22. The Hunt
We were weaving in and out of traffic as James followed us. We were driving north towards Vancouver. Each second that I spent away from Bella I could feel my body's fresh tear ache. Half of me was with her, without her I could never be whole. We drove until we were only thirty miles away from Vancouver before I heard a distant ringing. It was just a faint echoing sound.
It's about time, she better have good news for me about the human.
About the human? It was definitely James' thoughts I heard as he continued to stay out of our vision, keen to not be spotted.
"Carlisle, slow down," I ordered while looking wildly around.
Carlisle released his foot from the gas and the Jeep slowly drifted down to sixty as he looked sideways at me. "What is it?" Carlisle asked, anxious.
"James has just received a phone call," I explained.
"Where did they take her?" James was wildly enthusiastic at the prospect of finding her when I was nowhere near her. I was too far away from him to hear the other end of the conversation so I settled with listening through James' mind.
"I don't know. They mixed the smell up and she was not in the truck. It was two female vampires and they drove west until we were several miles away from Forks. She must still be there. They tricked us," I heard Victoria say.
Idiotic woman! James roared in his head. "Find her!" he commanded and hung up the phone.
James ran the opposite direction of the road, flying feverously away from the Jeep until I couldn't hear his thoughts anymore.
"Stop!" I yelled.
Carlisle slammed on the brakes as the Jeep slid to a halt on the side of the highway.
"What is it?" Emmett and Carlisle asked at the same time.
"He knows that Bella isn't in the truck. He has a cell phone. He's sent Victoria back to Forks because he believes she is still there."
I didn't expect the nomad to have something as technologically advanced as a cell phone considering how they live. But I remembered something that Laurent had said, "He's every bit as comfortable in the human world as you seem to be, and he won't come at you head on..."
Emmett and Carlisle both understood instantly that Victoria had realized Bella was not in the truck.
"I'll call Esme," Carlisle said while picking up his cell phone and dialing her number quickly. I heard Esme's voice on the other line. "Carlisle," she began but he cut her off to explain what happened.
"She knows that Bella isn't with you and suspects that she is still in Forks. Go back and watch Charlie, make sure he's safe. Send Rosalie to find Victoria and follow her. We need to make sure that she isn't able to track Bella. We'll chase after James," Carlisle's lips were blurred at the fast motion of his speech.
"I'll tell her. Carlisle, I love you, be careful," Esme said affectionately.
"I love you, too and I will." Carlisle hung up the phone.
Let me go after him, please Edward. Emmett was begging in his mind. I turned around to face him.
"We'll both go." I turned to Carlisle. "Continue north until you reach the airport. Keep an eye out for him there C if we lose track of him I want to make sure we know where he is headed. We will keep you up to date."
He nodded. Emmett and I dashed from the Jeep and headed towards the forest where I last heard James' thoughts. When we caught up with his scent I could hear his faint hasty footsteps but he was too far away for me to hear his mind. The sun was peeking through the canopy of trees as the night sky began to slowly lighten the forest floor, bathing it in a pleasant golden glow.
Can you hear his thoughts? What are his plans? Emmett asked.
"No. He is too far away from us." I spoke quickly.
Go ahead of me and see what you can find out. Hey C don't get too close without me, Emmett chuckled. I want a piece of him too.
I rolled my eyes and darted faster than ever towards the one creature who threatened Bella's life more than I already had. I had trouble catching up to him but I was able to finally hear one thought.
She's still in Forks.
I slowed some to let Emmett catch up with me. "I think he's going to head back to Forks...but I don't understand - he isn't running that direction. He keeps running north and not in a straight path. I think he's trying to get us off his trail." I explained to Emmett.
Maybe we could split up and try to trap him, he suggested.
"That might be what he wants. Let's just keep together for now."
You're just afraid I'll catch up to him before you and will miss the opportunity to kill him, Emmett was plainly trying not to laugh.
I sighed loudly at his thoughts, though he was partially correct C I did want to personally rip him to shreds. I could see the dim city lights of Vancouver begin to get closer to us. As the sun rose the windows on the large buildings began to shimmer and reflect onto the large city. I hadn't heard any thoughts or any noise from James for several miles. I only continued to follow his scent.
When we reached the forest edge we stood in the shadows looking out at the partially sunny grounds. Emmett's eyes glowed a honey color in the dazzling sunlight.
It's too sunny. Emmett looked up like he was willing the clouds to form. As soon as he thought the words a long cloud loomed into view, moving closer to the sun until a shadow hung over us and the city below turned grey and dark. "Let's go," I commanded with a bite of impatience in my voice.
We continued to follow his scent as we made our way across town until it ended abruptly at a car rental store. "Crap," we both said together. I grabbed my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed Carlisle's number.
"Edward," he answered.
"Carlisle, James has rented a car and I need to get something out of my bag to try and find out where he went. We are at sixteen ninety-six west, first Avenue. Hurry!" I said quickly.
"I'm on my way," he hung up the phone.
In a few short minutes Carlisle was speeding around the corner and came to a shuddering halt in front of us. I opened the back door and pulled my bag out, opening it to reveal my many ID's. Inside I had a Royal Canadian Mounted Police badge that our family previously used to protect ourselves. I snatched it up and swept over the threshold of the car rental store. The girl behind the desk was startled at my appearance.
"Can I help you?" she stuttered while scrutinizing my face.
I flashed my badge. "Yes. I'm with the RCMP. Ma'am, there was a man in here today that is ye tall," I put my hand to James' height, "and has long light brown hair. He would have rented a car from you today. I need to know the make and model and where he was headed. He is a murderer and we have only recently caught on to his trail."
A murderer! "Yes, sure...there was only one man in here this morning to rent a car. Let me print out the information." She began typing on the keyboard and clicking her mouse.
I could have been killed, she thought frantically as she searched for the information I requested. Her mind began to panic as she read the information on the screen. She looked away before I was able to read it. She turned her face to mine, her eyes wide with terror.
"Um..." she hesitated nervously. "The car has already been returned to another branch."
"Where?" I asked with an inarticulate yell of rage.
"The airport," she said in a high pitched whisper.
Panic erupted through my stomach as I realized I had no idea where he was going. My only conclusion is that he was going back to Forks, but I wasn't positive. I clenched my fists and ran out towards the Jeep and without saying a word Carlisle he was speeding quickly south towards Washington.
"We need to know if he shows up in Forks," I said hastily.
Carlisle was dialing Esme's number before I was able to speak anymore. I heard Esme answer the phone. "Hello."
"Esme, what has Victoria been doing?" Carlisle asked politely yet hurriedly.
"Rosalie followed her to Charlie's house. Don't worry, he wasn't home. I am not sure what she was looking for there...maybe to find a lead on where Bella might be. Rosalie said that she has been following Bella's scent all through town and even stopped by the school before anyone was there." Esme spoke quickly.
"James' got away from us. We think that he got on a plane to go back to Forks. Please be careful. We'll be there shortly." Carlisle said gravely.
I heard Esme gasp over the phone. "Victoria also went to the airport," she whispered.
Carlisle pressed the accelerator down harder and the Jeep groaned as we were hitting one forty. "Be careful. We're on our way back." Panic was present in Carlisle's thoughts. Please let us get back there before he does, he thought. They said their goodbyes.
As soon as Carlisle hung up the phone he was instantly dialing another number C Alice.
"Carlisle," Alice trilled.
"Are you in Phoenix and is Bella safe?" asked Carlisle.
"Yes," replied Alice.
"We lost track of James. We believe he is headed towards Forks. Victoria has been searching for leads and clues hoping to find a way to Bella." Carlisle spoke calmly.
"I just saw him in a room. It's long, and there are mirrors everywhere. The floor is wooden. There is a gold stripe across the mirrors. It's still very cloudy C he hasn't made a decision yet. He'll be in this room today or maybe tomorrow. I've also seen him watching something from a VCR in another place but it is too dark to see. He brings the video he watched back to the room with the mirrors but he doesn't watch it like he does in the dark room. The room with the mirrors is the room where he waits. Whatever made him get on that plane...it was leading him to those rooms," Alice explained to Carlisle.
"Let me speak to Bella," I held my hand out for the phone.
"Is Bella awake? Edward would like to speak to her," Carlisle asked.
"Yes," Alice said while Carlisle handed the phone to me.
"Hello?" My heart rejoiced at hearing her voice.
"Bella," I said devotedly.
"Oh, Edward! I was so worried," she squeaked.
Why was she worried about me? She should be worried about herself. "Bella," I sighed in frustration. "I told you not to worry about anything but yourself."
"Where are you?" She demanded.
"We're outside of Vancouver. Bella, I'm sorry C we lost him. He seems suspicious of us C he's careful to stay just far enough away that I can't hear what he's thinking. But he's gone now C it looks like he got on a plane. We think he's heading back to Forks to start over." I felt like a fool for falling for his car rental trick.
"I know. Alice saw that he got away."
"You don't have to worry, though. He won't find anything to lead him to you. You just have to stay there and wait till we find him again," my voice hinted at my disapproval for her doing anything else.
"I'll be fine. Is Esme with Charlie?" she asked, concerned. She was always so selfless, worried about everyone else but herself.
I tried to calm her frenzied nerves. "Yes C the female has been in town. She went to the house, but while Charlie was at work. She hasn't gone near him so don't be afraid. He's safe with Esme and Rosalie watching."
"What is she doing?" she whispered.
"Probably trying to pick up the trail. She's been all through the town during the night. Rosalie traced her through the airport, all the roads around town, the school...she's digging, Bella, but there's nothing to find." I hope, I added internally.
"And you're sure Charlie's safe?" I suppressed a sigh to her ever selflessness.
"Yes, Esme won't let him out of her sight. And we'll be there soon. If the tracker gets anywhere near Forks, we'll have him." And I pictured tearing him to shreds and burning him, hoping that this beating would come sooner than later so I could have Bella in my arms again.
"I miss you," she barely whispered. My heart ached every second we were apart from each other. My body still felt torn in two.
"I know, Bella. Believe me, I know. It's like you've taken half my self away with you."
"Come and get it, then," she coaxed me. It was very tempting, but I had to take care of James first.
"Soon, as soon as I possibly can. I will make you safe first." I said fiercely.
"I love you," she croaked. I had continually put her life in danger since the moment I met her and she still loved me. Despite the situation we were currently in my heart leapt at her words.
"Could you believe that, despite everything I've put you through, I love you, too?"
"Yes, I can, actually," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'll come for you soon," I promised.
"I'll be waiting."
I hung the phone up. The day slipped away and extinguished its self as we drove quickly through the dark and winding road towards Forks. My mind was constantly thinking of the many ways I would torture and kill James. Emmett's line of thought was not far from my own, but he really just wanted a fight. He did want to protect Bella, but he was getting enjoyment out of this and I was not. When we finally arrived back in Washington we were greeted by Rosalie, who was still screaming nasty retorts in her mind at me.
"I've followed Victoria everywhere but she hasn't returned to the airport and James has still not shown up. I've waited at the airport since Esme called me." Rosalie spoke to Carlisle only.
"Where is Victoria now?" asked Carlisle.
"She has disappeared. I have no idea where she went. The rain has washed any lingering scent and between Esme and me we couldn't keep an eye on her, Charlie and the airport," Rosalie explained.
Carlisle placed a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, you did an excellent job."
We continued to search throughout the day for Victoria and James but neither of them were around. We couldn't find any traces of their scent anymore. Rosalie kept guard at the airport. As each hour passed with no luck of finding either of them I felt a weight in my chest drop sickeningly down into my stomach. I felt like there was something wrong, like I was missing something crucial.
Night came and we still had absolutely no luck in finding the two. It was about two in the morning when all of a sudden I felt my phone vibrate. I pulled it out of my pocket to read Alice's name on the caller ID. I felt my heart sink. When I opened it to answer Alice spoke so swiftly I didn't even have the chance to speak.
"Edward, James is in Phoenix. I saw it in a vision; you need to get here now! He has been to her mother's house and at her old ballet studio." Alice was uneasy.
Carlisle and Emmett were with me and they both nodded their heads to me. We'll go with you, they both thought together, Emmett more eager than Carlisle.
"We'll take the first flight out of Seattle. It leaves at five thirty, and then Carlisle, Emmett and myself are going to take Bella somewhere and hide her. We'll meet you at the airport," I rushed through my words while running towards the Jeep to get our bags and then towards Seattle with Emmett and Carlisle behind me.
I hung up the phone and in a short time we were outside of Seattle. The lights from the town became brighter the closer we raced towards the airport.
Are you okay? Carlisle thought as we were running.
"Not really," I whispered.
Don't worry, son. We'll get there and take her away some place safe. Carlisle reassured me.
We arrived outside the airport and queued in line. Each second passed slowly as people weighed their bags and showed their ID's. Carlisle finally reached the desk. "Hello, we need three tickets to Phoenix, please," he said politely to the man behind the counter.
"We only have first class left," the man informed us.
"That's fine. Three first class tickets then," Carlisle smiled to the man behind the counter and his heart raced along with his mind.
There is something weird about these guys, especially the big one...creepy, he thought. He handed the tickets over the counter once we showed proper ID.
We flew through the airport until we arrived at the gate. The waiting game we played tore at my nerves. Each second that Bella was in danger made my insides feel like they were being put through a grinder. Each thought of her being hurt ripped through my heart leaving big gaping holes.
When we entered the plane we sat quickly in the front. As the passengers waited in a long line for others to put their luggage away, I was having to concentrate every particle of my mind not to snap their necks, take over the plane and fly it to Phoenix myself. I could feel the pulses of those closest to me and a woman flinched away when she accidently touched my cold skin. Carlisle had placed his hand on my shoulder, guessing what I was planning in my mind.
Take it easy, Edward. I'm sure she will be fine. We'll get there and take her away, Carlisle tried to calm my nerves again.
When the plane finally speed down the tarmac I laid my head back trying to think of anything else besides the danger I had brought upon Bella. The plane ascended quickly into the early morning sky.
I started imagining the many places we could go. Isle Esme, perhaps? Or maybe Europe. I contemplated. I began thinking about us being alone together. Bella was in immediate danger but all I could think about is how wonderful it would be to hold her every day and every night and never have to worry about bringing her back. I would let her warm me every chance she got. My fantasies spun wildly out of control, but it was the only way I could keep my mind from racing the other way, towards Bella's possible death.
Carlisle was reading a book about modern medicine while Emmett put ear phones in to watch a movie. I looked to see what the movie was because Emmett was contemplating all the moves he would have been making in each fight sequence. Fight Club, of course, I suppressed laughter at his many thoughts. I dove deeper into Emmett's mind, watching him mentally kick Brad Pitt's ass. It was quite entertaining. When the movie ended I started searching through Carlisle's mind to see if he had found anything interesting to read. He was reading about a new technology to remove different kinds of brain cancer that are almost impossible to get to without damaging the patient.
"We are about to land in Phoenix Arizona where the time is nine twenty-seven. Looks like we are going to be arriving on a beautiful sunny day, where the temperature is eighty eight degrees," the stewardess announced over the intercom.
The plane began descending towards Phoenix. All I could think about was running across the airport and embracing Bella. The thought of her blushing face as I brought her lips to mine in greeting sent me above the edge, I was holding myself to the seat trying not to leapt up and break through the plane.
Uh, Edward...you're about to break the seat's arm rests. Emmett smirked in my direction.
I looked down and realized that I had left large hand imprints on the seats. I folded my arms across my chest. I felt a jolt as the plane landed onto the concrete air strip. I started to feel a sign of relief when I heard Alice's thoughts.
Looks like his plane just landed. I hope Jasper brings Bella back from getting breakfast soon.
Jasper is alone with Bella? I was instantly nervous. Why would she let him take her somewhere with no supervision? The plane moved slowly down the tarmac until we reached our gate. The slowness of the air crew had me day dreaming of just bursting through the side of the airplane to get to her. The door was finally opened and they let first class off the plane.
We were the first ones to the exit but then we had to deal with the crowd outside the airplane. I began edging through the crowd at the slowest human pace I could imagine. Each second of knowing how close I was but still not there sent anger surging through my veins at the slow human sloths. As we moved closer to the baggage claim I began staring over the heads of the crowd, looking for any sign of Bella. Out of nowhere Alice was standing stock still in front of me with a piece of paper in her hand. Her eyes were wide with horror.
"What is that?" I gasped.
She was hiding something from me as she began thinking of different fashion designers from around the world.
"It's from Bella," Alice cried.
"Where is she?" I began looking around the crowd, hoping beyond hope that she was not in some sort of danger. Alice's hand held out the piece of parchment. I snatched it out of her hand and quickly read over it.
I love you. I am so sorry. He has my mom and I have to try. I know it may not work. I am so very, very sorry. Don't be angry with Alice and Jasper. If I get away from them it will be a miracle. Tell them thank you for me. Alice especially, please. And please, please don't come after him. That's what he wants, I think. I can't bear it if anyone has to be hurt because of me, especially you. Please, this is the only thing I can ask you now. For me.
I love you. Forgive me.
"Wasn't she in the airport with you?" I shouted.
Alice cringed from my words but her face showed great sadness. "Yes," she whispered.
"Where's Jasper?" my eyes narrowed and I began to see through a red tint.
Suddenly Alice showed me two terrifying visions she had since I left Seattle. I dove into her mind as the future continually shifted. The first was a vision of Bella lying on the ground in the ballet studio, I assumed, beaten and dead with James standing over her C blood dripping from the corners of his mouth. I felt like I could barely stand. My life was C over, gone. She showed me the second vision. Bella telling Jasper she has to go to the bathroom and her running straight through to another exit, fleeing the airport C alone.
Unconsciously I was running towards the bathroom in Alice's vision. Jasper appeared in my vision and I heard his thoughts. She sure is taking a long time to go to the bathroom. I guess I'm not sure how long it takes for someone to go to the bathroom.
I rushed past him and into the ladies bathroom. Loud screams erupted as I started opening stall after stall looking for Bella. I could barely smell her presence in the bathroom. The rest of my family flew in behind me.
I rounded on Jasper. "Why didn't you watch after her?" I cried out.
My stomach started plummeting horribly as each second passed. "She asked to go to the bathroom. I didn't know she would...run away," Jasper looked shocked and ashamed.
I didn't have any time to waste; I had to find Bella before she walked into James' lethal hands. I took in a deep breath trying to locate her scent. When I found it I flew out of the bathroom using the other exit and ran towards an elevator. I pressed the button several times impatiently. The elevator was too slow so I rushed down the stairs, opening the door to each floor to take a whiff of the air, looking for Bella. I finally opened the door to the most delicious fragrance, like she was standing in front of me. It must not have been long ago that she was there. I continued to take in deep breaths of the glorious fragrance until I was running outside where her scent no longer lingered at the end of the side walk. I looked up and the warm sun was shining brightly in the sky. I looked down at the edge of the shadow I stood on - where Bella last stood. I fell to my knees as I realized I couldn't follow. Pain began searing through my veins as I realized I was too late to save her. A scream of agony almost escaped my lips as my body ripped into two. There was no way to find her and I realized that my other half, Bella, would forever be gone.