Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 10

I leaned back against a fallen log, staring up into the stars and waiting on my Bella to return to me. I had hunted, but she needed more. My guess was it was Kevin's blood that pushed her need. I knew she had used her shield, but she had maintained beautifully while he was hurt. I was proud that she'd never even flinched.
"Counting the stars, handsome?"
I smiled, opening my arms for her, and she straddled my thighs. She curled into me, taking the deepest of breaths. "Feel better, love?"
"I do, thank you," she sighed, snuggling even closer. "It was too much, I guess. It didn't bother me until I went to change the bed." I nodded, kissing her head.
She was quiet, and I had no idea what she was thinking; her mind was closed to me. Though if she were feeling anything like I was, she was just happy to be right there.
"So much for all those plans in our emails, huh?" She snorted into an adorable giggle. She lifted her head, looking at me with the sweetest mixture of what looked like guilt and frustration.
I chuckled, cupping her face. "I'm not saying it's ideal, but despite the circumstances, we're together. I really don't care what we do. That last two weeks was too much, Bella. Just too damn long. And I'm so sorry, baby."
"Edward," she scoffed, shaking her head. "It's not your fault. How did you know Mrs. Wilder would have a death in the family? Shit happens. But you're right...two weeks." She sighed, her breath hitching. "I can't go that long without this," she admitted, motioning between us. "It's not even about sex. I just need to see you, talk to you. The phone doesn't cut it. I can put up with days, not weeks," she said, and I heard the unshed tears in her voice as she looked away from me.
"What happened?"
"I almost shattered my phone," she huffed, rolling her eyes. "Jasper could barely contain me. I did shatter a few trees, and I think a boulder when I finally did go hunting." She winced, shrugging. "I was mad at you, mad at Dr. Wilder, mad at the hospital, and fucking mad at myself for being mad at all those other things. Jasper threw me out the back door. He told me to hunt, but it had been building for a week. I saw you for only mere minutes before we were off doing different things.
"Each day, I would let it build," she continued. "I tried to talk to Esme about it, but she's too sweet. Emmett was perfect, because he would let me wrestle it out of my system." She smiled wryly, and I couldn't help but chuckle. "And without being able to reconnect with you, I started to wonder, what's the point? Why school? Why write? Why put up with any of it?"
"Oh, Bella," I groaned, my arms instantly wrapping around her and bringing her closer. "Baby, no..."
"Days, Edward...not weeks, please," she sobbed, pressing her forehead to mine.
"It's too soon for me to be away from you," I said, shaking my head back and forth. "I can't have you going through this alone..."
"No!" she gasped, grabbing my face. "Edward, please don't quit. Don't stop because I can't get a grip."
"Get a grip? Bella, I've been where you are right now," I growled, shaking my head. "You know what's next? You think you don't need the family, or you start to close yourself off. I will not let you do that. I won't. I can't let you shut down. You're too bright, too happy for me to let that happen, when it's my presence that keeps you that way. I won't, love."
"It is your presence," she snapped, pushing up from my lap. "You're right. All I want is you. But all I was asking for is not to go weeks at a time between fucking visits. Not for you to quit."
I flinched at the term "visits." I stood up and watched her pace. I shoved my hands in my front pockets, not really knowing what to say. If I had been with her daily, would I had seen this coming? Would it have come at all? If I quit the hospital, she'd be even more upset with me. She rounded on me, her eyes fiery ire.
"I've been told by everyone that I'll get used to it. I'm not. But all I'm asking is for one day...twenty-four hours...where I can just be with you. No one else, no phones, no classes, no siblings, just us. Even this last two days with Kevin has been better than nothing." She huffed a laugh, and I winced at how bitter it sounded. "I can't even imagine what would have happened had you not been home...all that blood…and no one to stop me…" Those last words trailed off, and I could tell she instantly regretted them.
"Look at me, please," I begged, taking her by the shoulders. "Look at how pissed you are. Are you mad at me? Or just mad at the whole thing? Because that—" I gestured to her—"that shit becomes habit. Trust me when I tell you that I know all about it."
She shook in my grasp, looking up at me. "I'm sorry," she breathed, trying to step back. "Edward, I'm..."
I shook my head, keeping her close, from stepping away from me. "Open your mind to me. I need to know what you're thinking, because I'm pretty sure you don't even know at this point." I wasn't upset with her at all, but I didn't want this phase, these bursts of anger to develop into the self hatred I knew of first hand.
"Baby, I'm..." She sobbed, and I scooped her up and sat back down on the fallen tree. "I didn't mean it, Edward."
"I know," I sighed, closing my eyes when she did as I asked.
Her mind opened like a flower in bloom. She buried her face in my neck as I saw the problem. She was feeling needlessly guilty that her need for me was almost too much, and I was right there with her. She felt overwhelmed being so far from everything that she was used to – another state would have been fine, but another country was hard to get used to. She felt that her need would hold me back. She really did want me at work, but the two weeks that we had just come out of was a test we'd both failed miserably.
She was amazing in this life, and had been since the minute she'd opened her beautiful immortal eyes, but that ease in which she stepped into it all made me forget that she really had only been changed for about six years. Where some of us could barely go in public at six years, my girl was already a Dartmouth grad, a two time published writer, and currently considering doing something completely different. What that was, I had no idea. But what I did know was that she needed our connection in order to feel stable.
My Bella felt out of control, bored, and completely at odds with herself. And so very angry.
I took a deep breath and pulled her back to look at her. "Hey, my sweet girl. Don't feel guilty. If you could tell me what you wanted without fear of guilt or consequences, what would you say?"
"I miss you. Everyday. It hurts," she said, tilting her head at me, her face pained. "I'm proud of you. I don't want you to quit, but I don't know if I can... Can we at least get the old schedule back?"
"Four days on...three days off?"
"Yeah," she sighed. "I mean...I get emergencies and special things, but I feel so..."
"I know." I nodded, kissing her forehead. "You want what's best for me, but it hurts that it keeps us apart." She gasped, pulling away from me. I huffed a laugh, realizing we had officially come full circle. That would be the reason I had left her when she was human.
"Wow," she snorted. "That's why I'm so angry..."
"You're angry because you don't know what you want. You know what you want from me, but not from yourself, my love. Trust me when I tell you...I know. You're fighting everything we've grown accustomed to, everything we've worked towards concerning our relationship."
She completely stopped moving, studying my face with a fierce determination. She reached up slowly, taking a cleansing breath, and brushed my hair from my forehead. Her face held a childlike guilt, and she couldn't have been more beautiful. "I want to figure this out. That's what I want."
"We will, baby," I guaranteed. "I swear to you. I promise you we won't go weeks without being able to make time for us. It was unfortunate, but special circumstances..."
In her mind, she just couldn't figure out how her temper played into the whole thing and why it would hit her so quickly without warning.
I smiled, tilting my head at her. "That, my love, is all instinct."
She frowned, shifting on my lap so that she was closer, our stomachs pressing together. We really needed the contact.
"It's self-preservation instinct. You want the normal, the average, the human part of your feelings, but your baser instincts start to kick in when they can't be fulfilled."
"So this isn't me?"
"It's you, but just new parts of you," I sighed, rubbing my hands up and down her arms. "It's parts of you that you really haven't dealt with, because our connection keeps us...happy." I couldn't help but smile with that last statement.
She snickered slightly, reaching up to brush a stray hair away from her face. "I'm only six years into it...Jesus, Edward...how did you do this for a hundred years?"
"Haven't you listened to enough stories from my family to let you know just how...dark and angry I was?" I chuckled, unable to not kiss her palm that was cupping my cheek. "Esme's told you I just kept getting angrier and colder. Despite our first meeting, it all went away the second I met you. I felt...the need to keep you close, the need to stay calm and be normal."
This...this is what she needed, to just be able to sort it all out. It wasn't my working; it was all the new feelings coursing through her. I could see the calming effect in her mind. It was making much more sense to her now. Our very long lives weren't easy, though she had not experienced this part of it. And if I was honest with myself, I'd never expected her to. I was wrong. Taking my daily presence away caused a few things to change.
"Bella, why didn't you go to Carlisle? He would have been able to...explain..."
"You aren't the only one that had to work extra shifts, Edward. He was busy. And Jasper and I had tests and papers due," she sighed, her brow wrinkling. "I guess we should call him, huh?"
I looked at her, studying her sweet face that was filled with doubts, insecurities, and love – so much love that it practically glowed from her eyes. "I need you to know that this is so very important to me, that you are the first and foremost important thing to me. I would stop everything – for you. Please tell me what you want…what you need, my love. Please."
"I know, Edward…" She sighed deeply, burying her face back into my neck. Her mind was reeling with how to answer that demand from me.
"Will you at least think about it? Because, Bella, quitting work – for you – would make me feel just as…comforted." Her head snapped back, and she stared up at me, her mouth open in shock. "Think about it, okay?"
"Okay," she whispered, nodding slowly.
We were quiet for a few moments, just holding one another in a blissful silence. Her mind was closed off from me again, and I couldn't help but smile. She did love her privacy when she needed it. I wouldn't change that about her if I could.
Her head shot up, and she locked gazes with me. "I'm so sorry, Edward," she grimaced. "I didn't mean to be so mad."
"Please, just...don't. I would have recognized it had I been there."
"I love you so much," she whispered, taking my face into her hands and pressing her forehead to mine. "Tell me you know that. Tell me I'm just freaking out."
"You are freaking out," I laughed, kissing her nose as she burst into an adorable giggle. "But it's okay that you are. And I can't express to you how much I love you, baby. There aren't enough words."
I closed my eyes, brushing my lips across hers. The time apart, the emergency with Kevin, the new feelings coursing through my girl – none of it mattered, but what was right in my arms. I just needed to taste her, feel her. With a desperate sound escaping her, she turned her head, kissing me with more passion than I was expecting. She exhaled hungrily against my skin, but her lips never left mine. With wet sweeps of tongues and lips, we lost ourselves in that kiss.
Until our phones went off.
I sighed, and Bella grunted in frustration as we pulled apart, our chests heaving with want. She pulled her phone out. "Alice," she snorted. "Oh, we need to go, Edward. She says Kevin will wake up from a nightmare. He'll be confused."
"Okay." I nodded, standing up but keeping her in my arms. "We'll finish that later."
She smiled, shaking her head. "We have a guest at home."
"Mmhm, a human guest. They are...fabulously hard of hearing," I chuckled.
"God, what did you guys do when I slept?" she snorted, laying her head on my shoulder.
"Me? I was right by your side," I laughed, kissing her ear. "Our siblings...that's another story." She laughed, her sweet breath pushing out over the skin of my neck. "Come on, love. Let's go check on Kevin."
I took a deep breath of relief once we were in the car. Knowing that my outbursts, my feelings of guilt and anger were just another part of me that I couldn't control, made me feel like I could find a way to fight it. And knowing that he was hurting as much as I was during our times apart made me feel not so alone. I knew he wanted to work at the hospital, but his face when he told me to think about what I wanted from him made me realize that he was struggling just as much. My guilt for wanting him by my side all day, everyday lifted slightly.
I looked out the window as the English countryside gradually turned into the city. I turned to Edward when I felt his hand on my thigh.
"Hey," he frowned. "This whole thing with Kevin... I have a request, Bella. And it's not for reasons you may think." I nodded, leaning my head back for him to go on. "No more walking or public transportation. I want you to have a car."
I studied his face, and I saw it was for my protection that he needed to do this for me. It wasn't that I could be hurt, but that if someone tried to harm me and I defended myself, I could be in serious trouble. I could snap and drain them or kill them with a wrong move. Edward's rule was I wasn't allowed any human deaths on my record.
"Okay," I agreed. "Do it. Pick something. I don't care."
"What do you want?" He smiled, looking like a kid at Christmas. I giggled at his exuberance.
"A Volvo," I beamed, laughing when his crooked smile turned so damn sexy.
"A Volvo it is," he chuckled, picking up my hand and kissing it.
We walked into a quiet and dark house. I listened for a moment, but heard just the steady beat of Kevin's heart and his deep, even breathing.
"He seems okay," I said, looking up at Edward, who nodded and took my hand. He led us upstairs and into our room, closing the door behind him. "How long do we let him stay?" I asked, kicking off my shoes.
"You're worried he'll figure something out?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "He's not dumb."
"Did you notice the words to the song he sang?" Edward smirked, quirking his eyebrow up sexily. "He already thinks we're...not normal." My mouth fell open in shock. "He's lived a hard life emotionally, so our kindness just makes him think we're...more."
I grimaced, shaking my head. "How long?"
"Not long. Rose and Emmett were scoping out new flats for him. Knowing them, they'll have a choice for him by morning."
What I just realized was Edward was slowly stalking me. I smirked up at him as I took a step back for every step forward he took. I huffed a laugh when the backs of my legs met the side of the bed.
"Get on the bed," he commanded, his voice deep and damn sexy. My stomach clenched at the tenor of it.
I sat down, scooting to the middle of our bed. Groaning when I watched him shrug out of his shirt, I licked my lips at the sight of him. He crawled up my body, pushing me down with one hand on my shoulder. Every muscle in his upper body flexed with every move. His eyes were still a honey from our hunt, but they were tinged with a blackness. It made him look like the feline predator I knew him to be – that part of him that human Bella never saw.
"Clothes...off," he rumbled, bracing himself over me. "Strip for me."
Lying underneath him, I reached down and pulled my shirt off. I flicked open my jeans, wriggling out of them with a deliberate slowness that caused a low growl to emanate from him. I smirked, hooking my thumbs in the waistband of my thong.
"Bella, everything," he growled.
"You still have your jeans on, Edward," I countered, leaving my thong on and popping open the front clasp of my bra. I arched dramatically, pushing my breasts closer to his face as I took it off of my shoulders. He fought his smile and won.
"I'm protesting with my underwear," I huffed, folding my arms across my chest. "They stay on until those jeans are somewhere other than your sweet ass."
That did it. He smirked, a small laugh escaping him. Bracing on one arm, he tugged open the fly of his jeans. Using my feet, I helped him shove them down and kick them off the side of the bed. He raised his eyebrow dangerously as he eyed my thong.
When my thumbs hooked into the waistband again, he placed his hand flat against my sternum, running it up my chest between my breasts to my neck. I kicked off my thong, looking up at him. His fingers curled around the back of my neck, bringing my face to his.
Nothing tasted better than a hungry Edward. Nothing.
He ravished my mouth, his tongue dipping in for his own taste as my hands couldn't resist touching him. I caressed his chest, pulling at him with both hands on his ribcage to come to me, to give me skin on skin.
He fell forward, putting most of his weight on an elbow by my head. Sparks of our electric connection practically crackled as our skin touched. I moaned wantonly at the feel of it, my legs tangling with his just to feel more of it. My palms were flat as I felt every dip, every flexing muscle of his back. His arousal was hard, pressing into my leg. God, I fucking wanted him.
"How do you want me?" he asked against my lips, hearing my thoughts.
"Just like this," I sighed, pulling every bit of his weight onto me. "I need to feel all of you, Edward."
His beautiful eyes were now completely onyx, staring down at me as he pressed a sweet kiss to my immortal scar – or rather, his immortal scar. He smiled at that thought. "Mine. That's right, my baby. Will you ever forget that? That you're mine?"
"No." I shook my head as he kissed that scar over and over, using his soft lips and a flick of his tongue. "Never." He swirled his tongue over it, following the edge of it so slowly, I thought I would lose my mind with the shocks it was sending through my whole being. I tried to arch up to him. I tried to raise my hips, but his body held me down. "Edward, make love to me."
It was a simple request that he had never denied me – not even the first time I had ever uttered the words. "Please?"
He shifted slightly, letting my legs wrap around him. "Why would I deny such a plea?" he crooned, snaking his arms under my shoulders. He placed the sweetest of kisses to my lips as our hips met perfectly, his cock slipping through my wet folds. "How in the world could I say no to that? No man on earth could possibly deny you, yet it's me that you beg for."
"Beg for, crave, daydream about." I smiled, kissing his chin and dragging my teeth lightly over it. "I'm not ashamed to admit it."
He grinned, the sexiest damn smile I had ever seen. "Me, either, my beautiful girl. My love. My wife."
"Oh, say my name...my real one."
"Mrs. Cullen, do you miss that name?"
"Yeah, sometimes." I smiled. "But Mrs. Masen works, too." I watched his smile widen. "I don't care what I'm called, as long as you're mine."
"Always," he crooned, shifting his hips so that he slipped just inside me. "I want you, baby. Keep it quiet, but I want you so badly."
The air rushed out of me when he thrust forward. My neck arched, and he took advantage by placing slow, wet kisses across my throat. There wasn't an inch of skin on us that wasn't touching. Edward was gentle and deep, keeping a slower rhythm as to prolong the feelings of being one. I gripped his back, scraping my nails down his spine.
We were quieter, more subdued than we normally were, but I wasn't sure if that was because we weren't alone in the house, or because of our discussions earlier.
With every sweep of his mouth over my skin, he told me he loved me. With every kiss to my lips, he apologized for not being with me the last two weeks. With every swivel of his hips, he told me how beautiful I was. And with every caress to my face with his hands, he told me that I was his and he was mine.
I drank him in like I could never get enough. I tried to pull him closer, yet unless he melted into my skin, he couldn't get any closer. I felt a madness creep over me because I loved him so much, too much.
He tried to ground me, seeing every thought I had, but instead, he got wrapped up in my emotions. We rolled on the bed, and I hovered over him, my body slipping up and down over his as I linked our fingers together by his head. I stared down at him, realizing that there was nothing in the world that could make me better but him. He let go of my hands, cupping my face and arching my neck so that he could nip and lick at it.
"I'm right here, baby," he whispered, kissing me with a ferociousness that I wasn't prepared for, and I shattered over him.
He rolled us again, bracing his arm by my head so that he could caress every bit of my body from my shoulder to my ass. He looked down at me with so much love and patience and lust that I shattered again. This time, he fell over the edge with me, burying his face in my neck and breathing heavy with trying to stay quiet.
I gripped a handful of his hair, holding him to me as I came down from the high of two back to back orgasms. I felt his smug smile against my neck. "I love you," I giggled. "Smug ass."
"I can't help it," he chuckled, still nuzzling my neck. "I love that I affect you like that."
"Me, too," I snickered, sighing deeply with contentment. He kissed my neck, my ear, and then my cheek, running his nose along mine. I was just about to kiss his lips when the cry rang out from across the hall. "Damn, there it is," I sighed. "Should I go to him?"
"Yeah, he'll need you," Edward answered, rolling off of me. "Let me know if he wants something for pain or sleep."
"Okay," I told him, kissing his cheek.
I stood up, pulling on some pajama bottoms and a tank top. I tossed my now sex-ravaged hair into a ponytail. Kevin cried out again as I opened our door and then his.
"Kevin, sweetie, wake up," I said, wiping the sweat from his brow. He was gripping the covers, shaking with fear. His heart was hammering in his chest. "Kevin," I said a little louder. He gasped, sitting straight up and panting like he had run a marathon. "Look at me. You awake?"
His head turned towards mine, and he nodded, taking a deep breath. "Yeah," he sighed, looking around the room.
I smelled a tinge of blood and turned on his bedside lamp. "You broke a stitch, Kev. Be still, okay? Edward," I called, louder than I normally would. Kevin groaned as Edward walked into the room in just his jeans. I rolled my eyes as he ogled my husband's chest.
I left them both, going downstairs to get a glass of water for Kevin. I sat back down on the edge of the chair, watching quietly as Edward changed Kevin's bandage. With sure and gentle movements, his fingers carefully removed the old one and applied a new one.
God, I loved his hands.
I fought my smile, looking away when Edward shot me a quick, but highly amused smirk and a wink.
I can't help it, I thought to him. Those same hands were just on places that I can still feel, Edward.
"You're all set," Edward said to Kevin, and turned to me. "If it's all right with you, sweetheart, I'm going to call Carlisle. He's working the night shift tonight."
"Sure." I nodded, leaning into his kiss to my cheek.
"He wants to talk to you," he said low and with vampire speed, "and my hands aren't done with you yet, my love."
I bit my lip to stop my laugh, but nuzzled his jaw before he pulled away. He walked out of the room, and I finally turned to Kevin, chuckling at the dazed expression on his face. Edward had just innocently dazzled him.
"Sorry," he smirked, shaking his head as if to clear it. He shrugged one shoulder and sighed. "I can't help…I would never…"
"I know," I snorted, "and I'm used to it."
"He only sees you anyway," Kevin said with a smile. "I envy you that. I want that level of commitment."
I nodded, taking a testing breath and realizing that his forehead had stopped bleeding.
"What was he like? When you first met, I mean," he asked, shifting his leg to a more comfortable spot on the pillow under his ankle.
I smiled. "Beautiful."
Kevin snickered, nodding slowly. "What I meant was…how did you meet? Was it love at first sight?"
"I knew what you meant, silly," I chuckled. "And yeah…I loved him the second I locked eyes with him." I paused for a moment, letting my human memories flood me. I knew, despite the phone call he was making, that Edward was listening.
"High school." I smiled. "I was the new kid, coming in the middle of the year. He was being crushed on by every girl, it seemed, but he gave none of them the time of day. I sat next to him in biology, and he talked…to me." I knew that my face radiated pride and sappy lovesickness at the moment, but Kevin smiled back warmly.
"That's what you meant," he smirked, folding his arms across his chest, "when you said you were used to it. The bitches must have hated you." I chuckled at his evil smile.
"There were…some," I laughed, thinking of Lauren, and at the time, Jessica, but she was a pack mate now. "But I was quite shy then, so everything about that time was a huge deal. I am more…confident now." I nodded to myself, sitting back in the chair. I knew that Kevin wanted more than that.
"Edward was…too serious and a touch sad – like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was kind of jaded, but a lost soul. He was protective, possessive, and brilliant. Unbelievably sweet. He was perfect to me in every way, and he wanted me – a fact I've never taken for granted." I sighed, smiling slightly up at Kevin, who was watching me sweetly. "He's not so sad or serious or jaded now."
Kevin studied my face. My emotions must have been written all over it. It didn't help that I was still coming down from being ravished by Edward only moments before. And if I was being completely honestly with myself, I wanted him again.
"He's adopted, right? That's what Alice said. That something happened to their real parents, and his aunt and uncle adopted them."
"Yeah." I nodded. "They are…amazing people."
"The whole family is." Kevin smiled sadly. "Mine wasn't. I envy you that, too."
"We all have had…pasts," I sighed. I knew that Alice had told him we were all "strays" – for a lack of better word. "So there isn't one of us that would judge you. Not one."
"And I love you all for it," he chuckled, waving a hand over his current state. He yawned widely, his eyes watering with sleepiness.
"Get some sleep." I smiled, pulling the covers up around him. "I used to have terrible dreams, Kev," I whispered. "If you ever want to talk about them, I'm here, okay?"
He nodded, squeezed my hand, and closed his eyes. "It was about…that night…"
"I figured," I sighed, giving his hand another squeeze. "Sleep. Rose and Emmett will be here in the morning to brag about their house-hunting skills, I'm sure." He smiled, but his eyes stayed closed.
I made sure the dim light was on in his bathroom and closed his door, heading downstairs. I found Edward pacing on the phone in the living room.
"I know, but try to find one," he chuckled. "You could use a new project. What about a place for Kevin?" he asked, looking up as I leaned in the doorway.
"We've got three for him to pick from," Rose said on the other end. "We'll be by tomorrow…or later today, actually. No matter which he chooses, they are all ready to move in."
"Jazz and I found those guys, Eddie!" Emmett growled in the background. I huffed a laugh at Edward's exasperated sigh as I tilted my head at my husband, waiting for his reaction. "Demitri wants to help!"
"You know…you can't stop Demitri," I pointed out, raising an eyebrow at him. "Just those two."
Edward smirked, but shook his head no. I shrugged, willing to concede this one to him. He was taking care of my friend, and that was all I cared about. Not that I couldn't have found large quantities of joy in seeing Rob and Art in pieces, but Kevin was willing to let it go.
"No, Emmett," Edward growled. "And we'll see you in a few hours. I'm sure Alice will see when Kevin will wake up…" He ended the call, pocketing his phone.
"Hey, my sweet girl. I see he's asleep again," Edward smiled, walking to me as I nodded. He reached up, brushing my ponytail off of my shoulder, and traced a finger over my tank top strap. Hooking a finger in it, he slowly tugged it down off of my shoulder. He leaned in and pressed the sweetest of kisses to my collarbone, my cheek, and back to my neck. "Was I really jaded?"
I giggled, wrapping my arms around his waist. "A little."
I felt his smile against the skin of my neck. "But I found my soul, you know," he crooned, leaving an open-mouthed kiss just behind my ear. "And my heart, and my life…"
My forehead hit his chest, and I squeezed him closer. "I love you, Edward…"
"I love you more," he chuckled, pulling me back to place a loud kiss to my lips. "Carlisle is going to stop by later."
"Yeah, I'm sure I should talk to him." I grimaced at my actions and feelings of late and sighed deeply. Edward nodded, his eyes warm and filled with nothing but love and concern. "I don't know…"
"I know, sweetheart," he said, grasping my shoulders and pressing his forehead to mine. "You can't help it. It's a…stage we've all been through."
"'Kay." I nodded, my eyes locked with his. "I'm better when you're here. I'm complete. I just feel at odds when I'm not…"
He cut me off with a deep, searing kiss. "Enough, my beautiful girl. Later. Right now, I want to try and figure out what places my hands missed on your body before we were interrupted."
I laughed, trying not to squeal when he tossed me over his shoulder and flew up the stairs to our room.
"So, this is how this will work," Alice smirked. "I will help Edward with picking a costume for you, and Kevin will help you pick one for Edward. Neither costume will be revealed until the night of the party, where you two will meet. And that day, we'll switch partners in order to dress them correctly."
She was pacing back and forth in my kitchen while Kevin ate his breakfast, looking over the flat plans Rose and Emmett had brought to him.
Edward's face was sexily smug with the knowledge that he had Alice as his second.
"Fine," we both said.
"But I want Jasper, too, because my second is handicapped," I whined, giving my husband my saddest, most pathetic puppy face. It didn't work.
"Not a chance, beautiful," Edward chuckled, shaking his head and leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "You picked Kevin."
"Is there money riding on this?" Emmett laughed, looking between us all.
"There can be," Kevin sang, smiling an evil smile. He looked up from the papers in front of him. "There is a contest for best costume. In fact, they still need judges. I'm on the committee."
"I'm in," Emmett chuckled.
"Me, too," Rose laughed. "I just gotta see how this plays out."
"Okay, then, the winners will be decided by Rose and Emmett," Edward smirked, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest.
"On the best costume," I growled, pointing at him. "And no bribing the judges, mister!" He laughed, raising his hands in surrender when I pointed to him. "So I win the bet, if you win the contest."
"Yes, and he will," Kevin chuckled, giving Edward a wink. "Have I got ideas for you…"
I slipped my shield around Kevin so that Edward couldn't see his mind. I smirked, folding my arms across my own chest and shooting my husband a wink. Alice snorted into a giggle, turning to Edward, who was barely containing his amusement.
"No worries," he sighed, his eyes darkening. "Have I got plans for you." His eyes flickered to Alice, who gasped slightly. "Terms?"
"Costume designers keep all monetary winnings. But what do you want from me?" I asked, picking up Kevin's empty plate and walking it to the kitchen.
"I want…you to sing with me at the next open mic," he grinned evilly.
The whole room exploded with laughter. I shook my head, fighting my smile.
"And you?" Jasper snorted.
"A week. In New York. Just the two of us."
"That's my girl," Rose laughed, her head falling back.
Edward grinned again, standing up and walking to the kitchen. "Deal," he smirked, holding out his hand to shake.
"Deal," I giggled, taking his hand.
"I would've taken you anyway," he whispered in my ear.
"And I would've sang with you, but not now," I laughed, squealing when he scooped me up, his tickling fingers relentless in my sides.
"Carlisle is on his way, love," I said, walking into the living room.
"'Kay," Bella sighed, flipping through the endless channels on the TV. She was lying on her side on the sofa, a blank but contented expression on her face. She was too adorable.
The house was quiet. Our siblings were out with Kevin, helping him finalize his choice of flats. Once he picked one, Esme was going to decorate it with him. He didn't want the charity, but with every woman in my family urging him, he wasn't given much choice. However, he swore he would pay us back.
"Are you finished running Cullen Empire?" She smirked, patting the sofa in front of her stomach.
I chuckled, sitting down next to her. "Well," I sighed, "I divided some stock, updated everyone's accounts…"
"Don't start," she laughed, shaking her head. "I didn't take Economics. Nothing of which you were about to say would mean a hill of beans to me."
"I'm glad you don't love me for my money," I chuckled, earning a smack to my arm.
"I love you, period," she snickered, sitting up and wrapping every bit of herself around me from behind. "I'd love you if you were dirt poor."
"Then it's my body you're after," I teased.
She let out the most adorable mixture of a laugh and a moan. "Busted," she sighed, licking up the shell of my ear. "It's an addiction, Edward."
I chuckled, turning my head to catch her amused gaze. "Me, too, my beautiful girl. We really should seek help," I said, nipping at her lips.
"No, denial is much more…satisfying," she purred, sucking on my bottom lip.
I reached up, threading my fingers into her hair to hold her to me. My tongue swept into her mouth, relishing the flavor of her. With heavy breaths and deep moans, we lost ourselves – until the knock at the front door made us both jump.
"Come in, Carlisle," she laughed, righting herself next to me on the couch. "We were just discussing counseling," she snorted, squirming away when I pinched her side. She hopped up when he joined us in the living room.
"There's my girl," my father beamed, hugging her fiercely.
I smiled at the two of them. If anything good came out of Bella's change into immortality, it would be my parents' love for her. They saw her as their own – the child they chose, the final piece of the puzzle, the one child that they had together, and always…the baby girl.
"How's Kevin holding up?" he asked, sitting down in the chair across from us.
"Doing much better," I told him honestly. "In fact, he's out with everyone picking out a new place." I paused, smiling at Carlisle's raised eyebrows and shocked mind. "No, I wasn't given much choice."
Bella didn't need to hear the question to know what that last statement meant. She chuckled, shrugging. "At least it wasn't just me. The girls and I kind of ganged up on him," she said, jerking her thumb towards me.
" And Emmett. And Jasper, though he didn't say it out loud," I laughed, shaking my head. "I would have done it anyway – taken care of him on any level." I gave her a wink and a one shoulder shrug. "He loves you girls. I understand that."
Carlisle shook his head, his thoughts amused at how different we all were since Bella had become a permanent fixture in the family. His theory was that she gave us our humanity back. I met his gaze and nodded in agreement. He was completely right.
"You and Esme never lost yours," I sighed.
"Maybe," he chuckled. "It suits you."
"Verbal, damn it." My Bella pouted dramatically, causing us both to laugh at her arm folding, eye rolling huff.
"Sorry, sweet girl."
"Old habits, Bells," Carlisle chuckled, giving her a wink.
"Obviously," she scoffed, waving us both away with a flick of her hand, but her smile was kind and loving.
"So, why am I here?" Carlisle asked, sitting back in his chair and resting his elbows on the arms.
"I think Bella is going through some…phases that I didn't consider. Or maybe, I never thought she'd take that route, because she handles everything so well." I frowned, looking down at her. I couldn't help but touch her sweet face, but she took my hand and linked our fingers together.
"Tell me, Bells. What have I missed?" He studied her, thinking on their last conversation. Even he didn't think he had missed anything.
"You mean…Jasper didn't rat me out?" She huffed a laugh, and again, the bitterness bothered me.
"No, but I want you to tell me."
"I'm angry…all the time, it seems."
"Not right this second," he pointed out.
She held up our linked fingers, looking at him pointedly. "No, Edward's here. But those two weeks he worked nonstop…" Her voice trailed off, shaking her head.
"What about school?" he asked, skipping what I thought he should touch on, but they had been having these talks since she was human. I stayed quiet and let them hash it out.
"Well, I haven't been in class since Kevin got hurt…"
"But you're going back…"
"Yeah, I mean…what else is there to do?"
Carlisle and I both flinched at her sharp tone, but he kept going. "You could do anything, Bells. Alice works. Rose and Emmett consult for auto shops online. Esme does so many things that I can barely keep up…" He chuckled, shaking his head. "What about writing?"
"I had to stop," she sighed. "It got too big, too popular. Jasper said that they were searching for me online."
"Really?" he gasped, looking at me with shock all over his face. He hadn't realized she had become so big.
"Movie," I said with a shrug. His pride in her just about exploded into the room.
"I can't even imagine that," she chortled. "First, who would play us, and then watching it. No. Just…no."
I laughed, kissing her head. She leaned into it, squeezing my hand.
"Who are you angry with when you get upset?" he continued.
She didn't answer, but her mind was open.
"Me," I answered for her.
"I'm not! I swear! I just…Edward, I…" I could hear the dry sob building up inside of her. It broke me to hear it.
"Shh, baby. It's okay, Bella," I said, keeping my voice calm. I scooped her up into my lap, brushing her hair away from her face. "Believe me, I understand. I'm not upset, love."
"Bells, if you don't think Edward got angry with me in the beginning, then you don't know him at all," Carlisle smirked, snickering at my laugh.
She huffed a laugh, pressing her forehead to my cheek.
"What did I tell you a few weeks ago?" he asked her, sitting forward and resting his arms on his knees.
"That the day to day stuff was harder than fighting wars, and that I needed to stay focused." She recited it like a child that had memorized a passage, and I couldn't help but pull her closer.
"I think it's too soon to leave her alone," I told him, stopping her argument with a kiss. "She's only been changed for a little less than six years."
"I'm not alone," my angel mumbled.
Carlisle studied us both, his mind trying to remember what Emmett, Esme, and I were like around the same time after our change, but it was me that his thoughts focused on. Leaving me alone had been hard on him. He felt responsible for me, considering that I had resented this life in the beginning.
"Not now," I frowned, shaking my head. Without Carlisle, I would have never had Bella, and that thought cause my whole being to ache.
"I know, son," he smiled warmly. "I don't know if it's too soon or not. Bells, when you're feeling angry, what is it that bothers you the most?"
"I…just feel lost – like there's no guidance. I feel like I could float away – like I'm not making the right decisions. Edward's always been there, and…I feel stranded without him." She frowned, looking down at our hands and biting on her bottom lip.
Carlisle nodded, standing and pacing the room.
"Logically, I get it," she rushed. "Edward changed me. We've barely been apart since we got back together. We can't be too far apart without our connection hurting us, and his working is a huge adjustment." She took a deep breath. "We move here – away from everything familiar, and I am forced to learn my way without him. That's not to say everyone isn't helping – they are, but they aren't him."
I buried my nose into her hair, pressing my lips to her temple. I was trying to stave off the giant wave of guilt that pressed in on me. My instinct to protect her just about crushed me, but she had, more than one time, told me not to quit the hospital.
"I don't think balance is my issue," she grumped, her hands gripping into tiny fists.
Carlisle smiled, kneeling in front of her and rubbing her hands until they relaxed a little. "What do you think the issue is? What can we do to help? What do you want?"
"I want to not be angry," she whispered, not looking at either of us. "I want to do this, but I can't. I can't," she sobbed. "I wanted to give you back everything you've given me, and I can't even do that!" She pushed off my lap, slamming our back door at the same time our siblings, Kevin, and Esme came through the front.
"Damn it," I sighed, sitting forward and gripping my hair.
"Give it time, son," Carlisle sighed and place a hand on my shoulder, but his face was showing his concern.
I started to get up, but I was stopped by Jasper. "I got this," he smiled sadly, holding up his hand. She's overflowing with guilt and anger, Ed. At you and herself. Give her a moment, okay? His thoughts were calm and reassuring. I nodded, watching him head out the back door after her.
I could barely concentrate on everyone's excitement of Kevin finding a new place. They rambled on and on as Rose and Emmett started to gather his things in his room. It was Alice that finally got my attention.
I was wrong, she thought to me. She sat next to me and picked up my hand. I saw it working, but that was when Bella was convinced she could do it. She can't. She'll ask you to quit. Will you?
I nodded. "Of course. I'd do anything she asked."
She nodded but stayed quiet. I watched her mind as different scenarios played out concerning Bella. She didn't want me to flat out quit. Toby's face flashed across her mind.
"Finish what you've started with Toby," Alice frowned, her eyes slipping closed. "Bella knows you care about him. If you leave that little boy hanging, she'll hate herself for pulling you away."
"'Kay," I sighed. "His chemo was set back due to the blood infection, so he'll be finished within the month." We were both quiet as everyone else helped load up Kevin's things. He was excited to have a new place to go. "It was too soon," I murmured, knowing she could hear me.
"Maybe," my tiniest sister snickered, nudging my shoulder with her own. "She's thinking of a career change. Wait for it. It may be something you can do together." I smiled down at her as she blocked me from her mind. The funny little smirk on her face made me laugh.
"Edward," Esme called from the door way. "Come walk me to my car."
"Ooh," Emmett beamed, "you're in trouble!"
I flipped him off, but followed our mother to her car. Opening her door, I leaned on her window. She stood on the other side, cupping my face. "She wanted so badly to be able to do this for you, Edward. I hope you aren't upset with her."
"Good." She smiled, brushing my hair from my forehead. "She really tried, son. She thinks she owes you something…"
"She owes me nothing," I growled low, shaking my head.
"I know, Edward," my mother smirked. "But you have to understand how we – as women, as wives – see it. You and Carlisle are so much alike." She smiled lovingly up at me. "You would hand us the world on a silver platter, but we only want you. Yet, you do it anyway, so it feels one-sided. Like we can't give enough back. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" I nodded, letting her continue. "She wanted to do this, because you said it was what you wanted. But unlike your father and I, you two can't be apart. At all. We can handle a few days. I've noticed you two can't. We've had decades to adjust, and you two haven't. There's nothing wrong with that, but you have to learn what you can do. She loves you so much, sweetheart."
"I know," I admitted, nodding. "I missed the signs. I wasn't paying attention."
Esme laughed, shaking her head. "She's really good at masking things, so don't blame yourself. I can't imagine she would let you see it." I nodded again, knowing my mother was right. She studied my face with a warm expression, both of us turning when Emmett, Rose, and a still limping Kevin came out the front door. "You'll be alone soon. Sit down. Reconnect. Forget about everything but what really matters, Edward." She lifted up on her toes to kiss my cheek as I nodded.
"Yes, ma'am." I smiled, but it faded as Kevin's worried thoughts hit me. Turning to him, he took a deep breath before he spoke.
"My goddess is upset. Is she mad at me?" he asked, looking up at me worriedly.
"No, not at all, Kevin." I shook my head. "Bella is a little…stressed out. She's upset with me."
"Oh." He frowned. "I can't imagine that."
"I'm not perfect," I chuckled.
"I know," he smirked, "but I just can't imagine her mad at you. I've seen her frustrated, but never pissed."
"It's a truly frightening thing to see," Emmett teased. "She's small, but she packs quite the punch."
I smiled, shaking my head as Rose added, "It's rare, but when she and Edward truly get going, those are some knock-down, drag-out fights."
"Enough," I sighed, turning my attention back to Kevin, who was highly amused.
"Well, I wanted to thank you and Bella both for everything. I was hoping to see her before I left."
"You're very welcome, Kevin," I said with a smile. "Why don't you call her tomorrow? I'm sure she would want to see the new place anyway."
"'Kay," he agreed. "Then just tell her to come by any time tomorrow. And go fix it, Hot Doc." His mind was a little upset that we were fighting. He liked us. He wanted Bella happy.
"I will," I chuckled. "I'm just letting her cool off."
He looked down at his feet, his mind so full of thankfulness that he could barely articulate it. He looked back up at me. "I know I tease you, but I don't know what would have happened had you not helped me." I nodded, knowing he meant every word. He had grown quite attached to the whole family, but especially Bella and me since his attack.
"Aw, hell, Eddie's easy to tease," Emmett chuckled. "Let's go, Kev. Let's get you settled in. I'm sure Bells and the girls will pop over tomorrow."
"Okay." He nodded, turning back to me. "Thanks. And go make up with our girl. I'm sure she'll forgive you whatever it is."
"She always does," I laughed, shaking my head.
I leaned against the column of the front of my house, watching everyone load up and drive away. Alice came out, laying her head on my shoulder. She took my hand and tugged me inside. According to her mind, it was time to talk to my angel.


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