Friday, April 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Blood & Glory Chapter 21

CHAPTER 21
EDWARD
Bella and I made our way down the hall and out to the front porch, where there seemed to be a standoff between everyone inside the house and Esme and her company. I was pissed off and wanted nothing more than to go back to my room and finish what I'd started with Bella, but the fact was, I couldn't. Not that it stopped me from thinking about it, planning for it, because we hadn't done anything like that since we'd left my house in Forks, and I needed her...like I'd never needed anything else in my life.
No one on the porch said a word as we watched them get out of Bella's car. Esme looked uneasy as she was flanked by three fairly-large but somewhat older men. If I had to guess, I would have said they were around my father's age. All three were in decent shape, dressed in either black or navy blue pants, I couldn't tell which. I took a deep breath, shaking my head, because all of the men looked serious about being here, even though they seemed to be waiting for Esme to say something. However, it was my girl that spoke up.
"Esme, what are you doing?" she asked almost in a whisper, shaking her head and wincing a bit, most likely for breaking the silence.
"Bella, Edward, come meet my brother," she said, gesturing to the man at her side, who happened to have the same color hair as Esme.
Bella huffed, glancing up at me, and we both walked forward.
"Esme, I don't know if you should have done this," I said with a frown.
"Relax, Edward," Esme chuckled. "I told you at one point that I had my own connections, and I figured that we needed all the help we could get when we go to Seattle." She turned to her brother. "Eleazar Platt, this is Carlisle's son, Edward Cullen. And this is Bella Swan," she told him, tugging my girl closer.
Eleazar shook my hand firmly with a nod and amused smile, asking, "She didn't tell you, did she?"
"Not at all," I snorted, giving my dad's girlfriend a pointed look.
"Ezzy, I told you to tell them," he chuckled, rolling his eyes. "Look at the crew behind them. They'd have shot first and asked questions later. Carlisle probably trained them that way... I would've trained them that way."
We all turned to look at the porch, and I snickered at the protective stance everyone had taken. I didn't even have to ask to know that every last fucker up there was at least carrying a weapon, if they didn't have a hand on one already that I couldn't see.
"Stand down," I stated, waving a hand at them and turning back to the men in front of me.
It was then that I saw the ink on their forearms – every last one of them. They were Navy Seals – or at least, they had been at one point.
I narrowed my eyes at Eleazar. "Seals?"
"Retired," he said with a grin. "Now we're...something else," he chuckled, gesturing to the other two men, who had stood quietly in the background. "Felix Stuart, Eric Yorkie...meet Carlisle's kid."
Nods passed between us.
Then he turned to Bella. "And Miss Bella," he introduced.
Both men shook her hand, murmuring their condolences.
"Thank you," she responded quietly. Her eyes narrowing at all three men, my girl continued, "What do you mean...something else?"
Eleazar smiled warmly at her. "We're CIA. And when I spoke to Ezzy here, she said you guys might need some help."
"Why don't we go inside, and I'll explain everything," Esme suggested.
We all made our way up to the front porch.
"Everyone, dining room. Now," I ordered, waving them all in.
I wasn't sure I'd ever seen so many people in my aunt's dining room at one time. My crew stood along the walls while Eleazar and his two men took a seat at the table with me, Bella, Esme, Rose, Alec, and Alice – the last one with her ever present computer in front of her. Aunt Kate stood in the kitchen, watching everything with a keen set of eyes.
"Edward, please don't be cross," Esme sighed, rolling her eyes. "I know that I should've said something, but I wasn't sure El could come, and then I also didn't know if he would be needed. He saw the events with Carlisle and Charlie on TV and emailed me."
"I'm not here to step on toes," Eleazar stated with raised hands. "I'm simply offering to help. We've been aware of the situation with Royce King for some time. In fact, we were just about to take matters into our own hands until I realized Carlisle was involved. I worked with your father overseas years and years ago, Edward, and he saved my ass in a sticky situation, so I owe him a favor...or two," he muttered, giving Esme a wry smile.
I took a deep breath, looking around to Jasper and Alec. Both were wearing unreadable expressions on their faces, most likely matching my own. CIA was a different level of shit altogether in comparison to what we'd already been dealing with.
I turned back to Eleazar and Esme. "What kind of help? I'm not saying I don't trust you, Esme, but this was a little unexpected," I stated with a shrug. "CIA is—"
"Untouchable, in this case," Eleazar interrupted. "Royce King is about to be released back out onto the streets of Seattle. From what I hear, there's a target on this one, especially," he pointed out, gesturing to Bella. "You and your dad, too, kid. Which includes all of you, if you stand up to protect them."
"We know that," Bella said, shaking her head.
"Oh, I'm sure you do, Miss Bella," Eleazar chuckled. "Word on the street is that there's a pretty penny on your head...alive. They're willing to go to war to get you, willing to kill everyone that knows you. What you also fail to realize is King has been buying and selling weapons outside of this country for years to people we don't want to have weapons. We were hoping that Swan could testify against him to put an end to it, but unfortunately—"
"He died," Bella growled, her eyes turning almost black with anger. "I'm sorry you lost your...easy out."
"Easy, sweetness," I whispered in her ear, caressing her thigh under the table. I sat up and faced Eleazar again but spoke to Bella. "He was just stating facts, love. Perhaps he could keep in mind that Charlie Swan was your fucking father," I growled, raising my eyebrow at him.
"I'm sorry, Bella," Eleazar winced, shaking his head. "I'm so used to just dealing with good, bad, black, white...I forget sometimes that it's people and not just a name in a file, okay?"
"Whatever," she muttered under her breath, but she entwined our fingers together on her lap.
I rubbed her knuckles with my thumb because my girl was fierce. I didn't need her going off on anyone...yet.
"Homeland Security has been watching King, but we called them off," he continued, his tone a little softer now. "We can't nail him now...well, legitimately," he said, sneering on the last word, but there seemed to be a sharp, smart look to him that reminded me of my father, my crew.
This guy wanted in because he thought King was not only a slug but deserved more than just a prison sentence.
I smirked, shaking my head. "The Feds want Bella to testify against King in her father's place...another charge, another issue. And it's Riley Miller that wants her alive. If they want a war, we can give them one, but I haven't decided whether or not we're going. I was waiting for a little bit more info from my father and our contact with the Feds. What did you have in mind?" I asked, leaning my elbow on the table.
"Whatever it takes to take him down," Eleazar said with a shrug. "I'm not here to take over, kid. I'm here as a favor to my sister, as a help to your father. My job at the CIA was to get rid of him, by any means necessary," he stated, going on to explain that he knew just about everything we'd been through.
I didn't know if Esme had told him these things or if he'd been privy to the information due to where he worked, but he was as up-to-speed as everyone else in the house. The only thing he didn't know was what my next steps would be.
"And them?" I grunted, gesturing to the two guys with him. "I may know and trust Esme's judgment, but how do I know if I can trust them? King's assholes are fucking everywhere. You must understand my concern, Eleazar."
Felix sat forward, opening his mouth to speak, but it was Alice that shocked us all.
"Felix Stuart, former Navy Seal. He's decorated with a Purple Heart, having been shot in the arm during a conflict in Panama, which is supposed to be classified, yet...here it is," she sang, giving him an impish smile before continuing. "He retired from the Navy – honorable discharge, only to take the occasional paycheck from... Hmmm, Eleazar Platt. After two years, his identity comes to a complete stop...yet, he still manages to trade stocks on Ameritrade. He owns a home in Portland, drives a Porche Cayenne, and occasionally vacations in Malibu."
The whole room had come to a standstill except for my girl, who was watching Alice with a pride-filled smirk on her face.
"Now...Eric Yorkie, on the other hand," Alice sighed dramatically, rolling her eyes. "Blackbelt in karate, explosives specialist, also retired Navy Seal. He prefers a motorcycle to his classic Thunderbird, but he has temporary custody of his niece, Chelsea. Chelsea is currently residing at his Olympia home, with his wife, Janet. However, he's not Yorkie. His last name is really...Hunter. Well, now...isn't that interesting?" she mused, looking over the top of the screen.
"Holy fucking hell," Makenna growled. "You're related to Victoria Hunter, aren't you?"
The whole room became still – eerily so – as we waited for a fidgeting Eric to answer the question. Jasper moved before I could stop him, and suddenly, Eric had a forty-five pressed to his temple.
"You'd better start talkin', asshole, because that name isn't exactly a favorite around here. She wreaked a whole bunch a havoc not long ago," he growled, shaking his head at Eleazar and Felix when they stood up. "Nu-uh, boys...I want answers first because I specifically remember a redhead by the name of Victoria Hunter makin' a phone call at a law office...almost getting Bells and Eddie killed, so I want an answer fucking first."
Deep down, I was laughing because not much ever rattled Jasper, but when it did, it usually revolved around betrayal or someone getting hurt over stupid decisions. It was quite possible he'd shoot this guy if he didn't like the answers he heard, and at this point, I almost didn't care.
"She's my sister," Eric growled. "She got wrapped up in some shit a long time ago. She dated King's nephew, and he got her hooked on coke, man. She lost custody of Chelsea to me, she owed King more money than she could pay back, and he makes her..." He stopped, shaking his head and not finishing that sentence, but I could very well imagine what the asshole kept her around for. "King's been keeping her under his thumb ever since because he tells her she owes him!"
"Yet," Alice added, giving him a wary glance, "Victoria has a new apartment, a new car, and regular trips to the spa."
"Right," Eric huffed angrily. "All given to her by King, but it isn't without its price. If King is gone, she'll be free to get the help she needs."
"Enough!" I growled, unable to take another fact about that asshole, King. "Jazz, stand down."
"Ed—" he started to argue, but I interrupted him.
"Lower your fucking weapon, Jasper!" I ordered, starting to stand. "That's enough, man."
Jasper reluctantly lowered his forty-five to his side, but didn't step far away from Eric; neither did his eyes leave the back of the man's head.
Eleazar and Felix took their seats again, looking a little rattled. I ran a hand through my hair, rubbing my face before turning back to them.
"You can see we're just a little on edge around here," I sighed, gesturing around the room. "The death of Charlie Swan was a shock and only made us circle around Bella tighter." I couldn't help but squeeze my girl's hand just a bit at that last statement. "My father said he would be joining us soon, but he was checking into someone that worked at Twilight Tech. I'm also waiting on the release date for Royce King from our inside man at the FBI, who also happens to be trying to track down Riley Miller for me."
Eleazar took a deep breath, shaking his head. "You've got a plan, though. You wouldn't be Carlisle's kid if you didn't."
"I do."
He nodded, leaning back in his chair just a bit. "Who are you going after first?"
I studied the man's face, finally deciding that I had no other alternatives. I turned to Alice and said, "Send a message to my dad and Benny. Tell them both what we have here, and tell them that we need as much information as they can hand me ASAP. I'll make my decision after that."
"Sure, sure, sure," she chanted, giving me a second look before glancing over at Bella, her fingers typing away when she wasn't even fucking looking.
"Just do it, pixie," she sighed, her brow wrinkling at the pressure we were under as she stared at the table. She finally lifted her gaze to me. "We're going, aren't we?" she asked, her voice almost a whisper.
"I'm afraid so, love," I told her and then looked up at Eleazar. "If we do this, what are my limits with you? I don't want to go into this and then have me and my crew end up in jail or in front of a firing squad at the end of the fucking day."
"None," he snorted, wearing a wry smile. "I'm off the grid on this, but my supervisors don't care how King is disposed of, just as long as he's gone. As far as this goes," he started, circling his finger around the room, "it never happened, just like any other job your father has pulled for the government before."
I turned to Bella, who was studying Eric with sharp, narrowed eyes. She took a deep breath and asked a question I totally wasn't expecting.
"Chelsea is James's kid, isn't she? She's Royce King's grand-niece."
Eric paled, looking at Eleazar and then back to Bella. "We're not sure," he whispered. "And we don't want to test her because if King knew—"
"She'd be an heir to the biggest mafia fortune since the Gottis," Rose snorted, rolling her eyes. "And he'd totally take her from you."
I smiled at the surprised look on the faces of all three men. I wanted to tell them this was what those girls did for a living – worm the truth and ugly secrets out of people – but I was enjoying their worried expressions too much. Bella's crew added an element of intelligence and cunning that I'd never had before with my boys and Mickey, and I was becoming spoiled to it.
Felix laughed, though, his head falling back as he guffawed. "You've got quite the crew here, Edward. I'm surprised King is still walking around the prison yard."
I snorted, shaking my head. "He's been in solitary confinement since the trial; otherwise, he wouldn't be."
Eleazar grinned, shaking his head. "Oh, kid, remind me not to piss you off. And just where the hell did you find this little thing?" he asked, pointing to Alice.
"She was hatched," Makenna giggled. "Alice is made of fairy dust and a fucking wicked fast computer processor."
The whole room cracked the hell up, including Alice, who just shrugged and looked back to her computer when it pinged an incoming message.
"Well, here we go," Emmett muttered to Mickey, who snorted and nodded.
Alice swallowed thickly, finally looking up at me. "Your dad said to tell you to trust Eleazar, that you should be able to utilize his skills. He also said he's leaving Seattle now, to expect him in two days. Benny says that King isn't due in court until after the weekend, where at that time, they'll schedule a released date. He said look for King to be on the street in less than a week. He also said..." She stopped, grimacing and looking over at Bella.
"Spill it, Alice," Bella told her.
"He said that the agent that he had with Miller was just found under an overpass, hanging by his own belt..." Alice's voice trailed off, and I could hear Bella inhale sharply.
"Fuck," I sighed, looking over at my girl, who had gone white as a sheet.
Without a man on Miller, we wouldn't have a clue as to where to find him. Bella's hands shook a bit as she pushed her hair out of her face.
"We'll get him, baby," I whispered to her, cupping her face.
She nodded, gazing up at me with tired eyes, but it was her firm grip on my thigh that let me know she was done with this conversation.
I looked around the room, my gaze finally landing on Alec. His eyes were warm and sad as he gazed at Bella.
"Alec, please bring these guys up to speed on everything," I told him. "Any ideas they may have, take note."
"Edward," my Aunt Kate called from the kitchen. "Call it a night, child," she crooned sweetly. "It's been a long day, and it looks like the next few will be, too. The plans can wait. You won't be going anywhere until Carlisle gets here, anyway." She turned toward Eleazar and his men. "I have plenty of room, so let's get you settled in, boys."
"Yes, ma'am," I agreed, standing up and offering Bella my hand. "Come on, love. Let's go."
~oOo~
BELLA
I think there was a part of me that was relying on Benny's contact too much. I'd hoped that at some point – maybe after King was released – we'd find out where Miller was, and it would be over, but the news Alice had read was like the last thread of hope snapping under the weight of all the shit I'd been through.
Now we had no idea where Miller was, who he was working with, and without an undercover agent to eventually tell us, we might never know. And he was the type of monster that wouldn't stop until he finished what he'd started with me.
Eleazar and his men seemed sincere, and I completely remembered Esme threatening Carlisle that she would call her brother if things didn't get better. Apparently, her patience with Carlisle's tentative safety and this upcoming last mission was too much for her because she'd called him anyway. I could almost understand. The man she loved had continuously put himself in danger in order to gather as much information as he could, but she was scared, calling the only person she thought could help an already-deadly group of people. In all reality, we could use it. Her timing just happened to be a little off; or hell, maybe it was perfect since my father was gone. We had to change everything since we were no longer hiding for his protection.
As Edward led me down the hall to the room we shared, I studied his strong back and shoulders – shoulders that still carried the weight of the world on them. I wasn't worried about Miller getting to him because they couldn't be two different men, physically. Riley Miller was thin, though strong, with a mean streak a mile long. He'd beaten Alvarez's man to death in front of me without so much as a single weapon, so I knew he could fight, but he had also run at the first sign of trouble, which made him a coward. And that's where he and Edward differed so much. My Edward wasn't a coward, he wasn't weak, and if I had to take a guess, he stood about four or five inches taller than Miller.
In a fair fight, Miller would lose to Edward. Hands down. However, there was the problem, because I'd be willing to bet that Miller had never fought fair. Ever. Miller would use me against Edward in order to gain power over him. And that was the thought that caused a shiver to wrack my entire frame because despite how far I'd come with all my fears and scars and memories, the thought of Miller ever laying another hand on me made me sick.
It also made me yearn for Edward's touch – touches that negated all the bad things – with an all-consuming fire. I needed him to almost brand me with his touches, his kisses, and his words.
We found ourselves back at the sofa that we'd been on when this whole evening started, and I was standing between Edward's legs. He was gazing up at me with a worry-filled face, his eyes dark and his brow wrinkled.
"You're too quiet, love," he stated softly, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear. "When you're quiet, I worry. I know you have opinions on all this shit, so let me hear it."
I took a deep breath, shaking my head. I leaned in, brushing his now too-long hair from his forehead, pressing my lips there.
"You need a haircut," I murmured softly, smiling at his chuckle.
"Fine, I'll tell Aunt Kate in the morning," he snorted, rolling his eyes. "She gives one helluva military buzz."
"Not too much off the top," I growled, running my fingers through his unruly locks.
He grinned and nodded, wrapping his arms around my waist. "Yes, ma'am. Now talk to me."
I traced my fingers over his handsome face, down his nose, and along his jaw line before I spoke. "It's time to go to Seattle. We should get there before King is released, making a show of it, but only give them a brief glimpse of my protection...you and Emmett. Carlisle will have to be there, as well, to guide me through the memorial process and the meeting with Charlie's employees. Everyone else – Eleazar and his men, included – should be underground, out of sight. We follow the rest of the plan to the letter. We find every last one of King's men, either set them up to be arrested or take them out completely."
"You want to let some live?"
"Some may be stuck...like Victoria," I replied with a shrug. "They may have had no choice but to work for King, out of fear or necessity. There's no telling how many people he extorts from, Edward."
He nodded but stayed quiet for a moment, letting me continue.
"By night, we hunt them," I told him. "By day, I play the dutiful, grieving daughter, with two rather large, rather handsome, but grumpy-looking guards. I'd have to attend to TT business, as well as Gravity, considering it's been burned to the ground."
"You think Em's handsome?" He snorted, rolling his eyes.
"No, Rose does," I giggled, smacking at him. "That's not the point, baby! Figures that would be what you'd focus on," I muttered, smirking at his sexy chuckle.
"Just checkin', love." He snickered, grinning up at me. "A man's got to know where he stands, you know."
"Shut it," I growled, rolling my eyes. "You stand with me."
"Yes, ma'am."
"We can bait King at the memorial service. Let him think I'm alone when I go up to my father's office and apartment," I continued with a shrug because in all reality, I didn't know how King would react to my coming out into the spotlight. "If he doesn't take the bait then, he'll take it eventually because he's going to want to know how much I remember."
Edward frowned, leaving one hand on my waist, but the other reached up to touch my cheek with the backs of his fingers. He swallowed thickly, shaking his head slightly.
"What about Miller, love?" he asked, his voice gruff at the mention of that name.
"One of those motherfuckers has to know where he is," I huffed, "so we ask a few questions – urging them to tell us how to find him. He'll also be tempted once I get home. I'm way too much of a threat to him since I got away."
He sneered, shaking his head. "I'll kill that cocksucker before this over, Bella," he vowed, turning his head to kiss my palm that hadn't left his face. "He won't touch you again – or anyone else, for that matter."
"I know."
Edward was quiet as he studied my face, touching it with soft caresses. He took one more deep breath before saying, "I don't like it... Wait, baby!" He held up a hand when I started to argue. "I said I didn't like it, not that it wasn't the only way. It is the only fucking way to do it. I don't like it because it puts you way out there in the spotlight, and I just can't have anything happen to you."
"That's why you'll be by my side, Edward."
"The whole fucking time," he growled, his forehead hitting my stomach. "They'll pay for what they've done to you, Bella."
I shivered at the menace in his voice, and he pulled back to look up at me.
"Does that scare you?" he asked, frowning at another shiver.
"The only thing that scares me is the thought of Miller touching me again," I whispered as honestly as I could, but those words seemed unfitting to say aloud. I cupped his face, bringing his lips to mine. "I never want anyone else's touch again but yours. And I need that...now."
I was done talking about all the shit we had to do, should do, needed to plan. I was tired of every name we discussed, every plot, every scheme, every what-if scenario, because I wanted to lose myself in the man that was in front of me.
For one fucking minute, I wanted to pretend nothing was happening outside the four walls we were locked behind. I wanted to drown myself in his skin, his smell, and his touch. I desperately wanted to go back to his house, to those precious hours we'd lost ourselves in making love for the first time, giving ourselves over to something that was bigger than just the two of us.
Edward didn't even question it, and for a split second, I wondered if he'd been feeling the same way, too, because his hands slipped slowly underneath my shirt, gathering the material up around my breasts, finally tugging it off and dropping it to the floor. My sneakers, jeans, and ponytail holder all joined it.
Reaching behind his head, he grasped a fistful of his T-shirt and shirked it off, and soon, I was being pulled into his lap, skin to beautifully smooth skin.
I watched as a sexy crooked grin quirked up his face as his hands ghosted over every inch of my flesh.
"What?" I snorted, drowning in his darkening eyes that gazed up at me through his long eyelashes.
"I remember having you like this but there were pajamas in the way..."
I smiled at the memory of the cabin, where I'd woken him up. He'd been sleeping on the sofa in his room at the time and had called me over. We'd started testing my boundaries more and more after that. He'd touched me intimately for the first time there, even though it was over the material of my pajama pants.
"I want nothing between us," I breathed, pulling myself closer to him as I straddled his thighs.
His erection was trapped between us as I leaned in to kiss him. He met me halfway, one hand gripping my hair at the neck, the other skimming his fingers lightly down my spine until he reached my ass. Gripping and kneading my cheek, he ground me against him as the room soon filled with gasps, moans, hums, and murmurs of love.
I practically growled in appreciation when his hand gripped my hair harder, pulling my head back so that he could kiss roughly down my neck.
"I was going to taste you earlier, baby," he purred, suckling my earlobe and dragging his teeth over it.
"No," I huffed, weaving my fingers into his hair. "Not this time. I need...I want... I want you inside. I need to feel you, Edward."
The most beautiful sound rumbled from his chest, maybe a moan or a grunt, possibly a combination of the two; the knowledge that I'd caused that sound combined with the twitch of his cock between us made me feel powerful and beautiful.
I slipped my hand between us, wrapping my fingers around him and glancing up to his face. Lifting up, I was just about to position myself over him when he stopped me.
"I want you to come one good time for me, sweetness," he commanded, taking advantage of my raised position to glide his fingers between my legs. "I'll get my taste, love, even if I have to lick it off my fucking fingers," he growled, and my whole body practically lit on fire when two of his perfect fingers slid deep inside of me, his thumb pressing on my clit with such precision that I cried out.
My hips bucked forward, trapping my hand around his cock between us as he played my body perfectly. Leaning in, he flicked his tongue out to circle around my nipple, his hand holding my back as my whole body arched in his lap. The hand between my legs never stopped, never relented as his mouth captured my other nipple, suckling it hard enough to make me call his name.
I didn't know what was hotter – the feel of him practically surrounding me, coaxing my orgasm closer and closer, or the sound of just how wet he was making me as his fingers worked in and out of me. And I wasn't the only one that noticed.
"Mmm, my, my...aren't we wet, love?" he asked, smiling against my breast, looking up at me. "That's giving me more than just...fingers to lick, Bella," he crooned, cupping my sex fully so that the heel of his hand hit my clit at just the right place.
"Fuck," I hissed, grabbing both sides of his face and pressing my forehead to his. "Don't stop, don't stop," I chanted in a whisper, squeezing my eyes closed because everything in me felt like it was about to explode.
When the heel of his hand lifted, replaced by his thumb swirling just right, I gasped a string of curses because I was damn close.
"That's it, baby," he urged, cupping my breast and grazing his thumb over it, but his eyes never left my face. "Come on my hand so I can have it all. I might even share it if you're good," he said, his voice husky and full of sensual promise.
"Damn it," I gasped, my head falling back as his words, his fingers, and the pinching of my nipple were too much to fight against.
My center ground down onto his hand, clenching around his fingers as I shattered in his arms. Before I'd even calmed down from my climax, Edward lifted me, sheathing himself deep within me. He held me still as he brought his hand up between our faces, capturing his middle finger in his mouth and sucking it clean.
"So fucking good, love," he rasped, looking up at me through heavy-lidded eyes. "Do you know how delicious you are?" he asked, licking his palm with a flattened tongue that caused a whimper to erupt softly from my mouth as I licked my own lips in anticipation.
As his tongue made another pass over the inside of his hand, I wrapped my lips around his ring finger, reveling in the dark look that crossed his face as he stopped to watch me, a sexy-ass smile curling one side of his mouth. Rolling my hips over him just once caused us both to moan, both to start moving...and suddenly, I needed more.
I could feel every inch of him twitch inside of me, I could feel his hands – one still wet – gripping my hips in order to match his rhythm, and I could feel just how perfect we fit together.
"Fuck, Edward, that feels good," I breathed, gripping his shoulders for leverage, "but I want...more, harder."
An evil grin spread over his handsome features, making him even more deadly sexy – if that were even possible. He wrapped an arm around my waist, rolling us on the couch, so that I was the one sitting and he was looming beautifully over me.
Strong arms shot out, grasping the back of the sofa on either side of my head. His whole body was taut, with every muscle tensed, as he growled, "You wrap those perfect legs around me, love. I can give you harder."
I hitched one leg up around his rib cage, the other around his ass, digging a heel into him to make him move, to pull him in deeper, because it was never fucking close enough. When he finally pulled back, thrusting back in with force, we both made sounds I didn't recognize. It was a cross between desperate and feral, between needy and satisfaction, because he was so deep, I could feel him hitting places I never knew I had. And it was heaven – not because of how much force he was using but because of how connected to him I felt at the moment.
I thought the first times we'd been together were emotional, physical, and amazing expressions of how we felt about one another. I wasn't prepared for it to happen every time, but it was happening again. Despite that what we were doing could be considered fucking, the love I could feel from him was immense. It was more than last time, and I wondered just how many times it would take for the overwhelming sensation of our feelings to settle down – if ever.
Edward was fucking gorgeous looming over me, his arms gripping the back of the sofa, every muscle in his torso flexing with each thrust of his hips. An errant curl had fallen to his sweaty forehead, giving him a wrecked look. His shoulders were wide and strong, begging to be held onto, so I reached up to grab one, the other hand grasping his ass, feeling it flex with every movement. For a split second, I wished we had a mirror because I'd be willing to bet his back was fucking phenomenal as he took me hard on that sofa.
"Come with me, Bella," he panted, squeezing his eyes closed. "I'm so close...fuck, so close," he breathed, swiveling his hips and making me cry out. "Touch yourself, love. Help me make you feel so good...one more time..."
I bit my lip as my hand left his shoulder, dragging my fingers down his stomach to where we were connected. We both hissed when my fingers grazed against him and my clit at the same time.
"Oh fuck, baby, please," he begged, "come for me again. Show me you love me, 'cause I fucking love you so much..."
I barely had to touch myself in order to fall over the edge. I was dangling over that precipice already with the best visual stimulation looming over me, but his desperate declaration of love was what caused my whole body to arch, to clench down on him, and my legs to pull him hard against me, bringing his own climax at the same time.
I don't know how he had the strength to move, much less pick me up and carry me to bed, because I sure had nothing left in my arms and legs. He nestled us under the covers, wrapping himself around me as close as he could. Nuzzling his neck and inhaling deeply the scent that made Edward...Edward, I placed a kiss to the juncture of his neck and shoulder.
"I love you," I whispered, closing my eyes to the weariness that finally was taking over.
"More than my own life," he murmured, placing a kiss to my forehead. "No one will ever touch you again but me, Bella. No one."
With that said, we both succumbed to sleep, letting new visitors, looming missions, and scary men fade into the background.
~oOo~
I awoke with a start the next morning to booming voices, loud curses, and bright light in my eyes. I also woke alone in Edward's bed. After burrowing my face deeper into the pillow, trying to fight waking up and inhaling Edward's sheets without shame, I rolled my eyes at the sound of loud voices again.
Slipping out of bed, I took a shower, dressing quickly in order to find out what the hell was going on in the other part of the house. I was almost through the bedroom door when I came to a stop, remembering to grab my gun. Tucking it into the small of my back, I bolted down the hallway because the voices were louder, and they sounded angry.
What I discovered when I made it to the living room and dining room area was not what I was expecting. It wasn't angry voices – just excited, passionate. The table had plans, papers, and photographs all over it. As I stepped closer, I expected to see my mother in those pictures, but they were shots of different men in different parts of Seattle. My head spun when Alec stood up abruptly, jamming his finger down onto the table.
"I'm telling you, start with the Savage brothers, and you'll clear the way for cell phone usage, Edward," he said emphatically. "Communication in that city is the key. We need to know exactly where everyone is...every minute of the damn day."
Edward nodded slowly as he leaned against the wall on the opposite side of the room. He looked worried, but as he ran a hand through his now-shorter locks, I could see determination now taking root. He looked fierce and focused, angry and indecisive, but all that faded away when he caught sight of me in the doorway, melting into the sweetest, most adorable expression.
"I thought you'd sleep all day, sweetness," he snickered, pushing away from the wall.
"I could have, but I lost the teddy bear I was holding," I muttered, smirking up at his chuckle.
"Hungry?" he asked, and I nodded. "Good because Aunt Kate lost her mind this morning."
I giggled when he set me at the kitchen counter, conversations still continuing loudly in the living room. Aunt Kate had outdone herself; there was a ton of food. Everything from waffles to a mountain of scrambled eggs, to piles of bacon and sausage.
Edward set a plate in front of me, along with the bottle of syrup, causing me to glance up at him with a raised eyebrow. "Don't start," I growled, unable to not smile up at him.
He grinned, winking, and kissed my forehead, dragging his lips to my ear. "One day," he whispered sexily, "you'll teach me all about the ways of syrup."
I laughed, my head falling back, feeling a wet kiss to my neck. "One day, Edward."
We were both still chuckling when Rose stormed into the dining room, pissed off more than I'd seen her in a long time.
"Emmett, I'm not fucking kidding. I have to be there. Charlie was my boss, Bella is my best friend...and it's fucking stupid if I don't show," she said as she walked away from him, but he was pissed and hot on her trail.
"Rosie, please see fucking sense. You can hide in that apartment, in Charlie's office, but you can't attend the service. The press, King, and who-the-fuck-knows who else will be there..."
"Can't?" Rose and I asked as I turned in my seat to look at him. Rose leaned against the counter next to me.
"Did he really just say that?" I muttered to her.
"Yeah, the idiot won't listen to reason."
"Huh," I huffed, taking a bite of eggs and chewing slowly as I glared at Emmett.
He was looking uncomfortable now, but it was Edward's amused face that almost made me crack.
"She goes," I told Emmett, holding up my hand when he started to argue. "I respect that you guys order each other around, but she really is going. It's ridiculous to think otherwise, Em. She was Charlie's right hand. It wouldn't make sense for her not to help with the arrangements."
"Emmett, you'll be right there!" Rose added, rolling her eyes and folding her arms across her chest.
"Don't like it," he growled, mirroring her stance by folding his own arms over his chest.
"You don't have to fucking like it, Em," Edward said with a shrug. "It's the way that it has to be, though. Bella's right. If they're coming back to set up this memorial, then Rose has to be a party to that. To be honest, man, I'd rather both girls be there."
"Why?" Emmett scoffed, looking at Edward like he was betraying him.
"They see through bullshit, Emmett!" Edward barked, rolling his eyes. "They'll spot someone that doesn't belong a mile away."
Emmett glared at Edward, shaking his head, but Edward didn't flinch as he stared right back at him.
I took a bite of bacon, watching with fascination the battle of wills between the two boys, which Edward eventually won.
"I'll be fucking glad when this shit is over," Emmett sighed. "King can't die quick enough for me."
"No shit," I snorted, shaking my head and taking another bite of eggs. "But thank you for helping, Emmett," I sang after swallowing.
"Only for you, Bellsy..." He harrumphed, walking back into the living room.
Edward walked around the counter to lean on it, facing me. "Don't sweat it, guys. He's just worried."
"And you aren't?" Rose countered with a laugh.
"Fucking A, I'm worried," he growled, shaking his head. "All I want is to keep you guys safe, but as long as these assholes are out there, safe will never happen. And it requires everyone to get it done. I hate it, but it is what it is," he sighed, but a smirk crossed his features when I poured syrup on my waffle.
"I like the haircut," I teased, reaching up to ruffle the shorter locks on his head and running my fingers along the sides that were now really short.
He grinned, pushing himself away from the counter, and pointed at the syrup. "One day."
"Shut up, Edward!" I laughed, shaking my head.
"When you're done, come into the living room. We need to run through the plan one more time before my father gets here," he stated before leaving the room.
We spent the rest of the day going over every single detail of the plans. Parts of it were going to be hard, like sneaking most everyone into the building late at night, setting Alice up in the security office the day of the memorial, and making sure no one was seen coming and going.
Then there were parts that were similar to things my girls and I did for a living, like scoping out dance clubs and bars that King owned or hung out in, tailing people, and setting up criminals to get caught red-handed. There would be surveillance, recon photos, and stake outs.
Finally, there were the things we weren't really sure about. Rose said we could call the media and tip them off about my arrival – or our arrival – making a grand entrance on the street, but Edward didn't like the idea. It was Jasper that suggested that we call the media but that we arrive by Edward's helicopter. That idea was accepted, so Edward would fly Rose, Emmett, and me to the roof of Twilight Tech, supposedly "meeting" Carlisle on the helipad.
I finally had to take a break from it all around sunset. Even though Tom and Obie had taken care of the animals all day, I decided to feed the dogs. Sitting on the porch steps, I ran my fingers through Tia's fur as she rested her head on my lap. Her belly was getting bigger by the day, and it seemed her puppies were due any time now. There was a part of me that was a little upset that I would miss it.
I heard the screen door creak open, and I expected to see Edward standing there, but instead, I saw Aunt Kate. She smiled down at me and Tia, shaking her head.
"She likes you, child," she noted, groaning as she lowered herself to sit next to us.
"She's sweet," I replied, gazing down into ice blue eyes.
"She tore up a pair of Edward's sneakers once. Did he tell you?" She laughed, running a hand flat down Tia's back.
"No..." I giggled, shaking my head.
"Yeah, she was a puppy, and God, what a handful she was from the get go!"
"What did he do?" I asked, looking over at her.
"Nothing," she answered with a snort, rolling her eyes. "He argued with her, tried to pull them away from her, but finally gave up and let her have them."
We were quiet for a few minutes, just watching the sunset. The air was cooling off, and the breeze blew my hair from my face. I felt a sense of unease, despite the beautiful scenery around me. I knew that as soon as Carlisle arrived, we'd be getting ready to head back to Seattle, back to where shit had fallen apart. I took a deep breath and let it out, turning to Aunt Kate when she finally spoke softly.
"I'm sorry about Renee," she said, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear when it fluttered in my face. "It makes better sense to me that she was taken from you, that she didn't leave you. I always wondered why she would have done that."
"Me, too," I said with a shrug. "I used to think she'd left a note but that my dad had hidden it from me, like there was some awful truth as to why she left. I would sit for hours, going over every little thing in my mind that I'd ever done wrong and wondering which one of them had made her go away."
"There was an awful truth, Bella," she said, a warm smile caressing my face, "but it wasn't what you thought. I understand why Charlie did what he did. He wanted to spare you. The last year Elizabeth was sick was tough. She wasn't herself, but she tried to be okay for Edward. My hope is that he remembers her from before, not those last few weeks. We want people to remember the good things about us when we're gone, never the bad."
"I don't know if he remembers her being sick. He's never mentioned it, but he has told me some...really beautiful things about her."
"She was a beautiful person. Inside and out," she agreed with a smile. "Just so you know," she started, cupping my face, "Renee and Elizabeth couldn't wait for you two to meet. They talked about when Carlisle would retire so they could move closer. I couldn't have children, but they wanted someone their little ones could grow up with."
I smiled because Edward had stepped out onto the porch to join us, sitting down on my other side, placing me and Tia in the middle.
"That would've been interesting," he chuckled, pulling me closer to his side.
"There you are!" She beamed at him, reaching into the pocket of her jacket. "I found this. I thought the two of you might be interested."
She handed over a photograph, and Edward and I put our heads together to look at it.
"Oh, wow," Edward whispered. "Is that...is that from when they met?" he asked, looking over at Aunt Kate.
"Yup," she snickered. "Can't you tell from their watermelon-sized bellies?"
We both chuckled, going back to the picture. It was just the best picture. Ever. Our mothers were side by side on what looked like these very steps, laughing, with their hands on their big pregnant bellies. I could just barely make out Charlie and Carlisle in the rocking chairs in the background, but my eyes couldn't stop staring at Renee and Elizabeth.
They were two very pretty women at what looked like their happiest time. They had everything at that point – husbands that loved them, their health, and two healthy babies on the way.
"God, that's so...perfect," I whispered, leaning my temple to his. "They look so happy."
"You really look like your mom there," he said, pointing to my mother's laughing face. "When you laugh like that."
I smiled, biting my lip. "And you have your mom's smile. It's crooked, like yours," I said with a giggle.
Aunt Kate stood up, smiling down at the two of us. "Keep it. They would love to know you have it."
"Thanks, Aunt Kate," we said in unison.
"When we finally go home, Bella," Edward said so softly in my ear, placing a sweet kiss there, "we'll frame this and put it in a good spot, okay?"
"'Kay," I sighed, liking the sound of that. A lot. "It was the real first time we met," I laughed, looking up at him.
"Exactly," he chuckled, kissing my head, but we both turned when Jasper threw the screen door open.
"Oh fuck, Ed. We've got some shit hittin' the fan," he growled. "Your dad fucking called. Not emailed, called. He's in Juneau...and he's got a tail he can't shake."
Edward and I stood up, running into the room as Eleazar talked to Carlisle. "Here, Cullen, talk to your kid, man," he growled, handing over the phone, and Edward immediately turned the speaker on for all of us to hear.
"Talk to me, Dad. Where are you?"
"I just crossed into Juneau. I can't shake a black sedan. Four men. If I hadn't been so tired, I would have shaken them by now. There's a hospital not far from here, Edward. It has a parking garage..."
"You drive around until you hear from me, Dad. I can be in the air in minutes," he growled, snapping his fingers at Mickey and Emmett, who bolted out the front door. "When you hear from me, you get to the top of that garage, and I'll pick you up."
I ran to Alice's side, whispering, "You follow that cell signal. Edward may need the coordinates, Alice."
"On it, on it, on it," she chanted, nodding and typing. "Good thing he bought a throwaway phone," she mumbled to herself.
"Edward, be safe, but bring backup. I may not be able to shake them by the time you get here."
"Sir," he grunted, looking around the room. "Jasper...Bella...Eleazar...chopper, two minutes!" he snapped, closing the cell phone.
I bolted down the hall to our room, grabbing one of the forty-fives that we still had from when we'd gone to the tree house. I ran back through the house, out the front door, and across the yard to the chopper, where Emmett and Mickey were prepping her for takeoff.
Jasper ran up beside me, his rifle cases in his hands. He slid them across the open side door, waving me over.
"Bells, in the back with me," he said, lifting me into the open space. "When we open these doors to let Carlisle in, we're gonna shoot anything that heads our way. Okay?"
"Got it," I answered with a nod, helping move his things out of the way for Eleazar to get in. Edward was right after him.
"Bella, you follow Jasper's lead on this. I need your sharpshooting skills, baby. Okay?" he asked as he tugged his baseball cap on backwards, falling into the pilot seat and starting the chopper up.
"That, and he couldn't bear to leave you behind," Jasper chuckled in my ear, handing me a headset and dodging my elbow.
"I heard that, J. Fucking focus, man. We'll get this done a hell of a lot quicker! I want to get into Juneau and get out!" Edward barked, turning out the window. "Have Alice patch into the radio so you can hear us, Mickey. You know what channel. Em, if anything fucking happens, we'll meet you in Seattle. Got me?"
"Sir!" Emmett and Mickey both grunted, backing away quickly as the blades on top picked up speed.
Before we lifted off, Edward said, "Jasper, buckle her in and watch her."
"Sir," Jasper said, reaching over and adjusting my seatbelt.
He then turned to Eleazar, his face grim from the side. "Guess we'll find out if you can be trusted now. Fuck up, and you won't see the flight back."
Eleazar smirked, shaking his head.
"Eddie, let's get this bird in the air, man," Jasper growled, kicking the back of the pilot seat. "I want to get back to Alice by bedtime, asshole."
I chuckled, rolling my eyes at the two of them. I half expected Jasper to start talking about target practice again, but he didn't. He just sat back, watching the farm fall away. And for a minute, I wondered if we'd be coming back there or going straight to Seattle after we got to Carlisle. Either way, I just hoped we got to him in time.

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