Designated visiting hours. The expression carried the same institutional quality that words like imprisonment and life sentence had. Charlie hoped, at least, that they did. It also wouldn't hurt if they held connotations that might import a bodily threat to Bella's daily visitor. Something more on the line of death sentence...if you ever hurt her again.
Charlie took satisfaction in believing that placing Bella under house arrest and her insistence that Edward join her almost daily, meant that Charlie was able to punish Edward, too. Charlie began to ponder other forms of punishment that could be inflicted on Bella's visitor without it being overtly apparent that Edward's discomfort was the main objective.
Charlie suspected that Edward's parents were too indulgent. Since neither they nor Bella seemed willing to rebuke Edward for his callous treatment of Bella last fall, Charlie felt that finding ways to torment the boy was his fatherly duty.
Edward choked back laughter.
"Shhh! This isn't funny." Bella tensed.
On the screen, the helpless Marion Crane was preparing to take a shower. That meant that any second now Bella would start shrieking and scrambling around to hide behind Edward's back. The back belonging, of course, to the only murderer within, well, a few miles.
"You're scared because there's a psycho on your TV, not because there is a vampire on your couch?"
Edward found the humor in this little scenario so delightful that he brought a few Hitchcock movies over to Bella's so he... they... could enjoy them... again and again.
She murmured, "well, you are my vampire," emphasizing the possessive adjective.
But Charlie had pulled into the drive and, considering Charlie's mood, Edward knew it would be better if he didn't walk in when Bella was obviously distressed, even if fictional characters were the cause. Charlie seemed more than a little annoyed already, although that was his overall tone since Edward had returned to Forks.
"Fortunately for you, Charlie's here, so I won't be tempted to demonstrate just how frightening I could truly be," Edward teased, sliding to the floor, where he sat at Bella's feet.
Charlie opened the door stirring the dust and sending new scents into the room.
House cat! Edward mentally shouted. How the heck did I miss that! The cat's odor was a sharp contrast to Bella's strawberry-floral aroma and Charlie's cinnamon roll scent.
(There were no doughnut shops in Forks.)
Darn, too late to retreat. Edward groaned internally as the cat began to hiss, digging its claws into Charlie's jacket in its attempt to break free. It glared at Edward.
Marion Crane was dying. No one in the Swan's house was paying her any attention.
The scowl Charlie wore deepened momentarily, then vanished.
"Whoa! He doesn't like you, does he?" Charlie broke the silence he generally maintained around Edward and grinned. Edward had never seen Charlie this happy about anything. Apparently the Fates had dropped an unconsidered form of torture right into Charlie's waiting hands.
"Maybe he knows he's in a house where NOBODY likes cats," Bella said leaping from the couch to place herself between Edward and either would-be attacker.
Edward would have been amused, but one of the downsides of feeding on fur bearing creatures was the presence of parasites. Not that they could harm a vampire, of course, but the thought of even one flea biting Bella...
Edward stared at the furious animal and stifled a growl of his own.
"Poor kitty. Seems sweet Isabella isn't going to welcome your company," Charlie cooed.
Bella turned to Edward who now stood beside her and shrugged.
"Perhaps I should be going," Edward said glumly.
Suddenly, Charlie yelped, "Darn it. Come back!"
A clawed paw had finally found a purchase on Charlie's neck. Reflexively, he yielded to the pain, freeing the cat. Edward's quick sidestep toward the kitchen and the backdoor appeared to occur almost simultaneously. A black streak headed toward the dim kitchen nearly colliding with Edward. The cat momentarily paused, arching its back and issuing a low hiss. Edward cleared his throat and the cat ran under an arm chair. It dropped its head low to the floor and glued its wide, fearful eyes to Edward.
Charlie muttered something that sounded like an expletive as he looked around and rubbed his neck; as he spied the cat, a smile returned to his eyes.
"Okay, so where'd the cat come from?" Bella seemed annoyed.
"He belongs to one of the old guys that hangs out at the diner. Had some surgery on a foot or something. I'm going to drop the cat off at the vet's in the morning," Charlie stated as he removed his jacket and hung up his gun belt.
Charlie glanced at Edward, who had continued to move further from the cat.
"What's a matter? Allergic?" Charlie's expression didn't reflect his glee. It was like he'd won a thousand dollars playing the lottery.
"Hope not, " Charlie continued before Edward had a chance to reply. "Cause I'm thinking about getting a cat."
Charlie touched his neck again and winced as he felt the oozing wounds.
Edward grimaced. Any cat would eventually find a way to escape the house just like this one was trying to do.
Maybe getting a cat wouldn't be a bad idea. Charlie misinterpreted Edward's expression and tried to stoke the fire. Almost as good as having a guard dog.
"He's sure keeping his eyes on you."
Bella's kind nature had taken over and she had knelt down beside the chair speaking softly.
"Here kitty, kitty. Don't be scared."
Preparing to defend itself, the cat shifted its weight; its muscles tensed as it hissed more forcefully.
"Ah, yeah. Allergic," Edward said as he moved toward the door. Allowing the cat to draw Bella's blood was not an option. Edward leaned into the screen door, opening it with his foot just enough to offer the cat a means of escape.
"Edward, don't let the cat out! " Charlie barked, catching the move, just as the cat launched itself across the floor.
Edward pulled the door closed sharply. The cat whirled and ran in the opposite direction. Finding the stairs, it sought the safety of the second floor.
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