Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 43

Goddamn! I was one lucky bastard.
I groaned, walking into our room from the en suite bath in the Volterra castle and catching the most gorgeous sight I think I'd ever laid eyes on.
Standing in the open French doors leading out to our balcony was my beautiful wife, with nothing but a white sheet wrapped around her perfect frame. The setting sun glinted off of her skin, casting a spatter of rainbow points on the wall and floor around her. The sheet, while she was holding it with one hand at her breasts, fell dangerously low down her back, revealing just the mere hint of her bottom. Her back sloped at an angle as she leaned casually against the door frame, her hair up in a complicated twist, with a few tendrils curling down.
But her giggle stopped me.
"You can't be a bastard, Edward," she laughed, but didn't turn around. "Your parents were married."
"I totally lose the filter from my brain when you surprise me like this," I said, walking up behind her and dropping my towel from my recent shower.
We were supposed to be getting ready for the Saint Marcus Day Festival, but…yeah, that was now on hold. I couldn't resist not touching her when she looked like a priceless work of art standing in our room.
We'd been in Volterra for a week, getting Kevin, Mark, Megan, and Adrian settled in. We'd attended a few training sessions with them, taught them how to hunt outside the tall walls of the city, and showed them the beauty of that same walled city at night. But when Bella and I weren't needed...we were left alone.
"You are so damn beautiful, my Bella," I sighed, leaning down to kiss her creamy shoulder. "Please don't move," I requested in a whisper, kneeling down behind her. "Tell me what you were looking at, my sweet girl," I commanded softly as my fingers dragged down her smooth, strong spine.
"I was watching people getting ready for tonight. I was watching the sun...uh...set," she said, her voice breaking just a touch when my hands flattened on her skin.
I leaned in, placing long, wet, open mouth kisses to each shoulder blade, down her spine, to each dimple just above that perfect bottom of hers.
"Tell me more. Tell me what you see now," I whispered against her skin as I tugged a little at the sheet so that I could slip my hands inside and around to her belly.
"Lights, red rooftops, lanterns being lit," she breathed, leaning back towards me. "Edward..." she moaned, probably my most favorite way she said my name, aside from a full blown giggle.
"More, baby..." I urged, slipping my hands up her stomach to cup her breasts, my teeth dragging lightly across her back and along her ribs. "Tell me what you feel...in Italian..."
She huffed, but I could read her mind. There was a smile she was fighting on her lips. And sure enough, my girl did exactly what I asked. Her Italian was smooth, sounding like Esme's accent combined with Demitri's – the same two people that had coached her on the language to begin with.
It hadn't taken long for her to become multilingual. She spoke Spanish, which I'd taught her, Italian, and now French, which Esme was still teaching her.
Her Italian rolled off of her tongue, so sexy, so very beautiful. "I feel you, Edward," she started. "I feel your hands. They're soft, but so firm. I feel your breath on my skin, and the sun on my face."
"That's my girl," I chuckled softly, standing up and pressing myself to her back, my hand slipping between sheet and bare bottom. "Now...don't stop. Tell me what you want me to do to you..."
Still speaking in Italian, she whispered, "Voglio che mi porti. Proprio qui." I want you to take me. Right here.
I reached up and tugged her hair down from the messy little knot she had it in, sweeping my fingers through the mahogany locks. It curled down her back, an amazingly stunning contrast to her smooth, creamy skin.
"Right here?" I verified, finding myself using the same language that I'd requested of her. I tugged the sheet out of her grasp, letting it pool at her feet, and then I nudged her legs farther apart with my knee. "E sei pronta per me, ora?" I whispered into her ear as my fingers ghosted between her folds. And are you ready for me, now?
She moaned at my change to Italian, her knees bending slightly. "Yes," she answered breathlessly, as I held her up by wrapping an arm around her just under her breasts.
"For all of Volterra to see?" I clarified, knowing they couldn't really see us, but we were practically outside, five stories above the streets. "You want me to show them who you belong to, Isabella?" I stated, allowing her full name to roll off of my tongue.
"I want to show them you belong to me," she growled, but a smirk played upon her sweet face.
I chuckled darkly. "Same thing, don't you agree, my sweet girl?"
Her beautiful face turned, so that she could look at me from the corner of her eye. "Edward," she breathed. It was a plea, a request I could never deny her.
"Piegare un po'. Fammi vedere che bella figa," I told her as softly as I could, because no one in our family needed to hear us, though most of them were out hunting. Bend just a little. Let me see that beautiful pussy.
I smiled against her neck when she moaned wantonly as my fingers circled her entrance. In her mind, Dirty Italian Edward was fucking hot to her.
"Dimmi quello che vuoi," I commanded, asking her to tell me what she wanted, because, by God, I'd give it to her.
"Tu, un modo si può ottenere, l'amore," she whispered, her hips arching back to mine. You, any way I can get you, love.
"Ti voglio così ..." I whispered – I want you like this. I shifted my hips just a bit, gliding my aching erection between her legs. She was already so wet for me—a fact that made a low, deep purr rumble through my chest.
I couldn't stop touching her smooth skin. I ghosted my palms flat down her shoulders to her sides, down to her hips. I pulled them back to me with one hand, while bending her slightly forward with the other on her back.
"Oh, my love. Hold that door," I crooned, bending over her to nuzzle that sweet spot just behind her ear. Still speaking Italian, I purred, "We'll show them all."
Her face finally turned to look back over her shoulder. "God, Edward...I love you..." she whispered, going back to English.
Without breaking her stunning, lust filled gaze, I slipped into her, a cry escaping the two of us.
"Oh, my Bella, I love you, too," I growled, my head falling to her shoulder as I buried myself as deep as I could. I held still for just a moment, relishing the feel of being complete, of becoming one with her.
I stayed with my body wrapped around her, using one hand to hold her hips steady, while my left hand slipped up her arm to link our fingers together, bracing us up against the door frame. Our wedding rings glinted side by side in the dying light of the day, as I finally pulled my hips back, only push back in.
Laughter and other sounds of festival goers wafted up to our balcony, and I swiveled my hips, just to hear my name gasped into the new night air. Maybe they could hear us, maybe they couldn't, but either way, I didn't care.
I knew we should've been getting dressed. I knew that everyone would be looking for us soon, but damn, she felt good, and since we'd left the States, I hadn't been able to keep my hands to myself.
"Come for me, baby," I begged her, because this angle, this position let me feel everything.
I could feel her hips meet me thrust for thrust. I could feel every squeeze of her muscles gripping my dick with a wet, slick heat. I could feel every purr vibrate from her through my chest at her back. I could feel her nipple perk up tightly under my hand as I cupped it. I could feel our connection solidify around us with unbreakable ties, making us both gasp at the intimacy of it, and I could feel her hand cling to mine at the door frame, because we were lost together in it all.
When the hand that wasn't in mine slipped down to her apex, I growled low, causing her to look back over her shoulder. I captured her mouth roughly—awkwardly, due to the angle—but absorbed her climax with every fiber of my being.
"That's it, Bella. Make yourself come," I whispered against her neck when her orgasm caused her to rip her mouth from mine. "Let it go..."
Her walls cinched down on me, and I wrapped her hair in my hand, wrenching her head to the side.
"God, baby, you feel so good," I whispered against the soft spot behind her ear. "I can't..."
I couldn't finish that sentence, because my climax wrecked me, causing my teeth to latch onto the spot where her neck met her shoulder. I wanted to tell her that I couldn't wait to get her home so I could describe to her all the ways she felt good – in the privacy of our own home. But words were lost to me, as was coherent thought and speech that was recognizable in any damn language.
I whispered words like, "beautiful" and "sexy" and "dangerous," as I kissed her shoulder and neck.
She giggled softly, turning to kiss my cheek. "Come on, Mr. Verbose," she said, smiling against my jaw. "We have to get ready."
I smiled, wrapping my arms around her as we stood up straight. "Mi perdo nella tua bellezza, il mio dolce amore," I whispered in her ear. I lose myself in your beauty, my sweet love.
"Keep going," she snickered, nuzzling my neck, "and we'll never leave."
I chuckled. "You love it."
"Amo ogni parte di te, Edward. Il mio cuore soffre quando non si toccano," she said, her use of Italian smooth and sexy, but I could see something glimmer in her deep brown eyes. I love every part of you, Edward. My heart aches when we aren't touching.
I paused for a moment, really listening to what she said, and I cupped her face. "My love, we don't have to go out..." I started, using English once again.
"Don't be silly," she sighed, leaning up on her toes to place a light, sweet kiss to my lips. "Of course, we can go. We go every time."
"If you're sure...then we need to get ready. Alice is almost back from hunting," I told her, watching her walk into the bathroom.
If someone had told me just ten years ago that I'd eventually find my mate – a human, of all things – fall in love with her in the blink of an eye, break her heart, only to come back, change her into the most stunning of immortals, marry her, and live happily ever after, I would have laughed bitterly out right. If that same someone had told me that my happiness, which I knew nothing about ten years ago, revolved around this said mate, I would have rolled my eyes, even though I lived with three other mated couples and knew what happiness was supposed to feel like.
I would've told them they were crazy, if they'd said that my mate and I would be so close, so connected that we could never be apart, and that we wouldn't want to be. I would have most likely walked away from this person, if they'd told me that I couldn't hear my mate's mind, not even when I met her.
I snorted, shaking my head as those thoughts rumbled through my mind, because I couldn't hear my love's thoughts at that very moment. And it was bothering me to no end, because it seemed like something had been upsetting her just before we left the castle.
I turned to Jasper while the girls and Kevin all played some games on the main thoroughfare of the festival. "What's Bella feeling?" I asked, following his gaze for a second, before looking back to his face.
"Determination," he answered without even batting an eye. "Frustration," he chuckled when she missed a bottle on the ring toss. "And a whole lotta love, brother," he sighed, looking over at me. "You can't hear her?"
I shook my head no, looking over at my sweet girl. She was dressed beautifully – a flowy, deep red dress that made her look like one of the local Italian women, her hair down in soft curls, but pulled away from her face. She seemed fine as she and Kevin gave each other high fives.
"What's that about? She usually lets you in," he stated, folding his arms across his chest.
"I don't know," I sighed, shoving my hands in my pockets. "Something was off just before we left."
"Homesickness," he said with a nod to his head. "I felt that when we got back from hunting. It was a huge sense of longing." He winced, his nose wrinkling. "She wants to go home...but she'd never say a word to anyone, would she?"
"No," I growled, taking a deep breath. "She stays for him. I mean, I understand. Every one of us feels...responsible for him."
"She stays for everyone," he chuckled. "She'll never be selfish, Ed. Ever. And as long as she's needed, she'll stay."
"Take her home," Carlisle said, walking up to join us.
Jasper snorted, but I replied, "No. She won't go until she feels he's ready. She thinks he'll shatter when we leave."
"You couldn't pry that boy out of those girls' hands right now," Jasper laughed, shaking his head. "I'm with Bells; I'd love to go home, but I get why we're here." We were all quiet for a moment, but he asked one more question. "What are we doing when we get back?"
Carlisle frowned, looking at him. "I'd have to see if the hospital could take me back. I've been on leave for a long time. Personally, I'd like to know what everyone is planning to do. And that includes Adrian and Kevin."
"Family meeting tomorrow?" I asked, verifying what I was reading in his mind.
"Yes, first thing...sitting room," Carlisle said, nodding, not able to hide his smile when Bella won a goldfish. "What the hell is she going to do with that?" he asked with a deep chuckle and a shake of his head.
Jasper and I laughed. "There's no telling," I answered.
Emmett rushed up, a beaming smile on his face. "The dance is starting. Big D is saving us tables..."
"Oh, that's so pretty," I sighed, looking around the central courtyard just outside of the castle.
The fountain in the center was decorated in twinkling white Christmas lights and was surrounded by tables. Just past the fountain was an open space, where people were already dancing to a full orchestra, it seemed. All the tables were underneath a grid of more twinkling lights, giving the whole courtyard an outdoor bistro feel, but for a large crowd.
"Come on, Bells," Alice chirped, tugging my hand. "They're all up front."
Everyone was milling around three of the biggest tables pushed together to make one long one right next to the fountain.
"Hey, look, little sis!" Jasper beamed, pointing to the splashing water. "We found a new home for your friend."
"Step off of my goldfish, Jasper," I growled, holding the plastic back closer to my chest. "Don't hate..."
Edward laughed, pulling a chair out for me. "Sit, baby. No one will touch it."
"Promise?" I pouted, giving my brothers, who were absolutely dying to say something, a scathing look.
"On my life, beautiful," he laughed as he took the seat next to mine. "That thing will at least make it through the evening. As for the rest of it's short lifespan, I can't tell you."
I smirked at him, knowing he was referring to one of our first talks about how pets were an institution I'd given up on long ago. "Thanks."
"Mmhm," he crooned, kissing me just below my ear. "Anything for you, love. What are you going to do with it?"
"I don't know!" I laughed, leaning into his shoulder. "I didn't think I'd win it, to be honest."
He wrapped an arm around my shoulders with one arm, pointing to the middle of the table with the other. "Set it down. We'll figure it out later," he chuckled, kissing my temple as everyone took their seats around us.
Alice sat next to me, with Jasper on her other side. Emmett and Rose sat on the other side of the table, next to Carlisle and Esme, across from us. The three tables filled quickly with our closest friends and family.
Marcus sat at the head of the table, between Edward and Emmett, but his gaze fell on my little bag of water. "A goldfish, Amore?"
"Don't start," I chuckled, pointing at him. "My brothers have threatened this little guy's very existence since the get go!"
He raised his hands in surrender, laughing softly. "Wouldn't dare, Bella," he said with a cheesy grin. "I have an entire aquarium of those guys upstairs in my quarters."
"Well, Bubbles is special," Alice giggled, poking lightly at the bag. "It took Bells three tries to get him."
"Bubbles?" Jasper and Edward asked at the same time.
"Dudes, I know we've made you watch Finding Nemo," Emmett scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Bubbles was the little fish in the tank that lost his ever lovin' mind every time the treasure chest opened, letting bubbles escape. God!" he huffed, shaking his head, like they were the dumbest boys ever.
And that's why I adored my biggest brother. He stood as tall as a giant, could tear someone limb from limb, and wrestle bears in the bat of an eye, but he totally knew every character from almost every Disney movie.
Alice and I collapsed into a fit of laughter.
"God, you're cute," Rose snorted, unable to fight her smile.
"I love this freakin' family," Demitri snorted a little further down the table.
"Excuse the hell out of us," Jasper muttered, which only caused another full round of laughter at the table.
"No kidding," Edward snorted, but kissed my head anyway.
As the orchestra began to play, Edward offered me his hand. "Dance with me, sweet girl," he whispered, tilting his head just enough that it made him look slightly insecure.
I smiled, took his hand, and let him let us away from the table. We weren't the only ones to dance. Most everyone had stood up from our table, along with most of the attending humans.
A father led his little girl out, setting her on top of his feet, which caused a giggle to escape me.
"That's the easiest way to teach you," Edward chuckled. "I liked it, because it made you that much closer."
"We won't copy them, then," I sighed, wrapping my arms around his neck, his hands snaking to my waist, "because this is just as good." I lay my head on his shoulder so that my forehead pressed to his neck.
We stayed on the dance floor through two songs, before he said another word. We didn't have to speak, because deep comforting sighs, linked fingers, and soft, random kisses to necks and foreheads said everything.
Our time alone in the room just before we came out was replaying in my mind. My husband was so sweet, so loving, but it wasn't enough. I wanted more. I wanted freedom to be alone with him. I wanted lazy days on our sofa. Hell, I even wanted time in our kitchen to teach him how to bake cookies for Esme to take to the hospital. I just wanted normal.
Italy was beautiful, Volterra was comfortable, and my family was great, but I was tired. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted from fights, plans, secrecy, bloodshed, and constant chatter. I was ready for a break from emergencies, drama, and heavy subjects. I wanted light, fun. I wanted the biggest decision to be whether we join our siblings at the movies or whether we stay in and make love on the piano.
"Bella-love," Edward whispered in my ear. "Are you ready to go home?"
I sighed, wondering how he knew, because I'd been shielding my thoughts from him since we'd left the castle. I pulled back to study his face as he swayed us slowly. He was beautiful, sincere, and so very sweet.
"I know if I told you yes, we'd be gone by morning," I told him with a small smile.
He grinned, leaning in to kiss my cheek. "Is that my answer, baby?"
"No," I sighed again, shaking my head. "It's what I want, truly, but I'm not sure we're done here."
"Bella," he started, looking up around us and then back to me. "I know you feel responsible for Kevin..."
"We are responsible for Kevin," I countered, feeling just awful that I'd interrupted him, but I needed him to understand. "He's loved us from the beginning. He trusted us. We can't just...change him and then leave him to figure most of this stuff out without us. It's not fair. No one in our family would have done that to me and you." He opened his mouth to say something, but I kissed his chin. "I know some things are different, like you were older, but still...he's doing so well. It won't be long until we can leave him."
"You're right," he conceded. "He's doing very well. But if you're not happy, if you need something, Bella, that's my priority. Does that make sense?"
"Absolutely," I said with a smile. "And I so love you for it, but I promise I'm fine. We're okay, right? It's only been a week, baby."
He chuckled, his eye brows flicking up slightly. "Do I want you home...in our home? Hell, yes. Can I wait a little longer? Sure, because I've waited a very long time for you, Mrs. Cullen. I could care less where we are, because I'll tough it out as long as you're by my side."
I studied his handsome face again, smiling when I saw truth and understanding staring right back at me behind soft golden eyes and a playful smile. "Thank you, Edward."
"For you? The world, il mio dolce amore," he crooned, kissing my lips softly. "Anything."
After the next song, Edward led me back to what we thought was an empty table, keeping me close to his side, but when we made it back to our seats, the sight in front of me was too cute. Even Edward chuckled.
Two little kids, a boy and a girl, were kneeling in our chairs, looking at Bubbles in his little bag of water. They were local, or at least from Italy, because they were babbling away to each other about how they'd wanted one, but their father hadn't won the game.
"Oh, I think I just found Bubbles a home," I mumbled, shaking my head.
"Bella," Edward laughed softly, shaking his head. "I thought you wanted him."
"No, look at them, Edward..." I cooed, letting go of his hand to lean on the table with them.
"Twins," he chuckled, again shaking his head and putting his hands into the pockets of his black dress pants.
I giggled, turning to the kids to ask them their names. "Ciao a tutti, qual è il tuo nome?"
The little boy smiled sheepishly, but said, "Emilio e Olivia."
"Quanti anni hai?" I asked them how old they were, and I couldn't help but smile when they both held up five fingers. They were, indeed, twins.
"You know...that's the perfect age for a pet," Edward chimed in behind us in Italian. The little ones spun around with huge smiles on their faces to look at him. "But you have to promise that he's cared for, fed, kept clean."
"Lo faremo, lo prometto!" the little boy vowed. We will, I promise!
I picked up the bag carefully, setting it in Emilio's hands. "Poi lui è ora vostra responsabilità." Then he's now your responsibility.
"Grazie!" Emilio gushed, looking from the bag to his sister. He elbowed her hard, whispering in a hiss, "Dite loro grazie!" Tell them thank you!
Her sweet face tinged pink with embarrassment. She was so very shy, when her twin wasn't. "Grazie," Olivia whispered, hardly able to look to Edward at all.
"Di niente, principessa." Edward chuckled, calling her a princess.
She blushed again, but they both turned when their names were called. With a smile and a wave from both of them, they ran off, taking my little fishy friend with them.
"Hmm?" he answered softly from the table in our room. He didn't look up from the laptop.
"What are you doing?" I asked, rolling onto my stomach on our bed, just to be able to gaze at him. He was so damn cute when he was all serious and working on finances. "Setting up an account for Kevin?"
"Yes, love."
"So you aren't killing him in the eyes of his sister?"
"Not yet, baby."
Kevin had received his inheritance from the death of his father, so when we'd had our family meeting, Carlisle had asked Edward to get him set up with his own accounts. In order for him to take full advantage of every dime, Edward had told him that we had to fake his death later, pretend he went back to school in London. That was what he was working on now, but he was sexy sitting there with his brows all furrowed, his jaw tense, and his long fingers rubbing his bottom lip as he studied the screen in front of him.
It didn't help that he was only wearing a pair of jeans.
The family meeting had been pretty normal. Well, normal for Cullens, anyway. Everyone agreed to go back to London. Carlisle had spoken to the hospital, and they were glad to have him back; he just needed to let them know when. Alice wanted to continue work at her little clothing boutique, but they'd filled hers and Kevin's positions. Emmett and Rose had a few cars they were thinking about restoring, so they were definitely good.
Jasper, Alice, Edward, and I all had open agendas. We had absolutely nothing that we were really thinking of doing. Although, Edward and I mentioned that we may travel just a bit.
Alice suggested school – high school, of all things – for all of us, because England was such perfect weather for us. None of us were opposed to it, but we all decided that after the summer would be better, because we just wanted to chill out for a while.
Edward asked one more time if I wanted college to get my PhD, but I still hadn't made up my mind, and he didn't care, considering he was already a doctor two times over.
But it was when Marcus joined our meeting that things got interesting.
"I wanted to really thank all of you for your help," he said, sitting down next to Carlisle. "You didn't have to, and it was risky as hell, but you did it anyway."
"I'm kind of glad you did," Adrian muttered softly.
We all smiled at him.
"It's all good, M," Emmett chuckled. "Hell, we don't mind...most of the time."
We chuckled, and I leaned back into Edward as we sat together on the loveseat.
"Anyway, I wanted to offer you the castle if ever you need it. Adrian, Kevin, you're both free to stay as long as you need. I also want to offer you – each of you – a position here if ever you want. I'm not my brother, and I refuse to make anyone do anything, so it's an open ended offer. You can come and go as you please, choose whatever diet you want, and you would have my utmost trust. But I would welcome any of you, any time."
We all looked at each other and then back to Carlisle, who was smiling softly. "Marcus is showing a huge sign of respect by that offer. And we thank you for it."
"All you have to do is call me," he said, smiling and standing back up. "I'll let you get back to your plans, but I wanted you to know how much your help has meant."
"What will you do now?" I asked, not knowing how many immortals there were out there in the world.
"The easy stuff now, Amore," he chuckled. "New York is being cleaned up. Stephano will head back there in a few weeks, just to check it out. I need to speak to the ancient Russians, but they've always stayed out of my way for the most part. All in all, it will turn most boring without all of you around," he laughed, giving me a wink before walking out the door.
"Yes, my Bella?" he said, copying my tone of uber-sweetness.
"Are you done yet?"
He fought his smile, clearing his throat, but shook his head. "Soon, my love. I promise."
"'Kay," I sighed, holding my head up on my hand and turning the page to the magazine that I wasn't even reading. The male models in it had nothing on my husband.
I was shielding my mind on purpose, because at first, he'd needed to concentrate. Now, it was because my thoughts were getting close to dangerously arousing as I ogled him. Edward ran a hand through his hair, only to place both hands on the keyboard, typing like a maniac. His expressions and posture reminded me of when he played the piano.
I flipped another page, and I swear to God and all that was holy that I was trying to leave him be, but apparently, it was nearly impossible.
"Do you like me in thongs or boyshorts better?" I asked innocently, watching his reaction through my eyelashes.
"I prefer you in nothing, sweetheart," he snorted, giving me one sexy raised eyebrow, before going back to the computer screen.
I fought my giggle and won, asking, "Yeah, but...I mean if you had to choose..."
He sat back in the chair, pinching the bridge of his nose and shaking his head. "I would still choose nothing," he said, smirking at me. "I know what you're doing, Bella. Give me ten minutes, love, please, and then I'm all yours."
"'Kay," I sighed again, going back to the magazine. "I mean, I get it," I mumbled. "I prefer you commando, but I was just curious."
"I know you do," he said softly, in almost a placating manner. "And I have no real answer, baby. I like anything you wear, to be honest."
I smiled, biting my bottom lip, but he didn't look up from the computer. "Thanks, baby."
"Mmhm," he sighed, again fighting his smile.
I rolled back over onto my back, propping my head up with pillows. I looked out to the balcony. It was a rainy day, fat drops falling hard against the window. In all reality, we could have gone out into the city to the little shops or walked the edge of the wall surrounding Volterra, because the whole city sat up on a small mountain, overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery of Tuscany.
I wasn't sure I wanted those things. I was bored, but my playmate was preoccupied. I bit my lip again, peeking over my magazine. I had to fight not to groan at his pure, completely unaware sexiness. His long fingers ran slowly through his hair, the locks just falling into the most attractive disarray. His forearms and biceps flexed as he typed or clicked the mouse, making me want to run my hands over them. I wanted to lick up the edge of his sharp jaw as he would frown at the computer in thought.
"Edward?" I called, hiding my smile behind my magazine.
I heard one brief chuckle, before, "Yes, my sweet girl?"
God, his patience was never ending.
"When we go home, can we go back to Cullen?"
That got his attention, his head snapping up from the computer screen. "It might be a little difficult, Bella. The house, the cars, the accounts for London, they're all in Masen."
"Oh." I nodded, wrinkling my nose a bit. "What about if we go to school after the summer?"
"We can look into it, love," he told me, voice much more smoother, sweeter, not as distracted. "Sweet girl, look at me."
I looked up over my magazine, to see him sitting forward with his elbows resting on his knees. His shoulders flexed with the movement, but his face was serious.
"When it comes to school, we'll do what you want, but as far as our house, neighbors, Carlisle's work," he said, raising his eyebrows at me, "that has to be Masen, because we've been that for most of a year in London, love. We have to keep up pretenses."
"'Kay," I said, nodding. "It's not that I don't want to use Masen..." I never wanted to insult his real last name. Ever. I loved every bit of him—his past, and his future with me—but Cullen meant...more.
"It's just that you married Edward Cullen," he finished for me, wearing a crooked smile. "I know, Bella. I understand. I'll call you whatever you want in private, my love. I promise."
I giggled, biting my bottom lip. "Thanks."
He turned back to the computer, and I just couldn't help myself. I was feeling way too bored, way too playful to watch him deal with numbers on the computer.
"Um, Edward?"
He laughed out right. "Yes, baby..."
"Are you done yet?"
"That's it," he growled, launching from the chair and landing on the bed.
He grabbed my foot, dragging me down the bed as I squealed and laughed at the same time. He snatched my magazine from my hands and tossed it over his shoulder as his wicked fingers attacked my sides.
I fought him, but found myself pinned underneath a smirking, black-eyed Edward as he held my wrists above my head. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I chanted, while laughing my ass off.
He chuckled darkly. "I'll show you sorry," he purred, diving for my neck.
My laughter abruptly stopped, turning into a moan as soon as I felt his lips meet my skin. And I lost myself to him as the rain poured down outside.
Volterra castle was just like any castle I'd ever seen. It was huge, with winding, never ending passageways. It had secret tunnels, hidden rooms, and underground escapes up to the streets at just about every point throughout the walled city.
We'd been here for almost four weeks, the last two of which were hot, sunny, keeping us all indoors in the daytime. That led to boredom in the daylight hours. It led to crankiness, snide remarks, and wrestling matches in the middle of the throne room. It also led to finding ways to entertain ourselves, all antics entertaining Marcus to no end.
It led...to the biggest indoor game of Hide and Seek. Ever.
Never mind that we were all centuries old – a millenia, if you added our true ages all together. Never mind that it was a children's game, and never mind that just about the entire family and a few friends were playing. The problem was...the girls were totally kicking our asses.
The men were "it," and the girls had to hide. With Bella's shield, they were just about undetectable; I couldn't hear a single female mind we were trying to find, which rendered my talent completely useless.
"Shit!" Jasper growled, smiling and shaking his head. "How the hell do we find Bells?" He couldn't feel a thing from them, either.
"I don't know," I sighed. "She's shielded, Alice is probably seeing every move we make, and that girl..."
"Elena," Jasper chuckled.
"Yeah...she lives here. She knows every nook and cranny of this place," I growled, shaking my head.
"Yeah, but you have me," Brody chuckled, motioning for us to turn down the next corridor. "The first few days I was here, all I did was wander this place. Come on," he said, opening a door at the end of the hallway.
Brody had taken to the Volturi like a fish to water. He loved the structure, the catching of rogue immortals, and the freedom to choose the normal diet or the vegetarian. At first, he struggled, opting for the normal diet. But once Adrian, his friend from when they were human, had arrived, he was showing Brody the benefit of the change.
Carlisle was very proud of Adrian, Kevin, Mark, and Megan. They were all doing very well. He said that we were getting close to leaving them all soon, a thought that made the girls nervous, but they understood. They didn't want to leave Kevin and Adrian, but knew Carlisle was right, because they'd become very comfortable here in the castle.
"Go, go, go," Emmett whispered, a beaming smile on his face as Brody pulled a sconce on the wall to open a secret tunnel.
We dove into the darkness, hearing the girls somewhere far ahead, but as soon as the wall closed, they bolted out of ear range.
What Carlisle was most proud of, as was Marcus, was the addition of animals inside the castle walls. It had been Stephano's idea to bring in a few deer and a wolf or two. He'd arranged for the farthest fields behind the castle to be used for emergency hunting for vegetarians. If you couldn't leave the area, you could at least feed, if you needed to. It was fantastic. Stephano said he got the idea from Carlisle, because he'd done the same thing on Isle Esme.
"I totally think Heavy E is holding us back," Kevin teased, peering around the next corner. "Bells says she can feel you, even when she can't see you."
I laughed, shoving him around the corner. "That's true. It works both ways...even if her shield is down."
"Oh," he laughed, shaking his head. "I'm just sayin'."
Kevin. He was...over the top, practically giddy with happiness. Not only did he tell Bella and Carlisle that he finally felt like he fit in his own skin, but his relationship with Adrian was flourishing. They'd progressed by leaps and bounds. Kevin showed Adrian how to let loose, have fun, and not take things so seriously, and Adrian taught Kevin how to use his new senses to the best of his ability. They both were learning the new diet together, which made for a fantastic support system between the two. They balanced each other perfectly.
Now that Kevin was unbreakable, strong, and immortal, he fit even better into the family. He found new relationships with us. Esme was, for all intents and purposes, the mother he'd been missing for a very long time. Carlisle had become his mentor, therapist, and a better father figure than he'd had growing up. But it was with my siblings and me that he had the best bond. He was the little brother, excitable and hyper like Alice and Emmett, but kind and thoughtful like Jasper and Bella.
His respect for me was awe inspiring, because Adrian had finally told him the entire story behind the night Carlisle and Marcus had to change him. Kevin had been so very grateful that he didn't have words, but I could hear it in his thoughts, see it in his demeanor. He stayed calm around me, loving our talks of music and what the future may hold when he could finally leave the castle to join us, and leaving him was fast approaching. He didn't like it, but he understood it now.
Kevin, so very much like Bella, loved to hear old stories – from all of us. They both said that reading about events in books was one thing, but to hear it from someone that had actually experienced it was another.
"Through here," Brody instructed, opening another door into what looked like a storage room.
There was art and furniture and large items covered in sheets filling the entire apartment sized room. We wove through it all as quietly as we could, coming out into a main hallway.
"No shit?" Emmett growled, spinning around. "We came out on the east wing? The hell?"
"You can get anywhere in this place in a hurry if you know where you're going," Demitri laughed. "But I bet I know where they're heading. Take the stairs down. Go!"
"Where?" Adrian whispered as we all flew down the stairs.
"The pool room," Demitri chuckled, leading us down another hall, another set of steps, and through another hidden tunnel.
What was funny...we came out ahead of the girls. Just as we burst silently into the enormous, high beamed room filled with a pool larger than Olympic sized, the girls tiptoed through another door, not paying attention to what was in front of them, but what could possibly be behind them.
When they finally all turned around, the screams of terror were hilarious.
"Jesus fucking Christ!" Rose growled, placing a hand over her heart.
"Fuck!" Alice and Bella whined, but they all broke into a run and squeals when we tore after them.
With a laugh, I caught my girl quickly. She may have shielded her thoughts, their location, and Alice's visions, but she would never be faster than me.
"Shit, shit, shit," she giggled, burying her face in my chest when I finally wrapped her up.
I pressed her into one of the wide pillars, bending to her ear. "Tag. You're it, baby."
She laughed, kissed my neck, and pulled back to look up at me. "You guys cheated!"
I laughed. "No, ma'am. We just used every talent we had."
"Fine, handsome," she chuckled, kissing my chin. "Go, we'll count..."
And the game was on again.
"It's time, sweet girl," I whispered, kissing the back of her head.
She'd been staring out over Volterra for the last few minutes as I got our things together. It was time to go home.
Home. I breathed deep the scent of her hair as I contemplated that word. It was where she was, always, but this time, it meant a little more. It was our little house in London, the little niche we'd carved out all on our own. It was where my piano was, where our pictures hung, and where we'd laughed just about daily as we put it together like a puzzle.
I know in reality it wasn't about the house, per se. It was what it represented. A safe place, a happy bubble, and a silent refuge.
I knew for a fact that from this point on, no matter where we moved, Bella would want just that – a place that was just ours. It wasn't that she didn't want to be with the family. That wasn't it at all. However, there was a small part of her – the sweet, beautiful, unselfish part of her – that loved giving me a place of mental silence. There was another part of her that just loved time for just us.
I loved both of those reasons endlessly. Hell, those reasons alone I would buy her a house in every city, but my Bella didn't need all of that. She only needed me, and I just wanted to care for my wife, so that meant buying a house if she wanted one. It was the reason I bought the London house to begin with.
"Okay," she sighed, turning in my arms. "Are you still taking us through Rome?"
"Did you want to go to Rome?"
"No." She giggled. "Some other time, maybe," she said with a sweet smile and shrug, "but not now."
"That's what I thought," I chuckled, wrapping an arm around her and guiding her back inside.
I grabbed our bag, slinging it over my shoulder—our only luggage, since everything else had been shipped home. We walked through the castle in silence, my fingers linked with hers.
I knew she was worried about leaving Kevin, but he'd sworn to her that he was fine, that he was going to stay for a few months more, before coming back to London. At that point, we would fake his death to his remaining family in New York.
We left the decision up to the girls as to whether we all left at one time. Jasper felt that Kevin would feel completely abandoned, but Alice assured him that we'd done what he'd asked of us by staying a full month with him, and he was willing to let us all go, because he wanted to get his diet, his bloodlust completely under control, so that by the next move, he and Adrian could join us. That was his goal, and by God, he was sticking to it. Carlisle was proud.
So it was with heavy hearts, but very hopeful minds that we said goodbye in the castle's underground garage. Emmett took our bag and tossed it into the trunk of one of the cars Marcus had assigned to drive us to the airport.
"My goddess," Kevin gushed, pulling Bella up into his arms in a crushing hug. "I'm gonna miss you."
"Me, too!" She smiled down at him as he lifted her tiny frame up off of the ground. "I'm very proud of you," she told him. "You keep going like you are, and you'll feel better and better in public. By the time you join us, you won't need my shield at all." She giggled when he rolled his eyes at her, because he'd relied on her quite heavily. "Then we'll hit the clubs again."
"Do we get to pretend we don't know Heavy E again," he teased, giving me a wink.
"Maybe," she laughed, hopping down to the ground. "He's been known to play..."
I scoffed dramatically at her, but pulled her head to my lips. I turned to Kevin. "We'll see you soon. You'll see that time passes quickly. Marcus says you need a year, but Alice says sooner. I've learned to never bet against Alice," I chuckled, shaking his hand.
Marcus hugged us all, reminding us that his offer was still open, even if we only came for a visit to see a bored old vampire, which made the girls all hug and kiss his cheeks.
Demitri and Carina promised they would visit soon, the girls giving him the usual, "Bye, Demitri," in unison. If an immortal was able to blush, he would have when those girls did that to him.
We all piled into the limo, and Agosto pulled through the castle tunnels out onto the street. Bella nestled silently and comfortably into my side for the long ride to Rome's airport. Alice, Esme, and Rose chatted about what they wanted to do when they got back to England. Emmett was describing the next car they planned to work on.
It was Cullen chatter at its best, with my Bella chuckling at them all, but our father said the best words we'd all been longing to hear.
With a deep sigh, showing relief, exhaustion, and happiness combined, Carlisle said, "Let's go home..."


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