Caius was sitting in his motel room watching TV, waiting for the text come in from Aro. It had been planned that Caius would travel to Youngstown and wait for the notification to execute the attack on both the Matters and Isabella. He could hardly wait to have this business over with, because he wanted out of the fucking town and back to his wife and son. Because of this fucking mess, he had missed the birth of his first born. When his wife had called last night to say she was in labor, he wanted nothing more than to leave, but, after he called Aro, and explained, he was commanded that under no certain terms was he to leave until the job was done. Caius was taken aback by Aro’s uncaring attitude to such a special time in a man’s life. He hoped that he would receive the text soon, because he really wanted to spend Christmas with his wife and son.
He was brought out of his thoughts by a chime on his phone. Opening up the text, he knew it was finally fucking time. Everything was ready for the deed. He was going to make it look like a home robbery gone bad. He would take any valuables he could find and shoot everyone in the house. He knew that neither Brad or Louise had cell phones, so it was easy enough to cut the phone line to the house to prevent them from calling for help. Looking at the time, he knew he just might catch a break and they would all be in bed, asleep. Stepping out the door of the motel, he was hit in the face with powerful wind and blistering snow. FUCK FUCK FUCK. Of all nights to have a snow storm, why tonight? Making his way to his vehicle, he cleared his windshield and slowly proceeded to the Matter’s home. The main roads were covered in at least eight inches of snow and ice, and, as soon as he turned on the dirt road that led up to the house, he encountered even worse condition. The wind had blown the snow sideways, and it drifted onto the roadway. At one point during the drive, Caius was pushing snow up to the headlights of his SUV, and, several times, he thought for sure he was going to get stuck.
As he neared the house, he shut off his headlights and proceeded as quietly as he could to the house. Parking the vehicle, and before he stepped out and he made sure that both of his guns were loaded and the safety was off. The blinding snow and wind made it extremely difficult to get to the side of the house, but he finally made it and cut the phone line. Testing the side door, he found it was unlocked. He slowly opened it, and walked in. It was some type of mud room with a door leading to the kitchen. As he walked through that door, he heard someone talking in the room to the right. Fuck, they were still up. Walking into the room, he found Brad and Louise sitting on the couch looking at the Christmas tree.
Brad was enjoying the quiet time with his loving wife. Christmas had always been a sad time for them, because they had no children of their own. But this year had been different and it was all because of that special girl sleeping in her room. The joy that she brought to their lives was worth so much more than money. Her smile could light up a room and her giggle could soften the hardest of hearts.
Suddenly, Brad felt like as if someone was watching him, and, as he turned, he saw Caius standing in his living room. He knew this was it.
“I know why you are here.” Brad said, taking Louise’s hand into his.
“Where is the girl?” Caius asked.
“Asleep. I couldn’t talk you out of doing this, could I?”
“It’s not my decision.” Caius replied and pointed his gun. Both Brad and Louise shut their eyes and waited.
The sight of Brad and Louise sitting calmly waiting for death was something that Caius had not expected or seen before. Pointing the gun, he quickly fired a bullet, first in Louise’s forehead, and then in Brad’s. Stepping over closer, he looked down and saw that they were still holding hands; this shook him to his very core. This husband and wife died; their last thoughts were holding each other’s hand. FUCK!
Bella was lying in her bed looking out at the snow falling. She wondered what her dada was doing, and if he still thought about her. The loud booming sound coming from the living room caused her to jump. This was it. The bad people had come back. Quickly jumping from her bed, she placed her pillows in a line and covered them up. Next, she slipped on her boots and grabbed Eddie lamb, and stuffed him in the backpack. Quietly, she opened her door and looked out. Not seeing anyone, she went to the back room, stepped up on the box, and opened the window. The cold wind blew in, but she knew she needed to get out of here now. Once she climbed out, she shut the window behind her, and looked toward the barn. The snow was coming down so hard she couldn’t even see it, but she knew it was there. She pushed her way through the snow, her little legs struggling to step over each pile of snow. By the time she reached the barn, there wasn’t a dry piece of clothing on her body. She was shivering, her teeth were chattering, and her tiny fingers were like ice cubes.
Inside the barn she quickly got Lilly’s bridle, stepped up on the milk crate, and slipped it into her mouth and over her ears. Bella knew there was no way she could saddle Lilly, so she threw over the blanket on her back. Brad had taught her to ride bareback, and Bella had found she was quite comfortable with it. She opened the stall and led Lilly out and over to another milk crate. As she went to place her backpack on her back, she saw Brad’s red work jacket on the hook. Slipping it on, she knew it was way too big, but it was better than her wet one. Climbing onto Lilly’s back, she maneuvered her toward door and Lilly pushed her way out. The weather hadn’t gotten in better, in fact, it was worse. Bella knew that Mrs. Rosalie and Mr. Emmett lived just a little ways up the road.
“Lilly, getty up.” Bella said, digging her little heels into the side of the horse.
Lilly began to trudge through the snow, but, all too soon, Bella didn’t know which way to go and she couldn’t see through the snow. She was so cold and scared. Why couldn’t she find their house?
The snow continued to beat down on her and with each passing minute, Bella became sleepy and tired. Closing her eyes she began to sway back and forth, then a huge gust of wind blew by, knocking her off Lilly’s back. She landed in a pile of snow. Curling up in a ball, she let the darkness overtake her.
Emmett and Rosalie had just finished a glass of wine, toasting another wonderful Christmas together. They didn’t exchange gifts and used the money they would have spent on gifts for the children at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. They had wanted to spend Christmas handing out the gifts, but they didn’t want to chance the drive in this weather.
Emmett walked over to the large window in the living room and looked out at the storm.
“Boy, it is really coming down out there.” He exclaimed.
Rosalie walked over to him, placed her arm, around his waist and looked out.
“Wow, I have never seen it this bad before.” She continued to look out at the snow, but something caught her eye in the driveway. “Sweetheart, what is that?” She asked, pointing toward what she saw.
Emmett looked carefully in the direction; for a brief moment, he could tell it was a horse. “It is a horse. But why is it out in this storm?”
He quickly put on his boots, coat, gloves, and hat, and headed out to capture the horse. He wondered if it might be one of Brad’s. Turning back to Rosalie, who was standing at the door, he said, “Call Brad and see if he is missing a horse.”
Rosalie called Brad but the line was disconnected. “Well, that is strange.”
Rosalie said out loud.
Emmett pushed through the snow toward the horse, who was just standing still. He was able to walk right up to the horse; as he did, he noticed that it had a bridle. That was very strange. He grasped the reins, and pulled on them for the horse to follow him, but it would not move.
“Come on, girl, let’s get you out of this weather.” Emmett implored. Tugging once again, the horse still refused to comply. Instead, she pulled her head back and to the left, causing Emmett to lose his balance, and he fell into the snow. Shaking his head, he began to get up when he saw a red coat in the snow, and, when he went to pick it up, he was shocked to see that, nestled inside, was Bella. He quickly picked her up and ran back toward the house, yelling for Rosalie.
“ROSIE BRINGS BLANKETS QUICK!”
Rosalie didn’t know what was happening, but collected the blankets from the hall closet and met Emmett at the door. He was carrying something in a red coat. He walked over to couch, laid it down, and, as soon as he pulled opened the coat, her heart stopped. Lying lifeless on the couch, was Bella. Emmett grabbed the blanket and began to cover her up.
“Emmett, is she alive?” Rosalie cried.
Emmett lifted up her tiny wrist, and began to search for a pulse. It was there, but very faint. “She is alive, but just barely. We need to warm her up and call for an ambulance.”
“We have to get those wet clothes off her. I will grab one of my t-shirts; it will be too big, but at least it will dry.” Rosalie said, then took off to get the shirt. She picked up the first shirt she could get her hands on, along with a pair of socks. Running back to Bella, she carefully removed all her wet clothing and placed the shirt and socks on her.
Emmett had called for an ambulance and they were en route. They told him to keep her warm and dry. “Rose, did you get in touch with Brad?”
“No. The phone is disconnected for some reason.”
“That is strange. Once we get Bree in the hospital, and she is stable, I will check on them.” Emmett said, worried about his friend.
They kept close watch over Bella, warming blankets by the fire and placing them over her, but her pulse was still very weak, and she had not woken up. After a half hour, the ambulance finally pulled up with a snow plow in front of it. The crew climbed out the vehicle and rushed into the house and quickly evaluated Bella. After barking out different numbers, she was quickly put on oxygen and place on the stretcher.
“We have to get her to the hospital as soon as we can.” The EMT said.
“Can I ride along with her?” Rosalie begged.
“Of course. Sir, you can ride with the snow plow if you like?”
“Thank you.” Emmett said.
Emmett and Rosalie followed them out and got into the vehicles. Rosalie held Bella’s hand the entire ride to the hospital. Once inside, Bella was rushed back to a room and they were told that they had to wait in the small waiting room. A nurse asked their names and the name of the child.
“She has to be all right.” Rosalie cried.
“She will be.” Emmett promised, even though he was unsure about it.
After what seemed like eternity, the doors of the E.R. opened, and two police officers walked in. They walked over to the counter and asked the nurse if the coroner had arrived.
“No, Officers. What is going on?” She asked.
“A home invasion gone wrong. Someone broke into the Matter’s home off of route 713; they must have surprised them, because whomever it was shot them dead.”
Rosalie and Emmett was shocked. Brad and Louise were dead and Bella was out in the snow storm. They knew that this was really bad.
“Mr. & Mrs. McCarty?” A tall young Doctor called out.
“That’s us.” Emmett replied.
“There is no really good way to say this, but we must get her to the Children’s hospital in Pittsburg. I have called for a medevac and they are en route as we speak.”
“Can we ride with her?” Rosalie asked.
“Yes. We have one sick little girl, but I have every confidence in the doctors in Pittsburg. How did she get outside in the storm?” He asked.
Emmett knew that he needed to make up a story, because he felt for sure that it was not a home invasion gone bad; this was what had Brad so scared. “She slipped out when her horse broke out of its stall. She must have decided that she was going to go find it. We didn’t know she was gone until we found the horse who was standing by where she had fallen.”
“It is too early to tell, but I think you have found her in time.” The doctor said.
A short time later they were in the medevac, and on their way to Pittsburgh. As they touched down, team of doctors and nurses met them, and rushed Bella into the hospital.
A nurse came over and motioned for them to follow. Once inside, and away from the roaring sound of the helicopter, she welcomed them. “Mr. and Mrs. McCarty, Bree is in wonderful hands. Come, let me get you set up in one of our family suites.”
They followed her through the hospital, and they finally arrived at the entrance to the Pediatric ward. Emmett and Rosalie looked up and saw that it was the ward that bared their name. They had donated the money for the construction of the state of the art Pediatric ward. The nurse stopped and looked up at what they were looking at, and, in that moment, she recognized Emmett McCarty.
“You are Emmett McCarty. I am so sorry I had no idea!”
“Right now, we are just parents of a sick child. Please don’t treat us any differently than other parents in our situation.” Emmett implored.
The nurse nodded and took them to their waiting room. The hours ticked by slowly, and, with each passing minute, Emmett and Rosalie became more worried about Bella. As the sun broke on Christmas day, a doctor walked into the room.
“Mr. and Mrs. McCarty , Bree is stable, breathing on her own and her body temperature is back to normal. She has some signs of frostbite on her toes, but we are keeping a close eye on it.”
“Is she awake? I want to see her.” Rosalie asked with tears in her eyes.
“No, she is not. Her little body has gone through a traumatic ordeal. She needs time to rest and heal. She is being taken to a level one private room where we can keep a close eye on her. As soon as she gets settled, I will get you in the room.” Doctor Johnson explained. He had been advised who Bree’s parents were. Because of the generosity of the McCartys, hundreds of children had been saved.
After hearing about the news that Bella was going to be okay, Rosalie broke down. The night’s events finally caught up with her, and Emmett wrapped his large arms around her and comforted her. A short time later, they were sitting in Bella’s room, holding her hand, and talking to her. Rosalie was telling her the story of Sleeping Beauty and her fairy Godmothers. As she got to the point where Sleeping Beauty was about to prick her finger on the needle on the spinning wheel, Bella’s eyes began to flicker.
Rosalie gasped. “That’s it, sweetheart, let me see those beautiful brown eyes of yours.”
The swirls of snow and ice danced around in her dreams. In the distance was a tall man with red brown hair and piercing green eyes, reaching his hand out toward her, beckoning her to him. He was her warmth; her sun.
Opening her eyes she looked at the angel’s face with crystal blue eyes and a sweet smile.
“Hi. Are you an angel?”
Rosalie giggled. “No, sweetheart.”
“Then, who are you?”
Emmett and Rosalie were shocked by the question. “Bree, don’t you remember us?” Rosalie asked.
She looked at them both and said. “Who is Bree?”