Chapter 4: Caught in the Lightning

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Chapter 4: Caught in the Lightning

Messaggio  spuffy il Gio 30 Ago 2012, 22:13

Bella

Thursday was wretched.
It was a disaster of epic proportions, up until the end.
Then it was just plain odd.
If I had known what was coming for me I never would have gotten out of bed in the first place.
My hands felt like they were on fire by the early afternoon and I was desperate to get back to the
safety of my apartment which was laughable because it would mean I was alone again.
Solitude was preferable to the amount of attention my bandaged hands gleaned. My fellow
classmates stared at me with morbid curiosity, none of them bold enough to actually ask me what had
happened or if I was okay thankfully.
Dr. Banner, my mentor for my dissertation was overly concerned, asking me every ten minutes
during our meeting if I wouldn’t rather reschedule for another day. When he suggested Saturday at a
little cafe I knew that there was trouble brewing.
I politely ignored the potential for a sexual harassment charge, acutely aware that if Jake was here
he would kick the ever loving shit out of this man and Charlie would threaten to have him arrested by
local law enforcement. I smiled sadly at the thought and told Dr. Banner that I worked on weekends
and I was actually more than happy to continue with the meeting presently.
I drove recklessly all the way home burning with anger I had only started to feel again the last
couple of days. Breaking every speed limit as well as racking up several other traffic violations, I
wound up getting pulled over just before my exit. The blue and red lights flashing vague and terrifying
memories I tried to blink away.
I tapped my fingers restlessly on the steering wheel while I watched the officer saunter up to my
window. An image of Charlie leaving for work flashed through my mind and I had to close my eyes for
a second to hold back the sob that threatened to break free.
It was already dark out and the officer tapped on the window of my car with his flashlight, a silver
Volvo S80, practical, safe and really fast.
I pressed the button and listened to the faint whir as the window descended, letting the cool night
air into the car.
“Good evening ma’am,” the officer in question leaned into my car, placing one hand on the roof
and shone the light directly into my eyes, causing me to cringe away and blink furiously as I raised my
hand to shield my eyes.
I couldn’t see his face because he was blinding me but I was sure he was staring at my bandaged
hands, wondering what had happened to necessitate them.
I didn’t respond, waiting for him to tell me I was speeding.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” he asked condescendingly, smiling down at me in that way
only cops could, making you feel small and insignificant.
“I was speeding,” I replied, not really in the mood for the game.
“Do you have any idea how fast you were going Miss?” he asked.
I clenched my jaw and tried not to grip the steering wheel with excessive force because I knew it
would rip my stitches open and I didn’t have the energy or the stomach to do the job again tonight.
I exhaled slowly, “No officer, I have no clue how fast I was travelling,” I said honestly and let my
head fall back against the headrest, trying not to look at him, to see the familiar uniform, the gun belt,
the stance that Charlie used when he was exerting his position of authority.
“You were going over one-hundred-twelve miles an hour,” his voice was cold and hard, losing the
pleasantly condescending edge.
“Pardon me?” he had my attention now. Charlie would have been so mad at me right now.
I looked up at the cop who was standing at my window, furious and aggravated with my petulant
behaviour and obvious lack of concern for the safety of other people on the road.
“Licence and registration please,” he ignored my question, figuring that it was rhetorical.
I pulled my licence out of my purse and the registration out of the glove box and passed them to the
officer.
“Wait here, Miss. Swan,” he said and a brief flash of recognition passed over his face before the
stone mask was back in place, his eyes flickering to the bandages that covered my hands.
Could this day get any worse?
He made his way back to his cruiser, running my licence to make sure I wasn’t wanted for any
felonies.
I sighed in aggravation and made a mental note to stop at a convenience store on the way home to
pick up a bottle of something alcoholic because I needed to dull the ache that was starting to push its
way through the numbness in my broken and bleeding heart.
I turned up the radio, not really listening to the song but needing something, anything to distract me
from the pain that was not merely physical anymore.
It must have taken at least ten minutes for the police officer to find whatever information he was
looking for. I didn’t have a record, I was the daughter of a cop for Christ sake, so I wasn’t sure what the
hell was taking him so long.
Of course he might just be doing it to piss me off, in which case it was working.
“Miss. Swan?” he was holding out my licence and registration with the strangest look on his face.
His expression wasn’t cold or authoritative anymore, it was something else entirely.
Oh God, please don’t tell me he’s going to proposition me.
I can’t take any more shit today and I was sure the self-defence moves I had learned from Charlie
would be rendered useless on this cop. He was big, huge in fact and young, maybe late twenties.
No to mention some of the moves required the use of my currently useless hands.
“You’re father was Charlie Swan? Chief of police in Forks, Washington?” he asked the question
slowly, as though he was trying to take a loaded gun from a child who didn’t know any better.
I swallowed thickly, hearing his name aloud hurt more than I thought it would after so many
months, “Yes,” the word came out choked and barely audible as my hands began to shake.
What are the chances?
“My dad used to work with him years ago before we moved out here. He was really torn up when
he heard what happened earlier this year. I’m really sorry Miss. Swan, he was. . .”
I shook my head, trying to get him to stop before it was too late, “Please don’t,” I mumbled almost
incoherently as I looked up at him with pleading eyes.
“I’m sorry Miss. Swan, what?” the young officer looked completely confused.
“Please just don’t, I have to drive the rest of the way home and I won’t be able to if you say . . . I
just can’t . . . Please.”
I could feel it, the pressure in my chest. The build up of seven months of denial and sadness and
guilt and the beginning of a rage so intense I couldn’t even begin to understand how I would tamp it
back down once it was fully unleashed.
“Oh,” his forehead creased as he processed my disjointed sentence and then realization dawned on
him, “Oh, of course, I wasn’t . . . I’m sure . . . shall I follow you home? To make sure you get there
safely? I’ll follow you home,” he stammered out and made the decision without actually waiting to see
if I was going to accept his offer.
It was probably a good idea seeing as I was ready to plough my car through the barrier into on-
coming traffic right about now.
I watched him in fascination as he ambled quickly back to his cruiser, leaving his lights flashing.
I waited for a break in the cars before pulling back onto the highway, following all the rules of the
road with the police officer behind me.
What were the odds that the cop that pulled me over would actually know Charlie?
One in a million?
More? Less?
I shouldn’t have been surprised that I would run into someone who would recognize my name. It
had been all over the news just over six months ago. The story was tragic and gossip worthy, even I
could see that.
A twisted and unlikely version of Romeo and Juliet without the happy ending.
I pushed the thoughts back, smothered them under the flame of anger that was beginning to burn
ever more brightly inside of me. If I thought about it too much I would crack under the strain. I would
be home in minutes. I would be alone and as safe as I possibly could when I was by myself.
I drove on autopilot, willing the numbness to remain although I could feel it slipping away and I
wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to get it back. The officer pulled into parking lot behind me and
held my door open as I dragged myself out of the car.
“Take care of yourself Miss. Swan, and please drive more cautiously in the future, I would hate to
see anything bad happen to you,” he handed me a card and I took it from him, shoving it in my back
pocket without looking at it.
I nodded and mumbled an apology and a thank you, completely confused by the surreal experience
I had just been through, “Goodnight officer.”
“Goodnight Isabella,” he said in a voice so quiet I couldn’t be sure I had heard him correctly, and
then he was in his car and the lights of his cruiser washed over me, illuminating the side of the building
as I made my way up the walkway to the front entrance.
Marcus was sitting at the front desk and he smiled tentatively at me, “Everything alright Miss.
Swan?”
“Just fine,” I smiled weakly, “A long day this one, have a nice night Marcus.”
I had no more room for conversations tonight. I wanted to scream, to make someone bleed, to break
things and shatter them the way I was broken.
“You too Miss. Swan,” Marcus replied as I stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the
thirteenth floor.
The door slid closed and I looked at myself in the walls of mirror that caged me in the steel box and
provided an endless reflection of myself. I looked like hell, tired and pale, too thin and wasting away.
I felt wasted.
A spectre of my former self, lost in a sea of numbness that was giving way to the guilt and anger
that had driven me to come here in the first place.
The emotions I thought I had buried in Forks with the people I love seemed to be resurrecting
themselves.
The doors of the elevators opened and I stepped out into the hallway, suddenly feeling like I was in
the movie The Shining and Jack Nicholson would start hacking his way through a door with an axe
while a wave of blood washed me down the hallway into his psychotic arms. I was a mess. I needed my
meds and a drink. It was at that moment I realized I had completely forgotten about the trip to the store
to purchase said drink. I turned back around to face the elevator but was taken by surprise when I
almost ran right into my neighbour.
“Hey,” she cocked her head to the side; she was wearing a robe and smelled a little like chlorine
which meant she had been swimming on the rooftop pool, “You look like shit.”
“Thanks,” I said sardonically, no need to mince words apparently.
“You okay?” she furrowed her brow and looked at me intently, the question was obviously
rhetorical because her previous statement belied the fact that I was not okay at all since I looked like a
pile of steaming turd.
“Superb,” I said with no inflection.
Rose snorted at me and it sounded quite delicate coming from her if I was perfectly honest. She
hooked her arm through mine and started hauling me down the hall in the direction of my apartment.
“What are you doing?” I really was not in the mood for a female bonding session complete with
mani-pedi’s.
“You look like you could use a drink,” she raised an eyebrow in challenge and since I couldn’t
argue I just huffed and let her drag me along.
She opened the door to her apartment, which had the same open concept layout as mine, but her
decor was completely different. While I went for antique and classical, she went for modern and
minimalist. The front entrance was bare except for a narrow black table with a white dish that she
dropped her keys into. The slate floors ran into the kitchen on the right with the cherry hardwood
cabinets and the black granite countertops. The living room housed a black leather sofa and a set of
blood red chairs. There was a seventy two inch flat screen TV mounted on the wall and red curtains
adorned the windows and the sliding glass door leading out to the balcony.
There was a massive mirror in a thick black wooden frame suspended from the ceiling with heavy
black chains and several erotic looking pictures of various body parts, a bent knee, the gentle curve of a
feminine waist and the swell of a breast hung artfully on a stark white wall.
Rose went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of Corona’s. She handed me one and waved her
hand around the room, “Make yourself comfortable, I’m going to wash the chlorine out of my hair
before it starts turning green, then we’re going to hang out and watch shit TV and make small talk.”
She didn’t wait for a reply, just left me standing there in the middle of her living room as she
sashayed out of the room toward what I assumed was her bathroom.
Truly, the woman didn’t walk, she sashayed.
I could have just left but I was pretty sure that she would just come knocking on my door. I was
also fairly certain that she was a persistent kind of girl and wouldn’t be likely to knock once and then
go away.
I picked up her remote and turned on the TV only to be bombarded with the insanely loud crooning
of Robert Smith. This very strange woman was listening to post-punk 80’s Cure through her television?
Maybe she would turn out to be my new best friend.
As soon as the thought passed through my mind I reacted physically, sinking to the floor as though
I had been punched in the stomach. The guilt I harboured sucking me into the vortex of pain and
longing. I shook my head and swallowed hard, trying to cage the emotions again but they were strong,
maybe stronger than I was this time.
I left the volume up and pulled myself back to standing, not wanting her to find me a crumpled
mess on her floor. Too many questions would result and I felt brittle to the point of cracking right now.
I rifled through my messenger bag and found my pills. I would take only one for now. I chewed it and
chased the bitterness with my beer. Tossing my bag on the floor beside the couch I picked up a heavy
hardcover book from the black wood coffee table that was titled Whole System Design: Renewable
Energy Engineering and Technology.
I had been expecting something more along the lines of a gossip rag, not a book on Engineering,
but then I didn’t really know anything about this woman at all.
“I’m studying to become an Environmental Engineer,” Rose said over the music and lowered the
volume, “It’s an assload of work but it’s worth it to see the look on guys’ faces when they realize I’m
not just some dumb blonde with a pretty face.”
I smiled at her and nodded, not really knowing what to say to that because being drop dead
gorgeous had never really been an issue for me. Not to mention my hair was brown and I was pretty
petite, not like the curvy, busting out vixen that stood in front of me.
“Wanna get high?” she asked me as she opened a small wooden box on the end table and pulled out
a joint.
“Uh, I’ve never smoked before,” I stammered truthfully.
I hadn’t.
My father had been a cop, it had never really occurred to me to try it because the consequences of
getting caught were terrifying.
“Well Bella, there’s a first time for everything isn’t there?” she asked and flicked a lighter, touching
it to the end of the joint and inhaling deeply, a thin trail of white smoke rising from where the flame
had been and the red embers burned brightly.
I woke up on Friday feeling a little groggy but not bad overall considering I had smoked weed for
the first time in my life. There had been no nightmares. No vivid flashback dreams causing me to wake
up shaking and sweating and wishing that the outcome seven months ago had been vastly different.
I felt hazy but aware as I went through the motions of my morning ritual.
Rose and I had sat in relative silence watching episodes of Family Guy and drinking beer in a
blissed out stupor. She didn’t force me to tell her about myself which was nice. The silence was
comfortable and punctuated with the occasional snort or laugh until we were both falling asleep on
opposite ends of the couch.
I had stumbled my way out the door and into my own apartment, falling onto my bed fully clothed
and exhausted.
It was almost noon by the time I got up and went about showering and eating. I spent the remainder
of my time reading and left for work at just after four. I was giddy with the thought that I might see
Edward again and immediately I berated myself for the yearning I felt.
I could not afford to be this interested in anyone.
I shouldn’t have worried because I didn’t see him at all that day.
Esme was quite worried about my hands. I concocted a story about dropping a glass in my kitchen
and then falling in the mess.
I could see the disbelief in her eyes, even though she was aware I was clumsy the wounds on my
hands were far too concentrated and the placement to awkward for that to make any sense. She pursed
her lips and left it alone.
Saturday was much the same as Friday. I sat behind the cash counter with Esme, reading books in
peace unless a customer came in and needed help. I catalogued new books, entering the data into the
computer and working on setting up a master list so that when people came in and asked if we had a
particular book we would be able to look it up on the computer.
The nightmares were particularly graphic on Saturday night, leaving me tired and slightly raw. I
was anxious to get to work on Sunday morning, hoping that it would help erase the images that
continued to flash through my mind like a horrifying slide show of death and destruction.
I was able to forgo the gauze today as the smaller cuts were scabbed over adequately. I covered the
stitches with thick fabric bandages, glad that my hands had healed enough that Esme would let me
shelve books again today.
I was in the middle of shelving erotica when I heard the tinkle bells hanging from the door. I craned
my neck and caught a glimpse of the shock of defiant copper hair.
I couldn’t help but watch as he walked over and kissed Esme on the top of her head. It was a tender
gesture and completely at odds with the persona that he presented.
A front.
His ink and steel an armour for the world to keep people out as well as means to express and
display marked events in his past and present. At least this was how I perceived him. I could be totally
wrong.
And then Esme had called me out of hiding and introduced me to him.
He was her nephew.
She was related to this beautiful man.
His voice was a symphony, a set of velvet sheets wrapping around me in a soft and sensual caress. I
couldn’t help but shiver as my name fell from his perfect lips. I wanted to feel his breath on my skin as
he whispered my name, a humid ghost across my throat.
I had never had such an intense physical yearning for anyone before. If I hadn’t known it before I
knew now, that while I had loved Jake, loved him still, I had never felt anything like this for him. And
the guilt I felt because of it washed over me and nearly pulled me into the black void of the undertow.
When his name tumbled from my lips in a quiet greeting it felt as though I had been walking in the
desert and had stumbled upon an oasis. The fear welled up and over, there was too much feeling.
The numbness was ebbing and in its wake and the raw feeling I had woken with was amplified.
I couldn’t want anyone because I deserved no one.
Ever again.
I turned quickly and moved away from him, knowing that he was following. I could feel his eyes on
me, moving across my body as I walked in front of him making me ache and burn in unfamiliar ways. I
was trying to breathe, to put one foot in front of the other and just make it down the damn stairs so I
could show him the boxes and get the hell out of there.
It was too much.
I could feel him behind me like a heavy fog bearing down, his body radiating danger and sex and
this overwhelmingly heady scent I couldn’t place and didn’t want to be without ever again.
And then he touched my hand, running his long artful fingers across the cross-hatched fabric
bandage that covered the self-inflicted wounds on my hands.
He said something that I didn’t hear because I was too wrapped up in the sensation of his fingers
moving over the naked flesh on the back of my hand. I wanted his hands everywhere because the
simple passing of his fingers caused me to feel as though my entire body was exploding white light,
passing webs of electricity over my skin.
“I fell,” I lied, hoping that I was answering the question he asked.
Obviously I couldn’t tell him the truth, oh that, I had a nightmare and slammed my fists into my
bedroom mirror until all of the glass fell out because I can’t stand to look at my own reflection.
Yes, that would go over swimmingly.
He was so close to me when I turned to look at him, I could feel his breath on my face as he
exhaled his intoxicating sweetness over me, sending me reeling out of orbit. I have never been so afraid
and so turned on in all my life.
And then he called me on my lie, a beautiful smirk spreading across his face in the most delicious
way. I wanted to lick him bottom lip, feel the hardness of the steel rings at the corner of his mouth
against mine in an angry and passionate kiss, because he was pissing me the hell off in his beauty and
his perception.
So I gave him a snarky and angry reply because really who the hell did he think he was and why
was he prying into my personal business? And why was he getting so much pleasure out of it? I
stomped down the stairs in defiance, but of course I had to trip and fall right into his hard, perfectly
muscled chest.
Oh god, help me.
I was surprised meteorites didn’t fall from the sky in a blazing torrent setting flame to everything
around me. His fingers grazed the side of my breast and I am pretty damn sure I moaned or gasped or
groaned, or possibly all three. He righted me and let go and I moved in a haze of desire and just
absolute stunned insanity to the boxes of books and waved my hand manically as I blurted out a bunch
of words that could have been a foreign language for all I knew.
Then I told him to bring up a box and made a comment that implied I found his body sexually
appealing.
That was the understatement of the goddamn year.
I grabbed a box, relishing the pain it caused my tender hands because it took my mind off the Sex
God Medusa that was standing in close proximity to me. I was pretty sure instead of turning to stone I
would most likely try to sexually assault him if I stayed in the room with him.
The emotional repercussions for such an action would be dire.
I almost wiped out close to the top in my rush to escape the prettiest and most dangerous man that
was sure to be my undoing. Thankfully I did not fall again and I was able to drop the box and the very
back corner of the store and hide out there until I heard him talking to Esme, followed by the tell tale
sound of the chimes over the door signalling he had left.
I sauntered out to the front of the store with an arm load of books I thought would be nice for the
window display, some early edition classics, trying to be as cool as possible.
Although the internal turmoil was swirling around inside me in the most sickening way.
“Did you have a nice chat with Edward?” Esme’s eyes glinted knowingly, “You know he likes a lot
of the same books you do.”
“He seems. . .” I paused, sexually charged, like god’s true gift to all women in the world, like an
inhuman creature waiting to turn me into sex crazed lunatic, dangerously exotic like a wild cat,
“Interesting.”
“Don’t let the tattoo’s and the piercings scare you Bella, he’s quite a nice young man,” she smiled at
me from behind her book.
“The body art doesn’t scare me,” I said honestly. On the contrary, the contrast between the inked
skin and the pale unmarked flesh that covered his body only served to enhance the already overtly
sexual reaction I had to this man. The piercings were primal and erotic.
I had always been fascinated with mild forms of body modification like tattooing and piercing. Jake
had been totally opposed to it so I was pacified by piercing my ears repeatedly as a sort of defiance
against his dislike for anything opposing the socially constructed norms. He hated that I had earrings all
the way up the shells of my ears and because of that he always wanted me to wear my hair down. It
was just one of the many things about our relationship that should have tipped me off to the fact that
maybe we didn’t belong together.
If only I hadn’t been such a coward I might have told him how I felt and he would still be here.
But I was a coward.
And Jake was gone, and he would never come back.
None of them would ever come back.
~*~
I pulled out my sketch book when I got home and curled up on my couch, pressing play on iPod,
finding the most violent and pulsing beat I could. Gnawing on my bottom lip I worked furiously. I
wanted to have the sketch finished by the end of the month. Then I would take it to the tattoo shop and
see if I could have it transferred onto my skin.
A permanent reminder of what I coward I truly was.
A visual representation of everything I had lost because of my cowardice.
I wanted to wear my demise.

spuffy
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