Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2
BELLA
"If you two don't get over here more often," Esme growled, gripping both of our faces in her hands, "I'm going to hunt you down."
"Sorry, Mom," we both mumbled through squished faces.
"You were just over at the house the day before yesterday," I huffed, shooting her a wink.
"It's not the same, and you know it," she smirked, pushing us both towards the living room. "I want you both at the same time."
"Weren't you the one that said we needed our own place?" Edward teased, ducking when she smacked at him. Her smile was barely contained as she looked up at him.
"Bella, sweetie," she narrowed her eyes at Edward first and then turned to me, "Carlisle wants to see you."
"Nice." I beamed, kissing her cheek. "His office?" I asked, and she nodded with a chuckle. I bolted through the house and up the stairs, tapping on his door.
"That better be my Bella," he chuckled, standing when I burst in. "There she is," he smiled warmly, wrapping me in a hug. "I feel I haven't seen you in ages. Please, sit with me. Catch me up."
Carlisle was trying to be subtle, but I didn't care. We had been talking like this since Edward's return into my life. I called it therapy. Carlisle called it taking care of his youngest child.
"It's about time you got a day off, too," I teased, sitting in the chair in front of his desk. "Is that hospital short-handed?"
"Yes, actually," he chuckled, shaking his head. "How are you handling things? Is it difficult – being apart?"
"Oh, yeah," I nodded, "but I am doing okay, Carlisle."
"Really?"
"Yes, really. Jasper takes amazing care of me at school. My house is never empty," I chuckled. "They worry about me."
Piano music drifted up from the parlor room downstairs. Apparently, Esme missed Edward's playing, too. He played the song he'd written just for her, and I smiled, turning my gaze back from the door.
"Forgive us," Carlisle chuckled, "we've missed you both. Edward's missed you. He worries about you when he's on duty."
"I miss him," I frowned, looking down at my hands. "Is that normal, or am I just crazy? Because it's not like I don't see him, but when I do, it's not enough. And I can't focus or find the strength to let him go when we are together. Coming here was hard today, because I know he goes back to work Tuesday. I didn't want to share."
"Normal," he nodded, leaning back in his chair. "Plus, factor in your physical connection, little one. Completi l'anima isn't easy to deal with. Marcus and I talked at length about it. Still do, actually."
"I feel selfish." I whispered this, knowing Edward could probably hear me anyway.
"Don't," Carlisle smiled warmly. "If you don't think Esme and I had to figure it all out, you're giving us too much credit. We struggled to find a way to make everything work. And you two are still new to this, still newlyweds, as Esme likes to describe you. That intense part of our love barely changes, Bells."
"I want to be able to do other things and share him with the family, but with our limited time together, it just seems impossible."
"It isn't impossible. And there's not a person in this family that hasn't gone through what you two are right now. We all understand when you keep yourselves away for weeks." He smiled, a sweet glint of mischief in his eyes. I giggled, shaking my head.
"He finally got a set schedule."
"I heard," he smiled, nodding and sitting forward. "Dr. Wilder has a brand new baby, so he wants to spend time at home as well. Brilliant schedule, actually. I'm hoping to set mine up similarly."
"Was it your idea?"
"It's one I've used before, yes. I merely suggested it to the two of them. The shifts are covered, and they get a reasonable amount of time at home." He paused, setting his elbows on his desk and touching his fingertips together. "Plus, it gives Edward time to hunt, see you, see us. He's feeling selfish with you as well. I see him struggle."
"I wish he wouldn't worry," I frowned, tilting my head. "But I understand, because tomorrow, he's off, and I have classes with Jasper. Then we have a paper due, so I can imagine we will have to work on that. All while I know there's a countdown to his next shift."
"I promise, Bells, you will find a routine. A balance."
"I know," I smiled.
"How is school?"
"Different here, but fine. We aren't taking a full schedule," I said, looking up at him, and he nodded.
"And the humans?"
I shrugged. The only human I paid any attention to was Kevin. "We don't talk to them much. Kevin is about the only one, and that's because he works with Alice."
Carlisle frowned, studying my face. "Are you purposefully not making friends?"
"Maybe," I shrugged again. "It was...hard to let go of Wendy. But I do like Kevin." Wendy had become very important to me, and towards the end of our time in the States, I'd had to let her go by cutting off all contact.
"Don't do that, Bells," he sighed, shaking his head. "Edward and Jasper were afraid you were ignoring them on purpose." He stood up to come kneel in front of me, taking my hands. "You are who you are. You make friends with humans easily. You flourish in the human world, better than I ever expected; better than any of us, really. Don't become callous to them."
"I'm not. But I need to find a way to not get so attached if I can't keep them."
He didn't say anything, but stood back up with a nod. "I can't argue that point, but don't stifle your disposition, little one. I would hate to see this life become something dark for you. You've never seen it that way before, so I would hope it never does."
"I love my life," I growled softly, almost pouting as I folded my arms across my chest. "Please don't say that, Carlisle. It's not like that at all. I promise."
Instead of sitting back behind his desk, he sat in the chair beside mine. "You're going through all of this late, too," he smiled sadly. "With everything you have been through, you're just now catching up to the daily life. No wars, no Volturi, no Victoria or James, or even Tanya." He nodded almost to himself. "This...right now, Bells, is where it gets harder. The day to day, the work, the school. Please keep that same sunny outlook you've always had."
I smiled, leaning over to kiss his cheek. "Of course," I chuckled. "Oh, Charlie wanted me to tell you hello."
"Excellent," he smiled. "And how is your father?"
"Good," I nodded, tucking my hair behind my ear. "I talked to him on the phone the other day. He and Sue enjoyed coming here. And he hates the computer, so he rarely emails."
Carlisle chuckled. "Not all of us enjoy the newest of technologies." I smiled and nodded. "What about the wolves?"
"Jake and Anna are doing great," I told him. "They continue to thank me for my Mercedes, but I begged them to stop. Izzy and Eddie are getting really big."
The piano started again, and it was my old lullaby. Edward was softly calling me to him. I smirked, looking up at Carlisle, who was shaking his head with a deep sigh.
"One more, and you're all his," he smiled. "Your shield...how are you handling it?"
"Fine," I nodded. "I suppose it's like Jasper's empathy or Edward reading minds...it's a second nature now. I don't even have to think about it. I can now feel the pull when I like someone. Kevin is a good example. I wasn't interested in meeting him, but he worked his way in anyway. I really don't need to shut out the scent of blood much anymore, either. Occasionally, yes...when there is someone that smells...strong, but not often."
"Good. Really good," he nodded. "And you're hunting enough?"
"We're supposed to go today, since we're so close to the woods."
Cullen Manor was just outside of an expansive forest. The deer were in abundance. It was the best place to hunt, considering mine and Edward's house was in the city.
The front door boomed open, with a loud Emmett singing some rock song loudly. I laughed, shaking my head. "The gang's all here, I guess."
"I guess," Carlisle rolled his eyes. "Come, let's get you back to everyone. Esme has been itching to just love on the both of you."
We walked downstairs and into the parlor, where everyone was with Edward, who opened his arms for me. I walked to him, burying my nose in his hair as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me between his legs. He was still sitting at the beautiful white piano.
"If you're selfish, what does that make me?" he asked with a sweet smile.
Incredibly handsome...and thirsty, I thought to him with a smirk on my face, lightly tracing the soft skin just under his dark eyes. "Time to hunt?"
"Hells, yeah," Emmett beamed. "Go, and hurry back. We've got Nazis to kill, Bells."
OoOoOo
After hunting quickly and a rough but thoroughly satisfying make out session in the middle of the woods, we came back to the house to hang out with the family.
I did play two games with Emmett, destroying some opponent online, but really, I just wanted to sit quietly and absorb the family dynamic. With my feet on Esme's lap and my head on Edward's shoulder, I pulled my email up on my phone.
There was a part of me that wished for contact from Wendy, but knew it would never happen. I scrolled through and deleted junk mail, as my husband and family talked about current events, Marcus, and Demitri.
Edward's fingers twirled slowly and softly through a tendril of my hair, neither one of us saying anything to each other, but just keeping as much physical contact between us as we could.
"Have you heard from Marcus?" Edward asked Carlisle.
"Yes, this morning, actually," he replied. "He's doing well. But you know Marcus. He hates wielding the power. He had always let Aro and Caius make all the calls, which I never understood, because Marcus was the most level-thinking one of the three of them. Aro liked power. Caius liked his rules. Marcus just always wanted to hear every side. I think he will do well in the long run. Plus, Demitri has become his second in command."
"I miss Demitri and Carina," Rose sighed. "I thought they said they were coming to visit."
"They are," I smiled, lifting my head and holding up my phone. "They sent an email yesterday. They will be here next week." I scanned through the email as Edward smiled and read over my shoulder. "Carina apparently can't take it anymore. She threatened him." I giggled, looking up into the now warm honey gaze of my husband, who kissed my forehead with a sweet smile.
"Good for her," Alice chuckled. "They hadn't completely decided, so I wasn't sure when to say."
Suddenly, Edward's head snapped up to Alice. "Why?" he practically growled.
"Relax, Edward," she sighed, rolling her eyes as we all stared at them, completely clueless. Jasper shook his head, but we waited patiently. "Marcus asked me to keep an eye on her. That's all. I was watching her instead."
"I want to know these things, Alice," he frowned, his posture stiff and almost angry.
"Edward," I admonished.
"Sorry," he grumbled, running a hand heavily through his hair.
I locked eyes with Jasper, who was losing patience, but I knew there was only one thing that Marcus would want Alice to watch, and only one thing that would cause a reaction from Edward like that.
"Tanya," I sneered.
"Yeah," Alice nodded, grimacing. "Sorry, Bella. Marcus wants to keep her in Russia as punishment, but he wants to know if they decide to leave."
I snorted a laugh, which caused everyone to turn to me. It was Edward I looked to. I shrugged one shoulder. "She won't survive her next meeting with me." My voice was flat – no emotion, no wavering. It was a fact. Emmett chuckled, but Edward's brow wrinkled as he pulled me closer.
Tanya had made herself my enemy from day one. First, she pursued Edward, who wanted nothing to do with her, and she continued to do so, even after my change and our wedding. Then, her hatred of me did not dissipate when she mated with Mark. But it was during the war with Felix that I finally couldn't be the better person anymore. She had told Felix my whereabouts. She'd wanted him to kill me, but instead, she took away the protection I was giving to everyone on the battlefield, and almost caused me to lose Edward.
"No, baby," he shook his head, hearing my thoughts. "I know it felt that way. I was fine, and you were hurt, love. We were too far apart." His gaze was patient, but just under the surface, I knew he felt the same way. He reached up and tucked my hair back behind my ear.
"I don't care," I growled.
I had been injured, my arm almost ripped off of me, when Edward came to help me. I'd been too weak, too hyped up emotionally, to tell the difference between whether Edward had gotten too far away in his struggle with Felix, or whether he had been killed. My panic had snowballed from there, resulting in my family trying everything they could to calm me down.
"And Demitri promised me...he told me he would hunt her down if she left that post. Is that what you're watching for?" I asked Alice.
"Yup," she smirked. She hated Tanya just as much as I did. Even Rose smirked, nodding slowly.
"Bella," Carlisle frowned, "I would rather Marcus handle her."
"I know you feel that way, Carlisle, but I can't promise you anything," I said, feeling a wave of calm flow over me. "I'm sorry."
"Just...let it go, Carlisle," Edward sighed, wrapping an arm around me and kissing my head. "I really can't blame her."
"Me, either," Esme growled, which caused us all to stop and look over at her. "I could have lost more than one of you that day," she huffed, looking at us all one by one. "Tanya deserves whatever punishment she gets – whether it's from Marcus...or Bella."
Carlisle's face was serious as he studied me, and then his wife.
"No," Edward answered some silent question. "But I won't stop her either. I may beat her to it, but I won't stop her." My head snapped up to look at Edward. His jaw was clenched, his eyes dark, despite our recent hunting.
"I think you should have done it ages ago," Emmett chuckled, sitting forward and resting his elbows on his thighs. "You both have come damn close."
"I don't blame you, Edward," Rose snorted. "She's threatened you both far too many times."
I looked over at Jasper, and he tilted his head at me. "Bells, don't feel guilty," he smiled, shaking his head. "We all remember that day. And we would protect each other, no matter what. So if it came down to it, we've got your back, kiddo."
Edward turned to me. "Guilty? Why?"
"It's my problem. She hates me."
"She's upset with us all, Bells," Carlisle said quietly, leaning back in the sofa. "And as much as I don't want to be involved, I would have to agree with Jasper. If she leaves that post, if she makes a threat against you, then..." His face was pained when he said the next sentence. "I can't say that I blame you if you...take care of her."
"Her decisions lie nowhere near leaving, Bella," Alice said softly. "As of right now, she only makes day-to-day decisions."
"'Kay," I frowned, feeling Edward's fingers under my chin.
"Don't feel guilty," he said intently, his face serious when my gaze locked with his. "An act against one of us is an act against all of us. You know that." I nodded, losing myself in his gaze. He meant every word, and behind his calm exterior, I could see the black hatred he had for Tanya.
"Hear, hear," Emmett beamed. "Though I'm totally upset you didn't do it sooner. But watching Mark put her arms back on from the last time was comical. I wasn't aware he didn't know left from right."
Edward's serious face softened, his eyes rolling. I couldn't help the giggle that snorted out of me.
"Did he really?" Edward chuckled, hearing something we didn't and looking over at Emmett. "I thought Demitri was joking."
"No," Emmett laughed, shaking his head. "He totally had to pull her arms back off. She was calling him every name in the book."
"Damn, sorry I missed that," Esme and I mumbled together, which only caused the whole house to crack into laughter.
"Bells," Jasper smiled, shaking his head, "we have that paper due."
"I know. Tuesday, right?" I asked, and he nodded. "After class tomorrow, we'll go straight to the house."
"Sure thing," he nodded again. I went back to my phone, reading an email from Anna and smiling at pictures of Izzy and Eddie.
"No, Em," Edward said softly, shaking his head, his fingers softly turning my ring. "Not tonight. Yes, soon, but not tonight." I looked between them, and Emmett's face was like a pouting child.
"What?" we all asked at the same time.
"Open mic night," Emmett muttered, shooting a pouting glare Edward's way.
I looked up at Edward, whose eyes were dark, but his face was wary. It had been ages since the boys had played in public, and not once since we'd moved from the States. I bit my lip, my brow wrinkling. I was divided. On the one hand, I loved when they played, but on the other, my alone time was rare with Edward lately, and from the look in his eyes, he was thinking the same thing.
"Okay, so not tonight," Alice giggled, obviously reading both of our decisions and shaking her head. "Soon, though?"
"My next weekend," Edward smiled, nodding slowly. "I promise, Alice." He turned to me, his eyes soft, warm. "Let's go home, sweet girl."
OoOoOo
"What will you do while I'm at school tomorrow?" I smirked, turning on our sofa to face Edward. We were back home, just reveling in our alone time. I wrapped my arms around his neck, placing a kiss to his nose.
"Pine away without you." He chuckled when I snorted into a soft laugh. "It's only for a few hours, baby."
"I know," I nodded with a smile, pulling at him until he was on top of me. "I was just curious."
"I should find you a car," he teased with narrowed eyes.
"Fine," I shrugged. "I don't need one, though."
"You haven't," he smiled, running his fingers through my hair. "And you don't seem to be in a hurry."
"I'm not," I said, shaking my head. "Jasper takes me to school. Rose drives when we go shopping. If I go anywhere, I don't mind buses or..."
"The tube, love," he chuckled. "And I hate that you take public transportation." I giggled, shaking my head at him.
"Right, because mugging me is likely to happen," I smirked, squirming and squealing when he tickled me.
"That's not what I meant, but you're right."
"But everything is so close. You're a ten minute bus ride away at the hospital. From school, Alice is not but a few blocks away. I really don't feel I'm missing out. If I needed the car, I'd come to you."
Edward had bought a Jaguar this time. It was stunning, really. And fit him perfectly. It was a hunter green with tan interior.
"True," he smiled. "So now that you've destroyed my plans for tomorrow, I have no idea what I'll do. I could fix that beautiful hand print of yours behind the headboard."
"Don't you dare," I growled, causing him to laugh, his head hitting my shoulder. "I may leave it there," I teased, smiling when he chuckled sexily. "Besides, your weekend isn't over, Dr. Masen. I hope to add to it."
"Indeed, Mrs. Masen," he purred from my shoulder, turning his head to place a long, wet kiss to my neck. "There's a goal if I ever heard one," he crooned, dragging his lips from my neck, up my jaw, to my lips. "How many times can I make you put your hand through that wall?"
"Mmm, that works both ways, baby," I smiled against his lips. "A matching hole from you may never get fixed."
He smiled, nodding slowly, but his hips gave away everything. They pressed against me slightly, eliciting a strained moan from both of us.
"Again," I breathed, my eyes closing as I shifted underneath him. We were both still dressed from being at the family house. Jeans rubbed against jeans, and I knew – I could feel – that my husband was commando, which caused a shiver to run through me.
Edward's hips ground against me again as his mouth met mine. He took my bottom lip, swirling his tongue across it. I gripped his shirt at his sides, tugging it up in order to feel his skin. I pulled at his waist, feeling every muscle contract under my touch as he pressed into me again.
He moaned into my mouth, breaking away with a gasp. "Baby, upstairs...and too many clothes."
"Don't stop," I frowned, not wanting the delicious friction to end.
"You want to come like this, sweet girl?" he asked, a deadly sexy smirk on his face as he rolled his hips again.
"I want you to make me come as many times as you can, Edward."
"Dangerous, my Bella," he crooned, pressing his forehead to mine. His eyes were black fire as he watched me writhe under him. "What will you do for me? Because I really want that wet pussy of yours, baby."
Hello, Dirty Edward, I thought with a huffing laugh. Edward's smile became evil as he pressed against me over and over. Have I ever missed you...
"You have?" he growled, his own breath hitching as my fingers dug into the small of his back. "I can certainly make up for that, you know."
"How's that?"
"By fucking you six ways from Sunday," he chuckled, placing most of his weight on the elbow by my head, so that his other hand could slip stealthily up my shirt. "Would you like that, beautiful girl?" he crooned, nipping at my jaw and ripping my bra open at the same time. He cupped my now bare breast, raking his thumb across it the same time his hips pressed forward. "Would you like to be sitting in class tomorrow...still tasting me in the back of your throat, Bella?"
"Oh, God, yes," I panted, raising my hips to meet him with the next thrust of his steel-hard erection. I slipped my hands into the back pockets of his jeans and gripped his ass to hold him hard to me. I quivered, wanting release, but I loved the teasing.
"Make yourself come, baby," he said, his voice husky as he held still over me. My center was throbbing as I pressed him to me. "I can feel it through your clothes. You're so wet for me. Make yourself come, love...and I'll take over from there." He rolled my nipple between his thumb and forefinger, pinching at just the right time. Stars exploded behind my eyes as I shook to hold him to me. My mouth hung open as my breathing came out in pants.
"My turn," he said menacingly, but he was wearing the sexiest of crooked smiles.
"It is your turn," I nodded, slipping my hand between us and rubbing his erection over his straining zipper. "Whatever shall we do with you?" I crooned, tugging open the button and slowly unzipping his jeans.
"Bella," he breathed, just barely brushing his lips over mine. His voice was full of need, of want. "I want your mouth on me."
"Okay," I smiled, pressing my lips to his, and knowing that there once was a time he wouldn't have uttered words to me like that. "Put those hands on the arm of the couch, Edward." He did as I asked, bracing himself over me as I scooted down under his body, pushing his jeans down at the same time.
When his knees were straddling each side of my chest, I wrapped my hand around his shaft, licking it slowly and relishing the taste of him.
The air rushed out of my husband's mouth when I grabbed his hips to push his length all the way in as far as I could.
"Oh fuck, baby," he gasped, catching on quickly that I wanted him to fuck my mouth. Watching his thighs flex as he pulled out, only to thrust back in over and over, caused me to moan around him. An inarticulate string of curses fell from Edward's lips, my name mixed in with them.
His thrusts became deeper, faster as his arousal twitched, growing larger when I gripped his ass just to feel his muscles roll under my fingers.
I want to taste you, baby, I thought to him. Every time I lick my lips tomorrow, I want to be able to taste you on me, Edward.
A deep feline-like growl rumbled out of him as he twitched again, pulling out of my mouth just enough to come across my lips as he roared, "Shit, Bella."
I licked my lips clean of his sweet flavor as he dragged me back up the couch. I smirked, purring as I met the slightly feral, panting Edward.
"Do you like that outfit, Bella?" he asked, his voice raspy. I nodded slowly. "Then you better have it off your body by the time I catch you in the bedroom – or it's rags, love." He was deadly serious.
"Oh, shit," I snorted, launching off of the sofa, bolting for the stairs, and stripping my shirt off. I'd barely stepped out of my jeans before I was tackled onto our bed by a sexy, growling, and naked Edward. My thong never stood a chance. It landed somewhere behind the dresser.
I laughed, my body securely wrapped around Edward as he chuckled darkly against my neck, biting at my skin roughly.
"Oh, my sweet girl," he rumbled against my throat. "If you want to feel it, taste it, ache from this tomorrow, I will certainly make sure that happens." I whimpered, writhing in his embrace. "I'll mark you as mine – even the humans will smell me on you."
"Oh, Jesus," I breathed, slipping my fingers into his hair and bringing his face to mine. I assaulted that filthy mouth of his, gasping as he sheathed himself inside of me with a groan and a sensual roll of his hips. My whole body pulled him closer as I lost my mind in the feel of him. All night.
All night, we drowned in skin and growls, teeth and tongues, smiles and tickling fingers, so by the time the sun rose to a dreary, rainy Monday, I couldn't tell where I stopped and Edward began.
EDWARD
Before I met Bella, time alone use to be my solace, my time to let my mind relax away from the thoughts of others. I would study the stock market, play the piano, or read. I would write in journals or study other languages. I found things to do. I fed my thirst for knowledge or my love for music.
Not anymore.
I snorted to myself as I watched the clock tick away. Bella had been gone for all of thirty minutes, and I was bored, missing her completely. Even though four and a half hours was nothing for someone of our kind, I still chuckled to myself as I wondered what to do to pass the time.
I was given strict instructions to leave all the wall repairs in the bedroom alone – which now included a fist print of my own. I was told to leave the laundry, and I would be in serious trouble if I made the bed. Apparently, the bed was to be an open invitation.
With a sigh, I checked in at the hospital, but nothing had changed. Dr. Wilder told me to enjoy the rest of my day off, that Toby was resting well after his surgery.
I added a few more songs to the Bedroom Playlist on Bella's iPod upstairs, smiling at the little joke between us. I wasn't sure what had started it, but it was always interesting to see what she came up with.
Finally, I sat down to the piano. My piano. In all honesty, it was Bella's piano. It was hers the moment I had played her lullaby to her on her first visit to meet my family. It was her piano when I came back to her. She wrapped her arms around me without hesitation, giving me more than I ever thought we would share on the very bench I was sitting on. It was her piano when, not six months later, I took her on top of it during a severe thunderstorm. It was her piano, because we had always been able to shut out the world just a little bit when I played for her.
It was her piano, because I watched my beautiful wife crumble at the thought of it sitting neglected and forgotten in Portland under a sheet. It was a symbol to her. A connection between the two of us that she just didn't want to let go of. I had watched as homesickness and a touch of trepidation at our move to London rocked her, but it was the thought of the piano that had triggered it. It was more than just an inanimate object to her. In her mind, she associated it with me, us – almost like a shared limb.
So I'd moved it; had it shipped from one side of the world to the other – just for her.
Yeah, I snorted to myself. It was hers, as was I.
I lifted the lid slowly, gliding my fingertips along the white keys and then over the black ones. I hadn't played alone in ages. Almost as if my hands wanted this more than me, they found the notes they wanted and began to play. I sank into Beethoven, Debussey, Chopin as time slipped by me. It wasn't until I heard my sister's mind did I realize I wasn't alone.
"Don't stop," Alice smiled, when I turned to look at the doorway that led from the music room to the kitchen. "I haven't heard you play like that in a long time."
"Meeting Jasper?"
"Yeah," she nodded, but smirked. "You haven't been here after school much, but we all kind of meet here. Em and Rose should be here soon."
I studied Alice's face, her mind open to me. Their presence here was for Bella. "Does it help her? Does it make the day better?"
"I would like to think so, but it's Bella," she smiled, sitting in the sofa along the wall.
This was mine and Bella's favorite room – outside the bedroom. It was nothing but windows, filling with soft light in the morning. When it rained, it seemed like we were standing in it without actually getting wet. The piano sat off to one side, Emmett's drums on the other. Every guitar that Jasper and I owned hung on hooks along the wall on the other side of the kitchen. There was a small table in the corner, where Bella's laptop still sat from the last time she was on it. And two sofas were in an L-shape in the corner. It was a fun room; a comfortable room. It was a room where we all liked to hang out.
"Sometimes, I'm not sure if she's letting on just exactly what she's feeling." Her face was nothing but sympathy.
"I'm wondering if this is too much," I sighed, looking down at my hands as I continued to play.
"She would be even more upset if you quit."
"I know," I nodded, a small smile creeping up my face as she showed me a vision of a very angry Bella if I told her I was leaving the hospital.
"You like it, then do it. She only wants what you want, Edward," Alice said, tilting her spiky head at me.
"We're trying this new schedule..."
"It will be fine," she said knowingly. I chuckled, shaking my head.
Holy shit, Eddie's home! My brother's booming mind made me laugh. He and Rose walked in, coming straight to the music room. From that one little statement, and his obvious excitement, I knew my siblings missed time with me just as much as Bella.
"Hey, bro," he smiled. "Welcome to the after school special." He plopped down on the sofa next to Alice and Rose, who both rolled their eyes.
"Shut it, Em," Rose shook her head. "Honestly. And you'd better find something to do. Jazz and Bells both have a paper they have to work on."
"Fine, I will, but after they get here. So catch us up, bro. What's it like working with Dad?"
I smiled, looking up from the piano to meet curious faces. Every mind wanted to know if this time it was better, if this time I felt different about it all. They had been there when I attempted this before. As easily as the knowledge came to me, my personality wouldn't allow me to stay a doctor for long periods of time. I would become angry, or I would lose the meaning of it all.
"It's good this time," I smiled, pulling my hands from the keys. "I've learned more on how to deal with humans from Bella than I did two full times through medical school." They chuckled, nodding. They knew how Bella never really changed when it came to her personality with the humans. She was no different in that respect. "There's more this time. Whereas the technology is amazing, the violence, the callousness is worse. Humans are angry, and they take it out on each other and their kids." I frowned, shaking my head. "It didn't used to be that way."
"The world is pissed off," Emmett chuckled, but he shook his head, sitting forward to rest his elbow on his knees. "Seriously. If it isn't one thing, it's another. From the economy to religious wars, from global warming to oil spills. They are mad, dude. They are desperate, hungry, poor. And that's in the States, too. It's probably worse in the States, because there isn't anyone that wants to admit it." He frowned, his brow furrowed. "Feed the starving children of the world," he quoted from a TV infomercial. "And fuck...if there still aren't hungry people left over from that hurricane in Louisiana."
"Katrina," I murmured, and he looked up at me with a nod. "You're right. They are mad." We were all quiet for a moment. "But then on the upside..." I smiled, chuckling to myself. "The kids are smarter. They know everything, including those current events you just mentioned. You can actually have a conversation with them. Well, once they put down their cell phones, video games, and TV remotes."
We all laughed.
"There's more info out there," Rose chuckled. "And it's easily accessible."
"True," I smiled. "I had a twelve-year-old girl in the other day. She was in for something minor...appendicitis, and I found myself having an entire conversation with her on whether video games were too violent. She said yes," I laughed, shaking my head. I looked up at them, having missed this time with them. "She reminded me of Bella." I smiled softly. "She would rather have read her book than watch TV. Her book stayed open on her lap the entire time we talked."
"What was she reading?" Rose smirked, her eyes full of laughter.
"Whuthering Heights," I snickered.
Our conversation continued for the next hour. We all stopped when we were joined by my wife and Jasper.
"Hey, my sweet girl," I smiled, opening my arms for her. She walked into my embrace with a deep sigh, inhaling my scent. "How was class?"
"Fine," she nodded against my hair, placing a kiss there. "There's a girl with a crush on Jasper." She giggled softly, pulling back to look over at him.
"Shut it, Bells," he snorted, rolling his eyes and kissing Alice's forehead.
"It's true," she chuckled, turning back to me. "Apparently, she was pushing some heavy lust our way. I had to shield myself from it."
I laughed, looking over at Jasper, who looked like he would be blushing if he were able. "Welcome to my world," I chuckled, ducking the pillow he threw at me with a snorting laugh. "Just be grateful you can't hear what thoughts brought about the lust, brother."
"Oh, God," he grimaced. "I can't even imagine."
"It's the Southern accent," Bella teased. "He let it loose in class today. They swooned, I swear to God." I laughed, kissing her cheek, only to turn back to see Jasper squirm during this conversation. If there was someone more gentlemanly than me, it was Jasper.
"Jazz," Alice giggled, shaking her head.
"What?" he asked, practically whining. "It's not my fault, really. Bells, paper," he growled, feigning a stern face.
"Fine," she sighed, leaning against me. I wrapped my arms around her, pressing my lips to her shoulder.
"What's she look like?" I chuckled, laughing when Jasper flipped me off as he pulled out his book.
"She's cute," Bella smirked. "Myra. She's shorter than me. Tiny, really. Very pretty hazel eyes and long dark hair."
"You wouldn't be so gracious if it were Edward she was crushing on," Rose teased. I chuckled, looking up at my eye-rolling wife.
"True, but she's not," Bella beamed, kissing my lips roughly.
"Sorry, dude," Emmett said, his nose wrinkling. "I hate that shit."
"It sucks," Jasper mumbled. "They get their hearts broken – I feel it. And I come across as an asshole, because everything I do encourages it, so I have to ignore them."
"Wonder what's worse..." Alice mused, looking between me and Jasper. "Hearing the heartbreak or feeling it."
"Either," Jasper and I said together with a sigh.
"Living it," Bella whispered, her teeth working her bottom lip. "She has it worse, believe me."
I frowned, looking up at her and squeezing her close. I gave up, and finally pulled her to my lap. We all stopped and looked at her. My heart sank to my stomach as I realized she was really talking about herself and my leaving.
"You only see her for a few hours. It's at night that it's tough," Bella continued, her mind not even aware she was letting these thoughts out. "It's when you're by yourself that you go through every personality trait, wondering where you went wrong. What you did to cause the guy to hate you..." She stopped, shaking her head slightly. "Girls have easily swayed self esteem. So it doesn't matter...she'll see it as her failure, no matter what."
"I'm..." I started to apologize, but Bella shot me a sharp look, shaking her head.
Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, if you apologize to me, you're in deep shit. Her thoughts hit me like a slap. That's not what I was talking about. Every girl feels that way when they have had their hearts broken.
"Yes, ma'am," I mumbled, not sure if she was really upset or not.
I'm not sad, love. She sighed contentedly when she buried her nose in my hair. I promise. She looked over at the piano. "Did you play today?" she smiled, turning back to me as I nodded. "Will you play while we work?" Her smile was too cute not to say yes to, so I nodded with a chuckle.
Jasper and Bella worked quietly at the table as Emmett and I played different things together. He was looking forward to the next open mic night, probably moreso than the girls – which was saying something. The girls lived for us to play in public. I told him to find the pub, and we would make the plans. The whole room was happy.
Once their paper on Napoleonic Liturature was written, proofread, and printed, Jasper joined us as we played. Bella sat beside me on the piano bench, resting her head on my shoulder. We played a few older songs together, discussing what to play if we went to an open mic.
But it was Bella's mind that was calling me. She knew we only had tonight before I went back to work in the morning, starting a four day work week. She ached to be alone together, but didn't want to stop our siblings from enjoying their time with us as well. So she sat quietly, and I would occasionally kiss the top of her head.
Her head snapped up at one point. What time do you leave for work in the morning?
"Eight," I answered, looking over at her.
"Drop me off at school. Please?" she smiled, kissing my cheek. Jasper chuckled, looking over at her and feeding off of whatever combination of emotions she was emitting.
"As you wish, my love," I chuckled. "You want me to walk you to class, too?"
"Yes," she giggled, causing the whole room to laugh. Her sweetness, her sunny outlook was something they all fed off of.
"Am I for show and tell, beautiful girl?" I laughed, flinching when she poked my side.
"Maybe," she teased with narrowed eyes. "Will you? Please?"
"Only if you come by the hospital after class," I bargained with a raised eyebrow.
"Deal," she beamed, nodding adorably.
"I'd love to," I whispered in her ear, kissing the shell of it.
"So..." Jasper surmised, "I'm meeting you at school then?"
"Yup," she sighed, laying her head back on my shoulder. In some ways, me dropping her off at class was just one more extension of our time together. But I saw a glimpse into her mind. There was a boy's face that flickered to the surface. She wanted me to mark my territory in a small way.
She hadn't even spoken to the guy that was in her class, but she knew of his feelings through Jasper, and was aware of his stares. She wanted him to know she was completely off limits. I had zero problem with staking my claim.
When the other two couples finally left us for the evening, I asked her about him. "Who is he?"
"David," she frowned, standing up from the piano bench and hopping up on top of the piano itself. She was on her stomach with her chin resting in her hands, her feet bent at the knees behind her. She and I were face to face. "He hasn't said anything, but..." She sighed, lifting one small shoulder in a shrug.
I leaned in to kiss her, closing the lid to the piano keys. "But what?" I asked, tilting my head at her. "Jasper hasn't mentioned him." I reached up, tucking her hair behind her ear and tracing my fingers along her cheek.
"Per my request," she smiled, "because I wanted to tell you myself. And I want to know what he's thinking. Do you mind?"
"Do I mind making sure that someone isn't thinking obscene thoughts about my wife?" I chuckled. "I'm sure I'll live. And we'll see about this David tomorrow."
She giggled, biting her bottom lip and nodding slightly. "I figured you wouldn't, but I didn't want to assume."
"Can I mark my territory, my Bella?"
"Of course," she smirked, reaching for me when I stood up. She wrapped her arms around my neck, and I dragged her off of the piano, catching her legs and carrying her out of the room, bridal style.
I took her upstairs, sitting down on the edge of our bed with her still in my arms. "I love you," I said, tilting my head at her. "You know that, right?"
"I feel it, Edward," she smiled, kissing my cheek softly. "I love you, too, baby."
"Good," I nodded, shifting her on my lap to pull her closer. "Show me."
Instead of kissing me like I'd expected, she opened her mind like a flower in bloom. She showed me every kiss, every exclamation of love, every smile. She showed me our wedding, but it was when she showed me...just me...as she opened her vampire eyes for the first time, that caused my breath to hitch. Seeing the love that glowed on my face, feeling the relief of being reunited after the fight with Victoria, that was her moment of love. I had loved her enough, not only to save her, but to keep her. Forever.
As I lay her down, I begged her to keep her mind open, to let me relive those memories with her. She agreed, as we lost ourselves in our history until the sun came up the next morning.


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