Disclaimer: This chapter does have assault and rape explained so I want to make sure you have a warning in case this triggers trauma for someone.
"Hey Edward," Alice's breezy voice greeted me on the second ring.
"Hey Ali," I answered.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of this early morning call?"
"Your future husband has our son worried about being late for school."
I heard her sigh. "He was late today?"
"We were waiting for the bus, but the Swans had an emergency that I was helping with."
"And Tony followed you," she finished knowingly.
"I got him there on time, but I don't want Jasper giving him panic attacks."
"Edward, I'll talk to both of them. This is a recurring discussion I've been having with Jasper recently."
"Yeah," she puffed out a breath.
"Al, maybe Ant, should stay with me full time for a while," I started. "I know that the last few months have been stressful with the wedding coming up. Maybe this can help keep tensions down."
She was quiet for a moment. I hated doing this to her, but I was trying to put Anthony first. He was only a kid and needed space from Jasper.
"Okay," she said quietly.
"Do you still want him tonight?"
"I'll get him from school and explain what's going on. How about we have a pizza for dinner at your place," she offered.
"That sounds like a plan."
"Edward, I love Jasper, but you know that Tony comes first. You are my co-parent and I don't want any of this to ruin what we have."
"Ali, I know, but when Jasper is making Anthony this anxious it's a problem."
"I'll be talking to him as well," she assured me.
"I'll see you later," I said, hitting the end button on the steering wheel.
As I pulled into my driveway I noticed Emmett's sister sitting in one of my Adirondack chairs in the yard. She held her baby close. I got out of my SUV and she approached me.
"Hey," she said.
"How's it going?" she shrugged. "You two want to come in?"
She followed me with Charlie in her arms. I unlocked my front door and led her into my living room. I noticed her peeking around the room.
"Rose had to go into work," she finally said.
"You were left alone?"
"I can be left alone, they are being ridiculous with their hovering," she huffed.
I nodded because I'm not sure why they were hovering, but it had to be the apparent injuries she and the baby had.
"Do you work?" she asked, her eyes doing a more extensive search of the room.
"I'm an Art History Professor at Berkeley."
"School just ended for you then?"
"Yeah, the beginning of May I'm usually done. I try to keep my summers clear for Anthony," I explained, running my hand through my hair.
She smiled slightly.
"Those paintings are cool." She nodded to my paintings behind us. I glanced at them as she lounged on my couch with the baby.
"I paint," I shrugged.
"You did those," her eyes widened. "Is your wife at work?"
"No wife, never married."
I was surprised that she didn't pry further. "Anthony's mom and I are friends. Never together. We co-parent, she lives about fifteen minutes away with her fiancé."
We sat in a comfortable silence until Charlotte decided to let out a squawk. Bella's shoulders tensed; I stood making my way over to them.
"How old is she?" I asked.
Her eyes widened in panic.
"You don't need to tell me."
"She's a week old," she said quietly.
The look on her face held shame. I assumed that the injuries happened sometime after the baby had been born.
"Well then, Happy Belated Birthday, Charlotte," I said, giving the baby a smile.
"You don't have a million questions?" Bella asked in disbelief. "I have a week old baby that has a hideous bruise covering her face. What kind of mother lets that happen? I've obviously been beaten. No one asks questions!"
I paused. I didn't know this girl. She has to be the same age as one of my first-year students. She has an older brother and lived with her father from what she told Anthony. By looking at her, how didn't anyone ask questions?
"I'll tell you," she grumbled. "Last summer after graduation I started dating Jacob Black who is the son of my dad's best friend… He was a few years older than me, always around. I grew up with him. I dated Mike most of high school and after prom, we decided to break up. He was going to the University of Washington, me, NYU."
My eyes widened going from her to the baby.
"We parted on good terms and wanted the best for one another. That's when Jacob came sniffing around more. At first, I was almost flattered, thinking why not? He knew I was leaving and it was just a summer fling."
"Bella, you don't need to explain to me," I tried stopping her.
"No, I need to tell someone. My dad is trying to fix this whole mess in Washington. Emmett fled with us to get me as far away as possible," she insisted. "The week before I was supposed to leave for New York he shoved me against the wall at his house. When he did it I was in shock. Never in my life did I think that would happen to me."
I swallowed, feeling the bile rise in my throat.
"My mom was the worst. She treated my dad like absolute garbage. She cheated on him and finally one day just up and left. She abandoned a teenager and a toddler without a second thought. My dad never raised his voice with her. He was gruff but at the same time the gentlest man I'd ever known… So to have that monster put his hands on me I didn't know what to do."
"Bella, no man should ever touch a woman like that," I told her.
She nodded knowing I was right.
"He refused to let me leave. NYU received a letter from me in July rescinding my spot. He planned this for a while. He found a way to get onto my laptop at my dad's and emailed admissions. Then he moved on to deceiving my dad. Charlie worked all the time so we always planned on me leaving at the end of the summer on my own, Emmett hired guys to move my stuff across the country."
"Jacob intercepted them making sure everything I owned was moved into a storage facility in La Push, the Quileute reservation he lived on. Everyone thought I was at school at that point. He sent my dad and Emmett emails from my account," she said quietly. "The first couple of weeks I tried to fight him, but he was bigger than me. I was stupid because Emmett is big, but he was bigger."
Charlotte let out a cry as she started to squirm more. Bella looked a little alarmed.
"Can I hold her?" I asked gently.
She nodded, placing her in my arms. I held her close as she quieted down. I felt Bella's hand resting on my arm as her fingers touched her daughter.
"I tried to fight off a six-foot-four, two-hundred seventy five-pound man. Eventually, I stopped fighting…" she stopped looking down at Charlotte.
I held her baby closer to me. She was the result of something so horrific, but Bella was wrong because she didn't stop fighting. She was sitting here in my living room with me and her daughter.
"He thought I was getting fat. I knew I wasn't fat. I could see more bone sticking out in places when I looked in the mirror. Because I'm so small I was all belly. That repulsed him so he'd leave me alone. The hitting and the shoving continued, but I'd immediately cover my stomach with each blow."
"He never put together you were pregnant?"
"He wasn't observant," she said dryly.
"Did you carry her to term?"
"The doctor at the hospital said she was on the smaller side, but he believed she was only a few weeks early."
"So she was born in the hospital?" She nodded.
"A week ago he got wasted. Usually, he was careful, he made sure his cell was locked up. His locks on the doors were passcode protected. Jacob is part of the Quileute tribe. His father was the Chief and he was being groomed to take over. They had security systems for the elders on the reservation in La Push."
"No one knew you were there?"
"Everyone thought I was still at school. Em told me that the emails were convincing," she gritted. "My dad would watch Sea-Hawks games down the street while I was being held captive."
"Jacob slipped up though. I started feeling back pains over a week ago and I knew she was coming. I panicked because I had no idea how I was going to be able to deliver her. Would she be healthy? Would I make it? All these things ran through my head."
I hurried to where his lockbox keys were in the hallway. He dropped them on the floor when he came in. His box was in the bedroom. When I got up there I saw his clothes on the floor and he was snoring on the bed. His phone was just lying in the pile. It felt too easy. My hands were shaking as I held it, quietly taking it downstairs with me."
"I would imagine if his house had passcodes then his phone would too,"
"It did, but I tapped the Emergency option on the screen. I told the 911 dispatch to contact my dad. I said that he was the Chief of Police in Forks and that I was being held against my will on the reservation at Junior Elder Black's property. Thank God, she listened to me because my dad pulled up within twenty minutes. I stood by the door waiting, Jake had little windows surrounding the doorway.
When my dad saw me he looked gutted. I held my finger to my lips as he ran up the porch stairs. Jacob hadn't turned on the alarm when he came in, but the windows had locks. My dad took his jacket off and wrapped it around his hand. He punched the glass, breaking the window."
"You got out through the window?" I asked in disbelief.
"Dad had to help me, when I had trouble getting my leg over he knew something was up. I told him I was pregnant and he needed to get me to the hospital. I've always seen my dad as a dad, but at that moment, he became a cop to me. He rushed me to Forks General. He didn't leave my side even through her birth, but because of that, Jake figured I'd be either at the police station or the hospital. My dad wasn't able to get everything settled until I delivered her, we didn't know Jacob was in the hospital waiting for him to leave my room."
Her hand started shaking on my arm. I laid Charlotte between us on the couch and took Bella's hands in mine.
"As soon as he saw her his rage erupted. He said this wasn't supposed to happen. That she ruined everything. He grabbed her roughly from the bassinet. I hit the nurse call button and flew off the bed. I didn't even think of the pain I was in. He started beating me, but I was able to take her from him. It all happened so fast, but Emmett was suddenly there with a fury I had never seen. He beat him until police and FBI agents were swarming my room."
"They just let you go?"
"I had a full examination by the doctors at the hospital, they didn't do a rape kit, but they did do a paternity test on Charlotte. He is the father," she said wryly. "Emmett and my doctors said I was in shock after a few days. I gave them a statement, but they'll need me for more questioning as my case is ongoing. They have enough to hold Jacob. Before Em and I left my dad said Jacob will never see the outside of a prison."
I looked at Bella in awe. She told me her story without wavering.
"Emmett's afraid I'm going to break. I don't want him or my dad to look at me as a victim. This morning when you saw me you looked at me like I was broken, but I want you to know I'm not. I want people who don't know me to know that I'm me, not some battered girl."
"So they don't know everything?"
"I don't know if I want them to know everything. Rose has been trying to get me to talk about it since I got in this morning. She had an abusive boyfriend in college, so she says it's important I talk about it. I get it, but I don't want to talk about it with them."
"Will your dad be flying out then?"
"I think when he can he will. I didn't want to leave him, but I knew I needed to get far away from Washington. When we crossed the California border I felt like I could breathe. My brother and Rose can help me, hell Bailey wanted to take care of the baby before she left for daycare."
"I bet she loved that," I laughed.
She was always asking for a baby sister to play with.
"Emmett has talked about you before. He's told my dad about Anthony's soccer skills. I remember because he said you weren't into sports. To Em, that's insanity for someone to not be into sports. I know because he's like that with me," she snorted.
"I'm a little clumsy," I admitted. "Though I do enjoy surfing."
"A little," I smiled.
"Do you like teaching?"
"I do. I sort of knew the starving artist thing wasn't going to work for me after undergrad. We had a newborn and I had to make sure I could support him."
"I try to be," I said with a shrug.
"Anthony is a lot like you… thoughtful, kind. When he went to the kitchen with me earlier he talked about you as if you hung the moon," she grinned.
"He's the best, I'm the lucky one. Alice is also another reason he's so great."
"That's his mom?"
"Yeah, we grew up together. Best friends since pre-school."
"Is it okay if I stay here until Emmett gets home?"
"You both are more than welcome to stay," I said squeezing her hand.
Bella left a little after two when Em came over to get her and the baby. I texted Emmett earlier and let him know they were with me.
I heard Anthony running in before I saw him and Alice on his heels with the pizza.
"Hey," she hollered as she passed the living room to go into the kitchen.
"Dad, you want me to grab some plates?" Ant called from the kitchen.
"Yeah," I said as I finished up my email.
"I thought work ends when school does?" Alice said plopping onto the chair across from me.
"I got something from a gallery in Los Angeles that's interested in some pieces."
"You're so fancy now, huh?" she teased.
I rolled my eyes.
"So Emmett has a sister?"
"Your son told me all about her and her baby."
"Both beautiful," she prodded.
"I feel like this is a trap," I said looking up from my laptop.
"No trap," she smiled holding her hands up.
Anthony came in with our plates. I ruffled his hair as he sat next to me.
"What did you do today?" he asked, taking a bite of his crust first.
"Bella and Charlotte came over for a bit," I told him.
I glanced over at Alice who was grinning.
"Oh, cool," Ant mumbled as he chewed.
"So Tony and I talked in the car on the way over about staying here on a more full-time basis until after the wedding," Alice said brightly.
I knew she was trying to make this into a positive thing, but I could see through it. It was killing her to have to give up her time with him.
"You okay with that, kid?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"And I will be talking to Jasper about it when I get home," she added.
Her blue eyes were trained on our son. I wondered if Whitlock was brought up on the car ride. Anthony shrugged in response to his mother.
"Tony, you do know you come first, right? You are our number one priority."
"It's summer soon so I can take you by your mom's shop so you can hang out," I added.
"Okay," he sighed.
Alice frowned looking at me. She was at a loss. I think we both were, I knew Whitlock made her happy, but he also made our kid miserable. I'd have to figure something out.
A/N: Thoughts? Thanks to CoppertopJ for taking a look at this!