Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 25

CHAPTER 25
EDWARD
"He's almost awake, sweetheart," I whispered, lifting her chin from my chest with the tips of my fingers.
We were lying on the couch just outside of the suite's bedroom, listening to Kevin's heartbeats change from the lulled sleepy beats, to a quicker, more aware beat.
Once I finished at the warehouse, I'd come straight to the hotel to find Alice and Bella tending to a vomiting Kevin. He was way too drunk for his own good, and his nauseated state was just the perfect proof that humans couldn't drown their sorrows in alcohol.
"I know," she huffed, frowning in anger, and utterly adorable as her eyes darkened with her ire.
She was so upset with him that he hadn't heeded her warnings, that I was almost feeling sorry for him – if it weren't for the fact that he could have been killed. I was pretty sure our little friend was about to get an ear full, and with the hangover I was sure he was going to have, he would remember it for a long time to come.
"I'll go get him something to eat," I said, trying to stand up.
"Oh hell no," she growled. "I'd better do it. I'm too..."
"Okay," I chuckled, placing my finger to her lips with one hand and brushing her hair away from her face with the other.
She stood up from the couch, grabbed her purse, and made her way to the door. Before she could open it, I chuckled softly. "Baby," I said, waving her back to me. "Don't be too hard on him, okay?"
"Yeah, but..."
"Need I remind you of all the warnings we gave you? James? Victoria? Me...for God's sake?" My amusement could hardly be contained.
"Edward...damn it..." Her growl was low, and she wasn't as amused as I was. "I told him not to come."
"And I told you to wait for me in Phoenix." I grinned, ducking when she swatted at me. Thank God her mind was open to me.
"Not fucking funny, Edward."
I attempted to arrange my face in a more somber mood, but it was useless. She finally understood.
"God, baby...I love you. Go...just cool off and get him some food. I'll try to brace him for your...temper."
"Love you, too," she told me, pouting, her voice small and controlled. My "I love you" was the only thing that got through to her from that last statement. She was still pissed as she walked out the door.
It wasn't that she was mad. It had scared her and my sisters to come outside to find how close Kevin had gotten to another immortal. Even in his drunken state, he had recognized the young boy for exactly what he was, and his awareness was noticed in return.
Adrian and Peyton said it didn't take but a moment for the newborn to react and pull Kevin from the line into the club and into the dark alley. Luckily, Brody was already there and was able to pull the newborn away, while Adrian tugged Kevin to safety.
Alice's brilliant visions had hit me just as I told her and Bella to get Kevin somewhere safe. The immortal that Peyton and Brody had contained was meeting Lance, and we had a brief chance to catch him.
The chase was long, hard, and riddled with disgusting, winding trails through the sewer. We caught one more, but Lance slipped through our fingers. The wolves almost had him, but he used the newborn with him as a distraction. He tossed him into Seth, who latched his jaws around the newborn out of instinct, which had allowed the leader to get away.
The biggest problem? Now Lance knew we were onto him – and most likely Sinclair did, too, by now. Our secret mission was no longer a secret, which made our work more dangerous and more volatile. It was likely that we could become the hunted.
I looked up from the sofa to see a nervous Kevin standing tentatively at the edge of the room. He knew he was about to face a very upset Bella. And he hated when his goddess was upset with him.
"She's not here," I smirked, shaking my head at him. "She went to get you something to eat." He winced at the sound of my voice, even though I was trying to be sensitive. "Have a seat, Kevin," I said, gesturing to the chair.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered, and his mind was filled with true sincerity.
"I know," I replied, giving him a small smile when he looked up at me. He said nothing else, but waited for me to continue. "Kevin, when you begged, pleaded, and bribed to come here with us, I know Bella told you the rules." I tapped my temple, knowing he would grasp that I was listening to his conversation. "While I'm not completely unaware of your familial situation, I do know what we were asking of you wasn't difficult to follow – not to leave your home and to do exactly as we tell you when you're with us. Yes?"
"Yes," he whispered, looking dejected. "Edward, I..."
"I know," I sighed, sitting back on the couch. "Believe me, I know. But you have to understand why she's upset with you, Kevin. Really. She wanted you to stay in London for your safety, but she knew seeing your father was important. She told you where we were, because she knew you were worried. See...all those things...those exact same things were so very important to her when she was human. She's upset, because she truly gets it. She knows how you're feeling, how you want to know that we're all safe, that you need us to stay in contact. And while..." I chuckled, shaking my head at the irony. "And while she wasn't always the best at following the same orders, she tried...she really tried. With Bella, things just had a way of working against her."
Kevin smiled softly, having heard our story. "I started drinking out of nerves," he whispered, looking only at his hands. "I was scared about seeing my dad tomor...well, today," he sighed, rubbing his temples.
"It got out of hand," I stated, filling in the blanks from what his mind was showing me.
"Yes. Edward...I'm really sorry."
"You could have been killed. We were there...hunting," I growled, shaking my head. "Bella has tried to do with you what we didn't do with her. Communicate. We tried to keep her in the dark for her safety, but she was too curious. She wants to keep you in the loop so that you won't make the same mistakes as she did. You have no idea what it would do to those girls if something were to happen to you. Last night was damn close, Kevin."
"Those bad guys," he sighed, looking up at me. "I know, I was stupid, but I missed you guys."
"And you saw one of them."
"Yeah, but...he was different. His eyes, they were black and scary," he said with a grimace. "But someone else was there..."
I stopped dead in my tracks as I read Kevin's mind. He remembered hardly anything of his evening – the cab ride to the club, the standing in line, and even the feral newborn that approached him. But he remembered with complete and utter, brilliant clarity...
"Adrian." I smirked, fighting my amusement and intrigue. I was curious as to how deep that crush truly went. I had never heard of such a relationship in the immortal world, but then again, Bella and I didn't have the most normal beginning either.
"He helped me," he breathed, his brow wrinkling and his eyes dilating at just the thought of the young man.
"He did," I chuckled.
"Shut it, Edward," Kevin growled, blushing profusely. "He was kind..." Adrian may have been kind, but Kevin's thoughts were overcome with his immortal beauty.
I heard the door of the elevators slide open in the hallway, the telltale ding announcing its arrival. The still grumpy mind of my beautiful wife wafted around me, and I smiled.
"Oh Kev, brace yourself."
He groaned, covering his face with his hands.
I snorted when I heard her plan – it was cruel, but could quite possibly teach him a lesson.
She was in the door in seconds, slamming it on purpose, and he winced at the loud sound. She thrust a bag, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water at him. I covered my mouth when she opened a bottle of aspirin, smacking it down hard on the side table just to be obnoxious.
"Sleep well, Kev?" she asked through gritted teeth.
"Bells, I'm sorry..."
"Take these," she sighed, dropping a few pills into his hand. "And eat. It'll take the edge off."
"Anything, but stop yelling," he groaned, putting his head in his hands.
"Oh, I haven't even begun to yell, Kev!" she snapped, her eyes blazing.
I stood to leave the room, pulling out my phone.
"Edward...don't leave me," Kevin begged.
"Oh no, you're on your own," I laughed, kissing my angry little angel's head. "I need to check in with Carlisle."
"Chicken," he muttered, rolling his eyes at me.
"Nope, it's just refreshing that it's not me she's mad at," I chuckled, giving my love a wink. She fought her smile and lost, shoving me towards the hotel room door. Just before I turned the knob, I turned to him and said, "Just keep in mind, when she's through with you, you still have to face Alice and Rose...and go see your father."
As I shut the door behind me, Kevin groaned again, but it was my Bella's sweet giggle that reached my ears and not Kevin's.
~oOoOo~
"Oh, Edward," my love sighed on the phone.
She was at the hospital with our mother and sisters, visiting Kevin's father. From the pain-filled sound of my Bella's voice, things couldn't be good.
"Tell me, love," I said, leaning against a tree.
We were in Central Park, tracking both old and new trails. Everyone but Marcus was with us. He was at the warehouse for his own safety, with Stephano now happily back at his side since his return from Italy.
"He's a cruel man," she growled softly. "He didn't say he was happy to see him, or anything. The first thing he did was point out his haircut...and then that he was too thin...and then..." She huffed, and I winced, imagining my sweet girl fighting to control her temper. "He asked him if he was still one of those...girly...filthy... Damn, I can't even say the word. He's foul, Edward."
"Then let him say his peace, and get Kevin out of there," I sighed, frowning at the wet grass at my feet. "No sense in torturing the kid."
"I've tried, but Esme's taken over," she chuckled.
"Oh hell," I laughed, looking up when Carlisle joined me. "Well, Mom does have a way of setting people straight."
"Oh Lord," Carlisle huffed a laugh. "Let me guess, Kevin's father has made the wrong set of girls angry."
I laughed, nodding as even Bella chuckled on the other end.
"You know what's sad?" she asked, her voice stopping both of our chuckles. "It's sad that this is probably the last time he'll see Kevin, and he just can't be...nice. You would think he would want some sort of..."
"Redemption," Carlisle and I muttered together.
"Yes," she said, taking a deep breath. We were all quiet for a moment, but she broke it with her sweet voice. "Where are you guys?"
"Central Park," I answered, and from the sound of her voice, even without seeing her or hearing her mind, I knew what she wanted. "You come downstairs and out the front door of that hospital, and I'll be there, okay, sweetheart?"
"'Kay," she sighed. "Edward, bring Carlisle with you. I think Kevin needs a dad that's not an ass."
I smirked, looking up at my father. He wasn't amused, just concerned when he said, "We're on our way, little one."
I sent a text to my brothers to let them know that we were walking to the other side of the park and why. We ran a little when no one was looking, but had to walk at a human pace to the sidewalk in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital, where we waited patiently on a bench.
Carlisle's concern for Kevin was at the forefront of his mind, until a scent wafted around us. His head snapped around to face me, his thoughts crystal clear. Is that...Tanya?
I nodded slowly, my eyes scanning the area and pulling out my phone at the same time to send a message to Demitri.
E: Find us, now! Tanya in the park.
D: Not far. Calling Alaska now.
It wasn't a minute before he sent another message.
D: She's gone rogue. She left Alaska two days ago, never made her flight. Bells is going to kill me.
I showed the message to Carlisle, just as the female side of my entire family crossed the street in front of us.
Kevin looked dejected, broken.
You tell Bella this, and she'll snap, he thought to me, wincing at the thought.
"Yes, but she'll smell her anyway," I sighed, standing up. "We won't have a choice. Look at Alice."
We both looked up at my sister, and Alice caught it all in a rush of visions – Tanya running from Demitri, Mark giving a false trail, and the last one caused my still heart to constrict...Tanya sensing Kevin's humanity, an evil smile spreading across her features.
"Damn it," I growled, looking to Alice, who looked livid as she scanned the area behind us, but the scent was already weakening.
Rose's nose flared, just before she growled low, "No. She's not here."
"Tanya!" Bella snapped, almost forgetting herself and her surroundings to rush to the rock wall of the park.
Luckily, her mind was open to me, and I was able to catch her. "Easy. She's gone, baby," I whispered in her ear.
"I'll kill her," she snarled, fighting against me. "Where's Demitri?"
"Already on it," Carlisle soothed, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Bells, remember where you are, please."
Bella calmed a little, looking around from the circle of my arms. "Sorry," she mumbled, looking up at the concerned face of Kevin.
I took a deep breath, and with one last look at Alice, I turned to Carlisle. "We have a problem," I said, low enough that Kevin had to strain to hear me. "She's seen Kevin." There was a collective breath that inhaled from the girls, my mother, and even Carlisle. "He'll need to be protected. She's familiar with how we operate. If we're all with him, then she knows he's important."
"Did you hear her mind?" Bella asked, gripping my forearms.
"No," I answered, shaking my head. "She was blank, but probably on purpose. And if that's the case, she had no intention of approaching us yet."
"Yet?" Esme growled low, wrapping a protective arm around Kevin.
"Yet," I sighed, nodding my head, holding Bella close.
"This is...a problem," Carlisle mused with a deep frown. "Message everyone. Warehouse, now."
~oOoOo~
BELLA
It was late afternoon when we pulled inside the warehouse, the bay doors sliding closed behind us silently. I looked at the worried faces hanging around the table we'd been using to plan everything, but of all the worried faces, it was Marcus and Demitri that looked the most concerned.
"Why are we here?" Kevin asked from the backseat.
Edward and I exchanged a glance, but I turned to Kevin. "We need to keep you safe, Kev."
"Oookay," he said, looking between us suspiciously.
"Yes, Kevin," Edward sighed, obviously hearing a silent question. "There have been some new...developments. From here on out, I need you to do exactly as we tell you, understand? If we tell you to run and hide, you do it. If we tell you to stay somewhere, you stay. Got me?"
"Yeah," he nodded, mesmerized by Edward's change in demeanor. "Should I be worried?"
"Why start now?" Edward snorted, shaking his head.
"Edward," I chided, shaking my head at him and opening the SUV door.
"Sorry," my husband sighed, and turned back to Kevin. "We will take care of it...of you." With that said, my very nervous husband got out of the car.
"He's pissed," Kevin whispered.
"He can still hear you," I chuckled, but sobered up quickly when Kevin winced, looking at his hands. "He's not mad, Kev. He's worried, and he's frustrated. We've told you the stories about Tanya. Her presence here adds another level of stress to the planning. Alice sees her using you against us, and we can't let that happen. And the fact that they didn't catch the guy they wanted last night doesn't help. Now the bad guys know we're here." I paused, looking over at my friends and family. "Come on, it's time you meet everyone."
I could hear Kevin's heartbeat pounding as he walked beside me. I had to admit, with the welcoming committee that was gathered in front of me, as a human, I'd have been nervous, too.
"Who's the human?" Brody sneered, sniffing the air. "Hey, isn't that the guy from last night?"
"Yes!" the whole lot of us snapped, but it was Adrian's backhand hit to Brody's shoulder that shut him up.
"What's he know, Bells?" Jake asked, stepping forward and standing so very tall before us.
"Everything, and he's trustworthy," I stated, placing my hand on Kevin's shoulder. "Kev, this is Jake."
I heard the chuckles around the room as Kevin's poor head leaned back just to take all of Jacob's being in.
"Damn," Kevin chuckled, shaking Jake's large hand.
"Hey, Kevin. Relax, pal," Jake laughed, flashing his killer smile. "We got you."
"Sure we do!" Seth agreed, beaming as he jogged forward. "Hey, I'm Seth. Bells' step-brother."
Of all the wolves for Kevin to meet, I couldn't have been more comfortable with Jake, Seth, Sam, and Quil. They were easy going, laid back, never taking anything seriously. I could tell with a few words spoken between them, that they knew that Kevin was gay, but they were comfortable enough in themselves not to judge him on it. And I could see that their joking attitudes and sarcastic remarks put him instantly at ease.
Alice hopped to Kevin's side to introduce him to the members of the Volturi as they truly were, not the family friends that he'd met the night he and I sang on stage.
"Kev." She smiled, gesturing to the other side of the room. "You've met Marcus, but he's in charge of all of this madness." Marcus chuckled, shaking his head at her. "That's Stephano, his guard. You know Demitri and Carina, of course. Agosto, he works in Italy, too. And those three are Peyton, Brody, and Adrian."
His heartbeat skyrocketed, and my head shot around to look at him. He was blushing slightly, his brow dampening with sweat. At first, I thought the newborns made him nervous, but really, it was just one newborn that was causing his reaction. Adrian.
"We've met," Kevin said, his voice nervous, not like my Kevin at all. "I didn't get a chance to thank you last night."
Shy, quiet Adrian just nodded, fighting his rare smile and dropping his eyes to his feet, but Peyton smirked, looking between them and saying, "No, prob, Kevin. Kinda glad it turned out to be you. At least nothing needs explaining."
I looked to Alice, who didn't even look back, but just elbowed me quickly to shut me up.
My head shot up to look to Edward, who was barely holding in his amusement. Are they... Is he? Adrian? My thoughts were a jumbled mess, and Edward chuckled silently, putting a finger to his lips to hush me as he nodded slowly. Stop it! He smiled widely, but crooked his finger, calling me to him. Well, thank God! We're not the only human-slash-vamp love story anymore. I grinned, standing next to him.
He pinched my side, but I heard his quiet chuckle. I leaned my head on his shoulder as he wrapped a loving arm around me. I smiled when I watched Adrian give Kevin quick glances, only to look away.
"Okay," Carlisle said, his eyebrows rising high. "We need to adjust our plans. Tanya is in New York."
For the next few hours, plans, schedules, and ideas were bounced around the room. We needed to keep Kevin safe, continue to hunt the newborns and Sinclair, and now Demitri needed to track Tanya. He and Carina took off immediately to do just that, promising me that they would do their best.
"What we need to do," Jasper sighed, looking at the map, "is capture a newborn and send them back with a message for Sinclair."
"For what?" Jake asked, folding his arms across his chest. "A meeting? Or a fight?"
"Most meetings turn into fights," Jasper chuckled.
"With us they do," Emmett laughed, giving Jake a fist bump.
"What we need," Jake growled, "is to cover more ground, but with bigger search parties. It's what I'd do at home."
So for the next few days, that's exactly what we did. We worked in larger groups, splitting up the wolves and using them for better communication. They could hear each other for hundreds of miles, so if Seth was with me, Emmett, Edward and Rose in the subway tunnels of Brooklyn, he could still hear Jake with complete clarity, if the other wolf happened to be in Hell's Kitchen.
When it came to Kevin, he was in the presence of a Cullen at all times. The very first shift was taken by none other than Carlisle, who wanted to talk to him about his father and to make sure that he knew that we were going to do our best to help him.
And we did. By the end of the weekend, we had caught, destroyed, and cajoled information out of a total of seven newborns.
Demitri had chased Tanya, and come to find out Mark as well, all the way into Canada, before turning around after I called him. Marcus really needed his and Carina's help in New York, but both of them left the decision up to me.
"Let her go, Demitri," I sighed. "They need you here."
"I won't stop, little one," he vowed. "When this over, she'll meet her end."
"I know, D. Just come back. Let's finish what we started."
"Yes, ma'am."
It was Demitri that was with Seth, Jasper, and me two days later as we combed every inch of Grand Central Terminal. Well, underneath it, anyway. I sat down on the side of an empty tunnel, rubbing my chest. Edward was with Jake, Alice, and Emmett checking out Harlem.
And he was too damn far.
The only reason we both agreed to separate for the day was that we were taking the next day to go upstate to hunt. Just the two of us. Alone. So we figured that we could be apart for just a few hours, using the hunt as a time to reconnect. Our talents were sometimes needed in different places.
Jasper sent a cocktail of emotions that he had been working on just for me. It was a mix of calm, love, determination, and a touch of happiness. I turned my head to look at him, and chuckled at the beaming smile of pride on his face.
"Figured you could use a boost," he chuckled, plopping down next to me and slinging an arm around my shoulders. He kissed the side of my head. "Need to call him?"
"No, I'm okay," I sighed, rubbing my chest.
"Don't suffer, little one," Demitri warned, looking up towards the darkened end of the tunnel where Seth had run ahead to scope it out. "He made me swear to watch over you." He didn't give me a chance to argue, but pulled out his phone. "Here, Edward," he said into the phone, thrusting it into my hands
"Hey, baby," I groaned.
"Sweet girl, are you hanging in there?" he asked, his smooth, calm voice already helping.
"I am now." I smiled at just how much I needed him. "You?"
"Hating every second of this, love," he chuckled. "But...I love you. And tonight, we'll leave. I'll show you where I went hunting the last time we were here. Okay?"
"The zoo?" I giggled.
"We can," he laughed. "Not long, baby. Hang in there for me."
Demitri's head spun back toward the dark end of the tunnel again, and he stepped forward. "Let's go, guys. Seth's caught a scent."
"Gotta go, Edward. Love you."
"Be careful, my Bella. I'll see you back at the warehouse."
~oOoOo~
"Where are Lance and Sinclair?" Jasper asked, as Seth growled menacingly over the young girl.
She was feral, blood thirsty, and struggling like hell against my shield.
She didn't answer, but snarled like a trapped badger. Jasper sent her so much of a calming emotion, she fell flat on the concrete floor with a sigh, almost in relief.
"Where do you stay?" Demitri asked calmly, softly, as he pulled her wallet out of her jacket pocket.
"I don't know," she growled, trying to fight him off, but I held her still. "I remember a boat, the Statue of Liberty..."
"Hmm," Jasper mused, tilting his head at her. "Staten Island?"
"Yeah, maybe," the girl sighed, clearly frustrated all the way around. We were holding her captive, asking her questions she had a hard time answering, and she was new and really thirsty.
"Regina Jones," Demitri read off of her license.
"Reggie," she corrected, and I chuckled. In spite of everything she'd been through, her reaction to her own name was instant and ingrained. When you had a nickname, it was always the first thing to pop out of your mouth.
"Well, Reggie," Jasper said, smiling kindly, "we need your help. See...the immortals that changed you are causing a scene. Too much attention and too much hunting in one area."
"We can't have that, Reggie," Demitri sighed, shaking his head and returning her wallet to her jacket.
"Hey," I chided, shoving the boys back. They weren't helping the situation by closing in on her. "I know we're scaring you, but try to think. Where we you changed? If you needed to see Lance, where do you go?"
"Battery Park."
"What?" I asked, because it didn't make sense. There was no way to hide the screams, the noise that turning newborns would make in a park.
"That's all I can remember. Lance wipes our memories. He has...power."
"Okay, okay," Jasper soothed, nodding at her. "That's a big help, Reggie."
Suddenly, Seth's head shot up to look behind us. His whole body shook with tension as he shoved at Demitri.
"We aren't alone," Demitri sneered, standing up slowly.
I took in my surroundings. We were at a cross section of the sewer, with three different tunnels jutting off in three different directions. The only light was from the grating high at the top of a metal ladder leading up to the streets of Mid-town.
I sniffed the air, wrapping my shield around us all, including Seth, who was walking toward the middle tunnel.
"Bells..." Jasper hissed, giving the shield sign.
"Done."
We realized instantly...we were surrounded. There was someone coming in from every tunnel. We were trapped.
My first mistake was not including Reggie into my shield. She was pulled from us from behind and snapped apart with a cut off scream and the sound of tearing metal echoing through the tunnels.
"Shit," Demitri growled. "They're trying to draw us out, separate us. Not a chance. We'll work together better."
"Hang on," I sneered, shooting my shield out into the tunnel in which Reggie had met her demise. I wrapped it around someone, dragging them forward. "Now...we have a bargaining chip," I said, looking up at Demitri's proud face.
"Good, little one." He turned to the newborn struggling at his feet and then back to the two tunnels in front of us, where the scents were coming closer. "Come forward...or this guy is ashes."
"Start with his legs, Bells," Jasper growled, wincing when my shield began to pull the red eyed, writhing newborn apart in front of me.
It wasn't concern that brought our stalkers to the end of the tunnels and into the large cross section; it was pure curiosity. There was a boy and a girl that stood with tilted heads, but it was the boy that looked up at us.
"Sinclair has a message for Marcus," he said, his voice smooth, young, and without inflection. "He said to tell him that he won't be stopped. That he will own the city."
"There won't be a blood war," Demitri said, stepping forward. "We proved that in the South over a century ago."
Jasper snorted, shaking his head. "No shit."
"That's what he said you'd say," the boy replied, again without any emotion to his voice.
"He's under Lance's control," Jasper muttered. "I can't change anything about them."
"He also said to tell you...you're outnumbered," the boy continued, as if Jasper had never spoken. "He'll continue to create, to take over. And he'll take all of you out, too."
"He has no idea what we can do," Demitri stated. "Go back, tell him he won't succeed. And if he wants to discuss it further, then he can meet us at the north part of Central Park at midnight in two days time. We'll bring Marcus..."
"Bells, let him go," Demitri commanded, and then turned back to the boy. "Go! Tell Sinclair. Tell him he can try to take us down."
The boy turned tail, but the girl launched herself at me. She hit the shield around me, but it still knocked us to the ground. It was then that I realized that it wasn't just three vampires in the tunnel. Five more joined the square cross section of the sewer and the fighting was on.
I released my shield from around us, kicking the girl off of me. I stood up – pissed off and dripping wet from the nasty water that was running through the pipes – assessing the fighting around me. Jasper was holding his own against two immortals, Seth was already snapping apart another, and Demitri tackled a small boy before he could escape down one of the tunnels.
The girl snarled, launching herself at me again, but I caught her in mid-air with my shield, snapping her apart in an instant. The only sound she made was the sound of her body breaking, and it echoed around us.
Demitri picked up the boy he tackled, holding him in an unrelenting grasp, but the boy's eyes locked behind me.
"Lance!" he cried, and I spun around to see a very attractive and very angry vampire standing in the tunnel entrance.
Before I could wrap a shield around him, Jasper tackled me to the ground. "Aw shit," I grunted, fighting with everything I had against my own brother—my best friend—and feeling my wrist snap under his strength. "Jasper, no!"
I pushed my shield out, knocking him back just enough to push him into Seth, who caught him by the arm. I descended a shield over my little search party, blocking them from whatever power Lance was using against us.
"Fuck," Demitri growled, looking at Jasper, who was shaking his head to clear it. "Bells, let me out of this shield. I need to catch his mind. I need to hear it."
"No, not a chance," I growled stepping in front of him, holding my cracked and venom leaking wrist.
"Hold me! Have Seth grab my arm. It won't take but a moment. I need to do this, Bells. Once I catch the flavor, we can hunt him."
"You have thirty seconds," I snarled. "I will knock you on your ass if he gets to you."
"Fine. Do it!"
I dropped my shield, nodding to Seth. The large wolf latched onto Demitri's arm and held on.
Lance was watching us with silent interest. He looked frustrated that his power had stopped working. He frowned, taking a step back, but opened his mouth to speak.
"Two days..." he said, his voice beautiful, musical. "Midnight. Central Park. I'll tell him." The handsome, blond vamp turned, and in a flash, was gone.
~oOoOo~
"Bells, I'm sorry," Jasper said for the thirty third time since we started back to the warehouse. He opened the back door and let me into the large building.
"Shut up, Jazz," I said exasperatedly, holding my still leaking and broken wrist. "I said it wasn't your fault," I growled, rolling my eyes.
"What the hell happened?" Marcus growled, looking at what I was sure looked like four very messy, very smelly people. Seth had turned back into his human form as soon as we started the fire in the sewer to clean up our mess.
We were interrupted by the rumbling, cussing, loud ruckus that was coming in from the underground behind us. Edward practically tore the doors off their hinges. He was beyond pissed, his face intense, like an angel of death. But I knew my Edward. The anger was a mask that he used to cover the true emotion that he was feeling. He had panicked with worry about me. Whatever he'd seen had scared the shit out of him.
"What the hell did you do to her, Jasper?" he snarled, grabbing our brother by the collar.
"Edward, stop!" Demitri and I yelled, grabbing his arms. "It wasn't his fault!" we said in unison.
"I'm sorry, Ed!" Jasper winced when Edward slammed him back against the wall. "It was that Lance guy. Bella's shield slipped. He can...he's like...Chelsea..."
"Oh, sorry, Jazz," Edward huffed, letting him go.
Jasper sighed a breath of relief, standing up straight and opening his arms to Alice, who looked concerned for all of us. "I get it, bro. I'd have freaked out, too."
Edward turned to me. "Bella...what the...are you..." He pinched the bridge of his nose, breathing heavily. "I saw it all through Jake."
"I know," I sighed, relaxing now that Edward finally settled down. "We're fine."
"No, you're not," he snapped with a heavy growl to his voice, but his hands were gentle when he picked up my arm.
"Well, you can fix it in a second," I stated, turning to Demitri. "Tell them."
Demitri chuckled, shaking his head at what I'm sure was the roller coaster ride that was our day. He sat down on a box with a weary sigh. "Well, it wasn't a total disaster," he snorted. "I caught Lance's mind. I can track him now. And we have a date two nights from now. Central Park."
"Good," Marcus said, dragging his gaze from Demitri to me. "Bella. You and Edward get out of here now. Take care of that arm, hunt...reconnect. Now. It's not a request – it's an order."
"Do I even want to know the color?" I snapped, feeling cranky from my loss of venom, the need to hunt that was already there, and the loss of connection to Edward I had been lacking all day.
"Red," he bit back. "Get out!" He pointed towards the cars with his mouth set firm. "If we're to beat this guy, we're going to need you back in one piece, and that shield will be important. Just go."
"Come on, love," Edward said softly, gently guiding me away.
~oOoOo~
"My own stench is grossing me out," I huffed, pressing my forehead to the window of the rental SUV.
"There are clothes in the back, and we'll get you cleaned up," Edward said quietly, his nose wrinkling.
"It's bad, huh?" I laughed.
"I prefer your strawberry shampoo, yes," he chuckled, looking over at me. His face sobered up. "God, baby, are you okay?" He reached over, tucked my matted hair behind my ear, and brushed his thumb across my cheek.
I unwrapped my wrist from the towel that was around it. It didn't hurt too badly, but just felt wrong that I couldn't use it. And I was losing strength. I was tired, needed to hunt, and Edward needed to heal my wound. He had done it before, and I preferred it if he did it again.
"Soon, sweetheart," he said, accelerating to a faster speed as we quickly left the city. "I promise to take care of it."
"Thanks," I sighed, going back to the window. "I'm sorry I scared you."
He huffed a laugh, placing his hand on my thigh. "I thought Jasper had lost his mind."
"He did," I snorted. "It wasn't his fault. He felt terrible about it."
"I know." He nodded, squeezing my leg. "Keep the pressure on that arm. You'll be weak, sweet girl. I'll hunt for you if you need. But we've got a little bit of a drive before we can get out of the car."
"'Kay." I nodded, closing my eyes and leaning my head back to the headrest. "Put some music on, Edward, please."
"Sure, love," he said softly, and soon, I was surrounded by the soothing sounds of Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.
It made me smile. "That's awful happy for my cranky, hundred year old man," I teased, not bothering to open my eyes.
He laughed softly, running his hand over my head. "I've most recently found a new outlook on my life."
"How recent?"
"Oh, a few years now," he snorted. "Hush, my beautiful girl. Just relax and don't waste your energy."
If I could have slept, it would have been right then. With Edward's soothing hand running over my head and through my hair, the smooth, sweet music, and the hum of the car, I fell into a quiet trance. Soon, I felt the turn of the car, and it slowed to a stop.
"Are we here?"
"Yes, Bella," Edward crooned, but he was already at my door and picking me up bridal style out of my seat. "Let's get you cleaned up and fed, hmm?"
I curled into Edward's chest, letting him run with me. I breathed deep the smells of the forest. There was a chill to the autumn air, enhancing all the scents. I could detect evergreens, dry grasses, and fresh water. I could hear the approaching sound of running water, and I opened my eyes.
"Edward, this is really pretty," I muttered, looking around from his arms.
"I know," he chuckled smugly. "I wanted to show you last time, but hunting while you were still human...bad idea."
"I bet," I snickered softly as he set me down on a dry rock on the edge of a spectacular waterfall.
He knelt in front of me, setting a bag down, which I assumed carried our clothes. "Let me see, sweetheart," he whispered, picking up my wrapped arm and carefully taking the towel off of it. "What did I tell you the last time this happened?" he asked, meeting my gaze.
"That it'll hurt," I answered.
"It will," he sighed, his eyes a warm, liquid amber. He hated me suffering in any way. "Are you ready?"
I nodded, taking a deep breath and pressing my forehead to his shoulder. The very moment that his venom hit my wound, I hissed, jerking in his embrace.
"Easy, Bella. It won't take long," he soothed, kissing the center of my palm, before going back to my wrist.
I could feel my skin, bones, and tendons melding back together, Edward's venom causing singeing, sharp flames to shoot up my arm. I shook in his arms, snuggling my face deeper into his neck. And just like last time, the pain ended just as quickly as it began.
With three loud smooches to the inside of my arm, Edward pulled me back from his shoulder. "Better?" he asked, pressing his forehead to mine and holding me there by placing both of his strong hands on my neck.
"Yes," I sighed, still feeling weak and thirsty. I wiggled my fingers of my once injured wrist, and then cupped his face. "Thanks."
He smiled sweetly. "I'm just glad you're all right," he sighed, kissing the tip of my nose.
"My throat, Edward..."
"Okay." He nodded, pulling away from me. "Don't move, Bella. I'll bring you something to take the edge off. Then you can hunt on your own."
"'Kay," I agreed, looking down at my hand as he disappeared in the blink of an eye.
When he reappeared minutes later with a large doe in his arms, my instincts kicked in, and I couldn't stop myself from growling at him. I was too drained, too thirsty to act civilized. I felt ravenous, and as much as I knew he wasn't, Edward felt like an invasion to my meal.
Edward smirked, dropping it and backing away. "I'm not taking it from you, Bella. It's yours."
"Mine," I snarled, reaching out to drag the deer to me and draining it faster than I expected. The blood rejuvenated me slightly, giving me more focus, a clearer head. "More."
"Can you do it on your own, love?" he asked, still smirking, but his eyes were black as he watched me stand up slowly.
I didn't answer him, but took off to find my own meal. I knew he was following me, if only to make sure I was okay, but I could hardly focus on him once another deer's scent caressed my senses. But as I drained the large buck, it was another scent that caused my head to snap up.
At my far left, I watched Edward dive, cat-like and graceful, towards a deer of his own, but on my right, the shuffling, grunting, rumbling sounds of a black bear was all I could focus on. The large male bear weighed about three hundred pounds and was fat, preparing for the coming winter, but he never stood a chance. I was thirsty and drained, and it had been way too long since I had hunted something other than deer. He filled me with power, satiating my thirst almost instantly.
~oOoOo~
EDWARD
I love my wife. The sweet, still fidgety, so compassionate, brown-eyed beauty was my life, my reason for staying on this planet. But the immortal that was mine, that was a predator and deadly and strong, was a reminder that I got to keep her forever. A reminder that she was like me, and I didn't always have to treat her like a China doll.
Bella's injury, while it could never "kill" her, drained her to the point of weakness. Watching her vampire instincts kick in filled me with pride and want and need. Seeing her snarl and growl at me, because she thought I was taking her kill, just about made me strip her right there and take her hard against the rocks of the little pool at the bottom of the very pretty waterfall. The sire in me wanted to teach her a lesson for snapping at me; the husband in me wanted to ravish her until all she could scream was my name. Both of us wanted to be so deep inside of her that we could forget ever being apart from her.
As she stood up from the poor bear that had the terrible timing of crossing her path, I couldn't keep myself from her any longer. I'd quenched my thirst for blood, but our connection was causing another need that had to be sated, or I wouldn't be able to see straight.
The scuffle that I'd had to watch through Jacob was torture for me. I saw my own brother tackle my wife with aggression and malice. And I couldn't quite grasp why, because Bella's shield kept flickering on and off of Seth, so I didn't quite get the whole story. All I knew was that my mate had to defend herself against family, and I couldn't get back to the warehouse fast enough to find out why. I was blinded by concern and rage by the time I made it there.
I walked up on the small pool, my eyes traveling over every inch of her as she paced with the blood that was now coursing through her, replenishing her strength. She was back to normal, back in one piece, and she was mine.
She spun around, her eyes black with want. "Yes, yours," she growled, looking me up and down and licking her lips like I was next on her menu.
I grinned, loving that we were on the same page. "You still look...hungry," I pointed out.
"Not for food." She smirked, licking her luscious red lips again. Her color was back, the dark splotches under her eyes gone. Her skin was smooth, the muscles underneath causing a rippling effect just under the surface as she shed her jacket. Her tiny hands balled up in strong fists as she panted in front of me.
Yes, we were very much on the same page.
She was still filthy from her fight, her hair matted and now containing a few leaves from the forest. There were smudges of dirt on her stunning face, and her clothes were caked with filth and venom, both her own and someone else's. She looked like a wood nymph, like a wild creature out of the stories she wrote. And she was unbelievably gorgeous as she practically vibrated in front of me.
She stood absolutely still as I approached her, but I could see her fighting her need to touch me. I could hear it in her mind.
For a split second, my sweet girl emerged. "I still stink, Edward," she snickered, wrinkling her nose in the most adorable manner.
"Don't care," I huffed, reaching out, grasping a fistful of her shirt, and dragging her to me. My own voice was gruff, husky, and she smirked at the sound of it.
Her body molded to mine as it always did, reminding once again that she was made for me – made for me by the hands of God Himself, and I would forever be grateful.
She fingered the edge of my collar, finally locking her black eyes with mine. "I want to do something," she stated, her voice quiet, submissive, but I could hear a slight command at the very base of her sentence.
"I want you," I growled, shaking my head. I couldn't quite shake the need to just ravage the shit out of her, but as always, she could get me to do anything just by asking.
"You have me," she soothed, slowly slipping her hands inside of my jacket and pushing it off of my shoulders. "I need to touch you."
I nodded, my mouth slightly open as my breathing picked up. My fists clenched at my sides.
"But I want you to tell me where and how," she continued, looking up at me through her long, dark lashes.
"Bella," I said, my voice rumbling in my chest as she tugged my t-shirt off over my head. "It's all I can do not to just fuck you senseless."
She smiled – evil and wicked – licking her lips slowly. "Mm, and you can," she purred, leaning up on her toes to skim her nose up my neck and along my jaw. When her lips were even with mine, she breathed, "I so want that. Tell me what you'll do to me, Edward."
Her movements were slow, calculated, but her eyes were black and needy.
A war waged inside of my head. The part of me that Bella called Sweet Edward wanted to settle her into the water and wash every inch of her, making sure she was healed and safe and perfect. But it was the other part of me that was winning.
Apparently, Dirty Edward had some things to get off his chest.
"I'm going to pin you down and bury myself in that hot, wet pussy," I growled as she raked her thumbs across my nipples.
Her clothes never stood a chance. They were ruined anyway. At least that was what I'd convinced myself as her still damp t-shirt shredded under my grasp. Bella gasped, but her mind wanted me to keep talking as she reached for the waistband of my pants.
"When you come for me, Bella," I panted, squeezing my eyes closed as her fingers deftly lowered my zipper, "I want to feel you everywhere...my tongue in your mouth, my cock in your pussy...everywhere." I practically snarled at her the last word, but she wasn't offended.
Her mouth curled up into the crooked smile that I gave her all the time. She wore it well, and it was deadly.
"What if..." she started, her voice taking on a sexy croon. "What if I told you I want that, but in that water, Edward?"
She leaned forward, pressing an open mouthed kiss to my chest at the same time that her hands shoved my jeans down over my hips. Her palms slid smoothly over the cheeks of my ass, causing her to emit a fantastic low growling purr as my throbbing cock became trapped between us. She squeezed each cheek firmly, pressing me into her again.
I couldn't help but grind into her, my forehead dropping to the top of her head. "Bella...don't care where..." I bit out, my breaths coming out in pants. "Now, now, now," I chanted, destroying her jeans in one swift tug.
I felt myself being pushed back, Bella pressing me into the rocks behind me. They were damp from the waterfall and the rain. She looked up at me through her long eyelashes again, and I just about snatched her up right then. Instead, my dick twitched under her sexy gaze.
Somehow, I had lost control of the moment, and I desperately wanted it back, but the feel of her hands on me caused my brain to go all fuzzy. I struggled to kick out of my shoes, socks, and now my pants that were bunched around my ankles, even while her tiny hand wrapped around me, gliding up and down with the most delicious grips of pressure.
"More, baby," I begged, my head falling back to the rock wall behind me. "Harder, please..."
I felt her smile against my chest as she placed licking, wet kisses to my skin, all the while her hand never stopping, never letting up. It was her smile that brought me to my senses.
Before she could grasp that I had even moved, she was naked and pressed into the very same rock I'd just been leaning against. "Oh, no," I growled low into the soft skin behind her ear. "What am I going to do with you, my Bella?" I whispered, licking up the shell of her ear. "First, you scare the fucking hell out of me, and then you drive me to the brink of insanity." I pressed every inch of my body against her. "I said... I want you. You're seriously rerouting my plans."
"Edward," she growled, fighting me as I gripped both of her wandering hands in mine and placed them above her head. "Then just fucking tell me..." She was a hellion when she wanted something, wanted me, specifically. I couldn't love her more for it.
I chuckled darkly, reaching up above her hands and gouging a cleft into the rock. I manipulated her hands until she was holding onto it like a handle. "Those don't move, they don't come away from that spot, and they don't touch me," I ordered, watching as my sweet, brown-eyed angel's gaze blackened to a lust filled, heady onyx.
I knelt before her, my hands slipping over the smooth skin of her arms and sides. She was unbelievably beautiful stretched out in front of me, even with the smudges of dirt, her breasts heaving, her body elongated, her scent of want and lust crippling me. I stopped, cupping her breasts, giving her nipples a teasing twist. I continued to glide my hands down her sides to her hips, where I gripped, tugging her slightly in order to place a nipping, biting kiss to her belly.
"Fuck, Bella," I growled, pressing my forehead to her stomach. I panted with the need, the feral want I was fighting. The two sides of me were battling it out again. But she was so damn receptive and responsive when I took control.
"You have to fucking be careful," I chided, finally looking up at her. Her gaze softened as she realized why I was acting the way I was. "You have to take care of yourself when I'm not with you..."
"Edward...I'm sorr—"
"No!" I snapped, shaking my head at her and cutting off her needless apology. "I know some things are out of your control. I know you tried... I just... Fuck!"
One thought escaped her mind, and my head snapped up. Is he punishing me for causing his worry?
My Bella had learned all sorts of control when it came to her shield, her thoughts, her dealings with my severe mood swings. For her to have let that slip by, she must have thought I was pissed. I wasn't, was I?
"Yes...no," I growled, shaking my head to try and clear it.
"I'm sorr—"
I stood before her in a flash, crushing her mouth with mine. She gasped, giving me the opportunity to invade her mouth with my tongue and relish the complete and absolute feeling of coming home. It was like that with every kiss. And it never, ever changed or got old.
Her body responded to me, but I could feel her fighting it, because in her mind, she wasn't quite sure how to deal with me.
"No apologies...no 'I'm sorry'," I gasped, breaking away from her mouth and dragging my lips down her jaw to her neck. "You need to understand, my Bella." I cupped her sweet bottom, lifting her up. "You hold on," I ordered, slipping my now beyond painful erection through her wet folds. "I need you safe. I need you to fucking fight hard. Because you're mine," I snarled, thrusting into her in one swift movement.
We both cried out, our voices echoing through the empty forest. Birds took flight and small animals bolted from whatever hiding places they had been huddled in, leaving us in silence other than the sound of the falling water.
"You're mine, and you have to come back to me every time we're apart," I growled low, biting her neck and holding on as she writhed against me. Her hips rolled against me as her fingers shattered the rocks over her head. I pulled her away before they could hit us.
She grabbed my face, her eyes searching mine, her mind frantic with a way to get through to me. You don't want an apology, then fuck this out of your system, baby. Do it. Get rid of it, because I'm. Right. Here!
I slammed her back into the rock, hearing some deep fissure crack way deep inside of the massive piece of stone. Bella cried out, her legs gripping me, her feet pulling me in deeper with her heels in my ass. She held onto my shoulders as I lost myself in her with a deep, plunging rhythm. I wasn't going to last.
The sound of her mind grounded me, brought me back almost instantly. And the feel of her surrounding me and safe in my arms again made me cling tighter to her. When her mind chanted her love for me, to let go for her, that she was fine and safe with me, I shattered completely and buried my face in her neck and my cock as deep as I could.
My breathing was heavy, almost coming out like sobs as she pulled my face up with gentle but firm hands.
"Hey," she whispered, her eyes filled with worry when I finally locked my guilty gaze with hers. Guilty, because I had taken every bit of pleasure from her glorious body, and given none in return. She smiled as beautiful as a sunrise over the ocean. "There you are," she snickered, placing kisses on my face. Her mind recognized her Sweet Edward instantly. I chuckled softly, but took a deep cleansing breath. "Um," she started, a little wrinkle to her brow, "would you please put me in that water? I can't take my own smell, Edward..."
I laughed, hugging her close, but refused to separate from her. "I told you I don't care," I chuckled, carrying her over to the water.
"I care. It's gross," she giggled, hugging me tight as I knelt down into the small pool.
"Then let me," I sighed, turning her until we were under the shower of the fresh, clean spring water.
I took my time, but she let me clean her up, running my fingers through her hair to get the snarls and mud out of it. She let me touch every inch of her, scrubbing the smudges off of her smooth, strong skin. I reluctantly slid out of her, setting her on the side of the little pool, so that I could wash her legs and feet, loving the immortal skin and hair that didn't technically need soap. We used it as a human habit that was left over from our previous lives.
I hated the loss of her, and held my arms open so that she would crawl back into my embrace.
"I'm fine, Edward," she sighed, snuggling closer to me and wrapping her strong, tiny body around mine.
I sank into the water with her and held her close. "I was scared, baby," I admitted with a small voice. She shifted on my lap, but I held her tightly. "I can't...let go yet, love," I sighed, begging her with my eyes to understand.
"Okay." She nodded, kissing my forehead. "Okay. You can hold me as long as you wish."
I lost myself in her sweet, dark brown, warm gaze. I didn't know what the next few days held for us, our family, or our friends, but after aching with our separation for mere hours, seeing her hurt, and taking her like an animal in the middle of upstate New York, I knew I couldn't bear to part with her – at least for the moment.
"Forever, Bella. I'll hold you forever."


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