Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Angel's Embrace Chapter 36

CHAPTER 36
BELLA
"That sounds fascinating," Rose smirked, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and squeezing. We had been listening to Carlisle's medical assistant for the past twenty minutes describe how he felt the first time he saw a prostate exam.
It really took everything in me not to laugh in the poor socially inept man's face. Rose was not helping. Leslie, which he was unfortunately named, was completely enamored by her and couldn't control his verbal diarrhea or his thick glasses as he had to push them up several times. She just continued to egg him on, asking questions and ooh'ing and ahh'ing in all the right places.
"Oh, God, Rose," I murmured so low only she could hear it. "Please make him go away."
"Not a chance," she mumbled back with a laugh. "He needs the practice with talking to girls."
"Oh, I'm in hell," I groaned, shaking my head as Leslie moved on to lancing boils. "Can't we just find him a girl?" I asked, totally enjoying the fact that he couldn't tell we were having a conversation, because he couldn't look us in the eyes long enough to notice.
"Nope," she snorted, popping the "p". She turned to me with a gleam in her eye, "Besides, Emmett and Jasper are betting how long you'll last."
"Fuckers," I growled, stealthily flipping them both off while they watched in silent hysterics from across the room. "What's the bet?" I laughed, turning back to her, but her attention was on Leslie.
"And what happened the first time you had to stitch someone up?" She asked with a pleasant smile on her face. She turned back to me as Leslie launched into what seemed to be his favorite memory. "Jasper says you'll wait it out. Em says you'll lose patience in less than..." She looked at her watch, "eight minutes."
"I hate you all," I sighed, rolling my eyes as she laughed and placed a kiss on my head.
"No you don't," she chuckled. "Watch this," she smiled. "Leslie, have you met our mother, Esme Cullen?"
"Yes!" He beamed, pushing his glasses up and making an awful noise through his nose. "Mrs. Cullen, how are you?" If looks could kill, Rose and I would be ashes, and I had a feeling we may be grounded.
"She's going to kill you," I laughed, falling onto the sofa, "you know that, right?"
"Nah, she won't," she laughed, laying her head on my shoulder. "Esme feels sorry for him." We turned our heads when Alice's voice met our ears. She was trying to settle the bet that we just screwed up.
"Neither one of you won!" She laughed, shaking her head as Emmett and Jasper stared at her in confusion. "Honestly, she didn't leave Rose standing there before the half hour and she didn't stay politely."
My eyes drifted around the room. We really didn't care for these things, so my siblings and I tried to make the most of it. I watched as Drew, Pam, Wendy and Austin hung around Edward's piano and played Heart and Soul. Poor Esme was trapped with Leslie, who was now joined by an older nurse, Pearl, who I recognized from the night we took Christmas presents to the kids and a few doctor's wives. Carlisle was sitting with two other gentleman at the dining room table, who were doctors as well.
And then there was poor Edward. I sighed as I watched two teenage girls, the daughters of one of the doctors, surround him, cornering him by one of the tables of food. I tapped Rose on the leg and pointed. Jasper's head shot up at the feeling of mischief that coursed through me. Reading his brother's thoughts, Edward's head looked up at me with a raised eyebrow. I smiled, biting my lip.
I can't mark my territory, Edward, I thought to him, glancing around the room and back to him. It would be...mmm, quite inappropriate. I smiled as I watched him take a deep breath. What are they? Thirteen? Fourteen? I chuckled. Ohh! I know what they are...groupies. I snorted as his hand shot to his hair, causing it to stick up everywhere. It only added to his attractiveness.
"What the hell are you saying to him?" Rose chortled. I just shook my head with a hushing sound.
There's nothing you can do, baby, I smirked, letting my tongue drag across my bottom lip. You're so fucking sexy just leaning there and you don't even know it. I watched as he fought his smile, his eyes closing for just a moment. He folded his arms across his chest and stood up straight. Nope, that didn't help...still damn hot, I laughed, my head falling back.
He continued to listen to the girls, answering their questions politely, but his quick glare to me did not go unnoticed.
Alice joined Rose and me on the sofa. "He's trying so hard to figure out a way to leave them, but they won't let him," she smirked, turning to watch him again.
You want an out, my love? I asked, feeling sorry for him, because the girls were starting to crowd him. One even went as far as to touch his arm lightly. Yeah, don't answer that, I sighed, standing up and walking to him.
"Edward?" I asked, reaching for his hand.
"Yes, my love?" He sneered, but a smile couldn't be helped.
"We need more firewood. Would you be so kind as to help me bring some in?" I asked, biting my lip as his hand gripped mine hard in retaliation.
"I'd be glad to," he sighed, pulling me to his side and kissing my head. "Bella, have you met Haley and Jennifer? They are Dr. Norton's daughters."
"It's nice to meet you." I smiled, but I was met with sighs and mumbled hellos.
"Come on," Edward grinned, "let's get that fire going again."
"'Kay," I smirked, tugging him towards the back door. I found myself pressed into the wall of the house, my head falling back as I laughed. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," I chanted as his fingers tickled my sides relentlessly.
"You think you're funny, don't you?" He growled into my neck, biting it roughly. I shook my head vigorously, still giggling into his shirt.
"All they want is a kiss at midnight," I laughed, his rumbling growl vibrating my body.
"You don't know how right you are," he sighed, pulling back to press a kiss to my forehead. He rolled his eyes, his hands at my waist. He pulled my hips to his.
"If I told you," I smiled, snaking my arms up around his neck, "that these lips," I pressed mine to his, "were only meant for me, every day, not just New Year's, would you forgive me for teasing you?"
"Mmhm," he smirked and nodded, pressing his lips to mine again. "Firewood, love," he chuckled, reminding me that we needed to bring some in for the facade that I created. "I'm not sure I can wait until midnight, beautiful."
"You have to try, handsome," I smiled, nuzzling his nose.
"You know," I sighed, leaning back against Edward, but turning to Rose, "if Ryan Seacrest was just four inches taller, he'd be devastatingly handsome, but instead...he looks like a hobbit." She snorted at me, but agreed.
"I'm glad we've moved on from Tolkien," Edward sighed with a slight chuckle.
All of the kids were in the living room watching Times Square on TV. All of the adults were in the dining room partaking in champagne. The ball was about to drop.
"I think you're right," Pam giggled, shifting in front of Drew. They were on the floor, her back to his chest. "He's funny, that alone is attractive, but he's so damn short."
"Right?" I laughed.
"Sense of humor can over come a lot of shortcomings," Alice nodded.
"Hell yeah!" Emmett chuckled, his smile wavering when Rose whispered something in his ear.
"I don't even want to know," I sighed, though I could imagine a great many things she could have said.
"No, you don't," Edward snorted, linking our fingers together.
"Explain," Jasper said, looking at Alice.
"Humor?" She asked. "It's a sexy quality." Every girl's head in the room nodded in agreement.
"Example?" Wendy asked, looking up at Jasper and he nodded. "Ok...best example is the movie Ghostbusters."
"That movie rocks," Drew nodded with a big smile.
"Yeah, but wait," she giggled, holding up her hand. "Bill Murray...we can all agree he isn't attractive, but because he's funny, there's something quite charming about him."
"Dan Aykroyd too," I smiled. "He's like a child in that role."
"Exactly," Wendy nodded.
"So, if we go with this theory," Jasper smirked, folding his arms across his chest, "you're saying that an ugly man stands a chance if he has a decent sense of humor?"
"Yes," every girl laughed, including Dr. Norton's daughters.
"I am a stud," Emmett sighed, leaning back with his arms behind his head. "Funny and all of this," he sighed, smiling with his eyes closed. I could practically hear Rose rolling her eyes.
"Mentally challenged doesn't count," Edward chuckled, ducking when a pillow flew our way. I buried my face in Edward's chest, laughing with the rest of the room. "They are laughing at you, Em."
"Oh, damn," Jasper snorted. "Cold, dude, very cold. But sadly true," he sighed in mock sympathy.
"Fuck you both," Emmett snorted. Only my largest brother can take such a cruel ribbing.
"Emmett Cullen," Esme hissed from the doorway.
"Oops, sorry, Mom," Emmett winced. "Hey! It's time..."
Everyone joined in as we counted down. 3, 2, 1.
I knew it was shameless. I knew that the Norton girls were watching, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. I didn't even let Edward say the words before my mouth was on his. I felt his smile and the grip of his hands as he kissed me back. With one last suckle to his bottom lip, I pulled away, whispering, "Happy New Year."
"Indeed," he chuckled, his eyes flickering just passed me. "Marking your territory, sweet girl?" He asked, my favorite crooked smile planted on his face. I fought my smile, shrugging.
"Mine," I whispered, nuzzling his nose with mine. "All mine."
EDWARD
I'd give anything to know if those legs end as perfectly as I think they do...
I really need to find out what shampoo Bella uses...
Love her shoes...
Her thighs...each side of my head...
My head shot up with a growl that I couldn't stop. I zeroed my glare straight to Matthew Simmons. I was used to high school boys and their fantasies about my angel, but sometimes he took it too far. Jealous boys were one thing, Matthew was a completely different level of daydreams. It was all I could do to remain in my seat at our lunchroom table. I wanted to...
"Easy, Ed," Jasper breathed. "What the hell?"
I couldn't stop the boiling rage that was building within me as my beautiful wife walked towards me and Matthew took in every step.
"Jasper," Bella sighed, walking into my line of sight. She cupped my face, forcing me to look up at her. I felt the calm pour over me like a glass of cool water. Her thoughts caressed me just as gently as her fingers ran through my hair. Whatever he's thinking, replace him with you...because you're all I'll ever want.
I nodded, taking a deep breath. "Thanks," I shot to Jasper who waved it all away and went back to his camera, flipping through the pictures.
"I'm proud of you, Edward," Alice smirked, sitting down next to Jasper. "Matthew still has his eyeballs."
"Thank Jasper and Bella," I growled, but smiled when they all laughed. "Otherwise, he wouldn't."
"Edward," Bella smiled, linking her fingers with mine. "Do I want to know what he was just thinking?"
"No," I huffed, frowning.
Do I like it when you do it to me? She thought with a giggle.
"Yes," I smirked, leaning back in my chair. How she could turn any situation around for the better, I will never know. How I ever lived so long without her, was incomprehensible to me.
"Get out," Jasper snorted. "And don't be late for the paper," he pointed to Bella.
"Come on," she smiled, "a walk wouldn't hurt us."
She took my hand and led me out of the cafeteria, turning left at the end of the corridor. She opened the door to the auditorium, tugging me up on stage. "Play for me, baby," she smiled, sitting on the bench and patting the spot next to her.
"Yes, ma'am," I smiled. "Anything specific?"
"Yes," she nodded, "Claire de Lune."
"Your wish, my command, love." I leaned in and kissed her softly before beginning to play. She laid her head on my shoulder, her mind closed to me. "What are you thinking, sweet girl?"
"A lot of things," she sighed, her smile was tentative, but still so beautiful. I stopped playing and straddled the bench so that I could face her. I tucked her hair behind her ear and waited patiently for the answer. She always told me, but in her own sweet time.
"I'm thinking that Felix will hear the news about Marcus any day now," she began and took a deep breath. "I'm nervous, Edward," she frowned, her worry-filled eyes meeting mine. "I feel like I should train more, but then again, I really don't need it. I'm absolutely terrified we'll lose someone and even more, each other. I really want that future you've painted in London. So much so that I ache for it. But I can't even pick a house, because I can't think passed this...this...whatever the hell it is," she sighed, frustrated. "And I really hate that Matthew thinks gross thoughts about me. That's just...ew."
"Come here," I snickered. I couldn't help it, she was adorable when frustrated. "All of this is bugging you?" I asked, amazed she hadn't exploded. I pulled her to my lap so that she was straddling my thighs. Her skirt rose up just a little and I rubbed her legs to calm her down. "I'm feeling every one of those very same things, Bella." She pressed her forehead to mine, gripping my shirt at the shoulders. "Except the Matthew part...he really almost lost his vision today," I growled. She smiled, a tiny laugh escaping her. "Do you remember the night we first made love?" I asked her, pulling back to watch her face.
"Are you purposely trying to drive me crazy, Edward?"
"No," I laughed, shaking my head. "You were so angry with me, remember?"
"Yes, but..."
"Do you know what Carlisle said to me after you slammed the bedroom door in my face?" I asked and she shook her head no. "He told me his theory about you. That you were right, you deserved to be by my side as an equal. That you were the missing puzzle piece to our family. I knew he was right, but I just couldn't harm you in any way, do you understand?" She nodded again, her mind open to me now. She was patiently waiting for my point. "I love you more than my own life, but I really didn't see the whole picture until the fight with Jane. You fit me like a second skin, but you also fit the family like you've always been there. The fight with Jane helped me see that nothing will get passed us, love. You will be by my side, you are the key to the family, and we will get through this," I sighed. "You and I will work out our own plan alongside everyone else's. If something should happen, we...meaning you and I...will have a plan B, ok?"
"Ok," she breathed, nodding and relaxing slightly. "That seems selfish, baby."
"If you don't think Jasper doesn't make a plan B for Alice, then ask him," I said, raising my eyebrow at her. "Emmett and Carlisle too. Trust me, love."
"I do," she sighed, kissing my cheek. "Why would they do that?"
"Come on, I'll tell you while I walk you to class," I smiled, setting her on her feet. "There will be the main plan, Bella. The one that we, meaning the wolves, Marcus, the Denalis and our family will agree upon. Where the fight will take place and when. There will also be a Cullen plan," I said looking down at her. "If one of us gets hurt...and yes we can get hurt...then we'll need healing time, just like Marcus did. The Cullen plan will be where to meet afterwards if something were to go wrong – whether we have to move or not. Mine and your plan will coincide with that one. If we don't win, but can get away, then we will have to go into hiding," I sighed, hating the thought of it, but would do anything to keep Bella and my family safe.
"Before you," I smiled, stopping in front her classroom, "we were strong and powerful. With you, we could stop them all...and I don't just mean just your shield. You bind us all together, baby," I sighed, kissing her forehead.
"Yeah, no pressure, Edward," she said sarcastically, but her mind was a little more at ease.
"See you in biology, love," I laughed and kissed her quickly, stuffing a new note into her pocket and heading for my Algebra II class.
BELLA
I huffed a laugh at the note I felt being slipped into my pocket. I pulled it out as I sat down at the computer next to Jasper.
"Alice wanted me to tell you three things," he smirked, holding up three fingers. "And since I know Edward is listening, I won't have to repeat myself," he chuckled. "Number one...yes, we absolutely will have a plan B. Two...you don't need anymore training. And three...Marcus will be at the house, so we are all leaving before the last period."
"Ok," I sighed. "It's Alice's world, she just let's us live here."
"Truer words have never been spoken," he nodded, his face in an expression of complete surrender and acceptance. I snorted at him, shaking my head.
Jasper and I began to edit our article just as Wendy and Drew joined the classroom. Wendy's face was nothing but stress.
"You ok?" Jasper asked. He must have been feeling something strange from her.
"They..." She frowned, shaking her head and sitting down. "They found my mom," she said, sounding incredulous.
"Really?" I gasped, sitting forward. "What are you going to do?"
"They want me to meet her," she sighed.
"Wen, you really should give her the opportunity to give her side of the events," Mr. Morgan piped in.
"She's supposed to give a deposition against my dad," Wendy whispered. "He's still in jail, no bond. The judge said he won't get out before the hearing."
"That's a good thing, Wendy," Drew growled. "He needs to stay in there. If your mom can help keep him there, then even better."
"I know," she nodded. "I'm nervous about meeting her. She's supposed to be here in a few days." She looked up and her eyes were filled with tears. "Austin said he'd be there, but..."
"Have you talked to Dr. Davis?" I asked, knowing that her therapist would help her through this.
"Yeah!" She smiled. "She's going to be there too. Courts orders, actually."
"Good," I sighed.
"You know what I found out?" Wendy frowned. We all shook our heads but Drew. He frowned, folded his arms across his chest, looking down at the floor. "My dad was married before. His wife and child went missing."
"Damn," Mr. Morgan growled. He got up from his chair and sat next to her in one of the desks. "Look, Wendy, listen to your mom. Hear her out. Things will get better."
"They can't possibly get worse, right?" She snorted, looking up at him. "Thanks, Mr. Morgan." He nodded, ruffled her hair and stood up. "You know, she was in Olympia the whole time. She started at a woman's shelter and they helped her start over."
"Then you definitely need to hear her side," I sighed, "because there's more to the story than what your father told you."
"Yeah," Jasper agreed. "If you need more support, let us know, ok? We'll be there. Eddie and Alice too, ok?"
"Really?" She gasped, looking up through tear laden eyes. We nodded, both of us saying, "Yes," at the same time.
I turned to Jasper when Wendy got to work on her own computer. "You think we're needed?" I whispered so low only he could hear me.
"Yeah, but Edward more than me, I think," he sighed. "I want to know if her mother is telling the truth. If she's fit to take Wendy back."
"Why do you care?" I smirked, thinking Jasper used to avoid getting involved with humans on mere principle alone.
"She loves you, really respects us...more than any human I've ever met, besides you, of course," he chuckled, leaning into me. "Edward is very protective of her for your sake, so it's only fair that I follow suit."
"You're the best, big brother," I sighed, laying my head on his shoulder. I felt a light kiss to the top of my head. Picking up Edward's latest note, I sat back and read.
My beautiful Bella,
I know that you tell me how biased I am, but I cannot stop from telling you how beautiful you are to me.
It's so much more than your fathomless warm eyes I could stare into forever or your amazing lips that I love to feel against my skin. It goes so much deeper than your silky hair that I cannot for the life of me keep my hands out of. The feel of your legs around me, your arms pulling me close, your sweet voice calling my name – those things are so perfect, so breathtaking that I barely have words, my love.
But your heart, your brilliant mind, your selflessness – those are the things that make you so stunning that I can barely take a breath for the want of you. The way that you love me, care for me no matter the stupid decisions or statements I've made is what keeps me on this earth. I live for you. My entire being is for you.
You keep me calm and make me so very happy, Bella. The strength that you give me is indescribable. I love you so very, very much, my sweet girl. Please never doubt it, never question it.
Mrs. Cullen, there is nothing in this life that means more to me than you.
My love, always,
Edward
"You know," I said, my breath hitching, "I really don't understand how he can write something like this every day." I was saying it for Edward's benefit as well as Jasper's. "Just when I think he can't top it..."
"Ah...warm and fuzzy today," Jasper chuckled, standing when the bell rang. "Yesterday was not anywhere near warm and fuzzy."
"No, it wasn't," I growled, fighting my smile. Edward had written an entire note dedicated to my skin. I had almost melted in my chair.
Wendy and I walked into the biology lab, hanging our coats in the corner. Edward's sweet crooked smile was firmly planted on his face. I couldn't help but shake my head at him. Proud of yourself, are you? I thought, pulling my stool closer to his. He smiled and shrugged, he eyes flickering to the front of the room as class started. I really, really need to kiss you, baby, I sighed, my brow wrinkling.
My husband glanced around the room, making sure everyone's attention was on the teacher before leaning in closer to me. "Don't make a sound," he whispered. With one last look at the teacher turning his back to the class, his lips met mine. I wanted to grip his hair, but instead I gripped his shirt by his waist. It was short, but deep kiss, unable to come close to expressing what I was feeling.
I love you, I thought, breaking away from him.
He kissed my nose quickly. "Me too, love."
Alice's eyes stayed glazed over just about the whole way home. Edward didn't say anything, but gripped the steering wheel with startling force. I was not looking forward to seeing Marcus. It wasn't that I didn't like him, but he seemed to be a reminder of everything I feared. A reminder of everything I dreaded.
Once we were home, Edward took to pacing. I took a seat between Rose and Esme. Alice settled quietly on the floor, her face set in concentration. I could imagine she was having a really hard time focusing on the what ifs. All the decisions for Italy would be crystal clear until the destination brought them in range of the pack. At that point, all would disappear.
Demitri and Carina sat quietly at the dining room table. Marcus was at the window, his arms folded as he stared unwaveringly into the front yard. Everyone but Edward was completely still as we waited for Carlisle.
Emmett was the one that broke the silence. "Who else besides Carlisle are we waiting on?"
"Jake and Charlie," Demitri answered. "They're on their way."
"Charlie's coming here?" I growled. "Why? What is Jake thinking?" I refused to let my eyes dart to Marcus, but he was where my worry centered. Edward stopped in mid-stride, but he kept silent as he looked over at Demitri.
"We need Charlie," Esme sighed, but her worried expression probably matched my own. "He's going to need updates. He's going to need to know the whens and wheres..." Her voice trailed off. She was stating the truth, and it didn't really need to be vocalized. However, she picked up my hand and squeezed it.
"Well now everything just went fucking blank," Alice huffed, folding her arms across her chest. Jasper winced, wrapping her in his embrace and whispering to her that it would all be ok.
It wasn't only Jake and Charlie that showed from La Push, but Sam as well. Carlisle joined us and the meeting started.
"Felix knows about me," Marcus said softly, still staring out the window. He sighed and turned to us. "It's time to start planning, to start paying attention to Alice every second. What were you seeing?" He asked her.
"I saw twenty-eight newborns, but they are far more in control than the typical newborn," she sighed. "You were right about the boat. He'll charter one, load everyone on it and depart from the shores of Spain. He's already made the decision to move them soon. I saw melted snow, so we're probably looking at spring." She frowned, looking up at Marcus. "They won't leave anyone behind," she said, her face confused. "They are overly confident."
"Good," Jake smiled, shifting his position against the wall. "The more they bring, the more we can exterminate." Sam nodded in agreement as well as Emmett and Jasper.
"Twenty-eight," Carlisle sighed, shaking his head. I knew him well enough to know he was feeling terrible about the loss of life that was to come. As far as Carlisle was concerned, just because Felix had fed them lies, didn't mean that they didn't have a right to live. "Is that just the number of newborns?" He asked Alice and she nodded. "So with Felix, Jane, Alec, Renata, and Garrett..." He stopped, his mind working overtime.
"You're forgetting the Russians," Marcus nodded.
So thirty five on their side – give or take. I started doing my own calculations. With twelve wolves, eight Cullens, the Denalis and a few others, we were slightly outnumbered.
Edward was listening to every thought in the room, but it was mine he chose to voice. "If we can get the timing right," he sighed, looking at Alice, "numbers won't matter." He raised an eyebrow at me. I nodded, knowing he was right.
"That's true, Edward," Marcus nodded.
"Charlie," Carlisle started, and my dad looked up from the dining room table. "We'll need all humans out of the area. With that many newborns and Felix's...diet...it will be an unstable situation."
"If Alice is right," my dad frowned, "and it's spring when they come, I'll post a bear warning. But what about the town? I can't force people to stay in their houses."
"Actually, you can," Jake smiled, turning to look at my dad. "A few wolf sightings here and there, you can make a curfew, Charlie," he chuckled. Sam smiled, nodding. "We can use one of the younger members of the pack, send him out to just barely be seen."
"Excellent," Carlisle smiled.
"Nice, Jake," Jasper nodded. "Keep everyone in at night. Post the curfew for sunset every day."
"I can't keep them all in, but at least they'll be cautious," Charlie smiled. "Just let me know when you plan on scaring my townsfolk, Jacob," he laughed.
"And who," I added with a laugh.
"I could scare Mike Newton for you," Jake beamed.
"Oh my God, that's so tempting," I chuckled. Even Edward barked a laugh.
"Please?" Rose snorted. "I'll personally tune up every car of the packs, if you do that," she laughed, her head falling back. Alice's giggle joined her and she clapped excitedly.
"Done," Jake nodded once.
"You guys," Esme warned, but her smile couldn't be hidden.
"Bells," Charlie snorted, "the Newton boy just moved back from Seattle with um..."
"Lauren," Alice, Rose and I laughed.
"Yeah," my dad nodded. He eyed us all for a moment. "There's more to that than I want to know, isn't there?"
"Yes, Charlie," Edward smirked, shaking his head at us.
Marcus watched us all from the front of the room with an amused expression on his face. It must have been a shock to see us all so different, but still getting along. Edward always tried to tell me that it was my shield that drew people together because I wanted it. But I wasn't so sure.
But as I looked around the room and thought about who wasn't there, I began to see the confidence that everyone had for this upcoming fight. I wasn't there yet. A host of things could go wrong without Alice's visions. It was that blind spot that worried me the most.
EDWARD
"I would pay fucking money to see the look on Mike's face," Alice snorted, shaking her head. We were on our way to Pam's house to be there when Wendy met her mother for the first time in over ten years.
I laughed, nodding. "Even the smallest of the wolves can be intimidating. I wonder if he would pass out," I mused.
Bella's laugh filled the car, her head falling back. "Maybe Jake will video tape it," she snorted.
"Sweet," Jasper beamed. "Then we could watch it over and over." The car exploded in laughter. Mike was too easy of a target for us, and a wonderful distraction from what we were about to witness.
I sighed, hoping that Wendy's mother would be all that she needed. Jasper was right in telling Bella I was protective of her. Wendy really liked us. There was a blindness there like Bella had when we first met. No fear, but respect and hope. I couldn't fault anyone for loving my Bella, and for that, I wanted to guard Wendy and keep her safe.
"Alice, what do you see with Wendy?" I frowned, parking the car in Pam's front yard.
"It's up to her. I can't see anything really until she meets her mom and makes a decision," she sighed, "but I see her dad going to prison. That's firm."
"Good," Bella growled, looking out the window. I picked up her hand and kissed it.
"Sweet girl, are you ready?" I asked, lifting her chin. She sighed and nodded.
We were greeted like we always were at Pam's house, with warm smiles and friendliness. Wendy was instantly relaxed once she saw Bella and me. As we joined everyone in the living room, I could see it was all in support for her. Wendy's mind couldn't wrap around the fact that she had so much "back-up" as she called it.
Pam's mother was there as well as Austin. I recognized Dr. Davis from Carlisle's office. She was professionally dressed, her hair in a tight bun, but her eyes were very warm. "Ah, Carlisle's kids," she smirked, standing up to shake our hands. "It's nice to see you again."
"You too, Dr. Davis," I nodded, smiling politely. "You've met everyone, I think. Jasper, Alice and Bella."
"Yes," she nodded. "Bella, you're the one that told Carlisle about Wendy."
"Yes, ma'am," my love nodded.
"Good girl," she whispered with a wink. "Wendy really needed someone to take control."
Bella nodded, her mind flashing back to one of her own talks with Carlisle about control. He told her that she had to relinquish her hold on what was not her fault. I leaned in an kissed her head.
"Hey kids," Mrs. Warren smiled. Pam's mom had been very grateful that Emmett and I had been there at the party the night that Wendy's dad hit her. "Have a seat. We're just waiting on Paula."
"Ok," Bella nodded, tugging me to the sofa in front of the window. Jasper and Alice took the loveseat on the side.
Wendy was a nervous wreck. Her knee bounced as she bit frantically at her nails. I shot Jasper a look and he smiled softly and nodded, sending her a small wave of calm and a boost of confidence for good measure. She took a deep breath and sighed just as the doorbell rang.
Paula Graham, or Sawyer, as she was introduced, was a thin woman with the same bright eyes as Wendy's. She looked just as nervous as her daughter. Her mind was completely full of details she wasn't sure she wanted Wendy to know. I flinched at the threats Mr. Graham had made, causing Paula to run away in the first place. He had told her that if she didn't get out, he'd kill them both. He had accused her of cheating, of Wendy not being his, of her plotting to steal his daughter away – all in a drunken rage.
"She had no choice," I sighed, looking over at Bella. I spoke quietly enough that only my family heard me. "He threatened Wendy's life." Bella nodded, her mind telling me that she had pretty much had come to that same conclusion.
We were also introduced to Jackie, the therapist from the women's shelter that Paula had resided in for months after she had left Carl. Jackie was not her real name and she was no nonsense when it came to the protection of the women in her care. She maintained high secrecy when it came to battered women and their whereabouts. She was a large woman, carrying a notebook and a file folder. She looked like she would have been able to handle Mr. Graham had he been in the room. A thought that made me want to smile. I liked her instantly.
Despite all the nerves, when Paula saw Wendy, she wrapped her in a hug so tight that poor Wendy's face turned red. Tears were shed and the past was ready to be explained.
"I'm so sorry," Paula whispered over and over. "Wendy, you have to understand, if I didn't leave, he said he would kill you. It was me he hated, baby."
"I know," Wendy sniffled. "He grew to hate me too."
"It's the only emotion he knows when he's drunk," Paula said sadly. "I'm sorry. I left to save you."
I heard my Bella take in a ragged breath, and I squeezed her hand. "If you need to, we can go outside, love." She shook her head.
Mr. Davis took a little control by asking, "How'd the deposition go?"
"Good," Paula sighed, unable to take her eyes and hands off of her daughter. "He didn't know that I knew about his first wife. He didn't know that I knew what he had done. The idiot spoke in his sleep. When I told them what I knew, they found the bodies." Wendy flinched, pulling away from her mother only to be wrapped up by Austin.
"It's ok," he whispered, pulling her to the sofa. "He can't get you. Do you think anyone in this room would let him?" He smiled sweetly, gesturing around the room. She looked at all of us, not really seeing us, but shook her head in agreement.
Austin was good for her. He truly loved her. Once they started really talking, he let every emotion, every feeling he had come to the surface. He wasn't afraid to be compassionate with her. He could care less what other boys his age thought. His world revolved around her. They had grown up together, so caring for her was easy, but now so much stronger.
"He's now charged with two counts of murder," Jackie added, pulling out her notebook. "He sees the judge for those on Monday. He's already in without bail, so this will just secure that fact."
"You knew?" Wendy frowned, looking at her mother, "And you stayed with him anyway?"
"Oh God, Wendy," Paula cried, falling at her daughter's feet. "I didn't know. I swear! I heard him talk in his sleep and confronted him about it. That's why I had to leave. It was the worst fight we ever had. He blocked your bedroom door, he wouldn't let me near you, sweetheart."
"Can I show her?" Jackie sighed, opening the file folder that she carried with her. Paula nodded and Jackie sat down next to Wendy. "When your mother showed up at my shelter, Wendy, she was the worst battered case I had ever seen."
I growled low at the pictures that Jackie showed Wendy. I wasn't sure seeing those were necessary. I saw them through the eyes of Wendy, Austin, and Jackie. Jackie's face was blank, having seen them before, but Wendy and Austin flinched.
Bella pulled my hand into her lap, her tiny fingers spinning my wedding band. I tried to concentrate on that feeling alone, but the sight of Paula's battered face was almost as bad as what Rose had looked like when Carlisle had brought her home.
Her lips were busted open, both eyes black and blue. There was a cut above her left eye and a patch of hair missing from the side of her head. Jackie had taken pictures of Paula's hands as well to show defensive wounds. Two fingers looked like they could have been broken, and several nails were broken down to bloody nubs. Perfect fist prints were all over her abdomen. I shook my head.
I caught snippets of the medical report – phrases like: ruptured spleen, broken ribs, fractured skull. The cruelty at the hands of Mr. Graham was the worst of any I had ever seen. There was a part of me that wanted to end him – sneak into the jail and finish him in the same manner in which he liked to treat women.
"Easy, Edward," Jasper sighed, sending me a wave of calm.
Look at me, Bella's mind hit me. Your face looks murderous, love. You have to relax. You can't do anything about it. They are handling it the best way they can. As much as I agree with whatever it is your thinking, we can't. She smirked, but the smile didn't meet her eyes. I nodded, taking a deep breath. I let the scent of my wife's hair wrap around me, and I closed my eyes to clear my head.
"I can't...love, shield the images, please," I sighed, and instantly the only mind I heard was hers. It was rare that I used her shield like that, but considering the delicacy of the situation, I needed to remain ignorant.
Large, sorrowful tears slipped down Wendy's face as she looked at her mom. I couldn't read her thoughts at this point, but there was a glimmer of understanding that settled across her face. Wendy's dad could have killed them both, but her mom chose to take away herself instead of continuing to add to the fire.
"Wendy," Dr. Davis said calmly. "You know your mother wants you back, we've discussed that already. How do you feel about taking the next step? That hearing is set for next Tuesday."
"I don't want to move," Wendy said, suddenly obstinate, and her eyes flickered to Austin. Her arms folded across her chest.
"We won't, baby," Paula smiled. "Your father never removed my name from the deed to the house, Wendy. And I've already looked into a transfer at my job."
"Really?" Wendy beamed. "I can go home?"
"It will take some time, Wendy," Dr. Davis nodded, "but yes. We just have a few legal matters to clear up. Would you like to move back home, with your mom?" Wendy was nodding before the question was even out of her mouth.
Even though the meeting was an emotional one, everyone agreed that Paula had been well received by Wendy. They even began making plans to get together just the two of them to get reacquainted.
As we made our way out to the car, Jasper chuckled. "Eddie, should I find out what Carl's cell block number is?"
"Don't tempt me," I sighed. Bella's shocked face shot up.
"Edward, no," she growled.
"He should suffer," I sneered, holding her door for her as she sat down.
"And he will, but not at your hands," she frowned.
"She could have died," I growled, falling into the driver's seat. "One bad night and that could have been Wendy. Since when did the human become the monster?" I asked, not expecting an answer. And they didn't have one. In fact, everyone let me stew all the way home.
By the time I closed the door to our bedroom, I was in quite a state. I couldn't wrap my head around it. I leaned against the door, my breathing hard, my fists clenched.
"Hey," Bella said softly in front of me. "Look at me, baby," she sighed, cupping my face. "Talk to me. Get it out of you," she urged, trying to pull me from the door, but I held my place.
"He had it all," I growled, but my voice was barely above a whisper. "And he had it twice! And he destroyed it, threw it away."
"I know, Edward," she crooned, leaning her body into mine. She was trying to ground me, keep me focused. It was barely working. "Humans can be stupid, filled with addictions, baby. You know this. Chemicals can turn Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in an instant."
"You're giving him an excuse, Bella, he doesn't deserve one," I growled, turning away from her. I knew she was right, but my temper was in control, not my mind. "The first time he hurt someone when he was drunk he should have stopped."
"It doesn't work that way," she said, maintaining an even tone. "Hey," she grabbed my face, pulling my forehead to hers. "You've always had it wrong, my love. There are monsters, but you were never one of them. They exist. Not everyone has the benefit of being frozen at their best. Humans experience shit and change and change, becoming more and more disgruntled with their lives. Most are lucky, but some...just aren't."
"I need to..." I growled, my head falling back to the door, my fists clenching again. "I want to..."
"Let me have it instead," she growled, gripping my neck. "I'll take it, Edward. Get rid of it!"
Her command made me snap, my hands shot to her hair, gripping her at the base of her neck. I crashed my mouth into hers, wanting to be gentle, but really grateful that I didn't have to be. She could take it. I spun her around and pressed her into the door, hearing a slight moan from her. Her arousal flooded the air of our room.
I reached down, grabbing her ass and slamming her back into the door. The most insanely erotic sound escaped her when the air rushed out of her. My mouth was on hers, licking and biting, finally my tongue delving in. I fought for dominance and she let me have it. Her hands frantically ripped my shirt from me. I heard buttons scatter into the far corners of our room. All she did was add fuel to the fire. Her clothes were shredded in the blink of an eye.
My mouth couldn't stay away from her skin, biting and nipping from her neck to the swell of her breast. She arched, gripping my hair, and I held her back as I attacked her chest. I could feel her heat, wet and ready, grinding against me. A feral growl snarled from me as I pulled back to watch her writhe in my arms against the door.
She pulled my face to hers, her eyes pitch black. "Let it fucking go!"
I yanked her from the door, falling on the bed with her without restraint. I kicked out of my shoes and socks, a rumbling growl emanating from my chest as she tore my pants from my body. In one swift movement, I was sheathed inside her. It was there I found peace. It was there I was home.
My head fell to her chest, my heart swelling with the love I had for my angel. Knowing more of what I needed than even I did, Bella rolled us, sitting me up so that she was wrapped around me. With a roll of her hips, she took me in deeper. Her warm, strong hands were at my neck as she created a slow torturing rhythm. All I could do was hold on and let her take me. It was then her mind opened again.
Edward, she thought, keeping her hands on my neck, but using her thumbs to force my face up. The only thing that matters is this right here. Nothing else. You control what's in this room. Let the rest go.
I gripped her hips, my gaze never leaving hers, grinding her over me. I watched as she brought herself close to climax. Her breathing faltered, her muscles twitched, her hands pulling me even closer.
God, baby, you feel so fucking good. Her head fell back, her sweet moan filling the room.
I licked her from the hollow of her neck to her ear. "Please, look at me," I begged, "I need to see your face when you come for me." Her head shot up. She pressed her forehead to mine. For that one moment, she truly looked like an angel. With heavy breaths and open mouths, our eyes never left the other's gaze. "You're so beautiful," I whispered.
"Come with me, Edward, you're so close," she said through light nips to my mouth.
I was close, barely holding back my own impending orgasm, but I wanted her to come with me. I reached between us, finding her sensitive nub. With tight circles, I rubbed it hard. Her whole body clenched me in closer. My love took a gasping breath, stilling above me as her little body quivered and shattered. Watching the beauty of my wife's orgasm triggered my own. And with it, my anger and frustration fell away in the bliss in which only she could bring to me.
Our heads fell to each other's shoulders, our breathing heavy. "You always know what I need," I sighed, wrapping my arms all the way around her. I wasn't quite ready to let her go yet.
"Of course I do," she giggled softly. "I'm your wife."
"And thank God for that," I sighed, placing kisses on her shoulder.
"Are Rose and Emmett going to be gone all weekend?" I asked Alice as we walked across the yard back towards the house. We had gone hunting, leaving Bella and Jasper to work on an article for the school paper. They were way too involved in it and wanted to finish.
"Yeah," Alice nodded, "they'll be back Sunday. Emmett wanted to hunt in Yellowstone National park."
"Bears," we both laughed, stopping when Alice gasped, but a smile played over her face.
But she rarely sings... Alice's mind trailed off. Come on, she grabbed my hand. And be quiet.
Instead of going through the backdoor like I thought, Alice took us through the open garage to peer into the open door. Bella was sitting at the dining room table in front of her computer and Jasper had grabbed his acoustic guitar. He sat next to her, picking out chords quietly to himself, finally settling on a country tune.
"No, Jazz," Bella frowned, "that shit's too sad. Play that other one."
"What? Tim McGraw and Jodee Messina?"
"Yeah," she smiled, looking over at him. "We could use it." She still continued to type, occasionally clicking with the mouse.
"You have to sing it, though," Jasper smirked, chuckling when she rolled her beautiful eyes. Stand still, Eddie, she's so good at this song and she won't admit it. I fought my smile as he took a quick glance up at me with a wink.
"Fine," she sighed, not looking up from the computer.
Jasper smiled, nodded and began to pick a slow melody. But it was my wife's sweet voice that made my mouth fall open. I had heard her sing before, her vampire change gave her an unbelievable voice, but she hated to do it in public. This song was different. She liked the words.
Another day has almost come and gone
Can't imagine what else could wrong
Sometimes I'd like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war ('cause)
Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
Her smile was glorious as she turned to Jasper with a small chuckle.
It's almost like the hard times circle 'round
A couple drops and they all start coming down
Yeah, I might feel defeated,
I might hang my head
I might be barely breathing - but I'm not dead
When they sang together, poor Alice sighed, laying her head on my shoulder. It was beautiful.
Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
I'm not gonna let it get me down
I'm not gonna cry
And I'm not gonna lose any sleep tonight
Cause tomorrow's another day
And I am not afraid
So bring on the rain
They harmonized with soft smiles playing on their faces. Both of their minds liked the play on words. It was poetic to them and slightly uplifting. And I think I fell in love with her all over again.
Now do you see why we like seeing you on stage? Alice smirked, nudging me with her shoulder. All I could do was nod, making a decision that only she could see. She laughed quietly, shaking her head.
We walked into the room and Bella's head shot up as she muttered, "Damn." She knew she'd just been caught.
"That's my request the next time we go to open mike," I smiled her favorite grin, folding my arms across my chest.
"We'll see," she chuckled. "I'm making no promises." Her eyes rolled, focusing back on her computer, but it was Alice's fervent nod that gave me my answer. Jasper chuckled, ruffling her hair, but she just shook her head. For once, I was truly looking forward to the next time we went to the club.


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