Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 15

CHAPTER 15
EDWARD
"Dr. Masen," Eden tentatively said, peeking in my office door.
I rolled my eyes down at my desk, before lifting my gaze to hers. She practically flinched, and I suddenly felt like an ass. It wasn't her fault that I didn't want to be here. It wasn't her fault that she wasn't the girl I wished to see step through that door.
She and Brooke had been tip-toeing around me all night, still feeling quite raw from my rash and fairly harsh words from last week.
Taking a deep, patience-finding breath, I smiled. "Yes, Eden?"
"I spoke to Dr. Wilder on the phone, and he said he had no problem coming in a half an hour early for his shift in the morning to speak with you," she said, laying a chart in front of me.
"Thank you," I told her, picking up the file.
"And Toby's new blood work just came back." She pointed to the file and backed slowly through the door. "Brooke's at the desk. I'll be in the nursery if you need anything."
"Thank you again," I said, dismissing her brusquely. I clenched my fist for a moment, hearing her mind. She assumed I was still upset with the both of them. "Eden, I owe you an apology for my behavior last week. I reacted harshly, and I am sorry."
Her smile was sweet and soft, her cheeks blushing a deep crimson. "No worries," she chuckled. "We were a tad bit out of hand. And it seemed you heard us." She smirked. "I'd blame it on the caffeine, but it was George's birthday…you know, from the lab…and we'd had way too much sugar."
I couldn't help but chuckle. "Fair enough," I admitted. I hadn't even considered that they were hyper on chocolate cake at the time, because I had been so miserable away from home, and the two of them had been flirty and giggly to the point of annoyance.
"I'll pass it on to Brooke, though." She winced. In her mind, Brooke was embarrassed, to just about complete and utter devastation. My outburst, combined with me and my family seeing her drunk at the club earlier in the week, was just too much for her to face me with. Where Eden was outgoing and brave, Brooke was really shy and easily discouraged.
Damn, I was an ass. How many girls' infatuations had I ignored, and for how many years? How many thoughts had I let slide by without reacting? I should've been used to it, but I had lost my patience the week prior. There was no excuse for my behavior.
"She's having a rough day," Eden covered smoothly.
"Well, tell her I hope it improves."
"Yes, sir," she replied, closing my door behind her.
A few hours later, after catching up on a stack of charts, I made my way down the corridor to start my rounds. Thankfully, my first shift back was overnight, and a quiet one, at that.
It had taken everything in me to wrench myself away from my Bella mere hours before. I'd heard her slide down the door, fighting every instinct she had not to wrap herself around me, keeping me with her. I'd had to force my feet, cursing their very existence, to take the step down off of our front porch. The moment I was in the car and down the street, the ache in my chest was phenomenal.
Rounds were quiet; most of the children in deep sleep. I liked seeing them dream. Little hands would twitch, and cherubic pouts graced their innocent faces, but it was the flashes of colors and grand wishes that flew through their minds that I loved to see the most. Dreams of adventures and fantastical creatures. Dreams of sports heroes and game winning scores. Dreams of castles and princesses. They were simple and pure, utterly perfect.
But I think the best were the dreams of flying, soaring through clouds and over oceans, dodging trees and chasing horses. Flying was the best dream, one of the last dreams I remembered having as a human – though the memory of the dream itself was long gone, my description to my mother the next morning still remained hazy in my mind.
I couldn't see the children's dreams in their entirety, but I could see enough to get the idea. And I did everything I could not to disturb them. I moved silently and quickly through each room so as to not interrupt their mind theatres.
I was checking the cast of a seven year old little boy – he had fallen from a tree in his back yard, breaking his arm cleanly – when I finally heard the mind I had been wishing for all night. My Bella had made it a point of stopping by Toby's room first, and he was awake as usual – the little night owl that he was. I chuckled, shaking my head as I leaned just outside of the room to hear them.
"Miss Bella!" Toby beamed.
"Hey, big guy. Don't you look fantastic? But shouldn't you be asleep?" she whispered conspiratorially, and I could see – through Toby's mind – her beautiful smile gracing the words.
"I suppose," he sighed, shifting in his bed, "but I slept earlier, so I'm not tired. I had a treatment today. But I'm almost done! Mum and Dad say I can come home in three weeks."
"That should be good news, but you don't look happy," she noted, and she was right. "Why?"
"They said I have to go back to school," he mumbled, and through her mind, I saw him look forlornly down at his hands.
"You have to go to school, Toby," she chuckled. "Why is that a bad thing?"
"I haven't been to my school in two years," he whispered, scooting closer to her. "My best mate, Dean, stopped talking to me…I won't know anyone. I won't have hair," he said, his voice soft and too mature for a nine year old – the end result of his illness and being surrounded by adults all day.
"Now, I know for a fact that Dr. Masen said that your hair will grow back," Bella urged sweetly. "You just have to show your friends that you're still the same Toby as before; you just have been away for a little while."
"I suppose," he sighed, staying quiet for a moment. "They'll think I'm strange, treat me different."
"Hmm," my love mused, studying him for a moment. "Aren't we all strange, Toby? I mean, if we were all the same, we'd be boring. We would all like the same things, and there would be nothing new to learn about anyone. Don't you think?"
He nodded slowly.
"I personally think you look quite handsome," she chuckled, reaching up to rub his little bald head. "Maybe you'll start a new trend; maybe they will want to copy you."
"Maybe," he giggled, laughing at her cool hand on his head. But he caught onto what she was saying quickly. "There was a girl in my class once that liked wearing two different colored shoes," he snorted.
"Good for her," Bella laughed. "I like that. Should I do that?"
"No!" He burst into hysterics, falling over on the bed. "It would look silly!"
"Why?"
"You're a grown up," he reasoned through giggles.
"Oh? Well, that's not any fun." She smirked, and in her mind, she loved the sound of his laugh.
I pushed away from the wall and walked in to join them. My Bella looked sweet and young the way she was dressed. Her long locks were pulled back into a high ponytail, and she was wearing jeans with one of my old hooded sweatshirts from UW.
"You two are having way too much fun in here," I growled dramatically at them both.
"Whatever," they both said, rolling their eyes, and I couldn't help but chuckle at them.
"Hey, sweetheart," I sighed, leaning into place a kiss to the top of her head. I breathed deeply, smiling that she still smelled like me from earlier in the day and her usual strawberry essence. "How long can you stay?"
"Until you're done." She smiled, looking up at me. "I took a cab like a good girl," she giggled.
I snorted a laugh at her teasing manner and turned to Toby. "You're turning into a nocturnal animal, Tobias."
He grinned, shaking his head. "Nocturnal animals are brilliant," he giggled. "Owls and crocodiles and bats and lions and…"
"Yes, yes." I laughed. "You're too smart for your own good," I muttered, opening his chart. "And you read as much as Miss Bella here." That statement earned sweet smiles from the both of them.
"So…just where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?" Bella teased, kicking my shoe.
I turned and shot her a wink.
"You were going to wear two different colored shoes," Toby answered.
"Ah, yes, but you said I shouldn't," she replied, feigning disappointment.
He giggled at her again, swinging his feet over the edge of the bed. "What's in the bag, Miss Bella?"
My head snapped around when I heard the answer in her mind. She looked at me with a sheepish smile and a shrug, her thoughts filling my mind.
Why not, Edward? We can send Jake's kids something else.
I waved her on, watching his reaction. He reached in the gift bag she'd brought, tugging out the stuffed wolf that I'd won her the night before.
"Fantasic! A wolf!" He beamed, launching himself into her arms as a thank you. If her hard, cool skin bothered him, he never showed it, no matter how many times they touched. He scrambled up into her lap, examining the toy with bright, happy eyes. "Thanks," he said softly, and with a wry smile, he asked, "Does he come with a story, Miss Bella?"
I had to turn to hide my smile, because Toby lived for Bella's stories. I didn't know if she made them up as she went along, or if they were something she had thought about prior, and I never really asked her. But there was something too amazing about them to delve too deeply into. It would have ruined it for me – like finding out where the rabbit goes when the magician drops him into the hat.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" she whispered, making him look to me in question.
"He should be, but he never is," I sighed, smirking at them both.
"Please, Dr. Masen?" he pleaded. "I'll go to sleep straight away. I promise."
"Yeah, please, Dr. Masen?" Bella laughed.
"One story." I shook my head at them. "And then bed, Toby. No arguing."
"Yes," he hissed, wriggling closer to her in her lap so that he could lay his head on her shoulder. "Wait," he whispered to her, his head lifting, "is he a good wolf or a bad one?"
"What do you think?" she countered, matching his whisper.
He lifted one shoulder in a shrug. In his mind, he considered the wolves in all the fairytales to be the bad guy – from Little Red Riding Hood, to the Three Little Pigs.
"Well, let's see what you think at the end, okay?" she asked him, getting a quiet nod in reply.
With a deep breath, she started. "Once upon a time, there was young boy with a terrible temper. He was spoiled and foul, and treated everyone around him so poorly that they never wanted to play with him. In fact, his parents went around the small village they lived in to see who could help them with their son, but no one would. They were afraid of him, you see."
"What was his name?" Toby asked, finally settling his head back on Bella's shoulder, his fingers lightly running over the fur of the stuffed toy.
"Jacob," she answered before continuing. "Jacob's family and friends grew tired of getting yelled at, their things broken as a result of Jacob's temper. But no one knew what to do. They kept telling Jake's parents to see the old witch that lived at the edge of the village.
"The stories that surrounded the witch were known all over the village. If Zhora liked someone, then their crops would grow big and sweet, but if she didn't, then the food would shrivel up and blow away.
"Jacob's parents warned him over and over that if he didn't straighten up, they would send him to live with the old witch. He never believed them, so he did what he wanted, he demanded his way, and when he broke his mother's favorite clock when he couldn't have pie for breakfast, Jake's mother snatched him up by the ear and toted him through the village, finally banging on Zhora's door.
"'Keep him,' his mother said, pushing the boy through the door at the old witch. 'Maybe you can fix his temper.'"
"Did the witch eat him?" Toby gasped, asking the question that was on the tip of my own tongue.
"No, Jacob made the mistake of losing his temper with Zhora…one time. She told him that if he was going to growl and snarl like a dog, then he could live like one. And with a flick of her wrist…poof, he was a wolf. She told him that the only way to be human again was when he learned to be selfless, kind, and to think of others before himself. He had to learn to love, she told him.
"With that said, she booted him out of her back door and into the woods beyond. And that's how Jacob lived for five years…as a wolf. He hunted like one, slept in dens like one, and learned to think like one.
"He was happy at first, because there wasn't anyone around to tell him what to do, or clean his room, or eat his vegetables. He was free. But he was lonely, too. No one in the village would come near him without threatening him with a pitchfork, and he couldn't exactly explain who he truly was.
"And that made him sad; something he had never felt before."
"What did he do?" Toby asked, looking sadly at the toy in his hands and back up to Bella's face.
"There wasn't much he could do. He learned to appreciate what he'd had before, but because he couldn't get near the village, he began to fear that the old witch's spell would never be broken.
"So for five years, he treated the woods surrounding Zhora's hut as his home. He guarded the old woman, kept her safe, and came and went as he pleased.
"One day, he was hunting a few miles away from his normal grounds, and just as he was about to catch a big, fat rabbit, he heard the sound of a girl crying. He found her sitting at the base of a tree, her face in her hands. When she looked up, she gasped at the sight of him. He meant her no harm, but she didn't know that. Jacob thought she was the prettiest thing he'd ever seen, and wanted so badly to know why she was crying. He fell to his belly and crawled to her, hoping that she could see that he was harmless.
"He laid his head at her feet and didn't move an inch. An hour, they sat like that, her tears finally drying. Then she started to talk to him. She told him that she was lost from her village, that she was supposed to be picking wild blueberries, when everything around her started to look the same.
"Jake recognized her as a girl named Anna from his old village, who was all grown up. He wanted to help her, wanted to stop her tears, so he nuzzled her hand, urging her to follow him. He knew just how to get her home, but she was still frightened of him. He was a really big wolf, you see. It took a few tugs on her skirt and pushes with his shoulder for her to finally understand.
"Slowly and carefully, he led her through the forest, coming out at the edge of the village. Anna was so happy that she wrapped her arms around the wolf's neck, thanking him over and over.
"When she placed a kiss on the top of his head, the wolf disappeared, and there stood Jacob. He was human again."
"Yes!" Toby cheered, punching the air like Emmett. "So he was a bad guy…that ended up a good guy." He smiled widely, proud of himself that he had paid attention.
"Exactly." Bella nodded, lifting him up in her arms and setting him on the bed. "Now, bedtime, before we both get into trouble." She smiled, shooting me a wink.
I chuckled at them again, shaking my head. It was amazing how she made me love her more and more each day.
Toby snuggled in with his new furry companion that he had now mentally named Jacob. With a loud yawn, he thanked Miss Bella one more time.
Bella picked up her things, before taking my hand when we left Toby's room.
"What else have you got, Miss Bella?" I teased, gesturing to the bag in her hand.
"I need to hunt," she said softly, smiling up at me. "I brought you clothes. I thought we could go when you were done." Her thoughts replayed my week off, and we had hunted, but she thought maybe before my next few work days that we could use it.
"Sounds great, love," I told her, kissing her head. "Perfect, actually." I wrapped my arm around her, bending to her ear. "And that was a really good story, baby." Her sweet smile and bite to her bottom lip was my reward.
BELLA
"Bella!" Esme beamed when I walked through the front door of the family house. She wrapped me in what I considered one of my top five hugs.
Edward's hugs were the best, because they were…well, Edward. They made me feel safe and warm and sheltered – like his arms and his love were an impenetrable force and nothing could get me there.
Renee's hugs still ranked high on my list, even though I didn't get them anymore, because no one hugs like your mom. Period. And there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't want just one more.
Charlie's were good, because they were rare. When I got hugs from my dad, it was because I had done something he was proud of, or he couldn't find words to express his feelings.
Carlisle gave fantastic hugs. They're encouraging and supportive, but Esme's made me feel like everything would be just fine – like nothing stressful or trying was going on.
And that was exactly why I fell into her embrace with a deep sigh. With a sweet chuckle, she dragged me, toes scraping the tile floor, straight into the living room.
"Talk to me, little one," she insisted, settling me on the sofa next to her and taking my hands in hers. "What has you here in the middle of the day?"
"Edward's at work, and that alone is just…ugh! I know Marcus will be here in a few days, and I'm nervous and anxious as to what he has to tell us. I don't know what I want to do about school, but I know I need to do something…and I…" I huffed a deep sigh, unable to continue. It was all just nonsense in my head.
"Stop, Bella." She smiled, taking my face in her hands. "No decisions have to be made today. I know it's hard when you're apart, so please try to take a deep breath."
I frowned – or pouted, really – taking another cleansing breath.
"Did Edward turn in his resignation?"
"Yes," I answered, nodding. "He told Dr. Wilder that he was leaving for 'personal reasons and a possible change in specialty.'"
"Good boy," Esme said proudly, and I couldn't help but smile at her. "Come," she said, standing and offering me her hand. "Demitri and Carina will be arriving tonight. You can help me get their room ready, and we can talk while we work."
It was perfect. Who knew that scrubbing an already spotless bathtub or making a bed while telling your mother-in-law all your troubles would be the best therapy? And that it was such good therapy, that you didn't even notice that hours had passed by? By the time we were done, the whole house was practically gleaming.
I told her how the first few days of Edward's return to work had gone. I explained that he had asked me to come up just about every shift, and it helped some, but that the only thing that kept us both going was knowing that his time there was just about up. I told her that he made me keep his car, dropping him off at work and picking him up.
"Why?" she laughed, looking up from the nightstand that she was dusting. "Weren't you supposed to get a car of your own?"
"Oh yes," I laughed. "And this is Edward we're talking about, so there's some sort of surprise going on. I can feel it."
"Point taken," she giggled, shaking her head. "Trust that instinct. It's not even vampire instinct…that's a wife's instinct, I'm telling you."
"Duly noted," I snorted. "Anyway, all he keeps saying is…"
"Soon, love," he chuckled from the doorway. "And I mean it, silly."
"Hey," I laughed, hopping up from the bed and my pile of folded towels and launching myself at him. He caught me with a laugh, kissing my lips roughly. "Did you ride with Carlisle?"
"I did," he answered, and I could almost feel him melt into me – like his only relief came when he was in my arms. "What are you girls doing?"
"Demitri and Carina are coming in tonight." Esme smiled, kissing Edward's cheek. "So Bella and I were therapy cleaning."
"Wha – … Never mind, because I'm sure I won't get it," he snorted, kissing my cheek.
"Yeah, probably not," I teased, wrinkling my nose, which resulted in it receiving a kiss to the tip. "It's a girl thing."
He pretended to be terrified, but set me on my feet. "Where is everyone?" he asked, following Esme downstairs.
"Alice is helping Kevin get adjusted back into work, so Jasper is most likely with them. Rose and Emmett have been gone all day, but are probably at the airport now to meet Demitri and Carina's flight," Esme rambled off while tidying every step of the way into the living room. "However, I was left strict instructions for you." She pointed to Edward. "Emmett said to start the fire pit outside."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, tugging off his tie. He flew upstairs to change out of his suit and into jeans, and was back, scooping me up with a laugh, and out the back door in a flash.
As I arranged the chairs, Edward set the fire, telling me about his day. Toby had apparently attached himself to the stuffed wolf I'd given him a few days prior and wouldn't let a soul touch it. He said that Brooke still wouldn't look him in the eye or speak more than a "yes, sir" to him, and that he didn't know if that would change.
I winced, looking up at him. "It bothers you?"
"Yes," he admitted, adding a few logs to the pit and crumpling up paper for kindling. "I should've ignored it. I've ignored it a thousand times before…for this very reason. I don't want to hurt her feelings, Bella. It's not her fault…"
I smiled, because he was too sweet. "No, but you can't blame yourself, Edward. You're so handsome," I said, giggling when his head shot up and he rolled his eyes at me. "And I know the only opinion that you care about is mine, but it's the truth, baby. Eden got over it, because she's kind of a happy-go-lucky girl. She thinks you're hot, and that's the end of it. She's sort of like Jessica was when we met. But Brooke…oh, Edward, I saw it when we were in the club that night. She sees…more. She sees you as the ideal. And she's shy and probably slightly insecure, so when her 'ideal' caught her on probably the two most embarrassing moments, she's absolutely mortified. Give her time. Be nice, but not encouraging."
"Easier said than done, baby," he smirked, walking to the table and picking up the lighter. "She won't even look at me long enough for me to apologize for my temper."
"Imagine if I hadn't returned your feelings, Edward," I said, trying to get him to see her side. "But that I knew how you felt about me, caught you talking about me…what would you have felt?"
"Okay," he chuckled, not really answering my question, but his face said it all. He looked heartbroken and a touch shy. "I understand, so let it blow over. She's 'licking her wounds,' so to speak."
"Exactly. If you pretend it didn't happen, she stands a chance of thinking it wasn't a big deal to you. If it's not a big deal, then she shouldn't feel embarrassed," I said, sinking into a chaise lounge as Esme and Carlisle joined us on the back patio.
"You're a wise woman, Mrs. Masen," he laughed, kissing my head.
"I've been telling you this for years, Hot Doc," I sighed dramatically with an eye roll, shoving him back to the task he was almost finished with.
"Oh!" He smiled, looking up as he knelt down to flick the lighter. "I told Dr. Wilder that we had family coming in, so I'm only on call for the next few days." I could tell he was saying this for more than my benefit, because his eyes glanced over to Carlisle for a moment.
"I'm not as lucky, son," Carlisle said ruefully. "I have tomorrow free, but I'll be on day shift through the weekend." He turned his kind gaze to me and continued, "And I would really like to be there when you speak with Marcus, Bells."
"Oh yeah," I told him. "That's a given. Edward and I are too…close to this. I'm not sure if both of you shouldn't be there."
"She's right," Edward agreed, coming to sit behind me and pulling my back to his chest. "Even Jasper and Alice have thought about asking to sit in. They're concerned. They want to be able to help us figure out this connection. And Jasper feels it, so he wants to be there…"
Carlisle smiled at my giggle. "Fine…a family meeting it is," I snorted, rolling my eyes.
"A family meeting on our first night back?" Demitri teased from the sliding glass door as he, Carina, and the rest of our siblings filed out of the house.
"Demitri! Carina!" Esme and I laughed, jumping up and rushing to them.
"Hey, little one," Demitri chuckled, wrapping his arms around me in a crushing hug. "Have I missed you guys."
I had almost forgotten how handsome he was. Just beautiful. His face was happy, filled with a familial love that matched my own. His golden eyes twinkled as he spun me around. He smelled like sandalwood and the leather jacket he always wore. And his long, dark hair fell to his shoulders, giving him that dark angel look only he could carry.
He set me down so I could hug Carina, and he could shake Carlisle and Edward's hands.
"So…tell me about this meeting," Demitri smirked, settling in a chair at one of the tables, with Carina next to him. "Surely our return doesn't warrant such security."
"No," Edward chuckled, and explained mine and his situation, the call to Marcus, and our concerns.
"Marcus is coming here?" Demitri asked, looking between Edward and Carlisle, who were both nodding. "Well, I suppose that's a good thing." His handsome face morphed from surprise to something dark, and Edward tensed behind me. "Saves us a trip home, actually."
"So New York is out of control?" Edward asked, and I watched my brothers sit forward for this conversation.
"Not completely," Demitri sighed, shaking his head.
"The newborns are young," Carina growled, her face sad. "Late teens, I suppose. We've stopped a fair amount of them – with Agosto's help."
"Stopped…" Carlisle frowned, waiting for an elaboration of that particular word.
"Some, we've had to destroy," Demitri explained, "but others were willing to…learn, so Agosto took a few back to Volterra. He's going to work with them for a few months before we go back to New York again."
"Whoever is creating these vampires," Carina started, "is targeting what we think are runaways and drug addicts. Young, impressionable ones at that."
"So their lack of self control will carry over into the next life," Carlisle concluded aloud.
"We think so," Demitri agreed. "And New York is perfect. It's busy and loud, overrun with places they can hide, hunt, and create newborns. Did you know there is a whole world underneath that city? It's a labyrinth of empty subway tunnels that are no longer functioning, and there are humans living under there?"
"Yes," Edward said with a dark frown. "It's been there for decades. The last time I saw it was during the Depression. Those people barely exist, but some weren't…fit for society anyway."
I flinched, hearing the predator that truly was my husband. He could, without shame, hunt down the nastiest of human dregs. It wasn't that I had forgotten this little aspect, but he masked it so well. And he hated to speak of it. It wasn't a period of his very long life that he was proud of.
Demitri smirked at Edward, and I could almost see the idea floating around in his mind, because he looked at every last member of my talented family, including me. I could see the plan forming. He wanted our help.
Even though Edward tensed behind me, Demitri said nothing.
OoOoOo
"Hey, where's Eddie?" Emmett asked, plopping down next to me on the sofa.
We were all at the family home, awaiting Marcus' arrival.
"Carlisle called him in for a few hours. There was a fire in an apartment building. One apartment held three kids." I grimaced, looking up at my big brother from my laptop.
Emmett shuddered, an uncharacteristic trait. "Gawd, that just sounds like torture. The little guys shouldn't get hurt," he sighed, shaking his head sadly.
I smiled up at him. For as much of a big dork as he was, Emmett was actually really sweet. "I know. Carlisle said that he needed Edward to hear their minds. That would be even worse."
"See? I couldn't handle all these extracurricular senses you guys lug around," he huffed, his face pained.
"Don't knock it. It's damn cool sometimes," Jasper chuckled, falling into the chair across from us.
"Especially if it takes us to New York, huh?" I smirked, looking between them.
A glimmer of hope and desire flickered across their features. With Emmett's love for a good fight and Jasper's military history, I could well imagine that they would just love to handle the newborns in New York. Add in Demitri's ability to track, Edward's mind reading, Alice's visions, and my shield, and there wouldn't be anything to stop us.
In fact, I could well imagine that once Marcus heard the updates from Demitri, that he would be asking us for help anyway. And there was a part of me, and I'm sure Carlisle or Edward or both would say it was my vampire instinct, that wanted to go. I wanted to stop the immortal that was hunting people in New York. I wanted to see my family be victorious over some jackass that was running wild. I wanted to work together with them like we had before – as a team.
The biggest part of me just wanted to know what it would feel like to run – silently, lethally – through the streets of the busiest city in the world with Edward. I really liked the idea of working right by his side, of seeing what that mysterious side of him was like when he hunted the minds that he used to. It was a strangely erotic thought to me. And I didn't understand why that was.
But the realist in me saw the risks. We could be exposed. My family could be hurt, or worse, killed. I could lose Edward, and I practically gasped aloud at the mere thought.
"Geez, Bells," Jasper frowned, sitting forward with his elbows on his knees. "Damn, you just went through the emotional gamut. Starting with curiosity and pride, and ending with pure fear."
"Yeah, I know," I sighed, nodding sadly. "I just…It's just that I'm pretty sure Demitri wants our help…"
"He does," Alice said, bouncing into the room. "He won't ask, but he really, really wants our help. He'll express that to Marcus when he gets here." She settled gracefully onto Jasper's lap, and the room got quiet.
There was a knock at the front door, and Emmett grinned like a loon, launching himself off of the couch to let Marcus and two others in the door.
"King M!" he teased, smacking Marcus on the back as the other man rolled his eyes at my brother.
"I am no king," he huffed. "I barely like the position that I maintain. Bella! Alice!" he beamed, opening his arms as he made his way into the living room.
"Marcus," we squealed, rushing into his embrace. "We missed you," we said in unison.
He gave us a funny look, but it was Jasper that answered. "Don't mind them. Sometimes they think so much alike that it oozes out every now and then…at the same time!"
"Hush, Jazz," we said again, and at that point, it was just funny.
Esme and Rose joined us, hugging Marcus as well, and we all settled into the living room. "You guys remember Stephano and Elena, yes?"
We all turned to see the two vampires that had followed him silently. They were standing next to the living room entryway. I imagined that they were not only companions, but some sort of guard for him. He was the only surviving member of the royal Volturi family.
"Well, well, well," Emmett teased, giving Elena a wink. "Someone…changed."
She snorted and nodded. She looked proud to be with Marcus. Immortality suited her. She had been a pretty girl before, with her Italian features, but now, she was just perfectly stunning. Her dark, curly hair looked full and shiny. Her lips were deep red and sensual. And just like Demitri, her olive complexion showed through her new immortal skin.
And her eyes were deep amber. She was maintaining the vegetarian lifestyle. I was proud of her, actually.
"It's nice to see all of you again." She smiled, and we couldn't help but return it.
Stephano smiled and gave each of us a nod. He was always quiet and shy, but he was completely committed to Marcus. He had been older when he was changed, and if I had to guess, I would say he was closer to thirty. Maybe older. Where the rest of us could truly fit in a younger scene, he could not.
"Isabella," Marcus frowned, looking all around me and then back into my eyes. I noticed that his eyes were also a beautiful dark gold. "You're hurting, amore. Where's Edward?"
"The hospital with Carlisle," I admitted, knowing that he could see our connection. I wondered what it looked like to him.
"They'll be home within the half hour," Esme promised, linking her fingers with mine and giving them a gentle squeeze. "Carlisle called me just before you arrived."
"Good." He nodded just once and then pointed to me. "Because I have some information to go over with you."
"Okay," I whispered, my brow furrowing.
I knew that Edward had explained a few things over the phone to Marcus, and I knew that he would never let anything happen to us. As anxious as I was to learn about our connection, the possibility of new information made me nervous. It was Marcus that had told us that we wouldn't survive it if something happened to us. "One can't live without the other." The words rattled around in my mind silently.
"Relax, Bella," he urged. "I promise to go over everything with you."
I nodded, taking comfort in Esme's arm that squeezed me closer.
Demitri and Carina joined us, along with a new round of hugs and handshakes. The talk of New York started immediately. Demitri gave Marcus a lot more details than he'd given us. Apparently, the sire of the newborns was taking mainly from Queens, Brooklyn, and Harlem. He definitely was targeting a specific type of human. It was like he was aiming for lower income and desperate. Needy.
They were using some warehouses down by the river, but they were hunting without care or secrecy. They were hunting in packs, leaving large piles of bodies behind for the police to find. And they were still calling it a serial killer. How idiotic was that? Piles of bodies could not be left behind by one single human. But I supposed that was all that the police had to reference it by.
Marcus took the information with a grim face and a deep, worried sigh. He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees as Demitri explained that Agosto took three newborns back to Volterra.
"Stephano, call home. See how Agosto's faring with those newborns. Tell him to call Eleazar in Alaska," Marcus commanded, and Stephano reacted instantly, pulling his phone out and walking out the backdoor.
But it was the sound of the front door opening and closing that snapped my heart and soul to attention. Before I could stop myself, I leapt from the sofa and into the foyer. I dodged the chuckling blonde with a quick and breathy, "Hey, Carlisle." It was the smiling, handsome man behind him that was my goal. "Edward," I sighed, falling into his open arms.
"Hey, sweet girl. Marcus is here, I take it," he verified, kissing the top of my head as I nodded. His head snapped up as we heard a gasp behind us.
"Damn," Marcus huffed, looking between us. "That's amazing." He was looking at the space around Edward and me, seeing something we could not.
Edward's arms tightened around me, but his face was amused curiosity as he looked to Marcus.
"What does it look like?" I asked, not caring which one answered me.
"Strange." Edward smiled softly, his brow furrowed. "Like glowing blue ropes wrapped around us."
"They're blue because you two have to reconnect from being apart," Marcus smiled, walking to us. I noticed that the rest of the family had wandered into the doorway to hear what was being said. "When you're…healed, they turn green, bright…happy." He reached out, patting Edward on the shoulder with a chuckle. "I'm glad you can see it, son. But how long were you gone?"
"Just three hours," Edward answered.
"Oh." Marcus frowned. "Well, then, we should take a look at what I've found in my library, shouldn't we?"
"Yes, sir," we answered together.
He nodded, looking us over one more time, before turning to his two guards. "Elena, Stephano…why don't you two go for a hunt? Carlisle has told me that the forest just outside his backdoor has plenty of deer."
"It does," Carlisle verified.
Stephano looked like he wanted to argue, but Demitri stepped forward. "It's fine, old friend. It's a family matter, not an insult." He walked him towards the backdoor, saying softly, "I'll always guard him with my life, but I don't have to here, Stephano."
"I know, sir," Stephano obeyed, looking ashamed.
"Never apologize for loyalty," Demitri chuckled, patting his back. "He's told you that debt is paid. You don't owe him. He's told you time and time again."
"A life for a life," was all that Stephano said, before gesturing for Elena to go out the door first.
"You changed him," Edward stated, looking at Marcus in curiosity.
"I did." He smiled sadly. "He was a human servant for my Didyme. The night of her death, he did everything within his weak power to help her. He respected her, loved her. He knew what we were, had lost his whole family in the First World War, and she and I were everything to him. With the last bit of his energy, he threw himself at a newborn that was about snap my arm off." He shook his head with a sad sigh. "I hadn't seen him creep up on me. I was too distraught, too angry. Stephano was a mess against the wall, holding his broken arm. They had ripped her right out of his arms, burning her right outside my front door. When the newborn showed up behind me, he somehow found the strength to launch himself at him."
We were all quiet as we listened to the sad tale. He looked at his hands and back up to us. "He thinks he owes me for this life – for granting him immortality. Didyme had told him that if anything was to happen to her, that he was to take care of me. He was to make sure I went on living without her.
"In all reality, he was the last tie to her…I couldn't let him go. He owes me nothing." He looked up at me and Edward and smiled sadly. "I couldn't let him die, something called for me to change him. He's been with me ever since. He's stopped me from joining her more times than I can count. He reminds me every time that she wouldn't want me to destroy myself for her."
I breathed heavily through my nose, trying to maintain my emotions, and I wasn't the only one. Rose's eyes were glazed, staring hard at the floor. Esme had Carlisle's hand up to her lips as she stared into the fireplace. Carina's forehead was on Demitri's shoulder as she hugged his arm. And poor Alice had her eyes squeezed closed like she was fighting off a disturbing vision.
The loss of our mates would be absolute devastation.
I curled myself in on Edward's chest, turning his wedding band slowly.
"My apologies, Marcus," Edward said softly against the top of my head. "I didn't mean any disrespect…"
"No, no, no. Please don't apologize. You should know," he told us, looking around the room. "I didn't mean to sadden you all."
Jasper took a deep breath and sent a lighter mood into the room. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief.
"Look!" He smiled and gestured to us. "You're back to bright green." Edward and I chuckled at his happy face. "Let me asked you how you met. What was it like? I know you were human, Bella, but tell me what you felt, please."
So we did. If my family was tired of our story, they didn't show it. In fact, most of them were happy to point out things that we had missed or skipped over. Edward explained his long history and how no one had ever tempted him.
I had a harder time explaining the human side of it. My feelings for Edward were almost instant. They took over every thought, every feeling. And my human mind didn't know how to deal with it all at one time.
"She was your singer and your mate," he laughed, shaking his head. Even Edward had to chuckle at the irony. "But you said when you returned, her scent meant nothing. What changed?"
"I have a theory on that," Carlisle interjected, looking at me worriedly. "She…Bells, I'm sorry… she lost the ability to have children while we were away from her. I truly think her entire scent changed for Edward."
"Oh," I gasped, having never thought of that point. "My whole chemical makeup would have changed."
"I believe so, yes," Carlisle agreed. "Your scent stayed the same, but chemically, you would have been different. Your accident left you without ovaries, so your hormones came from a prescription. They weren't natural."
Marcus was quiet for a moment and then looked up. "And how did you fare apart for that long of a period?"
Edward and I both groaned into a laugh that held no humor.
"Pain." I frowned. "Excruciating. I felt empty, like a whole was punched through my chest. It was hard to breathe. I would search for anything that would bring a memory of him to mind."
"Edward?" Marcus looked to him expectantly, but my Edward stayed quiet long enough that I looked up at his face.
His eyes were closed, and his mouth was in a tight line. I reached up to touch his clenched jaw, and it relaxed slightly under my fingers.
"I…" He breathed deeply, one of his hands making a tight fist. "Agony. There's no other word. I thought it was guilt I was living with – for lying to her, for just being me, for leaving before taking care of Victoria…but, no. No, I was angry and always felt like something was missing. I couldn't be around anyone. I would go months without hunting."
Marcus studied us both, his face passive. "And now you can't go three hours without hurting…" He stood up, walked to his bag, and pulled out a large leather bound book. "Completi l'anima is rare. I mean really rare. I always assumed that Didyme and I had shared that connection, but after your call, Edward, and some research, I realized I was mistaken. We were mated, we were close, but we weren't like…this," he said, shaking his head and holding up the large book.
"Your time for being away from her…is over," he said, sitting down directly in front us, but his serious glare was on Edward. "According to this," he said, setting the book on the coffee table, "had you stayed away from her much longer, her mortal body couldn't have taken it. She would have died – and you right behind her. As it sits, your immortal bodies will, too, if you keep testing it. There's a reason it's called one soul. If we had heart beats, yours would beat at the same time…together…never stopping. You. Are. One."
Edward was eerily still, but I could tell he was getting more from Marcus than what was being said out loud. "We literally live for each other…"
"Yes." Marcus nodded.
"And what…we've just used up all of our 'time apart' points?" I asked incredulously.
"Yes." He nodded again. "There is only so much your connection will take before it snaps."
"What's in this book, Marcus?" I growled, tapping the cover.
"A story you two need to hear. It's about an immortal couple that shared the same connection as you two."
Edward sat forward, his hands fisting in his hair. His voice was low, calculated. "And what happened to them?"
"They died."


0 comments:

Post a Comment