Quiet immediately enveloped the small place. Bella continued to walk, stepping around trash littering the ground and broken bottles. There was graffiti along the wall and a dumpster that was pressed against a wall at the end of the alley. Next to it was a worn down door that was boarded up. In the small space between the dumpster and the wall, a tiny form was curled up into a tiny ball, shaking like a leaf. Her brows furrowed in confusion. The body was too small to be an adult, but why would a child be hiding in a filthy alley?
She reached out and touched the child's dirty hair softly. Their head jerked up and she found herself staring into the greenest eyes that she had ever seen. They were staring back at her, wide with fear.
"Pp-ple-ease, don't hurt me," a voice asked, barely above a whisper. Bella felt her heart break and tears sting her eyes.
"I'm not going to hurt you, sweetheart," she said as calmly and gently as she could. "I want to help you. Are you hurt? Where are your parents?"
The child started to sob again and threw himself into her arms. Bella was startled and fell back on her behind. She wrapped her arms around the kid and felt something burn in her chest. In that instant, she felt something shift. She knew right then and there that nothing would stop her from helping this little one. She ran her fingers through his crusty hair and wondered again how one so young could just be all alone like this. Both his clothes and hair were caked with mud and the smell was like urine and vomit.
When the boy quieted a little, Bella tried asking her questions again.
"Hey, Little Bit, I'm not going to hurt you. I want to help you. Can you tell me your name at least?"
"Well, Jack, my name is Bella. Are you hurt, sweetie?"
"N-n-no, but I hungee." The boy's statement was punctuated by a loud grumble from his stomach. Bella started to shift to stand up and Jack tightened his hold on her neck.
"Ssshh, don't worry, Little Bit, I'm not letting you go. We're going to get off of this dirty ground and go to my friends outside of this alley. Then we're going to go get something to eat, okay?"
"Yes, please," he said. Bella wondered once again where his parents were. The kid was terrified, yet still polite, so he had to have a decent family somewhere, but then where the hell where they?
A little while after the decision was made for them to stay the night at the Cullen home, Carlisle followed Bella out to her rental to grab her and Jack's bags. Carlisle grabbed the two suitcases from the trunk while Bella grabbed her carry-on bag and Jack's backpack from the back seat. Carlisle shut the trunk and smiled tentatively at her.
"You didn't bring much," he observed. She shyly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I wasn't sure how long we were staying. My friends who are driving here have some of our other things with them. I figured we could buy whatever else we needed." She shrugged.
Carlisle nodded and stared off into the distance. The house was surrounded by a smattering of trees that turned into a small forest in the back of the house. Bella heard him sigh and she glanced up at his face curiously.
"I apologize deeply for my son's behavior today. He has a bit of temper these days," Carlisle explained. "He's been through so much and it's left scars that you can't see. That doesn't excuse his behavior towards you, but I hope that you can forgive it. Esme and I will talk with him and try to knock some sense into him." He have her a tight smile.
Bella nodded and looked at her feet.
"I understand," she practically whispered. "I can't begin to imagine what's going on his head. I wouldn't have come here if I meant any harm." She frowned.
"I'm worried that it will upset Jack if he continues like this, though. I won't take any more of his disrespect towards me. While I understand he has issues, I am not a doormat." She shook her head.
He nodded in understanding.
"No one wants to hurt Jack anymore than he's already been." Carlisle looked deeply into Bella's eyes and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Everyone's emotions are running haywire right now. Give it some time, please. You are an incredible woman to have done what you did. No matter which way you look at it, you saved my grandson's life and I will forever be in your debt. I will make it quite clear that anyone who gives you a hard time is to answer to me."