We arrived at the police station within half an hour. Edward seemed to understand my urgency though I had never spoken of it. I simply said that I needed to get home; he immediately paid the bill and whisked me away.
Absorbed in my thoughts, it seemed as if mere seconds had passed between walking out of the restaurant and seeing the flashing blue lights in the distance. The sight made my stomach clench painfully and my chest constrict until I could barely breathe.
Charlie was a man who cared deeply, even if he couldn't show it well. He was a protector who instinctively watched over those he loved. Waylon had been his best friend when they were in elementary school. The bond they shared had only strengthened in the years since. Charlie considered Waylon a part of his family, and losing him would hurt Charlie more than he would admit.
I took a deep breath and summoned my courage. Charlie would be devastated; the least I could do was give him someone to lean on, if he'd accept it.
As I climbed out of Edward's Volvo, I wondered why there were so many police cars here. I didn't think there were this many officers in all of Forks.
It suddenly occurred to me that the text hadn't said how Waylon had died. I'd assumed it was natural causes. But, with this kind of police presence, I knew I'd assumed wrong.
Edward appeared beside my door, making me realize that I'd been staring at the spectacle too long. He opened the door and offered me his hand. For once, I didn't focus on his odd behavior; I just took his hand and let him assist me out of the car.
Once he released me, I nodded my thanks and searched the organized chaos for Charlie.
Charlie wasn't here, but Carlisle was. He was standing across the parking lot, looking in our direction.
I studied his face as he walked toward us. Most of the time a vampire could present any facial expression they wanted. Make you see them exactly as they wanted. But, if you knew where to look closely and were familiar enough with them, you could sometimes see the stress they tried so hard to hide.
Carlisle was trying very hard to hide his true feelings at this moment. He succeeded, with everyone but me. I knew what to look for. The corners of his lips were pinched together, the same tightness was present around his eyes, and his nose flared just slightly, all these things meant he was stressed.
As he stopped in front of me, he looked at Edward meaningfully. Glancing at Edward I got the impression that they were communicating with each other.
They held eye contact a moment before Edward nodded subtly. At that moment I knew something was going on. One didn't just nod for any reason; he was definitely listening to the Carlisle's thoughts.
As Carlisle turned to me, I intentionally spoke before he could. I didn't want to see him blatantly try to get rid of me. "Where is my dad?"
I'd assumed Carlisle would be the one to answer, but it was Edward who spoke up. "He's in the office."
I nodded, and then turned to Edward. "Thank you for your help tonight." He thought he'd saved my life, but he hadn't. He had saved their lives and saved me from having to kill them, but I was just as thankful.
I politely said my goodbyes and then made a bee-line for the police station. There were people milling about, seemingly with no destination in mind. Surely deaths were just as common here as they were everywhere else, but what caused this level of chaos?
I knew when I saw the pale blue uniforms that they were not members of the Forks Police force. Charlie must have called them in from neighboring counties. Something was not right.
I saw two of my father's deputies standing off to the side, waving to get my attention. I pretended I didn't see them. I doubted I was supposed to be here but I wasn't going home until I'd seen Charlie.
As I approached the door to the police station I noticed that the blinds were pulled down, hiding the interior of the room from view. It struck me as odd, the blinds were always up-always. Why would they close them now?
I got my answer the second I opened the door. Pictues were everywhere, they covered the walls, and some were even lain on the floor. Crime scene pictures I realized, too late. Waylon Forge's mangled corpse was gruesomely displayed in full color. I knew then, his death wasn't natural.
I froze, my mind blank. I should have been shocked to see Waylon torn appart. I should have been horrified, but I wasn't. I didn't feel any of the things I should feel when presented with such a sight, no repulsion, no anger, nothing.
Instead, I was eerily calm, cataloging his many injuries with scientific precision. The broken bones that jutted from his biceps were surprisingly clean, no bleeding or bruising surrounding the protrusions. He'd likely been dead when they occurred.
Satisfied with my conclusion, I moved on to the next injury, his wrists. Jagged and torn, they looked as if something had literally ripped into him. Having seen similar wounds before, I knew what had caused them.
The next pictures depicted a red, pulpy mass where his face should have been. The only thing that remained of his eyes was two dark, sunken holes. His chest had been... hollowed out. His ribs were gone, discarded around his corpse. This was common in cases where animals had feasted from the body, yet different. If an animal had done this, they would have chewed through, or crushed the bone. Here, his ribs had splintered, as if they had been snapped apart.
My eyes darted from picture to picture, soaking up the details that I didn't want to know. I didn't want to see, to remember, but I couldn't help myself. All the evidence was there, it was so obvious. If nothing else, the damage to his throat should have served as proof enough. This was the work of a vampire. I'd seen it before, on the victims James had left for us to find. It was exact!
My heart pounded, a cold sheen covering my face. The broken bones on his shoulders, those happened because something had gripped his arms too tightly as he was fed upon. The lack of blood and bruising meant he had been dead when his blood was drained. Taking one last look at the pictures, I knew the cause of death: Torture. That thing had tortured Waylon until he died, then fed on his corpse.
I'd seen all this before. It wasn't anything new to me. The difference between then and now was that I knew this victim, this person. This was someone close to my family, close to my father, the one person I wanted to protect more than I wanted anyone else.
As I glanced from one picture to the next, I recognized something familiar, Waylon's watch. The damned thing looked exactly like mine. Even the scratches along the face they were the same.
I started shaking, shivering as if I was cold. Was that really my watch?
As I stepped forward, trying to get a closer look someone finally noticed me standing there. I didn't know who it was but they pushed be backwards out of the room, pulling the door closed behind them. Hands were on my face, brushing my hair back. I pulled away quickly, snapping myself back to reality. Anything to get his hands off me. I did not like to be touched by strangers.
Startled, I glanced up to see Charlie's second in command watching me worriedly. I'd met him once but couldn't remember his name. "Bella, are you alright?"
It occurred to me that, to an outsider, it would appear as if I'd lost my mind. Or was traumatized by what I'd seen. "Yeah. I'm fine. I just didn't expect to see...that." I lied quietly, trying to stop the shaking.
I don't think he knew how to respond to that. His expression shifted between dismay and panic until finally he sputtered, "I'll go get your dad, you wait right here." Then he was gone.
I took his absence as an opportunity to sort through my thoughts. My mind was in overdrive trying to think of everything at once, my head pounded with the effort.
Had that really been my watch? It wasn't like it was one of a kind or anything, and a lot of watches had scratches on them. But what were the odds that my father's best friend would own a watch exactly like mine? Admittedly, I had bought a male watch, but still. I'd bought that watch in Phoenix, for an astounding sum of fifty-five dollars. Would there be a store in Forks that even carried the same watch? Would anyone who lived in Forks actually pay that much for a watch? Could anyone in Forks afford to pay that much?
Was it simply a coincidence, or was I inadvertently responsible for bringing about the death of an innocent man?
I glanced around quickly and seeing that no one was watching, I casually walked for the door. I needed another look at that picture, I needed to be sure. That watch could tell me.
Before I could take more than a few steps, Charlie walked around the side of the building. He looked exactly as I'd imagined him, stoic and determined to hide his pain. I tried to offer a sympathetic smile as he reached me. "I'm so sorry, Dad. I know you two were friends."
He nodded but quickly changed the subject, "Bella, I want you to go home and stay there. Here take this with you." He handed me a large silver aerosol can. "It's riot control tear gas. I want you to keep it on you at all times."
He grabbed my elbow, trying to turn me around. I resisted. "Why did you give me this?" I asked. Did he think this was going to protect me from Waylon's killer?
Charlie winced before answering, "Bella, Waylon was killed by some kind of animal, and it happened right outside town. It's unusual for wild animals to stray into town but if the creature got close enough to... then it's possible he could come into town as well. This stuff is military grade, if you spray it on or around an animal it'll burn their eyes and make it difficult for it to breathe. I don't think we have to worry but still it's better to be safe than sorry. I'm going to be here most of the night. I need you to stay home where it's safe."
I noticed he skipped over part of his explanation but chose not to comment. I didn't even mention the part about him arming me with a weapon that I didn't think was even legal for a citizen to own. "Is there anything I can do? Visit with Waylon's family or something."
He sighed, "Bella, Waylon didn't have any family. I'm the closest friend he had. Everyone's asking me about funeral arrangements. I don't know how to answer them. I don't know what he wanted. Would he want to be cremated, or a burial? I didn't even know he left me in charge of his arrangements. Hell, I don't know anything, Bella. I'm so confused." As he spoke, he ran his fingers through his hair several times. He looked as if he'd reached his limit.
I very nearly cried for him. "It's okay Dad. I can handle the arrangements for you. It's too late now but I'll start first thing in the morning. You just get through tonight, okay? I'll handle everything else." I clenched my hands, digging my fingernails into my palms. I used the pain as a distraction, forcing the knot in my throat to subside.
I usually wasn't a sympathetic crier but it was different when it came to my family, Charlie especially. I knew my mom, and her ways, whatever was bothering her wouldn't only last until something distracted her, which didn't take long. She would cry over a breakup one day and sign up for therapeutic massage class the next. Nothing fazed her. Charlie on the other hand, was as steady as they came. Once he took to something that was it. He didn't change his mind, or move on.
"No, you can't do that, Bells. I'll handle it, just not right now."
I did cry then, one lone tear rolled down my cheek. I felt weak allowing anyone, even my father, to see me cry. "It's not any trouble, Dad. I've done it before. I can have everything arranged within a day or two."
He nodded slowly, "Okay, Bella. Thank you. I know he would appreciate it. I'll get you Mr. Anderson's number. He should have Waylon's insurance information."
I wasn't doing it for Waylon; I was doing it for Charlie. I didn't care about insurance money. I had plenty of it. I'd give Waylon the best, most dignified burial I could. "Do you know when you'll be home?"
But I knew the answer to that too; he wouldn't be, not tonight. "I don't know, Bells. Don't wait up."
I nodded to myself feeling awful for being glad he wasn't coming home tonight. Even knowing he would be safe in this crowd didn't lessen the feeling that I was being disloyal.
Charlie insisted that his deputy give me a ride home, forgetting the fact that I hated to ride in a squad car. I protested at first but, when I realized that it was Charlie's way of keeping me safe, I relented.
When I got home I threw a half-hearted 'Thank you' at the deputy and ran inside. Five minutes later I was pacing my bedroom floor trying to remember the watch in the picture. Had it really been mine? Or had it just been similar to mine, and I imagined the rest?
Waylon had been killed by a vampire, of that I was positive. But the watch was where I was having trouble. If that watch was mine it meant that, in all probability, James had killed Waylon to send a message to me.
If it wasn't my watch, then it could have been a different vampire. Forks already had seven vampires who lived here full time. I knew it hadn't been Edward or Carlisle, as their eyes were still either black or golden brown. But it still left five others who could have killed him.
Dammit, this isn't helping! It wasn't answering my questions, just going through the possibilities, again and again. There wasn't any way to be sure. I wouldn't ever know. Unless... unless I went to see for myself.
I knew where they would take the body. Forks only had one hospital and one funeral home. He had to be at one or the other. Considering the manner of death, I was betting on the hospital.
I could probably get inside. It wasn't as if Forks was known for its tight security. The question was, 'Should I?" Did I have the right to break into the morgue and violate Waylon's memory like that?
It took very little thinking to answer that question, No, I didn't. But I had to do it anyway. If James was here, I needed to know about it. I had to protect Charlie, nothing else mattered.
I all but ran to my closet and picked out the darkest clothes I owned, a pair of black pants, and a black hoodie. It seemed cliché to wear such things but there was no better camouflage for night. Black blended together at a distance. As long as I didn't get close to anyone, or get caught out in the open, no one would see me.
I quickly braided my hair and stuffed it under the hood. I made sure to grab my set of lock picks, a pair of black leather gloves, and my cell phone.
Once I was ready, I left through the back door. It was closer to the forest and completely hidden from anyone who might see me from the road.
I walked into the woods and then circled around until I could see pavement through the bushes. I intended to follow the roads until I got to Forks General. I wasn't familiar enough with Forks to travel through the woods. I considered using my telekinesis to fly but dismissed the idea just as quickly. There was too much activity around Forks right now to risk it, no matter how safe the darkness made it seem.
I followed the road north a few miles, cursing myself the entire way. Charlie would never forgive me if he knew what I was about to do. I was going to break into the morgue, rifle through a dead man's belongings, and possibly steal from said dead man.
I yearned to turn around, to go home and pretend I had never seen that damn watch. But I couldn't. I had to know one way or the other. The more information I had, the more effectively I could protect Charlie.
I wondered if this was James game, leaving my watch here in order to force me to do something he knew I would despise. Making me do something that goes against everything I believe, to a man my father loved, would be right up his alley. The bastard loved mind games.
Standing in the woods behind the hospital, I silently asked Waylon to forgive me, where ever he was.
A small building set beside the hospital served as the morgue. It was separate from the hospital but connected by a walkway enclosed with glass. At the far end was a loading bay, where a van would pull up and unload the body. The loading bay doors were secured by a chain wound through the door handles and secured by a padlock. It was my way in.
Charlie had taught me quite a few things he shouldn't have in the first few years I came to visit, when he was desperate to make sure I had a good time. Among them were how to swear correctly, and how to pick locks. I had kept it up over the years, just for fun of course. I'd never thought I'd actually need to use it.
I'd imagined that I would just use my telekinesis to break a lock if I needed too. I didn't have the luxery of doing that here. I couldn't leave any evidence behind me. It had to look as if nothing had happened.
Sighing, I tuned into my telekinetic mind, searching the area for movement. The morgue building was so still it was creepy. Stillness like that didn't exist in nature, it felt... empty.
I pulled my hood down covering as much of my face as I could before I left the shelter of the trees.
As I walked I monitored a fifty foot radius around the morgue just to be safe. It turned out to be over cautiousness as the only movement within that range came from inside the hospital and it never indicted that someone was coming towards me, so I ignored it.
When I reached the loading bay doors, I nearly rolled my eyes. The lock and chain were too old to provide any real security. They were at least as old as I was, if not older.
Sighing, I pulled on my gloves and got to work. It took exactly eight seconds for the tumblers to give and the lock to pop open. Once again Forks unwitting trust astounded me. In the city no one, and I mean no one, would ever trust their neighbors this way and for damned good reason. If you weren't careful in Phoenix, trust would get you knifed and dumped in an alley.
I unwound the chain, taking special care to keep the chain from swinging or connecting with itself. I didn't want to be discovered because the deaf girl had made too much noise.
I reached for the door, holding my breath as I pulled it open. This was the point of no return. I exhaled slowly and stepped inside.
It was just as cold and unfeeling on the inside as I'd thought. A long hallway stretched before me, ceramic tiles covering the walls and the floor. I could see several doors from where I stood, all were solid metal. I was used to Forks cold weather, but the cold in this place was different. It sank into my bones making me shiver.
Dark and stripped of its humanity, this place reeked of nothing but death. No color, no emotions, just a lifeless atmosphere that threatened to suffocate me.
Walking down the corridor, I focused on breathing slowly. Seven seconds in, five seconds out. It helped some, gave something to think about. After a few seconds my heart rate slowed but I didn't stop. I kept breathing and counting.
I cracked every door I came across, searching for the room that held Waylon. I managed to find a janitor's closet, and two old offices that were now used as storage rooms.
The last room I came to was medical horror at its best. The same color scheme was present here, but unlike the other rooms I came across, there was a metal exam table in the center of the room. It was encircled by small metal tables and a scale that I believe was used to weigh organs. The most disturbing part was the drain in the floor. I knew why that was there.
Once the bodies had been mutilated, cut open and tore apart, they would wash the mess left behind down that drain. The blood, fat, and human tissue that that they couldn't scrape up and dump back inside the body, was erased with that hole, like it had never happened. Like the people that came into this room had never existed.
To my left, imbedded in the wall, were six, small, metal doors. Waylon had to be in one of those.
As I got closer I saw a small piece of paper taped to the first drawer. The word 'Forge' had been written in tiny script.
I didn't give myself time to think, I opened the door with a flourish, uncaring about any noise it might have created.
He was there lying on the slab, covered by a bloody piece of plastic. Trying to keep my fingers from touching any part of him, I grabbed the lip of the slab and pulled slowly. It was agonizing but I couldn't stand the thought of doing it too fast or too hard and causing his body to slip off.
Carefully, I lifted the plastic to expose his wrist. There it was, my watch, I was sure of it now. The nylon band had a small melted dent, exactly like mine. I'd splattered hot grease over my hand a few years ago, creating that little blemish.
I whispered my apologies before I gently unclasped the watch and took it from his body. I stuffed it into my pocket before setting him to rights.
Once he was back where he belonged, I pulled the watch from my pocket. James would have left some kind of message, something that would taunt me.
There, on the bottom, was a... phone number, with the words Call me -J above it. They had been etched into the metal somehow. I'd expected a message or a taunt, but not a phone number. What game was he playing?
I tried to imagine what he thought he was accomplishing by doing this. Other than direct contact, I was clueless. Still thinking, I shoved the watch back into my pocket and left as quickly as I could.
Once outside, I was careful to wrap the chain as it had been before I broke in. Though I doubted anyone would notice if it was different, but why take the chance?
It was a quick trip back to the house, or maybe it just seemed quick to me. I was so absorbed in my own thoughts, I wouldn't have noticed it if it had taken longer.
The first thing I did when I got home was write down the number on the watch. The second thing I did was to destroy it. I stood at my backdoor and used my telekinesis to tear it apart. I allowed the pieces to float in the air for a split second, then I crushed them with every bit of force I could muster.
When I was done nothing but tiny flakes of metal, glass, and even smaller nylon threads remained. With one last look, I flung them across the yard. I saw them shower down, sparkleing as they fell to the ground.
I sighed, I would have liked to keep it, as a reminder, but I couldn't risk it being found. If I had been thinking back at the morgue I would have erased the etching and put it back on the body. As it was, a piece of evidence was missing. That hadn't been a smart move on my part.
I would have to wait and see what happened in that regard, not that there was anything I could do about it anyway. If it was discovered missing, no one would ever think of me as a suspect. Maybe they would assume it was lost during transit.
I reached for the phone intending to text Phil about today's events, but stopped myself. I'm sure they would rush to my side, intending to protect me. But, in reality, they would only hinder my efforts. Mom was still too immature as a vampire to have the concentration necessary to help, and Phil was too wrapped up in her care to be of much use either. I was better off alone.
The decision made, I changed clothes and climbed into bed before I blocked my number and dialed James.
He answered on the first ring. "Isabella, I didn't think you'd call this soon. I'm impressed." I read his greeting, wondering if hearing the words would make them any less creepy.
I kept by voice calm as I replied. "I swear to God I'm going to kill you." I'd watch him burn if it killed me. I knew it would take nothing less to stop him from hunting me.
"Tsk, Tsk, Isabella. No need to be so violent. We could be great friends you and I. With your power and my skills, we could be unstoppable."
I nearly gagged. "Is that the point of all this. You want us to... What? Be a team? I didn't think vampires could be retarded, but you're rapidly changing my mind."
I knew it wasn't a good idea to antagonize him, I just couldn't care. If nothing else it would spur him into action. At this point I was beginning to worry that he would never get close enough to kill. "Oh, Sweetheart, my feelings are going to be wounded."
Sweetheart? "Aw, poor baby. You're just a total failure aren't you? You're failing as a vampire. You're failing as a hunter. And you're failing as a tracker. How embarrassing that must be for you. All those trophies you worked so hard for, all those predators you conquered, and you can't even kill one, little, human girl. I feel for you James, I really do."
"I love your fire, Isabella. You really are quite the prize, more valuable than any I've hunted before. A human, with so much power, so much strength, it's unheard of. I can't wait to see what you are as a vampire. Hm, the thought itself makes me hungry."
It was hard to interpret emotions from the words I saw, but I hoped this conversation wasn't going where I thought it was. "Oh, James, do you have a crush? I thought the plan was to kill me, not turn me."
"It was, Sweetheart, but that changed. Before I met you, I was getting bored. Nothing presented a challenge anymore, then I found you and now I have purpose. Just imagine it; nothing would be out of our reach. Even the Volturi would fall before us."
I gaped, was he serious? "So what, you think you're going to turn me into a vampire, and we'll suddenly be the best of friends. Do you think becoming a vampire would make me hate you any less? Do you think you would be able to control me as a vampire? You truly are insane." I stared at the tiny inverted asterisk that denoted laughter as it flashed across the screen. The bastard was actually laughing.
"No, Isabella. I think you'll realize exactly what we're meant to be to each other once you're turned. I think that your fragile human mind isn't capable of recognizing what I am to you. That will change."
Too stunned to argue, I asked the first question that came to mind. "But I thought Victoria was your mate?"
He laughed again. "Are we getting jealous? Don't worry, Victoria is simply useful to me, I allow her to think as she wishes. Once I have you, she won't matter anymore."
I laughed. "Is this the best you can come up with? You killed an innocent man, so we could have this conversation? I expected games, but this is pathetic. If you want me so bad, come and get me. Or are you scared?"
"No, I killed him because I wanted to hear your voice. And do not ever think I am afraid, Isabella." Oh, did that hit a nerve? "Although, I do have to admit the wolves are making it difficult but no matter, I will come for you when I'm ready. And don't worry about your father so much. I would never hurt someone who obviously means so much to you. Good bye, Love. I'll be seeing you soon."
I opened my mouth to reply when 'Disconnected' appeared on the screen. The bastard hung up on me! I gritted my teeth and dropped the phone.
What was going on? Was this a mind game? If so it was the worst I'd ever seen. Or was he serious? I'd known my powers might be coveted if they were revealed to the vampire world, but I'd thought the Volturi would be the only threat. I could see James wanting my power but not at the price of my head. He had to be lying.
Either way, the response was the same. I'd kill him or die trying. As angry as I was about Waylon's murder, I couldn't allow it to change my decisions. I couldn't afford to get stupid.
My main problem now was that he was also targeting the people close to my family, would he go after the people closest to me next?
That meant Jake was in danger, I would have to warn him. He needed to leave, go somewhere else, a city, Seattle maybe.
No, Seattle was too close. Chicago or New York. Those would work; he'd need to stay with crowds, especially at night. It would be easy to get him there; the hard part would be convincing him to go. He'd never believe me without proof. I was willing to show him my telekinesis if to make him believe. I thought about calling him right then, but I knew I'd need to explain in person. What I was going to tell him would be hard enough to believe with proof; a phone call would only result in hysterical laughter and possibly a psychiatric evaluation.
For hours I lay there thinking about what I was going to do, how I was going to handle things. What I was going to say to Jake. What I was going to do about Waylon's arrangements. How I was going to protect Charlie. Because, no matter what James said, everyone I knew was in danger.
It was early morning before I remembered what James had said about wolves. The wolves were making it difficult. That struck me as absurd. A wolf making anything difficult for a vampire was impossible. Why had he said that? It wasn't like I was ignorant about vampires, and James knew that. What was he talking about? Was he really insane?
I didn't move from my bed until well after the sun came up and it was time to start making plans for Waylon's burial. It didn't take long to dig up the phonebook and start calling. Somehow, I just knew today was going to be a long day.