Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 28

CHAPTER 28
BELLA
Our soft moans filled the hotel room. We were making out like two lovesick teens at a drive-in movie. Edward's hands were everywhere, yet we were still dressed – he in his gray lounge pants, and me in his shirt.
I arched into his hands as they stealthily slipped under my shirt. My hips rose as I looked for any sort of friction, finding it against Edward's thigh, which was strategically placed between my legs. We were a tangle of sheets, legs, and arms.
I trailed my fingers softly down from his broad, strong shoulders, reveling in every dip, every muscle, to his narrow waist, pulling, urging him with flat palms to give me more. I dipped my fingers below his waistband, smiling against his bare shoulder when his hips instinctively pressed against me. He was big and hard against my thigh.
He chuckled darkly, dragging his lips to my ear. "You like that you drive me crazy?"
"I do," I giggled softly. "It boosts my ego."
"I understand, sweet girl," he crooned, his hand squeezing one of my breasts.
I gasped aloud, my head falling back as his thumb brushed across my pebbled nipple, bringing it to a whole other level of pointed, but aching pleasure.
"God, baby..." he groaned. "You smell..."
"Wet," I finished for him with a groan. "I am...painfully so, baby..."
Edward pulled back, bracing his weight on one elbow by my head as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt from my body, revealing his payment for the story he'd told me the night before. He purred softly, licking his lips at the sight of my royal blue lingerie set. It was lace and satin and small – all the things that drove Edward over the edge.
"Damn, I am spoiled," he smirked, dragging his tongue slowly across his bottom lip.
I giggled, burying my face in the crook of his neck, scraping my teeth gently over his skin. "You are," I agreed, leaving an open mouth kiss to his Adam's apple.
He carefully tugged the shirt off, lazily dropping it over the side of the bed to the floor. He sat up to kneel between my legs, picking up one to place a kiss to my ankle and trailing his fingers up the inside of my thighs. He drank me in, his gaze heated, dark as he looked up at me through his long eyelashes.
"You're so beautiful, baby," he whispered, his brow furrowing just a little, but a sweet smile graced his perfect mouth. "Oh, the things I want to do..."
I chuckled, sitting up on my elbows, hoping to God that Dirty Edward had just walked in the room. If he had, I was going to throw a damn party.
He chuckled, shaking his head at my thoughts, but his smug smirk was proof number one that I was right.
Let's get the party started.
"Hmm, my, my, my," he purred, a huskiness touching his voice as he flicked his tongue out and dragged it from the top of my foot, up my shin, swirling around my knee, all the way up to the crease at my hip and leg. "If I told you everything running through my mind, my naughty girl, you may just think I'm a pervert."
"You are a pervert," I snickered, rolling my eyes at him and at what he was doing to the sensitive skin just above the elastic of my boy shorts with his wicked tongue.
"I am," he agreed firmly, running his hands up my stomach to the front clasp of my bra. Deftly, he flicked it open, and it, too, ended up on the floor. "But this is deviance beyond the norm, my tasty girl."
He leaned down, circling each nipple with the very tip of his tongue, his eyes dark and locked onto mine as I moaned wantonly, uncontrollably.
"I want your delicious ass in my face, baby," he whispered, urging me onto my stomach and up onto my knees. "I want to taste every inch of you," he continued, palming my bottom and giving my cheeks a good rough squeeze over my underwear, only to run his amazing hands up my bare back, sweeping my hair to the side and biting at my shoulder. "Then after you've come all over my tongue," he said, planting his hands on either side of me so that he was surrounding me, grinding his erection against me, "I'm going to fuck you hard. Just like this." He finished by licking across my shoulder and up to my ear, sucking my earlobe into his mouth.
I'm not sure of the sound that escaped me, but it did, and he smiled against my neck, pulling away from me.
"Fuck," I breathed as his tongue met my spine and swirled all the way down to the top of my underwear, where he grasped each side and tugged them down.
Before I could react to being completely exposed to him, his tongue met my clit, and he licked me from one opening to the other, ending with an open mouth kiss to my other entrance. I gasped, my eyes rolling back as he did it again and again with a flat, wet tongue.
With one hand on my hip, grinding me into his face, and one circling my wet, throbbing opening with a knowing finger, I was beyond the ability to speak. Inarticulate sounds burst forth from me as I lost myself to sensation.
His tongue entered my core, his thumb pressed down on my sensitive nerve, and his wet finger slipped into my other entrance. My breath caught in my throat as I pushed my hips back against him.
"Let go, baby," he growled against my center, causing a vibrating sensation all over.
I was lost to him, shattering at his command.
His didn't stop until he had drunk from me every drop he could, and then he crawled up my body. He held my hip with one hand, planting the other one beside mine where it was braced on the bed.
I turned my head to watch his face as he slipped into me slowly. His mouth hung open slightly, his eyes fluttered closed, and his deep purr vibrated the whole bed.
"God, you feel...so fucking good," he growled low, his forehead hitting my shoulder. "Jesus..."
He began to move inside of me slowly, swiveling his hips in the most sensual of ways. His hand stayed on my hip, moving me, guiding me, and his breath ghosted across my neck in heavy bursts.
I could feel everything about him as he caged my body with his own. His thighs flexed behind mine, his fingers dug into my hip, and his stomach pressed against my back with every thrust and every breath.
With that last thought, my eyes squeezed closed and my breath caught. All I could see was his injury, the gaping hole in his chest, and my very big, very strong brother just about to end him.
"Bella," he gasped, stopping all movement and turning me over. We both winced at the loss of contact. His face was stern, but completely loving as he lowered himself over me. "Look at me, baby," he said, taking my hand and placing it on his chest where the hole had been. "I'm just fine."
"I know," I hiccuped, looking up at him and rubbing his chest. "I know. It scared me, that's all." I reached for him, and he came willingly to me, settling all his weight on top of me.
"I'm okay. I promise, my sweet girl," he vowed, his voice calm, soothing, but his brow was furrowed as he studied me. "You can't get rid of me so easily." He smiled that sweet crooked smile that did me in every time.
"Good," I sighed, bringing his mouth to mine. "I want to see you, need to see you...this way, Edward..." I whispered against his lips, wrapping my legs around his hips.
He smiled, nodded, and touched his forehead to mine, slipping back into me. "Your wish...my command, baby."
He made love to me so slowly, so thoroughly, that all I could see, think, feel, taste, and breathe was him. With every thrust, he held me close, making sure I could feel his solidity beneath my fingers. With every kiss to my neck and ear, he whispered how beautiful I was, how much he loved me, so that I could hear his voice and know he was right there. And with every kiss to my lips, he thanked me for just loving him, telling me I was strong and sweet and perfect.
By the time we both fell over the edge, my body felt like jello from holding onto Edward so tight. My limbs flopped to the bed listlessly.
"I'll be worthless today," I joked, chuckling breathlessly.
"Note to self." He snickered, running the tip of his nose up the shell of my ear. "I now know what it takes to render you almost unconscious."
I laughed, nuzzling his shoulder. "Shut it. I can't pass out, Edward."
"And thank God for that," he chuckled, taking my earlobe in his teeth. "I remember blood typing day."
"I'm so happy my fragile human self could entertain you," I huffed, pouting fabulously.
He laughed, wrapping me up completely with his arms, and buried his face in my neck. He rolled us until I was braced over him. He gazed up at me with the sweetest, most loving expression I'd ever seen him wear. He looked every bit his seventeen years, full of mischief and awkwardness and adorable belligerence.
"That's not what I meant," he chuckled, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ears. "You were never truly fragile, my love. You were always stronger than me."
"And don't you forget it!" I grinned, leaning down to kiss him softly.
We both pulled back from the kiss when a knock sounded on the door. I sat up, and Edward stood up from the bed, pulling his lounge pants back on.
"Alice has been busy," he muttered wryly, before he'd even opened the door to an employee from the hotel.
"Mr. Cullen?" the young brunette in uniform asked without looking up from her clipboard. "Delivery for you."
"This ought to be priceless," I mumbled, fighting my laugh.
She finally looked up and saw what "Mr. Cullen" actually looked like as he stood silently and patiently at the door, in nothing but soft, loose cotton pants. He looked like sex incarnate, with his mussed up hair, his crooked smile as he listened to my sarcastic remark, and his wrinkled pajamas.
In her hand, which seemed to be stuck hanging in the air, was what looked like a black garment bag. Her face was frozen in lustful shock. Her wide, hazel eyes traveled from his bare feet to his amused, but trying to stay impassive face.
"May I?" he asked, holding his hand out for the bag.
I, of course, lost my ability not to laugh and was in silent hysterics in the doorway of the bedroom, securing the belt of my robe around my waist.
"Um, yeah, sure..." She breathed, shaking her head to clear it. She handed over the bag, her eyes still locked on his face as he reached over to the side table for his wallet.
"She's so gonna pass out," I snorted so softly that only he could hear it. Her heart sounded like it was pounding in my own ears, and her breathing was shallow.
He grinned, losing his own battle due to my comment and shooting me a look that said if I didn't shut up, there was going to be hell to pay once the door was closed. Yeah, that just made me snort louder.
"Here," he said, holding out a folded bill for her. "Thank you...Molly," he said smoothly, just adding fuel to the poor girl's fire as he took note of her name tag.
"You're...welcome?" She said like it was a question, her brow wrinkling at the size of the bill in her hand, and then back up to his face.
He did wait until she left before shutting the door, but when he turned, I squealed as he bolted for me. He caught me in his strong arms, landing back on the bed with a long, deep growl against my neck and asking me if I thought I was funny.
~oOoOo~
It turned out the delivery was dress clothes for the funeral we would be attending for Kevin's father. There were times that I never questioned Alice's talent, and there were times when I was just damn grateful for it. Today was the latter. She had done an impeccable job.
My dress was a classic tea length, long-sleeved, basic black and fit perfectly, of course. She'd even sent shoes, leggings, and a beautiful black coat, knowing we would be outside at some point during the day. My gloves, scarf, and hat were all a light gray that were knitted with a really soft yarn.
But it was Edward that she'd dressed so superbly, which I delightfully discovered when I emerged from the bathroom.
"Oh my...damn," I breathed, raising an eyebrow at him. "Okay, that's...just really...handsome..."
He chuckled, looking like he'd be blushing if he were able. "Why thank you, Mrs. Cullen," he snickered, giving me the once over. "You're not so bad yourself, sweetheart."
His suit was a beautiful black, also a perfect fit, with a white button down and dark gray silk tie. The handkerchief in the suit coat pocket matched the tie, and he looked incredibly sharp as he donned a black overcoat and leather gloves.
"Add a fedora and you'd look like a member of the Mafia," I teased, reaching up to straighten his tie.
"Yeah, yeah," he sighed, smirking at me, but his eyes were a warm, sweet honey. "I would need pin stripes and a Tommy gun. And that's a shot against Chicago, isn't it?"
I laughed, grinning up at him. "As long as you weren't there for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, then we're good, babe."
"Al Capone was very powerful, love," he said, still smiling at me. "Nineteen twenty nine...let's see, where were we?" He rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, pretending to think about it.
"With Esme, I presume," I chuckled, rolling my eyes at his never ending history and his teasing me about it. "And I assume that was elsewhere. Besides, you wouldn't need a Tommy gun for a massacre, Edward." I chuckled when he laughed, his head falling back as he pulled me into his arms. "Come on, old man," I snorted, taking his hand. "We have to meet everyone downstairs."
We had relinquished Kevin's security over to Adrian. Alice had told us that Adrian was in complete control when it came to Kevin and wouldn't hurt him. He had taken Kevin to his sister's home to get dressed and ride with the family; not that there were many members.
On the way through the city, Jake called, letting us know that he and the boys were able to secure a flight back to Sea-Tac and begging us to consider Christmas in Forks. Carlisle told him the same thing that Edward had told Seth; that we needed to discuss our next few steps and we would let them know.
We arrived via two limousines to a little church and graveyard just outside of the city. Apparently, the Clarks had originated upstate, so the family plot was located in the shady corner of a cemetery in a small upstate town.
The service was short and to the point; the casket closed. There weren't very many attendees, although I could tell who was family and who had worked with Mr. Stark. Our family stayed readily available to Kevin, but otherwise lingered in the background. We very obviously made some of the mourners nervous.
However, there wasn't a force earthly or unearthly that could have come between Adrian and Kevin. The former was practically holding the latter up as we made our way to the grave side, following the pallbearers that were carrying the casket.
Another thing I noticed was the cemetery sat on the edge of a wooded area. Jasper immediately went into protective mode. My boys stepped away from us and stood at the back, positioning themselves like sentries under the snow covered trees.
~oOoOo~
EDWARD
There's a really weird feeling back here, Ed, Jasper thought to me as we stepped away from the cluster of mourners.
I turned to look at him on my left, and his head was tilted as he let a strange feeling of hatred float over him. I frowned, glancing past him to Carlisle, who was following our lead. On my right was Emmett, standing like a giant bouncer at any club with his arms folded across his chest, his face impassive. He, too, was following mine and Jasper's lead, but his eyes were locked on the girls.
I looked up to see Alice and Bella communicating like they normally did, with barely a word spoken between them. Both of their minds were in sync; if there was going to be trouble, then the tiny group of humans needed to remain ignorant.
The minister went about the tradition of "ashes to ashes and dust to dust," but as Jasper slipped silently into the trees, I stepped closer to Carlisle, narrowing the open space.
"Hate," I said so softly. "That's what he's feeling behind us. Pure hate."
He sniffed the air, shaking his head. Neither of us could sense a thing, and besides my family and the humans at the grave sight, I heard no other minds.
What about you? my father thought to me.
I shook my head, frowning. If there was someone hiding in the trees, they were blocking their mind and their scent, but not their emotions. It was a strange thing.
What do you need, Edward? Bella's ultra clear thoughts caressed me. Do you need me to shield the humans' minds?
I nodded, giving her a wink for always knowing exactly what I needed and when. Instantly, all I had were my brothers and father. And still nothing from the woods, except for one nanosecond of thought before it blinked away from Jasper.
"Demitri's back there," I sighed, looking over at Carlisle. "He, Brody, and Carina are already tracking Sinclair."
Jasper reemerged from the forest with a wry smile. "Dunno who was there, but we're covered. Big D's back there."
"But that still means that someone was watching us," Emmett growled, looking between us all. "I didn't smell a thing."
"What's the plan for today?" I asked Carlisle.
"I believe that Kevin is required to go back to his sister's home after the service. The girls will want to accompany him there. But I want a family meeting ASAP." Carlisle's face was set firmly, his mouth in a tight line. "Maybe we can get Demitri on the phone at the same time."
"Adrian, too?" Jasper asked.
"Might as well. Looks like we've acquired extended family."
"He won't leave Kevin's side," I said, shaking my head. "He's made up his mind to stay with him. Period. And I don't mean just for the service." I raised my eyebrow at Carlisle, who smiled softly with a nod.
"Now I've seen it all," he snorted, waving for us to get back to the girls.
The mourners slowly started to leave as Mr. Stark's coffin was lowered into the ground. Kevin's sister, Jeanie, spoke quietly with my mothers and sisters as she held a chubby little boy in her arms that looked about a year old. She was very happy that Kevin had found good friends, because he'd never had that kind of companionship when he lived at home. She was over the top happy that he'd found love. Her mind could see it in every move Adrian and Kevin made around each other. Where she found Adrian slightly intimidating in looks and actions, she saw how much they cared for each other.
Kevin was staring blankly at the plethora of flowers surrounding his father's grave, thinking his dad would hate them. He felt alone, but then not really as he glanced around at the girls and then us, finally looking up at me.
"You're not, you know," I said, raising an eyebrow at Adrian and then back to him. "And everyone here – aside from Bella – has lost their parents."
"Oh," he winced, taking a deep breath. "Bells still sees them?"
"Her father," I replied with a nod. "He knows about us. But she had to forfeit her relationship with her mother."
"Her mom's still around, but she can't see her," he stated with a voice filled with sadness.
"It's a long story," I sighed, "but her mother wouldn't have been able to handle Bella's...changes."
"Oh," he said, looking over at her and then back to a floral arrangement. He picked a carnation and proceeded to pluck the petals off one by one. "And you?"
"You know my history." I smiled. "I didn't see my parents' graves for years, though they died just before me."
"You aren't dead," Kevin growled, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. "If I'm fucking talking to you, Heavy E, then you are not dead! Adrian thinks the same way."
"Okay, okay," I sighed, raising my hands in surrender. "Bella's tried for years to convince me. I'm still not sure. I guess I'm on the fence. I used to think we lost our souls, but I look at her...and Carlisle...and I'm pretty sure they are the epitome of compassion and love, so I think...maybe..." I shrugged, smiling at him. "Maybe we are just another creature of God's, and if we live a good life, we'll be okay at the end of our days. I don't know, Kev."
He looked up at me, huffing a laugh. "They say that homosexuals will burn in hell, too, Edward. Guess we'll find out together. Huh?"
"Point well made, Kev." I snorted, having never given it a thought. "I am sorry for your loss, though."
"I'm sad for my sister," he sighed, looking over at her and the girls. "They had a decent relationship. He was turning out to be a better grandfather than he ever was a father. Little Dylan won't know how good he was for my dad. Better than I ever was..."
"Kev, it's time to go," Adrian called, looking at his watch. He had been talking to Carlisle about what we had experienced during the service.
"What's the hurry?" Kevin asked, glancing up at me as we made our way through the cemetery.
"After we leave your sister's, we need to have a family meeting. We have to talk about our next steps."
"Oh." He frowned, throwing down the now empty stem of the flower he'd destroyed.
"That means you, too," I chuckled, opening my arms for Bella as she joined up with us, her mind just wanting to be nearer to me. I kissed her temple, but she stayed quiet as we made our way back to the limos.
~oOoOo~
The unbelievably sweet peal of baby laughter met my ears as little Dylan was completely pulled into my Bella's shield. She sat on the sofa of Jeanie's home with the little one on her lap. He gripped a toy car in each chubby hand, but would crack up when she would drive one up his leg. He'd curl into her, giggling so hard that his little face would turn crimson.
"He really likes her," Jeanie chuckled, watching her son grab my Bella's face and grin.
"What's not to like?" Kevin laughed. "My goddess is the shit!" He grinned, shaking his head and joining her and Dylan on the couch.
"It's really nice of you to be there for him, you know," Jeanie said to me. She met my gaze and then looked quickly away.
She found us all incredibly attractive, but the fact that we'd come with Kevin all the way from London, stayed with him, and took care of most of his expenses made her really like us simply for his sake. According to her memories, Kevin had been a lonely child, mainly due to their father. The death of their mother had really caused Kevin to retreat from relationships, and Mr. Stark had an overbearing personality that his son wanted to avoid at all costs, especially once Kevin's sexual preference started to become known.
"As you can see, my wife and sisters are very attached to him," I chuckled, pointing to the couch. They were all playing with Dylan, and he was loving every second of it.
"How long are you guys staying?" she asked, looking up at me. "I mean, I've missed having him around."
"We're not sure," I sighed, looking over to Carlisle. "In fact, we're supposed to discuss it later. I have a feeling we'll be here at least the rest of the week."
I listened to my father's mind as he talked quietly to Marcus on his cell phone. We were staying at least the week, and I had a feeling we would be taking advantage of a cabin we owned on the Canada border in the northern part of New York. According to his conversation, we were on a hunt...and Sinclair wasn't the only one we were going to be looking for. The only risk factor was Kevin. Having a human with us would be risky.
~oOoOo~
"It is my cabin," Jasper chuckled as we all sat around Carlisle and Esme's suite back at the hotel in mid-town. "But...yeah, we can use it."
Emmett laughed, giving him a fist bump. We'd lived so long as a family unit that we just assumed that we could share everything. The cabin truly was Jasper's. He'd built it for Alice decades ago, but Esme had decorated it for them.
It was no different than mine and Bella's home in London. There was no knocking, no calling ahead of time...they just showed up. It was just the way we worked.
"And we appreciate the use of it," Demitri laughed over the speaker phone. "Listen, guys...I think we're dealing with something bigger than just Sinclair. Though I think he's leading it. I felt...or smelled...something different. Carlisle, is it possible for a talent to come later in a newborn?"
"Latent talents have been known to show up. Sometimes the newborn is so consumed with thirst, they can't seem to concentrate on anything else. So, yes. Have you called Eleazar? He's the expert on that." Carlisle frowned, sitting forward at the dining table.
"I have," Demitri answered. "He said almost the exact same thing. He also agrees with me...we think Mark has developed some sort of masking talent. It's why you and Ed didn't know Tanya was in Central Park that day."
"Well, damn...that explains it..." Jasper muttered, his brow furrowed. "He can mask scents, thoughts," he started, looking up at me, "but he can't stop feelings. I felt pure hate at the cemetery today."
"I'm sure you did, Jazz," Demitri chuckled. "We tracked Sinclair to you...and it wasn't a coincidence. When we lost him, we caught the bare traces of Tanya – and that's your source of hate, I'm sure. I think Mark can block my capabilities as well. What do you think, my little pixie?"
We all turned to Alice, who was pouting with a dark look on her face. "Well, no fucking wonder I never saw her make any decisions," she growled, folding her arms across her chest. "I bet she left that post in Russia, too."
"No." Marcus shook his head. "No, Alice. I don't think so. I can tell when someone's lying..."
"Well, no matter," Stephano piped in. "Because now, if Demitri's theory is correct, then Sinclair is now under that same strange protection. What now, Marcus?"
"Well, it's really up to Carlisle and the family. Tell me what you want to do," he said, looking up from the phone lying on the table to our father's concerned face.
"As always, it's up to vote. What do you guys think?" he asked, looking at Esme and then every single one of us.
"You know me, Dad," Emmett chuckled, looking at Rose and then back to the table. "I'm all for stopping a bad guy."
Rose snorted, but nodded.
"I think you'll need us." Alice frowned, looking to Jasper, who was nodding slowly, his mind already working out the possibilities of working around this assumed talent of Mark's.
"Sinclair will die for what he did to you," he whispered, looking up at her with a wrinkled brow. Their emotions were almost too intimate to watch.
He turned to Adrian and Kevin. "Are you in, Adrian?"
"Yeah," he answered, nodding. "Definitely. But if this Tanya has threatened Kevin, then he stays with us. I won't leave him in the city. Period."
"We won't," Alice and Rose said at the same time, Alice adding with a wry smirk, "Oh Kevin's going. I've seen him trying to sneak into the trunk of the car."
We all chuckled, shaking our heads at Kevin's beaming face. "I would, too," he laughed.
"Kevin," Carlisle sighed, fighting a smile. "The rules haven't changed. You still follow every word, every command we give you. It's for your safety, okay?"
"I promise, Dr. Feel Good," he vowed solemnly, smiling when Jasper and Emmett burst into the song.
"Shut it," Carlisle growled exasperatedly, rolling his eyes.
"Sorry, Dad," they chanted together, but gave each other a fist bump when he turned to us.
Even Demitri chuckled over the phone.
"Edward...Bella?" Carlisle asked, but his eyes were on my Bella, who was looking out over the New York skyline, her back to the room.
In fact, she hadn't said much since we started discussing going to Jasper's cabin or Demitri's phone call. Her mind was filled with scenarios, memories, and possibilities, but she continued to stare out the window.
"Love?" I asked, standing up and walking to her.
She turned to me, her eyes black as pitch, and then to Carlisle. "If we do this...I can't promise...anything when it comes to Tanya. I just...I can't, Carlisle. I'm sorry. I know you want us to be better, but I can't with this situation."
"Me, either," Rose growled, looking between us. "I'm with Bells on this one."
"Me, too," Esme sighed, and we all turned to her in shock. She shrugged, her face impassive as she looked to Carlisle. "She almost got Edward and Bella killed during that fight with Felix, Carlisle. She's no longer family to me."
Carlisle nodded at her, but turned to me. Son? Your vote is the only one left...make it count. I won't stop Bella. In fact, I understand. Her protection of you, of this family, is deadly.
I chuckled at his thoughts. "It is, indeed," I sighed, smirking at him.
I looked to my Bella, studying her irate face as she continued to stare out the window. Her mind made up to go with whatever I decided, she was conceding her vote to mine.
"Hey," I whispered, lifting her chin. "You'd be okay if we didn't go?" I asked, tilting my head at her.
"She would find us anyway, Edward," she reasoned, blinking slowly and finally locking gazes with me. "We can find her, or we can wait until she's stupid enough to cross me again." She shrugged one shoulder, not even cracking a smile when the room chuckled at her statement.
My memory flashed to the fight with Felix, reading his mind as I chased him back to his boat. Tanya had approached him the night before, telling him exactly where he would be able to find Bella, Brandon, and Seth and knowing that I would be called forward. It took me away from Bella as her extra protection.
I rubbed my face as Bella's cries for me echoed in my memory when she thought I was gone. I know it was because she was hurt, because I had gone too far from her, because she was panicking, but I never wanted to hear that heartbreaking sound again.
"Please, Jazz," she'd begged my brother, her entire little body shaking from head to toe as she fought his hold on her. "Put me down. We have to wait. Edward said to wait!" Her voice cracked on that last word, because she wasn't sure what she was feeling, but she was in excruciating pain.
"Ed?" Jasper whispered, picking up the wide range of emotions from me.
I took a deep breath, breaking my gaze from my sweet, beautiful, angry girl up to the rest of the room.
"I'm in." I nodded once, thinking that if Tanya got past my Bella, she wouldn't get past me.
~oOoOo~
BELLA
"Yet another home I've never seen," I muttered, looking out the window as we sped down the highway. We had checked out of the hotel, collected Kevin's things, secured the warehouse, and headed north upstate by the time the sun had set.
Edward chuckled, squeezing my knee. "Technically, it belongs to Alice and Jasper."
"I want one." I smiled, closing my eyes and leaning my head against the window. "I want a house in the middle of damn nowhere that we can run away to."
"Really?" he laughed, touching my chin with the tips of his fingers to make me look at him.
"I miss our house," I said, linking our fingers together and shrugging one shoulder. "Or maybe I just want to run away...I'm not really sure."
"Me, too, sweet girl," he said, studying my face. "Do you need to hunt? You sound..."
"Cranky?" I snickered, looking over at him.
His nose wrinkled adorably, like he would never want to insult me, but he nodded just once.
"Yeah, you're probably right," I sighed, smirking up at him.
"We'll go once we get settled, baby."
"It's been a wretched thirty six hours, Edward," I said, leaning my forehead to his strong shoulder. "Tell me you have your own room at this cabin."
"Well, technically..." he started with a deep but sexy chuckle.
I looked up at him with a raised eyebrow.
"It's a cluster of cabins that Esme helped Jasper refurbish. There are six cabins around a central fire pit. So we actually have a cabin to ourselves."
"Did she outbid the Boy Scouts or something?" I grinned at his laugh, but leaned in to kiss his cheek.
"No, Jasper did," he snorted.
~oOoOo~
After a few hours on the road and not stopping to unpack the SUV, Edward excused us through the campsite straight into the woods to go on a quick hunt. He would always put my needs above and beyond...well, everything.
We didn't take long. It was the beginning of winter, and the deer were easy to track. I found one stag and a doe, and my head and mood cleared up instantly. My honey-eyed sweet man leaned against a tree after hunting his own stag, waiting patiently for me with one leg crossed over the other and humming some unknown tune to himself.
"Hey, handsome," I sighed, smiling up at him.
"Beautiful, you look...better," he smirked, cupping my face and planting a slow, sweet kiss to my lips.
"You mean, I don't look like I could snap at any moment," I laughed, wrapping my arms around his neck.
"Yeah, something like that," he chuckled, scooping me up and tossing me over his shoulder. He smacked my bottom and said, "Let's get back to camp, love."
"'Kay," I giggled, letting him carry me the whole way back like that.
Edward's cabin was on the very end at the edge of the woods. It was already open and being aired out – Esme, I assumed. I smiled at just how every Edward it was on the inside.
I'd have been willing to bet that it had been decorated in the eighties, but I wasn't sure, because hints of the seventies was obvious as well. The walls were a dark pine, but the furniture looked handmade – well crafted, but made by hand. There were touches of greens, oranges, and browns here and there, but the one room cabin practically had a sign over it that said, "Single guy that avoided drawing attention that he was the only non-paired immortal by holing himself up and burying himself in reading, music, and..."
"Carpentry?" I grinned, barking a laugh at my husband's embarrassed eye roll and shrug. There were instruction books, tools, and small storage drawers filled with screws and nails on the dresser next to an older stereo. There was even a small table saw next to an old eighties keyboard on a stand in the corner of the room.
"Not a talent of mine, come to find out," he chuckled, gesturing to a poor side table.
While it was perfect in every angle, it was utilitarian, very plain – four legs and a flat top. It wasn't even stained.
"Okay, so Ethan Allen you aren't, but it's still usable." I smiled with a shrug.
"I knew it!" Emmett growled from outside. "I just knew she'd find a way to tell Eddie that damn, boring ass table was just fine! She'll never insult anything."
"You love me, don't you?" I giggled, beaming up at a very proud, very smug Edward.
"More than I can possibly tell you right this second," he smirked, kissing my head. "They teased me about that table for fifteen years."
"They really need a hobby," I snorted, continuing to look around.
"We had one...we built all of his shit!" Jasper guffawed from the fire side.
"Yeah, after Esme made them," he muttered, flopping down on an old futon and holding his arms out for me.
I crawled up into his lap, but let my eyes wander around the cabin one more time. "I like it." I smiled, looking at him. "It's better than a tent, and it beats some of the places Charlie's rented."
Edward chuckled, his eyes sparkling with love and sweetness as he reached up to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear.
I heard my brother's bitching outside. "They lost some bet over my reaction to your very nice table, didn't they?" I asked, putting emphasis on my description.
"Oh, yes, ma'am. They did, indeed," he chuckled, nodding slowly.
"Sweet!" I beamed, cupping his face. "What are you going to make them do?"
"You'll see," he answered with a grin, standing up with me in his arms. He set me on my feet and said, "Now, grab those two quilts."
"Aw, Eddie," Emmett groaned, shaking his head, "you totally prepped her for this shit on the way over. It's a fixed bet."
We walked out to the fire pit to see everyone, Adrian and Kevin included, sitting on large logs by the fire.
"No, he didn't," Alice and I argued, both of us pointing at Emmett.
"Damn," Jasper sighed, putting his head in his hands, "Bells is totally telling the truth."
"Then you know what to do," Edward chuckled, taking the quilts from me and throwing one at each of them. "Go!" He grinned, pointing towards the forest.
"Shit," Emmett growled, trudging through the snow with Jasper's dejected self right behind him.
It wasn't long before they were both back, wearing those quilts like togas.
"Oh, hell," Kevin snorted, shaking his head. "Heavy E is an evil, evil man... You know, I've always wanted to see these guys strip..." He patted at his jeans pockets. "Someone give me some ones...quick!"
Adrian snorted, giving Kevin a funny look, but by now, we were all laughing. "I think Alice would poke your eyes out."
"No, he can look. He just can't touch," Alice snickered.
Edward chuckled, pulling me into his lap. "Watch this," he said in my ear, kissing my neck sweetly.
When my brothers broke out in a choreographed song and dance to I'm a Little Teapot, I thought I would fall off of Edward's lap and onto the snow. The whole lot of us were in hysterics as the two of them bounced around with their hands on their hips and their wrists hanging as the spouts.
Esme lead the standing ovation, but Carlisle gave them a shrill whistle. Rose and Alice were holding each other up, as they could barely stop laughing.
"Okay," Adrian chuckled, holding up his hands. "I have to ask. What the funniest bet you've done?"
"Emmett streaked a football field," Jasper laughed, sitting down and keeping the damn quilt on.
"Jasper made a teacher orgasm in class." Emmett grinned, giving him a fist bump. He, too, just stayed wrapped in the quilt.
"Edward had to go to five different stores and ask for Playgirl magazine." Rose snorted, rolling her eyes.
"Emmett and Jasper had to dress in drag, wash every car, and then go to Wal-Mart to buy tampons," Esme giggled, leaning into a chuckling Carlisle.
I turned to look at Edward on that one. That loss was a result of making love for the first time. "I'm sorry I missed that," I laughed, linking my fingers with Edward's.
His eyes darkened for a moment at the memory, but he just kissed my lips softly.
"No you aren't," Rose huffed, rolling her eyes.
"The girls made the boys sing karaoke," Carlisle pointed out.
"And vice versa," I chuckled.
"That will never happen again," all three boys growled.
"What did you sing?" Kevin asked me with a wicked smirk.
"Candyman," I laughed, my head falling back.
"Not funny, love," Edward growled in my ear. "They almost caused a riot. No lie. Every man in the room just about launched off their stool."
"Nice," Adrian and Kevin laughed, nodding together.
I could see the difference in their interactions since Esme had talked to them. They were much more comfortable with not only with each other, but being together in front of us. They were more relaxed, especially since Adrian wasn't holding back anymore.
"Okay, well...Bells had to dance with a boy that had a crush on her in high school," Alice smirked, pointing to me.
"That was not a crush," Edward and I growled.
That just caused a whole new round of laughter.
"Were you human?" Adrian chuckled.
"No," I sighed. "Mike's girlfriend just about met her demise that night, didn't she, Emmett?"
"You'd have won, hands down," Emmett snorted, waving me off, so I shoved him off the log with my shield. "God, you're such a cheater!" he growled, his legs kicking in the air like a dying cockroach.
"Agh! My eyes, Emmett!" Jasper screamed, slapping his hands over his face. "Close your legs. Eddie didn't tell you to get naked, for cripe's sake!"
"You know," Emmett huffed, righting himself back on the log, "we missed Thanksgiving. We totally should play Truth or Dare."
"No dares," Esme sighed. "Truths...fine..."
"For the parental units, we'll play just...truth." Jasper grinned, nodding.
"I go first!" Alice squealed, clapping her hands. "Bells!"
"Every damn year, Ali..." I growled. "Seriously? Like there's not fresh meat right here." I pointed to Adrian and Kevin. She just pouted in her pixie-like way, and I rolled my eyes and sighed. "What? Ask away," I snorted, feeling Edward's silent chuckle behind me.
"What's the first song Edward sang to you?" she asked, looking between us.
"Um...Wild Horses," I said, furrowing my brow and turning to him. "Right? You played piano for me when we met, but didn't sing..."
"Yes, ma'am," he chuckled, kissing my cheek.
"Good song," Jasper muttered with a nod of approval.
"Let's see..." I smiled, looking around at my family. Having never joined us before, due to their refusal to do dares, I totally hit the parents. "Carlisle." I grinned, rubbing my hands together.
"Yes, little one," he sighed, looking wary.
"Do we ever just drive you crazy?" I chuckled, tilting my head at him. "All loud and girly and emotional and just dumb?"
Edward laughed, squeezing me closer.
"All the time," Carlisle chuckled. "So many different personalities, different minds and needs... But if you're asking if I regret any of you...the answer is no." We all became silent as we listened to him. "I may have not always thought it through, but with every decision I made, I gained an amazing family. With each addition – the ones I've changed and the ones I didn't – just placed another perfect piece to the puzzle."
Esme smiled up at him, patting his arm. "Your turn, honey," she chuckled.
"Oh, right." He smiled, looking around at all of us. "Adrian."
"Yes, sir?" he said, looking up from the fire.
"What's your plans after, well...this whole thing is over?" Carlisle asked.
"Um, I was thinking about some time in Italy. Marcus and Demitri said they'd work with me on my...diet." Kevin's head shot up, his brow furrowed. "What? There's amazing art school's there, Kev."
"Oh, okay," he sighed, looking a little placated. "Your turn."
"Um," he mused, a small smile playing on his face. "Alice. What's Kevin's ringtone on your cell phone? He won't tell me."
I laughed, my head falling back.
"It's the same for all of us," Rose chuckled.
"Ladies, please," Kevin pleaded, putting his hands together like he was praying.
Alice pulled out her phone, hit a few buttons, and Peacock by Katy Perry. Adrian's face looked like he'd just received his Christmas present early.
The laughter roared louder than the fire in front of us.
Edward's forehead hit my shoulder when Alice chirped, "Edward..."
"Yes, Alice..." he groaned, squeezing me closer.
"Is that the answer?" I chuckled.
"Yes," he laughed, kissing my neck, but he looked up at our pixie sister anyway.
"So you do miss classes with Bella?" she asked, smirking and tilting her spiky head.
"That's not the question you truly asked, Ali," he said with a smile, "but I do. For many reasons..."
I knew my husband, probably better than Alice ever thought she did. Edward missed more than just classes. He missed what I missed – the interaction between us, the bubble we lost ourselves in, and the addiction to seeing each other in the eyes of boys and girls that never stood a chance.
Edward chuckled, turning me to face him. "Exactly, my sweet girl. Well, that and short skirts," he huffed, grinning at the laughs that exploded around us.
We'll talk about it, baby, okay? I asked, keeping it between us.
He nodded like a child, his face so very hopeful.
High school or college, my very sweet man?
"Don't care," he sighed, tilting his head at me.
"Okay." I smiled, kissing his lips. "Now...pick your victim, Edward."
"Oh," he said, looking up like he'd forgotten where we were. "Um, Kevin."
"Yes, Heavy E..." Kevin smirked, giving an exaggerated wink. "You know everything about me...including my blood type, if I'm not mistaken."
"Yes, that's true," Edward chuckled, "but I don't know why you stopped music. You have an amazing voice..."
"Oh," Kevin said, his eyebrows raising high.
"Yeah, you really do, bud," Emmett agreed. "You should let us hear those pipes more often."
"Okay," Kevin agreed, shrugging. "But to answer your question...my dad. I wanted to go overseas to school, but my dad wouldn't let me if it was for music. So I had to change my major to Art History. I fell in love with the courses, but I miss the theatre and singing. It was fun when we went."
"I want to hear you sing," Adrian requested quietly.
"Me, too." Esme smiled warmly.
"Hey, Ed, you still got that keyboard?" Jasper asked.
"Yeah," he said, nodding behind me, but I felt his head snap around back to Kevin. "Yes, Kev. Sing that. I'll play for you."
We all got up and made our way to Edward's cabin, but Kevin was floundering at Edward's last statement.
"No, Edward. It's a sad song. I just used it for an audition."
Jasper appeared in the doorway with a new acoustic guitar. "What are we playing?"
"Solitaire." Edward looked up at his brother with a crooked grin.
"Well, at least it's not Desperado," Rose sighed, looking at me with wide eyes. "Can't handle that shit again," she muttered, sitting next to me on the futon.
Alice joined us with a giggle. "Yes, Jazz, the Clay Aiken version..."
"Okay, then," he said, sitting next to Edward.
And holy crap! It was amazing and sad and beautiful. The words were heartbreaking, about a man alone after treating a woman coldly.
There was a man, a lonely man
Who lost his love through his indifference
A heart that cared, that went unshared
Until it died in his silence
And Solitaire's the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down
And by himself, it's easy to pretend
He'll never love again
And keeping to himself he plays the game
Without her love it always ends the same
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing Solitaire
Another day, a lonely day
So much to say that goes unspoken
And through the night, his sleepless nights
His eyes are closed, his heart is broken
And Solitaire's the only game in town
And every road that takes him, takes him down
And by himself it's easy to pretend
She's coming back again
And keeping to himself he plays the game
Without her love it always ends the same
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing Solitaire
A little hope, goes up in smoke
Just how it goes, goes without saying
Solitaire
And by himself it's easy to pretend
He'll never love again
Ohhh
And keeping to himself he plays the game
Without her love it always ends the same
While life goes on around him everywhere
He's playing Solitaire
Solitaire, solitaire
Kevin hit the final note with a deep breath and closed eyes, and it took all of our breath away. Adrian's mouth was hanging open when it was all over.
But it was the sound of Kevin's growling stomach that broke the silence. "Feed your human, Adrian," Emmett guffawed.
"Marcus will be here in the morning with Stephano and Agosto, so get some rest, Kev," Carlisle said, clapping him gently on the back. "And job well done, son." He turned to Adrian. "You want to hunt later, Adrian?"
"Yeah...yes, sir...I'd like...I would like to try," Adrian nodded nervously, but his eyes looked alight with excitement.
"Nice," Jasper praised. "I'll come with...you'll need a little help, I think."
As they all left and closed the door behind them, I looked up at Edward. "You want school again," I stated, following him with my eyes as he got up and knelt before me.
"I do," he answered. "When this is over...school again...we can stay longer in one place..."
"Okay," I agreed, a smile creeping up my face. "But you go back to Cullen."
"Deal," he growled, pushing me down on the futon and climbing over me, "Miss Swan."


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