Chapter 5 – Shotgun Bella

A/N:

Fun chapter ahead! *laughs evilly*

Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns the Twilight Saga. I’m just a writer looking for a thrill.


Emmett pounces on the chance to take Bella shooting with an enthusiasm that’s infectious. In all his eagerness, he has the girls out the door and bundled into his Jeep not even five minutes after she picks her distraction. Throwing himself behind the wheel, he starts it up and then they’re off. For the second time that day, Bella finds herself barreling down the highway towards Port Angeles.

It comes as a surprise, then, when Emmett doesn’t take them to the range like Bella’s expecting. Instead, he drives them to a storage unit on the far edge of town.

“This… is not a shooting range,” she mutters as he pulls into the lot. Scratching her head, she shares a quick, confused glance with Rose, who looks just as nonplussed by the turn of events as she is.

“No, really? I hadn’t noticed,” Emmett chortles as he parks in a spot near the entrance. Fondly rolling his eyes at the bewildered brunette, he explains, “Carlisle doesn’t like guns, Bella, so I try not to keep them in the house.”

Narrowing her eyes at the facility, Rose clamps her mouth shut and reluctantly gets out. She has the sudden, foreboding feeling that she should’ve paid better attention to what her husband spends his money on.

Luckily for the blonde, the implications seem to sail right over Bella’s head. It isn’t until Emmett unlocks the unit and starts to lift the metal door that Bella finally begins to suspect that she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

“Welcome to the hurt locker,” Emmett announces dramatically, arms spread out in invitation.

Bella’s jaw goes slack as she takes in the hoard of weapons her brother’s amassed. Instead of a storage unit, an armory greets her, fully stocked with weapons and ammunition. Rifles, pistols, shotguns… Her brother has them all. Strangely, she even spies a few cases of water bottles and MREs tucked away in the corner.

“The hurt locker?” she repeats uncertainly, shooting a furtive glance at Rose. Part of her doesn’t even want to ask, almost afraid of attracting the attention of the crazy vampire with all the guns.

A proud, beaming smile sweeps across Emmett’s face and Bella is suddenly reminded of a toddler showing off his favorite toys. Nodding emphatically, he rubs his hands together and explains, “It’s military slang for a place of indescribable pain.”

Beside her, Rose lets out a delicate snort. Bella turns to face the gawking vampire slowly, “Did you know about this?”

Rose is supposed to be the responsible one… isn’t she? All of a sudden, Bella isn’t so sure.

“I knew he had guns,” she admits breathlessly, visibly taken aback by the sight that greets them, “but did I know he was hoarding them? Afraid not.”

Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Emmett energetically darts towards them. He rests his hand on Bella’s back and gently steers her inside the locker, eager to show her everything he has to offer. There’s a bright smile on his face as he encourages, “C’mon, Bells, pick your favorite.”

Rose cautiously wades in behind them, curiously veering left when Emmett guides her to the right. They browse for a little bit before a certain 9mm glock catches her eye, the same kind of gun her dad uses. Deciding to stick with the familiar, she points it out to Emmett. He chuckles as he sets it aside before escorting her further down the aisle.

“Hey, Bella, check these out,” Emmett says conspiratorially, gesturing to a small stack of posters resting on a glass display case near the wall. Upon closer inspection, Bella realizes they’re enlarged pictures of his family, some of which have small, round holes in them. “Target practice.”

“You use your family’s faces as target practice?” she asks in disbelief.

Emmett nods soberly. “You’ve met Alice and Edward,” he says meaningfully. “There are times when I just wanna… shoot them in the face.”

Bella huffs out a laugh and Emmett gives her a pleased grin, happy to know he’s lifted her spirits, however briefly. That grin of his falters when Rose asks sharply from the other side of the unit, “You aren’t using me as target practice, are you?”

Emmett slowly turns around, an innocent look on his face. “Of course not, baby. I would never…”

There’s a sound of crinkling paper as he blindly attempts to destroy one of the posters behind his back. Bella bites her lip to keep from laughing, certain the blonde wouldn’t appreciate it. Hands on her hips, Rose rolls her eyes and scolds, “Nice, Emmett, real nice.”

“Oh, come on, Rosie,” he coaxes, “you know I love you. It’s just a joke.”

“Whatever,” she scoffs, flicking her hair over her shoulder. “You get what you need yet? We’re burning daylight here.”

Bella feels a gust of air and then Emmett’s standing impatiently by the door, a heavy looking duffel bag slung over his right shoulder. In his other hand is a large, black case and Bella stares at it in curiosity as she follows him outside. She’s not sure what kind of a gun needs a case so large, but her fingers already itch with the temptation to use it.

Emmett’s sliding the door shut when the absurdity of the situation finally catches up to her.

“You must think I’m ridiculous,” Bella says with a self-deprecating laugh. In the middle of rolling up a couple of Emmett’s posters, Rose frowns and turns to look at her. “I break up with Edward and the first thing I do is ask for a gun.”

Emmett snorts at the way she says it, like she plans to use it on their brother. Rose shakes her head and promises, “It’s not ridiculous. Everyone heals in different ways, Bella. If you need a little danger and excitement to get over a bad relationship, that’s okay. As long as it’s the right kind of danger, then I don’t see the harm.”

“The right kind of danger?” Bella asks dumbly, certain the blonde meant to say fun. Is there even a right kind of danger?

“The kind that gives you an exhilarated grin when you remember it later,” Rose explains, making it clear that she chose the word intentionally, “not the kind that makes you hang your head in shame.”

Emmett nods succinctly and taps her repeatedly on the nose, “No. Drinking. Or. Drugs.”

For a second, Bella honestly considers biting him. Then she remembers what that would do to her teeth.

Rose slaps his hand away with a laugh. “She gets it, Emmett.”

The right kind of danger, Bella thinks to herself as they walk back to the Jeep, her mind spinning with ideas. There are a lot of things that fall under that umbrella, ranging from simple, but thrilling activities, like rock climbing and skinny dipping, to things that are a bit more extreme, like sky diving and bungee jumping. She can do quite a bit without ever dabbling in the darker side of rebellion. She can have the fun she plans to have today without taking risks that are downright stupid.

She’s still considering the many possibilities when Emmett parks his Jeep in a clearing out in the woods. Bella hops out and takes a look around, finally beginning to understand. Emmett doesn’t plan to take her to a firing range at all; he intends to make her one.

Reaching into the front seat, Rose pulls out the posters from earlier and asks a little vindictively, “Where should I hang Alice and Edward?”

Bella giggles as Emmett points to a copse of trees at the base of a nearby hill, a grin on his face. “Across the field, babe. If Bella misses, the hillside will catch her bullets.” He turns to look at Bella seriously and advises, “Remember that, Bells. Missing your target doesn’t mean the bullets aren’t gonna hit something. There are a lot of hikers in these woods.”

Bella nods soberly and Emmett walks to the back of the Jeep. Opening the rear door, he adds, “At the same time, you need to stand far enough away from your target that you don’t catch a ricochet.”

Emmett unzips the bag sitting in the back of the Jeep and waves her over, letting her pick through the other guns he grabbed from the locker. He intends to let her try as many as she wants.

“Why, exactly, do you own so many guns?” Bella questions, sounding bemused. She picks up a revolver and examines it curiously. “You’re a vampire, an apex predator. Owning a gun is a bit redundant, don’t you think?”

Rose snickers quietly as she works on hanging up the posters. Though she’s just as curious, she knows better than to ask.

Emmett smirks and explains, “I like being prepared, Bells.”

“Prepared for what?” the brunette presses and gestures towards the bag. “You’ve got a whole arsenal in here, Em.”

Emmett looks at her soberly, “A zombie apocalypse, of course. I don’t care if I have super speed, I’m not getting anywhere near the undead.”

Bella gawks at him for a second, trying to decide if he’s joking. Coming to the conclusion that he’s serious, she points out, “You do realize a zombie virus reanimates the dead, right?” When Emmett nods and gives her a nonplussed look, she gently reminds him, “Vampires are dead, Em. You’d be among the first infected.”

Emmett’s face falls and Rose nearly trips over herself laughing. It’s at times like these that Rose absolutely adores Bella Swan. She’s the only human in the world that could make a vampire feel like a moron.

It takes a moment, but the big goofball eventually rallies. Shrugging his shoulders, he says, “It’s still good to be prepared. The last World War started in Europe, but who says the next one won’t be closer to home?”

Bella blinks at him. Emmett acts like such a typical teenager that sometimes she forgets that he’s lived through events like WWII.

Emmett’s phone chimes and he pauses a moment to check it. Eyes rounding in surprise, he throws his head back and roars with laughter. Curious over what he finds so funny, Rose zips across the field and snatches the phone from him. Scanning it quickly, she grins and tosses it to Bella. “I think that was meant for you. Looks like Edward wasn’t too happy with your latest decision.”

Brow crinkling, she looks down at the phone in her hand and finds herself giggling. It’s a text message from Jasper, a comical picture of Edward repairing a distinctly human-shaped hole in the wall. What makes it even funnier is the state of his hair and clothing. The miserable looking redhead is positively covered in mud, grass, and plaster dust. “What’s with the mud?”

“Someone must’ve tackled him,” Rose explains as her mate finally starts to calm. “Jasper, probably.”

Smirking, Emmett looks at the blonde and wonders, “Think Esme’s pissed at him?”

“Why else wouldn’t he take the time to get cleaned up first?” Rose asks rhetorically. While they all loathe getting on Esme’s bad side, Edward finds it especially difficult to bear. Emmett likes to joke that it’s because he’s a mama’s boy, but the truth is that Edward still recalls what it was like to deal with Esme as an angry newborn. It’s why he’s always so quick to soothe her ire.

The three of them study each other for a moment before they finally explode. For the second time that day, Bella laughs so hard it brings tears to her eyes. Rose and Emmett laugh just as enthusiastically, reveling in their brother’s fall from grace. As Carlisle’s first companion, Edward has always been the golden child in their family, the one who could do no wrong. As petty as it is, they get a kick out of watching him flounder for once.

There’s a part of Bella that isn’t laughing, though. That part of her finds no humor in the twisted drama her life has suddenly become. That piece of her shattered soul wants to fume over Edward’s audacity, to rage at him for daring to think he has any say over what she does anymore. Just hearing his name makes something in her chest both simmer with fury and spasm with pain. That broken piece of her wants to be heard, cries out for revenge, and hurts with a viciousness that robs the very air from her lungs. There’s a part of her that’s suffering and Bella doesn’t know how to ease it.

What she does know is that she cannot allow herself to be consumed by it. If she lets what they did destroy her, then Edward wins.

It’s a victory Bella refuses to give him. She’s given him too much already.

Her chocolate eyes meet a stunning pair of gold as the laughter tapers off and Bella senses it again, that strange kinship she shares with Rose. There’s a darkness there, she realizes, a shadow of the blonde’s own pain and betrayal. Something once shattered her too and Bella knows her well enough to recognize that Rose took the revenge she won’t pursue. She knows it because the blonde is the fiercest person she’s ever met, much too fierce to turn the other cheek.

Bella decides in that moment that she wouldn’t mind being as fierce as Rosalie, to have even a tenth of her inner strength. Perhaps, one day, she will be.

A second text arrives while she’s still holding the phone and Bella reads it aloud, “You can thank Peter for this. Edward almost ran right past me.” She gives Emmett and Rose a puzzled look, “What does that mean? Who’s Peter?”

For a second, Emmett actually looks disappointed. Then the cellphone chimes with an incoming text and her brother points emphatically at her hand, a pleased grin on his face, “That’s Peter. He’s Jasper’s brother from the coven he lived with before us. He just knows shit, Bells. It’s his gift.”

Rose glances at Bella speculatively, silently wondering why Peter decided to step in. He’s not a fan of most of the Cullens and Bella isn’t exactly on good terms with Jasper at the moment. She thinks it’s strange that he randomly decided to help her out.

“And he knew Edward was planning on ruining my day?” Bella clarifies, finally piecing things together. Jasper tackled Edward because Peter told him to. “I guess I should thank him.” She opens the text and lets out an amazed laugh, “It says, ‘You’re welcome, sugar.'”

Rose rolls her eyes, “Of course it does.”

Fleetingly, Bella considers asking Peter a ton of questions about Jasper, just because the empath denied her the chance to ask them of him. Then she shakes her head and dismisses the petty notion, deciding to stick to her original decision of leaving things be.

She’s not really surprised when the phone chimes again.

Aw, you’re no fun.

“I don’t even need to text back, do I?” she realizes. “He just knows what I’m going to say.”

Pausing, Emmett scowls, wondering why that’s never occurred to him. Clearly, he’s been wasting time. Catching his reaction, Rose laughs and gives Bella an approving look. The brunette doesn’t even notice. She’s too busy speaking to the phone, “I’m plenty fun. The bag of guns Emmett just brought me says so.”

There’s a beat of silence before another text arrives. I stand corrected. Carry on, sharpshooter.

Bella snorts and hands the phone back to a perplexed looking Emmett. With an amused smile, she asks sweetly, “You were saying?”

Puzzled, he scratches his head and glances at Rose, who shrugs in return. Gaze darting back to Bella, he admits, “Yeah… I’m a little unnerved by how easily you just accepted Jazz’s human drinking brother.”

Bella starts in surprise. She wasn’t aware of Peter’s diet when she responded, but she realizes now that she should’ve been. Emmett did say that Peter was a member of Jasper’s former coven and she’s always known that Jasper fed from humans before he joined the Cullens.

Emmett and Rose laugh themselves silly when they register her mistake. Rolling her eyes, Bella says dismissively, “It doesn’t matter.” Immediately falling quiet, both vampires stare at her. “I don’t care what your diet is,” she explains uncomfortably. “As long as you don’t dine on me or mine, you can drink whatever you want. I know that probably makes me an awful person, but you’re vampires. Killing is in your nature. Human or animal, it’s all the same to me. Either way, you have to kill or you suffer.”

Rose finds herself unexpectedly impressed by their little human. Her outlook on their diet is both refreshing and frighteningly realistic. She’s always assumed that Bella held an idealized view of vampirism, but that was a pretty accurate observation.

It shames Rose a bit to realize that she’s completely misjudged her. From the moment Edward spilled the family’s secret to her, she’s operated under the impression that Bella didn’t fully understand what it means to be changed. She’s always just assumed that the girl wouldn’t be so eager to give up her humanity if someone properly explained what kind of life awaits her. Judging from what Bella just told them, though, Rose is the one who never fully understood. Bella’s always known exactly what her future as a vampire would entail, but she feels the family she’d gain is worthy of the price.

Or at least she did, before three of Rose’s siblings ripped the world out from under her feet. Given all the pain their coven has caused her, there’s a very good chance that Bella no longer wants to become a vampire anymore. Rose certainly wouldn’t. She’d probably go mad if she were expected to share her eternity with the people who betrayed her.

Changing the subject, Bella asks a little impatiently, “Can I shoot something now?”

Snorting, Emmett picks up the gun bag and the black case before he nods, “Sure, you little hellion. Come with me.” He guides her closer to the targets Rose set up, carefully steering her towards a patch of grass that looks relatively dry. “Watch where you step, Bells. There’s a lot of mud today.”

Satisfied that he’s found a good location for Bella to stand, Emmett starts going over the basic rules of gun safety. Rose watches the pair quietly, silently admiring how good her husband is with her. He has a real talent for relaxing Bella and making her laugh, a fact that used to irk Rose until recently. Now she feels guilty for keeping them apart. Maybe if she hadn’t been so difficult, they could’ve picked up on what was happening before things got so out of hand.

“You’re gonna need some earmuffs,” Emmett warns and digs a pair out of his gun bag. He helps Bella put them on and checks, “Can you still hear me?”

“Yep,” Bella confirms. Though his voice sounds a bit muffled, she can still make out everything he’s saying. “What about you?”

“I’ve only got one set,” he shrugs and Bella begins to look concerned.

“It doesn’t really matter, Bella,” Rose assures her. “Our hearing’s so sharp that nothing can muffle it.”

Bella nods slowly, realizing that they must be used to tuning out loud noises. She wants to ask just how sharp that hearing is, but Emmett distracts her, “You ready?”

Bella nods again and turns to face her target. Patiently correcting her stance, Emmett teaches her how to chamber a round and line up the sights. Bella silently follows his instructions, waiting until he steps away, satisfied, before taking in a slow, deep breath to calm her racing heart. She can feel the anticipation thrumming through her veins as she focuses on her target and an emotion sweeter than sugar fills her chest.

This is what freedom feels like, she thinks in awe, a lighthearted smile spreading across her face. To have the power to make my own decisions, to live as I see fit… why did I ever relinquish it?

“Okay,” Emmett continues, “now you want to-“

Bella pulls the trigger before he can finish and Emmett looks at the target, his mouth dropping open in astonishment. Rose is just as surprised. Somehow, Bella manages to hit the bullseye, nailing a picture of Edward right between the eyes.

“I guess now we know why a Swan is the Chief of Police,” Rose muses, eyeing the poster.

Bella grins and aims for the target behind it. Transfixed, the vampires watch her closely as she fires again. To their bewilderment, Bella’s a natural at it. She’s so good that it’s almost as if the weapon is a part of her, like her hands were made to hold a gun.

Eventually, Bella runs out of ammo and Emmett tempts her into trying a shotgun. Grinning like a fool, he shows her how to hold it before going to stand beside his wife.

“You know, I’m surprised your dad hasn’t already taught you how to handle a gun,” Rose comments. “I mean, he is the Chief of Police. You’d think he’d teach his daughter how to protect herself.”

Bella suddenly tenses and her pulse spikes. Rose and Emmett both look at her, surprised to see the guilt lining her face.

“Bella?” Emmett questions uncertainly.

Shoulders slumping, Bella lowers the gun and confesses, “My mom made him swear he’d never let me touch a gun. Her uncle shot himself when she was just a kid. She hates firearms.”

It’s something that Bella has always found incredibly unjust, like she’s being punished for someone else’s mistakes. Between her and Renee, Bella has always been the responsible one. She knows that guns aren’t toys, but her mother refuses to even entertain the idea of letting her handle one.

Emmett’s jaw drops in disbelief and Rose gawks at her. Smiling slowly, the blonde admires, “You cunning bitch.” She looks at Emmett and exclaims, “We’ve been played! She knew the Chief would’ve told her no, so she asked us!”

Emmett looks so comically scandalized by the mere idea that it sets Bella off. Shaking her head in denial, she giggles, “Emmett offered! You make it sound like I manipulated you.”

“You kind of did,” Rose says thoughtfully and Bella immediately sobers.

“Don’t say that, Rose,” she protests sadly. “It was the only thing I could think of when Emmett asked me what I wanted to do earlier.”

Rose’s expression instantly softens. Bella clearly doesn’t like the idea of being manipulative. It reminds her of what the other three did to her and the last thing she wants is to be like them.

“Relax, Bells. You’re right, I did offer,” Emmett shrugs and starts to grin. He whistles admiringly, “Who knew Bella Swan was such a rebel?”

“I’m the daughter of a cop,” she deadpans and raises the shotgun, “we wrote the book on rebelling.”

Emmett snorts hard and shakes his head. Suddenly, the girl sounds like a total badass.

Taking aim, Bella fires again and Rose tilts her head. There is something darkly beautiful about Bella with a gun in her hands. It’s in the way it makes her cheeks flush and her heart race. Truthfully, Rose has never seen the girl look so breathtakingly alive before. The more she fires, the more confident she grows. A subtle tension in her body eases and her shoulders loosen, as if the act of shooting a gun is some kind of cathartic release. Her chocolate eyes glimmer with excitement and the smile that comes to her face makes her look so endearingly free. The difference in her is so striking that Rose can’t help but marvel over it.

As she watches Bella eagerly reach for a box of shells, she realizes that this is the real her, the one Edward and Alice unintentionally smothered. This is the girl that confronted Jasper so fearlessly the night before, who faced down a nomad on her own, and entered a den of vampires with a shy, hopeful smile on her face. The Cullens have never really met this girl. Edward and Alice never allowed them to.

She’s remarkably brave, this human; she always has been. And she’s destined for greater things than the Cullens can give her. Someone with that kind of fearlessness does not belong in a coven that wastes their eternity endlessly repeating high school. Bella was made for danger, for fear, if for no other reason than to conquer it.

Her phone vibrates and Rose quickly checks it, an inexplicable feeling of loss overwhelming her when she reads the text that Peter sent her. Always thought ya were the smartest of them Cullens. Maybe you’re meant for greater things too…

“Do you wanna try, Rosie?” Emmett asks quietly and Rose hurriedly puts her phone away. He rummages through the bag of guns at his feet before offering her a revolver with an ivory handle. Rose takes it from him curiously, realizing with a start that the handle’s been engraved with a golden rose.

“Emmett?” she questions softly, brushing her fingers over it.

“I know it’s not really your thing,” he says sheepishly, “but I had this made for you just in case you ever decided you wanted to learn.”

Eyes lighting up, Rose leans up to kiss him before stepping back to admire the gun. Emmett watches her happily, so distracted by her delighted face that he doesn’t notice when Bella reaches for the black case containing his biggest gun.

With a sneaky glance in his direction, Bella quietly opens it and stares at the massive weapon tucked inside. She’s certain it’s some kind of heavy duty rifle, but it looks more like a canon. It reminds her of a gun the Terminator would use and the idea of firing it sends a thrill shooting down her spine.

She glances at Emmett again, who she highly doubts ever intended to let her use it. Noticing that Rose has him distracted, she pulls it out and loads it quickly. Then Bella hefts the heavy weapon into the air, lines up the sights, and fires, not expecting the recoil to be so powerful that it literally blasts her off her feet.

The loud boom the gun makes is still echoing in Emmett’s ears as he whips around, turning just in time to see Bella hit the ground and slide through the mud on her backside. The gun sails through the air and he catches it on instinct, his wide eyes still pinned to Bella’s flailing form. Beside him, Rose is frozen in horror and they both hold their breath when she finally skids to a stop, terrified she may be seriously injured.

For a moment, the girl is so stunned that she just lies there, blinking up at the sky. It seems to hit her all at once and she cracks, an exhilarated laugh tumbling from her lips. She’s not sure she’s ever experienced something more thrilling. For just a second, Bella truly felt as if she were flying.

The sight of her laughing in the mud brings a warm, amused smile to Rose’s face. Tense muscles relaxing, she snickers and calls out, “You okay, Bella?”

The brunette lifts a muddy hand in the air and gives them both a dorky thumb’s up. Rose snorts and walks over to help her to her feet. It’s a surprisingly difficult task. Bella’s so slippery with mud that it’s hard to get a firm grip on her. The fact that she’s laughing so hard she can barely breathe doesn’t make it any easier.

Still gawking at her, Emmett suddenly remembers, “The man who sold me that gun said it had a powerful kick. Must be worse for humans.”

Bella’s laughter fades and Rose turns to stare at him disbelievingly. Shouldn’t he have mentioned that before it knocked Bella on her ass?

She’s just about to rip into Emmett for his carelessness when Bella suddenly wraps her dirty arms around her, coating her in mud. Shocked, the pretty blonde squeals in protest, “Bella!

Emmett lets out a loud, bellyaching laugh. He never thought he’d see the day a human caught his mate unawares.

Eyes full of mirth, Bella releases Rose and darts towards him, but Emmett sees it coming. Appearing next to Rose, he taunts her, “Nice try, Bells. Gotta be quicker-“

His wife shuts him up by slamming a fistful of mud in his face. Bella’s laughter erupts all over again as Rose scampers away from him, giggling all the while. Bella uses the blonde to prop herself up as she points at Emmett and cackles, “You look like one of the mud people, Em!”

With an exaggerated slowness, Emmett dramatically wipes the mud from his eyes and pins them with a dark look. Pretending he isn’t on the verge of laughing himself, he states ominously, “This means war.”

Rose subtly wraps her arm around Bella’s waist in anticipation. The instant Emmett starts to move, she vanishes, taking the laughing brunette with her.

By the time the sun starts to set, Bella is covered head to toe in mud. Her earmuffs are long gone and her clothing is a disaster. To her delight, Rose looks just as bad and the sight of her makes her giggle. She never thought she’d see a Cullen look so disheveled.

They finally decide to call it quits after Emmett randomly disappears. When he returns a moment later, he’s somehow managed to scrape enough mud off his forehead to form the pattern of a crown. He’s also wielding a tree branch shaped like a pitchfork, which he raises in the air as he hilariously declares himself King of the Forks and Spoons.

It’s too much for Bella. She collapses on the forest floor, her entire face reddening from the force of her laughter. Pleased they’ve managed to distract her so successfully, Emmett and Rose abandon the battle and happily join her on the ground. The three of them just sit there for a spell while she tries to catch her breath, silly smiles on their faces.

Bella can’t remember the last time she’s had so much fun. She’s certainly never enjoyed listening to music with Edward or shopping with Alice this much. She thinks it may have been back in Phoenix, when her mom dragged her to the Scream Factory on Halloween. Bella has always secretly enjoyed activities that make her heart pound and her stomach flip.

Sadly, it’s an experience she knows she never would’ve had if she hadn’t broken up with Edward. He’s far too proper to shoot guns or play in the mud.

“So what are we gonna do tomorrow?” Bella asks hopefully. Sensing she already has an idea, Rose raises an eyebrow and Emmett smiles giddily.

He can’t freaking wait to see what she’s planning next.

They spend a few minutes plotting out their next adventure before the forest starts to darken and the trio realizes that it’s time to pack it in. Emmett runs ahead of the girls to pick up the mess they left with the guns. Keeping to a human pace, Rose leads Bella back to the field. The pair walk for a moment in companionable silence before the blonde eventually decides to break it.

“You’re going to be okay, you know?” she asks Bella quietly. “I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but you will be.”

Smile fading, the brunette blinks back tears. “How do you know?”

“Because I’ve been where you are,” she admits. “I won’t go into details other than to say that I was raped by the man I thought I’d spend my human life with. By him and his friends. If it weren’t for Carlisle, I’d probably be dead by now.” Bella sucks in a surprised breath, feeling like she’s been clubbed on the head. She knew Rose had demons too, but she didn’t know they were quite so devastating. “It was an arranged match. I didn’t love him like you loved Edward, but I was enamored with the possibility of having children one day. And he was the man I thought would give them to me.” Rose smiles sadly, gently bumping Bella’s shoulder, “So I know what it’s like to have the future you so desperately wanted stolen from you, especially by the man you thought you’d have it with, Bella. It feels like your whole world’s been ripped out from under you.”

Bella nods stiltedly, afraid she’ll start crying if she opens her mouth. She feels like Edward destroyed her dreams when he destroyed their bond and she doesn’t know how to get past it.

“It’s not your only chance at happiness,” Rose encourages, somehow picking up on Bella’s deepest fear, “but you can’t shut your heart away. You have to keep taking chances on people or you’ll never be happy. It took me years to realize that.” Eyes soft, she looks at Emmett, who’s pretending not to listen as he loads the bag of guns into the back of the Jeep. “Just remember that for every Edward, there’s an Emmett.”

“I will,” Bella promises.

Twilight has officially taken over by the time Emmett and Rose later drop her off at home. Just getting home himself, her dad’s standing next to his cruiser as she hops out and waves goodbye.

She’s nearly forgotten that she’s covered in dried mud until she catches him staring at her. Mustache twitching, Charlie asks, “You go to the spa or something?” When Bella looks at him blankly, he smirks, “Just looks like you had a mud bath, kid.”

Bella rolls her eyes, a reluctant smile on her face, “Very funny, Dad. No, I just slipped in the mud earlier and it somehow escalated into all-out war.” Widening her eyes, she warns him, “Never provoke a Cullen, Dad. They don’t know the meaning of mercy.”

Snorting in amusement, Charlie questions, “Was that Rosalie Hale I saw in that Jeep? I thought Alice was the girl you normally hang out with.”

Bella’s smile falls and he immediately regrets asking. He knows that she and Edward must’ve had a fight the night before, but she hasn’t shared any of the details with him. Her reaction to Alice’s name leads him to assume that her friend has chosen to side with her brother.

And that’s really all he needs know, to be honest. If he finds out Edward hurt his daughter, he may just end up on the wrong side of the law for once. He’d rather not be responsible for the murder of a teenager.

“I’m not talking to Alice right now,” she mutters and Charlie nods in understanding.

“Well,” he grunts, scrambling for something to say, “it looks like you had more fun with those two anyway.”

Bella looks at him thoughtfully, a soft smile spreading across her face. “You know, I think I really did.”

Rose and Emmett are still riding the high from the fun they had with Bella when they stumble through the Cullens’ front door. Setting aside the last of the medical files, Jasper shares an amused look with Carlisle. They’re both so giddy and giggly that they resemble a pair of drunken teenagers sneaking in past curfew.

“Jazz!” Emmett booms, completely forgetting to give the man the silent treatment in his excitement. “Dude, you should’ve seen Bells earlier. It was so badass! I swear the girl’s eye is sharper than glass.” He pauses, a mystified look spreading across his face, “Makes me wonder why she can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn in P.E. Her aim’s fantastic.”

Curious, Esme walks into the living room and gasps sharply at the sight of them. “What happened?

Emmett looks down at his muddy clothes and chortles, “Oh, this? This is what happens when Bells gets it into her head that she can fire a gun that’s bigger than she is.”

Carlisle and Esme exchange an astonished look and Jasper shakes his head, a smirk on his face. He’s able to picture it all too clearly. Bella has never been one to let something like size stand in her way.

Grinning in remembrance, Rose explains, “She wasn’t prepared for the recoil and it sent her sprawling. Then she decided that if she has to wear mud, we do too.”

“That shit was hilarious,” Emmett laughs, sharing a fond look with his wife. “You’d think a tumble like that would give the girl pause, but she bounced back quicker than you can say Shotgun Bella.

Jasper chuckles, even though he’s aching with jealousy inside. He dearly wishes he could’ve seen it for himself. From the amount of happiness pouring out of Rose and Emmett, he knows it would’ve been an afternoon worth remembering. The pair enjoyed themselves more on one outing with Bella than they have in the last ten years.

Soon, the empath promises himself. He’d make amends with Bella soon.


A/N 2:

Please, do not store your guns in a storage locker. Lol. Emmett can get away with it because he’s Emmett, but don’t follow his example. Lock those babies up!