Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 26

"Forever, Bella. I'll hold you forever."
I studied his face as we sat in the cool spring. For a human, the water would have been freezing, but to us, it was perfect and quiet and ours, if only for the moment. With wet fingertips, I reached up and traced Edward's heartbreakingly handsome face. His hair was wet, his eyes a warm, light honey, his jaw sharp, and his lips almost in a sweet pout as he gazed up at me.
"I'm fine, sweetheart," I said again, pressing kisses to his forehead, cheek, and the little dip in his chin.
"I know," he replied so softly that I almost didn't hear him.
I could almost feel the moment that our connection solidified; my chest swelled to almost overflowing with love for the man in my arms. I could just imagine Marcus' bright, happy face beaming when he exclaimed, "Green, Amore. A beautiful green."
Edward smirked, listening to my thoughts, but he stayed quiet. Only his hands continued to move, gliding over every inch of my skin underneath the cool water as I continued to place random, soft kisses to the face I couldn't live without.
"I love you," we both whispered at the same time, our lips barely touching, and we both smiled into the kiss, sobering quickly as it became deep and heated. It filled the area around us with our low moans.
I pulled back, gazing back down at him, smiling as he licked his lips. A slight sparkle caressed the side of his face and down his neck, and I looked up. The setting sun sent beautiful rays down into the little valley from the top of the waterfall. It shone through the leaves of the trees and glittered off the water around us, but it wasn't as beautiful as the dazzling man in front of me.
"I want to kiss you," I stated, my brow furrowing. "Everywhere..."
He huffed a slight laugh, fighting his smile. "I believe I owe you, my sweet, beautiful girl," he said, looking like an admonished child.
"It's not about keeping score, handsome," I chuckled, standing up between his legs and tugging him up with me. He started to argue, but I put my finger to his mouth. "Shh." I smirked, shaking my head. "You have no idea how amazing it is to just feel you...in every sense of the word." I raised an eyebrow up at him, gently pushing until he was sitting on the edge of the pool.
My brow wrinkled again as I took in the beauty that was my husband. Shielding my thoughts from him, I watched as a slight pout graced his usually composed features. "Spoiled vampire," I muttered, stepping between his legs.
"You're fault," he countered with a chuckle. "The only mind I want to hear at all times, and I don't always get it."
I smiled up at him smugly, shrugging one shoulder. "You'll live."
He grinned a stunningly amused smile, rolling his eyes.
The orange glow of the setting sun bounced off of his skin, and I tilted my head at the diamond-like gleam that shattered off of his physique. It was muted in the dying light of the day, but still breathtaking. It took all I had to look away from his amazing body and up to his anxiously awaiting face.
"Do you know...I consider myself very lucky?" I asked, looking up at him. "It's not just our connection, or the fact that I get to keep you...forever. It's the whole thing. It's the hundred year difference – that you were so destined for me that you were changed to wait for me. It's the perfect feeling of knowing you'll catch me if I fall. It's the fact that most people – human or immortal – go their whole lives without knowing this feeling. This feeling of being completely owned by someone else, owned by their love."
"Bella," he said, his voice barely above a whisper as he reached for me.
I gave him my hands and nothing else, linking our fingers together. I leaned in, inhaling that perfect, sweet scent that called to me at his neck, that could comfort me and excite me beyond all reason.
Finally, I closed my eyes and opened my mouth to his skin. He tasted like spring water and sunshine, like lust and just pure Edward. His fingers twitched against mine, a desire to touch me, but I held them firm.
"Please, don't. Let me have this," I begged, squeezing his hands and licking up the shell of his ear.
I blazed a trail across his throat, over his collarbone, and placed a long slow kiss to his shoulder, eventually looking up to meet his heated gaze. I unlinked our fingers, placed his hands down beside his legs, and gave him a look that said to keep them there. He obeyed silently, still watching my every move.
I palmed his thighs as I leaned in to shower kisses down his sternum to his stomach, and whispered, "Lean back. Just a little."
He moved his hands, bracing them behind him and giving me the most glorious view of his body. Every muscle was stretched and taut – from his biceps and forearms that were holding his weight, to his clenching jaw, to his abs that tensed every time my mouth came near them, to the perfect, solid weight of his now steel hard erection that stood proud and tall.
I swirled my tongue over his hip bone, dragging my lips across his lower stomach just to do it to the other one, stopping to nuzzle his bellybutton with my nose.
"Bella...baby," he groaned.
I looked up to see his fingers digging into the ground behind him, his face pained, his chest heaving with panting breaths. Without taking my eyes from his, I sank my mouth down over his cock, my hands still gripping his thighs.
The hiss followed by the most beautiful of sounds met my ears as I took him over and over. Edward's hips flexed up, and the sound of cracking rock broke our gaze. I looked to his hands to see them in tight fists, an unfortunate rock shattered to dust in his grip.
"Oh, fuck," he growled through gritted teeth as my mouth took him all the way in to the back of my throat. "Shit, baby...I need to touch you. I don't want to come this way."
I pulled off of him with a light pop as he fell from my mouth, his cock slapping his stomach with an amazing sound of skin on skin that caused my center to twitch at the heaviness of it.
I crawled up his body, coming up out of the water, and said, "You want to be inside me when you come."
"You want to even the score...make me come, too."
"God, yes."
"You want to kiss me, touch me, feel me."
"More than I can say..."
Our eyes were locked, my breathing calm, Edward's frantic. But it was his eyes that made me smile. They were black with lust, but they were filled with need and love and an almost childlike awe.
"Tell me you want me, Edward."
He huffed a frustrated laugh, his voice filled with a groan. "More than anything...I want you."
He leaned up to kiss me, but I pulled back, saying, "Tell me why you panicked earlier."
"No," he pleaded, his head shaking profusely.
"Please?" I begged, kissing his cheek, his jaw, and just barely brushing his lips with mine.
"It wasn't panic," he huffed and groaned at the same time. "I needed to...claim you...make sure you're mine."
"Always." I smiled against his cheek. "I love that I'm yours. Was that a sire thing, Edward?"
"Yes!" he growled, writhing under me, but I smirked at the smile he was fighting. I didn't need to read minds to see through my husband, and he loved it. "Bella...sweetheart...please..."
I backed completely off of him, his eyes following my every move. "Tell me you love me, Edward...then you can touch me."
I grinned when I found myself on the other side of the pool and under the waterfall with a strong, growling Edward pressed against me. "I love how you love me," he purred, water dripping from his handsome face onto me. "I love that you see things better than I do, and that you remind me all the time. I love that you care for people without question, unless they give you a reason not to. And I love that you're all my firsts..."
He pushed me back into the waterfall until I was lying flat on the angled stone. The water splashed down onto his back as he created a shelter over me. As he settled into the cradle of my thighs, he leaned down, taking one of my pebbled nipples into his mouth, sucking hard. I whimpered, my body arching up to get closer.
"You were my first true friend, Bella," he said, looming over me and pressing his forehead to mine. "You were my first love, my first real failure..."
"Hush, baby," he chided softly. "You were my first most excellent success, my first reason for finding something fucking good in this life, my first lover, my first longing heartache, my first cheerleader..." He grinned a goofy grin, and I couldn't help but giggle softly up at him. "You were the first person to tell me I was worthy of anything, and the first to show me why. You were the first one to see past all the bullshit I put up as a front, and the last one to ever judge me on it. You. Are. Everything. It's more than how much I love you, Bella. Just more."
With that said, he slipped languidly into me, a sigh escaping me, a beautiful moan from him.
The night fell over us with cloudy skies and a lack of stars as we kissed, moving slowly together under the water. The talking was over, and we turned our bodies over to want and need and instinct. We filled the tiny pool, the small valley, and the empty forest with sounds of moans, each other's names, and wet skin on wet skin.
As the sun rose the next morning, we found ourselves wrapped in a blanket inside the back of the SUV. The seats were all down, and I was happily nestled under Edward, touching him, kissing him, as we listened to soft music on the car's stereo. We were still connected in the most intimate of ways, but he wasn't moving. It was fantastic just to be one being, one body.
"Mmhm," he mumbled against the skin of my neck.
He pulled back, his eyes rolling back in his head as I scraped my nails down his strong, arched back to his ass. I gripped both cheeks hard, rolling my hips to take him deeper. I gasped as my clit brushed his pelvic bone just right.
"Do I feel that good, baby?" he asked, staying completely still as I used his body.
"God, yes," I panted, holding his ass tighter and rolling my hips again.
"Take it, Bella. Take what you want from me," he urged softly in my ear, ending the sentence with a delicious moan. "I'm all yours, sweet girl. And you're so beautiful when you come. Give me one more before we have to leave."
My body shook with the need for release. I rubbed against him again, my mouth falling open as my center clenched hard around him, my breath catching in my throat as my whole body bowed underneath him.
Before I could come down from my climax, Edward pulled his hips back, only to thrust deeply back inside of me. As my walls still fluttered with spasms, he buried himself to the hilt, coming with a low, deep, purring growl, the sweetest of crooked smiles gracing his handsome face.
He laid his entire weight on me, enveloping me as he nuzzled my neck and ear, whispering that he loved me, but that we had to go.
"'Kay," I sighed, turning my head just to kiss his neck, shoulder, and cheek. "Back to reality, huh?"
He snickered softly, his breath ghosting across my skin. "Unfortunately, my beautiful love. Back to reality, indeed."
By the time we drove back into the city and pulled into the warehouse, snow had begun to fall, and fairly heavily, at that. The rain from the previous day had turned into the white, fluffy stuff. And as everyone discussed the meeting with Sinclair and the day's schedule, I stared out the open bay door.
I was sitting on a box next to Edward, who was absentmindedly twirling a lock of my hair through his fingers as he studied a map of Central Park. I'm sure that there was something I should have been paying attention to, but I just...wasn't. My concern should have focused solely on the meeting we were supposed to have with Sinclair the next night, but my mind was all over the place.
The last time we were in a meeting just like this one, Edward and I were told we would fighting side by side, but we didn't, and the result was chaos. Would it happen again? Could I be strong if it did, like Edward asked me to? And just where the hell was Tanya?
Her return had pissed me off, but it was Alice's visions that scared me, which caused my eyes to dart across the room to meet her tawny, knowing gaze. She and I were supposed to take Kevin back to the hospital to see his father again once the meeting was over. I knew she couldn't see anything with the wolves, but I made a decision to ask her about Kevin's future.
She smiled evilly, shaking her head slightly and mouthing, "Adrian."
I smirked, rolling my eyes at her as Marcus discussed tactics and fighting and newborns. She chuckled silently, shrugging one tiny shoulder.
Apparently in the twenty four hours that Edward and I were gone hunting...among other things...Adrian had become Kevin's silent protector. He didn't speak much to my friend, but he had barely left Kevin's side.
"Will you two behave?" Edward whispered very softly in my ear, tugging my hair. "And stop thinking about those 'other things,' sweet girl, or I'll be forced to run away with you again..."
I snorted, covering my mouth and leaning into him. A man has to do what a man has to do, Edward, I teased, squirming down off the box when he pinched my side. I shot him a dramatic disapproving look and sat down on the floor next to Esme.
"Is my son misbehaving?" she asked, but there was a beautiful twinkle of mischief in her eyes.
She would always hold Edward as her favorite – her first born, so to speak. She'd worried about him for so long, that seeing him act just as lovesick, silly, and young as her other two boys, made her beyond happy.
"Nope. It's me." I grinned, snuggling into her hug.
"Good girl," she praised, kissing the side of my head. "It's best to keep him on his toes, little one."
I heard Edward snort softly behind us.
We both turned our attention to Carlisle when he stood up in front of us all. "I need one group to check out Battery Park, and another to search the tunnels underneath," he stated, looking to Jasper, who stood up.
"We're split into two large groups," Jasper said, folding up a map and handing it to Jacob. "Everyone is in on this one...well, except Bells and Alice. They're guarding Kevin."
We both nodded, but Alice said, "We'll be taking him to the hospital tonight."
"How is his father?" Carlisle asked, looking up from the table.
"Not good," Edward answered in a soft voice, and they exchanged a knowing look. "They've started a morphine drip."
Carlisle winced, but nodded. "It's just a matter of time then. They're just keeping him comfortable."
Alice hopped down from the box she had been perched on and tugged me up by my hand. "We're going to go. We have to pick Kevin up in SoHo and go all the way to the Upper East Side."
"Take a taxi," Jasper and Edward ordered at the same time, both of them wincing at the chuckles that filled the room.
"See?" Alice giggled. "And you make fun of us when we talk at the same time. No more, I tell you!" She pointed a tiny finger at both of them, but they just laughed at her.
I chuckled, shaking my head. I picked up my coat, scarf, gloves, and knitted hat. I didn't need them, but it looked odd to humans if I wasn't wearing them when it was snowing so heavily. Besides, Alice would kill me. She'd picked them out for me while we were away.
The meeting broke into the two groups, but Edward came over to help me into my coat and gloves, and I grinned up at him. "You gonna put my boots on, too?"
"I might," he said haughtily, but chuckled sweetly. "Let me," he sighed, taking my scarf and wrapping it around my neck to pull me in for a kiss. "Please be very, very cautious, my beautiful girl. Call us if you need anything, do you hear?"
I nodded, biting my lip, my brow wrinkling slightly. I didn't want to be apart so soon after my last encounter. Edward's brow furrowed at my thoughts, but he just kissed my lips again.
"This shouldn't take long, my love," he said softly, taking my hat and playing with the fluffy ball on the top. "I'm coming straight to you at the hospital when we're done."
"Call me?"
"Like you could stop me," he growled, pulling my hat down on my head. He placed a long, reverent kiss to my forehead, before making sure the hat met his approval. He broke into the sweetest of grins. "God, you're so cute," he chuckled, shaking his head. "Be safe, baby."
"You, too."
I tried to ignore the smells, the sounds, and the noises of the hospital while Kevin saw his father. He had been out of it most of the two and half hours that we had been with him, but he was awake now.
I closed my eyes and prayed that Mr. Stark would be kind to his son this time. He was near the end; he should want to go out with love, not the desire to shatter his son's heart. My eyes opened when the sick man started to speak.
"Kevin," he whispered. "Come away from the window. Come sit for a moment."
"Sure, Dad," Kevin sighed, and I could hear the squeak of the plastic chair as he most likely pulled it closer to the hospital bed.
"Tell me about London," he said, and then broke out into a wracking cough.
Arnold Stark was dying of lung cancer, although it had spread to his liver and stomach at this point. There wasn't much anyone could do for him, but keep him comfortable. Carlisle had requested his chart and set it down with the saddest expression, never picking it up again.
"It's good, Dad. School's hard. I've made really good friends."
"You still studying Art History?"
"Yeah. Yeah, definitely."
"Well, you sound sure," Mr. Stark sighed, fighting another coughing fit. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "I'm sorry your mother wasn't around, Kev."
"That wasn't your fault. She was mugged, Pop."
"I know, but maybe she would've been able to help me understand you..."
My nostrils flared, my fists clenched as I waited for him to hurt my friend.
"Maybe if you had played sports, or maybe there's some sort of medication..."
I heard the chair scoot across the floor and my friend finally lose his patience. "Being gay is not an illness...or an error in parenting...or a choice, Dad. I. Am. Gay. It's who I am. It's me. It's not going to change, and the first time I admitted it, I felt like I had finally taken off a mask I'd been hiding behind. Please...there's nothing wrong with me. It's just...me. People who don't even know me can accept that; why can't you?"
"Kevin, it's a tough life..." Mr. Stark started, but he was interrupted by another coughing fit. "It's wrong and shameful..."
The low growl that escaped me caught Alice's attention, so she picked up my hand and held on tightly.
Adrian, who had been standing silently at the end of the corridor, stalked away from the window he'd been staring out of. His usually handsome, sweet face was murderous.
I looked to Alice, and she said, "Go. I'll watch Kevin. You were about to walk in there anyway."
I snorted, nodded, and followed Adrian. I found him at the elevators. "Let's go for a walk, huh?"
He nodded, but said nothing. Silently, we rode the elevator and found ourselves under an awning outside. The snow fell softly around us, causing a muted effect to all the sounds in the small courtyard.
"Was it hard?" Adrian asked cryptically. I looked up to see him gazing blankly into space. "When you were human and Edward was...not... Was it difficult?"
"Um," I mused, frowning at the question. "It depends on what part of our relationship you're asking about. And you should talk to Edward. He may be able to give you more insight."
"I..." He huffed, finally locking gazes with me. "I..." He winced, shaking his head. I could tell that he wasn't used to opening up about himself. "I've never felt like this. I mean...I'm...you know...gay, but I've..." He ran a frustrated hand through his hair, but it flopped right back down in his eyes.
"Hey, sit down," I said, pointing to a bench behind us. I studied his face, and I could see the same self hatred, the same guilt, the same bewilderment that Edward had carried so many years ago. "You like Kevin."
"Like," he scoffed. "I'm obsessed. I have been ever since the night I pushed him out of the way at the club. I can't even trust his safety with you! And you've known him longer."
I laughed, shaking my head. "Okay, and what has he said?"
Adrian smirked, finally relaxing just a bit. "Kevin says...a lot," he laughed. "If he's not talking, he's..."
"Singing," I chuckled. "I know...but I meant..."
"I think I'm confusing him. I want to know everything about him, but I keep him at arm's length. This life is...awful, more so than if I were to come out to everyone. His dad is an idiot."
"We'll get to his confusion in a sec. How's your thirst around him?" I asked, thinking that his diet was different than Edward's when we met.
"Tough," he sighed, looking over at me. "But I don't know if it's because Kevin is human, or if my emotions are all over the place. I've been talking to Carlisle and Marcus. They want to show me a new way..."
"Good, Adrian. That's really good." I smiled, nodding and looking out at the quiet, snow-covered street. "I wish I could tell you it's easy, but I can't. I've never known any other way, but some of my family has. They've...struggled with this lifestyle."
"I know," he sighed, frowning slightly. "Carlisle told me."
We were quiet for a moment, but I finally looked up at him. "Kevin...isn't stupid, Adrian. In fact, he reminds me of me when I was human. He's observant and sees through all the pretenses. He's completely comfortable with what we are, but he truly knows us. Understand?"
"Yeah. He told me that he's known what you are for a while."
"He has. You said you're confusing him. How?"
"I hate what I am. I hate what I've been turned into," he growled, shaking his head and looking at his hands. "I...but what if..."
"He's your mate?" I chuckled when his gaze shot up to mine. He nodded slowly. I took a deep breath, thinking about exactly what I wanted to say. "You asked if it was difficult. At the beginning, it was. I can only tell you Kevin's perspective – the human side. I haven't spoken to him, but the way he looks at you..." I huffed a laugh. "It's so familiar."
"Really?" Adrian smiled.
"Oh, yeah," I snickered. "Look...Edward was filled with much more guilt than you have right now. He'd had a hundred years to wallow in it, to become familiar with it, to grow to think that he would never find anyone. He was convinced that he was a monster. So when he met me, he felt so wrong. He fought it and fought it, but no matter what, we couldn't deny it."
"And you weren't...disgusted with this?" He grimaced, gesturing to his whole body.
"Uh...that would be a no," I giggled, and Adrian laughed with me. "He was everything to me instantly. He's so handsome, but he was so smart and sweet, despite how he felt about himself. And so very protective...so protective, in fact, he left me to save me from himself."
"Damn," Adrian groaned, shaking his head. "For how long?"
"Two years," I said, biting my bottom lip at the memory. "Just about killed me..." I whispered, probably just to myself.
"Bells...you don't have to..."
"I do," I stated, looking up at him with determination. "I do, because I wish I'd had the courage to say this to him way back then. Be honest. Say what you're feeling, even if you're scared. If Kevin's feeling anything close to what I did, then his human emotions are exploding. We can barely contain it as immortals. As humans, it's mind blowing. It's really too much for us, but if I'd have known that Edward was just as...confused as I was, it may have been better. I don't know." I shrugged, taking a deep breath. "He came back to me better...open and honest. The time apart was awful for both of us, so he laid his heart, mind, and soul at my feet...to take or leave."
Adrian studied my face, his brow furrowed, his mouth in a tight line, but he didn't say anything for a moment. "What do I do, Bells? I can't pursue anything with him...he's not like me."
I chuckled. "Well, there's a question for Edward, because he said the same thing." I smiled up at Adrian. "Love has conquered all with us. Personally, I don't know how he did it, and I was no help. I pushed his limits over and over. In all reality, he could have killed me, but he didn't. He was perfect, really. He said it took a ton of control – over his strength and thirst and need for me."
I huffed a laugh and smiled softly at the fuzzy human memories of first kisses and meadows and meeting the Cullen family for the first time. Bittersweet memories of first make-out sessions on piano benches after two years of separation and seeing Edward love me completely for the first time after huge fights about forever.
I pulled my hand from my chest, realizing that I'd been rubbing it. Our distance apart was bugging me, but manageable. However, with the loss of him combined with talk of him, I missed Edward with an all consuming ache.
"Talk to Kevin." I shook my head to clear the memories. "Just tell him what you're feeling. He can be silly and outlandishly bold, but he's a sweet soul that I've come to love. And right now, despite how he's masking it, he's really struggling with his dad. Please...just don't hurt him."
"Oh God, Bells," he gasped, getting up to kneel in front of me. "I swear I won't. I could never..." He picked up my hands and squeezed softly. He winced, shaking his head. "It's just so...fast."
"It's instant." I nodded, shrugging one shoulder, but gazing down into his worried, handsome face. "It's instant and scary and overwhelming...but it's perfect and breathtaking and amazing."
Adrian stood up, looking past me to the doors of the hospital. I grinned when I heard Kevin singing with Alice. It was his way of dealing with stress.
"Hey," I whispered, and Adrian smiled down at me. "This life...it's not awful. In fact, it can be pretty awesome. I know you had a rough start. I get that. But don't let it hinder you from experiencing the good stuff, okay?"
"Thanks, Bells," he chuckled, shaking his head as the bellowing duo got closer.
I nodded, realizing he was using my nickname that they all used. I was glad, because at least he could talk to someone. "You're welcome. And talk to Edward."
"Okay," he sighed, barely able to keep his eyes on mine. They betrayed the mask he was trying to put up. "Will you...I mean...can you talk to Kevin?"
"Oh, I plan on it," I laughed, standing up when we were no longer alone.
"How's your dad?" Adrian asked, his voice reflecting his concern, but his face was a carefully placed mask.
"Sleeping," Kevin said, and I could just see him hide his pain. He smirked over to me. "You got pissed, didn't you, my goddess?"
"I did," I huffed, giving my friend a raised eyebrow. "Though it sounded to me like you were finally telling him what for."
"He should be wearing a rainbow hospital gown now that Kevin's finished with him," Alice giggled, shaking her head.
"I would like to ask Heavy E and Dr. Feel Good some questions," he chuckled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "You know...doctor stuff..."
"Sure, Kev." I sighed, nodding and trying to give him a smile. I held out my hand for him, and he took it. I registered that he was shaking just a little bit. I wrapped my arm around his waist, whispering, "Are you okay?"
"No," he said, but his voice broke. "Can we just please call them?"
"Sure, honey," I sighed, pulling out my phone. Needing to hear his voice anyway, I called Edward first.
"Bella," he sighed into the phone.
"Hey, baby. Have you got a sec?"
"For you? The world, my love. Hang on," he said, his velvet voice soothing my ragged nerves. I could hear some of the boys in the background and then some echoing sounds, before he finally spoke again. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" He chuckled and I couldn't help but grin.
"Oh, I just needed to hear your sexy voice, Edward."
I smiled when Kevin chuckled softly.
"Anything in particular?" he asked, and I noticed his tenor dropped to that husky tone he used when he either wanted something, or was trying to seduce me – which was a useless ploy. I always wanted him.
"No," I snorted, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. "Just tell me you're safe and that you love me. And then Kevin would like to talk to you."
"Oh," he said with a touch of surprise in his voice. "I'm perfectly safe, though bored to distraction without you. And I love you so very, very much, my sweet girl. I was hurting, though. What about you?"
"I'm better now. And I love you, too, baby."
"Is Kevin okay?"
"I think he has some medical questions for either you or Carlisle."
"Well, we're both here, so no problem. Let me talk to him," Edward said. I could hear him call Carlisle over as I handed my phone to Kevin.
"Hey, Heavy E," Kevin sighed, turning away just a bit. His breath was short puffs of white air with every exhale in the cold weather. "What's a DNR? I know what it is, but what does it mean?"
"It's a 'Do Not Resuscitate' order, Kevin," Edward answered softly. "It's signed by the members of the family and the patient themselves to prevent being put on a respirator. Has your father's doctor mentioned this?"
"My dad did, and then the doctor showed it to me."
"It means," Carlisle started, "that if your father were to go into cardiac arrest, they would not save him, son. They will let nature take its course. Does that make sense?"
"Yes, sir," Kevin sighed, and a single tear fell down his face.
"If your father is aware of it, then he doesn't want to be kept alive by machines," Carlisle asked. "How was he today?"
"He slept a lot, but we finally talked just a bit ago. He doesn't hate me..." Kevin huffed a bitter laugh, but more tears slipped down his face.
"I'm sure he never hated you, Kevin," Carlisle soothed. "We want the world for our children. Sometimes, it's just not easy to show."
"That's what my sister said," Kevin hiccuped. "I have another question."
"Go ahead, Kev," Edward said softly.
"The doctors said his lungs are filling with fluid. That it's just a matter of time...that he'll probably just slip away... Will he know me? I mean, do I need to be there? I don't know if..."
"It's your call, son," Carlisle sighed, and I could almost see his compassionate face wince in sympathy for the boy on my phone. "You have to do what you're comfortable with. What do you think your father would want?"
"He was a strong man, but very proud. He's hating me and my sister seeing him this way. I can't...imagine he'd want us to see him...die." His voice cracked on that last word. "I was there when my mom...I can't do that again."
"You don't have to, Kevin," Edward urged. "If you've made your peace with him, said your goodbye, then you do what you have to do. Everyone grieves differently."
"'Kay," Kevin sobbed, and I couldn't take it any longer.
I eased him to the bench and wiped his tears away. The usual carefree face that I was used to was not there, and the shattered, brokenhearted face that replaced it wrecked me.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered, kissing his forehead and taking the phone when he handed it back without a word.
Alice and Adrian draped themselves around Kevin as he finally succumbed to the grief that was about to crush him.
I put the phone back to my ear. "Thank you, guys," I whispered, taking a deep breath.
"I'm sorry, little one," Carlisle sighed. "I know it's hard on you and Alice to be there for him."
"Bella," Edward called softly. "Why don't you take him back to the hotel? We'll come there when we're done. Rose is going mad with worry. She and Esme want to see him."
"Okay." I nodded stupidly into the phone. "How long?"
"A few hours, sweetheart," Edward soothed. "There's one more trail we're following, but otherwise, we're giving up for the night."
"We'll see you there," I said, catching a snowflake in my palm. "And Edward?"
"Yes, love."
"Please be careful, but hurry."
"I'll be there, baby."
We said goodbye at the same time and ended the call. I turned to see Kevin looking up at me with pale features and dark circles under his eyes.
"When did you eat last, Kev?" I asked, and Adrian and Alice looked guiltily away. They weren't used to feeding a human.
"I'm not hungry, Bells."
"I understand that, but will you try to eat something? For me?" I asked, offering him my hand.
"I don't want to go home," Kevin whispered, his eyes flickering to Adrian and back to me.
"We aren't. Edward said to take you back to our hotel. So that's where you're going," I chuckled, reaching up to wipe away a few remaining tears. "Esme needs to love on you, I think."
Kevin grinned, blushed, and nodded. "For Esme..."
"For Esme," Alice giggled. "Walk? Or cab?"
"Walk...just for a bit," Kevin requested.
Alice's eyes glazed for a moment, her face darkening. "No...cab. I'm sorry, Kev."
"I'm to follow orders," he chuckled, shrugging. "Heavy E said so."
I chuckled and nodded.
"I'll get the cab," Adrian said softly, giving Kevin's shoulder a squeeze on his way by.
"What did you see?" Kevin and I asked Alice.
"Bells becoming uneasy as we walked and hailing a cab anyway. Let's skip the uneasy part, huh?" Alice grinned, grabbing both of our elbows and following Adrian.
By the time we got upstairs into mine and Edward's hotel room and ordered him something to eat, Kevin was a little more at ease. He wasn't his usual bright, sparkling self, but he wasn't crying, either.
When Adrian returned from the restaurant downstairs with Kevin's food, he brought with him the rest of my family. It was the softest teasing argument I've ever heard.
"At least we remembered to feed Bells," Emmett chuckled softly, shoving a smiling Adrian through the door.
It seemed the whole family knew what Adrian was afraid to say. Yet, they were acting like it was no big deal. I hoped that helped to show Adrian that he could be honest and talk to Kevin.
"Damn, her stomach growled every four hours," Jasper laughed. "It's not like you could forget."
"Oh, for God's sake!" I snapped from the sofa where Alice and I were sitting. "It did not!"
"It did, too," Edward chuckled. "At the most inopportune moments, if my memory serves me correctly."
"Shut it," I growled, rolling my eyes, but I got up and fell into his embrace. "I missed you."
"Me, too," he sighed, planting kisses on my forehead. "Where's Kevin?"
"Shower," Alice answered, shutting off the TV when Carlisle and Esme walked in.
When a clean Kevin emerged from the bedroom, he was shocked to see the whole family, but it was into Esme's arms he fell. She held him close as she whispered words of comfort and love. He caught his breath and pulled back. Esme cupped his face, wiping his tears with her thumbs gently.
"Kev, you need to eat," Adrian urged, holding the bag out. "Please?"
Kevin nodded and sat down to the table, tugging the bag to him.
"You're probably famished," Emmett snorted.
"Shut it, Em," I growled. "You weren't exactly the expert at feeding the human." I pointed to him as a chuckling Edward pulled me down onto the couch with him.
"Neither was Alice," Rose chuckled. "Thought Bells would pass out one day at the mall."
"Clothes first," Alice snapped, but broke into a giggle. "God, I thought Edward would kill me!"
"It was tempting. You can't let my fiance pass out from starvation," Edward said, a smirk gracing his handsome face as he tucked my hair behind my ear.
"Yeah, that was just before the wedding." I smiled, biting my bottom lip.
"Yeah, well..." Emmett smirked, folding his giant arms across his chest. "Who got you your first bear, huh?"
The whole room exploded into laughter.
"You did, big brother," I chuckled.
"That's right! Me." He grinned, giving me a fist bump. "Heard you caught one yesterday, too."
"I did." I smirked, raising an eyebrow at my husband, who looked a gorgeous mixture of proud and embarrassed.
"I simply told him that there were black bears to the north," Edward countered, shrugging one shoulder in a very non-Edward way. It was a too innocent gesture coming from him.
"Mmhm," I huffed, looking at him out of the corner of my eye and switching to my thoughts. If he knows anything about a waterfall, Edward Anthony, you're in deep shit.
He barked a laugh, shaking his head. "Never, baby."
Kevin and Adrian didn't say much as Kevin picked at his meal. But I recognized the faces they were wearing. They were absorbing the family dynamic, which I had done myself many, many times. It was a pleasant distraction and a comforting feeling to be surrounded by them.
Edward leaned his head back on the sofa, staring up at me as he listened to my thoughts. "Really?"
I nodded, looking back over at a yawning Kevin. "He needs sleep," I noted, looking back at Edward.
"Let him stay," he sighed, looking at him sadly. "It's been a rough day. He wants us near."
Adrian cleaned up the table as Esme urged Kevin to bed, telling him we'd all see him in the morning. Once they were all gone, Edward and I settled on the sofa together in front of the TV. It wasn't a few hours before Kevin's cell rang.
His father didn't make it through the night.
I looked up from the TV to see Bella coming back from grabbing Kevin something for breakfast.
"He's still asleep," I whispered, letting my gaze take her in as she set the bag and coffee down on the table and walk to me.
"They've made a decision," she sighed, standing between my legs. I reached out and grabbed her hips, running my hands up and down her thighs. "Esme's staying with him throughout the day and for the fight tonight, though Adrian was putting up a hell of a fight. She may have company," she snorted.
"That's two less tonight," I said, frowning. "We'll probably be fine, though."
"That's what Marcus said." My sweet girl nodded, but her head shot up when Kevin cried out in his sleep.
"Nightmares," I winced, looking up at her. "He's been suffering the whole time you were gone."
She nodded again, her face grim with concern. She stepped away from me, muttering, "I don't know what's worse...the nightmare itself, or being woken up from it."
I grimaced, but she was right. When my Bella was human, her nightmares were terrible. But waking her up from them was heartbreaking. For that brief moment, she would fight, cry, and not know where she was. And that's exactly what happened when she walked into the bedroom to Kevin.
He gasped as her cool hand caressed his faces, coming up out of sleep with a deep breath, like he'd been under water too long.
"Shit," he breathed, his head falling back to the pillow.
"Shh," she soothed, running her fingers over his brow to wipe away the sweat. "You're fine. We're right here."
"I'm glad you don't sleep," he huffed, rolling his eyes up to her.
She chuckled, shaking her head, and I couldn't help but join her. "Yeah, sure. You'd have kept us up all night. Like an infant," she teased.
He smiled, nodding slightly. He sat up, rubbing his face. "I have to see my sister today...make arrangements for my dad." His voice was quiet, his mind subdued, filling with sadness as he became more and more awake.
"We know," I said, coming into the room. "Esme will be with you."
"Yeah?" he asked, his eyes bright. He'd found a mother in Esme, and she was just fine filling the role.
"Yeah," Bella snickered. "Now, get dressed. I brought you something to eat."
"Bells..." He winced, shaking his head.
"Eat what you can," she commanded, leaving no room for argument. "You'll need something in your stomach. Do you hear me, Kev?"
"Yes, ma'am," he sighed, pulling back the covers and swinging his feet off the side of the bed. He padded into the bathroom, closing the door softly behind him.
By the time he was showered and dressed, Bella was waiting for him at the table, and I was back in front of the TV, just trying to give them space.
He took the coffee with gusto, but picked at his breakfast, his mind filled with one question, but he didn't want to ask it.
"Yes," I laughed, looking over at him. "Adrian will be with you."
"Shut up, Edward," Kevin growled, his face a deep crimson.
Bella snorted, but held onto her giggle, giving me a warning glance. "He will, you know. He's fighting Marcus tooth and nail to be able to stay with you today...and tonight."
"Why?" Kevin frowned, setting his fork down. "He's not responsible for me...he keeps apologizing for pushing me down that night at the club...but..."
Bella looked up to me, and I shrugged. She could take this conversation many different ways, or let them sort it out between the two of them, but I had to admit I was curious about their relationship.
"It's not responsibility that ties him to you, Kev," she said carefully, her eyes sharp on him just to gauge his reaction. She bit her that beautiful bottom lip of hers, before deciding to continue. "Did you know he's gay?"
"I guessed it," he whispered, his brow furrowing. "And what do you mean? I get nothing from him, Bells. He won't talk about himself, and yet, he's always there..."
I had guessed the same thing about Adrian, even though his thoughts had been pretty guarded concerning his sexual preference.
She huffed a laugh. "You're just lucky he doesn't sneak through the window to watch you sleep," she chuckled, looking over to me.
I grinned, loving her sweet admonition. "You loved it," I growled, pointing a finger at her.
"Oh, I did," she giggled, but turned back to Kevin, who was smirking at the two of us. "What do you feel about Adrian?"
"Bells," he sighed, shaking his head and leaning back in the chair. He picked up his coffee, but didn't drink it. "I...can't stop thinking about him. I feel lost when he's not here, and tongue tied when he is."
The sweetest of smiles graced my Bella's face, a smile of understanding. "Overwhelming, isn't it?"
"Yeah," he sighed, looking up at her. "I can't focus. I can't think..."
She looked over to me, her face serious. They mated, Edward. And Adrian is fighting it just like you did.
I sat forward on the couch, resting my elbows on my knees. "Kevin, you need to talk to Adrian."
"What do I say?" he growled, standing up and pacing the floor. "Gee...you're fucking hot, and I can't stop thinking about you? He's like you guys...he's not...he won't..."
"Oh," I said, my head shooting up to look at him. "You really think that? That he'll just...leave? That we'll leave?"
"Don't," Bella said softly, getting up from the table and walking to me. "You don't know, Edward. You have no idea..." She kissed my forehead, but turned back to Kevin. "It doesn't work that way, Kev. I know that right now you're placing him on this...pedestal. That he seems more than the average guy. I know that you feel that he's so...much that he couldn't possibly find you interesting. It really doesn't work like that." She rubbed her face with her hand and bit her lip before continuing. "He's just as confused as you are, I assure you. He's trying to...save you from himself. He hates what he is..."
"You've talked to him?" Kevin gasped, looking up with a touch of anger to his features. He felt betrayed, but he knew she would never really hurt him.
"He needed to get it off his chest, Kev," she explained. "You need to understand that for us...when we meet someone...it's...it happens so fast. And when that change happens...it's permanent, irrevocable. Even if he continues to push you away, he'll never really leave you.
"You have to be the vocal one, Kev," she continued, her voice urging him to listen. "You have to, because he's too shy and he's had the worst beginning to this life I've ever heard. I understand that he's a little intimidating, and that he seems standoffish, but he's just horribly confused. Keep in mind, he's trapped in a nineteen year old body."
I stared at my Bella with an open mouth. Her panic to this situation was palpable, but it was her mind I was reveling in. She didn't want them to make the same mistakes we did, to fight the natural urge to be together. It was breaking her heart at just the mere thought of it.
"Bella," I whispered, pulling her back between my legs. She turned to me, opening her mind to the conversation that she'd had with Adrian concerning Kevin, and her mind recognized the guilt, the self hatred immediately. "Okay," I soothed, cupping her sweet face. "I get it, but relax, love. Please."
I stood up, turning to Kevin. "She's right. It doesn't work that way. Once we've...chosen someone..."
"Mated," Kevin corrected, his mouth open in shock.
"Yes, mated," I snickered. "It doesn't matter how much we fight it. Adrian will see that before too long, I assure you. You have to understand his side, so you know how to handle this, Kevin. See, Adrian was turned under really disturbing circumstances. Monstrous ones, and he feels like he is a monster. Now that he's mated, his first instinct is to protect what's his...even if it's from himself." I frowned, looking down at Bella. "Though his diet concerns me."
"He's talked to Carlisle," Bella breathed, relaxing now that I understood her panic. "Marcus wants to give him the option."
"His?" Kevin gasped.
"Oh, you're his," I chuckled. "Though you will own him most of the time."
Bella snorted, poking me in the stomach. "Hush," she chided, looking over to Kevin. "You need to talk to him. Ask him what he's thinking. I promise you that he's just as in shock over this as you are. And it's unheard of...your relationship."
"Sort of," I snorted, shaking my head. "The gay part, yes, but the human part...no."
"Relationship," Kevin scoffed, looking between us. "Can we even have one of those?"
Bella and I went deadly still. My first answer was yes, and in her mind, the answer was no. I looked to her, and she shook her head.
"You have to talk, Kev. Period," she sighed, her brow wrinkling. "I think you two have to set your own limits. I would say yes, but then his diet...his strength. He's a young vampire, honey. He could, in all reality, kill you."
Bella's mind registered my shock, but she pointed out my long life, my control, and her infallible trust in me. I trusted you. I don't have that for anyone else. Sorry.
"Don't be," I whispered, kissing her forehead. "You're right."
We were interrupted by a knock at the door. I smiled, chuckling softly. "Esme."
"That means it's time to go," Bella sighed, walking to Kevin. She hugged him, kissed his cheek, and cupped his face. "Talk to him," she urged.
"'Kay," he sighed, nodding. "Be careful, please?"
"We will," Bella and I chanted, both hugging Esme, who repeated Kevin's sentiments.
"Love you both." She smiled, cupping our faces. I chuckled as I noted that she'd heard our conversation with Kevin, and she planned on sitting the both of them down without shame. Her Mama Bear instincts were in full swing.
"Love you, too," we said, leaving the hotel room.
It was time to hunt and fight.
"There's more of them than I thought," Jasper murmured as we stood together against the line of trees.
It was dead on midnight as we waited to see if Sinclair would show. The wolves were hidden behind us in the brush of a cluster of trees, and the family stood as a solid unit. Marcus didn't seem worried, but Demitri was just about to pace a path into the grass.
It wasn't Sinclair he was concerned with; it was Lance. His power had proven to him that we could be used against each other, so Bella's shield was around us all for the moment.
I looked up to follow my brother's gaze and saw at least twenty immortals emerging from the shadows. At the forefront was a blond that Jasper, Demitri, and Bella recognized as Lance. He was tall, muscular, but calm and sure of himself as he walked beside another immortal.
Alice inhaled sharply, finally seeing Sinclair. She instinctively stepped back.
"Easy, darlin'," Jasper growled low, taking her hand. "He won't touch you, I swear it."
They all came to a standstill, Sinclair and Lance stepping forward at the same time Carlisle, Demitri, and Marcus did.
Sinclair was what Marcus had called an ancient. And he looked it. He stared around him as if he were bored already, as if he'd seen this type of thing before. He had long dark hair, pulled back from his face, and despite the fact that he was wearing current clothes, he looked like he was from another century. He held his hand up, almost effeminately, as a gesture of peace.
"Bella, I need to see his mind," I whispered as softly as I could in her ear.
"Edward..." She shook her head.
"I trust you to snap it back around me if something goes wrong. Lift it, please," I said, kissing her head.
I winced at the flood of minds that hit me when the shield was lifted. If Lance knew I was uncovered, he made no move as of yet. I shut out as many minds as I could, especially the newborns. They were nervous and felt they were being led to slaughter. They had seen their friends lost to us in the underground in the last few days.
"Ah, Marcus," Sinclair said, with a beaming smile. "It's good of you to meet me. And look, Carlisle. Still living the strange life, I see."
Carlisle didn't answer or move with that statement. He was letting Marcus take the lead.
"It's unfortunate why I have to meet you, Sinclair," Marcus huffed. "You can't create like this. It's drawing attention. I have to ask you to stop, to leave this place."
"Oh, but I can't," Sinclair sighed, his mind filled with hopes of a newborn army numbering in the hundreds in the busiest city in the world. "I have a goal I haven't reached yet. Feel free to join me, though."
"You know we have to stop you," Marcus warned. "You know we can."
"You can try." Sinclair frowned, looking over everyone that stood behind Marcus and Carlisle. It was when his eyes landed on my littlest sister that a brilliant, evil smile spread over his face. "Mary Alice...I haven't seen you in so long. How are you?"
My siblings and I stepped forward with warning growls erupting from us. Emmett and I instinctively blocked Sinclair's view of Alice. But his thoughts, his memories of Alice, were what just about made me lose my mind.
It was Sinclair himself that had spotted her all those years ago. She was being punished by the tree that Chester always sent her to, her sister, Cynthia, trying to soothe her. He saw her predict that their father would come out. He saw her predict that Cynthia would get a beating. And when it materialized in front of his eyes, he coveted Alice. He wanted her as an immortal, powerful and knowledgeable in the future. And he hated the ignorant man that was holding her powers back. He watched her for weeks, making sure that her power was true, real, and then he made his move.
He bought her, traded her for land, just so he could see what her reactions and predictions could be when threatened. He bought her as a toy, nothing more, nothing less. A human guinea pig to torture.
I shook my head, snarling with hatred. "He dies," I growled to my siblings. "He dies for Alice alone."
"Easy, Edward," Bella crooned, shielding me again. "Not yet. Wait."
"Mary Alice, come see me. I so wanted you with me, but circumstances wouldn't allow me to take you," Sinclair crooned, opening his arms in a false welcoming gesture.
"No," she breathed, shaking her head. "I'm glad you didn't take me."
"Ah, but are you glad that I rid the world of that cockroach of a father of yours?" he countered. "You should thank me. He squealed like a woman when I tied the rope around his neck."
"I should kill you!" she snapped, pressing between me and Emmett, and we both put a hand on her tiny shoulder. "You tortured me."
"I toughened you up, prepared you for greatness," he chuckled. "Can you still see the future, Mary Alice?"
"Yes." She smiled so sweetly, but it didn't reach her eyes. They were black when she said, "And you die."
"Then let's see if you're right," he growled, turning to Lance. "Kill them. Kill them all."
The whole family scattered to where they had been told to go, the wolves stepping lightly from the treeline. When my own father threw the first punch, I knew this was a fight to the death. I just hoped we would come out on top.


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