Tuesday, March 27, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Blood & Glory Chapter 14

CHAPTER 14
~oOo~
"No arguing, Bella. Just follow me, and do what I tell you, okay?" he asked, but before I could answer him, his mouth was on mine, kissing me too roughly, too desperately.
We both spun when one of the perimeter alarms sounded. We left the bedroom, heading for the kitchen door, and Edward tapped his ear piece. "Open radio. I want to hear every last fucking thing! Got me?"
"Sir!" they all called out.
Edward took his gun in one hand and my hand in the other, and we we got ready to slip carefully out the back door – into what...I had no idea.
~oOo~
EDWARD
"Okay, Ed," Jasper breathed into my ear piece. "We've got assholes to the left of us, and assholes to the right. Tell me when I can start my target practice..."
"Just fucking tell me what's out this west side door, J," I huffed, cracking open the kitchen door slightly and pulling us back in. "We need to stop them from leaving. They're here...they'll die here," I growled. "I need to get to the shed."
I peered outside, seeing no movement in the dreary afternoon.
"Edward...Bells," Mack started. "There's two to the left of the door, and two to the right. You can't go out that way..."
"You can go out the deck door," Alice added.
"Gotcha," Bella said, tugging me with her.
"The first shots fired at me, J...you can open up hell, got me?" I growled, slowly sliding the deck doors open.
"Sir." he retorted, and I could hear him ready his gun, ordering Alice and Makenna to do the same.
"Eddie," Emmett called, "we've got company on the east side. Two. We've got four heading to the front door, Mick...with smoke canisters. You and Esme watch yourselves."
"Fuck," I sighed, turning to Bella. "We're surrounded. It's guns up or nothin'."
"Fine," she sneered, flipping the safety off on her nine mil. "Where to?"
"If we can get to the shed, there's at least cover enough for us to pick them off the side and back of the house."
"Good. Go!" she said with a nod, and we both darted out the back doors.
"Watch the corner of the house, guys!" Alice warned.
The very moment Bella and I stepped foot outside the house, all hell broke loose. I heard the shattering of glass, which I could only assume was the smoke canister they were aiming toward the front window. I heard Jasper's order to the girls to fire at will – and they did; the fucker that was hiding around the corner of the house fell to the ground as we ran by.
Shouts and screams rang out. Some were over the radio, with my team working seamlessly together, some were outside, but all were just chaos in my head. My goal was the shed because not only would it give us cover, but my father had a cache of guns in there.
Bella and I ran past a clump of trees, flattening ourselves behind them when shots ricocheted off the trunks.
"Shit," she breathed, aiming quickly and firing two rounds from between the limbs. "That's one," she muttered wryly. "We can take him down from the wall. O'Quinn or O'Hara or some shit..."
I grinned, kissed her head, and whispered, "That a girl! Four more yards, Alice. Cover us!"
"On it, on it, on it," she growled, and four shots zapped through the brush to our left. "You're good. Go now!"
"Emmett," Mickey growled as we dodged more stray bullets. "Where are you?"
"Under the house, Mick...give me five seconds!" he answered, grunting as it sounded like he hit the deck. "Fuckers," he muttered under his breath.
"Edward!" Alice and Bella both yelled as a guy popped up out of nowhere just as I reached the shed doors.
Alice, Bella, and I all fired at once, the guy shaking as he fell to the grass, and then Bella and I dove into the shed, slamming the doors behind us.
"Fuck me," she panted, leaning up against the corner.
"Kinda busy, love," I teased her, giving her a wink as she snorted at me.
"Just..." She waved her hand and rolled her eyes, still breathing heavily, but I could see her fighting the smile that was curling at the edge of her lips. "Just...weapons, Edward."
I smiled, moving the work table to the far side of the shed. There was a trap door underneath. My father had built it as a root cellar when the cabin was built, but as his career changed, so did the purpose of the little storage room.
I yanked up the door, flipped on the light switch, and then offered Bella my hand. I wanted her by my side the entire time.
"No fucking way, Edward," she gasped, her eyes wide as she glared at the basement. "I...I can't go down there. I don't give a fuck what's in there..."
I grimaced and nodded, realizing that it must have reminded her of Miller's basement. "Okay, but you've got my back up there, right?"
"Yes. But I'm not going underground."
"Then you shoot anything that comes near this shed, baby. I don't care what the fuck it is. If it moves, it's dead. Got me?"
"'Kay," she said, turning toward the small window. She lifted it slightly, aiming her gun through the opening.
I ran down the stairs, not wanting to leave her long at all. Along the back wall were automatic weapons. On the counters, grenades. It was the grenade launcher I was aiming for because those fuckers had driven up in SUVs, but they weren't leaving in them.
I shouldered the weapon, grabbing a bag of grenades, a few more clips, and three boxes of bullets. I tossed them into the bag I'd taken from my closet. I also snatched open one of the cabinets, revealing my father's safe. We had one in every home, including my own, and every fucking combination was the same – my mother's birthday. Inside were a few stacks of cash, phony passports for my father and me, and credit cards matching the fake identities. If we were on the run, we'd need to be different people, so I wasn't taking any chances; I emptied the fucker.
I heard Bella's gun fire off three quick rounds, and I popped up to make sure she was fine. She was – just looking pissed off.
"How many we got, baby?" I asked her, coming up the steps.
"There are three dead on the side, two at the back door. Alice, what's the front look like?" she asked, but it was Makenna that answered.
"We got two, four...six...eight left, all hiding behind those damned SUVs," she growled. "And fuck, Bellsy...I think that James guy is leading this shit!"
"Miller?" Bella and I both sneered at the same time, wondering if the asshole had been spotted.
"I don't see him, but there's money riding on who gets to shoot him..." Emmett chuckled darkly.
I snorted and rolled my eyes, believing every word. "How much we talkin'?" I asked, smirking at Bella's growl because she wasn't used to the shit talking Em and Jazz did.
"Fifty-K, bro," Jasper chuckled. "A high price for low scum, dude."
Bella smiled but said nothing as we got ready to leave the shed.
"That's my vacation money, boys," I growled. "That bastard belongs to me. Now...we're coming out this shed. How's it look between here to mine and Bella's drill point?"
"You've got one asshole..." Jasper started, but a shot rang out. "Never mind. Nice shot, Alice. You're clear. Go, go, go!"
I didn't wait for any more instructions; I just grabbed the door, made sure Bella was by my side, and took off for the tree we'd designated the day the alarms were installed. It was the very same tree I'd handed the beautiful brunette my heart, too.
We fell against the trunk, peering out over the front lawn from our location on the side yard. Makenna was right. All the little mafia cowards were hiding behind their SUVs. I dropped the bag to the ground, looking around the truck to survey the front drive.
"On the ready, Jasper...Emmett," I growled, setting the grenade launcher up between a vee in the trunk. "I'm about the turn the light on in the kitchen. It's time to step on the scattering roaches."
Bella readied her nine mil, aiming it the same way I was, but I had the bigger bang.
"On my mark," I said, lining up the first SUV in my sight. "Now!"
I pulled the trigger, and the grenade shot out, catching the driver's side window perfectly. The whole truck bowed in the middle when it exploded, coming up off the ground a few feet. A giant fireball bloomed into the air, but I was already lining up the next shot because I didn't want those fuckers gaining any ground whatsoever.
"Nice, Ed!" Emmett cheered.
My team fired rounds on the running men – Bella included. She took down a guy heading toward the side of the house; he was running blindly because his ass was on fire.
I shot again, taking the second SUV down, and this time, they scattered everywhere.
"Bella, one and two o'clock," I told her, and the men fell before they'd taken two steps. Hot damn, that girl was an awesome shot.
"Shit, I got a runner, Ed!" Jasper growled. "He's heading toward the last car... The last one, bro..."
I lined up quickly but didn't have a clear, clean shot. "Fuck," I snapped, turning to look around. "Bella, cover me. I gotta get out in the open for this one..."
She nodded, stepping with me, and aimed her weapon as I quickly lined up my shot. I could see five or six men start for the remaining truck, but I fired early because I was too afraid to have Bella out in the open, so instead of catching all their asses inside the vehicle, they were able to dive for cover.
"Get back behind that tree!" I told her as shots aimed our way, but instead of running, she fell.
"Shit!" she cried out, falling to the ground and grabbing at her leg.
I pulled her behind the trunk and knelt before her. "Where?" I asked, pulling at her hands that were gripping somewhere near her ankle.
"It's just a cut, Edward," she said, pulling her hands away. "It's bark from the tree. I'm okay." She sighed, looking up at me.
It didn't look okay. It looked like it hurt like hell as blood seeped through the leg of her jeans and down to her sock.
"Cover us!" I ordered into the radio, reaching for my bag for anything to tie around her calf.
I tugged out an old T-shirt, ripping a strip of material off of it. "Better safe than sorry, Bella," I told her softly, and for once, she didn't argue; she just leaned back against the tree and looked up at me wearily.
The shots around us started to get fewer and fewer as I tended to Bella's leg. I could hear changes over the radio, too. They were cleaning up, and Emmett barked that he was coming out from his cover to take a look at the damage. Jasper ordered Mack and Alice to stay in the attic, just in case, but he was heading out, as well.
Mickey and Esme called the front clear, but it seemed too quiet, too easy.
"Fuck," Mack muttered, whether to herself or to Alice. "I lost sight of James..."
Bella's eyes locked with mine, her face filled with concern.
"Do you think you can walk, love?" I asked her, and she nodded.
"Yeah," she sighed, starting to push herself up until we both heard the click of a hammer being pulled back.
"Well, it's good that she can walk. That makes my job easier," I heard behind me, but it was the cold metal to the back of my head that caused me to freeze. "Don't move, hero. One inch, and your girl will be wearing your brains...and she still comes with me. Mm, mm, mm...and the fun we'll have, Isabella..."
Bella looked sick at the nauseating tone of this asshole's voice.
"I don't fucking think so," I sneered, my eyes never leaving Bella's as her hand started to inch oh-so-slowly behind her. "I love you," I mouthed to her, hoping like hell that it wasn't the last time I got to tell her.
She smiled sweetly and nodded at me, looking up at the tree and back to me, her hand still working its way to the small of her back.
I felt a grip on my shoulder. "Drop the gun, Edward," he ordered, poking the back of my head for emphasis.
"Oh, look, baby," Bella sighed, sounding bored. "James has done his homework. He knows our names and everything. And here I thought that he'd be stupid, what with all that time he did in juvey..."
I smirked at her but dropped my weapon anyway because I wanted to take any focus he had on her and put it on me. I tossed my Glock away, and James kicked the grenade launcher across the grass.
"I can't line up a shot, Edward," Alice cried frantically in my ear.
"Shit!" I heard Emmett growl as he started to run. "I'm coming, man, but I gotta go the long way. He'll see me from a mile away, dude."
"I want you to stand up. Slowly," the asshole said, poking the back of my head again. "Then you're gonna turn around."
I gritted my teeth, my eyes still locked with Bella's. The way I was kneeling over her, James couldn't see her movements. If I stood, he'd see where her hand was. My fists clenched in my lap.
"You'll never make it off these grounds, James," I growled, looking over my shoulder, but he smacked my head with the butt of his gun. "Fuck!" I spat, squeezing my eyes closed.
"I said stand the fuck up!" he snarled, gripping the back of my T-shirt.
Bella moved so swiftly, I could barely see the movement. Her gun was now out from behind her back and by her side, under the rest of the ripped T-shirt I'd used on her wound.
I smirked and shook my head. I was completely and irrevocably in love with that woman. Jasper had called her bad-ass at one point. He was so fucking right.
As I stood slowly, I was putting every last bit of trust I had in the girl at my feet. If she moved wrong...if he caught sight of her hand or got twitchy, I was a dead man. Just before I turned away from her, though, I watched as her eyes broke from me. Her brow furrowed and then relaxed almost completely. She fought a smile – of all things – as she turned to look up at me.
"Do what he says, Edward," she urged, sounding frantic but not looking it. At all.
I made one last move to turn, but she mouthed, "Get down!"
I hit the deck as two rapid fires sounded, one right after the other. James screamed and fell next to me, still holding his weapon but obviously hurting. Pulling back my fist, I let it go with all I had, nailing the bastard in his mouth and knocking him senseless, his hand and weapon falling useless to the ground. It was kicked away before I could get to it.
Looking up, I couldn't help but smile. "'Bout time you got your ass back to work..."
"Shut up, son," my dad laughed, looking past me. "Bells, you okay?"
He was sweating, as though he'd run the whole way here from Seattle, still wearing a business suit. He looked pissed and worried, like he was carrying a heavy piece of news.
She let out a deep breath, struggling to stand, and we both took her hands to help her up. "Yeah, just...pissed off. That fucking hurt!" she growled, looking down at her leg.
We both snorted at her, but there wasn't anything that could stop me from pulling her into my arms. "Jesus fucking Christ," I breathed into her neck. "Don't you ever fucking scare me like that again!" I whispered fiercely in her ear. "Got me?"
"Sir," she sighed, and when I pulled back to look at her, she was smirking at me, but she also looked exhausted.
"Let's get her inside," my dad muttered, looking around at the damage. "I'll take care of this jackass. I have some questions for him."
I nodded, scooping up Bella into my arms, despite her protests.
~oOo~
BELLA
"Goddamn it!" Mickey growled, writhing on the living room floor.
"Easy, Mick," Jasper soothed, holding her hand as Esme plucked glass, bullet fragments, and bits of wood out of her shoulder.
Apparently, a stray bullet had caught the window frame right by her face. She was lucky as hell it hadn't been four inches to her left because it would have caught her in the head. She was also lucky that it didn't go in very far, and Esme was able to get to all the pieces – or at least, she was trying to get out all the pieces.
"Alice, Rose!" Edward barked, coming in the back door.
"Yeah?" they both called back.
"Pack as much shit as you can load into a couple of bags. This place is done, okay?"
"Okay," Alice sighed, closing both her laptop and mine, stowing them both in their bags.
She shot up from the table, following Rose down the hall.
"Don't even think about it, Bellsy," Emmett chuckled at me, looking up from my leg. "Let me at least get it cleaned up, and then you can fight Eddie on which luggage you're takin'."
Edward's head snapped around, and his eyes locked onto mine when I laughed. "Em, if she moves, tackle her back to the sofa. I'll get your shit, Bella."
"Damn," I laughed, my head falling back to the arm rest of the couch. "It's just a flesh wound!"
Emmett guffawed, starting to say, "Ni—" but Carlisle walked in the front door on the phone.
"Damn it, Benny, are you going to send a clean-up crew or not?" he yelled into the phone. "Well, fuck, I've got two of my own injured, and I've got to get them the hell outta here. And there are twenty-five of King's men dead on my lawn!" He listened for just a moment but huffed frustratedly. "They killed a local sheriff the second they drove up, Cheney!" he boomed, walking down the hallway.
From what I could piece together, Carlisle had parked off the main highway once he saw the fire from the SUVs Edward had destroyed. He ran through the woods the rest of the way, just in case, and he'd been brilliant to do so, because had I not seen him sneaking up behind James, I wasn't sure Edward would be alive at the moment.
"Where's James?" I whispered to Emmett, who was pouring peroxide on my leg and wiping away the dirt and grime from it.
"Don't ask... I think Carlisle and Eddie have him tied up in the shed."
I knew the bastard was still alive because my shot had caught him in the thigh and Carlisle's had caught him in the chest, but Edward had knocked him out with one punch. When Edward had picked me up to carry me inside, Carlisle and Jasper had grabbed a hold of James and dragged him away.
"I think they were politely asking the whereabouts of one Riley Miller," Emmett muttered sarcastically.
"James is dead," Edward stated bluntly, and there was no emotion, nothing in his voice to say that he could give two shits about it.
"King's only nephew is dead..." I verified, looking over at him as he knelt beside my head.
"It seems his femoral artery had been nicked," Edward said with a smirk and a shrug.
"Oops," I muttered, leaning into Edward's chuckling kiss to my head. "So you didn't find out where Miller was?" I asked, and even Emmett's head shot up from his wrapping of my leg.
"The only thing he would say was everywhere," Edward sighed, rolling his eyes. "A bit dramatic, but we couldn't get anything else out of him. No matter how much we...tried."
I shivered at the menace that surrounded his words. It was unapologetic and filled with malice and hatred. I loved the man kneeling beside me, but there was a part of me that didn't want to know exactly what methods he'd used in order to get information because Edward was determined to rid the earth of Riley Miller.
"It was probably better that way, Bellsy," Emmett said with a snort. "If James had actually gotten his hands on you, Edward wouldn't have been so...kind."
I grimaced, but one look at Edward's face told me that Emmett wasn't only right, he was putting it mildly; that didn't stop me from reaching out to the small cut on his head where James had pistol-whipped him.
"That's very true," Edward sighed, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear. "And I'm fine, baby," he whispered, taking my hand away from his temple and kissing my fingers.
We both turned when Mickey cried out again, and Edward got up to check on her.
"How ya doin', wild child?" he asked, kneeling next to her.
Esme was stitching her wound as best she could under the circumstances and staying calmer than the rest of the house as curse word after curse word flew from Mickey's mouth.
Edward chuckled and shook his head when Mickey spoke through gritted teeth. "Laugh it up, pretty boy. This fucker hurts. Esme was out of shit to numb it, asshole!"
The boys only chuckled at her, most likely used to her temper when she was hurt. She truly was their little sister, almost to the point that they picked on her.
I sat up on the sofa, swinging my legs gently to the floor. I carefully put weight on it, testing how badly it was going to give me trouble, but it wasn't too bad. I'd definitely had worse. I gingerly made my way to the hall, only to run into a seething Carlisle.
"Damn it!" he growled, looking like he wanted to throw the phone in his hand instead of pocketing it. "Edward!" he yelled, making me jump and almost fall back, but his hands caught me. "Sorry Bella," he sighed, righting me against the wall and looking sheepish for scaring the shit out of me.
"S'okay," I muttered, looking up at him. "You all right?"
"We need to get out of this house," he said, looking past me to Edward, who had run when he was called by his father. "We have to clean it ourselves. Benny's...occupied." He sneered that last word, and I wondered what the fuck else could be going on.
"Okay," Edward groaned, rolling his eyes, but pulled me to him. "Where you goin'?" he asked me, squeezing me gently.
"To get my things, Edward," I told him with a shrug. "I'm okay to walk."
He nodded, but he turned his attention back to Carlisle. "Alaska?"
"Kate's waiting for you."
"What do mean, me? You're not coming?" Edward growled, running a hand through his hair.
"I can't," his dad countered, shaking his head. "Twilight is a fucking mess..." He turned to me. "You were right, Bells. Savage squeaked through Charlie's screening process. He'd been monitoring every call you guys made. And Billy...well, I want to talk to Alice before we discuss him."
"Good thing we haven't used our cells, then," I added, looking up at him. "How'd... Why'd you come? Not that I'm complaining..." I trailed off, trying not to think about the sight of a gun pressed to the back of Edward's head.
Carlisle groaned, shoving his hands into his front pockets. "When you sent me the message about Savage, you sent a request of Benny, too."
"Yeah, I did," Alice said, poking her head out of the last bedroom. "I asked him to watch the property website for the whole state. I could've hacked it, but I figured he was watching it anyway for hits on any spelling of your family's names."
"Well, he was," Carlisle stated, but paused for just a moment to look at Edward. He sighed deeply before going on. "They had to move Charlie again..."
"No," I breathed, falling back against the wall as Edward's thumb on my neck made soothing circles, trying to keep me calm. "Tell me he's okay... Tell me!"
"He was roughed up a bit, but he's fine." Carlisle winced, shaking his head sadly. "Benny said they almost didn't get to him because it was a car bomb. How they found him is beyond me. The D.A. is looking to expedite the court date, but of course, King's lawyers are fighting it. I think they're hoping that if they take long enough, they'll eventually get to your father...or you," he said ominously.
"Won't happen," Edward sneered, looking up at his dad.
"You came damn close to losing her today," Carlisle countered, pointing a finger at him. "What the hell went wrong?"
"Nothing went wrong," Edward yelled back. "A fucking local cop was doing door to door questions. The assholes followed him right in..."
Carlisle grimaced but nodded in acceptance of Edward's explanation. "Yeah, that's kind of what Benny expected. When you two were spotted in the store, Benny was notified immediately. The man they have undercover sent a message that Miller wanted you found, and he let us know the second they headed this way. Once they got to the area, they probably listened to the police scanner. Hell, they even sent a group to Disney..."
I grinned but looked to Edward. "Hope we didn't kill a Fed..."
"You didn't," Carlisle snorted, placing a hand on my shoulder. "But we need to get you out of here before Miller realizes he's lost a whole shitload of men." He turned to Edward. "Burn it."
I watched as a touch of childlike sadness flickered across Edward's face at those two words, and he grimaced, swallowing thickly, but he nodded reluctantly in obedience. My heart broke for him because this was a house he had memories of his mom in. He was a kid here once, and as I looked around, I could almost see the boy I'd met so long ago, running around with a beaming smile on his face, dressed in only swim trunks. I could practically see him rushing to a beautiful woman with the same color hair and eyes he had, making her laugh because he was impossible not to love.
"There's no other way?" I asked, looking up to Carlisle. "Isn't there something else that could be done? Does it have to be burned down?"
My rapid-fire questions seemed to shock Carlisle for just a moment, but he shook his head no. "No, Bells. If I had the Feds to come clean up, then it might be possible to salvage the house, but since you were here, your prints are everywhere. There are twenty-five men out there, all connected to King. Not to mention the illegal weapons stashed on this property, one of which was used to destroy three out of four SUVs," he finished, giving Edward a raised eyebrow.
"Well, that just seems like...a waste. Why just burn it? Everything in here just goes up in flames. I don't get it," I sighed, frowning at him. I gave Edward a side glance. "I'll get my stuff. I need to change clothes anyway," I muttered, walking away from the both of them.
I didn't pay any attention to any of them until Alice blurted out, "You know, Carlisle, there's this cliff four point two miles to the west. We could tow all their asses down there and let them fall off. And we've cleaned a house before. We could get rid of every fingerprint in this place." She gestured to the two of us, nodding frantically.
"And the sheriff?" Carlisle countered.
"He gave chase," she said. "I'm pretty sure someone can call in on his radio, act like him checking in. A little push, a little shove...and a big boom..."
I snorted at her because even though I'd known her for ages, she still shocked me – and scared me, if I were to be honest. I turned to the end of the hallway, where Carlisle was seriously considering it, but it was Edward's hopeful face – hopeful, childlike face – gazing up at his dad that made my heart sputter.
"Rose," I called, hoping to God we could pull this off because for some reason, I just couldn't let a piece of Edward's history burn. It hurt to think about the loss of my own mother, so I understood his pain.
"Yeah, Bells?" my best friend asked, popping out of the closest bedroom.
"We need to wipe down this whole house. Not one surface that anyone possibly touched can slide..."
"Sure. Mack! We got work to do. You finish packing," Rose yelled down the hall.
"'Kay!" we heard from the back room.
All three of us stared back at him, waiting for his decision, because despite Rose's innocent expression, I knew her well enough to know that she'd been listening.
Carlisle met my gaze and then turned to his son. Right then, I saw that he got it. He saw Edward's expression, and he knew he was outnumbered.
"Do it," he told him. "Load everybody into their respective cars. Use Emmett's Jeep, the sheriff's truck, and that remaining SUV, and tow the ruined vehicles down to this...this fucking cliff she's talking about," he said with a wave of his hand. Turning back to us, he pointed his finger. "You'd better get every surface, and I mean it. Bella, your life depends on it because if someone checks this house and we aren't here, it will raise all sorts of alarms."
"Yes, sir," I said with a nod, turning to my girls. "I need to change clothes," I told them, gesturing to my ruined jeans. "I'll join you in a bit, okay?"
"Sure, sure, sure," Alice chanted with a grin and a hidden wink. "We're gonna need everyone out of the damn house!" she yelled with a giggle. "So get your shit packed and out by the cars!"
I snorted, closing the door to the room I'd been sharing with Edward for almost a month. I was sad to leave it, actually, but at least we weren't burning the damn thing down. I tugged my bags out from under the bed, throwing them on the mattress, and then pulled out a clean pair of jeans. After moving into the bathroom to gather up my toothbrush and shampoo, I walked back into the bedroom to see Edward leaning against the door.
"Do you need me to pack since you have to—" I started, but he just shook his head, pushing away from the door.
His face was unreadable, almost dark as he walked toward me. His fists were clenched, as was his jaw. The tiny cut on his temple just made him all the more frightening at the moment, so I started backing up until my back met the door of the closet.
"Edward, stop," I breathed, looking up at him.
"Why'd you do that?" he asked, his voice barely audible as he walked toward me until he was practically pressing me into the door.
"Do what?"
"The house, Bella. Why?"
I frowned up at him, not understanding his mood at all. "I know what it's like to lose something that belonged to your mother, Edward. And I meant what I said. It's a waste to burn it down," I told him, trying to skirt around him, but one of his strong arms shot out to the closet door with a heavy thud, blocking my way. "Edward, you're scaring me," I whispered, looking away from him.
With his other hand, he reached up to caress my cheek. "I don't mean to, baby. I j-just..." He exhaled heavily, pressing his forehead to mine. "Wh-What did you l-lose?"
"My mother's bedroom," I said, relaxing at his touch because despite his current demeanor, his touch was sweet, soft, and needed. "She...she died at home," I muttered, closing my eyes at the memory. "It was like the second she was gone, Charlie turned the room into his work room because it was attached to his office. He started keeping new inventions and shit in there," I growled through gritted teeth, my hands clenching into fists. "I...I used to watch movies with my mom in there!" I hissed, glaring up at him. "So...yeah, keep this place for as long as you can, Edward."
Suddenly, his hands were in my hair, and his body pressed me fully against the door. He tilted my head up, sweeping his mouth across mine once, twice, three times before dragging his tongue over my bottom lip, finally plunging it into my mouth. I moaned in response because I couldn't help it. He could be so intense, but fuck, if it wasn't sexy as hell.
Between each warm, wet, glide of his tongue and lips, a sound I'd never heard from him rumbled from his chest, vibrating against mine. It sounded almost like a sob or a growl – maybe a mix of the two – but I pulled him in for more because it had been a really scary day.
"Edward," I whimpered when he finally broke from my mouth to trail heavy, open-mouthed kisses down my neck as my hands gripped his biceps.
"I'm sorry I scared you," he whispered against my skin. "I...I j-just w-wanted to thank you..."
I grinned against his jaw because that sweet stutter did funny things to me and he could be so fucking confusing sometimes. "You can thank me like that anytime – just not so...predator-like..."
He chuckled, finally burying his face in my neck and wrapping his arms all the way around me. "I love you so fucking much," he muttered against my neck.
"I love you, too," I said, taking both sides of his face in my hands and pulling him back. "We gotta get moving, Edward."
He took a deep breath and nodded, his face almost sheepish. His nose wrinkled adorably as he said, "I am sorry to have scared you, but when he said to burn it..."
I nodded, cutting him off. "I know. Go...let's get this shit done."
He placed one last kiss to my lips and pulled back to look at me. "Are you okay on that leg, baby?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, I'm fine," I told him, and both of us jumped when Carlisle's booming voice echoed down the hall.
"Edward, front and center. Now, son! We gotta get moving!"
I grinned up at an eye-rolling, smirking son, but I turned him toward the door. "Hurry, Edward. We have to get finished before people start to show up looking for these assholes."
"You're right," he sighed, nodding, but then stopping at the door. "Thanks again, Bella."
Before I could say anything, he was gone.
~oOo~
Once again, the efficiency in how our two teams worked together was amazing. Rose, Alice, Mack, and I closed off the house the second everyone had their things packed and tossed outside. With rubber gloves that Esme provided us, we each took a corner of the house, working our way to the living room, and eventually, the front door. We wiped down every surface, every door knob – even the walls.
With a big barrel, we started a fire to burn ruined clothes and garbage because not one piece of DNA or one fingerprint could be left behind. As that burned, we wiped down the lawn furniture and railings on the deck. We pulled the laundry out of the washers and dryers. We even took out every plate, every glass, and every pot and pan to wipe off any fingerprints. It was exhausting and tedious work, but it went quickly with the four of us.
Esme cleaned the shed, taking every weapon King's men had on them and closing up the storage room down below. Mickey helped her because she couldn't lift the bodies and put them back into the trucks to help the boys.
The four men worked their asses off, lugging bodies to the cars and seatbelting them back into the cars they'd driven up in. Emmett hooked cables and tow lines from the Jeep, the sheriff's truck, and the remaining mafia SUV to the three burned vehicles in order to tow them down the road to the winding curve and cliff that Alice had told them about.
The mafia men were treated with no regret because they'd come up here with bad intentions; they would have killed every last one of us without a second thought.
The sheriff, however, was treated with a little more care, a little more gentleness, because all he'd been doing was his job. As I worked my way into the living room, I watched four military men change from just "cleaning up," to wearing solemn, reverent expressions as they set the young man that had only been looking for me, only wanting to do the right thing, into the passenger side of his truck. I half expected them to salute him; instead, they all placed a hand flat to the top of the truck's cab before jumping in to take off down the driveway.
Emmett drove his Jeep with Carlisle in the passenger side, Jasper drove the SUV, and Edward took the wheel of the sheriff's truck. The sun was setting as they pulled out of the driveway.
My girls and I were so tired by the time we fell down on the front steps to wait. I'm pretty sure I dozed off with my head leaning on Rose's shoulder at some point, but I snapped awake when Mack gasped.
"Well, looks like they did it," she snorted, eying the west, where a giant orange fireball blossomed up into the air.
"Hope they called in from the sheriff's radio," Alice mumbled, fighting a yawn and losing.
"Edward was going to call it in," Esme stated with a deep sigh.
I closed my eyes again with a yawn of my own and waited for the boys to return. It wasn't long until the driveway alarm bleeped from inside the house, indicating that someone was approaching. I didn't have it in me to look until a familiar rumbling engine caught my ears.
My eyes snapped wide open when Rose snorted, "Now how the hell do you suppose he got that?"
Standing quickly, my mouth fell open at the sight of something other than just Emmett's Jeep rushing down the driveway; he was being followed by a sight I'd thought I'd never lay eyes on again.
My Mustang.
I flew past Emmett, Jasper, and Edward, who were all smiling as Carlisle stepped gracefully out of my car.
"How the hell did you get this?" I gushed, snagging the keys from his hand.
Carlisle grinned, stepping out of my way as I dove into my car. Everything was still there.
"I suppose I should be glad that you put the title in Gravity's name, not your own," he chuckled. "Benny was able to get it released to me because, well...I technically own Gravity..."
"Oh my God! I could fucking kiss you," I growled, popping the trunk just to make sure all my belongings were still there, happy to note they were.
"Well, it drives like a dream," he laughed. "Got me here an hour earlier than I'd expected."
"That's because she rocks!" I chuckled, rushing to him and planting a kiss on his cheek.
My car was my most prized possession. It was a brand new Mustang Shelby, silver, with two bright blue racing stripes that went from bumper to bumper. She had stunning alloy wheels and a fucking strong-ass engine, and I loved her with a sickness. Carlisle had been right – I had put it in my company's name, not mine, because when Jake and I had broken up, I didn't want him taking her from me, and he had threatened it after I'd posted the picture of him and Lauren in the lobby of Twilight Tech. So when I changed my cell number, moved out, and stopped speaking to him and my father, I'd changed the title to the car at the same time.
Carlisle chuckled, squeezing my shoulder. "And I thought my son had an addiction to muscle cars," he whispered, jerking his chin toward a practically drooling Edward, who tossed a set of keys to his father.
"I'm so fucking riding with her," he growled, eyeballing my car like a lion stalks a gazelle.
"Ah, the poor, poor Dodge is tossed to the wayside..." Carlisle laughed but nodded, turning to everyone else. "Let's load up and get on the road."
We were to ride in pairs, and the pairs were just what I was expecting. Emmett and Rose took his Jeep, Jasper and Alice were in his truck, Mickey and Makenna were driving Carlisle's BMW – which Esme had been driving since she'd first gone into hiding with us – and leading us out of the driveway were Carlisle and Esme in Edward's Dodge Challenger.
Edward and I sat patiently waiting for everyone to load their things, but I could see him eying the stick shift, the steering wheel, and the dashboard as I cranked my car.
"Yes, I'm sure you'll drive her before this trip is over," I teased him.
He laughed, leaning over to kiss me softly. "Good, 'cause she's gorgeous...and the car's not bad, either," he purred in my ear, giving my earlobe a soft suckle and biting it when I burst into laughter.
Cars cranked and engines revved, and both of us looked up at the house one more time.
"When were you here with her the last time?" I asked softly, watching his eyes drink the house in like he'd never see it again.
"The last time she finished with chemo," he said, but his voice was soft, thoughtful. "I was...twelve. It was the spring before I met you...just before she died," he whispered, his brow furrowing. "We sold the California home, but he kept this one..."
He finally turned back to me, his eyes so very green and a touch sad as I reached up to cup his face.
"Will you tell me about her?" I asked, stroking my thumb along his cheekbone.
"It's a long drive to Alaska, Bella." He sounded almost uncomfortable. "I'm sure we'll talk about a lot of things," he hedged, looking up when Jasper's truck pulled away.
"I know, but she seems important..."
"She was."
"She still is. Never forget that," I countered, making sure he was looking at me. "Our mothers make us who we are, Edward – whether they're gone or not."
He took a deep breath. "Trade you stories..."
I grinned. "Okay."
"Okay," he snickered, kissing my lips one more time. "Drive, love. I wanna see what you can do with this thing..."
I giggled, shifting into first and spinning out in the driveway to catch up with the rest of our caravan. "You asked for it, baby...you asked for it. Next stop...Alaska..."

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