Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 20

CHAPTER 20
BELLA
"Edward, stop!" I laughed, smacking his groping hands away. "Let me finish this last load. Can't you have some patience?"
"Not when it comes to you, apparently," he pouted, hopping up on top of the dryer and sitting Indian style. He smiled when I giggled at his poor put-out face.
"Just…stay," I ordered, pointing to where he was. "I know you're spoiled and all, and I know that Alice used to just throw clothes away, but I actually like some of our clothes, so just humor me, okay?"
"'Kay, baby," he chuckled, looking around our laundry room for something to occupy his mind, I'm sure.
When we had first bought our little house, the laundry room was the size of a small closet, or even a half bath. And it was fine for me. I didn't expect decadence in a room where I washed t-shirts and jeans. Really.
But Esme had other ideas. She had the construction workers knock down a wall to a bathroom that we weren't particularly attached to, and there it was – the laundry room to end all laundry rooms.
My washer and dryer were another story. That was all Edward and Emmett. When they first arrived, I was convinced that I needed a degree in Nuclear Science in order to wash my sweatpants. Edward said that they saved water and energy, and Emmett said that they worked fast. After they both gave me not only decent reasons, but their sweet faces full of pride at doing a good thing, then I just spent a few extra hours reading the manuals.
As I folded towels and washcloths, my eyes glanced up to make sure my husband was staying out of trouble. He'd been a hot mess since we'd left the pub the night before. I didn't know if it was my singing with him or his lack of work, but he'd been acting like the seventeen year old that he truly was. He was laughing, teasing, and completely insatiable.
God, I loved him that way. Young, sweet, and happy Edward was just about more fun than I knew what to do with.
I glanced up again when I heard him rummaging through the storage shelves while still sitting on the dryer. He was shirtless, wearing his black jeans, and barefooted. His long legs hung down as he pushed stuff around. How can one be that sexy just sitting on a home appliance? Even his feet were perfect.
He caught my stare. "What? I'm just waiting," he defended, putting on his best good-boy face.
"Is there something specific I can get for you in there?" I asked, trying so hard not to tease him. He was, after all, trying to behave.
"No," he chuckled, turning back to the shelf. "But what's back there?"
"Oh, um…I think Esme stored some prints and an old mirror behind that shelf. She said that they weren't needed, but they would stay safely out of the way."
"Weren't needed?" His voice was muffled as he twisted around to look behind the shelf and still remain on the dryer. I had to fight my laugh. I realized he was remaining there simply because I'd told him to stay put.
"This is your family…you know, the ones that you've spent many a decade with? Is it that shocking that Esme bought more than what was needed?"
His carefree laugh barked out of him, and he turned to look at me. "Right, baby. Enough said."
"Edward, quit contorting yourself like a monkey in a tree. Just pull them out, if you're that curious." I snickered at the fact his feet were keeping him from falling into the wall.
With the silliest of smiles, he hopped down and gently pulled the shelf away from the wall without knocking anything over. He reached behind and pulled out three fabric wrapped, fairly large, framed items.
I knew one was a leaning mirror. Esme and I had debated over where to put it, but never could find exactly the right place, so we'd stored it for another day, but it just never found a home.
He leaned them all back against the shelf, pulling the wraps off of them. The first one would have matched the colors in our bedroom, but where it would fit on the wall was where I had all my photos hung. It was modern, with splashes of blues and tans.
The second was of an old red barn. I had no idea what she was thinking with that one, unless the red in it matched the spare room. But when we got both of them back here, we'd hated them. So with a giggle, we'd stored them.
Edward re-wrapped the prints, stowing them back where they were. "I'm glad you didn't hang those," he muttered, his nose wrinkled.
I snickered, grabbing out a load out of the dryer and walking back to the table to fold and hang them. "Yeah, we kinda said the same thing," I explained, looking up at him. "That mirror is pretty; we just couldn't find exactly the right place for it."
"Yeah?" His eyebrows raised high as he tugged the sheet off of it.
It was a pretty thing, framed in black and silver and beveled around the edge. It was slightly taller than me, but not quite as tall as him. The frame had a swirling design. It could hang vertically, horizontally, or it could lean against a wall. I had really liked it when we bought it, but hadn't given it another thought until he started looking back there.
"That is nice," Edward mused, looking at it and then me. "This should go in our room."
"And just where?" I chuckled. "Every wall is covered. And there's not any floor space. Esme and I tried."
"You didn't have me." He grinned, starting for the door and carrying the mirror with him.
As I heard him rumble up the stairs, I couldn't resist. "Don't even think about the ceiling, Edward," I teased, laughing when I heard him growl low.
"Don't tempt me, Isabella," he countered with a teasing sexiness to his voice. "Right above the bed," he added with a laugh.
"Oh God," I groaned, shaking my head at his shameless laugh coming from our bedroom.
Finally finishing with my folding, I lugged the baskets upstairs to put away the towels in the linen closet. When I finally made it into the bedroom, I shook my head. Damn it, if he hadn't found a place for that mirror.
"See?" he chuckled, pointing to the wall between the bathroom and the closet. "We don't need that giant vase thing."
"Which is just about the exact words I used on Esme," I snickered at him, turning to the mirror. "But she insisted. I like that better. Good job, baby. You'll have more input in the next house."
He groaned, falling back on the bed dramatically, but as I watched him in the mirror, I saw the potential it truly had. And possibly why he'd picked the spot he had.
I spun around with a wry smile. "There's a twisted little pervert deep down in that hundred and something year old brain, isn't there?"
Only his head popped up from the bed, but it was his sexy crooked ass smile that said it all. "You know there is. In fact, you're the only one that knows this," he laughed, sitting up completely. Every muscle in his torso rippled deliciously with that simple movement.
"Ah, but I've just now gotten you to admit it." I chuckled, but in reality, I didn't want to even think about what Alice really saw between us and just kept to herself.
He fought his smile, his tongue pushing against the inside of his cheek. "Maybe," was all he said as he stood up from the bed. "I've been awful patient. Is the laundry done, Bella?" he asked, his voice deepening to a smooth, dripping sexy tenor, my name rolling off of his tongue like the naughtiest of words.
"Yeah," I murmured, my brow furrowing as our electrical connection just charged into the room like a raging bull.
I would've thought with the last few days of being together, it wouldn't spark so roughly, but it did. It always did. Sometimes I thought it was when our moods meshed together. Other times, I felt that it was just an opportunity to keep us together and not to question it.
He stalked towards me, spinning me around so that I was facing the mirror with my back to his chest. "Tell me you can't envision it, baby," he whispered, his hands gliding down my arms and under the hem of my shirt, teasing the skin on my stomach.
"We've done it in a mirror before," I breathed, my eyes closing as his hands cupped my breasts, only to quickly move to gather up my shirt. I raised my arms over my head as he tugged it off and dropped it to the floor.
"I've taken you hard in a mirror, but I want to savor it this time," he purred, his whole body and his voice leaning on the word savor.
As his hands cupped my breasts again, I watched him. I drank in his long fingers bringing my nipples to aching peaks. My eyes felt hooded with lust and want as the muscles in his forearms and biceps flexed and rolled with each squeeze. I moaned as his abs tensed when I shifted in front of him. And I finally locked on his darkening eyes as his mouth opened against the crook of my neck, his tongue dragging across my flesh.
"I want to see myself braced over the most beautiful creature. I want to see what your whole body does when you come underneath me," he crooned. With palms flat, he slid them down my stomach and pushed my sleep shorts down. "I want to see how perfect those legs look wrapped around me."
"Edward," I moaned, leaning into him.
It wasn't that I didn't want it, but because suddenly, I did. I wanted to know how his strong back arched when he pressed deeper, how his ass flexed with each thrust, and how his arms strained as he held himself above me.
"There it is." He smiled against my neck, getting a glimpse at my thoughts. "I want to make love to you, Bella. I want us to watch it."
I knew I couldn't resist him. Ever. I imagined a brief flash of my endless future with him, and it showed me pleasure beyond comprehension. In our history, I could see the tentative Edward that loved me in the very beginning, but wouldn't prove it; next, the Edward that returned to me, who said yes to my every whim, including making love for the first time; and finally, the amazing lover standing right behind me. He was imaginative, sensual, and deadly in his ways to bring me to the brink of every climax, only to fall with me, to leave me speechless with post coital content.
Tanya said once that she wanted Edward because he exuded sexual prowess. She had no fucking idea. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The most breathtaking part of it all was that it was me that he begged to touch, me that lit up his most handsome face, and me that he would give the world to without question. It made a girl feel beyond beautiful, beyond stunning. It made me feel powerful and humble at the same time.
Sometimes, his love for me brought me to my knees.
And other times, turnabout was fair play.
I turned in front of him, urging him back towards the bed. "What do you want first, baby?" I asked, dragging my fingers lightly down his stomach and gripping the front of his jeans. "Do you want my mouth on you, so that you can see me take you all the way in? Or do you want me on top, so that you can see the definition of a prefect ninety degree angle?"
The air rushed from him, his eyes blackened to the deepest of pitch, and his hands immediately twitched at my waist. "Fuck, Bella, either…both…I can't choose…"
Just before the back of his legs hit the side of the bed, I sank slowly to my knees, dragging my fingers down his thighs. I tugged open his jeans, finding him hard, ready, and already leaking. I couldn't help the sound of appreciation that rumbled through my chest.
As he kicked out of his jeans, I couldn't stop from touching his thighs, digging my fingers in deeply to his strong muscles.
I didn't watch the mirror, but he did. He watched, purring low, deep within his chest, as I licked the underside of his shaft, before wrapping my hand around it. He lost sight of himself as his head fell back when I took him all the way in.
I watched him watch us. And he was beautiful.
I watched as his jaw tensed when he gripped a handful of my hair. I watched his eyes flicker from the sight at his feet to the sight in the mirror as I ravished his cock, his mouth hanging slightly open. I watched as his whole body tensed, his teeth bit at his bottom lip, and his eyes rolled back as he totally lost himself to me, coming hard down my throat and erupting in a rumbling purr of satisfaction.
In a blur, I found myself on the bed with a predatory Edward looming over me. "You have no idea…" he breathed, kissing me so hard that he pressed my head into the comforter. "Look, baby…just look," he purred, nuzzling my face towards the mirror and trailing his lips down my cheek as I turned to look at us.
I always said we fit perfectly, but to actually see it was beyond what I imagined. Where I was missing, he filled; where we touched was perfectly aligned. He nestled between my legs, hips to hips, stomach to stomach.
"Oh God," I whispered, unable to keep the emotion from my voice.
I looked up to see him watching me this time. Where the blackness was still in his eyes, there was warmth and love as well. "You were made for me, baby," he whispered, shaking his head slowly like he couldn't believe it. His hips thrust against me, causing my breath to catch at the feel of his renewed arousal slipping through my wet folds.
All I could do was nod as he pressed his forehead to mine. Apparently, we were both a little overwhelmed.
With a shift of his hips, he slipped just inside my entrance, but held still. "Watch me love you," he purred, nuzzling my cheek once again toward the mirror.
I gasped at the beauty that was Edward, when his whole body shifted over me, sheathing his cock as deep as he could. My head pressed back, but I couldn't take my eyes off of him.
He was nothing short of pure artwork, a glorious statue in motion. His strong back sloped down to his narrow waist as his ass flexed with each thrust. He shifted a thigh for better leverage, gripping my hip to love me deeper. His hair fell to his forehead, giving him the most striking profile, as this time, he watched me.
A sweet smile graced his face as he felt my whole body clench at the sight of him, of us. "Bella, you're so beautiful," he whispered in my ear, placing a long, slow kiss to the soft skin just underneath it. "I'll never get enough of you. I just can't."
"Edward," I cried softly, finally turning to him and not the mirror image. I slipped my fingers through his soft hair, bringing his mouth to mine.
As I relished his taste, the feel of being completely filled, I realized we were both way deep in a moment – together, something I don't ever remember happening. Usually, it was one or the other.
"More, baby," I begged, arching up to him to urge for more, deeper, harder, faster.
"I know, love," he growled, looking to our mirror image as he hooked my leg into the crook of his arm. "Jesus," he gasped, squeezing his eyes closed just after I met his gaze in the mirror.
We were the very definition of love, of sex, of the first couple to ever sink into each other. And I came hard around him, unable to stave it off and barely able to control my limbs.
"Oh God, Bella," he growled, rolling us so that I was on top. "I need…I want…more."
This position made me forget the mirror, only focusing on the amazing sight below me. With muscles tensed, and firm but loving, guiding hands, Edward worked my body over him the way he wanted. And he felt so good.
I thought my heart would explode with the feelings of need, want, and love coursing through me. I didn't know if I could take much more. I wanted to come, but I wanted him to come with me.
"Up, up," I begged, needing him to ground me, surround me, forgetting the mirror altogether.
Immediately, I was enveloped in strong arms, loving words, and the scent of honey, clean linen, and lust – the scent that called me to him since the day I met him. I buried my face in his neck, inhaling him, drinking that perfect fragrance in as he whispered in my ear to let go, to come for him.
Gripping his strong shoulders just above his shoulder blades, I cried out against his skin, my whole body shaking with my climax and my emotions.
"I love you," I chanted over and over as my body, limbs and all, pulled him as close as I could.
I chanced a peek at the mirror just as Edward gripped my hips to still my movement, spilling deep within me. We were wrapped around each other, looking like a single being. Michelangelo couldn't have chiseled a more perfect piece of art.
I gripped the back of Edward's neck, trying my damnedest to calm down.
"Shh, baby," he whispered, placing soft, calming kisses to my shoulder, neck, and cheek. "I've got you. It's okay."
"Too much," I breathed, pulling his lips to mine. He kissed me deeply, thoroughly, his tongue slipping along mine in a languid, wet kiss. It helped to ground me, keep me from losing myself to the insanity I felt I was slipping into.
"Yes," he murmured against my shoulder. "My feelings for you are too much sometimes, too. I understand, my sweet girl."
"'Kay." I nodded, not able to think a straight thought. "Just hold me. Don't move."
"Of course, my love."
~oOoOo~
EDWARD
"Sweetheart, they're almost here. I hear Carlisle's mind already," I called upstairs.
We'd just cleaned up after my insatiable morning. I knew I was being a pain in the ass all morning, when all she wanted was to finish a few simple chores, but I couldn't stop myself from teasing her, playing with her. It felt like my body needed her in ways I couldn't express. And my Bella took it all with a sweet sense of humor.
"Okay," she sang, hopping down the steps like a glowing angel, happy and bright. "Are you nervous?"
"About what? Our connection?" I asked, wrapping her in my arms. She nodded against my chest. "No, not anymore. I've started to really pay attention to how I feel away from you, so I think we'll be okay. What about you?"
"I've always felt that," she sighed, smiling slightly as she pulled back to look up at me. She reached up, pushing my hair from my forehead. "Carlisle has some interesting theories. I think keeping it simple, like we did when we first got back together, like we were at Dartmouth…that's the way to go."
"Me, too." I picked up her fingers, kissing each one. "What theories?" I asked, wondering how she knew of them and I didn't.
"I'll let him explain. I was joking when I said it, but he thinks it's pretty close."
I smiled at her wry tone, saying, "Whatever you say, love."
I opened the door to almost a millennia of experience and knowledge. Carlisle and Marcus smiled kindly as we led them to our living room, after hugging Bella sweetly.
They sat across from us, Carlisle holding the ancient text that Marcus had been kind enough to bring from his personal library in Italy.
"I wanted this to be just us today, son," Carlisle started, his mind focused on a small list of discussions he wanted to have with us. "First, Marcus has some news about Tanya."
Bella tensed beside me, and I reached over to soothe her fisted hand.
"Easy, Amore." Marcus smiled, but he was bracing himself mentally for her reaction. "Tanya was obeying my instructions when we went to see her. She and her mate, Mark, have settled into a life in Russia. However…"
"Don't tell me," Bella growled. "You let her leave?"
"Wait, Bells, please," Carlisle begged, wincing at her hate filled growl. "She was once family."
"But she lost that right!"
"Easy, baby, let them finish," I said, kissing her head and wrapping an arm around her, not just for comfort, but just in case she lost her temper. Tanya was the only person that could evoke a rage from my wife that was almost scary.
"Kate is finally mated," Carlisle continued, a small smile gracing his face. "She wants Tanya there for the wedding in Alaska. She's only asking for a reprieve, a break to be there for her sister."
"Marcus," I growled, shaking my head. "She'll take advantage of your kindness. She won't be able to stop herself. Her hatred for Bella and me is too strong. She's easily distracted."
"You're right," he agreed, his face showing an ancient wisdom, "but Demitri told her that she had to return to her post as soon as the wedding was over. Otherwise, he would hunt her down."
"Fine!" Bella snapped, seething as she stared at her hands. "When?"
"She's already in transit to Alaska," Carlisle said with a wince at my angel's deep growl.
"Amore, I don't mean to upset you," Marcus said, reaching for her hands. "I'm aware of how she feels. Her loyalty to Carlisle is almost nonexistent. I saw it. I've given Demitri the power to end her, Isabella."
"You're testing her?" I asked, wanting to clarify his true intentions.
"Yes."
"You must be tired of watching her," Bella sneered. "It's exhausting, isn't it?"
Marcus laughed, a true amused laugh. "Indeed, I am," he chuckled, squeezing her hand. "And it really is."
"Who did Kate find?" I asked, looking to Carlisle.
"Oh, you'll love this…Garrett."
"Stop it," Bella snorted, rolling her eyes. "He's a simpleton."
"Bella," I chuckled, kissing her head. "Perhaps love will change that fact." I smiled at her amused snort when she looked up at me.
Carlisle and Marcus looked at her with a parental love that was almost breathtaking. Both of their minds loved her sharp wit, her unwavering loyalty. I just nodded in agreement to no one in particular.
"Next," Carlisle said, leaning back in the loveseat, "New York. Edward, Bella, I want your opinions. I've asked your mother and siblings. I have theirs."
I didn't have to read his thoughts to know my brothers would be all for it. Emmett couldn't resist a good fight, and Jasper's military history would make him see the entire island of Manhattan as a game board of epic proportions. Rose would enjoy the hunt. Alice the chase. Esme would go just to keep her family within her eyesight.
I took a deep breath and looked down at Bella. I then turned my gaze to Marcus. "Do you feel you need us?"
"Yes."
"Is this bigger than you thought?" Bella asked, her eyes narrowing at the men across from us.
"I think so," Marcus sighed wearily, nodding to her.
Bella looked at me with a serious, steady gaze. "I have rules if we go."
"And they are?" I asked, tucking her hair away from her face
"We stay within our ten mile range if we aren't together. Phones are a must. Constant contact between us, Edward, or the answer is no."
"Seems reasonable," Carlisle agreed.
"When?" I asked, breaking my gaze from my angel back to the men across from us.
"Soon," Marcus answered. "Agosto is still working with the newborns he took back to Volterra. He said they are coming along well."
I turned back to Bella. "Are you sure, love?"
She chuckled, saying, "You look like Jasper and Emmett; like you're about to bust with anticipation…how could I say no?"
I smiled, nodding. "It's confidence, baby," I teased, giving her a wink. "We love the thrill of the chase."
"Indeed," she laughed, rolling her eyes, but they were darkening for some reason.
"Well, that was unanimous," Carlisle snickered, shaking his head. "We're in. Though as time draws closer, I'll have rules of my own, Marcus. My family isn't a policing unit for the Volturi."
"I know, and I respect that," Marcus promised, his face nothing but sincere. "I wouldn't ask if I didn't need every last talent in this family. You've been nothing but loyal to me since the deaths of my brothers. I can't repay you that, but I need you."
"Then you have us," my father said solemnly. "If Alice had seen something, or if one family member had wavered, then we wouldn't, but she sees everyone safe and everyone working as a team."
"Um, I've spoken with Jacob recently," I added. "They want to help, if they're needed. They've been following the events recently."
"Jake wants to fly to New York? The whole pack?" Bella half laughed, half gasped.
"Sort of," I smirked. "He said that a few of them would be willing to meet us there."
"Werewolves in Manhattan?" Carlisle asked, his eyebrows high on his forehead.
"They can be deadly stealthy," Bella mused, her brow furrowed. "Dark alleys, Central Park…these would be easy places for them to track. But they're too big to look like stray dogs if they're seen."
"True," Marcus nodded. "Let me think about it before I give you a definitive answer, okay?"
"No problem, though they will tell you that they don't answer to you," I said, shrugging. He nodded in understanding. "Will Demitri and Carina be joining us?" I asked, but they both were already nodding.
"We'll sit down with everyone soon and look over all the details," Marcus stated, sitting forward and resting his elbows on his knees. "Stephano is taking Elena there as we speak, to get another look at the situation, because another warehouse of drained humans was found. The NYPD is completely baffled. We'll know more in a few days. Plus, I want to speak with these newborns that Agosto is working with."
"What time frame are we looking at?" Carlisle asked Marcus.
"A few weeks, at least."
We were all quiet for a few moments, until Carlisle set the large book on the coffee table between the four of us. "We found another couple," he stated, opening the book to a marked page. "This one should have been what we studied first. Marcus was able to get a hold of Phineas, and he recognized the…symptoms, so to speak. He told us that Benedict and Grace were a poor example, though they were the first he documented."
Bella chuckled at Carlisle's phrasing, and he smiled up at her. "I am a doctor. 'Symptoms' was the best word I could use, little one."
"Would you just go on?" she laughed, shaking her head at him. "What makes them different?"
"One of them was human." Marcus smiled knowingly. "And they're still around. They reside in New Zealand."
"Really?" I asked, my brow furrowing. I pulled the book to me.
I scanned a few lines concerning a couple just a few years after Benedict and Grace. Jonas had been human when he met the immortal Marion in Africa. Their souls connected immediately, and it was the scribe, Phineas, that gave it the name completi l'anima. By this time, he was fascinated with the condition and its impact on immortals.
Marion tried to keep Jonas human, at least until he was in his early twenties, but before he could reach that age or she could change him, he was sold as a slave and shipped to America. It took Marion three years to get him back. The story of his rescue was bloody and foul from what I could see in the text. She took an entire plantation down to the ground, killing every member of the home, releasing every slave, and burning the entire hundred acre property to ash.
"I don't blame her," Bella and I muttered at the same time, which made me chuckle and kiss her temple before continuing the story.
Jonas had fallen ill. His pain, his emptiness, his inability to truly breathe – they matched Bella's descriptions to a tee. Once Marion had him safely away in the forests of Canada, she spent days nursing him back to health, but he was almost healed perfectly at the sight of her. When she finally felt he was strong, she changed him. All his wounds, all his pains – emotional and physical – they all went away.
"And they're fine," Bella verified, looking between Marcus and Carlisle.
"Yes," Marcus answered. "They live quite well. They take regular hunting trips together, though they hunt humans, but Phineas stated that he still communicates with them. My old scribe has dropped his quill and parchment for a MacBook." Marcus grinned, shaking his head.
I couldn't help but find that hilarious; or maybe it was just that the stress we'd been under with worry had finally left me. "Wait," I murmured. "Can they separate? Can they be apart?"
"Yes, but it's limited. They take great care if they are apart to reconnect and heal once reunited, but they tell him that they don't even like to be apart, anyway – just like you two. And it's Jonas that seems to suffer the most if they go more than a few days."
"Why?" Bella asked, flipping through the book.
"Phineas seems to think it's the sire that binds them, so any separation tugs at the younger immortal more. He's also not sure if the sire is just stronger, period. There just aren't enough of you out there to truly study, though he would like to. Phineas also has a theory that it acts as a defense mechanism – so that no one can take one from the other for very long with malice intentions. I got a little confused myself, but Phineas has always done that to me. He's insanely intelligent," Marcus snorted. "What we do know is that you can relax, because the change that Isabella went through acted as a timer reset."
"Oh," I breathed, looking down at her and thanking God and all that was Holy that I hadn't wounded her on some level that we would never get back.
She looked up at me with determination. "Okay, then." She nodded once. "Then what we talked about stays. We communicate how we feel. We listen to Alice and Jasper. And we go back to simple." Her brow furrowed slightly as she turned to Carlisle.
"Wait, love. What is it?"
"I feel like I'm cheating you…"
I grinned. "Never. Don't ever think that."
"Bells…" Carlisle smiled at her warmly. "You're cheating him no more than he's cheating you. It's what you have to do. Remember, he aches, too."
"Okay." She nodded, a sweet smile spreading over her face as she turned to Marcus. "What color are we today, Marcus?"
"The brightest of greens, Amore," he laughed. "You two are quite happy and healed today."
She giggled, looking up at me. "Good. Green is good."
~oOoOo~
"I think we should charter a plane to New York." Jasper frowned, poking the fire we had started with a long dead branch.
Bella and I followed Carlisle and Marcus back to the family home. We both needed to hunt. Our siblings joined us, finding a secluded spot to relax under the stars.
I looked over at him, hearing his thoughts. "I hadn't thought of it that way," I agreed, tossing a stick into the flames, "but you're right. If they bring those newborns from Volterra, getting them through security will be a hassle."
"That, and Alice sees not only us, but Demitri, Carina, Marcus…those newborns and Agosto…not to mention Stephano and Elena," Jasper said with a shrug.
"How many newborns did Agosto take?"
"Three," he said, turning towards a crashing rumble heading our way. "The hell, Emmett?"
"Where is she?" he growled, but he was wearing a playful smile on his face. He was chasing Bella.
I smelled her instantly, moving silently above me somewhere in the tree tops. I chuckled, shaking my head. "What did she do?"
"She totally stole the buck I was hunting," he pouted, folding his huge arms across his chest.
Jasper hid his laugh behind his hand.
Bella's laughing mind caressed me softly. He was too damn slow, Edward. I can't help it if he can't keep up.
I snorted a laugh, but cleared my throat and looked up at my brother, who raised an eyebrow at me.
"She's close, isn't she?" he growled, looking all around. "She's so talking to you right now."
Jasper chuckled, shaking his head, but he looked up at the canopy above us when he felt the mischief rolling off of my wife in waves. "You know, Em, there are plenty more out there," he pointed out with a wry smile.
"That's not the point!" he growled, turning to Jasper. "She used that shield on me…just as I was about to take it down."
Soft feet landed right behind me, but I didn't even bother to look – I would know the scent of her, the sound of her anywhere.
Though, Emmett saw her. "You're a little cheat!" he said, pointing to her.
"Hmm," she mused, fighting her smile and sitting beside me. "Like you've never cheated before…"
He opened his mouth to argue, but thought better of it. Instead, he chose to sit down with a huff, turning to me with a raised eyebrow. "You aren't gonna say something?"
"No," I snorted. "You are quite capable of defending yourself. You're a big boy."
I heard Bella giggle, and I elbowed her. "Hush, beautiful. Give him some hope, okay?"
"'Kay," she laughed, looking up at an eye rolling Emmett, and little sister sympathy for him filled her sweet face. "Fine, Em. I owe you one, all right?"
"You do...I don't what it'll be yet, but I'll collect," he promised with a grin, pointing at her. "It'll be when you least expect it."
She snickered, laying her head on my shoulder. I picked up a tendril of her hair, wrapping it around my finger. "You could be making a deal with the devil, Bella," I teased, knowing that Emmett had no idea what he wanted yet.
"We'll see," she chuckled quietly, her shield falling over her thoughts.
"We're chartering a plane?" Alice asked, knowing the answer already. We all looked up when she and Rose joined the fire sight. "That's probably best, but..." Her eyes glazed over, and Kevin's face floated to the forefront of her mind.
"I was afraid of that, Alice," I said in response.
"Kevin wants to go home?" Alice asked, looking to me. "You knew this?"
"He thought about it at Halloween. He found out his father isn't well," I said, frowning. "He knew we had talked about New York. He wants to go with you girls."
"He does?" Bella sat up, turning her attention to me. "Why?"
"He's afraid he won't be well received back at home, but he feels the need to see his father." I shrugged, tucking Bella's hair behind her ear. "If anything, he wants support."
The girls cooed together in sympathy.
"He won't be safe if he goes with us." Jasper frowned, looking up at Alice.
"He'll want to ride with us," she said knowingly, and shrugged one tiny shoulder. "As soon as Bella tells him we're going out of town, he'll insist that he go. There will be no stopping him."
"But on a plane with newborns?" Emmett asked, wincing with the thought of having to fight them off against him. "Tell him no. Tell him it's a full flight. If he wants to meet us there, then fine. I'll buy his damn ticket, but I'm not risking his life..."
"I agree," Bella said firmly. "It's possible he could see too much. I'm aware that he's under the impression that we're different...I don't want to have to prove it a mile in the air."
"I think you two are right," I sighed. "We'll think of something. I still have to speak with Jacob before we decide."
"I'm all for the wolves' help," Rose sighed, shrugging a little, "but I don't understand the logistics of how they can help. What did Marcus say?"
"That he wanted to think about it," I answered, "but he knows he can't stop them. If they're seen, it's their secret that is revealed, but it could open up a completely different can of worms. Like with the videos of immortals draining humans a few years back, people could start to realize that all legends are true."
We were all quiet for a moment, but Jasper's mind was going a mile a minute – strategy, talents, speed, terrain. It went on and on. I looked up at him with a raised eyebrow.
He grimaced, looking to Bella with a flicker of his eyes and back to me before he said, "We need to train." Before the girls could truly break into a completely violent complaint, he held up his hands. "Wait! I know you guys hate it, but you don't know what it's like, fighting, hunting, and killing newborns in a city setting."
"So what?" Rose growled, her face not happy about the idea of it. She was protecting Bella. She always took training so hard. "We're gonna prowl the streets of London in a giant game of tag?"
"Hell, yes," Emmett said, nodding. "That's exactly what we should do. And Eddie's 'it'."
I laughed, shaking my head. Bella looked up at me with an amusement, but a touch of curiosity. "Why you?"
"Because Eddie's damn hard to catch," Jasper chuckled. "Just wait and see."
~oOoOo~
BELLA
"Every man – or woman – for themselves," Emmett said, grinning and pulling on a black, long-sleeved t-shirt once he stepped out of the car and onto the sidewalk. "Are we placing a wager on this?"
"Nah, just let the winner choose what they want. Options can be…song choices at an open mic, hunting trip to anywhere within reason, or choice of the next school or whatever. No slaves, no money, no humiliation to the losers." Jasper smiled, wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
"Though, if I'm being honest, my money is on Bells." He pulled me close. "Edward won't be able to hear you coming, but you have to be quick."
"What's my head start?" Edward asked, stepping gracefully out of the Volvo and pulling on a black hoodie and leaving the hood up.
"Ten minutes," Carlisle said, tying his shoes.
I shook my head at them all, though it did sound like fun. It hadn't even taken twenty-four hours for the mere mention of this game to become an obsession and an excuse for the trash talking to begin.
On the way to the starting point, Jasper explained the central theme to their game of tag. Edward was "it," but that meant he had to avoid getting captured – the reverse as far as traditional rules go. As far as the Cullen rules went, they were almost nonexistent. The main rule – humans weren't allowed to see any of us do anything strange like acts of strength or speed.
Edward was allowed to make as many false trails as he wanted or use any means of evasion, as long as he wasn't seen by the people of London. There was no "base," but if he was still not captured by sunrise, he was the winner.
And he had been the winner of this particular game for the past fifty some odd years.
"Fifty years? Really?" I asked, turning to Alice. "Come on…"
I heard Edward chuckle behind me, but Alice frowned. "He's freakin' good at it. He makes no long term decisions, holds no emotions," she huffed, pointing to Jasper, "and he's fast."
"Yes, but his ego is going down," Esme giggled, poking Edward in the stomach, who growled playfully at her. "This time, he can be trapped with a shield. He can't even hear you coming."
I turned to look at him. He looked adorable all in black, the hood of his sweatshirt framing his face.
"I don't know, sweet girl," he teased, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head. "I can usually sense when you're close without hearing your smart mind."
"That's true," I agreed, "but our connection works both ways, big guy." I heard the family chuckle around us as they all got ready. "But do try to keep it within ten miles, okay?" I asked, my wince giving away my fear of the pain.
"That's why we're here, love. We need to work as a team and stay within that boundary. I want to win, but not at the cost of hurting us," he said, cupping my face. He leaned in and kissed my lips chastely.
"Team?" I smirked, looking around at my family and back to him.
"Well, we've tried to work together to catch his ass," Rose snorted, rolling her eyes. "It never works."
"This time, it will," Carlisle chuckled, patting Edward on the back. "Get going, son. Ten minutes. Good luck."
"Thanks." Edward smirked so smugly that I couldn't help but laugh. He chuckled when I pulled the strings of his hood, tightening it around his face. He kissed me one more time, even with his face all squished. "Love you, and have fun, baby," he whispered against my lips.
In a flash, he was gone.
Advice came to me from every member of the family as we waited those ten minutes.
"He'll double back and then hit the rooftops," Jasper muttered.
"He'll find the closest park and try and lose you in the trees," Esme chuckled.
"He'll try to clear his scent through water from fountains and the river," Emmett sighed, rolling his eyes like he knew of this issue first hand.
"I could just shield you all, and he won't be able to hear any of us," I suggested.
"That would work, but eventually he'll give enough false leads that we'll have no choice but to split up," Carlisle shrugged, looking at his watch. "It's time. Let's go."
As we ran at a human pace down the sidewalk, I could smell Edward's scent clearly, easily, but as we neared a fairly large intersection, it forked several ways. I laughed, shaking my head.
"Alice, you come with me," I smirked, grabbing her hand and taking the trail that lead straight ahead. "What's he doing?" I asked her.
"He's making last second decisions, but…" She stopped, pulling me to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk. "I see a bridge…then…" She gasped, smiling widely. "Big Ben…come on!" She grabbed my hand and tugged me back into a human paced run.
We took a few turns, finding darker alleys so that we could run a little faster, away from the eyes of humans. We skidded to a stop just on the other side of the Thames, facing the Parliament House.
Edward's scent wafted around me, telling me that we were on the right track – at least for the moment. We crossed Westminster Bridge, picking up his scent the whole way, until we got to the end of the bridge, and the trail ran cold.
"Jackass," I chuckled with Alice as we both looked around.
This was one of those moments where I needed to think like my husband. He was wickedly smart, an amazing strategist, and loved to push my buttons. I looked back up the bridge the way we came, and then back to Big Ben.
"Come here," I said, walking slowly back up the bridge. He'd doubled back before the end. "He went over the side and back up this way."
Alice nodded her understanding, following my lead.
"Big Ben would've been too cliché," I snorted, catching Edward's scent once again on the opposite side of the bridge this time, "but he probably thought about it to mix us up. I bet he guessed I would take you with me."
For the next hour or so, we tracked him down, following one lead to a dead end, only to turn around and track the next trail. At one point, we ran into Carlisle, Esme, and Jasper.
"The bastard had me almost in the damn river," Jasper chuckled, looking up at the building beside us.
"Yeah, us, too," I snorting, rolling my eyes, but stopped when I realized he was near. I didn't smell him – I felt him.
"What?" Carlisle mouthed.
I pointed up to the top of the building, and Jasper grabbed my hand, giving the now universal family signal to shield him. I nodded and let him lead me to the back alley between the buildings. Jasper took one corner, and I took the other. We climbed as quickly and silently as possible up the fifteen story brick building.
As we stepped onto the rooftop, I caught Edward's scent again, and so did Jasper. We each took a side of the building following the trail and meeting on the opposite side we had climbed. No Edward, but I could have sworn I heard his chuckle echo across from another rooftop.
"Shit," I sighed, smiling and shaking my head.
With a quick text down below to the others, Jasper and I jumped across to the next building – and the next, and the next. The very last building, Edward had used the door, actually going inside the building and down the stairs.
We came out the back exit of the building, only to stop dead at the loss of his trail.
"Damn it," Jasper growled, looking around. He went from one end of the alley to the other, shaking his head in frustration.
I joined him at the end of the alley, looking left and right, locking onto a sign that made me sigh. "Shit."
"What?" Jasper asked.
"Hyde Park," was my only reply, pointing to the end of the street.
It wasn't that it was just a park, but that it was three hundred and fifty acres of park, and Edward would use it to his advantage. It was riddled with trees, pathways, gardens, and memorials.
"We could surround him," Jasper suggested, pulling out his phone. He texted quickly as we walked at a human pace towards one of the larger tourist attractions in London.
It wasn't quite midnight, the park's closing time, but there weren't very many humans out that late. They were there; we just had to be careful.
Instead of speaking, Jasper held up his phone, showing a text from Emmett and Rose. They were going to come in through Kensington Park. Carlisle and Esme would circle around to the opposite side as us. Alice would come in the same side as us, but further down towards Kensington.
I caught Edward's trail just as soon as we were inside the park. I split away from Jasper, motioning for him to stay with me, but spread out. As we closed in on the Serpentine, I caught the briefest of glimpses of him through the trees on the far side of the park, heading back the way we had just come.
I took off towards him, hoping that the angle would give me the advantage, but he turned suddenly, narrowly evading Carlisle and Esme. I shielded myself completely, staying on his trail as he tried to wind in and out of the trees and small buildings. He was aiming for the exit of the park.
I tracked him through the exit, down the street, until Buckingham Palace came into view. His scent was growing stronger, so I could only think he was slowing down – or he knew it was me that was behind him.
I was wrong on both guesses. He had stumbled upon a group of tourists, young girls. They were taking night pictures of the palace, and he couldn't get away from me without making a scene. He tried walking briskly past them, but they stopped him politely.
I leaned on a light post across the street, watching the girls laugh, flirt, and gaze up drunkenly at my husband. I snickered when he finally took his hood down with a sigh, his hair sticking up deliciously just the way I loved it. And I wasn't the only one – every girl's eyes widened at my handsome Edward.
"Just a few pictures. Do you mind?" I heard one of the girls ask, handing him their camera and batting her eyelashes at him. His telltale flinch at their thoughts told me that they were thinking things that they shouldn't.
With a smirk, I lowered my shield down over him to block their thoughts and capture him, chuckling quietly as his shoulders sagged in defeat, but he cast a quick glance behind him. He was fighting that beautiful smile of his.
Stop testing their heartbeats, Edward, I teased him, finally crossing the street to join him. Just as I was at his side, the girls took their camera and continued their sightseeing. "See, baby?" I crooned, using my shield to push him into the wrought iron fence. "I always knew that your groupies would be your undoing…"
"They weren't groupies," he growled with a smile as I pressed into him. He shook his head at my laugh. "Good job, smart girl." He grinned as I leaned up to kiss his lips softly. "I thought I lost you back at the park."
"Mmhm," I hummed against his lips. "I know you did. You slowed down."
"Yeah," he chuckled. "I had to, because those girls were turned my way when I hit the sidewalk."
"Holy hell," Rose beamed as she and Emmett rushed up to us.
"Baby girl totally got him!" Emmett grinned widely.
The rest of the family followed my brother, pulling me away from him, and Jasper wrapped a proud arm around my shoulders. "What'll it be, little sis?" he asked, chuckling at Edward's eye roll, but my husband looked proud.
"I reserve the right to pick when I want," I said, grinning and shrugging. "Besides, I have no idea at the moment."
"How'd you do it?" Esme asked, giving me a hug.
"She had human help." Edward grinned, tickling my side and pulling me against him. "Mrs. Masen, I think you'll do just fine in New York."
My family nodded in agreement, and Carlisle said, "Fine, indeed."


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