Testing Faith ~ Chapter Twenty-Three

Faith For The Future

Charlie took cautious steps towards his daughter who had a bewildered look on her face. He could understand why, because she thought they were killed in the fire. They would have been if he hadn’t seen Aro’s plan. 

For years Aro had been upset with him because he thought he had something to do with Bella’s escape; even though Aro couldn’t prove it. The morning after Bella’s escape, Charlie and Renee had decided to tell the sect that she had run away without their knowledge. Aro questioned them extensively, but they held strong. As time past, he seemed to forget about Bella, but the suspicions were there in his eyes whenever he saw them. Charlie had become disenchanted with Aro’s teachings; however, he had heard what happened to families who spoke out against the sect. He didn’t want to believe anything negative about the man whom he had come to respect and admire as his spiritual leader, but that all changed the day before the fire. Charlie had gone to Aro’s home on a matter for the sect.  When he arrived, the front door was open. Walking in, he began to look around for Aro. Going down the hall, he noticed a light under a door. Carefully opening the door, peering down the steps, he quietly descended until he reached the bottom. The room was full of plastic gas cans, pushing one with his foot he could tell they were full. Also, there were piles of chain link with padlocks and a drawing. Looking at the drawing, he could tell that it was of the sect’s temple and the exits were marked. Next to the drawing was a computer print out of a bank account. The name of the account was Aro Volturi and its balance over two million dollars. But what he saw next was the most peculiar, it was a bus ticket to Washington State dated for tomorrow. Why was Aro leaving the compound? He never left, not ever. Deciding he needed to leave before he was discovered in the basement, Charlie slipped back out of the house. Going home he kept thinking about what all he saw, but it wasn’t until word came to him that tomorrow morning a special service was going to be held in the temple and all followers were required to attend, that he knew what a truly horrific man Aro was. At this point, he knew that Aro was going to burn everyone up in the temple and run away with all their money. 

The next morning as everyone began to make their way to the temple, Renee and Charlie removed their rings and left them on the dresser, in hopes if Bella came she would deduce that they had not perished. They hid in the small dirt basement that he had built in secret, even from Aro. As they hid, the front door opened and they heard Aro call out for them. After a few minutes, Aro walked around the house, opening all the doors and when he must have been satisfied that they were not there, he left. A few hours later, they smelled the smoke and when they came out of their hiding place, they saw the temple on fire. Charlie knew that Aro had killed everyone and was getting away. 

“Renee, we need to follow him, because I have a funny feeling he is going to try to find Bella. I saw a bus ticket to Washington State, which is where we last lived before coming here. We have to make sure he doesn’t find her.”

Days turn to weeks and Charlie took on odd jobs to support them, not wanting to use all the money that they had saved and hidden over the years. Aro was always one step ahead, but Charlie and Renee were sure that Bella was still safe. Well, that was until three weeks ago, when Aro once again disappeared. It took them until yesterday to figure where he had gone and their hearts stopped, realizing that Aro was indeed after Bella. They arrived in Plano this morning and Charlie started looking for evidence of Aro whereabouts. Charlie had an uncanny ability to track someone and usually, it only took a few hours to find Aro. However, Aro had an easily trackable hobby and that was his taste for expensive cigars, specifically the RoMa Craft Neanderthal. Not many shops carried it because of its price. Renee went in the shop in Plano and made an inquiry about the cigar and the clerk said he had ordered a dozen for a gentleman and he was supposed to pick them up this afternoon. She said she would be back to place her own order and thanked him for his help. They waited across the street and an hour later Aro appeared. After he purchased his cigars, Charlie and Renee followed him back to the abandoned warehouse. Once he went inside, they looked for another way in; luck was on their side when they found a window open. Charlie looked in but his heart stopped. Aro had already found and captured Bella.

“Renee, I want you to find a phone and call the cops,” Charlie whispered. “Tell them everything.”

“Save her,” she cried.

“I will, I promise.”

He slipped in and was able to knock Aro out before he had a chance to hurt Bella anymore. When he slipped off his hood and turned to Bella he knew she was shocked. He had hoped when she heard his special name for her, that she would know that it was him.

“Bells, I know you are shocked, but it’s me, Daddy” Charlie declared.

“Daddy, but how?” She questioned, throwing herself in his arms and hugging his with all the strength she had. 

“It is a long story,” Charlie began but heard sirens coming closer. “And I promise to tell you everything, but the cops are on their way here.”

The doors burst open and armed officers flooded the building. “Freeze, raise your hands,” they commanded.

Charlie and Bella both raised their hands, then waited for their next command. A man started towards them, dressed in a suit. “Miss Swan, we are so glad that you are okay. I am Captain Alistair Morgan and who might you be?”

“This is my Dad. He saved me,” Bella emphasized.

“Mr. Swan? I thought you were killed in a fire?” Alistair questioned.

“We were able to escape and have been following Aro. He is a malicious man who killed all those who chose to follow him and his fake prophecies,” Charlie said.

“That he is,” Alistair confirmed as the officers had Aro handcuffed and was dragging him out of the building. “We have a lot of questions that need to be answered, but I know that Miss Swan’s friends and family are very worried about her. Why don’t we take her to them and reassure them that she is okay, then we will go over all the details about what happened.”

“Thank you, do you know where they are?” Bella asked.

“Yes, they are at Mr. Cullen’s house. I believe they are detaining him from scouring the city looking for you. He is extremely upset,” Alistair explained.

“Edward,” Bella cried. “He must be beside himself. Please let me go to him.”

“Certainly, Miss Swan,” Alistair said.

“We are going with her,” Charlie said.

“We?” Bella asked.

“Your mom is outside,” Charlie answered with a smile.

“Mom?” Bella gasped with tears.

“Yes. I know you want to see her and I need to know who this Edward guy is,” Charlie proclaimed.

After a tearful reunion with her mother, the Swans were in the back of Alistair’s car and speeding towards Edward Cullen’s home. Bella told them what she had been doing since she left, except the part where she was a submissive. That was a discussion for another time in the future. It wasn’t that she was ashamed, it was that her parents had been living in a religious sect for many years and they wouldn’t understand until they were given all the details. However, she did tell them that Edward was the man she loved with all her heart. Charlie looked stern at her comment, not wanting to hear that she loved another man. When they pulled up to the house, Charlie and Renee’s mouths fell open. 

“This isn’t a house, this is a mansion,” Renee whispered.

“Yeah, he is rich, but he doesn’t act like it. You are going to love him,” Bella assured them.

Jasper had walked outside to get a few minutes of fresh air when Alistair pulled in. He wondered if he was coming to give them an update face to face. However, when the back door opened and an older man wearing a flannel shirt and jeans stepped out, he wondered who he was and if he knew anything about Bella. Suddenly, someone else stepped out and when the woman raised her head, he gasped.

“Bella,” Jasper marveled.

She took off running and jumped in his arms. “Jasper.”

“How are you?” He asked, seeing the red mark on her face.

“I am fine and I will tell everyone, everything, but I have to get to Edward,” she explained.

“He is in bad shape. I think even worse than he was when he found out about his leg,” Jasper declared. Opening the door he allowed her to go in first. “Everyone is in the den, which is straight down the hall.”

Bella walked down the hall and when she got to the entrance, she saw all her friends and family sitting around looking worried. On the couch was Edward staring out the window with a heartbreaking look on his face. Taking a step in she found her voice and called out. “Edward.”

Everyone’s head in the room turned and yelped. Edward turned and stared. For a brief second, he thought he was dreaming, but when she smiled he knew that she was here, alive, and well.

“Bella,” he cried as he stood and took off across the room. They met and fell into each other’s arms with tears falling down their faces. Pulling back he looked into her eyes. “I thought I had lost you and didn’t want to live without you. Fuck, I love you so much.”

Bella put her hands on either side of his face and looked deeply into his eyes. She had survived and had not only been given the gift of parents but also the love of a good man. “I’m fine, I promise.”

Edward looked at her face and saw the red mark. “Who did this to you?”

“Aro, but this was the only thing he was able to do. I was saved in the nick of time by two wonderful people,” she explained.

“Who? I need to thank these people,” Edward said. He was going to do more than say thank you, a huge reward would be given as well.

Bella turned and saw her father and mother standing in the entrance beside Jasper. “Edward, I would like to introduce you to not only my saviors but my parents, Charlie and Renee Swan.”

Edward’s mouth dropped open. “How?”

“It is a long story and my dad promises to tell us everything,” Bella advised as she stepped beside Edward and he wrapped his massive tattooed arm around her waist. 

Charlie and Renee walked over to their daughter, while Charlie gave Edward the evil eye for touching his daughter. Who the hell did he think he was? Renee saw the look that her husband was giving Edward and elbowed him in the ribs. “Behave,” she whispered. 

Edward held out his hand to Charlie, who took it and squeezed it hard. Allowing him to have the upper hand at this, he didn’t reciprocate. “Sir, it is a pleasure to meet you and I can’t thank you enough for saving Bella. She means the world to me.”

“She is my daughter, I would give my life for her,” Charlie growled.

“CHARLIE!” Renee yelled. “Mr. Cullen, I am sorry for my husband’s behavior. We are happy to see that our daughter has found so many people that love her.”

Carmen got up and walked over. “Mr. and Mrs. Swan, why don’t you sit down and I will get you something to drink. Are you hungry by chance?”

“No,” Charlie grumbled. However, at the same time, Renee said “Yes.” 

“Excellent, I will go rustle up some food. Emmett, take their drink order,” Carmen commanded.

“Please have a set,” Edward said to Charlie and Renee.

Bella sat down on the couch, then her parents sat on either side of her. Edward was disappointed that he couldn’t be close to her, but his feelings were not important. She hadn’t seen her parents in a very long time, hell she had thought they were dead. Angela came over and hugged her aunt and uncle.

After Emmett had handed them their drinks, Edward realized he had not introduced everyone. “Mr. and Mrs. Swan,” Edward began.

“It is Charlie and Renee,” Renee corrected. Charlie was about to say something, but Renee once again elbowed him. 

Edward went around the room and introduced everyone to them. They all expressed their gratitude for saving Bella. 

“Mom, Dad, how did you survive the fire?” Bella asked.

They began telling their story and when they got to the end, everyone in the room had a shocked expression on their faces. They had gone through so much to keep their daughter safe.

“Charlie, I am very impressed with how you were able to track Aro,” Carlisle said. “I wonder what your plans are now that it is all over?”

“I haven’t really thought about,” Charlie answered. “For so long we were part of the sect and I haven’t had a job in over thirty years.”

“Well with your innate ability for investigation, you are the man I have been looking for our company,” Carlisle advised.

Charlie was shocked. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he would be offered a job this quickly. “What type of company is it?”

“Cullen International. We are on the cutting edge for clean energy,” he explained. “I run the company, while my brothers have their own business ventures and careers.”

“Yup, I am a gynecologist,” Emmett boomed wiggling his eyebrows. “My twin brother, Jasper, designs women’s panties.” 

Jasper punched Emmett in the kidney. “I am a fashion designer, asshole.”

“Yeah, yeah and Edward is an artist,” Emmett joked putting his fingers up in quotation marks.

“Fuckhead, I own a chain of tattoo shops,” Edward grumbled.

Charlie looked around the room. “You are able to afford all this by tattooing people?”

“Yes, sir. However, my grandparents and parents left us very well off and in fact, none of us would really have to work, but that is not in our nature,” Edward explained.

Carmen came in and announced that dinner was in the dining room. Everyone got up and walked in. The Swan’s were taken aback by the amount of food that adorned the massive table which was large enough for everyone to sit at. As they took a seat, Edward had lucked out and sat beside Bella. Taking her hand in his, he brought it up to his lips and placed a kiss. 

Their eyes met and the love that they held for each other radiated around them. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing or saying and looked at the couple. Charlie had also turned and looked at them. At that moment, he saw the look in Edward’s eyes, it was the same look that he had for his beloved Renee. This man truly loved his daughter and that was the one thing every father hoped for.

“So, Charlie are you going to take the job?” Carlisle asked.

“I don’t know, Renee what do you think?” Charlie inquired. They always discussed their life-altering decisions with each other.

“It would mean that we would be closer to Bella, I vote yes,” Renee answered.

“Alright, I’ll take it,” Charlie agreed.

“Wonderful, we look forward to having you Chief Charlie,” Carlisle exclaimed.

Carlisle went into detail about what the job would entitle. As they discussed business, Carmen was talking to Renee, making her feel welcomed into the family. 

Edward leaned down and whispered in Bella’s ear. “Come I want to talk to you alone for a moment.”

Bella nodded in agreement. They got up from the table and Edward directed her to the back deck off the den. Once they were outside, they were welcomed by the setting sun, its warm orange glow disappearing on the horizon. 

Edward enveloped her within his arms and pulled her against him for a kiss. At first, it was soft and tender, but it quickly escalated into a raging inferno of passion. Finally pulling away from each other, they breaths deep and ragged, he looked deeply into her eyes. “Bella, I love you and I want you to move in here with me.”

“Edward, it is too soon and my parents need me right now,” she explained.

“First of all, I am a firm believer that life is too short to be worried about time and secondly, see that house over there?” He asked.

Bella looked across the yard and saw a lovely home. It wasn’t too big, but it wasn’t too small either. “Yes.”

“That is my guest house and I am offering this to your parents as a home,” Edward said.

Bella looked at Edward, then back to the house. “Really? You wouldn’t mind them being so close?”

“As long as I have you here all the time, no I wouldn’t mind,” Edward confirmed. “And when the time comes that we indulge in our playroom, we will make sure the doors are locked.”

Bella thought for a moment and knew he was correct. Life was too short. “Yes and yes.”

Edward picked her up and twirled her around, he was wobbly but he still remained upright. “You have made me the luckiest son of a bitch in the world.”

After another breathless stolen taken kiss, they walked back into the house to give everyone the good news. As they entered the room, they both smiled at how the room seemed full of love. Edward’s brothers now had someone special in the lives, Carmen was getting married to Max, and Bella’s parents were laughing and talking to everyone. Their adjustment would take some time, but he knew his family would be by their side helping them through.

Life could be difficult; however, with love, family, friends, and acceptance, Bella knew that they would be able to get through anything that might come their way. Edward dominated her heart and she submits her love completely to him. Bella looked up at Edward and smiled. “Evil has tested faith, but our love prevails. I look forward to Testing Limits with you.”

The End of Testing Faith 

and

The Beginning of Testing Limits


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy Leavell says:

    Wonderful ending. I can’t wait for the sequel.
    Judy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sher Cullen says:

    I loved how it ended and so glad that Bella got her parents back and I look forward to reading the sequel.

    Like

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