Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 5

CHAPTER 5
BELLA
I sat down on a tree stump, waiting for Emmett to finish hunting. I knew he had something to tell me, but he wanted me away from everyone to do it. He even requested that I shield my thoughts from Edward, knowing that he could hear me up to ten miles away.
I wasn't all that thirsty, but took a stag anyway. I picked a flower, tugging off the petals one by one, and looked up when my big brother plopped down in front of me.
"I'm worried about you," he said, smiling so sweetly. "I've seen all my siblings and Rose go through similar phases, and I never wanted that for you."
"Did you?"
"Naw," he shook his head, but looked around the forest with a deep sigh. "I watched the people I knew die...family and friends. You know, the ones from when I was human. They don't know I did that," he said, jerking his thumb back towards the house. "It was hard for me, but I really loved Rosie, you know?"
I nodded. "We're alike that way, I think."
"I thought so, too, until lately. How are things with Eddie working? Be honest with me. I only know what I hear the girls chat about. And what Esme worries about."
"It's...really hard to get used to, Em. We've come up with a sort of set thing for his weekends," I smiled.
"Good," he nodded, "because Ed is all about routine." I laughed, shaking my head. "What about school? Jazz says you just now made a friend."
"Yeah, Myra."
Emmett got up and knelt in front of me. "I never want you to see the sad shit of this life. You're too much like me. You're so happy to just be. I want you to find the good in it. But I don't want you to leave yourself open to getting hurt, either."
"What did you feel? When you lost your family?"
"Sad, but happy for them?" he said, but formed it like a sentence. I nodded for him to keep going. "This is a damn cool life we have, Bells. We can see it all. I feel like I was fated for this life, because I took to it. I love my family...I love Rose. I get to see history being made, and remember it clearly decades later."
"You made friends with Drew in Portland," I started. "How did you feel when we had to just up and leave?"
He smiled, nodding, like he had been waiting for me to catch on. "I knew they would remember us for a few months, then we would fade into the background of their memories."
"Do you miss anyone that you've met since you've been a vampire?"
"You," he smiled, chuckling when I snorted. "I missed the hell out of you when we were gone. You had us all wrapped around your little finger, Bells. You just didn't know it."
"Fine," I smirked. "Besides me."
"No," he shook his head. "I missed you, because I knew what you meant to the family – what you meant to Edward. You fit like a missing piece." He paused for a moment. "Who do you miss? I mean, if you could pick up a phone and call someone from any of the places we've been...even your human days...who would you call?"
"You mean, that I can't call now? Like Charlie?" I clarified, and he nodded. "Um, my mom. But she's happy. She's coping. Charlie talks to her more now than when they were married," I chuckled. "Maybe Angela, but she's moved on...has a family with Ben. I miss Wendy, but I know she has her mom now. Not Mike, or Lauren...I can call Jessica, since she is with the pack, but we were never all that close." He let me ramble, let me see what he meant by just verbally sorting it out. "We didn't really make friends at Dartmouth..."
He sat back on his heels, folding his giant arms across his chest. "See?"
"Yeah," I nodded. "Just because I have left them, doesn't mean their world just shuts down."
"Even as a human, people walk in and out of each others' lives, never to be heard from again. It's natural. It just...happens." He tilted his head at me. "You've been hanging out with Edward too much. You're over thinking things."
I laughed, throwing a rock at him, but he caught it with a beaming smile. "He's right, though. I handled things better when he was with me all the time."
"Maybe," Emmett nodded, his face serious again. "That makes sense, though. You are his completely...in every sense of the word. Carlisle changed me for Rose. Edward changed you himself. He taught you this life, gave you every tool he thought you would need. Carlisle helped, but it was just the two of you, really. We were all there, but really, you truly are Edward's."
I smiled. "I've never thought of it that way. So... add in our connection, and we're just stuck, aren't we?"
Emmett laughed, his dimples just adding to the childlike face I loved. "I suppose. But you are dealing better than you think."
"You think?" I grimaced.
"Oh yeah," he chuckled, nodding and standing. He offered me a hand and helped me to my feet. "You are, Bells. Trust me. I've seen Jasper's dark days. I've seen Edward when he was questioning everything. He was hell to live with. I've seen Rose, too. She's better now, but there were times..." He sighed, looking around us again and shoving his hands in his front pockets. "Those times are rare for her now. And Jasper...he's a new man since you forgave him a few years ago."
"There was nothing to forgive..."
"I know," he smirked, wrapping his arm around my shoulder. "Don't over think it, little one. Just be you...okay?"
"Okay," I smiled.
"We should get back. I kind of stole you, didn't I?" He smiled evilly. "Race you back."
"You're on!"
We bolted through the forest, taking out small plant life in our wake. We burst from the tree line into the back garden, much to our family's amusement. Apparently, they had all come outside to sit on the back patio.
Emmett grabbed me, pulling me behind him in order to take the win, but I shot my shield out and trapped his legs. He fell into the earth with a rumbling grunt, but laughed as I bounded up the stairs to the deck.
"Teach you to cheat, jackass," I pointed to him.
"Aw, Bells," he laughed, brushing the grass off of his clothes. "I wasn't cheating. I lost my balance, that's all."
"You are such a liar," I snorted, rolling my eyes and falling into Edward's chuckling embrace.
"He's lying, love," he said against my cheek. "Trust me."
"Don't tell her that, Eddie," he growled, but his smile couldn't be hidden.
"Did you hunt, sweet girl?" Edward asked, tilting his head at me as he set me sideways on his lap. I nodded, kissing his cheek.
"Yeah, a little," I smiled. I was aware we were being watched, probably due to my wide range of emotions earlier, but Edward's sweet face held me captive.
He chuckled, hearing my thoughts. "And I thought it was just me," he teased, kissing my nose. I giggled softly, shaking my head at him.
"Guys!" Jasper growled, which only added to everyone's entertainment.
A laugh barked out of me as Edward wrapped his arms around my waist. "Sorry, Jasper," Edward and I said sheepishly, looking over at him. He rolled his eyes with a smirk, waving us away.
"They're worse than we were," Emmett said proudly.
"Hardly," Edward scoffed, rolling his eyes and turning to me. "At least we don't make out in front of the entire family...or break Esme's furniture...or shatter the windshield of a new car."
"Windshield?" I gasped, looking over at Rose, who was laughing shamelessly.
"My car, at that," Carlisle snorted. "I hadn't had it for more than two days."
"Shut up," I cracked up, looking back at Edward. He was enjoying himself way too much.
"Okay," Rose chuckled, "in my defense, Emmett had been gone for two days."
My eyebrows rose, almost in understanding. But Edward growled low in my ear. "We'll stay away from my car, naughty girl."
But you would look so fucking phenomenal on it, I smirked, folding my arms across my chest as his growl rumbled softly around me. His eyes blackened right in front of me.
"Bells!" Jasper snapped, shaking his head.
"Okay," I jumped and laughed, standing up from Edward's lap. "I have to get away from you." He laughed as I pointed at him, raising his hands in defense – or surrender. Probably both. He sat back, his hands behind his head as he chuckled.
"Good," Esme smiled, patting the seat beside hers. "Sit with me, little one. Temptations...temptations..." she teased, shooting Edward a wink. "Edward's much too kind. He's forgetting about the bookcase that Carlisle and I destroyed." My mouth fell open as the entire patio shrieked in horror.
"Oh, Mom," Jasper and Emmett groaned.
"There was no amount of brain bleach that would help me forget that," Edward muttered.
"Esme," Carlisle snorted a warning, but she just shrugged proudly.
"Damn, I miss this family," Demitri chuckled, shaking his head.
"I'm not apologizing for it," Esme murmured in my ear, but wrapped an arm around me when I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing more at the looks of disgust on the boys' faces.
Alice snorted into a giggle about five seconds before Emmett hopped up from his seat and said, "Okay, on that note. Let's play a game."
"Hell, yeah," Jasper nodded, shooting every girl on the deck a sharp glare for laughing.
"The volleyball net is still up," Rose smirked, pointing to the sand court that looked about as out of place in England as snow would in Florida.
"Perfect," Edward sighed, taking off with the rest of them.
"You just want a Top Gun moment," I smirked, nudging Rose with my shoulder as she sat down on the other side of me.
"And you don't," she huffed, rolling her eyes. "The sun is out today..."
"Ladies," Esme scolded, but gave up when the boys all stripped bare to the waist.
"They so do it on purpose," Alice whispered, chuckling.
"You love it," Emmett called back over his shoulder before serving the ball.
Oh, he was right, but I shielded us anyway. Edward and Emmett took one side against Carlisle, Jasper, and Demitri. It was completely and perfectly matched that way. Edward's mind reading and Emmett's height and strength were evenly matched against the other three. While Demitri and Jasper were tall and could block the net nicely, Carlisle's strategy was excellent, but Edward had three minds to listen to.
And God was he ever pretty. Dark jeans and bare feet. A rolling wave of muscles under tight skin every time he blocked the net or served the ball. A slight glitter to every inch of him. And I wasn't the only one losing it.
"Damn," Rose chuckled, shaking her head. "Tell me we're shielded."
"Oh yeah," I snorted.
"That's good," Carina mumbled, smirking when we all laughed at her. "Sue me," she smiled, pointing towards the game like we couldn't see for ourselves.
"It's quite all right, honey," Esme giggled softly, patting her arm gently. "Alice is right. They know exactly what they're doing."
"Right?" Alice whined, not even able to tear her eyes away from the game.
"It just makes me want to play porn music," Rose laughed, her head falling back.
"Rose!" Emmett growled from the court.
"Bow-chicka-wow-wow!" Alice and I sang together, dissolving into a fit of laughter.
"That's it," Jasper growled. "Guys against girls. Ladies, get over here."
"Uh oh," I snorted. "Shit, we're in trouble."
"Not yet, you aren't," Edward said, raising a dangerous eyebrow at me.
"No shield on the net," Jasper and Emmett snarled together.
"Party poopers," I grumbled, catching the ball from a chuckling Edward. "Fine," I smiled, taking the serving position. "No shield...on the net."
I'd like to say that we thoroughly handed them their asses, but it was a damn close game. Rose took the front of the net with Esme. Carina took the middle. Alice and I took the back row.
Edward and Jasper took their back row, while Carlisle was in the middle. But we had to face the tall forms of Demitri and Emmett in front their net. It wasn't easy.
Did I use my shield? Absolutely. I had to keep Edward out of our heads. I had to make sure that their serves shot wildly out of bounds. Did Alice make predictions of the boys' strategy? You bet. She could see exactly what Carlisle's play calls were.
We played until the sun set. We played until Emmett cheated, pulling the net down to let a wild hit by Jasper over. The girls won fifty to forty-eight.
After the girls celebrated, I handed Edward his shirt, licking my lips at just the sight of him. Take me to bed, or lose me forever, I thought to him with a smirk.
"Lead the way, honey," he drawled, scooping me up onto his back, not even bothering to go through the house. We were in the car and down the driveway before our family could even say goodbye.
OoOoOo
"Bella-love, are you sure about this?" Edward asked, holding the elevator door open for me. We stepped out into the corridor of the children's ward.
"Yeah," I smiled up at him. "If I can write an article in a high school newspaper, I can most certainly answer a few questions from a girl that might need someone to talk to."
We stopped at the nurse's station, and Helen looked up at us. "She's in the playroom," she whispered. "I told her we were cleaning her room and she needed to get out for some air."
I nodded, leaning into Edward's kiss to the side of my head. I looked up at him. He smiled sweetly, asking, "Do you want me there?"
"Nope," I shook my head. "I have a feeling this will be a girl talk, baby. She might be more comfortable without a man in the room."
He nodded, backing away and shoving his hands in the front pockets of his khakis. He had dressed casually, looking handsome in a navy blue v-neck sweater with a white t-shirt underneath. "I'll be in my office then, okay?"
I nodded, smiling at Helen, who was watching us both intently. He told me she had been in the room when he had restitched Danielle's wrist. "I'll peek in on them in a few minutes, Edward," she told him with a smile. "Go check on Toby. He's been weak from the last treatment and asking for you."
He nodded, but waited until I'd turned down the hall towards the playroom. I walked quietly into the large room, to see Danielle was indeed in there alone. She was sitting at the small table, flipping through a magazine. I knocked on the door, and her head snapped up.
"Hey," I smiled, "mind if I join you?"
"Mrs. Masen, right?" She asked, and I nodded with a smile. "The husband get called in?" she smirked, resting her elbows on the table and setting her chin in her hands as she watched me sit across from her.
"Yeah," I sighed dramatically with a roll of my eyes for good measure.
"That must suck. You're enjoying your day, watching a movie, and he's got to run," she frowned.
"It can, but we were out shopping," I smiled at her chuckle.
"I can't imagine Dr. Masen shopping," she smiled with a shake of her head. "He's kinda quiet and a little too serious sometimes. Picking out fruit at the store just doesn't fit." I laughed, because she just didn't know how right she was.
"He can be a little too serious."
"But not the night we played poker."
"Emmett and Jasper bring out another side to him," I snickered.
"Or you," she pointed to me. "I asked him about you. His face changed when he told me who you were."
Danielle was sharp. Edward was completely right about that.
"Oh yeah?" I smiled. "What did he tell you?"
"Um, not much," she hedged, looking back at the magazine on the table, turning the page. "I think he was just..."
"Just what?"
"Trying to make me feel better..." she mumbled, her voice trailing off.
"Well, he's good at that. Calm when you need it."
Her eyes snapped up to meet mine, and she nodded slowly. "Yeah," she smiled, but it faded slightly. She took a deep breath, huffing a laugh with absolutely no humor behind it. "I think he was mad at me. I had ripped out my stitches."
"It takes a lot to really make him mad," I smiled, shrugging when she looked up at me. "But we've been together a long time. Some of his facial expressions can be...hard to read, easily misinterpreted. Concern or worry can come across as gruff or angry, but it's not."
"Or sad," she whispered, her eyes far away. "He was sad when he talked about you."
"Oh," I said, my eyebrows rising. "Did he tell you about me?" I asked, eying her wrist bandages on purpose. She nodded, but then shrugged. "Did he blame himself again?"
"Yeah," she nodded, her brow furrowing and her magazine forgotten. "Why would he do that?"
"We...broke up, and he left for a while. While he was gone, I was with someone that wasn't exactly kind," I frowned, looking at my hands. "He thinks the domino effect in my life could have been prevented."
"What happened?"
"I was trying to move on, but I missed Edward...Dr. Masen," I smiled, "too much. I was with a guy that wanted more from our friendship than I was willing to give. And every time he would get upset with me, he would hurt me."
"How long?"
"Well, Edward was gone for two years, but the first hit came about six months after he left."
Danielle's fist clenched on the table. "Fucker," she growled, her eyes on fire when she looked back up at me. "Just because you didn't want to be with him?"
"It was more than that, really," I frowned, but inside, I was glad to see some emotion coming from her. "Jake knew Edward, was jealous of him, so he would push the fights. He knew what to say to make me...push back, I guess." I looked up at her. "Fighting back made it worse."
"No shit," she huffed, but her eyes shot up to mine. "What did he do?"
"Do?" I asked, trying to clarify exactly what she meant. "As in my injuries?" She nodded slowly, but it was truly out of a need for an ally, not blatant curiosity. "Oh, there were plenty. At first, it was punches to places no one could see, like my back or my upper thighs, then he would shove me, push me into walls and furniture. When he would get really mad, he would backhand me. He pushed me hard enough into a stair rail once to take away my ability to have children. A crushed wrist, a few fractured ribs, dislocated fingers, a fair amount of concussions..."
"Bloody hell," she snapped, looking at me like I was miracle to be sitting there. "How old were you?"
"Eighteen," I nodded, wincing a little at the memory. "Old enough to know that it was...wrong, what he did, but I hid it all from everyone."
"Why?" she asked, but now I could see we were getting somewhere. She wanted to know how much strength it took to tear down the wall to let someone help her.
"I was...angry, but still able to function. I was normally a very strong person, opinionated and snarky, but admitting that someone could hurt me was like admitting defeat?" I said, but it came across sounding like a question. "I don't know. I had missed Edward so much in the beginning that I could barely breathe, so when Jake came along, he was fun, and people stopped worrying about me." I huffed a laugh. "I hated that people worried. I hated that I was still not able to go to sleep at night and not dream about Edward's leaving. And I hated that just when I thought I might be okay, then Jake changed.
"I didn't want to need someone I hadn't seen in months or what turned into years," I continued. "But I was ashamed to admit that the one person that had started to help me, started to hurt me. The truth hurts way too much sometimes."
"What happened to this Jake?"
"I kept up the pretenses. I hid it from my father. I went to school, work, home – all in a circular pattern." I sighed, bracing myself from the memories. "Jake tried to kiss me. I wasn't ready, or it was too much, so we fought. He backhanded me across the face." She flinched, nodding in sympathy, but her eyes showed a deep understanding. "I had just about reached my limit, because it was the most visible bruise. So I tried to take a break for a day or two."
"He wouldn't let you go," she whispered, almost to herself. I frowned, looking at the fear filling her face, the far away look in her eyes. "He hunted you down."
"He did," I nodded, looking around the room. "And then...I ran into Edward."
Her head snapped up, her mouth open slightly. "Tell me he kicked his fucking ass," she growled, but I smiled. She huffed a laugh, shaking her head at her own outburst. "Sorry," she grimaced. "Please go on."
"Well, Edward has always been able to see right through all my lies, and I couldn't hide the bruise," I said, finding my own voice soften.
"That's why he blames himself," she guessed, but didn't look up from her fidgeting hands. "Dr. Masen said you didn't blame him, either. Is that true?"
"It is," I nodded. "I was quite capable of making a choice. I didn't make the right one while he was gone, but he may always blame himself." I paused, taking a breath. "Telling him was the hardest thing I ever did. Harder than telling my own father." She looked up, but didn't say a word. I knew the questions that were rattling around in her mind. "I knew, despite our separation, that someone hurting me was his worst fear. The very second I saw him, I never felt more protected. And I knew that no matter what our future held, the gentleman in my husband would be sweet and kind, first and foremost."
"What did it feel like?" Her voice was barely audible.
"Like shedding a wet, heavy coat – relief from the pressure of all the lies and deceit, and exposure for just how weak everyone would think I was."
"He is the hero," she snorted.
"He is to me," I chuckled. "But it took years to heal. His uncle is a doctor, too. I still continue to speak with him in private."
"Yeah?"
"Yes," I nodded, taking a deep breath and glancing up at the doorway at the scent of humans joining us. Helen stood there with another doctor, a young, dark-skinned woman. I looked back to Danielle, but her fingers were tracing over the bandages on her wrist. I reached across the table and picked up her hand. "This," I said, placing my hand gently around her wrist, "is so not worth it. This is what happens when you think you can fix it yourself, when you hold it all in. Because trust me, when all you do is hold it in, it's going to leak out somewhere."
She stared at my hand, her finger reaching out to touch my wedding ring. When her gaze finally lifted, tears were streaming down her face. "My dad hates me," she breathed. "He's not really my father, but my mother's boyfriend. But he's the only father I've ever known. They yell...all the time. And my mother doesn't care...when she's not home, he takes everything out on me. And she's never fucking home, but he is...the drunk bastard."
It all came rolling out of her, and she barely acknowledged that Helen had sat down beside her with a box of tissues and a warm arm around her.
I looked over at the doctor, noting her name. Dr. Byrne. She gave me a face full of relief and a small smile.
"It's everyday," Danielle went on, but only looked to me. "He doesn't bother my brother, but he has no problem coming in my room at night." Helen winced, but rubbed her hand up and down Danielle's shoulder as she purged. "I can't take the noise. I hate the smell of my own house. All I want is silence," she panted, tears leaking down her face. "I tried to get away. My aunt is more than willing to take me in, but he showed up at her house."
"Can we call her?" Dr. Byrne asked.
"Please," she nodded, pleading with a pained expression. Danielle snatched the crayon on the table and wrote down a phone number. "Simone Atherton."
"Danielle," Dr. Byrne started, her voice soothing, calm, "I would like to continue this in your room. Can we do that? And I promise we'll call your aunt in a little while."
"Mrs. Masen?" Danielle panicked.
"You'll be fine. I bet even Helen here will be glad to sit with you."
"Most definitely." Helen smiled warmly at Danielle, who had melted into her side without realizing it.
"Danielle," I said, and she turned back to me. "Tell it all. Don't hold anything back. The more you tell, the better you'll feel. The more you tell, the easier it is to stand up to him." I raised my eyebrow at her. "Because that is what he fears the most...everyone knowing just what a damn coward he truly is for hitting a girl."
For a split second, her eyes flashed and a wry smirk crossed her features. Helen helped her stand, guiding her to the door. "Tell Dr. Masen that I'm sorry. I've been a right git the last couple of days."
I smiled, shaking my head. "Tell him yourself tomorrow. He'll be here."
She smiled sadly back at me, nodding once before allowing Helen to lead her from the room.
"Are you still in therapy?" Dr. Byrne asked, standing up from the table.
"Yes, ma'am," I smiled, looking up at her. "Carlisle Cullen."
"Edward's uncle, right," she smiled, a chuckle escaping her. "They both talk endlessly about their wives. I've not met Carlisle's yet, but Edward's right about you. You're stronger than you give yourself credit for."
"Oh," I snickered, "well, just wait until you meet Esme." I smiled up at her.
"I look forward to it. Do you mind if I call Dr. Cullen about you?"
"Not at all," I shrugged. "I'll let him know. You can ask him anything you want."
"Thank you, Mrs. Masen. I think Danielle really needed to just hear from experience."
"Bella, please...just call me Bella," I smiled. "Well, she needs to know that purging herself doesn't make her weak. It's quite the opposite, actually."
Dr. Byrne smiled, nodding slowly. "Carlisle's done an amazing job with you."
"He's great, but I owe everything to Edward. Everything."
"Huh," she snorted, "he says the same thing about you."
I laughed, my head falling back. "Yes, a constant disagreement."
"Indeed," we heard from the doorway. We both turned to see Edward leaning there, a smile playing on his face. "You ready, sweet girl?" he asked, and I nodded.
"I'll leave you two to the rest of your day. Thank you again, Edward," Dr. Byrne smiled, shaking his hand before leaving the room.
Edward walked over, kneeling down in front of me. His eyes were warm, liquid gold, full of love and worry and pride.
"How's Toby?"
"Sleeping," he answered softly, reaching up to gently caress my cheek with the tips of his fingers, slowly sliding them up to tuck my hair behind my ear. "How are you?"
I leaned in, pressing my nose to his hair and inhaling the scent that made everything okay. "I could really use a hug," I sighed, smiling as I found myself lifted into his arms, both of our faces in each other's neck. "Take me home, Edward," I mumbled against his skin. "Just for a little while – before we meet everyone later."
He set me back on my feet, but kept his arms around me. "Are you sure about tonight? Baby, we don't have to go..."
"Are you denying me an open mic night?" I teased, smiling when he floundered for a moment. "I'm okay," I nodded, standing on my toes to kiss his lips softly. "I just want some quiet time with you."
"Yes, ma'am," he nodded, smiling a little.
EDWARD
The rain pelted softly against the windows of the music room. There wasn't a light on in the house. The stereo was on low, playing Debussey. I watched a drop of water trickle down the pane of glass in a random and erratic trail, as Bella's finger traced softly along my jaw line. We were laying on the sofa along the north wall, me on my back and Bella lying half on top of me, her head on my chest.
I placed a kiss to the top of her head, relishing the quiet that she had requested, but it was just as healing for me. Listening to her with Danielle had done something to me. I don't know if it was seeing her help the girl that was aching so badly, or the fact that my angel was willing to open up all the old wounds so that someone else could see that they weren't alone.
Danielle's mind was in awe of Bella, and my wife's heart had shattered when she heard Danielle's story. Bella felt the same as I did – that thirteen was just too damn young to have seen such things. But it was Bella's parting words to the girl that made the whole difference.
When she told Danielle to tell it all, and to tell it as revenge, that's when the young girl's mind saw hope. I'm not sure that I had ever loved her more, or been more proud of my sweet angel, as I was in that single moment. Bella took an experience that would have broken some people, and used it to help a girl clearly on the edge.
But as we lay in the dark, listening to the sounds of the rain, I knew it had taken its toll on her. And not for the first time did I consider canceling with my family tonight. I smiled, shaking my head when my phone beeped a text message. Alice. I didn't even have to look, but I did anyway.
A: Don't you dare! She needs to forget about it, and she really wants to go. Plus, Kevin wants to see her.
I snorted, shaking my head again. Bella lifted her head, tilting it at me.
"Your friend Kevin will be there tonight," I smiled, setting my phone down and cupping her face.
"Oh Lord," she snorted, rolling her eyes. "I can't wait until he meets Demitri." We both laughed, and I brought her face to mine. I kissed her softly, and she pulled back from me.
"You okay?" I asked, pulling her completely on top of me.
She nodded, taking a deep breath. "Did you listen?" I nodded, rubbing her back. "Through me?"
"Both of you."
"I'm sorry if anything I said upset you," she frowned, tracing my eyebrow with her small finger. "I'm always afraid it hurts you more than me."
"It's nothing we haven't discussed, my love. It's not anything that we don't already know."
"True," she nodded, her finger still tracing over my face. Her thumb brushed over my lips, and I kissed it.
"Although the fact that you can't see me buying fruit is clearly upsetting," I teased, smiling when her giggle rocked us both.
"She said that, not me," she gasped, sitting up straight, but her legs still straddled my stomach. "Apparently, you don't radiate shopaholic. Alice will be devastated."
I chuckled, shrugging at this revelation. "I'm sure she'll find a way to move on."
"Obviously." Bella smirked, looking down at me, her eyes filling with such warmth, such love, that it took my breath away. "You look like you're dripping," she whispered, her brow furrowing just a little. She looked to the window and back to my face, reaching up to touch my forehead. Her mind was filled with trying to find the words to tell me she loved me, but she just couldn't articulate it. At all.
"I know you love me, sweetheart," I frowned, sitting up and placing my hands on each side of her face. "I really know."
"Good," she breathed, nodding and looking up at me. "I don't have words, Edward..."
"I know, baby. And that's okay." I smiled, kissing her nose. "Glad I can read that sweet mind now, aren't you?"
She huffed a laugh, but she gripped my biceps as a sob left her. "Edward...please," she begged through gritted teeth, her mind unable to tell me that she needed me.
My sweet Bella was having what she called a moment. And from what I could tell, it was a rough one.
As the stereo began Claire de Lune, my poor girl lost control. She dove for my mouth, a whimper leaving her lungs. As always, when one of us was frantic, the other was calm. It was my turn to soothe her. And I would gladly take the job.
"Shh," I whispered, breaking from her hungry kisses. "Close your eyes, sweet girl. Listen to the music." I shifted so that she was underneath me, her legs wrapping around me. I pressed my forehead to hers. "What do you think when you hear this?"
"Volvo, the smell of you and leather," she panted, gripping my shirt at the shoulders. "Um, being slightly proud that I knew a song that you did."
I smiled, kissing her nose. "Want to know what I think?" She nodded, but she still practically shivered under me. I bent to her neck, placing a soft kiss to her skin. "I see brown eyes, the warmest smile. I see calm, despite the crazy vampire pushing her buttons." She snorted softly. "I feel comfort that I had never felt in a century. And I feel a warm hand in mine just when I thought I would go out of my mind with the need to touch you." I linked my fingers with hers, and pressed them above her head. "Can I touch you now?"
She nodded, her mind still in a frenzy. So with a few swift tugs, our clothes were in shreds on the floor. She didn't really want comfort, but seemed to just need to be connected to me. With a long, slow kiss to the scar over her heart, I locked gazes with her as I lined up with her entrance.
"I need you," she pleaded, her brow furrowing. "Don't make me wait."
"Bella," I growled, sheathing myself inside of her warmth. She cried out, wrapping her arms around my neck and pulling me closer.
I felt, I saw in her mind her pushing all the old, ugly memories back. I saw that she was trying to pull me inside of her to replace it with love and warmth. She wanted beautiful; she wanted our connection. She wanted to feel that I was with her. She felt raw after today's talk with Danielle, and I was the balm that could soothe it.
"I'm here, baby," I said, planting my elbows at her head. I brushed her hair from her face, covering her mouth with my own, swirling my tongue with hers until we were both needlessly breathless. "I love you so much," I said, but my voice was almost a whisper. "You're everything I could have ever asked for, and then some." I kissed down her cheek, laving my tongue in the soft spot behind her ear. "You are so fucking strong, and so damn beautiful."
"Edward,"she groaned, her head pressing back into the sofa as her body got closer and closer to climax.
"Let me have it, love. Give it to me. There's nothing that I can't handle, my beautiful girl," I said, pressing my head into hers as I swiveled my hips to hit the spot deep within her that sent her flying over the edge. "Let it go. Just let it all go," I crooned into her ear, sucking her earlobe into my mouth.
With almost a relieved shudder, her body clenched around me, holding me to her. I watched her face. It completely changed from worry and fear, to relief and warmth. She was stunning as the spasms continued to rock her body, causing me to lose the last grip I had on my control.
I held her a little longer, allowing my weight to bear down on her. She wanted it, relished it. And we stayed connected in the most intimate of ways as I just kissed her. Slow, wet kisses. Hungry, nipping kisses. And deep, soulful kisses. Kisses so sweet that it made my eyes roll to the back of my head.
When I finally pulled back to look at her, her eyes were the sweet chocolate that I so loved. "We have to go soon, baby."
"Okay," she smiled, her demeanor still slightly post-coital. I loved her that way – so sweet, so sexy, and absolutely adorable. I kissed her lips quickly, and we both sat up. She cupped my face. "I love you."
"Ah, now she has words," I teased, kissing her giggling lips.
"Yeah," she sighed deeply, biting her bottom lip. "Come on, let's go so you can sing something sweet to me."
I laughed, picking her up. "Yes, ma'am."
BELLA
I replayed the conversation I had with Danielle in my mind on the way over to the pub Emmett had told us about. Danielle had asked if Edward had kicked Jake's ass. I snorted, looking out the window. If she only knew I'd stopped him from killing Jake twice. Once for showing up at Charlie's and practically raping me, and another for showing up at the Cullen home.
"I'm glad you kept that bit of information to yourself, love," Edward snorted next to me.
"Why, Dr. Masen? Danielle can't know that her quiet, too serious hot doc is deep down a deadly, over-protective man?" I chuckled, biting my lip and looking over at him.
"Well, yes, there's that," he laughed.
"No, in her situation, violence won't work. She has the same problem as Wendy. A drunk man can't be beat up. He won't remember it the next day anyway."
"And Jake?"
"Jake's death would have devastated Billy. And in turn, Charlie. And later...Anna. No, as much as at the time he may have deserved it, he really didn't have control of his...other side."
"That's true. I always thought you were too merciful on him, but in the long run, you were right," Edward sighed, parking the car. "Are you sure about this?"
"Definitely," I nodded, waiting as he came around and opened my door. "I've missed this. And I'm glad the whole family is coming."
"Well," he said, looking around the parking lot, "they're not all here yet." He opened the door of the small pub, guiding me by a hand at the small of my back.
"Isabella," Kevin squealed, slipping off of his bar stool and rushing to me. "My beautiful goddess," he beamed, kissing my cheek. I felt, more than heard, Edward's chuckle. "Hot Doc, it's nice to know you weren't a figment of my...mmm, extremely imaginative mind." It was my turn to laugh at Kevin completely eye fucking my man. "Please tell me I'm allowed to keep your girl company while you are blowing the minds of the local townsfolk on stage."
"I can't imagine anyone else better fit for the job...aside from myself, Kevin," he chuckled, turning to me. "You told him to call me that."
"Hot Doc?" I cracked up.
"Take the label, sexy. It fits you," Kevin huffed, rolling his eyes. "And it's Bells' label, not mine...give me time, I'll come up with my own."
"Just wait until you hear what he calls Carlisle..."
"Shut up! Dr. Feel Good is coming tonight, too?" Kevin gasped, his eyes wide with hope and excitement. Edward's head fell back with his laugh. "Well, hot damn."
"And we have family in from out of town, Kev," I smiled. "You'll get to meet them, too."
"Whatever you say," he sighed. "Oh, and I just have to thank you for the other night, Hot Doc. Lord have mercy...that should go down in the history books..."
"Glad I could...help?" Edward snorted, shaking his head.
"Mm, you did indeed," Kevin nodded, turning to me. "Tim could do this thing with his tongue..."
I slapped my hand over Kevin's mouth. "Um, no. Just no, Kev. Not here...not tonight."
He pulled my hand from his mouth with a wide grin, kissing the top of my hand. "Fine, family night...got it." He looked around, and then turned back to Edward. "Oh, Mr. I-Wish-He-Was-The-Naked-Cowboy and Mr. Mountain-of-Sexy told me to tell you they were in the back, unloading your...equipment." Without shame, Kevin eyed my husband down to his black jeans and back up with a raised eyebrow. "It takes three of you? Holy hell, Bells," he gasped, looking back at me. "How can you walk?"
"You are so not drinking tonight," I pointed at Kevin, completely unable to stop my laugh at this point. "Edward, go on before he thinks he can touch," I sighed, looking up at my clearly amused husband.
"I won't touch," Kevin pouted. "I wanted to the other night, but you totally stole him."
"I didn't..." I groaned, rolling my eyes. "Fine, I stole him. Love you," I snorted, kissing Edward before he left us, and quite quickly, I might add.
"Come, let me sit with my gorgeous ladies," Kevin smiled, taking my hand and pulling me to the table, where Rose and Alice were laughing hysterically.
"Does it take three people to handle Edward's...equipment?" Rose snorted in my ear.
"Um, no. I'm willing to risk injury to myself in order to deal with it all myself," I grinned, leaning into her when she laughed.
"Good girl," Kevin chuckled, nodding in pride. His gaze drifted to the door. "Oh look, Dr. Feel Good made it...and holy shit! Who is that with him?"
Alice, Rose, and I all burst into laughter as we watched the reactions that Demitri drew. He really was handsome. His tall form walked with grace, as his long leather coat billowed around him. With shoulder-length, dark hair and an olive complexion that still came through his immortal skin, he looked like an unearthly being. He also truly looked the immortal we all were, but he pulled it off very well. As my sisters and I would say...
"Jesus, he's fuckhawt," Kevin breathed.
"Hush, Kev," I snorted, getting up from the table and hugging Carina and Demitri. Esme kissed her girls, and we all shifted around the two tables that had been pushed together for us. "Kevin, this Carina and Demitri. They are from Italy," I smiled, finally having to nudge my little gay friend with my elbow to get him to speak.
"Well, holy canoli," he whispered, shaking hands with Demitri. "It's really nice to meet you. Italy, huh?" he asked, turning to Carina. "I bet you can shop like the Devil wears Prada."
"I can," she nodded with pride. It was so easy to like Kevin. He was so harmless, and nothing but honest and fun.
"Oh, Kev," Alice beamed. "We'll go...we'll make it a weekend." She turned to me. "What are they singing? Did Edward tell you?"
"No, we never even talked about it, actually," I said, shrugging.
"Well, they're doing three," Rose said, playing with the drink in front of her. "I know Emmett wants something...heavy."
"Good," I giggled. Emmett's love for heavy eighties was just fun and silly.
The lights dropped and the curtain rose, revealing our boys' instruments and the house grand piano. Edward was going to play. Jasper, wearing dark blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a plaid button down, strapped a bass over his shoulder. Edward walked out in his black jeans and charcoal gray button down, with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He picked up the first guitar I'd ever bought him, while Emmett took his place behind the drums.
Edward's long fingers wrapped around the neck of the guitar, starting off the song that made me and Rose chuckle. Still the One by Steely Dan. It was Jasper's song to sing.
We've been together since way back when. And sometimes I never wanna see you again. But I want you to know, after all these years, you're still the one I want whisperin' in my ear. You're still the one I wanna talk to in bed. Still the one that turns my head. We're still havin' fun and you're still the one.
They were hands down adorable, harmonizing and smiling at the irony of the words they were singing.
When the song was over, the small pub cheered. Jasper traded his bass for another guitar similar to Edward's, and Emmett stood up from his drums, tapping his sticks together.
"Uh oh," I laughed, "the boys are feelin' naughty." I bit back a moan as Edward took lead guitar on the dirty, gritty sounds of Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue. Emmett sang without shame, but Jasper and Edward couldn't help but smile at him when they sang the chorus together.
"Maybe we need a stripper pole in the music room," Alice laughed, raising her eyebrows up and down.
"Alice!" Esme gasped, which only made Kevin laugh that much harder.
When that song finished, the cheers were louder, a little rowdier. Edward took off his guitar, setting it down on its stand, and walked to the piano.
"Oh, here we go," Rose sighed dramatically. "Kevin, brace yourself. Edward's about to serenade his sweet Bella." I grinned, shoving her a little. "What?" she laughed, gesturing to the entire table that was nodding and laughing. "It's true, right?"
"Oh, Bella," Esme waved her away. "Don't pay them any attention."
"I won't," I smirked, truly fighting my smile. Kevin looked over at me.
"Oh, eat it up, girl," he sang with a laugh.
Edward opened the lid to the piano, looking up at Jasper, who was sitting on a stool in front of a microphone. With one glance at me, Edward shot me a wink. He had heard everything the table had said.
When he started the song, my breathing stopped. She's Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze.
She's like the wind through my tree. She rides the night next to me. She leads me through moonlight, only to burn me with the sun. She's taken my heart, but she doesn't know what she's done.
I feel her breath on my face. Her body close to me. Can't look in her eyes. She's out of my league. Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs. She's like the wind.
"Oh, wow," Kevin whispered, laying his head on my shoulder. I smiled, watching him completely fall victim to my dazzling husband.
I look in the mirror and all I see is a young old man with only a dream. Am I just fooling myself? That she'll stop the pain? Living without her, I'd go insane.
I feel her breath on my face. Her body close to me. Can't look in her eyes. She's out of my league. Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs. She's like the wind.
That last verse caused me to smile and my breath to hitch all at the same time. How my Edward always seemed to find the song that said so much was beyond me.
Jasper played the saxophone part of the song on the guitar instead, making the song sound a little different, but beautiful nonetheless. My brothers sang the chorus through with him one more time before ending the song. The pub exploded.
Kevin lifted his head, looking to me. "What's he trying to say?" he teased with a wink. "No one puts Bella in the corner?" The whole table exploded in hysterics. "What? Dirty Dancing was freakin' hot!"
"Yeah, it was," Alice and I said together, which only caused more laughter. I rolled my eyes, standing up when the boys made their way to the table. I ignored the cheers and teasing when I kissed Edward.
"Absolutely no stripper pole," Edward whispered in my ear with a growl. I laughed, burying my face in his neck. "Emmett was just feeling...silly."
"'Kay," I smiled, letting him sit down. He pulled me into his lap, kissing my neck sweetly. I picked up his hand, turning his ring slowly as Emmett took heat from Rose.
"A stripper song?" she growled, poking him hard in the ribs. "Edward gets all sweet, and you pick a song about strip clubs!"
"Just for fun, babes. Honest," he laughed, his sweet face unapologetic.
"See, Hot Doc?" Kevin smiled. "You've set a precedence."
"I don't set anything," Edward chuckled, shaking his head. "We couldn't be more different musically. And he lives to stay in trouble with Rose." He pointed to Emmett. He was nodding like a child.
Rose huffed, rolling her eyes at the laughter. She looked up at Emmett, who sweetly kissed her cheek loudly. "Idiot," she mumbled, but we all saw the smile she was fighting.
"Hey, listen, Dr. Heavy Equipment," Kevin said, shooting Edward wink. I couldn't help the laugh that barked out of me. "I need to borrow your goddess tomorrow. We have that paper on the Roman Empire due Thursday night."
"Hey," Jasper frowned. "I'm in that class, too."
"Hush, Save-a-Horse..." Kevin rolled his eyes. "I was getting to that part. I was assuming you'd be there. Anyway," he sighed, turning back to Edward. "May I?"
"I work the night shift," Edward chuckled, squeezing me closer, whether in protection or habit, I wasn't sure. It didn't help that I was cracking the hell up. "It's up to her."
"We'll...just meet at the house, Kev," I snorted, shaking my head. "Come over after you and Alice get done with work."
"Where did he come from?" Demitri chuckled, looking to Carlisle, who was laughing quietly at his entire family.
"He's my discovery," Alice beamed, shooting Kevin a wink.
"I am not the missing link, my fairy princess," Kevin huffed, waving her away.
Edward sighed behind me, and I turned to see a smile playing on his face.
Is he too much? I thought to him, giggling softly.
"No, he's fine. He doesn't take life too seriously," Edward whispered in my ear, kissing my neck softly. "That's not a bad thing. He likes the family. He's never had that, love. We accept his...alternative lifestyle. His own family didn't."
"Oh," I frowned, my brow furrowing.
"Despite his...colorful behavior, he feels comfortable with us," he smiled, tilting his head at me. "You and Alice, especially." I looked over at Alice, who was smiling smugly. "He loves you both. Like sisters."
"Good," I smiled, kissing his lips softly.
"Stop with the kissy-face," Kevin growled. "It's like you're rubbing it in that you stole him from me."
"I didn't steal him," I growled, rolling my eyes. Edward laughed silently as the whole table chuckled. "We really need to find you a man, because you're never going to shut up about that night," I pointed at Kevin.
Kevin's face beamed as he nodded fervently. He began humming the theme to Mission Impossible. "It is your mission if you choose to accept it..." He grabbed my hand, tugging me down from Edward's lap. "Let's get started."


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