Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 40

CHAPTER 40
BELLA
"We can't leave Kevin for three fucking days!" Emmett growled from down the hall. "It's not right! There's no telling what she'll do to him!"
I winced, trying to wriggled closer to Edward, trying to forget that Kevin had been taken. Despite how much I agreed with my big brother, I had no other choice but to trust Mark.
"I don't particularly like it, either, Emmett," Carlisle sighed, "but we have no choice."
"Tanya's waiting for us to run in there half-cocked...right now," Demitri reasoned. "Waiting is for the best. Marcus?"
I could hear Marcus stand, and I could imagine Edward could hear every thought, but I knew when the oldest vampire I knew was pacing.
"Such a loyal human," he muttered with a deep sigh. "Kevin's bonds with this family are so very strong. He'd do anything for you, I think. He's put up with being uprooted, shifted around, and the loss of his father...all within a span of mere months." He paused for a moment. "But he's done – for the most part – anything we've asked of him. He has faith in us, especially you girls."
I hiccuped, and Edward pulled my face back, but said nothing as he stroked my cheek with the backs of his fingers. His eyes were light amber from hunting earlier, and filled with love and concern and a touch of temper. That last emotion was for the loss of Kevin, I was sure. He didn't have to say anything in order to make me feel better; he just did.
"I know you want to protect Kevin from any pain. I know that he's probably scared," Marcus continued, but paused again when a few dry sobs rang out through the house, including my own. "But as much as I hate to say it, waiting is for the best. I agree with Demitri. If Mark keeps him safe, then we can follow through with the plan he's developed."
A cell phone rang out, and Demitri answered it in Italian. "Stephano," he said, walking around the apartment as he spoke to Marcus' personal guard.
From what I could pick up, it was just a regular check-in call. Stephano and Elena were running Volterra in Marcus and Demitri's absence, and training Brody as well. That specific call was for the judgment on an immortal that killed the daughter of a fairly important business man in Japan. The death had been over publicized. Demitri made the decision – he called for the immortal's death.
When did Demitri get the power to make that call? I thought to Edward.
"After the deaths of Aro and Caius," he answered softly. "Marcus uses him on an...advisory level, but also trusts him to make the same calls as he would do himself. He was...promoted when Marcus was healed at our house...remember?"
I nodded, but couldn't stop the next question. So if something were to happen to Marcus?
"Then Demitri takes over, but with Stephano by his side. Carlisle has been asked to help, if such a thing were to occur," Edward said so softly that I wondered if anyone else could hear him.
"Oh," was the only thing I could think to say.
I laid my head back down on Edward's chest, staring out the window as he ran his fingers through my hair.
"Sweet girl, are you okay?" he asked, kissing the top of my head.
"Yeah, but I feel guilty...like we should've been here," I sighed, shrugging one shoulder, but didn't bother to lift my head.
"It's not your fault, baby," he whispered, kissing my cheek. "Tanya would've figured out a way to get to him eventually. Alice saw it. It would have happened when he was with us or without us, Bella."
"And Mark?" I growled.
"Had to do what she said in order to keep up pretenses. Don't fault him for it, love. You have to look at the bigger picture, baby."
I nodded, knowing he was right, but not liking it one bit.
Edward smiled softly. "I know, sweetheart, but we're all going to do our best to get him back. Mark included. I saw his mind. He wants Tanya gone, he wants a new life with Megan, and he really was concerned about Kevin. He remembered what it was like when we took care of him as a human."
I was just about to tell him thank you for making me feel better, but Esme's voice broke through the quiet house.
"Where are Edward and Bella?" she asked.
"In their room," Jasper told her. "Bella took this...badly."
The next thing I knew, there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," we both said, and then Esme was kneeling before us.
"You kids okay?" she asked, smirking at the term "kids."
Edward chuckled, but I answered, "Yeah." I sat up, but made no move to get up from Edward's lap.
"I know what you're thinking, little one," she started, cupping my face. "It's most likely guilt. I felt the same thing when James got to you in Phoenix, Bella."
Edward scoffed, rolling his eyes. "You?" he said incredulously.
"So not your fault – either of you," I mumbled, "because I fell for James' lies."
"But you knew what you were up against, Bella," Esme said firmly. "So does Kevin. He may be...flamboyant, but that boy isn't stupid."
"No," I sighed, shaking my head. "No, he's not."
"And he's a fighter," she added.
I nodded again, taking a deep breath. "I just hope he remembers everything that we've told him."
I don't know how many times we'd explained that he shouldn't try to fight, that he should stay calm, and to not lose his temper, no matter what was said to him. It wouldn't save him, because in all reality, Tanya could snap him in half without even using any effort, but it could possibly buy him time with the crazy bitch.
Edward snorted into a laugh at my thoughts. "He'll remember, sweet girl."
~oOoOo~
Three days. Three freakin' days of pacing and worrying and waiting. And now my still heart was just about to burst from my chest. We were so close, but so far away from Kevin.
Jasper found out that the truck that was expected at Ground Zero was a shipment of cement. They were still trying to stabilize the retention wall under the city that held back the bay waters. The tragedy on September 11, 2001 fractured all of the underground. Not only had they had to clean up two of the largest buildings in the world, but the foundations they sat on as well. Everything shattered that day.
Mark allowed Alice to see Kevin once. Just one time. He let her see Tanya make the decision to threaten him, and Kevin's reaction had been priceless. We had no idea if the prediction had come true, but we hoped it had.
Tanya had backhanded Kevin across the face, much like Riley had done to me the night that Victoria had taken me. Much like me, Kevin took it with pride, strength, and a touch of attitude.
Alice said that she'd asked him why we were taking so long to come get him, and his answer had caused the whole house to burst into hysterics.
"They've waited this long to get to you, you frigid bitch," he'd said, his smirk firmly in place. "What's a few more hours? They're gonna fuck you up."
She'd tried to walk away from him, but he actually called her back.
"Hey, is it true?"
"Is what true, you insignificant gnat?"
"Is it true that the goddess that is my Bella tore your arms off and still let you live?"
"Go to hell!" she'd screamed.
"You first, Bitch Queen," he'd muttered as she turned and left him still chained to the wall.
When Edward and Alice had explained that vision, we'd all laughed. Kevin had Tanya's personality pegged instantly. He knew that she couldn't dispose of him, because she needed him as bait.
Now, as we ran through the city, I kept that strength and attitude of Kevin's in my mind.
The truck was expected well after dark, way after quitting time for the construction workers, and that was what made Mark's plan brilliant. There would be very few humans to get in the way. My job was to shield the ones that were working late unloading the truck, so that they didn't get hurt or pose as a temptation for those that weren't quite settled into the vegetarian diet – mainly Adrian and Mark.
According to Alice's vision, the driver was supposed to park the truck, have the paperwork signed, and leave it, picking it up the next morning. She said it wasn't to blow up, but it was going to roll into the power transformer, taking out the lights for a fairly large grid and causing a fair amount of sparks.
That gave us problem number one: police and the electricians. As soon as the power was supposed to be out, there would be authorities called. We needed to get back underground before Ground Zero was swarmed with NYPD.
Problem number two: newborns. We had no idea how many there were – not that we were all that worried, but fighting them, killing them took time and made noise. Neither of which we could afford.
We needed to get in quickly as soon as the cameras were off. We needed to move silently, because we needed to take her by surprise. We were hoping that the three days wait time would make her nervous, would make her lose focus and make mistakes.
As I sat on a platform overlooking Ground Zero, it was the waiting game again. If I looked through the chain link fence, I would be able to see Emmett and Rose on the left side, Alice and Jasper on the right, and Demitri and Carina right down below me. The rest were hiding just out of the view of the cameras.
My body felt like it was thrumming with anticipation. I was angry with Tanya. So much so that I was barely keeping myself from running straight to her. I was praying with all that I had that this plan wasn't a ruse, and that it went off just long enough to get us all down below. And I was so worried that I would lose someone – that Kevin wouldn't survive a fight with immortals, that somehow Alice's vision concerning me and Esme disappearing came to fruition, but most of all...I just couldn't lose him.
My head turned to my left to see Edward leaning against the chain link fence, his fingers gripping the metal just above his head as he studied...well, everything. He could hear everyone's thoughts, see where they were, and text them if they needed to change position.
He was in black jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers, his hoodie sitting by my side. One knee was bent slightly, causing his ass to give him a perfect profile as he stood as still as a statue, his hair deliciously windblown from running. He was intense and focused and just beautiful. The thought of losing him, or even of him getting hurt again like last time, caused a shiver to wrack my frame.
"Hey," he whispered, suddenly kneeling in front of me. "None of that, sweet girl."
"I know," I sighed, cupping both sides of his handsome face. "Just...be careful," I said through gritted teeth, pressing my forehead to his. "You're kind of important, you know?"
He grinned, kissing my lips softly. "Yeah?" He tilted his head adorably.
"Yeah," I sighed, kissing him again, just because I could, and I couldn't help but smile when he looked at me like that.
"Well, you're kind of important, too, baby, so calm down for me, please. If you're calm, you're focused, okay?"
"'Kay," I whispered.
"Good," he said with a nod. "Now, quit staring at my ass. I want to show you something."
"I was not!" I snorted, and he turned to me with a raised eyebrow and a sexy ass smirk on his face. "Okay, maybe once. Sue me," I muttered, unable to not laugh.
He chuckled, standing up and offering me a hand, which I took. He positioned me at the fence, standing right behind me. "Look, baby. They're all in place. They're all right where they need to be. All we're waiting on is the truck."
He held me just like that until everyone checked in – even the ones from underground.
Edward would rub my arm soothingly when a truck would sound, but didn't turn in. About a half an hour later, a long semi turned in, laden with bags of cement on pallets. It navigated the ramp slowly down into the lower part of the construction area.
"Ready, love?" Edward asked in my ear.
I spun in front of him, kissing his lips. "Yeah. Let's do this..."
With that, we both ran to the end of the platform, hopped over the fence, and landed silently down below.
~oOoOo~
EDWARD
It seemed wrong – on so many levels – to be running on what most considered sacred ground. When we'd first found out where we needed to go in, where we needed to start, I made sure that we planned around humans. No more loss of life on Ground Zero. Period. Immortals? Fine. Humans? Absolutely not. Even the aftermath – the burning of newborns – was planned for the sewers a few blocks away.
Technically, once we were inside, we weren't on Ground Zero anymore, but that was our entrance, our way in, because Tanya's hideout was well hidden deep underground. We had no other choice, because that was where the power was. And that was where Mark told us to start. We had to trust him.
As the truck slowly worked its way down the entry ramp, coming to rest by a construction trailer, Bella and I jumped the barrier. We landed just mere yards from Demitri and Carina, and well below my siblings, who were flanking us up top. They weren't coming down until the truck had taken the power out.
Demitri and I shadowed each other from opposite sides of the sight, our girls in tow, coming to hide behind another trailer.
I watched and listened to the driver as he got out of his truck, grabbed a clipboard from behind the seat, and disappeared into the office, mere feet from where Bella and I stood in shadows. So far, Alice's predictions were correct. Dan, according to his uniform, was just dropping the truck off, only to pick it up in the morning. He was looking forward to grabbing a cab, checking into his hotel, and getting room service. He also wanted to speak to his little girl before she went to bed. Flashes of a piano recital that he was going to miss flickered through his mind, making him disappointed, but determined to get back home soon, because he "damn well wasn't missing the regionals" she was signed up for.
I smiled, shook my head, and turned to my girl. "He walks away, love. We wait until he's in a cab before that truck moves. Okay?"
She nodded, but her eyes were looking away from the trailer towards the other side of the construction sight. I could barely see movement, but I had a feeling this was all about to start too soon, and yet, not soon enough. The movement came to a standstill, so now we just waited until the humans were done.
Dan came out of the trailer with another man, where the both of them gave the truck's cargo a once over. The clipboard was signed, and Dan grabbed his overnight bag from the truck. With a handshake, a wave, and a smile, Dan made his way out of Ground Zero to street level to catch his cab.
Bella took a deep breath, thinking that there went one less human that she needed to shield. What shocked me was there were only two other men to worry about. I'd expected more.
Suddenly, Mark's mind hit me from where we'd seen the movement just a moment before.
Edward, they won't take long to unload it, so we have time to wait. No need in alerting anymore people than we have to. Your friend...he's fine. Just give me until they walk away.
I nodded, not knowing whether Mark could see me, but sent a text out to everyone, Bella watching over my shoulder.
"Oh thank God," she sighed, and I couldn't help but turn my head to kiss her temple.
So we waited and waited some more. We waited through a break, a phone call or two, and the forklift's slow removal of every pallet. My poor Bella was about to crawl out of her own skin with impatience.
"Easy, anxious girl," I snickered, taking her hand. "They're almost done. The big guy can't wait to get off the clock."
"I can't imagine why," she muttered wryly. "He moves like he's in no hurry."
"It's called 'milking the clock,'" I chuckled softly. "He's approved for overtime, and he's going to take as much as he can. He's got a son in college he needs to pay for."
"Fine, whatever," she snorted, rolling her eyes. "That son will be graduated and married by the time he's done."
I laughed, trying to keep quiet, but luckily the slamming of the trailer doors covered it up.
Once the men were clocked out, nothing could have prepared me for what the night held. Nothing.
Mark moved in a blur, hopping up into the cab of the truck. He didn't start it, but pulled the emergency brake so that the large vehicle started to roll even further into the construction sight.
"Bells," he said, rushing to us. "Can you push it? With your shield, I mean..."
"Sure," she said, and I felt her shield whoosh out from her with a force she rarely had to use. She gave the truck a push, giving it the momentum and the speed that it needed. "I can aim it, too. Where, Mark?"
"See that pole?" he asked, pointing at the end of the ramp, and she nodded. "That. We're taking out that pole, Bells."
She nodded again, walking behind the truck, practically lifting the damn thing up with her shield to keep it on course.
In all reality, she could have just pulled the pole down, but we needed the loss of electricity to look like an accident, not only for the humans involved, but for Tanya, as well. In Mark's mind, she had someone monitoring the cameras at that very moment.
Sparks flew through the air as the pole snapped at its base, and Mark turned to me. "We're good. Let's go."
The whole block plunged into darkness, and that's when my family made their move. Jasper, Alice, Emmett, and Rose all jumped into the construction sight from their respective sides, meeting us at the entrance into the underground.
The very second we were under the city, the newborns came out. It was like they knew, or at least had been following Mark. Half a dozen newborns blocked the tunnel that we needed, but when they rushed at us, they met the resistance of my wife's shield.
"Bella, end them, but quietly," I whispered to her, watching as her beautiful face grimaced when her shield constricted around them, pulling them apart all at once. "Good job, baby. Remind me to behave, huh?" I chuckled, tugging her ponytail when she rolled her eyes up to me.
"No shit," Emmett laughed quietly behind us. "Way to go, baby girl."
Demitri just snorted, shook his head, and lead the way with Mark, who had now lifted his masking talent so that Demitri could track Tanya without interference.
Our path remained relatively unblocked for the next few twists and turns as we moved east under the city. I could hear the rest of them moving along other tunnels and the sewers below, their minds focused on newborns that would appear in front of them and behind.
We were narrowing in on Tanya's domain, according to Demitri's mind, when Rose was attacked from behind. She landed on the concrete floor with a grunt, struggling against a very large female newborn. Three more appeared out of the darkness, causing the rest of my siblings to defend themselves.
"Go, Ed!" Emmett growled, barely giving us a second glance as his arm shot out to punch a feral newborn in the face. "We're right behind you. We got this, bro! Get to Kevin."
I nodded, grabbing Bella, who looked like she wanted to help, but her mind knew that they could handle themselves, because they outnumbered the newborns. My brothers could handle three at a time, so this was no big deal for them.
"Christ, Mark," Bella growled, grabbing his shirt once we stopped at the end of a tunnel. "How many has she freakin' changed?"
"Some are still left over from when Sinclair was alive, but she's changed about a dozen or so. All told, there are probably about thirty down here. They hunt the streets at night, using the tunnels to get around," he told her, gesturing to the left towards another tunnel.
Bella did the math quickly, coming out with about fifteen more left in the tunnels, give or take. Almost with perfect timing, a snarling growl rang out, echoing through the tunnels, and it ended just as quickly as it had started. The thoughts that met mine were Kate's. She'd shocked the newborn before tearing him apart.
Demitri stopped, holding Carina back as he pointed to a ladder built into the side of the tunnel wall. He jerked his thumb up, thinking to me, This is it, Ed. Wait? Or go on in?
I looked around at who was with us, but I could hear my siblings coming up behind us quickly. They were all waiting for my answer. I shook my head, holding my finger up. "We'll wait for Em and Jasper. The rest are on another level."
Alice rushed to my side, the rest joining her. My sister, Rose, looked particularly disheveled...and pissed. "Okay, Rose?" I chuckled.
"Just get this over with," she growled, rolling her eyes. "I can't wait to warm my hands on Tanya's fucking fire."
"No shit," Alice and Bella muttered.
Demitri snorted, shook his head, and grabbed Mark's shoulder. "What the fuck are we walking into up there?"
"It's an abandoned basement," he said, looking around at all of us. "The boxes date back to the early nineteen hundreds. And it's all booze...whiskey, bourbon...that kinda shit."
"No way," I chuckled, shaking my head. "It's a storage bunker from the prohibition era?"
"Yeah," he huffed, shrugging one shoulder. "I think so. There's a warehouse door at the opposite end, but it's been sealed with concrete blocks. It's like they sealed it and forgot all about it."
I'd seen those bunkers in Chicago, but never in New York. By the time I visited New York for the first time, prohibition was over. I looked up as Mark continued.
"Anyway," he sighed, continuing in a whisper, "the place is huge, and a fucking maze of boxes and just junk – furniture, crates – there's even an old ass car in there. There's room from the top of the boxes to the ceiling to walk on top, which was what I'd suggest at least one or two of you do. There's an area blocked off in the farthest corner that's almost like a living area. That's where Megan and Kevin are. Newborns have taken spaces in between boxes as living areas as well. That's what you have to watch. It's like she didn't care if they brought TVs or radios in. She didn't bother to stop them if they pulled furniture down. But your friend...he's chained to a bed in that far corner with her." He chuckled, shaking his head. "He's a tough bastard and not easily intimidated."
We all nodded, knowing that was the truth about our friend. And my wife and sisters were so worried that they could barely focus.
"Go ahead. I'll wait for everyone else..." Before the words could leave Mark's mouth, he was pressed into the concrete wall, a looming, dangerous Demitri holding him by the throat.
"If you're leading us to a trap, Mark, I'll hunt you down. I swear to God!" he snarled in a whisper.
"Big D!" Jasper gasped, pulling at one of his arms, while I tugged at the other.
I could see Mark's honesty and Jasper could feel it. Demitri couldn't, and...he trusted no one outside of our family in times like this.
"He's telling the truth, Demitri," I hissed in his ear. "He's not due back yet. It would be suspicious if he returned from hunting so quickly. He's not lying. He's going to meet Marcus and Carlisle. He's trusting us with his mate's life."
"Shit! Marcus is with you?" Mark gasped. "Oh, I'm fucked."
Demitri was shaking his head no before that sentence ended. "No. We know this shit wasn't your fault. Now...is there another entrance? Or is this it?"
"One more," Mark answered.
"Good," Demitri sighed in relief. "When the rest show up. Split them up. Tell them I said so. Send half in this way, the other half through the other entrance. Got me?"
"Yeah, yeah," Mark breathed, nodding fervently. "Go...she's not expecting anyone. In fact, she thinks you let the human go. It really pissed her off. Megan and I have been pleading for time all damn day. So...go!"
Demitri turned to all of us. "Girls, I want you on those boxes. Bella, use that fantastic shield to watch our backs, okay?" he asked her, and she nodded. "Ed, you're with me. Jasper, Emmett...you two together. Mark...you...just be careful. You won't have protection until the rest join you..."
Mark nodded, but waved us on, looking behind us to make sure we were still newborn free. "Someone's coming...go! And for God's sake, stay quiet for as long as possible. You don't want her hands on him if she knows you're here."
With that, he left us, disappearing into the darkness of the tunnel.
Demitri climbed the ladder, opening the hatch above his head. He took one really good glance around, and then waved us on. We emerged in the biggest concrete basement I'd ever seen. It had to have been as big as a football field – maybe two. I couldn't quite tell from the ground level, but I couldn't wait until the girls got up top the boxes that were stacked six to seven high. Bella's mind would give me a better outlook.
No words were spoken between any of us after that. Only hand signals for each other, thoughts to me.
I grabbed Bella by the waist, spinning her to face the stack of boxes. I knew that any moment, the newborns could sense us, smell us, but I kissed her cheek anyway, lifting her up so that she could grab a shorter ledge and crawl up top.
You be careful, handsome, she thought to me, giving me a last look when I nodded.
And then...she was out of my sight. That normally would have made me nervous, but she was making a point to show me everything from her advantage. The basement was, indeed, the size of one and a half football fields.
The rest of the girls followed suit, and Demitri grabbed my arm, tugging me toward the right of the large room, while my brothers took the left.
I followed Demitri down an aisle, hearing minds left and right, but two were close. I stopped him, held up two fingers, and pointed to just around the corner. He nodded and looked up.
Without one sound, my Bella snapped them apart. The problem was...one landed on an old metal box, spilling its contents everywhere...and loudly.
It was chaos after that, because the newborns were on high alert as it was. At least four of them spilled into our aisle, and I could see Jasper's mind that he had about the same. The girls split apart up top, Carina and Alice landing to help my brothers, Rose falling to the floor next to me as Bella worked her shield from above.
Boxes toppled, glass shattered, and somewhere, Tanya's voice rang out.
"Oh, Bella!" she sang. "You'd better take a look before you continue. I know it's you, you bitch!"
The snarl that ripped from my throat caused both Rose and Demitri to grab my arms.
But my Bella? She just laughed. She laughed from behind us, in front of us, and somewhere on the other side of the room. She was shielded, so no newborn could catch her, and they were really trying. Unfortunately, I lost her thoughts, too.
"Damn," I growled, shirking out of Rose and Demitri's grips, darting down aisle after aisle in order to get closer to Tanya.
A newborn popped out in front of me, and I didn't even have to think about it. His thoughts were so clear. I ducked his swinging arm, drove into him, and crashed him back down on my knee, snapping him right in half. I wrapped my arm around his head, pulling it cleanly off. I stood up and looked at the top of the boxes for my girl.
A flash of chocolate brown hair ran past above me, towards the far corner. With the next turn I made, I found Jasper, Emmett, Alice, and Carina.
Jasper was in full military mode, and his thoughts were all business. I'm going up top with her. How many more newborns can you hear?
I listened for just a second, hearing only three minds that weren't family. I held up three fingers, pointing to our right, behind us, and up ahead.
Jasper nodded, climbed the boxes, and disappeared the way Bella had gone. Emmett took off towards the right, his mind telling me he would handle that one. Carina disappeared behind us, and Alice pointed to her left.
There's one that changed course. I've got that one.
I nodded to her, and she was gone.
"Bella, I'm not fucking kidding. This little pile of shit will be in pieces if I don't see you by the count of three," Tanya taunted, and I could hear Kevin grunt in pain. His heartbeat was frantic, but his mind was calm. Marcus was right – he had complete faith in us.
"One!" she yelled.
"Goddamn it!" Rose growled, climbing back up the boxes.
Demitri continued on towards the sound of Tanya's voice.
"Two!"
Bella's sweet voice echoed around us. "You know...I'm gonna do more that just rip your arms off this time..."
I smiled, shaking my head. My girl was pissed.
"Bring it, bitch," Tanya growled, and by the time I emerged with Demitri at the end of the last and final aisle, my Bella hopped down from atop the crates, standing up straight.
She stood up, her gaze only on Tanya, but she spoke to Kevin first. "Kev, you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah," he sighed, wincing when Tanya gripped his neck harder. "Can you get the Bitch Queen off my ass? I'm not all that keen about this much crazy estrogen in my grill, my goddess."
"Shut the fuck up!" Tanya growled, rolling her eyes and pinning Kevin to the pillar next to her.
Bella fought her smile, but her eyes never wavered from Tanya, even when Alice and Rose stepped up on each side of her.
"Let him go, Tanya," Demitri growled. "Your running is over."
Tanya shook her head, narrowing her eyes at Alice. "Tell me, Alice...what do you see?"
Alice shook her head. "It's unsure...even you don't know what you want to do," she lied smoothly.
Right at that very moment, Tanya made the decision to destroy Kevin, and it resulted in her death. She changed again to just throwing him and making a run for it, but that also resulted in her death, only much later and not at this same location. Her last thought was to beg for forgiveness...
"Demitri, I—" she started, but he held up his hand.
"No, don't even start, Tanya!" he snapped, shaking his head. "Hand the boy over."
"No!" she screamed, causing Kevin to wince in pain.
Edward, I can't get my shield around her, Bella thought to me.
I stepped up behind her, whispering, "Wait." However, my head snapped up at the thoughts just stabbing at my brain from Tanya.
It was utter violence towards Bella and me. She wanted us gone; she wanted us destroyed. To her, we were the very essence of why her hatred existed.
"That's not true, Tanya," I growled, shaking my head. "We've done nothing to you, and yet, you continued to push and push," I told her, trying to take a step forward, but my sisters stopped me. "We've only ever defended ourselves from you. It's not even jealousy..."
"Shut up! Get out of my head, Edward..." she groaned, looking past me.
Her eyes widened as the entire room filled with people she knew, the leaders being Carlisle and Marcus.
"Tanya," Carlisle said soothingly, but it only made her flinch at his compassion. It practically radiated from him as he continued, "Please rethink this. It's not worth it. So much destruction, so much death. It's never been what we stood for."
Edward, catch Adrian! Jasper thought to me from his perch still at the top of the boxes behind us.
I dove for Adrian, who had shoved Esme aside in order to get to Kevin. Tackling him to the hard concrete, I growled low, "You have to trust us. Don't. She's not stable." My words were soft, only meant for his ear.
He nodded, but looked at me in a panic. She'll kill him, Edward!
I shook my head, standing up off of him and offering him a hand. "Not if I can help it."
We both turned when Tanya's dry sob rang out. "You called my family?"
"You left Carlisle no choice," Marcus said, taking a deep breath. "You took advantage of my kindness, Tanya. I gave you a gift of seeing your sister's wedding, yet you didn't follow my instructions."
"I would've gone back," she explained, but it was a lie.
I looked to Demitri and shook my head no, and he just rolled his eyes. It was over for her in his mind; he just wanted it done.
"T, let the boy go," Kate pleaded. "This isn't you. This isn't how we live. We never wanted to live like monsters, yet..." She waved a hand around the room as more of the newborns trickled in from their nightly hunt.
The young ones didn't quite know what to make of the situation, looking to Tanya for instruction. It had to be the last of them, because all told, we killed seventeen of them, and that wasn't counting how many my father's group had taken down in the tunnel.
Mark was at the back of them, his eyes on Megan, who had been as still as a statue in the far corner of the room. Their only focus was on ending this, getting away, and being together. And that, I completely understood.
"Get them!" Tanya yelled, but Bella's shield slammed down over us with a rush of air.
"No!" Bella growled. "It won't work. Hand him over!"
Alice's whole body shook, and she gripped my hand. Oh, shit...you get to Kevin. Make sure Carlisle is with you. Got me, Edward?
I took a deep breath and squeezed her hand, because the vision that she was showing me was the one we didn't need to come true. It was the one I'd been dreading since Alice had first seen it, only this time, all the girls disappeared into blackness.
"No," I growled almost silently, shaking my head.
"Yes...and soon," she whispered back.
I looked behind me up on the boxes. Jasper and Emmett were posted there, watching everything as guards. To my left, Marcus and Demitri were trying to work their way closer to Tanya, and behind them stood Carlisle, Esme, and the Denali clan. To my right, six newborns continued to fight my wife's shield, but had no luck.
I placed my hands on Bella's shoulders, kissed the back of her head, and hoped to God and all that was holy that the blackness in Alice's vision was just Mark's talent. I had to trust my sister, and I had to trust my Bella to fight hard, because that vision scared the shit out of me. That vision couldn't happen.
I reached to my left, tugging Esme's shirt sleeve and pulling her behind Bella and my sisters. I stepped to my right, giving Carlisle a pointed glare that he needed to be on alert. My last look as Marcus finally told Tanya that he was sentencing her to her death, was to my brothers behind me.
"I know what you're thinking, Tanya," Irina said, her voice and mind pleading that her sister would listen. "It doesn't have to end this way. You can't hurt him. Redeem yourself. Hand him over. Do it for us...for yourself," she begged, stepping closer.
"We love you, Tanya," Kate told her. "Nothing you've done will change that."
Tanya didn't believe them. In fact, she could see the looks of pity, the looks of disgust all over her family's faces. She suddenly realized just how far she'd stepped away from everything that she'd ever fought for, ever believed in. But her grip on Kevin only tightened, and he grunted, his eyes squeezing closed with the pain of her hand around his throat.
"Tanya, let him go," I said. "Let this be the last good thing that you do. Your own actions brought you here, but you don't have to end it that way."
"Shut up, Edward!" she growled, shaking her head, like I was actually inside of it.
She no longer looked like the beautiful woman I'd known for so many years. She looked tormented and sad and so very angry. She looked feral, like a nomad that had been living on the run for decades. Her once clean and probably very expensive clothes were uncared for. Her usual self assured demeanor was gone, and instead, she looked like a filthy, lost child.
I had never been attracted to her in any way, but I'd always considered her a friend. For a moment, I wondered just how much she hid, if that friendship so many years ago was even real. I felt a touch betrayed, because despite her attraction to me, we'd always gotten along. But I wondered if my love for Bella changed all that, if it was the final breaking point for Tanya mentally. If it was, I couldn't find it in myself to be upset, because my Bella was everything. A "friend" should've understood.
"Tanya," Carlisle called her softly. "What if in the next life...or whatever comes after this, we're judged on our actions? Please don't do this...Kevin hasn't done anything to you. None of this is his fault. If anything, it's mine. I wished we'd have talked more, Tanya..."
She shook her head again, yanking Kevin away from the pillar and holding him with his back to her chest. Her hand was curled into a claw at his throat. "Stop, Carlisle," she whispered, her eyes begging him to stop inching forward.
"Do this one last good thing," he begged, his arms open as his mind frantically hoped she didn't hurt the boy.
"There's nothing good...anymore," she breathed, and with one more glance around the room, she made just the slightest of cuts to Kevin's throat, spilling his blood with a superficial wound, but just as deadly as if she'd opened a vein.
I groaned as the newborns went into a frenzy. Mark made his move then, skirting around them. He made to dive for Kevin, but Tanya picked up the human as if he weighed nothing, tossing him into the middle of six newborns, who despite having just fed, couldn't help but lose their control at the fresh scent of warm blood.
The whole room scattered in several directions. Tanya dove for Megan, with my sisters, mother, and wife hot on her trail. Curses and grunts echoed behind me as the four women in my life tackled Tanya without a second thought. She fought back hard, squirming out of their hands and taking off into the warehouse. Glass shattered as they disappeared back into the maze of boxes and crates, just barely getting by Demitri and Marcus.
"Em, Jazz!" I called, lunging for the newborn that had Kevin in his grasp as the rest tried to claw their way to him. "Carlisle!" I grunted, trying with all that I had to make sure not one ounce of venom touched that boy.
Growls, snarls, and the tearing of immortal flesh sounded in my ears as Demitri, Jasper, Emmett, and Marcus ended the rest of the newborns, Adrian appearing at my side.
"Kev," he whispered, but his control was slipping at the sight of his mate's blood.
"Adrian!" I snapped, pointing away from us. "Go stand over there, or this is all over. Let me try to help him," I told him, my voice firm and not allowing for argument.
"Ed..." Adrian started, looking up at me with the most heartbreaking of thoughts, because Kevin wasn't conscious. At all.
Carlisle gripped Adrian's shoulders, tugging him up off the floor. "Trust us, Adrian. Emmett..." he called, handing the young immortal over to my brother, who held him in an unbreakable grip. "Edward...what's the damage?"
We worked silently, trying to find every wound, every mark on Kevin, but it was his ragged breathing and the sudden arching of his back in pain that gave us the clue.
Carlisle and I locked gazes, my father's thoughts perfectly clear as he felt Kevin's abdomen. His torso is crushed – most likely when she threw him. Punctured lungs, internal bleeding, crushed larynx...his heart rate is out of control. He needs surgery...
I winced, shaking my head. "He doesn't want that..." I started, my eyes flickering to Adrian, who was watching us closely, but his mind knew that Kevin was in danger.
"Are you sure?" Carlisle whispered aloud, but it was more in awe than anything.
A boom rumbled through the floor, shaking every crate, every bottle, and everyone in the room as Carlisle and I knelt over Kevin. "The hell?" I growled, looking up.
"Fire," Demitri growled. "That was from the tunnels. We have to go...all this alcohol is a disaster waiting to happen."
"Yeah, but...where are the girls?" Emmett asked, his mouth hanging open.
Carlisle reached across Kevin, grabbing the front of my t-shirt. "You and your brothers...you find them, Edward!" he ordered, his eyes panicked and his mind even worse. "We'll get Kevin out of here."
"My cabins...go there...we'll meet you," Jasper growled, pulling at me.
I searched my mind for my wife's thoughts – any of the girls' thoughts – and found nothing but silence. My heart constricted, but my chest...it was still solid, still without pain. My Bella...she was out there and still alive, still connected to me. As far as everyone else went, I had no idea. I just had to find them.


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