Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 21

CHAPTER 21
BELLA
"So what's next, Mrs. Masen?" Edward asked, his lips trailing over my bare shoulder.
"Other name," I mumbled against the skin just below his ear, twirling my tongue around the tastiest spot on him.
"Mrs. Cullen," he purred, smiling against my skin.
It wasn't that I didn't love anything "Mrs." connected with him, but I'd dated, fallen in love with, and married Edward Cullen. Sometimes, the name brought me back to Forks, the meadow, and a handsome vampire crawling through my bedroom window at all hours of the night.
"Mm, better." I grinned, shifting around so that I was on top of him.
We were home alone – and had been for two days – and as usual, in a partial state of undress. Sitting down to just watch TV on our sofa, we still ended up both shirtless, both breathless, and both unable to control our hands. We were only in jeans as I scooted up his body to hover over his handsome face.
"What do you mean 'next,' baby?" I asked, stroking his nose with my own, only to turn my head to brush my mouth over his top lip and then bottom.
"School…high school or college…or do we get jobs together?" He mumbled all of this against my cheek, but it was the feather light fingertips ghosting down my bare spine that made me shiver.
"Is this a conversation for now?" I murmured, dragging my teeth over his collar bone. "I mean, we're heading to New York to clean up some mess soon, aren't we?"
He smiled, chuckling lightly, which caused all new sensations underneath me. I shifted over him again as he said, "True, baby. I was just curious as to what you want." His fingers slipped into my hair on both sides of my face as he ravished my mouth deeply, only to stop too soon to continue. "You had mentioned a PhD, but you haven't said anything since."
"I don't know." I shrugged one shoulder slightly, opening my mouth to his perfect chest, which caused the muscle to twitch under my lips. "I'll think about it. But if I mention high school, Mr. Cullen, are you going to counter with Catholic School again?"
He laughed softly again, his hands slipping down to my ass and gripping almost roughly, before gliding down to my thighs. He pulled my legs apart, so that I was straddling his stomach. With a wicked chuckle, he said, "England has a lot of boarding schools, Bella."
"Well, that just won't work, Edward," I growled, teasing his nipple with my teeth and thoroughly enjoying the wanton sound that erupted from him briefly. "You would be through my window every night. You'd earn quite the bad boy reputation."
"I am a bad boy," he purred, cupping both of my breasts and brushing his thumbs across my already peaked nipples. His eyes looked up at my face with pure, naked lust, watching my mouth fall open and my eyelids lower at the feel of his hands. "I'm a foul tempered, selfish, possessive man that likes to do really dirty things to his wife. We won't even discuss my…diet."
I fell into his neck with a giggle. "Now there's something I can be thankful for."
"My foul temper?" he teased, gripping my bottom again, only this time he ground me down onto his steel hard erection that was still trapped behind denim, and I moaned in his ear as it hit me just where I needed it most.
"I can handle your temper, silly," I breathed, trying to focus and pulling back to look at him. He was so fucking happy at the moment, he practically glowed. "But those dirty things…keep 'em coming."
"I want to keep you coming," he growled sexily, and in an instant, I was on my back on the couch. He braced his elbows on each side of my head as I wrapped my legs around his hips. "And coming…and coming," he purred, pressing his hips into mine and attacking my neck with long, hot, open mouth kisses that caused me to stop thinking altogether.
The shrill alert of both of our phones signaling a text caused us to just about fall off of the sofa in surprise. I couldn't help but laugh. "Damn, you would have thought we just got busted by Charlie back in the day," I giggled, cupping his amused face and kissing him quickly before looking at the message. "Oh hell," I groaned, and we both sat up.
"Kevin knows about New York," Edward sighed, looking up at me from his own phone. "He's coming over."
"So are Rose and Alice. Ali said this would happen," I muttered, picking up my shirt and bra. I held up the shredded remnants of what was once a very pretty lavender underwear set. "You know, Edward…" I growled, shaking the ruined lingerie at him. "I'm glad I buy this shit online, because if I had to traipse my happy ass to the store every time you lost your mind, I'd be pissed."
"You love it," he stated with a deep purr, diving for my neck and snatching the bra from my hands. "And so do I."
"That's not the point," I smirked, standing up from the sofa. I had to fight my smile as he twirled the damn thing around his finger, daring me silently with a smoothly raised eyebrow to say something. I snorted, shaking my head, and focused on the problem at hand. "We'll take Kevin somewhere," I sighed, dreading my friend's hurt feelings and the conversation that was about to take place. "What will you do?"
"I still have a garage to fix," he winced, but looked up at me lovingly. "Jasper said he'd help. He seems to think he could have calmed me down, so he feels a little responsible for my…loss of control."
I smiled, nodded, and kissed him sweetly. "Call me if we get too far apart, okay?" He nodded, tracing his fingers under my chin and kissing me again. "Are you leaving now?"
"Might as well," he smirked, standing up and pulling his t-shirt and sweater on. "Since I can't finish what I started…"
"You'll live," I giggled, rolling my eyes. "Love you…"
"Love you more," he laughed and was out the door.
Just as I finished getting dressed, I texted my sisters to meet us down by the river. I figured we'd probably be able to keep Kevin calmer if we were in public. They agreed and said they'd meet us in a few minutes.
I pulled on my jacket just as Kevin knocked on my door. Bracing myself for his wrath, I opened the door to see my very worried, very hurt friend.
"You're leaving," he stated, tears welling up in his eyes. "You told me you'd tell me first."
"We're not…" I sighed, shaking my head. "Come, Kev. Let's go for a walk," I said, wincing when I realized I sounded just as controlled as Edward did the day he left me. "We're meeting Alice and Rose a few blocks away." I softened my tone, trying not to be so intense.
"'Kay." He frowned. "I just got my schedule change at work. It says Alice is leaving on vacation, but it doesn't have a return date. I'm supposed to cover her shifts. Bells, you promised."
I looked up at my friend and realized that we may never be able to let him go. He loved us too much. We spoke to him or saw him just about every day. We were comfortable around him, and even the boys liked him, despite his crazy flirtations.
I took his hand in mine. "I'll explain, but have patience, okay?"
He just shook his head and kept walking beside me in uncomfortable silence. We walked a few blocks to a little bistro, and I made him take a seat. I knew my sisters wouldn't be long.
I studied his face when the waitress came to the table, but said, "Eat something, Kev. It's on me."
"I'm not…"
"Eat," I urged, again feeling a little like Edward. I imagined that he felt food at the little Italian restaurant in Port Angeles on our first date would make a difficult conversation slightly easier on the human.
What I noticed was that he didn't ask why I didn't order anything but the same kind of soda he was having. He knew. Or at least he thought he knew…something.
As a family, we'd all sat down to talk to Carlisle and Marcus about Kevin just two days ago. We told Marcus that Kev had noticed subtle things over time, made small innocuous comments, and never shied away from our touch or our presence. Alice told them that she saw him make a decision not to say anything, that some TV show about vampires had triggered his epiphany concerning us. Edward let them know that he indeed knew we were different. Jasper explained that all he felt was love, trust, and faith in us. We didn't want him hurt, and we all – every last one of us – urged the two older immortals to take pity on him, to allow him to keep his knowledge, even if it was just ignorant ideas.
But Alice's vision of Kevin's desire to travel with us was what made us all worry. No matter how we looked at it, we knew Kevin would follow us to New York. He was that attached, that needful of our presence in his life, and for that reason, I couldn't help but want to protect him – and whatever I wanted, Edward backed me up a hundred percent.
Carlisle's first thoughts were fear of exposure, but Marcus surprised us all with his statement. "The human's loyalty is as strong, if not stronger, than Stephano's when he worked for me and my Didyme. I watched the boy the night you guys played music. His ties to his two human friends were the normal ties, but the connection between Kevin and this family was strong, really strong; unwavering, actually. If it hadn't been that bright, that thoroughly committed, I would say keep silent, but I feel that he can be trusted. I'm not my brothers, Carlisle. I don't feel every human is to be used for food or as a slave or that they're all untrustworthy. There are some with open hearts and minds and closed mouths. Kevin happens to be one of those. If he knows, guesses, or even if you tell him, he definitely should be explained the reasons to stay silent, but I think you have nothing to fear. And from what I gather from Alice's sight and Edward's hearing, your family agrees. Not to mention Bella's shield has pulled him in so tightly, you have no chance of taking him from her."
So we came to the conclusion that Kevin should be talked to, especially when we knew he wanted to go to New York with us. Alice had already seen that reaction, no matter what decision any of us made about trying to dissuade him. And everyone agreed that my sisters and I should be the ones to have this conversation, since he loved and respected us above everyone else.
Kevin was to know the truth – a thought that both worried me and intrigued me.
My phone alerted another text, and I opened it. It was from Edward.
E: I know you're worried. Relax. I think he's like you were, sweet girl. I think he can handle the truth. He's stronger than even he thinks.
I replied instantly.
B: I love that you can hear me so far away! ;) This must've been really hard on you when you told me.
E: Worse. I loved you so much, but I just knew you'd run from me. You should have, but deep down, I didn't want you to go.
B: Thank you for telling me.
E: Thank you for not running. ;)
I smiled, shaking my head, and I looked down when he sent one more message.
E: Please leave that stunningly brilliant mind open for me. I'd like to see how this goes.
B: As you wish…
My attention was brought back to the table and Kevin as my sisters and his food arrived. Alice and Rose slid gracefully into chairs on each side of him. He gave them each a pouting glance, but focused back onto his plate of food. He picked up a fork and started to push his meal around.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alice flinch just before Kevin blurted out, "When are you leaving?" He tossed his fork down onto his plate, eying all of us.
"A week, sweetie," Alice answered, covering his hand with her own.
"I want to go with you," he stated firmly. "I'll pay my own way, but you can't not take me. You're my family. I need you. I need you to be there when I see my dad. My sister says he won't make it. I'm sorry I haven't mentioned it before, and I was going to ask you earlier, but I just…" His rambling stopped when his emotions got the better of him. "You won't come back," he whispered, his eyes filling with tears.
"Why do you think that?" Rose asked, tilting her blonde head at him. "We've told you we would."
"You just won't," he barely said aloud, looking at the table. "I'm not worth coming back for…not in comparison…"
"In comparison to what, Kev?" I asked, knowing exactly how he was feeling, because at one time, I looked at a beautiful, dark angel and was convinced he would fade away in a puff of smoke.
"All of you," he mumbled.
"We're no better than you, honey," Alice cooed, her little brow furrowing.
"Yes, you are!" he snapped. "I know…you're…"
When we all hung on his every word, he stopped abruptly, his face blushing with embarrassment.
"We're what?" Rose urged softly, calmly as she rubbed his shoulder. We had all thought it would be easier on Kevin, and ourselves, if he admitted it aloud like I had.
"Never mind," he huffed, shaking his head. He picked up his drink, downing all of it.
"Here." I smiled, pushing the drink in front of me towards him. "We're what, sweetie?" I repeated Rose's question.
"You're…" he started, but rubbed his face in frustration. "You're gonna hate me…if I say it."
"We won't hate you, Kevin," Alice promised, frowning and shaking her head.
He sighed with relief when the waitress stopped by our table to check on us. We declined anymore food, and as I judged Kevin's posture, I realized he wasn't really going to touch his plate.
"Come on," I sighed, tossing a few bills onto the table and standing. "Let's walk." I smiled, holding out my hand for him to take it, and he did tentatively. "I think Edward handled this better than he gave himself credit. Let's do this the way he and I did."
Alice nodded in agreement, and we all walked down to the riverside. We found a secluded spot and sat on a couple of benches facing each other. I sat with Kevin, turning to face him. "First things first," I sighed, keeping his hand in mine. "Sweetie, we know you have some…theories about us, and I'd like to hear what they are. What did you notice first?"
His head snapped around from staring into the water to my gaze. He turned to Alice, and then Rose. I had no idea what he was looking for, but he must have found it, because he started to speak.
"Um, you don't eat or drink…anything," he whispered, looking back to me. He winced like he was in trouble, but we all nodded for him to keep going. "Alice calls in sick to work on sunny days. When I was staying at your house," he grimaced, looking down at our clasped hands, "you didn't sleep…"
"Good," I said softly but firmly. "And what put these things into some sort of perspective for you?"
"Well, I have friends…" He shrugged. "They think they're goth, they try to live by these…rules, I guess. And Edward, Carlisle, and Esme…they speak sometimes like…I don't know…formal. And at Halloween, there was this TV special on scary legends…"
I smiled, shaking my head. "Okay." I urged, "What else?"
He squeezed my hand, pulling our linked fingers between our faces. "You feel cool to the touch and hard, but I don't mind. I've never minded. I just don't want you to go. Am I in trouble?"
"No, honey," Rose answered, shaking her head. "But there are rules…for our protection." She motioned to the three of us. "Humans aren't normally let in on this information."
"I'm sorry," he pleaded, shaking his head. "I swear I won't say a word. Just don't…throw me away. You have no idea how much you and your family mean. More than my own, actually."
"The problem you're not facing, Kevin, is this…you're not really thinking about the reality of it. You haven't once said the word, or asked us…well, what do we eat or drink," I said, making him look at me. "It's not a myth; it's the cold, hard truth, but you really need to see it."
Alice and Rose nodded when he turned to look at them.
"Fuck," he groaned, shaking his head. "Really? You drink blood, for real?"
I don't know why it struck me as funny, but it did. I snorted into a laugh, nodding at the same time.
"So…all of you…the whole family, are…vampires?" He whispered the last word, his face paling.
"Yeah." Alice nodded nonchalantly. She took a deep breath and said, "You don't need to worry about us hurting you. We live on animals."
"Oookay," he said, dragging the word out. "Why are you even having this discussion with me? You could have ignored me, moved on, or kept on pretending."
I had to give him credit. He was so smart, so sharp, that even he knew that we didn't have to talk to him at all about this.
"We aren't pretending to care for you," Alice said, frowning. "And therein lies the problem, sweetie. We've allowed you to see a bit of us with our guard down, because we like you. You are comfortable around us, and that isn't always the case with humans."
"Or maybe you're just open minded enough to see through the pretenses," I shrugged. "I did."
"What?" he gasped, his head turning quickly back to me. "You…and Edward…"
"Oh, Jesus," Rose chuckled, rolling her eyes. "Trust me, it's the love story of all love stories, but it's for another time. Right now, we need to keep you safe, okay?"
Alice and I fell into heaps of hysterics at her sarcasm laced with pure love.
"Okay." He nodded, smiling at our laughter. "Just tell me. I'll do whatever you want."
"First…you can't tell anyone," Alice said, holding up a finger. "Second…you are only under our protection. There are others out there, but they aren't as…open-minded, as Bells put it. They could hurt you. This so important, Kev. I just can't stress that enough."
"And third, and really the reason behind this conversation to begin with…you can't fly to New York with us, honey," I sighed sadly. "We're going with…unstable company."
"Damn," Rose snorted, shaking her head. "You gloss shit over just like Edward."
I rolled my eyes at her, but maybe she was right. Kevin was a blunt person, so maybe the direct path was the way to go.
She turned to Kevin and said, "Here's the thing. The reason we're going to New York is to clean up a fucked up mess. Someone is making vampires – a lot of them – and our friend needs our help. But we're flying with some of them. They aren't, or won't be, like us. They will be new, strong, and a human with blood on board a plane is just asking for trouble. You will make them thirsty, Kev. It's too dangerous for you to go."
"It would be a constant battle to keep them away from you," Alice added. "Newborns are volatile, crazed, and constantly thirsty."
"Okay." He nodded sadly. "Could I fly separately? You know, meet you there…"
We paused, looking at each other. This option had been discussed with the entire family as well, and we were hoping he would just let us take the trip. But Alice's visions were always pretty damn close. He wanted to be there with us – come hell or high water.
I took a deep breath, because Edward had insisted that Kevin know this. "If you go…you must do as you're told at all times. If you aren't in our company, then you're at your family's home…nowhere else. The city is really dangerous right now."
"We won't always be available, Kevin," Rose said, making sure he looked her way. "We have a job to do, and sometimes, it just won't be safe for you with us."
"Job?"
"You know Marcus? You met him the other night at the club?" Alice asked, and he nodded. "He is the head of the Volturi, the keeper of the laws that guide us. He's asked us to help him with an immortal that seems to be out of control. We'll be dealing with a newborn army."
"How long were you staying?" he asked, turning to me.
"Until it's finished," I answered, shrugging.
"And I can go…just not on the same flight…"
"Yes," we all said.
"I would prefer it if you stayed here," I stated, smiling when he looked my way. "You're safe here. You'll be away from fights and bloodshed. We could let you know when it's okay to come into the city."
He frowned, nodding in understanding. "I get that, Bells. I do. But my dad is really sick. I've been putting off seeing him for too long, because we left on bad terms. I've booked my flight and cancelled it a hundred times, out of pure fear, in the last week alone. But I thought, well…I hoped that you guys would go with me."
"He's dying," Alice gasped, looking at him in sadness. "Oh, Kev, I'm sorry."
She must have just seen the whole thing, or she would never have said a word.
Kevin paled again, looking at Alice.
"Some of them," Rose chuckled, jerking a thumb towards our sister, "have special talents. Alice can see the future."
"Oh, damn," Kevin said, his eyebrows rising. "Is that how you knew to meet us today?"
Shit, he was quick.
"Yeah," she agreed.
"Are all of you like that?"
"No, just a few of us." I smiled.
Alice stood up with a smile. "Come on, they all want to see us." Kevin looked forlorn, but she added, "All of us."
~oOoOo~
"Whoa, a fucking castle?" Kevin gasped as we pull through the gate of the family home.
"Yeah," I snorted, rolling my eyes. "I said the same damn thing. They insist on calling it manor…"
"Po-tay-toh, pa-tah-toh," he sang with a smirk on his face. His initial shock at hearing what we were, what he had guessed to be true, had worn off to reveal his simple, quirky personality.
"Yup, I understand," I laughed, my head falling back to head rest in the backseat of Alice's car.
Before we got out of the car, I stopped Alice. "Who wants to see him?"
"Carlisle and Edward."
"Who else will be here?" Rose asked.
"Just the family. Marcus has gone back to Italy with Demitri and Carina. They're picking up the newborns and Agosto to bring them here before we fly out," Alice stated, opening her door. "Carlisle wants to speak with Kevin."
"Is that bad?" Kevin whispered before we opened our own doors.
"No chat with Carlisle could ever be bad," I assured him with a grin. "He's so calm, so smart, and has seen it all. But he is the head of our family. He'll probably just explain to you again how secrecy is important. He may have rules of his own when it comes to New York. But don't ever fear Carlisle. He can be curious about new things to the point of annoyance, but he's one of the best shoulders to cry on."
My door was opened for me, revealing a sweet smiling Edward. "Hey, beautiful girl," he said, taking my hand as he helped me out of the car.
"How's my construction worker?" I smiled up at him, kissing his chin.
"Grateful that we could close the bay doors to that garage and really get to work," he chuckled shamelessly. "Well that, and Jasper ordered most everything pre-assembled."
"That's my boys," I giggled, linking our fingers together.
"Ooh! Construction worker!" Kevin beamed. "That would have been good at Halloween, too!"
"Mm, damn, he's right," I purred, looking up at my eye rolling husband, only to laugh at his patient face.
"Come on, you two. Carlisle really wants to talk to us…all of us," Edward said, looking over at Kevin at the last part of that sentence with a small smile.
As we opened the door, Carlisle met us in the foyer. "I am not curious to the point of annoyance," he smirked.
"Oh, puh-lease," I growled, waving him away. "Do not make me bring up all the training…just don't make me do it. Thought I would kill them all." I mumbled the last part, smiling at Carlisle's amused chuckle and falling into Esme's open arms. "Hey, Esme."
"Hey, little one." She smiled, hugging me tightly. "We've adopted someone new, I hear."
I grinned, pulling back to look at Kevin. "He's painfully observant…just like I was," I chuckled. "He's going to be fine."
Kevin looked embarrassed at the attention, but for a split second, I wondered if it was because we accepted him when his own family didn't.
"I'm sure he'll be fine." Carlisle smiled warmly. "Come, Kevin. We should talk. I'm sure you have questions, and I have some of my own."
"Yes, Kevin, you'll probably stay the night," Edward answered without thinking.
"Oh fucking hell, you read my mind?" Kevin bellowed in total shock, and the whole house exploded in laughter. Even Jasper and Emmett guffawed from the living room.
"Um, we hadn't gotten that far yet," I muttered to my overly amused husband.
"Oh sorry," Edward laughed. "You mentioned Alice, so I assumed…your shield went down."
I giggled, realizing he was right. As soon as I relaxed in the car, my shield fell over my mind.
"Oh my damn," he groaned, his face forty shades of red.
"Don't be embarrassed," Esme chuckled. "Poor Edward's heard it all."
"Oh stop!" Kevin whimpered, looking away. "The thoughts I've had…"
"Are not held against you," Edward finished for him with a chuckle. "Esme's right, I've heard it all."
Carlisle and Esme led Kevin into the living room, and Edward and I followed them. What began as simple questions turned into an all day into the late night discussion. We were all honest with him, with every question, no matter how simple and small it was. We told him our histories, our pasts, and he drank it in, sometimes stating that he suspected some of it – like he knew that he felt calmer around Jasper, but he couldn't understand why.
Esme and I made him something to eat as he talked with Edward and Carlisle about the dangers of knowing the truth. When he vowed that he would keep our existence to himself, Jasper nodded that he felt honesty coming from him, and Edward smiled, hearing the truth inside his mind.
What was amazing to see was that they treated him almost with the same amount of respect as they had me in the beginning. It was a big deal with me, because Edward had been alone for so long before.
"Don't you believe it," Edward growled softly in my ear as we sat side by side in the loveseat while Carlisle, Kevin, and Emmett discussed New York and what he should expect. "They loved you for you."
But they loved you first, baby. Spin it any way you'd like, but it's a fact that they were just happy that you were happy, I thought to him, reveling in the sweet smile and head tilt that I had come to adore. It was such a simple gesture that meant he didn't know what to say.
He didn't say anything, but he did wrap his arm around my shoulder, placing sweet kisses to the top of my head. Then he turned his attention to a quiet Kevin.
"No, you don't," my husband said softly, shaking his head. "We're still the same people, Kevin. You don't need to act any differently."
Kevin chuckled, his face blushing slightly.
"You'll get used to that," Emmett teased with a huge grin. "Eddie can't help but answer you once you know the truth. It can be a damn pain in the ass sometimes, but other times, it's deadly helpful."
Edward chuckled softly, but said no more.
"Yeah," Jasper laughed. "Only Bells gets a reprieve…"
By the time Kevin knew everything, we had started talking strategy. Jasper pulled out maps of Manhattan, marking places that bodies had been found in red and human disappearances in blue. They spoke quickly and seriously, and I'm sure Kevin missed some of it.
When he started yawning, I stood up. "Come on," I told him, smiling. "You can sleep in our room. Demitri and Carina are using the spare room, and their things are still put away."
I gave him something of Edward's to wear to bed, and as he came out of our bathroom, he looked around with a smile. "If you don't sleep…" He gestured to the bed. I laughed, raising an eyebrow at him. "Oh!" He chuckled, shaking his head. "Right…and I don't blame you, either!" We both laughed, and I could feel his ease with us settling in again.
He sat on the bed as I took an extra set of clothes out of the closet for me and Edward later. He was quiet for a few minutes as his eyes followed my movements.
"So you're the only one that wanted this life…" he started, but stopped when I turned to face him.
"I am, though Carlisle thinks I was fated for it. I was dead clumsy to the point of self devastation, I never felt comfortable in my own skin, and Edward and I couldn't and still can't really be apart. Even when we first met, we were drawn together. And neither of us knew what it meant."
"Does the mating thing only happen to hetero couples?" he asked, looking embarrassed at the question.
"I don't have that answer, Kev. Just because we haven't seen something doesn't make it not true. I believe anything's possible." I sighed, sitting down next to him with the clothes still in my arms.
He laid his head on my shoulder, taking a deep breath and letting it out. "I…don't make many friends. And my family never knew what to make of me, Bells. You have to understand that when I say that you're my family, I really mean it. I won't say a word. Hell, I barely speak to many people. Gannon and Spence are about it, and we aren't all that close. I can't tell you why I'm comfortable with you guys and not with anyone else. I've asked myself that question a million times, even after I suspected what you were."
"I understand, Kev. I really do."
"I know you do," he said softly, lifting his head to look at me. "What happens now?"
"Nothing really changes," I said with a shrug. "They will be a little more relaxed around you. They'll move quicker, show their strength a little. They've already started it…Edward can't help it when he answers your internal questions, Alice has already let a few visions slip, and Jasper, well…he can't help but make a room calm. It's in his personality first. It's nice for them when they don't have to hold up the pretenses. See…in this house and my house, we can be…ourselves.
"If anything bothers you, scares you…just say the word. We'll stop." I smiled, nudging his shoulder lightly with my own. He nodded, yawning again. "Get some sleep. We'll all be here in the morning."
He was under the covers by the time I made it to the door and shut off the light.
~oOoOo~
EDWARD
It was strange, the feelings of relief when Kevin finally knew everything. The whole family felt it, and their minds were almost glad that he was aware of the truth. It made being around him easier.
As he slept the night, Jasper and I planned Kevin's trip to New York. We bought his plane ticket, set the itinerary to pick him up, and found the address to his father's place in SoHo, which surprised the both of us. Kevin came from money, but he was barely making ends meet.
"I could understand," Jasper growled, typing the information into the computer to buy Kevin's plane ticket, "if this were say twenty or thirty years ago, when homosexuality was taboo, but not now. Not in this day and age. How could his family just turn him away like that?"
"From what I see in his mind," I sighed, twirling a lock of Bella's hair around my finger slowly, "he was raised by a single father. I never see a mother enter into his thoughts. I've seen him remember his father coming home from work. He was a heavy, masculine man…he'd come home filthy, but their home was nice…so he made money. He expected his daughters to be feminine, and his son…the only son, from what I can see…to follow in his footsteps. Kevin isn't like that."
"Oh." Jasper frowned. "And now the man is sick…"
"Yeah," Bella answered, nodding slowly, looking up from the book she had been reading quietly from between my legs on the chaise. "Alice says he won't make it long after Kevin sees him."
"Kevin wants to make…amends," I sighed.
Bella's phone went off, and the song never failed to make me and Jasper crack up. Werewolves of London blared into the early morning breeze.
"Tell Jake hello," Jasper snorted.
"Shut it, both of you," she giggled. "He programmed that in just before we left the States."
She answered the phone, laughing beautifully. "I'm seriously considering changing your ringtone, Jake."
"Aw, hell," he chuckled. "Don't do it. It's perfect. You are in London, and we are the only wolves you know…it's freakin' awesome!"
"Whatever," she snorted, rolling her eyes. "What's up, pup?"
"Listen, my favorite little leech, I need to know what the plan is for New York. That friend of Jessica's ended up on the missing persons list…"
"Aw fuck," Jasper sighed, pushing the laptop away and sliding the map of Manhattan in closer. "Ask him where."
"I heard him…Tribeca? Does that make sense?" Jake asked. "Somewhere close to Ground Zero, they said."
"That's the third down there," Jasper muttered, marking the spot.
"Who was it?" Bella frowned, looking at the map with us.
"Jessica knew her at UW, but she transferred to NYU. I think her name was Megan." Jake sounded frustrated. "They want me to act, Bells. Charlie says no, but the pack wants to track them."
"I know this will be the dumbest question, Jake," Bella growled, "but just how on earth are you boys going to hunt newborns in the busiest city in the world? Seriously. You'll be seen, and there is no place for you to really hide."
Jasper and I both wanted that answer, and looked up at Bella as we waited.
There was a long pause, before he said, "I know. And you're right. I've tried to tell them that myself. We'd be limited as to what we could do – you know, only hunt at night, ducking through shadows…that sort of thing."
"Unless," Jasper started, his eyes trained on the map. "Unless we used them as a means to an end…" His voice trailed off as he ran through a few scenarios. He looked up at me. "Do we still own that warehouse on the Hudson?"
"You own a warehouse in New York?" both Bella and Jake asked, chuckling slightly.
"Yes, to all of you. We do, Jasper. Why?" I asked, leaning forward and pointing to its location on the map.
Jasper circled it in black, and then asked for the phone. Bella handed it over. "I've got an idea…how many of you want to come?"
"Oh, you know," Jacob chuckled, "the usual troublemakers…me, Quil, Sam, and Seth…maybe Embry, but he's on the fence."
"You got a map, Jake?" Jasper asked, standing up and leaning over the table.
For the next hour, Jasper and Jake put their heads together to work out a few plans, and I had to admit, they would work. It would involve everyone working together as a team again, but the few members of the pack that wanted to come with Jacob were the ones that worked best with my family anyway.
By the time that Kevin was waking up, Jasper had told Jake we would get back to him in the next day or so. The plans were forming, the teams were getting set – all that was left was for Marcus to arrive in five days to approve it all.
~oOoOo~
As time drew closer to the return of Marcus and the newborns, my family studied, practiced, and sparred in the back garden of the family home. We were anxious, yet excited to be going to New York, including my Bella, which surprised me a little.
What we discovered, much to Carlisle and Jasper's glee, was that when Bella and I worked as a team – hunting, stalking, and sparring – we were almost unstoppable. With my mind reading and her shield, it was practically impossible to touch us.
With simple hand signals from me and her mind open, we could read each other flawlessly. It wasn't something we had been able to put to use the last time we were in a fight. That was a battlefield situation, where this was different. We were going to be teamed up, working the streets to corral, stalk, or destroy the newborns that were terrifying the streets of New York.
Jasper and I had both hunted in a city setting before. Jasper fought the Southern Wars in the late eighteen hundreds, and I had left my family to rid the streets of killers, rapists, and child molesters. Carlisle had endless questions and scenarios that he wanted to go over.
It wasn't that he enjoyed the thrill of the fight like we did, but he wanted to make sure that every last one of us had all the information, details, and advantages that we possibly have – to keep us safe, to make sure we all came home.
As we played another game of "tag," this time with Alice as the bait, Bella and I stalked the shadows of a foggy, London night together.
Alice was impossible to locate, because she saw every decision, every street, and every change in direction that any of us made. They hated chasing me because of my speed; we hated chasing her, because she was always one mental step ahead of us. And she was a wicked little shit.
"She totally went through here on purpose," Bella chuckled, wrapping her arm around my waist.
We had to walk at a human pace through an area that was filled with pubs and restaurants. It slowed us down completely.
"I told you that she was evil," I laughed, kissing the top of her head. "Are we still shielded from her?"
"Yeah." Bella nodded, looking around and catching the scent of our sister jutting off to the right. "There." She pointed one way, and we took the dark alley, which allowed us to speed up.
I caught the bare minimum of Alice's thoughts, and I pulled Bella to a stop. I gestured up, and we both looked at the fairly large apartment building. It was about ten stories tall, with an old fire escape climbing up the side.
With a grin, I hoisted her up to the first set of steps and jumped up to join her. In this type of setting, we had to be careful not to be seen. Windows could be open, people could look outside, or someone could look up from the ground below. We moved quickly, quietly, careful to avoid shaking the metal.
We were just about to the ninth floor when a human's mind stopped me dead in my tracks, his voice joining us in the misty night air.
"And just where the bloody hell have you been?" a familiar voice snarled from inside the window.
"Oh, no." I flinched, leaning against the brick wall, praying to God and anyone else that would listen that the other person in the room wasn't who I thought it was.
"Shut up, Gerald," Danielle's voice snapped back. "I don't live here, remember? I came because Mum was busy at work and asked me to drop you off your dinner. So here. Eat."
"Oh, shit," Bella gasped, recognizing the young girl's voice. Her mind, like mine, was begging anyone that would listen that Danielle would just leave the apartment.
She did try. Just as soon as her hand reached for the door, I heard her gasp. I peered in the window to see Gerald with a fistful of Danielle's hair.
Bella grabbed my shirt, shaking her head furiously at me. No, no, no. Edward, you can't interfere. You just can't. That's not you anymore, okay? You aren't that Edward anymore…you're my Edward. And I'd like to keep it that way. You'd scare her, baby.
Bella's mind went over every reason not to kill the man, but my own mind gave me every reason to end him, to make him suffer just as much as the young girl had. Her medical chart was still burned into my memory.
I'm sure my eyes were black with hatred for the man that thought he owned Danielle, the young girl I had treated for attempted suicide at thirteen years old. They always were when he was in my presence. My fingers dug into the brick, creating a dusty cloud around us. I wanted to snap his neck, rip his hands from her, until I heard him grunt in pain.
Bella and I both turned back to the window to see the large man holding his groin and rolling on the kitchen floor.
"You fucktard, Gerry," Danille snorted, looking quite proud of herself. "I told you if you ever touched me again, you'd regret it." She pulled a tiny little cell phone from her pocket and called the police. "I could give two shits that you're drunk," she growled before telling the operator that she'd been attacked.
"Good girl," Bella whispered with a beaming face, tugging me up the rest of the way and scrambling onto the roof.
I growled low, leaning back against the brick and sliding down until I was sitting on the gravel top.
"Hey, hey," Bella said, kneeling between my legs. "She's okay. She handled him just perfectly." She cupped my face, making me lock eyes with her. "Listen, baby. Sirens…"
I nodded, fighting everything I had not to go back down there, not to finish what Danielle had so beautifully started. "He's so fucking foul, Bella," I snarled, trying to keep quiet and trying not to shake with my need to hurt him.
"I know." She nodded, still caressing every inch of my face to keep me focused, to keep me grounded. "She's good, though, Edward. She's strong, smart. Can you still hear her?"
"Yeah," I answered, unable to keep the smile from creeping over my face. "She just kicked him again when he tried to trip her."
Bella giggled. "And now what?"
"She's perched herself up on the kitchen counter, waiting for the police. She's on the phone with her mother," I explained, squeezing my eyes closed. "She's…fine." I looked up at my sweet girl, who was waiting so patiently for me. "She's better than fine. She's really proud of herself."
Bella grinned, leaning in to kiss my forehead. "She should be. Someone taught her self-defense."
I couldn't help but smile when my wife was, because it lit up the night like a beacon for me. "You're so beautiful," I couldn't help but whisper, tugging on her ponytail. "I love that smile."
She chuckled, brushing my hair from my forehead. "Come on, Romeo," she snorted. "We have a pixie to catch, remember?"
"Yeah," I sighed, unable not to pull her in for a kiss.
My funny girl giggled against my lips when I tried to pull her closer. "Come on, baby," she begged. "We've probably lost Alice's trail. Help me catch her, and then you can take us home tonight."
With that command, I was up in a flash, tugging a now hysterically laughing Bella behind me. She was laughing, because for the last two nights we had been at the family home working. I had started pouting to go to our home earlier this morning, but we had needed to stay for practices and planning. I wanted our alone time, and I wanted it soon.
We leapt over to the next building, catching Alice's scent again, but not her thoughts. The trail ran through a few streets, winding around until it led to the gates of a cemetery.
"That's very undead of you, Ali," Bella snorted, rolling her eyes.
I actually had to stop, because I was laughing so hard. "I don't think I've ever heard you refer to us as undead." The thought was hilarious.
"C'mon, Dracula," she chortled, shaking her head at me and tugging my hand.
"Shut it, Mary Shelley," I countered, turning to the left towards some crypts when I heard Alice's stifled giggle.
Bella looked at me, victory gleaming in her eyes, and her shield descended down over the entire crypt. I smiled when Alice growled in defeat.
"Way to go, partner," I chuckled, pointing to a pouting pixie on the roof of the ancient crypts.
"Thank you," Bella bowed, turning when the rest of the family joined us.
"Again?" Emmett growled, shaking his head. "That's it…no more training. Baby Bells is gonna kick ass in The Big Apple."
"Excellent work, you two." Carlisle smiled, patting my back with one hand and wrapping his other arm around Bella's shoulders. "Okay, no more training." He turned to face the two of us, his face serious. "Marcus will be here the day after tomorrow. We'll meet the newborns Agosto has been working with, and then our flight is the next morning. I want you two, and everyone else for that matter, to go home, relax…reconnect," he urged with a raised eyebrow at me and Bella, "and meet at the house in forty-eight hours. Extra hunting isn't a bad idea, either. Is that clear?" He asked the last question, looking around at his family.
There were murmurs of agreement, hugs goodbye for the evening, and couples pairing off. I looked down at my sweet angel. "Let's go home, baby. Tomorrow, we'll hunt, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," she said, nodding, and with a sweet giggle, climbed up onto my back like she had when she was human. "Take me home, Edward."
"Yes, ma'am." I grinned, leaning into her kiss to my cheek.
As we made it to the car, she slid down off of my back and turned to look up at me. "You think we'll be okay? In New York, I mean."
"It's always a risk," I murmured, smoothing the stray hairs away from her face. "We'll know more of what we're dealing with when we speak to those newborns. Maybe they'll have a name or an agenda…"
"And we'll be together?" she verified, her sweet chocolate eyes completely melting me as I stood on the sidewalk. I smiled and nodded, kissing her forehead. "Good." She beamed up at me like a sunny day. "Because we make a good team."
"That we do, sweet girl," I chuckled, opening her car door. "That we do."


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