When Bella woke, the first thing she noticed was that she was warm. Too warm. Her faced was flushed and she felt drops of sticky moisture pearling on her forehead. She found that she was covered with several heavy, thick blankets. She tried to push them off, but her body was stiff and her limbs were heavy, like she had been laying in the same position for hours.
Bella tried to remember where she was and how she had gotten here, but her mind was sluggish, and nothing was coming to her.
Suddenly, she heard some movement to her right. She jerked her head toward the sound and felt a wave a nausea as her head spun. Ignoring the dizziness, she tried to focus her tired eyes to determine the source of the movement.
After a few moments, the spinning stopped and her focused on a small woman sitting in a plush chair with a book in her lap. She looked older than Bella, and was very pretty. Her dark her was cut in a pixie style that accentuated her petite, elfin features and framed her small face. She had on a pair of well fitted jeans and a white peasant blouse. Her amber eyes were watching Bella intently as if she had been waiting for her to wake up. When the woman's eyes focused on her, Bella cringed and she felt her eyes bore right into her.
Even though the woman had yet to speak or move, she could feel the alarming energy that radiated from her. Bella briefly recalled a program that she had seen on the Discovery channel that featured animals that were ready to strike. The woman had the same presence and Bella prepared herself for an attack.
The woman got up and moved toward her. Bella instinctly flinched away and skid to the other side of the bed without getting up. She couldn't help but notice how graceful the woman was. She also noticed that her first impression of the woman's age was incorrect. Her face was sweet and youthful, and Bella thought that she had been mistaken about the woman being older than her, she looked only about sixteen.
The woman realized that she had startled Bella and halted momentarily, hovering where she stood, waiting for her to relax.
"I know you are scared. That's okay. My name is Alice." her voice was deep and husky, yet her tone was gently and soothing. "Are you hungry?"
Bella was stunned. This is not the words that she had been imagining. Her mind was screaming a million responses but all she could croak out was a weak, "What?".
"Food? Would you like some?" she calmly asked. There was no menace in Alice's response and she seemed genuinely concerned. Bella was not sure, but she thought she heard amusement too.
"Where am I?" Bella said and ignored the food offer. At least my voice sounded stronger, she thought.
"You are in my home and you are a guest," Alice replied. "How about I send for some food? There is a bathroom through there and I'm sure you would like to clean up." as she pointed to one of the doors.
Bella just stared with her month open. She had been kidnapped, was in this woman's home and she was talking to her about ordering food and showering. She didn't know what to think.
"You will find clean clothes in that dresser. Help yourself to anything you like." Alice kept talking as if all of this was perfectly normal and she was really was an invited guest, except guest didn't have their host watching over them as they slept.
"I need to go home. My mom will be worried," Bella stammered.
Alice looked at her and her amber eyes held pity. "No. Your mom will not be worried," she said and picked up the phone right away and began speaking into to it without dialing. Bella couldn't make out the words Alice said but could tell she was placing an order of some kind.
"Of course my mom will be worried," Bella replied harshly. "She thinks I'm in my room. She's going to have a fit when she realizes that I'm not there anymore. I need to go home." She reasoned, but the last part sounded more like a whine. "Now." she added for emphasis.
Alice hung up the phone. "No, I told she won't be worried. Now, food will be here in twenty minutes. Go clean up and then we will eat." It was an order. Her amber eyes flashed and Bella realized that she was no push over. Alice was a woman of great strength. Bella shivered.
Bella sat up in bed and crossed her arms. She was not going to do anything this woman told her even if she was scared.
"I think you owe me an explanation." she said. Bella told herself that she was not going to move until someone explained where she was, when she was going home. She sat there trying to pretend to be stronger than she was, when actually all she wanted to do was curl up, cry, and beg to be taken home but she wasn't going to give Alice the satisfaction of seeing that. Bella didn't want her to know how scared she really was.
Alice did not respond. In fact, she reading her book like she hadn't even heard her. The silence was deafening, but Bella was resolved not to give in. The minutes went by and Bella felt each one acutely. She knew that if it came to a battle of wills, she would lose.
She looked away, and began to look for the first time at the room she was in. She was laying in a massive four poster bed in the middle of a large room. The room was not chilly, so Bella kicked off the first few colorful quilts and found that she was still fully clothed but someone had removed her shoes.
There was an unlit fire place to her left, several dressers and a huge writing desk. Several other plush chairs were scattered around the room. All the furniture was wood and look solid and heavy and the walls were painted a bland cream that went perfectly with the dark wood.. It was the kind of furniture that was rarely made anymore and it glowed, like it was regularly polished by loving hands. Under different circumstances, she would have loved this room.
Directly across from where she lay in the bed, was a huge window that was large enough to possibly be a doorway out, but the heavy blue velvet curtains were closed. Bella didn't know what time of day it was, but made a mental note that that might be a potential escape route if Alice attacked. It seemed very unlikely, but Bella wasn't forgoing any possibilities.
Her mind wandered, and she found herself wonderinghow she got here. However, all that can to mind was the gentle feeling of Edward's last touch and then waking up here. She was startled that even now, as she thought about Edward, she could feel her body react again.
What had happened? She had never heard of anyone's touch knocking a person out. She thought that maybe he had really hit her and that she just didn't remember it. Maybe it was magic? Bella dismissed that theory immediately. She knew that that was not possible.
She realized then, that there was more to Edward than she had thought. He had called her from the trees when there was no way she should had been able to hear him. Then she wondered about the draw she had felt toward him, which was like a magnetic pull that she couldn't fight.
Bella was miles away, thinking about Edward, when there was a soft knock at the door, Bella jumped, distracted by her thoughts. She watches as Alice got up to let an old man push a cart full of silver covered trays into the room. He bowed slightly to Alice and left without a word.
Bella could smell the food and her stomach rumbled embarrassingly. Eggs, bacon, something fruity and a few smells she couldn't place came from the cart. There was even coffee. Bella never did like the taste of coffee but had always enjoyed the smell and she could tell that the coffee was rich and freshly ground just from the deep aroma.
Alice moved the cart closer to the bed and began removing the covers from the various platters. Bella noticed how graceful Alice was in even those simple movements.
"Go on, eat. You'll need your strength." Alice's voice was calm.
Bella did not respond. She just sat there and tried to ignore the aroma of the food. She did not know how long she had been sleeping and the granola bar she had eaten before any of this had happened was a poor substitute for a meal. She was hungry and her growling stomach was betraying her and challenging her resolve to refuse the food.
"You're not hurting anyone but yourself by not eating. You may as well have a bite." Alice was talking to her like a child, but she did smile encouragingly.
Bella wasn't ready to give in. They both sat there for awhile in a stalemate. After a few minutes, Alice sighed and went back to her chair and book.
"Suit yourself." she said quietly.
Bella could ignore the food. She told herself that it was probably poisoned anyway and that she was doing herself a favor by not eating it.
She wondered if her mom had noticed that she was gone yet. Unless the school called to find out why she was absent, she probably hadn't. Rarely did mom wake up before Bella and Jessica left for school. Jessica would have noticed something, though. Normally, they ate breakfast together before going their separate ways. Bella walked to school and Jessica had one of her 'boyfriends' pick her up and she was never without one of those.
Bella wondered if Jessica would wake mom up when she didn't come down for school. It had never happened before so Bella wasn't sure. She was normally the one who had to wake up her sister. She probably woke up late and didn't even check to see where Bella was. She figured Jessica would probably think that Bella had a crush on Mike Newton and was jealous that he wanted to go out with her and failed to wake her up on purpose.
Bella shivered at the thought of liking Mike in that way. She never had, but Jessica thought her opinion was the only one that mattered, and if she thought Mike was to die for, then everyone else must feel that way too.
Bella sighed and laid back down on the bed, pulling the remaining blankets around her. She wasn't sure what she was going to do. Her mind wandered all over the place until it fell on Edward again. She was still sure that she had seen him before.
Bella ran through everything that she could think of to try and place him; the grocery store, Wal-Mart, gas stations. But nothing seemed to fit.
She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but suddenly, a thought came to her and she sat bolt upright. Maybe Edward would tell her what was going on because he was the one that had sought her out and there had to be a purpose for it. She decided to test this idea.
"Where's Edward?" Bella asked breaking the silence.
Alice looked up from her book a little startled. Bella realized that she had not been paying that much attention to her.
"Why do you want to know where Edward is?" Alice seemed a little suspicious. Bella also thought that she heard something else in her voice but couldn't quite place it.
"Well…he brought me here, right?" Bella asked tentavely. She was trying to word this carefully so Alice wouldn't be suspicious. "I …ah…want to talk to him."
"You can ask me anything that you would ask him," Alice replied eying her.
"Can I see him?" Bella tried to sound innocent, but ignored Alice's comment.
Alice just looked her and thought for a moment. "Why don't you clean up first. Then I will see if Edward wants to see you." Bella was not convinced that she would but, at this point, she didn't know what her options were.
A shower and clean clothes were starting to sound appealing. Bella still did not know why she was here or where here even was, but she figured she may as well be comfortable. She slid toward the end of the bed and swung her legs around to get up. She hadn't realized how high it was. Her feet didn't touch the ground and for a moment she felt like a little kid.
"While you are changing, I'll have Robert bring up some sandwich's. I know you have got to be hungry and you didn't touch any of the other food," Alice said cheerfully as she pointed at the now cold breakfast trays.
Bella knew that not enough time had passed for the transition from breakfast to lunch but didn't argue. The food looked cold, rubbery and completely unappetizing. She just nodded her head and slid off the bed. Her head spun a little when she first got to her feet. Balancing herself she looked around again.
"I'm going to step out and give you some privacy. When you are done, just pick up the phone and ask for me. I won't be far." Alice smiled and left the room. When she closed the door, Bella heard the sound of a lock engage and groaned at the sentiment. Alice didn't trust her.
Bella just shook her head. She was having a difficult time figuring Alice out. One minute she was acting like a girl who had a guest over for a slumber party, the next like a guard dog freak.
With Alice out of the room, Bella walked over to the window and lifted the heavy curtain. What she saw took her breath away.
"Oh my God," she said to herself.
It was dusk. She must have been out for an entire day. Bella recognized nothing. Instead of the tall green trees that dominated the Forks landscape, there were rolling hills covered with feathery waving grasses. The kind of foothill you see at the base of a mountain. Her room was at least four stories up. She tried to slide the window open.
"Damn it," she muttered. The window was locked tight and wouldn't budge. She stood there for a few more minutes. There were no tell tale signs of city lights anywhere in the horizon. There was only the never ending roll of hills. A few trees dotted the immediate landscape and Bella guessed that they were planted. Their positioning was too perfect and they weren't like any of the thick forests around Forks that she was used to. There was what looked like a small pond a little ways away toward the east. The dimming light sent long shadows over it and made the water sparkle like pools of silver.
She could see very little of the building she was in. The walls were stone she could tell that much from trying to crane her neck against the glass. She fleetingly wondered if she was in a castle, but shook that thought off immediately. No one lived in castles any more.
Bella realized, with a sigh, that she was not getting out through here and closed the curtains. She told herself that she would find another way out. She walked over to the dresser Alice had said there were clothes in. When she opened the first deep drawer, Bella saw that there were indeed plenty of clothes. She grabbed the first pair of jeans that she saw. Inspecting them she saw that they were designer and, luckily, her size. She probed further and found a dark blue shirt and grabbed that as well.
The next drawer held an assortment of under garments. Some which made her blush just looking at them. There was a lot of silk and lace and Bella had to dig to find some white cotton. Surprisingly, everything she found was in her size.
"Hmmm," Bella said to herself and opened the door to the bathroom.
However, this was no bathroom, it was a spa. The room was bigger than her entire living room at home. There was a marble vanity with two sinks, and a long mirror covered the entire wall over them. There were several cabinets that looked more like a wardrobe than a place to store bathroom supplies. Marble steps, that perfectly matched the vanity, led up to a bathtub that could hold several people. Bella fantasized about soaking in it but quickly chastised herself. You aren't on vacation she reminded herself.
Bella threw the clean clothes on the sink and searched through one of the cabinets for soap and shampoo. She found what she was looking for. At least she thought she found it. The labels, adorning the brand new bottles, were all in a foreign language, she thought might be French, but she didn't really have a clue, so she was judging by the bottle type and smell.
Clutching her finds, she gingerly walked over to the shower, feeling slightly alien in this pristine environment, and reached out a hand to turn it on, aware of the finger marks she left on the gleaming chrome as she did so. The shower boast of three shower heads place a varying heights and it took her a minute to figure out how to operate it. The water was hot, and steam was quickly filling the room, misting up the mirrors and glass door of the shower. Bella stripped off her old clothes and climbed into the shower. She scrubbed
herself and washed her hair. After she was done, she just stood there and let the hot water relax her body. She childishly hoped that she would use all of the hot water in the house.
Her mind wandered, and everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours suddenly rushed through her brain; she had no need to be brave in the shower. Tears welled up in her eyes as she thought of home and her mom and sister. Would she ever see them again? Would she ever be home again? What was going to happen to her? The tears that at first were gently cascading down her cheeks grew into great wracking sobs, and she took in great gasping breaths of hot steamy air. The next thing she knew, she was on the floor of the shower, with her knees drawn to her chest, bawling into the humid mist.
But the shower had to end at some time. Her fingers and toes were completely wrinkled and she had been unsuccessful in draining the hot water it kept coming, just as warm as when she first turned it on. Sniffing and hiccoughing slightly, Bella pulled herself up and let the hot water wash away the last of her tears. Turning off the water at last, she reached for a huge white towel, taking a moment to notice just how soft and warm it was, and dried herself quickly. She used another towel to wrap her wet hair into a neat twist. She splashed some cold water onto her eyes, hoping that this would hide the fact that she had been crying; she didn't want Alice or more importantly Edward, to know that she had shed tears.
Bella only took a minute to get dressed. After she was done, she opened the door into the room, almost expecting to see Alice sitting in the chair again, but the room was empty. The breakfast tray had been removed and, in its place, was a platter with several meat varieties and a loaf of what looked like freshly made bread.
Her stomach rumbled loudly as she caught the aroma of the bread. The warm, doughy made her mouth water but she didn't want to take Alice up in her hospitality. With her stomach making an even louder noise, Bella realized that she was starving and gave in to her hunger. Only one she compromised with herself as she made herself a sandwich and sat down in the chair next to the phone. It tasted even more delicious than she had imagined, and she scoffed it down in debated a second, but now her stomach was slightly satisfied, the need to see Edward was more compelling. Hesitating slightly, she picked up the phone.
A official sounding voice on the line immediately responded, "Operator."
"Ummm. I'm looking for Alice." Bella inquired, not entirely sure if she should tell them who she was and what she wanted Alice for but she didn't need to. The voice responded with a quick 'Of Course' and the line went dead.
Bella hung up the phone. There was nothing to do but wait now. She pulled her legs under her and said a silent prayer that she would be able to talk to Edward, and that he would explain that this was all a misunderstanding and take her home. She decided that she wouldn't even report this to the authorities if she just got home safely.
After a few minutes, the door opened without a knock. Bella sat upright, tense with apprehension and turned her head to see Alice walk into the room. She was surprised that she had gotten there so quickly and wondered if she had been waiting outside the door.
"Can I see Edward now?" Bella hopefully asked.
"Not yet," Alice replied with a smile. "There are some things that need to be explained to you. Come here." She moved and sat down on the end of the bed, patting the sheets next to her
Bella hesitated, unsure of what she wanted to do but she did not want to get Alice upset with her. Her only chance of survival might be by following her directions. She got up and took a few steps closer to Alice. Alice motioned for her to come closer and then told her to turn around with her back to her.
Bella did as she was told but didn't breathe. She wasn't sure what Alice was capable of but didn't put anything past her.
She felt the towel that she wrapped her hair with being pulled off and then felt the pull of a brush. Even though Alice was only brushing out her hair, Bella couldn't relax. She was technically an adult and no one had brushed her hair for her in years. It made her more than a little uncomfortable.
"Alright," Alice said after her hair was finished. It fell long and wet against her back and Bella could feel the moisture from it clinging to her back through the shirt. "I want you to come with me."
Bella nodded mutely and looked around the room for her shoes. She saw them by one of dressers and walked over to grab them. She quickly slipped them on and followed Alice out of the room.
After being in the room, Bella should have been able to imagine what the rest of the home looked like, but the sight took her breath away. They were on the fourth floor of a massive complex. The one side of each pf the four walls of the structure was lined with doors. The entire center of the building was open, and Bella could see all the down to a massive atrium on the ground floor. It was green and lush with a fountain bubbling in the center. The only thing keeping her from stepping off and falling all the down was a black wrought iron railing. She noticed that each of the floors were surrounded with the same.
There were wide stairs on either side of the complex facing each other. They walked around to the stairs on the left. She looked up to notice that the center of the ceiling was full of hanging bright lights that emitted heat like a warm summer day. Pieces of art work adorned the walls but she didn't pay any attention to what they were. Instead she concentrated on each step as she followed Alice down.
She did notice that between every set of doors were several chairs and loveseats in royal blue and red velvet. They looked squishy and soft and the wood work on each had the same polished glow as that in the room she had been in.
They walked down the three levels to the first floor. Each level was decorated the same. Whoever owned this building had money beyond belief. No expense was spared in any of the work that went into designing and decorating.
Alice led her to a double door that was in the corner of the ground floor almost directly under the stairs. She knocked lightly and then, without waiting for a response, open the door and motioned for Bella to go in.
Bella did. It was an office of sorts. The main focus of the room was a large mahogany desk with papers piled haphazardly on it. Behind the desk was a full bookshelf filled to overflowing with leather bound volumes. Bella couldn't make out any of the titles and wondered what the people in this home read. In front of the desk were several chairs. Alice led her to one, and Bella sat down still looking about her. There was also a fire place in the room and another door. Alice headed to the door.
She didn't say anything. She just opened the door and then came back to sit in the chair nearest to Bella.
"What are we doing in here?" Bella asked.
"Shhh," Alice said quietly. "and only speak when directly questioned."
This really got Bella's mind turning. They were waiting for something or someone and she wasn't allowed to speak. She wondered who would be coming in.
She didn't have to wait long. The door opened and two men and another woman entered the room. They were all beautiful. One of the men was massively muscled with short brown hair. The other man was tall, blond and extremely graceful. He was well built but looked lanky next to the other but there was an air of confidence about him. The woman had light brown hair and a motherly look to her. She was thin but curvy.
The blonde man moved around to sit at the desk with the woman standing by his side. The burly man remained standing by the door like a guard. He seemed to be on edge and waiting for something.
"My name is Carlisle," the blonde man spoke. "This is my wife, Esme and our son Emmett." He gestured to each as he introduced them.
The woman, Esme, gave Bella a soft smile and Bella decided that this is a woman who might help her.
"There are a few others like us," Carlisle continued. "I'll introduce them when they are available. You'll have enough to deal with without trying to remember who is who."
Bella mind was screaming again at this man. Carlisle's words, 'A few others like us', and 'you will have enough to deal with'.She wondered what all of this meant.
Bella said nothing as instructed by Alice though, she didn't think She would have been able to speak even if she wanted to.
"Do you know why you are here?" Carlisle asked.
Bella just shook her head no. Why would she know why she was brought here.
"Well, my dear," Carlisle said gently. "The fact is, you can see us and that makes you valuable."
Bella's mind kicked on. She remembered Edward saying something similar. He had said that he was in her yard because she could see him.
"That doesn't make any sense," Bella managed to choke out. "Of course I can see you; you're right in front of me,"
Carlisle smiled. He nodded toward Emmett who slipped back into the other room.
"Bella, dear, lets you and I walk." Carlisle got up and moved toward her. "Esme, Alice. Will you two see to Edward, please?"
Both women nodded and silently left the room. Carlisle was standing in front of Bella, who really hadn't moved since sitting down. He extended his hand toward her in a universal gesture of gentlemanness. Bella took his hand and got out of the chair.
"Let me show you the grounds," Carlisle said warmly.
He led her back out the door into the atrium. He showed her the plant life and named off some of the more exotic plants. Bella knew she would never remember any of them and wasn't even trying. She was only focused on not fainting and appearing weak.
Carlisle led her to some ornately carved doors and pushed them open. Even in the dark, Bella could see that the landscape was beautifully done and meticulously kept. She followed him into the night to a small wrought iron bench that was positioned underneath a large tree. Bella didn't know a lot about tree types but she recognized the feathery hanging braches of a willow.
"Sit," Carlisle said, gesturing toward the bench.
Bella sat down and clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking. Carlisle had done nothing to hurt her or cause her to fear him but she wasn't sure that she could trust him. She kept her head down and could feel him scrutinizing her.
"I imagine that you have a lot of questions right now, but I ask that you be patient and I will explain everything in due time," he told her gently. He turned and sat down beside her. "Would you like to hear my story?"
"I…I don't know," Bella stammered, taken back by the unexpected offer. "I really just want to go home."
"I'm sorry Bella, but that I cannot allow. You see, we need you," Carlisle said. "And I think, that you may need us too."
"But that doesn't make any sense!" Bella cried in frustration. She could feel the tears beginning to slip from her eyes and roll slowly down her cheek. She hadn't wanted to break down in front of this man, or anyone, but she couldn't control the emotion.
"Ahh, Bella," Carlisle soothed softly. "It's alright to be upset. You have so much to learn and you have no answers yet."
Carlisle moved and put his arms around her and let her cry into his shoulder. This act of kindness from the very man who was denying her the one thing she really wanted brought on a new wave of tears. Tears not only caused by the kidnapping, but tears for the loss of her father. No one had held her like this since his death and Carlisle had such a fatherly air about him.
She didn't know how long she cried for but the tears finally let up and she found herself still lying in the crook of his arms with her head on his shoulder. Carlisle didn't move her away but let her lay there. Bella felt her breathing return to normal and reached up to wipe her face and nose. Carlisle was quicker than her and had a handkerchief waiting.
"Thank you," Bella said. She was glad that her did not make a fuss at her display of weakness.
"You are not weak because you shed tears Bella. Tears are only a sign of the great love you hold for those around you," Carlisle said quietly.
Bella looked up at him and wondered how he knew what she was thinking and why Alice had told her not to speak until questioned.
Carlisle smiled brilliantly at her. "I cannot completely read minds Bella, but I am gifted in that I can see into a person and know what he or she is thinking to a point. The stronger the emotion, the more clear it is to me. It's easier for me to get a read on a person if they are not speaking. Words can muddle up my impressions. "
Bella just looked at him blankly. She had no idea what to say to that. So instead she wiped her eyes, blew her nose and gripped the handkerchief in her hands.
"Where's Edward?" she did dare to ask.
"Edward is being looked after by Alice and Esme. You see you're presence here has…." Carlisle searched for the right words."…let's just say that he is having a difficult time right now."
"But why? I mean, he was the one that dragged me here. If my being here was so hard for him, shouldn't he just left me alone when I told him to?" Bella felt no pity for her kidnapper and secretly was glad he was suffering for what he did to her.
She could see that Carlisle was amused. "You, of all people, should know that it is not that simple."
"Humph." was all that Bella got out.
"If you would let me tell you my story. I think that it might help explain a little." Carlisle looked at her in a way that made her feel calm.
Bella adjusted herself in the bench.
"Okay," she said. "Tell me your story."