Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Angel's Embrace Chapter 34

CHAPTER 34
BELLA
Worry was etched into my husband's face as he paced while talking to Marcus on the phone. With the sweet relief of seeing our friends' return came the realization that no matter what, danger still hung over our heads. Felix still wanted to end the Cullen family.
"Why us?" I snapped, looking at Alice. Edward's nervous behavior was starting to rub off on me.
"Partly due to Demitri's loyalty to Carlisle now and partly because Aro had never let him come steal Edward and me away like he wanted to...Aro was interested in us, yes, but Felix didn't understand why Aro and Caius would not take action on it," she sighed, glancing up at Edward and back to me.
"Yeah, but Marcus said Aro respected Carlisle," Emmett frowned, plopping down next to me on the couch. He draped a heavy arm over my shoulders, giving me a soft noogie. I smiled, shaking my head. Emmett knew when the spirit of the room needed lifting.
"He did," Alice nodded. "Otherwise, he could have taken us."
Demitri and Carina were in their room cleaning up after their long journey. Carlisle and Esme were on their way home, and Marcus and Eleazar were already on the road heading our way. Demitri had called him before arriving at the house. They would be here soon.
Edward knew the things that Demitri wanted to discuss. It was evident in the way he paced. He kept them to himself, telling Marcus we would wait for him before continuing.
"Not to mention that Demitri got Carina back. That must have pissed Felix off something fierce," Jasper added, frowning as he looked up at Edward.
"Yeah," Alice nodded. "That revenge is aimed directly at Bells. Chelsea reported back that it was her that was responsible for taking Carina back."
The snarl that ripped from Edward caused us all to stop and look at him.
"Edward, please," I sighed, "that's not helping. Come sit down." I sat forward, resting my elbows on my knees and burying my hands in my hair. I knew he was worried, but he was driving me crazy. As if I wasn't anxious enough already.
Before he took two steps towards me, Carlisle and Esme walked in from the garage. Esme sat on my opposite side, asking the room, "How are they?"
"Fine," I sighed, looking over at her. "They're cleaning up. They had been running for awhile." She nodded, her gaze shifting passed me to watch Edward's frustrated body language. He was shaking his head at whatever question Carlisle was silently asking him.
"Edward, sweetie, stop wearing out my carpet," she smirked, when his head shot up to look at her.
"Sorry," he mumbled, running a frustrated hand through his hair. I sighed again.
Edward Cullen, sit down, I thought to him, finally getting his complete attention. I pointed to the floor in front of me. Now, baby...I know you're worried, but so am I. Please? He acquiesced with a slight nod and planted himself at my feet. I wrapped my arms around his neck from behind and kissed the top of his head. Whatever it is, love, we'll get through it. Together. Ok?
He nodded, a tremor running through him as my fingers grazed against his scalp as I tried to soothe him the best way I could. He linked our fingers together, pressing the back of my hand to his lips and let it linger there.
"Alice," he pleaded, looking over at her.
"I can't help it," she sighed, "no one can make a straightforward decision. The whole family is all over the place – visually speaking."
"That's because we don't know anything," Carlisle sighed, a slight calming smile playing on his face. "Everyone needs to relax. We'll figure it all out. We always do."
"Marcus will be here any minute. It's a good thing they called him," Alice added.
"Just Eleazar," Edward sighed, answering a silent question from who I assumed was Carlisle because he nodded.
Edward kissed my hand again. I could practically see the tension rolling under his smooth skin. I pressed my lips to his hair again. Can you try to relax? Is it that bad? He nodded against my lips. Are we talking really, really soon? He shook his head no. Is it the army Felix is building? He nodded, squeezing my hand. Is it the fact that he's mad because I took Carina? An odd sound escaped my husband – like he was choking off his growl. My fiercely protective Edward was back. He would stop the world from touching me if he thought it posed a threat.
Can you promise me something? I asked, ignoring the fact that Marcus had arrived and Demitri and Carina had emerged from their room cleaner looking a little more comfortable. No one paid us any attention. They were used to the way we had learned to communicate.
"Anything," he sighed, laying his head back in my lap. I smiled at his upside down face.
Just promise me...no matter what, I thought to him with a sigh, that all decisions are a team effort. No rash judgments. No putting yourself in harms way to protect me. We'll be ok together. The last statement came out of my mind sounding like a question. My brow furrowed as I waited for him to answer.
"I promise, love," he sighed, reaching up to cup my face. His thumb caressed my cheekbone, his eyes softening slightly.
"Thank you," I sighed. You're kinda cute upside down, I teased, raising my eyebrow. He smirked, shaking his head. He knew I was just trying to lighten him up. The situation was tense enough without Edward's brooding to add to it. We didn't need his brooding; we needed his brilliant mind.
"I heard that," he smiled, "but you're right." I nodded, looking up at Marcus and Demitri as they joined us in the living room.
Demitri took over Edward's pacing. His tall, handsome form stalked from the dining room to the living room and back again.
"Demitri, perhaps if you just get it off your chest..." Eleazar suggested, frowning at his agitated state.
Demitri stopped and sighed deeply. "The army that Felix created is not only fairly large, but talented. Not as talented as the ones sitting in this room, but..." He waved his hand, motioning that we understood what he meant. "Marcus," he turned to his superior, "your secret is still safe. How, I have no idea. They have someone like Alice, but the person needs to be close in order for him to get read on them. Alice is infinitely more controlled and more attuned to using her gift. This newborn is still struggling."
"How many newborns?" Carlisle asked, leaning forward in his chair and resting his elbows on his knees.
"Over thirty," Demitri sighed.
"Yeah, but that could change almost daily," Jasper said, looking around the room. "They would attack each other. They are completely unstable."
"Normally, I would agree with you, Jasper," Demitri nodded, "but they are keeping them in small groups, training them to work together. They are feeding them on a regular basis – almost over feeding in order to keep them calm."
"What other talents?" Marcus asked.
"Chelsea has been replaced," Demitri growled. "But this newborn's talent is also unrefined and unstable. It works more like Catherine."
"So a magnet," Edward mused.
"For lack of a better term, yes," Demitri nodded. "There's one that worries me." Edward growled low, shaking his head. I squeezed his hand. "He's huge, really strong. But his talent...he can control the elements around him. Water, fire, earth – I saw him manipulate them all. If there is a spark, he can turn it into a raging forest fire."
"No shit?" Emmett's eyebrows shot up.
"Yes," Demitri nodded. "I watched as he lost control. He reduced another newborn to ashes in a matter of minutes."
"Fabulous," Emmett growled sarcastically. "What else can Firestarter do?"
"Not think for himself," Demitri smirked. "Dumbest thing I've ever seen."
"So, with Catherine," I started, "we could possibly stop him and draw him to us?"
"Maybe," Eleazar nodded. "Pull him in to end him or use him, Bella?"
"Just remove him from the situation," I shrugged. "Negate his abilities altogether with Brandon's help." Jasper's head shot up and Emmett turned my way. Even Edward turned around. "What?"
Carlisle chuckled, "Excellent, Bells."
"You know," Jasper smirked. "Catch him in your shield as he's dealing with fire..."
"Nice," Emmett nodded.
"Pressure cook him?" I snorted, rolling my eyes. "Do they know about the wolves?" I asked, trying to get the attention off of me.
"Yes," Demitri frowned. "They have no idea that they aren't true werewolves. They are confused as to how they are coming out in the day light and not around a full moon."
"That's one thing that will play to our advantage," Edward said, nodding. "The newborns will be confused and will underestimate the pack's strength. No matter the number of newborns, the pack will still be a step ahead. What else, Demitri?"
"There are two telekinetics – siblings like Alec and Jane," Demitri sighed. "They work together, syncing up every thought. They can mentally lift objects as heavy as cars or boulders."
I sighed. Now I understood Edward's frustration. It was one thing for my shield to block someone like Jane or Chelsea, but to add fire and flying cars into the assault, hitting my shield repeatedly, I wasn't sure if I could hold up. Add the worry I felt over my family and friends into the mix, and I was in trouble. I was unsure if I could handle the pressure of trying to fight, in addition to splitting my shield to protect everyone. "Damn," I sighed again, "their whole objective is to wear me down." I was strong, but not that strong. Edward turned in front of me, every emotion playing over his face as he rubbed my leg.
"Yes," Demitri nodded. "If they can take your shield down, then Felix feels he can get to you. The whole goal is to get to Carlisle. If they remove him, then they hope the whole family falls apart."
"Won't happen," Rose snarled. I shook my head in agreement. If I had to keep Carlisle at my side and under my shield for weeks on end – it wouldn't happen.
"What happens when they finally realize that Marcus is alive?" Esme asked, causing all of us to turn to her.
"Excuse my language, Esme," Demitri smirked, "but it will fuck Felix up." Emmett and Jasper snorted.
"Felix was in charge of leading the team of newborns that killed my Didyme," Marcus said quietly. His eyes were on the floor. "Aro didn't think I knew, but I did. Felix is scared of my vengeance."
"Good," Edward growled. "Then we'll continue to hide you."
"Nope, you can't," Alice sighed. "It's time he knew. Leak Marcus' whereabouts and we can get this all over with. Felix will come with his army just to prove a point and to verify for his own state of mind."
"Do we want to do that?" Rose asked. "Start this shit early?"
"And where are his whereabouts?" I asked. "Here? Or Forks?" My sneer did not go unnoticed. "We're bringing this down on my father's head?"
"Easy, love," Edward said, pulling me from the couch into his arms. "Nothing will happen to Charlie...if I have to personally see to it." His vow was solemn and nothing but the truth.
"Her father knows?" Marcus asked Carlisle. The whole household froze. We were aware that humans weren't supposed to know about us. We were aware that telling Charlie may have been a mistake. My breathing picked up and I gripped Edward's shirtsleeves.
"Yeah, he knows," Emmett frowned. "And he lives in the middle of the pack's territory." He folded his arms across his chest almost in a belligerent manner.
"He's quite the ally, Marcus," Carlisle frowned. "He lives surrounded by creatures that require their own secrets to be kept. He's trustworthy, I assure you."
"Peace, Isabella," Marcus frowned, holding up his hands. "We had humans in the castle. They were aware of what we were. I imagine if you are anything like your father, he's a force to be reckoned with."
"He is that," Edward smirked, but his grip never loosened nor did his eyes leave mine. "He's the Chief of Police, Marcus, he's been extremely helpful. And there's not anything he wouldn't do for Bella." His eyebrows furrowed, asking me silently if I was alright. I nodded, relaxing in his arms.
"So, how do we do this? And more importantly – where?" Jasper asked, sending a wave of calm over me.
"Forks would be ideal," Demitri sighed. "I'm sorry, Bells, but it's close and the pack can get there quickly. The forests would keep them all away from society." I said nothing. They were right, but I wondered how we were to keep not only my father and Sue safe, but the pack's mates and children as well. Not to mention the entire reservation.
"We'll figure it out," Edward whispered against my head. "I'm sure we need to sit down with Jake." He pulled back to look at me. "We're going there tomorrow, right?" I nodded, taking a deep breath.
"Yes, Dad wanted us for Christmas," I frowned, my eyes only on Edward.
"We'll speak with Jake, Bells," Carlisle nodded. "Work out a plan. And as far as when?"
"After the first of the year, I think," Demitri answered.
Two weeks. In two weeks, we were leaking the biggest secret we had back to the vampire that was trying to kill us. That secret would without a doubt be what finally brought the fight to us. No more training, no more surprise visits, no more wondering. The war was coming soon. I wasn't convinced we were ready.
"Bells?" I heard from behind me. I didn't bother to turn around. It was Jake. "Edward was looking for you, but I told him that I'd come find you." He sighed, plopping his large body down next to me. "Damn, what the hell are you doing here?"
I shrugged, swinging my legs over the edge of the cliff. From where I was sitting, I could see just about the entire reservation, including the gathering of my two families at the rec center. A strong winter breeze blew my hair back and I closed my eyes, inhaling the sea air.
"You weren't at the meeting," Jake's husky voice said. "You know we can handle this, right?"
"Yeah," I nodded. "So what was the decision? Here or Portland?"
"Here, but I have a feeling you knew that," he chuckled. "Is that why you didn't come?"
"I wasn't able to hold my tongue the other night, what makes you think I still can?" I snorted, finally turning to look at him. He grinned his happy smile, shaking his head.
"Edward mentioned something about holding you back," he laughed.
"He did," I smiled, biting my lip. "It was right after the whole house went into shock when the last leader of the Volturi figured out that Charlie knows everything. Yeah, my internal filter shredded."
"I bet," he laughed again, his head falling back. "Emmett said you had to leave, go hunting." I nodded, sighing. "But why are you here?"
"I was just thinking."
"About?"
"Everything," I sighed, looking at him. "I'm wondering when it ends."
"When what ends?"
"The sword over our heads. I think back and there was always something," I sighed, a slight smile on my face. "At first it was Edward himself, but he reined that side in pretty quickly. I never saw him as a threat. That's just how he saw himself. Then it was James," I sighed, shaking my head. "And Victoria!" I growled. "And not to mention you...sorry."
"Oh, no, I deserve that," he sighed, wrapping his warm arm around my shoulders. "I could have really hurt you, or worse, Bells. I will forever be sorry."
"You're forgiven, Jake," I smiled. "It took me a long time to be able to say that, but..." I looked up at him and he kissed my head, whispering his thanks. "And then Victoria again..."
"Tanya," he added with a snorting laugh.
"Oh please," I rolled my eyes, "she's still around. I haven't killed her yet."
"Too bad," he chuckled.
"Don't tempt me," I sighed, meaning every word. He laughed, leaning into me. "And now this...it seems to have lasted a really long time."
"It has," he nodded. "A year to be precise. Aren't you ready for it to end? They seem to think that you're worried about it."
"If they aren't worried," I growled, "then they're fooling themselves. That goes for the pack too. Any number of things could go wrong and you know it. Felix's sole purpose is to make sure that my shield wears down." I raised my eyebrow at him. "Alice can't see a thing while the pack is near. But we can't do it without you, so we are going into this plan a little blind, don't you think?"
"You're pissed," he smiled, "but you've given this some thought." I nodded, looking down at the water and watching it crash into the rocks below. "We did ok against that Jane chick."
"We did," I smiled. "I just...Jake," I shook my head, "I can't lose them."
"I know." We were quiet for a moment, just listening to the sounds of the sea. "What's this Complete Soul thing they were babbling about?"
I groaned, "Is that why they think I'm not at the meeting?"
"Yeah, they seem to think that you're scared."
"I am, but that's not why I didn't attend. I just didn't need to hear it again," I sighed, standing up from the edge of the cliff and walking towards the woods. "Completi l'anima. It's like Edward and I share a connection. It's not just emotional. It's physical."
"The pain in your chest?" Jacob frowned, obviously remembering when Edward and I were separated. I nodded. "So, what does that mean?"
"If something happens to him," I sighed, "I won't survive without him. Marcus said it doesn't happen right away, but that I will basically lose the will to live. The pain becomes too much to bear."
"And if something happens to you?"
"Same thing...Edward dies," I sighed. "I know that you're going to be communicating with him during this. I need you to make sure that if I can't help him that you will."
"Bells, this will be a piece of cake," he floundered. "We've done this before..."
"You fucking owe me, Jake, just promise me!" I snarled, stepping up to him quicker than he expected.
"Anything, you know that!" He snapped. "We'll have Charlie protected as well. You don't even have to ask."
"Thanks," I breathed.
"Sure, sure," he smirked. He reached for my hand and I took it. He was alarmingly warm. "Come on, they'll think we ran away together." He laughed as I scoffed. "I was supposed to bring you right back. It's time for presents and then the guys want to play basketball at the rec center."
"Really?" I laughed. "Well, hell...that should be...mmm, something to see." Flashes of a shirtless Edward reaching for a rebound flew through my mind.
We walked back down the side of the cliff and wandered back to our families.
"There she is," Charlie beamed. "Bells, here," he smirked, handing me a wrapped present. We both turned to see all of my boys, vampires and werewolves, in a heated debate. I turned back to my dad with a raised eyebrow.
"Do I want to know?"
"Probably, but it can wait," Dad chuckled. "Open."
"Ok, you too," I smiled, handing a wrapped box to him.
I unwrapped my box to see a beautiful leather bound journal and exquisite ink pen. "Oh, Dad, it's so pretty," I sighed, taking out the book.
"Well, you can't always have your computer with you." He shrugged, turning slightly pink. As he opened his box, he huffed.
"Don't complain. Sue said you needed it," I chuckled.
"I have a service kit for my gun."
"Not anymore," I laughed. "You've got forces working against you I'm afraid. You're old one...which, by the way is as old as I am, is no longer with us."
"Damn," he growled, but it spread into a smile. "They threw it away, didn't they?"
"Yes, but they didn't tell me until after they had already done it," I giggled. "Sue prompted your officers to do it. Take it up with your wife," I smiled.
"Jasper, now!" Emmett begged. Charlie and I turned to watch Emmett and Jasper struggling with a flat present.
"Jasper, not now...later," Edward urged, stepping between them.
"I say give it to her," Jake chuckled, folding his arms across his chest as he stood off to the side with Seth and Sam.
"Me too," Emmett pouted when Edward moved the package away from the both of them.
"What the hell?" I huffed a laugh.
"I don't know," Jasper frowned, wincing when he saw me approaching.
My brothers and husband were now in a full on wrestling match.
"Stop!" I growled. "What are you fighting over?"
"You," Jake laughed. "Apparently there's a gift, but they aren't sure you if you should get it yet or not."
"Are you kidding me with this?" I laughed as they all stood up, looking extremely guilty. "Who's giving the present?"
"Jasper," Emmett and Edward said together.
"Yeah, me," he added, sneering at the both of them.
"Did you want to wait, Jazz?"
"Um, no?" He said, but it sounded like a question, which only caused me to laugh harder as they shoved each other again.
"Are you sure?" I asked, but Emmett reached for the damn thing again. "Emmett McCarty Cullen, come stand right here..." I growled pointing to the ground beside me.
"Aw, Bells, make him give it to you," Emmett whined, coming to stand beside me.
"And why would we wait, Edward?" I asked, making his chuckle at Emmett getting into trouble stop short.
"I just thought maybe it wasn't the right time, love, that's all," he sighed. Charlie's snicker behind me did not go unnoticed.
"Jazz, it's your gift to give," I sighed, "you tell me when you're ready, ok?" He nodded, smiling smugly.
"Damn," Jake chuckled, "I was hoping she was going to kick all of your asses."
I rolled my eyes, sitting back down next to Charlie, who was wiping tears from his eyes. "Think it's funny?" I snorted as he shrugged.
"I think Edward is worried because you weren't at the meeting," my dad sighed.
"Oh..." I frowned, biting my lip. I turned in my chair, finding him still debating with Jasper. "I'll be right back."
Edward, I thought to him and his head immediately shot up. Come for a walk with me, please. He nodded, taking my hand. We walked outside of the rec center's doors. It was the only building in La Push that would hold us all on a wintry day.
"Bella, I wasn't..." He started, but I turned in front of him with a smile.
"I'm ok, love," I sighed. "I'm not upset. You don't have to protect me from a Christmas present," I chuckled. "I didn't go to the meeting simply because I didn't want to hear it again. It's stressful enough to hear once, to worry about the 'what-ifs'."
Edward leaned against the wall, pulling me so that my body was flush to his. "Good," he sighed, a slow, sweet smile spreading over his beautiful face. "You're right, I was protecting you."
"Well, save it for the big things," I giggled as he tickled my sides. I stretched up on my toes to kiss him softly. "I have a request," I smiled, raising my eyebrow at him.
"It's yours," he smirked.
"Really?" I cracked up. "It could be anything. I'm shielding my thoughts from you." He shrugged, chuckling at me. "I want to stay in your old room tonight."
"Like I said, it's yours," he smiled, cupping my face and kissing my nose. "Now, Jasper has something very important to give you." There was a look on his face that I couldn't quite place. There was love and...was that pride?
"Ok," I said, looking at him out of the corner of my eye.
"Trust me?"
"Without a doubt," I nodded.
"Then, let's let him give it to you," he chuckled, "before Emmett splits open at the seams."
I let him lead me back in. He nodded to Jasper as we made our way back to the tables. Instead of sitting next to Charlie, I was pulled into Edward's lap. All eyes seemed to be on me.
"Bells," Jasper knelt in front of me, holding out the flat present that they had been fighting over only minutes before. "I'd tell you Merry Christmas, but in all honesty, you earned this," he smiled. I took the flat package from him with a wary glance his way.
Edward chuckled. "It won't explode, love."
I unwrapped the package to find a manila envelope inside. I looked around and back to Edward. "It's too quiet in here," I smirked.
"Just open it," he sighed, tapping the envelope and rolling his eyes. Everyone laughed softly at us.
I ripped the envelope and pulled out a stack of papers. My eyes scanned the words, not believing what I was reading. "Is this what I think it is?" I breathed, flipping to the next page. "They're publishing me?"
"Yes, my brilliant girl," Edward crooned so softly in my ear.
"Really?" I asked, looking at Jasper who was nodding vehemently. "No!"
"Yes!" Emmett, Demitri and Jake boomed.
"How?" I asked Jasper. "I mean..." I huffed, shaking my head. I wasn't sure how it would work.
"It's complicated and I promise to explain it all," Jasper snickered, "but it will work. It's a contract if you want it."
"Wow," I huffed a laugh. I turned to look at Edward, who squeezed me closer and placed a kiss on my forehead.
"I'm so very proud of you," he whispered in my ear so low that only I could hear it. "You've earned it, my sweet girl." I pulled back, venom burning my eyes from tears that were unable to fall. My eyes closed when his lips pressed to my cheek. The only opinion that really mattered was bringing me so close to sobbing that I could barely breathe.
"Thank you," I whispered, squeezing my eyes closed and nuzzling his cheek.
"Um, Bells," Jasper interrupted softly, "you should know if you agree to that contract, they want another book from you."
"Can I think about it?" I breathed, finally breaking my gaze from my biggest fan.
"Yes, of course," Jasper nodded. "I want to tell you all the details anyway, but not now."
"Thank you, Jazz," I smiled, still feeling the emotions of the moment coursing through me. I leaned forward to place a kiss on his cheek.
"So, I did a good thing?" He smirked
"Yes," I laughed, "you did a very good thing."
"Way to go, Bells," Emmett beamed and started clapping. He was joined by everyone in the room. I shook my head, hating the attention, but I was still in shock.
Congratulations swarmed around me, pulling me from one person's embrace to the next. More gifts were exchanged, all the kids running around with new toys. But the possibility that his daughter may or may not become a published author was a pride that Charlie couldn't contain.
"So, who's playing?" Jake smiled, spinning the basketball on one finger.
Dinner was over, most of the kids had been put down in front of the TV to watch The Grinch That Stole Christmas – the cartoon, not the Jim Carrey version. Some of the older residents of the reservation had gone home.
"I'm in," Emmett stood from the table.
"Yeah, me too," Jasper smiled.
"Absolutely," Edward nodded, turning to Demitri, "you too."
"Dear God," Rose breathed in my ear, "let them be skins." I had to bury my face in her shoulder in order to muffle the laugh and my own version of the same prayer.
Alice covered her face, finally looking up with a raised eyebrow and a nod. "This is definitely going to require a shield."
"Too late," I sang, tugging her up from her chair. We sat down on the bleachers and watched them hash out their rules.
"Street ball," Jake smirked, bouncing the ball once. "Four on Four, call your own fouls."
"Fouls," Emmett scoffed.
"Yes, fouls," Jake laughed. "Ok, half court or full?"
"Full," everyone agreed.
Seth, Quil and Embry were the other players on Jake's team. Rose, Alice, Carina and I were joined by Anna, Jessica and a few other younger ladies from the reservation.
"What are we playing to?" Jasper asked.
"We can play with a timer – full quarters if you want," Quil smiled pointing to the scoreboard. "Billy is excellent at running that thing. I'll run and get him."
"Perfect," Emmett nodded, reaching to the back of his tan sweater and yanking it off over his head. "We're skins."
"Thank God and all that's holy," Rose breathed. I laughed when I looked over at her. She raised her eyebrows up and down.
Jasper followed suit, along with Edward. Demitri peeled off his jacket, tossing it onto the bleachers and adding his sweatshirt to the pile.
"Jesus," Jessica and Anna breathed at the same time.
"Yeah," my sisters and I sighed.
I shielded all the ladies. I had a feeling the girl talk and thoughts were going to get slightly out of hand.
"My God, was that under his clothes at school the whole time?" Jessica giggled.
"Oh yeah," I smirked, licking my lips at the sight of my husband in just jeans and sneakers. If I could have cried, his ass alone would have brought tears to my eyes. Never mind the fact that his chest and abs were flexing as he dribbled the ball for practice. I found myself holding my breath as every damn muscle in his back rippled when he took a jump shot around Jasper.
"How in the holy hell can you keep a straight thought with that around?" Anna turned to Carina. They had hit it off very well.
"I can't," she laughed. "I stopped trying ages ago."
Demitri was, to say the least, insanely well built. He looked like one of those models for boxer brief underwear. As he stood in the middle of the court in nothing but black jeans, I could barely refrain from counting the fact that he had not a six pack, but eight. His underwear peeked just above the waistband of his jeans.
"Yeah, I surrendered as well," I laughed, looking over at Carina. We both shrugged, knowing it was useless to even try and pretend. Our men were just damn hot.
Once Billy was rolled to the score keeper position, Esme and Carlisle joined us. Charlie joined Billy to help him.
"Ladies, you should be ashamed," Esme chuckled.
"Yeah, but we're not," Alice laughed.
"Do they need a ref?" Jessica asked, looking to Carlisle.
"Probably, but it's not going to be me," he chuckled. "It's bad enough with just my boys' egos, add the others and it's totally out of control."
"No ref," Emmett growled, passing the ball to Edward, who turned with a shake of his head. "Street ball."
"Oh Lord," Carlisle snorted. "I hope the court floor holds up."
"I'll replace it," I mumbled, my eyes glazing over as Edward positioned himself for the jump ball. I ignored the laughs behind me.
Edward played Forward, hearing every thought from Emmett, Jasper and Demitri. They were so used to playing games together that they barely had to speak. The game was aggressive and fast-paced. There wasn't a man out there that couldn't slam dunk the ball thanks to their enhanced strength. Chests hit chests as they ran for lay ups under the hoops.
And did they ever use their strengths. Edward had no shame using his speed to race to the other end of the court or listening to the thoughts of his opposing team. Emmett could guard both Jake and Seth at the same time as they shot the ball, knocking it away from the hoop. The score stayed close the first two quarters.
But the trash talk – it was endless. More than once did Esme scold them. She finally gave up and laughed with the rest of us.
"Come on, Ed," Jake laughed, "if you can see in my head, then you know I'll still score." He caught on quickly that making decisions at the very last second kept Edward on his toes.
"Yes, Jake, but can you keep up?" Edward mocked, spinning so fast that he was a blur. Emmett doubled over with laughter as Edward slam dunked the ball, hanging from the hoop. I licked my lips again as his thighs flexed when he landed back on the court.
Jasper was no better.
"Come on, emo-boy," Quil teased, bumping chests with my brother. "Shoot the damn ball."
Before Quil could blink, he hit the ground, cowering in fear. Jasper spun, jumped and hit the hoop with a swish. Edward and Emmett were laughing so hard, they had to brace their hands on their knees. Jake and Seth were in hysterics.
"That freakin' rocked," Jessica cracked up. "Quil, you should know better." He shrugged with a smile, taking the ball from Jake. Alice and I leaned into each other as we laughed.
"Out of bounds," Seth called as the ball landed in my hands. "You guys take it."
I knew my eyes were black with lust. I didn't need Edward's smirk to prove it. He stood in front of me, chest heaving, hair windblown from running, holding his hands out for the ball. Purposefully, I let my eyes travel from his feet to his eyes, holding the ball back.
"Say please," I smirked, barely able to keep my eyes away from the sweet V above his waistband.
He leaned over to my ear, his scent rolling off of him in waves of linen and honey. "Please, my beautiful Bella...may I have the ball back?" He asked, his voice rich, thick velvet, his lips brushing against the shell of my ear. His eyes were smoldering when he pulled back. I handed the ball over, speechless. "Thanks, love," he chuckled, passing the ball and getting back into the game.
"He's shameless," Esme chuckled.
"Mmhm," I nodded, laughing when Alice and Rose shoved me. "What?" I asked innocently. In reality, I needed all of that muscle, all of that smug sexiness, and I needed it soon.
"You're going to the old house?" Alice asked, looking over to me. I nodded, fighting my smile.
"You are?" Esme clarified. I nodded again. "Can you two get it ready? We'll need it for after the new year."
"Yeah, sure," I frowned, "but weren't the Denalis staying there?"
"They were, but they didn't really use anything other than the living room. You'll have to uncover everything." Esme smiled when I nodded in agreement.
"In the attic is some stored clothes, can you pull them out?" Alice smiled.
"Yeah, yeah, we got it," I chuckled. "Don't sweat it."
"How long has it been since you've been to the house?" Anna asked.
"Inside? A few years actually," I smiled. "Outside, not long..."
"Yeah, that's where we found Carina," Alice smiled, wrapping an arm around her.
We all turned our attention back to the game when grunting and laughter met our ears, skin and muscle collided. With one last slam dunk, the buzzer went off. Jake and Edward hit the floor in a tangle of arms and legs. I looked up to see the score was tied. One hundred and fifty five all around.
"Damn, over time?" Jake asked, helping Edward up. Both of them were smiling. They had enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
"Edward?" Carlisle smiled. "Free throws for the tie breaker, son. It's much more even that way."
"He's right," Jake smiled as Edward and Emmett nodded.
"Each take three shots," Carlisle suggested. "Jake first...Edward, you had the ball last." Carlisle would always be the diplomat.
Jake stepped up to the free throw line and bounced the ball a few times. He aimed his shot – nothing but net. A point was added to the score. Edward stepped up, his eyes intense as he aimed and shot. Again, it swished into the hoop. The score tied again.
"Come on, Jake," Anna cheered, clapping her hands.
"Miss it, Jake," I laughed and stomped my feet to make him lose focus, Alice and Rose joined me.
"Good job, baby," Anna clapped as he made the shot. Jake flipped me off with a smirk.
"Two more, Edward," Rose cheered.
"Come on, baby," I urged, sitting forward. I snickered when he looked up at me with a wink. Edward didn't miss.
The game was still tied.
The noise escalated for Jake as he took his place at the line again. He shook his head with a chuckle as he lined up his aim and took the shot. It bounced wildly off the rim, Jasper catching it and tossing it to Edward.
"One more, Edward," I said.
If the noise for Jake was loud, then this was chaos. Whistles and whoops hit the air to make my Edward lose focus.
"He misses," Anna smirked.
"He makes it," Esme countered.
"Bells?" Rose chuckled, holding up a fifty dollar bill. "He misses."
"My man makes it," I laughed, "you're on."
As soon as the ball left his hands, you could have heard a pin drop. It arched perfectly in the air with a slight spin to it. Off the backboard and into the net. Edward won the game by one point.
"Thank you," I smirked, snatching the money out of Rose's hands and jumping down from the bleachers. "Nice job, baby," I smiled as Edward wrapped his arms around me to lift me into the air.
"You bet on me?" He chuckled, eying the money in my hand.
"Just that very last shot," I smiled, pressing my forehead to his and trying my damnedest not to molest his naked torso in front of my family. "You...mmm, really need to put a shirt on," I groaned, closing my eyes.
"What do you say to getting out of here?" He whispered in my ear. I nodded against his jaw. "You still have a present from me, sweet girl."
"Edward," I warned, but there was nothing I could say. He would always spoil me. Trying to stop him was like trying to hold back a tsunami.
"Please, my Bella," he pouted.
"Don't put on the face," I sighed and then mumbled, "like I could stop you."
"That's right," he chuckled, setting me on my feet.
EDWARD
"It's been too long," my lovely wife sighed when the old house came into view. It was true. Despite the fact that we both had wonderful rooms in other houses, this house would be and would remain the beginning of us.
It was in this house that I lived when I met her. It was in this house where she fell back into my arms sobbing when I came back to her. And it was in this house that we gave each other everything – our virginity, our wedding vows, and our solemn promise to love each other forever. It was in this house that I had made her eternally mine. To us, this house represented so much more than bricks and mortar.
"I know, sweetheart," I said, the emotion thick in my throat. Her mind was open to me and every thought she just had matched my own.
"Thank you for agreeing to this," she smiled, her sweet face turning to me. "We've been asked to clean up this place and get it ready if we need to come here for awhile."
"Ok," I nodded, swallowing thickly. "That won't take us long."
As she made quick work of uncovering the furniture of the living room and our sibling's bedrooms, I went into the garage to turn the power on. Even though the Denalis were using this house for a temporary place, they didn't really stay inside the house.
I found her at the bottom of the attic stairs, carrying three boxes, only to go back up to bring three more down. Each box had names on them. I set each box in the room in which it belonged.
I found her leaning in the doorway to our room. She had saved that room for last. In her hands was a box with our names on it. "Bella, love?"
She didn't say anything, just closed her eyes, allowing the memories to consume her. "It still smells like us," she said, her breathing hitching. I took the box from her and set it on the bed. She walked slowly through the room, pulling the covers off the dressers, chest and nightstands.
"I got you back...right here," she breathed. I looked at her curiously, but her mind answered my question. It was a kiss she remembered. One simple kiss. It represented so much to her.
Alice had brought her over for the first time since my return. We had taken her things upstairs to this very room, and I had pulled her in for a kiss. At the time, I just hadn't been able to stop myself, but to her, she felt everything. She felt my surrender to all things physical, bringing her body flush to mine. Her heart had exploded as I was unable to keep the kiss chaste, but instead slipped my tongue in for a sweet languid taste of her.
"Why didn't we kiss like that before?" I had teased her.
"I don't know, I think you were too busy trying not to kill me." She had teased back without pause.
I chuckled at her memory, pulling her to me. "Is that what you remember?" I asked, cupping her face.
"Well," she chuckled, "it's not the only thing." She wrapped her arms around my waist, burying her face into my shirt. "Edward, I love you, but you smell like Jake," she laughed.
"Shower, got it," I sighed, shaking my head.
"I'll finish up the rest of the house," she sighed, watching me walk to our bathroom.
I showered quickly and walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel to find fresh clothes laid out for me, but Bella was not in the room. However, I could hear her on the phone.
"Yes, Alice," she sighed, "I pulled the boxes down from the attic. What else do you need from up here?" She sounded patient, yet amused at our sister.
"Esme says all the bed linens are up there," Alice answered. "Ask Edward. He stored them."
I climbed the steps up to the attic to see my love with an adorable look of confusion on her face as she looked around the over crowded space. "The vacuum sealed bags, Bella," I pointed to the pile of clear bags in the corner by the small round window.
"Oh, thanks," she smiled. "Got 'em, Ali, what else?"
"Well, if you're feeling industrious, you can make all the beds for us," Alice teased. "But if you don't...and I can well imagine that you'll be...hmm, busy, then you can just set them in each room." I heard Emmett's booming laugh through the phone.
"Can you please try not to hand Emmett more ammunition than he already has, Alice?" I sighed and Bella laughed, biting her bottom lip. She shook her head at Alice's maniacal laugh on the other end.
"Apparently not," she sighed, looking at me with a wry smile. I chuckled, dragging the pile of bags towards the stairs and tossing them down to the hallway. "Just for that, you're washing and putting away your own clothes...and you're making your own bed," my wife stated.
I laughed, sitting down on an old trunk, pulling her onto my lap. "Bye, Alice," I sang into the phone, taking it from my wife and setting it aside. Alice was still laughing when we ended the call.
"What is all this stuff?" Bella asked, looking around the room.
"Stuff we don't use, but don't want to throw away," I answered, nuzzling her neck.
"What's yours?" She smirked, an evil look in her eye.
"Bella..."
"Which one?" She asked, giggling and gesturing to all the trunks.
"That one," I sighed, chuckling when she launched from my lap.
"May I?"
"Of course, but let's get it out of here," I sighed, picking up the trunk and taking it down the stairs. I took it into our room, setting it down on the floor. In the blink of an eye, Bella was sitting crossed legged in front of it, cracking it open.
"Is there anything I shouldn't see, baby?" She teased, her eyebrow raised. "Pictures of old girlfriends, old porn magazines, diaries..."
"Journals...men have journals," I corrected with a growl, which only caused her to laugh. "And no, I can't imagine there's anything in there that you can't see."
"Yet, he didn't answer the porn question," she murmured to herself, lifting the lid completely. She truly was adorable as she peered inside. Her childlike curiosity was just one of the many things I loved about her, especially when it came to her interest in me and my long history.
"That's because there may be," I teased.
She gasped, her eyes locking to mine. "Porn from nineteen eighteen. That I have to see..."
"Fabulous, antique erotica," I sighed, sitting down next to her. "That would make the models a hundred and ten...give or take. Think they're still around?" I laughed, ducking when she swatted at me.
"If they are, they wouldn't even know their own names," she smiled, "and they probably don't look as good as you do for their age."
There were old journals in the trunk and Bella took them out with sweet care, pausing long enough for a quick flip through the pages. She stacked them neatly to the side, saying, "Can I read those?"
"Sweet girl, all that I am and have is yours," I chuckled, leaning in to kiss her forehead. "I won't lie to you. They will be...dark. I'm not the same person now as I was then," I sighed.
"And I'm ever so grateful," she smirked.
She found small boxes full of baseball cards, presidential election buttons from decades back and pictures of my real parents. "Oh wow," she smiled. "You look like your mother."
"Carlisle said the same thing," I smiled, leaning over her shoulder to look at the photo that I hadn't seen in years. Even though it was a black and white picture, I knew that my hair color came from my mother and my build from my father.
She flipped through the stack of pictures as I peered back into the trunk. "Who's she?" She asked, holding up a picture I hadn't seen in a very long time.
"Um, I...I don't remember," I stuttered, averting my gaze and looking back into the trunk. I felt her small hand on my chin, pulling my face up so that she could look in my eyes.
"Who?" She smirked. "Somehow, I think you do remember." Her face went from teasing, softening at my silence. "You don't have to tell me, Edward. But always know, nothing from your past will scare me or change my love for you."
"I know," I frowned, taking the picture from her and looking down at it. "I honestly had forgotten, love." I sighed, reaching for the stack of pictures in her hand. "There's more of her." I said, my voice cracking. I searched through the stack, pulling out two more pictures of the same young girl.
Sensing my change in mood, my angel sat up on her knees in front of me. "Look at me," she said firmly, "you really don't have to tell me."
"Yeah," I nodded, "I do. You see..." I sighed, shaking my head. "I killed her."


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