Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 18

I could hear them in the background, but I had no inclination to stop kissing my Edward. Somehow we had managed a few seconds alone in our kitchen while the rest of the family was in the music room, and that's all it took. Without warning, I found myself up on the counter with a very sweet, very cuddly, very passionate Edward nestled between my legs.
Yeah, not wasting that opportunity. Ever.
"Guys?" I could hear Rose's amusement in her voice.
I tightened my hold on his t-shirt as he rubbed and gripped the outside of my thighs over my jeans, our lips never breaking contact. It was languid, wet suckling kissing – top lip, bottom lip, sweeping tongues, light nips of teeth. Heavy exhales pushed against cheeks and upper lips, and noses brushed together. The sweet taste was too good to stop.
We both turned our heads as Edward's hands slowly slipped up my thighs and around to my ass. I sunk my fingers into his hair with one hand, still clinging to his shirt with the other.
"Guys!" Jasper chuckled, dowsing us with a calming feeling. It was like being dunked with ice cold water.
I smiled into the kiss, trying to push my husband back by placing my hands on his chest. It only caused him to smile back while fighting me. Edward snickered, finally pulling away and leaning on the opposite side of the counter. He licked his lips slowly, but his dark eyes were anything but apologetic. In fact, he looked rather smug and a touch disheveled.
"I know it's your house and all," Alice teased from the music room's doorway with a giggle and an eye roll, "but...come on."
"Sue me," I huffed at them all, hopping down from the counter.
Edward chuckled softly behind me, tugging my ponytail lightly. "You tell 'em, baby," he growled ever so softly in my ear, secretly flicking his tongue up the shell, his hand still wrapped around my hair.
"Edward!" everyone but me yelled.
"Fine," he smirked, holding his hands up in surrender. "It is my house," he muttered, rolling his eyes, but growled low when I smacked his ass before walking away.
I squished in between Alice and Esme on the sofa in the music room.
"Nothing beats a good kiss," Esme teased in my ear, which only caused me to bark out a laugh.
"This is true," I sang, smiling at her giggle and turning to Alice. "Are you ready?"
She grimaced a little but nodded. "Yeah." She turned to Edward.
"You have to ask, Alice?" He smiled at her, but it didn't quite meet his eyes. While he would do anything for her, seeing her memories were hard on him, whether he admitted it or not. With every bit of new information, the hope that good, happy memories would resurface, rather than sad, was always there.
Jasper handed over my laptop, and I pulled up my email. I was just about to open Charlie's email, when Carlisle stopped me.
"Bells, wait," he sighed, sitting forward. We all turned our attention to him. "Alice, are you sure? Because this can wait."
"No," she said, sounding almost like a petulant child. "I have to try. I need to know. Do you not want me to know my past?"
"No, darlin'," Jasper frowned, kneeling before her. "That's not it at all."
I noticed that he didn't calm her, didn't send her any emotion. I wondered if it was her request to have this as raw and real as possible. From the pain filled look on my brother's face, I was pretty sure my guess was right.
"It hurts us to know that someone treated you badly, Ali. That's all," I said, wrapping an arm around her tiny shoulders and kissing her spiky head. I heard murmurs of agreement in the room.
"Please?" she whispered, leaning into me.
"Whatever you want, Alice," Edward said softly, getting up from the piano bench and perching himself on the arm of the sofa next to her.
Bracing myself and removing my arm from Alice's shoulders, I opened my father's email.
My girls,
Miss Addy was kind enough to call me back last week. She let me know that she'd given her complete permission to Wallace Fletcher, the historian and collector, to share with us all of her old things concerning the Rolling Hills. She also took it upon herself to contact Esther Fowler and her family for us.
She said…and I quote… "I'm 101 yrs old. What else will I do with my time? If you want these things, then they're yours." She's a spitfire, that one.
Anyway, Wallace scanned a few more articles and pictures about the asylum, Alice's father, and the Brandon house.
My love to all of you,
P.S. Anna said she noted the pictures and articles again to help you out. She spent most of her week on the phone with Wallace and Miss Addy. She's practically running this little investigation. I should hire her on at the station.
The first thing I opened didn't make much sense to me, until I looked at the dates. It was a small cutout of the local farmer's paper. Apparently, Chester Brandon came into a small fortune when he sold his farm. But that wasn't the important part. The date it sold just happened to be the day before Alice was committed.
"He didn't," I heard Esme growl beside me. She had come to the same conclusion I had.
Underneath the article was a message from Anna.
Of all the shit we've found, this one really pushed my buttons. When I looked up the deeds concerning Alice's old house, the deed stayed in one name…Alma Brandon, Alice's mother. However, the farm attached to it didn't. The land title was transferred to Lloyd Sinclair the day before Alice was sent to Rolling Hills.
"The motherfucker sold her?" Rose snarled from across the room. "Are you fucking kidding me?"
"But that would mean…" Emmett mused, but his eyes were narrowed in anger.
"That Sinclair or James saw Alice prior to the asylum," Carlisle finished with a troubled sigh, but his eyes were on Edward.
I looked from Alice's blank expression to Edward's dark one, but neither said a word. Instead, Edward pinched the bridge of his nose in either anger or frustration.
"Alice?" Jasper encouraged softly, rubbing her hand lightly.
"I've got nothing." She sighed, opening her eyes warily. "Just flashes of things," she said, turning to Edward.
"I see the house, the backyard, and then a hallway at the asylum," Edward muttered, "but you're forcing it, Ali."
"Relax your mind," Carlisle urged.
"Okay, okay, okay," Alice chanted, more to herself than to them. She inhaled deeply, and then let it out slowly. Looking to me, she nodded for the next picture.
The next file was an old black and white photograph of the Brandon house again, but from another angle. It seemed that the tree was the main focus, which was really odd to me, until I read Anna's explanation aloud.
Hey, guys. Remember when I told you that the neighborhood kids were convinced that a tree in the Brandon yard was haunted? Well, Wallace thinks that there are a few reasons. He's been most helpful since we started uncovering this information. Apparently, he has a thirst for dark stories. And I think he believes in everything…ghosts, witches, vampires, and werewolves. He lives for the TV show Charmed. And he's most certain that the end of the world will come about by zombies. LOL
He said that the oldest story concerning this tree goes back to when Alice would have been living in this home. He said that Esther Fowler used to tell her children that Chester would punish his kids by making them sit by the tree for hours, no matter what the weather. She also told them that after Alice had been reported dead, they all saw her that night hanging around the tree.
I stopped reading and turned to her. "Did you go home after you woke up from your change?" I asked, brushing a hair from her face. "I know you said the first thing you saw was a vision of Jasper and then Carlisle, but…"
"You would have been thirsty, maybe confused?" Carlisle said, but it sounded more like a question.
Her little brow furrowed, her mouth set as she studied Jasper's face. He held her gaze steady, never flinching. Her eyes closed minimally, only to fly back open.
"Edward…" Alice breathed.
"I see it," he told her. "You're in a dark room. It has to be the asylum, because I can hear screaming from outside of the room. Your vision is sharper, clearer." He smiled first, and then broke into a chuckle. "You did see a vision of Jasper first."
Jasper broke out into a grin, smiling down up Alice.
"She knew exactly where you would be," he said, pointing to a very pleased Jasper.
"God, the burn, Alice," he winced, his long fingers just barely touching his own throat. "Your arms were chained, but it was no match for your new strength. You pulled them straight out of the corners of the concrete bed. The door was next." He stopped, looking down at Alice. "No one stopped you. They were all running another way."
"That would have been that riot Miss Addy talked about with Charlie," Emmett said, sitting forward. "Remember? It was on another floor."
"You ran straight out the front doors. No one really saw you." Edward paused, but turned to me. "Sweetheart, do me a favor. Shield every mind but Alice's, please."
"Sorry, Ed." Jasper frowned as my shield descended on my family, including myself.
"It's not just you, but I'd like to focus on her," he said, but his voice trailed off a little, his eyes narrowing. "Bella, read the rest of what Anna has to say about that ghost story."
"Edward..." Alice flinched, shaking her head.
I looked between them. Edward was nodding, but Alice was eerily still. I turned back to the computer.
The scariest part starts there. Miss Addy said the riot alarm could be heard in the small community. When she spoke to Esther's son, he said that when his mother's mind was stronger, she would point to that very tree and tell him that the Brandon girl came back from the dead to seek revenge on her father for sending her to Rolling Hills.
They found Chester Brandon hanging from that tree the morning after the riot, Alice's "death," and long after Lloyd Sinclair and James had left town.
If you look closely at this picture, you can see small gouges in the bark. The first mark is from rope, and you can see it on the top right of the picture. The marks on the bottom left…they look like claw marks.
It was taken by the police when they found Chester. When I asked Miss Addy if they'd considered it suicide, she said yes. That it looked like he'd hanged himself.
"He did hang himself," Edward and Alice said at the same time.
"I wouldn't have bothered to drain him," Alice growled, standing up and pacing. "He thought I was a ghost. He thought I was there to…"
"You almost drained him, Alice," Edward corrected, "but he saw you. He was drunk, and saw your…new appearance. He was convinced that you were a ghost, that you were there for revenge. You used the tree to stop yourself."
"Gawd, how the hell did you do that?" Emmett gasped. "You'd just woken up, for Christ's sake."
"I didn't ravage a town, Emmett," I snapped, "so hush."
Carlisle, Edward, and Jasper chuckled, but it was Alice's sweet giggle that broke the tension in the room.
"He felt guilty," Esme said with a frown, studying Alice. "I bet he heard the alarm, saw your appearance, and then came to the conclusion that he was responsible."
"He was responsible," Rose growled.
"He was ignorant and set in his beliefs," Edward said softly, standing up in front of Alice, "and there isn't one of us that blame you."
"I didn't go to see him," she sighed, an ancient sadness changing her usually happy features. "I wanted to see my mother…my sister. He was…in the way. I don't know if I saw them…I don't think I did."
"It was probably for the best. Your thirst was most likely pushing you to a breaking point," Carlisle concluded with a slight nod.
"There's one last thing, Alice, but we can wait if you want," I said, tilting my head at her.
"No." She shook her head, returning to her seat next to me. "I'm okay."
The last thing was another photograph. I read Anna's note underneath it.
Miss Addy had given this to Wallace, but I really thought it was important. I can tell exactly who is human and who isn't. She said that this was taken the day the "Treatment Center" wing opened. It seems that it was Lloyd Sinclair's pet project.
"Holy shit…James," Alice and I breathed together.
There he was, right out of an old human nightmare. His long blond hair was pulled back, and his clothes matched the era the photo was taken, but he wore the same smug, evil smile that never quite made it to his eyes.
I felt sick as I looked at him again. All I heard was his taunting voice on the phone, telling me that if I didn't get to my old ballet studio, he would kill my mother. I could see his evil grin as he cornered me against a mirror.
"Tell Edward to avenge you," James growled, holding up the video camera. "Tell him!"
"No, Edward, don't!" I shook my head, erupting in a scream as James smashed the bones in my leg.
I squeezed my eyes closed, trying to shake the old memory.
"Hey, hey, Bells. It's okay. Calm down for me, please?" Jasper pleaded, pulling the computer out of my hands. "Edward…"
"Come here, sweet girl." Edward knelt in front of me, cupping my face. "He's gone, baby. No more. He'll never touch you again."
"I know," I sighed. "I know…I just hadn't seen him since that day. I'm okay, I promise."
"You're sure?" Edward verified, his eyes warm, liquid honey filled with worry.
"Yes." I nodded, smiling slightly and pushing his hair from his forehead. "I'm fine. His face brought back…memories."
"Welcome to my world," Alice teased, shoving me a little with a shoulder.
"Right," I agreed, laughing with her.
"Well, son of a…" Carlisle frowned. We all looked up at him. He was holding my computer, studying the photo on the screen. "I was right…it is Lord Sinclair."
"Do you think he changed me?" Alice asked him.
"I would assume so." Carlisle nodded, looking down at the picture again.
"Why do you look like that could be a bad thing?" Esme piped in, standing up to look at the computer with him.
"Sometimes, and this is certainly not the case with you, Alice, a sire can give a bit of himself to his newborn. He probably changed James, which would explain his personality." Carlisle muttered that last sentence with a bit of sarcasm.
I looked around at my family, hearing this bit of news. If Carlisle had sired Esme, Edward, Emmett, and Rose, then what traits did they possibly pick up? Esme had to have received his compassion, and Edward his calm wisdom. Emmett might have gained his sense of protectiveness, and Rose, his tenacity, though the latter was probably plenty tenacious as a human.
I leaned in and kissed Edward's temple, leaving my lips there. He was still kneeling in front of me, but was turned towards Carlisle. My sire, he gave me his heart – even when he didn't think he had one.
Edward wrapped his arm around my waist, but still continued to listen to Carlisle.
"I think..." Carlisle paused, looking to Alice, but he looked sad, remorseful. "I think I should ask Marcus about Sinclair when he returns from Russia." He sighed deeply, wearily, setting the computer down on the table.
Emmett snatched it up, studied the picture, and closed it with a look of determination on his face. "That's it. Break time. I want to go out!" He pouted, folding his large arms across his even larger chest.
I laughed against the side of Edward's head. I hadn't even considered what these past few days had been doing to my normally carefree, lighthearted brother.
I turned to Alice, who had a smile spreading across her face.
"Call Kevin," Rose chuckled.
"What's the plan?" Jasper grinned, hopping to his feet.
"Pool," Emmett and I blurted out.
"On that note," Carlisle laughed, holding his hand out for Esme, "we're out of here. Try to stay out of trouble, please?"
"Aw, come on, Dad," Emmett teased, grinning, and draped a heavy arm around his shoulders. "We always stay out of trouble."
"Keep telling yourself that, Em," Carlisle snorted, rolling his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Ali," I sighed, crawling out of the backseat of her car.
"For what?" she growled, looking at me like I was crazy.
"I didn't even think of what this week had been doing to Jasper," I muttered, smoothing my denim skirt.
Once we'd all made plans to meet up with Kevin to play pool, the boys took Jasper hunting. They told us they'd meet us at the pub. Edward had watched our brother struggle for the last few days and told him that hunting came first – no arguments. Apparently, Jasper had pushed himself too far with all that had been going on. With Alice's past, and mine and Edward's connection, he had tried really hard to keep us all calm, even when it wasn't really working.
"He'll be good as new by the time they stroll in here," Rose smirked, opening the heavy wood door of the pub.
We were hit with thumping music, loud laughter and conversation, and an ecstatic Kevin flying through the room towards us.
"My girls!" He beamed, placing kisses on all of our cheeks.
"Kevin," we all sang, wrapping arms around him.
"Where are my boys?" he huffed, putting his hands on his hips and looking around dramatically.
"They'll be here," I chuckled. "They had to run an errand first."
"They'd better be," he pouted, his brow furrowed. "I've missed their pretty faces. Especially that doctor of heavy equipment." He grinned shamelessly, his eyebrows rising up and down.
I giggled, shaking my head. That nickname would never cease to make me laugh – maybe because he was dead on. With that thought, I had to force my lust back down.
"Come, my beautiful ladies," he said, tugging me and Rose by the hands. "Let me introduce you to a few friends."
We followed him towards the back of the pub where the pool tables, dart boards, and jukebox were all being used to their fullest extent. He led us to the table in the far back corner, where two other young men were playing a game.
I could tell that his friends were a little unnerved by our presence. They took our looks in first, lust darkening their eyes, but their human instincts were telling them to be wary. That was the first time I realized that Kevin didn't have that. He loved us, touched us, and never even thought twice about kissing our cool, hard cheeks.
"Spence…Gannon," Kevin introduced with a smile, pulling us forward. "These are my girls. My Diva, Rose. My Princess, Alice…and my Goddess, Isabella."
"Bella," I smirked, rolling my eyes at him.
Spence chuckled, raising his beer mug. "Nice to meet you. We thought he was making you up, but it looks like he was telling the truth."
"Bella..." Gannon smiled, and there was a warmth in his eyes. "You're the one that helped Kevin when he'd been beaten."
"Yes," Kevin agreed. "Well, her and that fuckhawt hubby of hers."
"Kev," I snorted, shoving him lightly.
I looked over my friend, and I could tell he felt a hell of a lot better. His bruises were all gone, and his forehead was just about healed. His sprained ankle was no longer bothering him.
"Don't forget. Edward needs to remove those," I said, gesturing to his forehead.
"Yes, my goddess," he said, nodding. "I went to his office the day before yesterday. There's a disturbing rumor that he's leaving…" He looked worried, hurt.
"He is," I told him. "I'll tell you about it later, Kev."
"Game?" Gannon offered a pool cue.
"Finish the one you're playing," Rose smirked, waving them on. "We can wait."
"Well, then…sit, sit…" Kevin tugged over some stools, and held our hands as we sat down. "I'd offer you drinks, but you never drink…" he muttered, walking back to the pool table.
For a moment, I wasn't sure he was aware that he'd said it out loud. My intake of breath was matched by Rose's.
Alice smirked, looking over at us. "He thinks he knows…and he's damn close, but he won't say it out loud."
"Damn," Rose grimaced. "What do we do about him?"
"Nothing." Alice smiled and shook her head. "He's very…aware, but he respects us. Edward and I talked about him the other day. If he even suspected something…otherworldly, he would never say it out loud. He loves us too much. He feels if he voices it, we would disappear."
"He's like I was," I mused, watching him flirt with Gannon and Spence, who were both very good looking boys.
Gannon was tall, with light brown hair and green eyes, well built, and definitely gay. He watched Kevin like a hawk, and I was pretty sure there was chemistry between them.
Spence, on the other hand, was straight, because his eyes betrayed him. I could see them drift our way, only to snap them back to the game at hand. His dark hair was styled carelessly, and he had hazel eyes and an easy smile. His face held a touch of end of the day stubble, and his body was long, lean, and toned. He had a quiet demeanor.
I liked them both. I felt my shield shift, pulling me towards them. They were good boys – a far cry different than the two that had attacked Kevin a few weeks back. Rob and Art were trouble. These boys were not.
"He is like you!" Rose frowned, tilting her head at me. "I wonder what that means."
"It means he's so protective of us that he won't even entertain the thought of offending us," Alice answered, shrugging, and smiled a knowing smile.
"What did Edward say?" I asked, bracing myself for whatever the answer might be. The old rules stated that if a human knew, they had to be killed or changed. It hurt to think something could happen to Kevin.
"Edward said they would have to go through him to get to Kevin. Anyone. If he figures it out, then he figures it out. He may be…excitable, but he's a trustworthy friend," Alice stated, taking my hand. "He said that he would never even think of letting anything happen to Kevin. He knows we care about him."
I smiled, thinking that sounded like my Edward. If it could possibly hurt me, there wasn't an ice cube's chance in hell he would let it happen.
"Ha ha," Gannon taunted Spence. "You buy the next round."
"Whatever." Spence rolled his eyes, waving over the waitress. He ordered another round of beers and then turned to us. "How 'bout a game of guys against girls?"
I bit my bottom lip, looking at my sisters.
Alice chuckled. "I think that can be arranged." She lowered her voice. "I see a bet in our future. Let's lose the first one."
"Play stupid, it is," Rose chuckled darkly, standing gracefully from her stool.
She walked with a purpose, holding her hand out for a cue. I had to bite back my laugh as Rose played the dumb blonde, but she broke beautifully. The game was over pretty quickly, and the boys looked quite proud of themselves.
"Another one!" Alice laughed, clapping her hands excitedly.
"A wager on this one," Kevin smirked, leaning on the table.
"Fine," Rose and I said together.
"You know the song Bells is supposed to sing?" Alice grinned. Kevin nodded with a laugh. "If you lose, you sing one on the same night."
"Oh hell," Kevin chuckled. "Deal. If I win, you girls sing together."
"Deal," we all laughed.
I turned to Spence and Gannon, saying, "We won't drag you down this silly road."
"Thanks," Spence chuckled, but he blushed slightly when his gaze met mine. "So now I have to save Kevin from singing. Well," he clasped his hands together, "let's do this."
"I'll break," I smirked, chalking my cue. "Warm up those vocal chords, Kev."
I bent over the table, lining up my breaking shot, when I heard Gannon gasp. I looked up at his shocked face. I had to smile at the shit eating grin on Kevin's face.
"Tsk, tsk, little one," Emmett chuckled somewhere behind me. "Hardly seems fair. What's the bet on the table?"
"Kevin loses, he sings," Rose said, folding her arms across her chest.
I pulled my cue back with a giggle, feeling a strong, hard body line up behind me. "Oh, my sexy girl," Edward crooned softly in my ear, running his nose along the shell. "You're not being fair to the poor boys. They just won't know what hit them, baby. I almost feel sorry for them."
"Are you saying I should play nice, Edward?" I asked, pushing out my bottom lip in a pout.
"Never," he chuckled, kissing my neck. "Give 'em hell, love."
"Don't move," I purred, wriggling my ass against him and pulling back my cue. My husband growled appreciatively. My break was hard, loud, and clean, sinking two solids.
We stood up together, Edward's hands on my waist. "Good job, baby; a perfect break," he purred, giving my waist a squeeze before stepping back.
I turned to face him, almost purring aloud at how delicious he looked. With black jeans hugging him in all the right places and sitting low on his hips, a tight thermal, gray, long-sleeved shirt highlighting his every muscle, and a black leather jacket, I could have eaten him alive right there.
He chuckled, shooting me a wink at my thoughts. "Touché, my love," he smirked, eying my short skirt with slightly hooded eyes.
Our brief intimate bubble popped when Alice urged me to continue the game. With a slow shake of my head and another raking gaze over his body, I turned back to the pool table.
"He has to sing, huh?" Jasper laughed, rubbing his hands together. "Ah, but what song…what song…"
"No worries," Kevin chuckled. "I can handle some Adam Lambert or Tokio Hotel. I'll come up with something."
"Oh, no, no, no," Emmett teased, wrapping his heavy arm around Kevin. "You lose…we pick the song. We are the band after all. And I'm in the mood for…hmm, big hair eighties rock. I have a sneaking suspicion that my little Bella snowed you all."
"Damn," Kevin winced with a laugh.
"Gosh, Kev." I shrugged innocently, nailing two balls in the corner pocket without looking. "I have no idea what he's talking about."
The look of pride on Edward's face was nothing to the look of realization on Kevin's. His head fell back with his laugh as he covered his face with his hands.
As I lined up my next shot, my brothers and Edward teased Kevin relentlessly.
Three ball, side pocket.
"Ooh, how about Lynard Skynard?" Jasper teased, laughing when Kevin and his friends groaned.
One ball, off the bumper, taking the five with it.
"Nah, Twisted Sister," Emmett guffawed, slapping Jasper's back.
Seven ball straight into the corner pocket, pushing a stripe out of the way.
"I don't know," Edward chuckled. "Tiny Tim would be amazing punishment."
Everyone laughed at that as my boys sang an exaggeratedly awful version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. Even Gannon and Spence joined in on that one.
"Give him a break, boys," I chided, aiming up my cue. "Eighties rock is fine…let him pick his own song. Oh…and eight ball side pocket." I hopped the eight over the nine, falling into the pocket with a soft plunk. "I get to pick my song. It's only fair he can pick his."
"You get to pick yours because Eddie doesn't care." Jasper grinned, wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
"So?" Edward and I asked with a laugh.
"At least my humiliation will be shared, right, Kev?" I chuckled as he groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Yes," Alice and Rose hissed, giving me hugs.
"Damn, I'm glad I picked you to play pool a few years ago," Alice cheered, kissing my cheek.
I caught Kevin's eye, and he shot me a wink. "Sorry, Kev. Ask Edward. We did the same thing to them a few years back."
"No shit?" He laughed, turning to Edward, who was nodding with a chuckle.
"Well, hell," he said with a grin. "If Hot Doc can get taken, then I'm in good company. Rack them up again."
"I'll break," Spence smirked at me. "I'm still not believing it."
I heard a low growl behind me, but I ignored it. Jealous Edward would always surface, in spite of our connection. Plus, there was no telling what Spence was thinking.
After one more winning game, Rose closing that one out, I found myself chuckling at Kevin's choice in music on the jukebox. Alice, Rose, and I found ourselves wrapped around him, singing one Madonna song after another – the most animated being Vogue.
Edward and my brothers were playing their own game of pool – cheating, bickering, and laughing their way through the whole thing. As Edward sat on a stool, waiting for his go, I stood up on the rung between his legs, singing the words to Like a Virgin in my head.
The result I got was priceless. If he could have blushed, he would have, as I dragged my nose along his jaw. The sweet but shy smile on his face was every bit of seventeen, but incredibly sexy. His hands squeezed my waist, pulling me closer.
As I hummed the song, still caressing his mind with the words, his eyes blackened, darting past me. "Spence wants you, my Bella." His voice sounded like a mixture of a pout and amusement. "What do I do about that?"
"But I want you," I countered, with a giggle. "So what do we do about that?"
"Oh, the possibilities, Isabella," he chuckled darkly, pulling my ear to his mouth. "The list is endless, and they won't even miss us." He placed a long, slow, open mouth kiss to the soft spot behind my ear.
"List, huh?" I teased, pulling back to study his face. Oh, sometimes my man was simply shameless and slightly naughty, and I really loved it. I switched to my thoughts. Let me guess…the alley, the restroom…the unlocked pub manager's office, your car... Tell me, handsome. Which one gets you hotter?
"Bella." He huffed a laugh at me, shaking his head. "You make me hot, my beautiful girl. The place is insignificant, but you forgot the bridge just two blocks away…"
"Mmm, indeed I did," I purred, biting my bottom lip to keep from launching myself at him right there. Just the mere idea of him taking me in such a public place made me think of our anniversary in France – he'd taken me hard on the Eiffel Tower.
Edward let out a deep, frustrated sigh. "He can't help but look at you, my love. You are the most beautiful thing in the room. He means no harm, but you're mine."
I smiled, a shudder of desire rolling through me, causing Edward to grin smugly. "So show him."
"Believe me," he smirked, threading his fingers in my hair and wrenching it away from my face, "I truly want to, but Alice is threatening us." He laughed, looking over at her with raised eyebrows. "Apparently, he's given up all hope to even try. Like I said, I almost feel sorry for him."
"Well, as long as he knows." I shrugged nonchalantly. "But keep that bridge in mind, Edward. Now…teach me darts."
We moved over to an open dart board, Edward lining up behind me. "This works just like throwing the ball at the dunk tank. Aim, pull back, and let go lightly." He positioned my hips flush back to his, his lips at my ear. "And you have an audience, baby. Make it look good."
"'Kay." I nodded, depending on him to help me.
After a few practice throws, he let me play on my own against Kevin, who beat me fair and square. Gannon took my place as I sat on Edward's lap to watch them.
"So, Hot Doc," Kevin smirked. "What's this I hear about you leaving the hospital?"
"I'm taking some time to reconsider my avenues," Edward said smoothly, turning my wedding ring.
"I've heard that excuse before. It means you're comfortable enough to not have to work. I've known enough spoiled students, Edward. You're not leaving, are you?" he asked, but his worried gaze fell to me and then flickered back to my husband.
"No, Kevin," he snickered. "I don't think so."
That answer must have satisfied him, because he went back to his game with Gannon.
"He's so afraid of losing you girls," Edward explained quietly in my ear. "I worry that this will be harder for you guys than normal, when we do leave eventually."
"I care for him," I said softly, looking down at our linked fingers. "I didn't want to in the beginning, but I do. I can't help it." I looked up at Edward, my brow furrowed.
He smiled sweetly, reaching up to rub the worry from between my brows. "He's very aware, Bella. He reads fantasy, hangs out with…gothic people. The idea of what we 'could be' is not only appealing to him, but it wouldn't scare him in the least. And the more he sees us, the more he sees."
"He would never hurt us," I vowed. "He would never tell anyone."
"I know," Edward chuckled, tucking my hair behind my ear. "Relax, sweet girl. As long as he holds your favor, then we will protect him." He looked past me, jerking his chin.
I turned to see Emmett and Jasper nodding solemnly. I turned back to Edward. "Thank you," I whispered.
"Anything for you, baby," he smiled, kissing my fingers one by one, and then my cheek. "I don't even think you understand the enormity of that statement," he teased with a wink.
A young waitress dropped off another round of beers for the guys, walking past us and giving Edward an appraising glance. She smelled amazing – like night blooming jasmine and liquid warmth. Her heart raced at the sight of him, but it was me that inhaled deeply.
"Shield, baby," Edward growled low in my ear. "If she smells that sweet to you…don't tempt it." I breathed in again, watching her at another table and feeling the venom flood my mouth. "Bella," Edward hissed. "Look at me, love."
My head snapped around, probably too fast. "Sorry." I shielded myself from her scent, almost missing it. "She smelled…good."
He nodded, his face unreadable. "She did. How's your control?"
"Fine," I mumbled, feeling like an admonished child. "I shielded her."
He tilted my face up by placing his fingers under my chin. He looked me over, especially my eyes. "Come. Let's go outside."
"'Kay," I agreed, slipping off of his lap.
The misty night air caressed us both as I held the door of the pub open, letting my Bella step outside. Autumn was in full swing, moving into winter, but the chilly air didn't bother us.
As we had walked through the pub, I looked to Alice. Her face morphed from worry to relief to shock. I don't even think Bella knew how close she'd come to losing her control. When I'd studied her face, her shield had fallen completely away, including her eyes, revealing the golden honey of their true color. The brown was gone. She was taking in the scent of the waitress like savoring the bouquet of the finest wine.
And she didn't even realize it.
Jasper's face had been that of understanding. In fact, it had been his mind that hit me before Bella's thoughts. He had felt her thirst long before she had locked on to the young girl's potent smell.
We walked a block in silence, and I knew that Bella thought she was in trouble. She really wasn't, but she couldn't take it any longer.
With a tug to my hand, she stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk. "I wouldn't have done it, Edward." She looked upset, her chin jutting out in the most defiant of gestures.
I looked at her again, relishing the return of those deep, chocolate eyes. "Did you need to hunt, baby?"
"No," she said, shaking her head. "I was fine. I wouldn't have done it," she repeated.
"I wouldn't have let you," I agreed with a deep sigh. I sat down on a bench, pulling her to stand between my legs. "Did you realize that your real eye color was showing?" I asked, wincing at her gasp. My guess was the answer was no.
"It was?"
I nodded, rubbing her arms. "Did she smell that good, love?"
"Yeah…like jasmine…"
I smiled, nodding in understanding. "Freesias are better," I teased, giving her a wink.
She snorted, but tugged me up from the bench, continuing down the sidewalk. "I didn't feel thirsty. I still don't. Can some…scents just kick in like that?" she asked, leaning into my side.
I wrapped an arm around her. "Oh, yes, ma'am," I said, kissing the top of her head. "You should sit down with Emmett. He was doing fine a fair amount of years after his change, until he ran into a girl hanging her laundry out to dry. He was lucky it was an old country road.
"And I don't have to explain what you did to me," I continued, kissing her head again. "The instinct for what we truly are will always be just under the surface, Bella."
We stepped up onto the bridge, and Bella leaned over to look at the water. "I wouldn't have wanted to hurt her," she mumbled, her face pained, distraught.
I leaned on the bridge railing to face her. I tucked her hair behind her ear so that I could see her face. "We've all been there. Jasper felt it. Alice saw it. It's what we do for each other." I paused, tracing a finger under her chin and lifting her gaze to mine. "Alice used to tell Jasper what the person's life was like, so that he would maintain his control. That waitress…she's a brand new mother. She just had a little boy, Oliver."
Bella winced, shaking her head. "I'm sorry."
"There's no harm in savoring the scent, Bella. You've never…tasted it. I can't imagine what that would do to you if you did. Rose is the only other one of us that has never tasted human blood. As…out of control as she was as a newborn, she was determined not to succumb to the temptation. And she's just hard-headed enough to succeed."
"What do you mean 'what it would do'…"
I took a deep breath. We'd had this conversation before, but it was before I'd left her. She was human then, with an almost zero understanding of the struggle we went through to maintain our diet. Now she had every idea, but her control was beyond what any of us expected. Sometimes, it was easy to forget the little things that she was able to just skip over.
"It's not the…frenzy or instinctual aspect of it. I think you can understand that. I just never want you to experience the aftermath, baby." She turned to face me, mirroring my position. "It's the guilt, the dark feelings afterward that can be devastating. And for you, as sweet and kind as you are, it would be so much more. God, you would hate yourself," I groaned, shaking my head. "I never, ever want that for you."
"What's it like?" she asked in a whisper, but her mind was open to me. She wanted to understand herself better, but she was curious, too, having nothing to reference it to.
"Like nothing you've ever experienced." I frowned, pulling her flush to me. "It's an assault on the senses. Not only would she quench the thirst that's always itching the back of your throat, but there's disappointment that it wasn't enough." I leaned in and kissed her neck. "She would be attracted to you at first, but then when she starts to struggle, the sense of power kicks in. It's very heady. It alters your ego."
She leaned into me, pressing her forehead to mine. My voice, my calm demeanor, was pulling her in. My wife's scent wafted around me, just a little stronger than usual.
"And the act of actually biting her," I purred, just realizing that to speak of this was too sensual, but I couldn't stop and couldn't not share this with her. "Her adrenaline makes her scent even more potent, her struggle makes you hold on that much tighter, but her taste is what sends you over the edge. It's everything you think you need, and nothing can stop you. When she's drained, most of your human traits have taken leave. It's an erotic act, the combination of venom running through your system and her blood making you…amorous."
"It's a turn on?"
"Very much so," I answered, dragging my lips down her cheek to her ear. "It's why some mated pairs hunt…together. It's why succubae hunt only men."
"But you hunted…" she started, pulling back so that she could look me in the eye.
"I hunted out of anger, with an ignorant purpose, love. Very rarely did it affect me like that."
My Bella was quiet for a moment, her fingers playing the hair at the back of my head. Her mind was considering the girl, what could have happened, and she felt guilty for her curiosity.
"Hey," I whispered, placing a soft kiss to her nose. "You want something to compare it to?" I asked, picking her up and setting her on the rail of the bridge. I took a deep breath. "Remember Africa? Remember how…strong you felt after hunting those lions, how we couldn't stop ourselves?"
"Yeah..." She nodded, her brow furrowed.
"It's as good as that – tenfold," I stated with a nod. "Until it's all said and done, and then you realize that you just ended a life. You took away someone's son or daughter, their friend, their lover."
She reached up and rubbed away the worry that had settled between my brows. "What do you think would have happened if you hadn't controlled yourself around me that very first day?" she asked, tilting her head at me in thought.
"Mmm, so sweet," I growled, biting at her neck and roughly pulling her against me. It resulted in the shameless squealing giggle from her that I'd wanted. "It would've been like starting with dessert." She grinned, rolling her eyes and shaking her head at me. "What a waste it would have been," I smirked, kissing her lips softly. "Because so much of you tastes infinitely better than your blood ever did."
She chuckled, leaning her cheek against mine when I nuzzled her throat. Her arms and legs wrapped around me, her hands slipping inside my jacket and gripping the back of my shirt.
"This spot," I purred, swirling my tongue over the spot behind her ear that always made her gasp, "and this spot." I smiled at her giggle, dragging my teeth across her collarbone. "Those are too sweet for words. And your lips…" I suckled on her bottom lip. "Like honey and strawberries."
A loud group of humans walking down the bridge caught our attention as they headed our way. We both turned our heads when they were a few yards away. It was three boys and two girls, all laughing, singing, and leaning into each other.
Bella shoved me back with a mischievous grin, hopping down from the rail. "Come on," she laughed, grabbing my hand.
With an inhuman strength she rarely put to the test, she climbed one of the towers of the bridge. Laughing, I chased her to the arch, catching her and pressing her back into the metal structure.
"Hiding, sweet girl?"
"Yup," she smirked, slipping her fingers into my hair. "I wasn't kidding in the pub, Edward. I want you, but not where drunken humans can watch." She pressed against me, all of her glorious body melding with mine.
I hummed against her lips in appreciation. It seemed the whole day was foreplay, starting with my unavoidable make-out session on our kitchen counter. She had walked by me innocently, and I couldn't resist just snatching her up, placing her on the island, and kissing her senseless. I didn't care that our family was in the other room.
Then her behavior at the pub was pushing my limits. She was sexy and confident playing pool, sweet and silly singing with Alice and Rose, and devastatingly gorgeous when her attention was solely on me, wanting me, flirting with me. I don't think it would ever grow old, nor would I ever get used to it. She could leave me speechless most of the time. She was so beautiful that the seventeen year old in me just couldn't decide what inane thing about me made her want me, of all people.
"How much do you want me, baby?" I growled, lightly kicking her legs apart with my foot in order to slip my hand up her skirt and between her thighs. I moaned aloud, my forehead pressing to hers when I found her so very wet for me. "Oh, you do want me," I purred, putting my fingers to my tongue and sucking them until her sweet flavor was gone.
She nodded, her eyes black and hooded with lust. "You're doing that wrong," she smirked, pushing at my shoulders for me to kneel before her, which I did so willingly and gratefully. "I can find a better place for that tongue, baby."
"You think so, my needy girl?" I chuckled, gripping her hips and shimmying up her skirt. I hooked my fingers into the waistband of her thong and tugged it swiftly off of her. With a chuckle, I pulled it back like a rubber band and snapped it off the side of the bridge. Red lace flew through the night, landing in the cold water several feet below.
"Edward!" she laughed, her head falling back.
"We don't need them with what I'm going to do to you. They were in the way," I growled, leaning her against the steel of the bridge tower and placing her legs on both of my shoulders. "You'd better hold onto something, Bella," I threatened, standing up with her.
Her body slipped up the metal, and her hands immediately shot up to grab a crossbar above her. My Bella panted, her eyes black with want as she writhed against me, but I held her hips. I bit at the inside of her thigh, smiling when she gasped.
"Oh, Bella," I purred, swiping my tongue from one end of her slit to the other. "I'm going to devour this pretty pussy. Are you sure this is what you want?"
"Oh fuck yes," she half whined, half laughed. In her mind, she wanted me as dirty and naughty as she could get.
"Careful what you wish for, my very wet girl," I crooned, swirling my tongue around her entrance and scraping my teeth over her clit, only to hear my name burst from her lips again. "But they say it's rude to talk with your mouth full." With that said, I slipped my tongue in her as deep as I could get it, trying to drink from the very purest of the source.
"Shit, shit, shit," she chanted, her shoulders using the wall as leverage to grind against my face while my mouth worked over every inch of her sweet center.
I pulled one of my hands away from her, tracing her open mouth. "Suck, baby. Make it wet," I commanded, toying with her clit with the very tip of my tongue.
With the sexiest of dark looks, her tongue wrapped around my middle finger. She took it all the way into her mouth, suckling it hard, and my dick twitched, knowing what that mouth was capable of.
"Mm, perfect," I purred, finding my own breathing ragged. "I'm going to feel every inch of you, my Bella."
She wanted naughty, and I was right there with her. With my tongue at her core and my nose brushing against her swollen nerve, my finger pressed against her other entrance.
"Holy fuck," she gasped, her eyes rolling to the back of her head. Nothing was as beautiful as my girl in the pure throws of passion. Nothing. And knowing that I caused the sounds she made, the looks that graced her gorgeous face, made me growl low against her.
Her hips bucked as she writhed against me, and I drank as deep as I could, playing with every bit of her.
My finger slipped inside of her other entrance just as her walls clenched hard around me, and my name floated out over the Thames River into the London night air. It was the best sound I'd ever heard her emit.
I lapped up all of her juices, making sure not to miss a single drop, but it only caused her to cry out from her sensitivity. "I'm not done, baby," I growled, sliding her down my body. "I'm going to fuck you hard against this cold steel. I want your hand prints in it by the time we come. Can you do that for me?" She nodded, wide eyed and still breathless. "Turn around and face the wall, baby."
She knew me all too well. She turned, facing the metal wall in front of her and placing her hands flat on the steel. She purposefully flashed that sweet ass with an exaggerated bend at her waist, brushing against my painfully hard erection. I couldn't help but grind against her. And I hadn't even undone my pants.
"Mm, damn," I growled, pushing her skirt over her two round cheeks and rubbing them appreciatively.
My wife had always accused me of being biased when it came to anything about her, but her ass was nothing short of pure perfection. I'd seen many minds, and in those minds, a multitude of naked women. My Bella was beyond them all.
"I'm glad you approve," she giggled, looking over her shoulder at me with a painfully sexy smirk, her dark eyes looking up through her eyelashes.
"I've lost my internal filter," I snorted, leaning over her with a smile. "It's true, baby. All I'll ever want is you…"
I dropped my zipper and slipped deep inside of her, both of us gasping at the feel. It was a warm, wet, tight heaven, and I pumped hard into her.
I watched her fingers bend the metal underneath her hands as I took her hard against that wall. I reached over her, grabbing each side of the metal beam, and pushed into her roughly. Loving the sound of my name mixed with inarticulate guttural growls, I found myself getting closer and closer to the edge.
Her hands ripped the metal as I bent the edges the moment we climaxed together. My head fell to her shoulder, but my hands rubbed the top of her own to get her to let go.
We stood up together, still breathing heavily and eying our damage. "Mm, it's been a while since we've wreaked that much havoc," my Bella said wryly. "I hope the bridge doesn't collapse."
I huffed a laugh and shook my head. "I think it'll be fine," I said with a smile. "You okay?" I asked, purely out of habit. I picked up her hands and turned them over to make sure she was in one piece. There wasn't a mark on her, of course.
"I'm fine," she smirked, turning in my arms. "Better now that my good buddy Dirty Edward paid me a visit…I do love him…"
"I know you do," I chuckled, looking over the edge of the bridge, "but it's Mountain Climbing Edward that needs to get us down from here."
"Nah," she giggled, wrapping her arms around me. "I'm good. Let's stay for a few. We'll leave before the sun rises and make sure to get you to work on time."
I looked down at her with a smile. "Anything for you, love. Anything for you."


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