“Fifteen minutes,” Edward had told her. “You have fifteen minutes from the time you cross the doorstep.”
Bella was beyond glad that he couldn’t read her mind, couldn’t tell that what she was planning didn’t line up to what she had told him at all.
“Go away, Edward!” She screamed, slamming the door. Charlie was on his feet within moments, the worry written all over his face so easily visible even as she raced up the stairs, him right on her heels.
“Bella, what’s wrong?” He asked, a protective edge creeping into his tone.
How far did Edward’s hearing extend? Bella didn’t know. She only hoped she could get this half-story out before he stopped her.
As much as she loved him, she refused to break her father’s heart. And she refused to leave Charlie behind, again. Not to mention if the tracker was as proficient as Edward thought he was, Bella wasn’t sure that most of the Cullen clan would be enough to protect her father.
“Dad, listen.” She whispered. “It’s not going to make sense to you, but… I’m in danger.”
Sure enough Charlie blinked at her, worry and then anger passing over his face.
“Did that boy threaten you? Because if he did I can-”
“No, Dad, he didn’t threaten me.” She called out, rummaging behind the bed frame. “But you and me- we need to leave. The sooner the better.”
Edward was pushing open the window now and Bella glanced up at him, at the incredulity on his face.
“I won’t hurt him.” She hissed at Edward. “I need him safe. With me.”
Edward didn’t understand it. She could see it on his face, but she couldn’t find it in herself to care. “So, what’s the story?” He whispered, and then Charlie entered.
“Bells, please explain. Do I need to call R-” He caught sight of Edward, speechless for a moment, and Edward took the chance to explain.
“Mister Swan,” He said, his voice smooth. “I’m so sorry, but while we were on our date some old… family connections turned up. They don’t like us because my father stopped them from some… unsavory practices, and they want to hurt the family in any way they can, and that includes Bella, seeing how… close her and I have become recently. Carlisle thinks it would be prudent if we got you two out of town for a while. We can brief you more on the way.”
Charlie looked torn, obvious questions on his face, but Bella just started throwing clothes in a backpack. Edward moved to the dresser, tossing things at her quickly.
“I don’t have time to explain everything right now, Mr. Swan.” He said, trying to keep his voice calm. “But please trust me- trust my family- on this until we can explain to you. “
“Dad,” Bella said quietly, zipping up her backpack. “ Please.”
Those two small words, her plea to him, seemed to push her father over the edge.
“What should I pack for?”
Bella let out a relieved sigh that verged on a sob. Edward moved to her side, looking up at Charlie.
“Sunny.” He said.
Five minutes later, they were out the door, loading into Bella’s truck. She sat in the middle of the cab, sandwiched between Edward and Charlie. Now that her father was safe, was with her, the anxiety about James was beginning to build.
A vampire was after her. A special tracker who wanted to kill her just because the Cullens had wanted to protect her.
Like some kid trying to steal someone’s lollipop. She thought deliriously.
She tried to focus on the situation at hand, she really did, but the panic made everything fade to a dull background. The most she could glean from the conversation was that Edward was working on filling Charlie in, and Charlie was- understandably- incredulous.
“If this is some prank you decided to pull, “ Charlie growled, “It isn’t funny.”
“It’s not a prank.” Edward said desperately. “The tracker is coming, please, take me seriously-”
“You’re trying to make me believe you over vampires. That you were up in the hills and a- a gang of them sniffed you out and decided they wanted her?”
“Just one.” Edward said. “His name is James, and-”
Bella caught sight of a shadowy figure, moving just a couple feet to the side of the truck, and screamed. It lasted just a moment before Edward’s hand covered her mouth.
“It’s Emmett, it’s okay.” He said urgently before returning to driving.
Emmett slid just close enough to the car to be seen, so that Bella would relax, and Charlie gasped.
“How is he moving so f-”
“I told you, Mr. Swan.” Edward said impatiently. “We’re a lot stranger than we seem. I promise, I will have Carlisle explain everything to you after we stop the tracker. But we are wasting time.”
Charlie frowned, and his mouth opened and closed once or twice before he decided to stop arguing, his mind going on a different track instead.
“If this... tracker is as powerful as you say,” he said slowly, “how are you going to be able to take him out?”
Edward smiled, and not the soft smile that warmed Bella’s heart- it was a cold, sharp grin that sent a shiver up her spine.
It was the smile of the killer he claimed to be, and for just a moment Bella could imagine what that would be like.
“Jasper and Alice will drive you and Bella to Phoenix. You’ll be staying in a motel there. Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett and I will corner and kill him. And his mate, if we need to. “
“You’re seventeen.” Charlie said, incredulously. “How are you going to-” His question faltered, and then it changed. “Just how strong are you?” he asked.
That cold, calculating smile only sharpened.
“Stronger than I look.” He said simply.
It seemed Charlie’s questions had run out- for now, at least. Bella was sure that they would return.
The road slipped by underneath them, Emmett a silent guard beside the truck, and Bella wondered if this might be her last night on Earth.