What's Love? Ch 23
I start laughing at my last client as I watch him hiss and wobble trying to walk down the sidewalk. He got a full calf piece and it was his first ever tattoo. I tried to persuade him to do something smaller or somewhere else. But as always, these young kids think they know all.
“I fucking warned him that shit was going to hurt,” I remark to Alec as I clean up my space. Alec laughs knowingly.
I hear the bell of my door chime, but it’s the loud bang it gives off when it hits the wall of my shop that startles me.
“EDWARD!” Alice screams my name in panic.
“What the hell, Alice?” I start walking towards her as she stumbles toward me.
“They’re gone!” Alice falls into my arms sobbing, landing us on the floor. I grab Alice’s face and pull it to have her look at me.
“Alice, who? Who is gone?” I’m sure the dread in my voice is apparent.
Alice wipes the tears roughly away and takes a deep breath. “Bella and Miah.”
All the air leaves my body. My daughter and my love are missing. Over and over it runs through my head. Alec tells me that he’ll finish up and close the shop so that I can go with Alice.
The police are already at our home and every member of the family is also waiting.
I’m sitting in our living room with cops and detectives asking question after question about Bella and Miah. I just stare at the walls that my girls were decorating with pictures of us. I had my own surprise for the barbeque; a photographer to take our family photo. I was also going to surprise her with adoption papers to make Bella Miah’s official mom. What’s going to happen now? Oh, God. I put my head in my hands and a sob rips through me.
“Mr. Cullen, do you know anyone that might have done this?” a detective asks me in the middle of my self-crisis.
“Yes, James, her ex-husband.” I managed to get out while trying to calm myself and be strong for my girls. I see Jasper just as shaken up with Alice holding him together. I feel my mom’s arms wrap around me to do the same.
“We will bring Bella and Miah back home. If they had their phones, her program could track them,” Mom whispers to me trying to comfort me, but instead it gives me an idea. Charlie!
“Charlie, scan from the mall outward in a twenty-mile radius and from here go twenty miles also. Scan for Bella and Miah’s heat signatures, facial recognition, anything that can lead us to them.”
Everyone in the room freezes at my voice and then they look up for a response.
“Edward, I have found them located at an abandoned building just off the nearby reservation. Approximately a half hour from this address. I have sent the location’s address to everyone’s phones. Please hurry, it seems there is a low heart beat for Bella.”
As soon as he answers, everyone goes into a frenzy.
“Mr. Cullen, we need you to come with us,” one of the officers says to me while walking out the door. I quickly follow him without hesitation.
I sit in the back of the detective’s car. I can hear them communicating with law enforcement on the reservation, making sure they have permission to enter their jurisdiction. I hear them respond affirmatively and that they are on route themselves. I hear more sirens, more and more noise, and all my thoughts are repeating there is a low heart beat for Bella. I can’t help but start thinking of different scenarios, and none of them are good.
After what must be a lifetime, we arrive to an abandoned cabin, almost completely obscured if not for all the lights focused on it from the reservation Police that have already arrived with an ambulance.
“Where’s my dad?” I hear my daughter's cries, and without a second thought I find myself running towards her voice.
“Miah!” I grab her up in my arms and start crying. My baby girl is okay.
“Daddy, Mommy is hurt but they wouldn’t let me stay. There was so much blood.” Miah starts crying into my shirt while I look around trying to find Bella.
“She’s crashing!” I finally hear a paramedic yell out. Still holding Miah, I dash over to the ambulance trying to see inside, but the door shuts and they race away.
“Wait, where they hell are they going? What’s happening?” I yell at a nearby police officer.
“Sir, you need to calm down,” the officer replies.
“Fuck off, that’s my girl in there!” I can feel the anger bubbling under my skin.
“She’s being taken to Forks hospital, she’s in bad shape. You and your daughter will be escorted there.” He opens his car door, helping us get in before taking us to the hospital.
I quickly text our family so they can meet us there. The entire ride to the hospital I hold onto Miah as a lifeline. She’s still quietly crying. I just kiss the top of her head.
“I love you so much. I’m so thankful you’re okay.”
“If it wasn’t for Mom, I wouldn’t be. He was going to kill me.” She grips my shirt tighter to her and my stomach turns at the thought. I close my eyes, letting the tears fall.
When we finally arrive at the hospital I rush in with Miah in my arms. I spot Jasper and Alice talking to a nurse. “What’s going on? How’s Bella?” I rush out the questions.
“They’re still in surgery, but the bullet missed the main organs. It looks like there’s a bleed somewhere they’re trying to fix. I don’t really understand.” Jasper sounds lost as he replies to my questions.
“Where’s Dad, Alice? He can help, right? Tell us what’s going on.”
“He’s in there with the doctor. He’s the best surgeon here, but because of the family rule he can’t actually perform the surgery, but he can stand in there.” Alice’s voice is shaky.
“Come on kids, let's go sit in a private waiting area.” My mother, the godsend, leads us into a nice seating area. Miah curls into me, holding onto me with a death grip.
I feel the minutes tick by as if it’s hours when the detectives finally arrive to get Miah’s statement.
“Do we really need to do this right now? She’s still in shock,” I argue as Miah keeps her head tucked into my neck.
“Mr. Cullen, I know this is difficult. But we just need to know what happened.” He was soft spoken.
I sigh. “Hey, Miah, sweetie, you need to tell this man what happened to you and Bella.”
She moves from my neck and stares hard at the detective.
“Hi, Miah, I’m Detective Black, but my friends call me Jake.” He squats down to be at her eye level.
“Hi, Jake,” her voice is soft and scared.
“Can you tell me what happen to you and Bella at the mall?”
“My mom,” she corrects.
“I’m sorry,” he quickly replies. “What happened to you and your mom?”
She closes her eyes. “We were leaving the mall, and there wasn’t really anyone around. I could tell Mom was scared because she was squeezing my hand really hard. I told her she was hurting me, then someone pulled me away from her really hard.” Tears start trailing down her cheeks. I kiss her head, trying make it better. “I yelled for my Mom. When she turned to me, a second man put a dirty cloth over her face that made her pass out. The man with the long dirty hair threatened that if I screamed he would kill me.” I feel her shudder against me as she relives the memory. “The one Mom called James and the other guy put us in a big black SUV and drove for a while we finally stopped at the house you found us in.” Miah wipes some tears away, pausing her story.
“You’re doing amazing, Miah,” Detective Black’s voice is soothing to the ears.
I watch Miah take a big breath. “They tied me to a chair, then I watched them tie Mom to a chair. She still hadn’t woken up. I started to cry really hard. James threatened me with his gun if I didn’t shut up. The other guy told him to calm down. James pulled the guy away and I didn’t see him again.”
Jake nods his head. I can assume that James killed the guy somewhere else.
“Mom finally woke up, and she was shaking so hard, she told me everything was going to be okay. James came back then, saying some horrible things about me and my dad. Bella started to say that she was just using us. I didn’t believe her, but James did, and started to untie her. She kept asking him to let me go, that I wasn’t worth adding any more charges. But he aimed the gun at me anyway.” Miah is sobbing by this point. I hold her closer to me and trying to contain the rage that I feel that someone held a gun to my baby girl.
“I know this part is hard, Miah, but you’re almost done.” Jake touches her hand, and with a last shaky breath Miah continues.
“Mom dove for the gun, and they struggled and it went off. I could see the blood start to come out of Mom, but she just told me to close my eyes, so I did. I heard another bang and Mom untied me. There was so much blood,” she cries out, grabbing my neck to bury her face in again.
“You did so good, Miah, thank you so much.” Jake stands up and looks to me this time. “That’s all we need. We’ll come back later when Bella is better to get her statement, and then we can answer any more questions then.”
I just nod my head at him while rocking my daughter, trying to soothe her.
We’re just waiting and waiting. Miah is passed out on a chair next to me. My mom tried to get her to go home with her but she outright refused, saying she needs to know that her mom is okay. It’s well after midnight before I see my father’s tired figure come into our waiting area. I stand up, Jasper right next to me, staring at him and praying for a good outcome.
“Bella will recover physically. The bullet went through her chest, missing her heart by inch and nicking an artery. That’s what took so long, was being able to close it and keep the blood loss down. She lost a lot of blood. I have no idea how she survived.” My dad is at a loss for words.
“But she will live?” Jasper asks.
“Yes. She coded on us three times, but she came back, and so far, she’s doing great. The next forty-eight hours are crucial.”
Miah finally goes home with my mom. I make a quick trip to shower and get some food. When I come back, Jasper does the same thing. Neither one of us can leave her. We haven’t spoken much to one another. I look at my soon to be brother. He looks lost and so pale.
He speaks up for the first time in hours. “I hate hospitals. The last time I was here I had to wait two days before she woke up. I just want my sister to have a good, happy life, Edward. I hate to think God has it out for her, but how much shit does that bastard think she can handle?” I watch Jasper fall apart. I forgot he had done this with her before.
I go over and sit next to him. “I’m going to give Bella the best life from here on out. I love her, I’m not letting go. I’m going to fight for her. We are, as a family, going to be there for her. She’s alive. Everything else we’ll get through together as a family,” I say with conviction. I know this will cause a setback mentally for her. But I really believe with all of us, the support system she has now, we can make it through this and get to where we were before James lost his shit.
Jasper nods. “That’s the difference, last time she only had me, and I was losing my own shit, so I wasn’t that much help to her.”
We sit there for the two days, taking turns sitting next to Bella. We’re both there when she opens her eyes.
“Miah, please tell me she’s okay!” she sobs immediately.
“Shh, babe, she’s fine. She’s so worried about her mom. She’s going to be so excited to know you’re awake and feeling better.” I brush her hair with my fingers.
Her eyes find Jasper. “I’m sorry, Jasper. I didn’t mean to do this to you again.”
“You did nothing, Bells.” He takes her hand and kisses it.
The doctor comes in and goes through everything again that we heard just two days before.
It’s a couple of weeks before I’m able to bring Bella home. All the hurdles we are about to go through, it’s all worth it for her, for our family.