioning looks that were being thrown at him. “I’ll let you know when I know I’ll be in town.”
They exchanged a few more words before ending the conversation. He stood there staring at the phone for a moment, giving his older brother a moment of silence before he set about planning his arrangements again, trying to think about what needed to be done.
“Alaric? What is going on? Who are Charlie and Bella?” Elena asked, following behind him as he ran up the stairs to start packing. Her confusion was justified he knew, but he was too distracted to acknowledge her at first.
“Huh? Oh um, Charlie is actually my brother. Older, half,” he mumbled as he tossed clothes onto the bed.
She stared at him even more confused. Opening her mouth several times trying to find words to ask him to explain further, but failed. Hearing her aunt coming to the room, she shrugged helplessly.
With a sigh, Alaric ran his hands over his face as he turned to face the girls, mildly relieved that Jeremy was approaching behind them. Jeremy signaled to him, silently asking if he wanted him to stay or go, but he just waved him in, figuring that he may as well tell them all the story at once so that he didn’t have to repeat himself again later.
“My father was married before he met my mother and had a son. When they divorced, Charlie and his mom moved back west where her family was from. She took back her maiden name and made sure her son had it too so he doesn’t share the Saltzman name. Bella is his daughter, my niece. The last time I saw her, she was maybe thirteen? I don’t really remember. I had gotten busy with searching for Isobel after awhile so I wasn’t as much in contact with Charlie as I used to be growing up,” he explained as he sat on the edge of the bed, staring down at his hands.
Jeremy looked at him as he stayed back, listening quietly. He could see the guilt taking hold of his friend and mentor. “What happened?” he asked.
The older man looked up confused, even a bit angry. “Charlie was killed during a break in at Bella’s apartment this week. She called to let me know she’s working on planning his funeral, but knowing that damn town, she won’t be able to get away with doing something very small. While it’s a small sleepy place, he was the police chief for years so there has to be something of a memorial. I want to go there to give her a hand with everything.”
Jenna smiled sadly as she went over and pulled his face up to give him a kiss. “She will need you. I just wish you would have told us that you had more family sooner. Maybe they could have visited or you visited them,” she said. “Just keep in touch while you’re out there. I wish I could go with you but I have my classes.”
“I know,” he smiled back at her. “Thanks.”
“Well,” Jenna said looking at Elena and Jeremy, “you two have school, so go finish getting ready. And you,” turning to her boyfriend, “finish packing and setting up your trip. I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”
When neither child made a move to do what she requested, Jenna narrowed her eyes and asked what they were waiting for. “Aunt Jenna,” Elena started, while looking at her brother and friend with an amused expression, “it’s the holiday break. We don’t have school until after New Years.”
“Oh. Well, don’t you friends to hang with or boyfriends to bother? Get going. Leave Alaric alone so he can finish packing.” With that, Jenna smiled at Alaric and took her leave.
Jeremy watched Elena and Jenna make their way downstairs. After he was sure they were out of earshot, he turned and looked at Alaric. Alaric sensing that Jeremy wanted something asked, “What do you need Jer?”
“I was wondering if I can go with you,” he admitted quietly. “I figured you needed a friend and you shouldn’t do this all completely alone, even if you’ll have your niece there with you. You did just admit to not having seen her in years.”
Alaric was hesitant about taking him but he couldn’t entirely argue the kid’s point either. “What about school?”
Jeremy rolled his eyes at that. “My grades are up and I’m sure you can put in a good word for me. I’ll get extra assignments from my teachers to do on the trip if I must, to make everyone happy. I doubt you’d rather Damon come along with you for this kind of trip…”
He couldn’t help but to let out a snort at the thought. Even though he knew his friend could very well be serious when the situation warranted it, and he was sure that he would for his friend’s funeral, he wasn’t so sure he trusted the man with his niece. He took a moment to look at Jeremy and considered the request before sighing. Giving a reluctant nod, he accepted. “Go start packing. I’ll talk to Jenna. Just pray that she doesn’t kill me for this. I don’t have vampire blood in me to come back,” Alaric mumbled as he slid past him to go find his girlfriend.
As he made his way through the first floor, Alaric found Jenna in the living room with her school work spread out around her. “Hey,” he greeted softly with a small smile, making her look up at him.
She raised an eyebrow as she appraised the way he crept into the room. “Uh oh. Why do I have the feeling that whatever you want to say, I’m not going to like very much?”
He let out a sigh as he ran a hand through his hair and glanced away with a guilty expression. It wasn’t like he was hiding the fact that he was nervous in dragging Jeremy along in the middle of the school year, especially when he was finally doing decent in his grades. “Well…”
Jenna tossed her pen onto her work in defeat and sat back, crossing her arms as she narrowed her eyes on him. “Spit it out,” she demanded.
He hesitated under her scrutiny before taking a seat on the couch beside her. “Would you be okay if Jeremy tagged along with me? He might miss a few days of school when the break ends, but with the rate he’s been picking up his grades, I can make sure he keeps up with his studies…”
She just sat there staring at him for what felt like forever, not giving him any indication on what she might be feeling on his request. It only made him grow more agitated as he waited, causing her amusement at his discomfort to bubble to the surface and a giggle to escape. “Of course he could go with you. At least with him, you’ll manage to stay out of trouble,” she snorted.
Alaric narrowed his eyes on her, thinking about how much more trouble Jeremy had been finding himself in lately as compared to Elena, or even Damon for that matter. “You know, I am usually the one making sure everyone doesn’t go off the deep end around here,” he muttered as he left her cackling while she worked on whatever paper she had. Calling back to her as he headed back up to give the good news to Jeremy, he grumbled his thanks.
When he got to his room, he found Jeremy on the computer looking at a travel site. “Do you know what airport we need to fly into?” he asked.
“You knew she would say yes,” Alaric accused him with a mocking glare as he made his way over.
The kid shrugged a shoulder. “It’s Jenna. She almost never says no. So what? Seattle?”
“Yeah, then I guess we’ll just rent a car and drive the rest of the way. I don’t see the point in taking another put-put plane out towards Forks. It’ll take a little longer, but I hate those things,” he explained.
“Two tickets to Seattle then,” Jeremy nodded as he put in the information and waited for the available flight information to come up. It didn’t take long for a page long list to display and they both looked them over.
Alaric pulled out his credit card and tossed it onto Jeremy’s desk. “Do the red eye for tonight. That way with the drive from the airport, we can get into town at a decent hour and maybe bring Bella breakfast from the diner so that she doesn’t have to cook for us.”
“Sure thing,” Jeremy replied as he finalized the travel plans while Alaric made his escape to finish his own packing.
As he headed out, he was lost in his head about his brother and the lost chances over the years to get closer as they could have been. He knew that for awhile, Bella and him had some regular communication, which was why they still had one another’s numbers, but even they had grown apart. Despite the somber purpose for the trip, he was looking forward to seeing his niece again after so long.