“What did you feel when you heard the message, Bella?” Aunt Lizzie asked as she tucked a hair behind my ear.
“Crippling fear,” I whispered. “That voice is one I hoped I’d never, EVER, hear again. A cold shiver ran down my spine and then, my next thought was that Emma and Edward were going to hurt. I would die if something happened to either one of them, Aunt Lizzie. I wouldn’t survive it.”
“Did you have a physical reaction to the message? Panic attack?”
“I passed out and when I came to, I did have a panic attack. I had to take my anti-anxiety medication. Hell, I had another mini-panic attack when you rang the doorbell.”
“Bella, I understand your fear. However, if I was James, I wouldn’t be ringing the doorbell,” she said with a wry grin.
“Shut up, I know that,” I grumbled. “But the irrational part of my brain tells me otherwise.”
“At least you recognized that your fear was ‘irrational,’” Aunt Lizzie said. “But, it is real to you. Bella, James fucked with you for so long and you thought that you were done with him. Now, this new threat is wreaking havoc on your brain.”
“How can I cope with this? I can’t spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, Aunt Lizzie,” I said, wringing my hands nervously. “I can’t let anything happen to Edward or Emma. Because of me. I’m almost tempted to find James and give me a free pass. Put me out of my misery.”
“Bella, no,” Aunt Lizzie said firmly. “Edward would not survive that. Nor would Emma. I get your frustration and fear, but that is lunacy. What can we do to get you to cope with your fear?”
“Kill James,” I said flippantly.
“Okay. Let’s do that,” Aunt Lizzie said, arching a brow. “Seriously, though. What have you done to try and fight back from James?”
“I own a gun. I’m a damn good shot. We have this stellar security system in the house. Jasper is having a friend of his from the police force inspect our home and update some security measures while we’re on vacation. My father is the chief of police of Forks,” I rattled off. “I know how to kick a guy in the balls.”
“Have you tried that on Edward?” she quipped.
“Aunt Lizzie,” I said.
“Kidding. I’m totally kidding,” she laughed. “Have you considered taking a self-defense course? Female empowerment and all that jazz?”
“No,” I said, curling up on the couch.
“Let me do some research. Perhaps, all of us women can take this course. Did you know that Esme is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do? She can kick some major ass,” Aunt Lizzie smirked. “While she was doing that, I was learning about back stitching in Home Economics. In retrospect, I should have taken Tae Kwon Do.”
“Esme is fucking cool,” I giggled. “So are you. You can sew. I can’t do that.”
“I can back stitch. That’s all I remember from Home Ec,” she said, giving me a wink. “Anything other than that, goes to the seamstress.”