Tuesday, April 24, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Blood & Glory Chapter 22

CHAPTER 22
EDWARD
Land drifted out from underneath us as I flew over the water. I wanted to stay over American soil, so coming in from the west was just easier. I pulled the throwaway phone that Aunt Kate had given me out of my pocket and tossed it to Bella.
"Call my dad. It's the only number programmed in there. Tell him we are minutes away," I told her, and she pulled off her headset to put the phone to her ear.
"Carlisle, we're almost there," I could barely hear her say, and that was only because she was sitting next to Jasper and it carried over his microphone. "Are they still on you?" she asked, looking up at me and nodding as she heard his answer. "Get to that garage...no, we don't need to know where it is," she said with a sigh. "Just get there, Carlisle."
She hung up, pulling back on her headset. "He's around the corner from it."
"Good," I sighed, hoping our timing was right.
If he was trapped up on the top of that garage without a way out, he was a fucking sitting duck. I had no choice but to land illegally to pick him up, but I wasn't going to do it any other way.
"Edward," Alice said over the radio. "I tapped into your radio signal and Carlisle's phone. I've got his coordinates for you."
"Perfect. Let me have them, Alice," I barked, nodding once she'd rattled them off. "Anything else?"
"Benny has Feds heading Carlisle's way, so watch out for the good guys, he told me to tell you. Your dad was technically working for them so he gets protection," she explained. "Also, I've cleared your air space, Edward. Your flight manifest is as fake as a three dollar bill, but at least at first glance, no one will be the wiser to why you're flying over the city so low. Technically, you're with the press."
I smiled, shaking my head. "You're beautiful, Alice...facial grid bullshit or not. You hear me?"
She laughed, as did everyone else in the chopper. "Thank you, Edward. Be careful, and we'll be listening."
I don't know what my dad had been thinking driving so long without a break, driving until he was too fucking tired to pay attention. I knew why he was driving instead of flying into Anchorage – because flights could be tracked – but we were getting down to the ugly bare bones of this situation; there was no room for fucking mistakes. Fucking mistakes could lead to getting my girl – or someone else, for that matter – killed, and I couldn't have that. I didn't know if I could survive it if something happened to her now.
Jasper hadn't been kidding Bella when he told her that the reason I'd brought her with us to get my dad was because I couldn't bear to leave her behind. I couldn't. I trusted no one but myself when it came to her safety. No one. But I hadn't been lying, either, because my girl was a damn sharp shooter, and that shit could come in handy once we'd located my father.
We came up over the city of Juneau, and I turned sharply, growling, "Hang on. This is going to be quick and tight."
"That's what she said," Jasper snorted, grinning at Bella's laugh, but my girl's eyes were sharp out the window.
"Edward, there's the hospital," she said, pulling out her nine mil and kicking Jasper's bag toward him so he could pull out his rifle.
He kept that shit at the ready, only needing to lock the sight onto the top and pull the shoulder brace down.
"Are you armed?" she asked, and she must've been talking to Eleazar because he was the one that answered her.
"I'm good, Bella," he grunted, and the whole chopper was filled with the sound of locking and loading. "Don't miss with that thing," he chuckled.
"I don't fucking miss!" she snapped, and I couldn't help but smile because my girl was well aware of what she could and couldn't do. "I've lost my own father. I won't lose this one."
Jasper pounded on the window. "Target in sight, bro! Drop her down," he said, taking off his seat belt and sliding open the side door. Cool air burst into the cabin of the chopper.
The view from where I was coming in was scary. I could see my father's BMW squeal up from the level below onto the top platform of the garage, practically spinning in a circle in order to park the thing off to the side. His car door flew open at the same time his trunk popped, and I set down as close to him as I could without getting too close, putting us between him and the entrance to the top of the garage.
Bella launched out of her seat, sliding open the other door so that my father could sling his shit in and we could get the hell out of dodge. She started to get down to help him, but I couldn't let that happen.
"Bella, don't you dare!" I growled, shaking my head at her when she turned to face me. "You keep your sweet ass inside this cabin!"
"Someone has to help him, then," she countered, pointing at my dad. "He's still injured, Edward."
"I've got him," Eleazar growled, hopping down to the garage blacktop. "You just watch that entrance up here," he said, pointing through the chopper at the same fucking time a black sedan came flying up to the top of the garage.
"Goddamn it! Dad, get your ass moving!" I snapped, pulling out my glock and readying it to fire.
The problem was the space I'd put between the chopper and my dad's car, simply for safety sake. The sedan might just beat the two men to us.
Jasper dove onto the floor of the cabin while Bella knelt beside him, both aiming out the side door, but Jasper wasted no time. He took aim at the car's engine, and after three loud pops, the car's hood blew up and off the car, causing the driver to skid to a complete stop.
"They're gonna scatter, Bells," he told her. "Take our left; I'll take the right."
"Yup," she sniffed, squeezing an eye closed to aim down her straight and stiffened arms.
I had my own gun up out my window, but I was also watching the progress of my father and Eleazar. The second the bags were tossed up into the cabin, the men from the other car jumped out, guns firing.
"Cover us," I ordered, and I spun in my seat, opening the co-pilot door for my dad, but it was the blood on Eleazar's arm that shocked me.
"Now!" Bella snapped, pulling her trigger at the same time Jasper did, and four men fell to the blacktop as their bullets zinged through the cabin.
"It's just a graze. Don't even worry about it," Eleazar grunted, climbing back into the cabin and falling into the seat.
"Let's go, son," my dad sighed, putting his seat belt on.
"Nice to see you, too, old man," I replied with a snort, rolling my eyes at his smile. "You could have just called for a fucking ride, you know. No need for such...theatrics."
"Shut the fuck up, you pain in the ass. Go!" he laughed, punching my arm.
I chuckled, falling back in my seat, and turned to look in the back. "Everyone okay back there?" I asked, but my eyes were on my girl as she ripped a part of Eleazar's shirt to tie it around his upper arm.
"We're fine, Edward," Jasper said with a nod. "Let's go."
I lifted slowly into the air, just enough to turn around to face the back of the sedan. Aiming my gun out my window, I shot the gas tank of the goons' car, sending a fireball into the air.
"Mine, too, son," my father commanded.
"I got it," Bella stated, aiming out the side door that just happened to be facing the BMW.
One bullet, one pull of the trigger, and the BMW erupted into fire and smoke, just as the Feds' car came screaming up to the top of the garage.
"Damn, you don't miss," Eleazar chuckled.
"She told you that," I laughed, turning just enough to give my smirking girl a wink. "Close that door, baby. Your's, too, Jasper."
Once all doors were shut, I banked to the west, heading back out over the water and back toward the farm.
~oOo~
BELLA
It was chaos when we landed back at the farm. I think there was a part of them all that expected us to go straight to Seattle, unable to return back to Aunt Kate's, but they all rushed to us, helping unload the chopper.
Esme fell into an exhausted Carlisle's arms, holding him close and telling him things we couldn't hear. It was utterly intimate, and I found myself tearing up and looking away from them because I understood her worry, her fear. I couldn't imagine how she'd handled being apart from him this long to begin with. I would've been sick and useless if Edward had been away from me and that close to the source of all our problems.
"That's it!" she growled at Carlisle as I walked by, leaving Edward to power down and care for his helicopter. "That's the last time!"
"Yes, ma'am," he conceded wearily, and he sounded just like his son, which caused me to snort and roll my eyes.
Eleazar smiled warmly at them as we all made our way back into the house but paused long enough to tug on the makeshift bandage that I'd tied around his arm, hissing in pain.
"Stop that," I told him, shaking my head and tugging him to the dining room table. "Let me clean it."
"Esme can do—" he started but shut up when I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Let them have their moment," I chided with a snicker. "I know a thing or two about wounds, anyway," I added with a grimace and a sigh.
"Here, Bells," Rose said, rushing into the room and handing me one of many first aid kits we had lying about the house.
I worked quietly, untying the bandage that I'd secured around his arm in the chopper and tearing his shirt sleeve away to give me a better look at what I was dealing with. Eleazar was right; it was just a graze, but it was still an open wound.
People drifted in and out of the dining room. Eleazar's men asked if he was fine, and he told them that he was. I concentrated on cleaning the wound, stopping the bleeding, and making sure he didn't need stitches.
He was a broad man, with honey-colored hair, like his sister. They had the same sweet, wry smile and calm demeanor. He radiated intelligence and sage wisdom, and he still looked like he could hold his own in a fight with a power and strength that probably matched Emmett's.
"Esme could stitch this," I told him softly, "or I could put butterflies on it...your call."
"It'll scar either way," he chuckled. "Just wrap it up and send me on my way, Miss Bella."
I smiled up at him and nodded, applying the butterfly strips in order to pull the wound closer together before wrapping gauze around his bicep.
"How'd you learn to shoot like that?" he asked, ignoring everyone that was walking into the room.
"I was at Quantico for a while," I snickered, tying his new bandage on, "but I didn't graduate."
"And the wounds?" he asked softly, but he looked like he really wasn't ready for the answer or that he already knew it and just wanted to hear it from me.
"Miller," I stated, noticing that everyone in the room was silent except for us. "He had me for three days...strapped to a table. He tried to get information about Charlie from me, and he wasn't...gentle."
I felt a kiss to the back of my head, and I leaned back against Edward, who had taken the seat beside me. Eleazar looked over my head to Edward and then to Carlisle and Esme, who had taken the seat across from us. I didn't know what he was looking for, but I felt the need to explain these people to him.
"Everyone in this room has busted their asses to keep me and my girls safe," I told him. "Mickey and Emmett picked up Charlie before King could get to him. Jasper grabbed my girls from my office after they'd located me, and if Carlisle and Edward had been ten minutes later arriving to Miller's, I wouldn't be here now..." My voice trailed off because my girls were nodding their heads as Edward wrapped an arm around me.
Alec cursed softly from across the room, shaking his head and looking down at the floor, his face grim. He muttered something that sounded like, "Fucking pig..." I wasn't sure what details he knew, but he had become quite the huge help.
"Miller has an interesting history. We know all about him through our intelligence on King," Eleazar muttered, giving me a dark but sad look before continuing. "He was born into a wealthy family in Portland, his father was killed in a car accident, and his mother went from country clubs and reading circles to...church. Her faith became an addiction, changed into an obsession, eventually morphing her into an abusive parent, finally putting her in the loony bin. What started as a fairly happy childhood became a nightmare for Riley Miller. He was punished for watching TV unless it was the religious channels. He was punished for talking to, kissing, or even thinking about girls. And by punished, I mean beaten with a broken broomstick."
"So he was taken from her," Alice added, looking over the top of her laptop. "He entered the foster care system at the age of sixteen, and things didn't get any better. He was passed from home to home, never staying in one place longer than three months, with over fifty trips to the emergency room. He never said a word as to what was happening to him. In fact, he almost died."
Eleazar nodded in agreement with her. "He finally aged out of the system, finding work with King. He started as a drug runner, but when he beat the shit out of a prostitute for stealing from him, King knew he could use his...skills."
I snorted, shaking my head. "Skills...right. Now he takes all that bullshit out on every woman he comes across."
"Easy, love," Edward soothed in my ear. "He'll never lay a hand on you again, Bella." He continued to whisper so only I could hear him. "You stay fucking angry at him, baby. Keep it, feed it, because when we find him, you can use that anger. Got me?"
I swallowed hard and nodded, finally turning away from Eleazar to face forward in my chair. Edward had no idea just how much his voice, his touch to my arm, and even his mere presence helped keep me calm.
"Someone will know where to find this asshole," Alec growled, looking around the room. "When we get to Seattle, more than one motherfucker will be asked, Bells. I promise."
I nodded but turned to Carlisle. "How'd it go with Billy Black?"
"I think that was where I picked up my tail," he stated with a shrug. "I arrived to his house unannounced and wired. Not that it did much good, but I'll get to that. He was scared shitless to see me on his front doorstep because he'd avoided me at the office the entire time I was there. When I told him I had news about Jacob, he let me in. I told him I'd tell him all about Jake and Charlie if he'd answer a few questions for me." He turned toward Alice. "Can you pull up his financials again? I want to show you guys something."
"Sure, sure, sure," Alice mumbled, typing away, and then spun the computer around for us to see.
"These deposits that we'd seen the last time we looked him up...we didn't really look where they were coming from, so Alice, if you would, please..." he requested, turning the computer back toward her. "It'll take you a minute to actually trace it, but the results are...interesting."
Alice's little brow furrowed as she furiously typed away, suddenly rising up into her hairline as she discovered something interesting. "Charlie was paying him once a month? On top of his salary? Why?" she asked, and we all turned to Carlisle for the answer.
"That monthly payment was so deeply buried in TT's accounts that it was untraceable at first glance," he said, smiling almost in pride before turning his attention to me. "Bella, did you know Pearl?"
"Aunt Jane's sister? Yeah, she was living in an assisted living facility when Jane passed away. She was younger than Jane but was showing the first signs of Alzheimer's and dementia. Jake made special arrangements to have her brought to the funeral, but we weren't sure she really knew what was happening," I explained.
"Right. Well, shortly after Jane's death, Charlie made arrangements for Pearl's care to continue. I guess Jane had been taking care of her all her life. Billy volunteered to handle it, so he's been paying the nursing home for Charlie."
I sighed, shaking my head. Charlie was not the man I'd thought he was, and that bothered me because the more I found out about him since he'd died, the more I wished that it had been that man I'd known growing up.
"Unbelievable," I muttered, glaring back at Carlisle, but Alice interrupted again.
"Yeah, but there's another monthly expense that's coming out of that same fund, and it's new, Carlisle," she huffed as she typed away, suddenly to come to a complete stop. "Oh, hell no..." She snorted, looking up at me and then Rose. "Guess who's pregnant..." She giggled, rolling her eyes and turning the computer back around.
Rose and I stood up and leaned forward to read the screen.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Rose laughed, looking over at me. "Lauren?"
"Wait, wait!" Edward snickered. "Isn't that the girl that Jake..."
"Yes!" my girls and I laughed as Mack darted in from the kitchen to take a look.
I fell back into my chair with a laugh. "You're kidding me with this shit, right? Jake's dumb ass is going to be a daddy? Oh, please let me be the one to tell him!"
"It's funny you should say that because Billy actually suggested it," Carlisle laughed, joined by everyone else in the room. "He's none too pleased with his son, though he was worried about him once he found out where he was."
"Humph, I bet not," I growled, folding my arms across my chest and rolling my eyes. "So let me get this straight... Billy isn't working behind our backs?" I asked, and Carlisle shook his head no. "And he's been loyal to my father – and apparently, me – all this time?" I continued, and he nodded slowly. "Well, thank fuck. One less asshole to fight against."
Edward snorted into a loud laugh, pulling me to him as everyone joined him.
"But wait!" I said, sitting forward. "Why was he avoiding you?" I asked Carlisle.
"He knew about my backing Gravity," he started to explain. "He is also aware of what I do outside of TT – thanks to Charlie – so he assumed with Jake betraying you, your father going missing, and your disappearance, that he was in trouble with me and that I would fire him...or worse. He assumed I was accusing him of trying to take over – which, had I not showed up when I did, he could have done – but that wasn't what he was up to. He was the person that reported you missing, Bella, but it was out of concern, not malice."
I took deep breath and let it out.
"But how did you pick up a tail at Black's house?" Edward asked, frowning.
"The local police are still looking for you and Bella, so they're watching everyone she knows, everyone her father knew," he said, leaning back in his chair. "And if the police are still looking for you..."
"So is King," Edward grunted, rolling his eyes. "Which leads us to what we have planned, Dad." His face was grim when he looked up at his father.
With that said, the plans were introduced to Carlisle. This was the last person that needed to be clued in as to what we were doing – and the most important, as far as I was concerned, because he played a huge part at TT. With Carlisle now permanently back with us and Billy Black deemed nonthreatening, we could take this next step with more focus. We could take on Royce King.
~oOo~
EDWARD
"We're going to have to call a press conference," my dad said to Rose. "You'll have to pull that off, but it's Bella they'll want to hear from. They'll want to hear it from her that she wasn't just missing, that she was away on business or something."
"We could say she was on a case in California that she couldn't just walk away – and that makes her reasons private because she can't discuss a client," Rose agreed, making notes because she was the one that had to walk back into her old job and basically step into Charlie's shoes for what may be the last time. It was something she was taking very seriously.
"What about you?" he asked, sitting forward in his chair.
"I think it would be best to say I was handling a family issue out of state," she stated, notating that as well as he nodded in agreement.
Bella was quiet as I held her close. Aunt Kate had wanted to feed us all one last time before we left. We'd studied and planned for two solid days. Some of us were leaving tonight and others in the morning. Emmett, Rose, Bella, and I would be flying out late tomorrow evening – or really early the next morning, depending on how you looked at it. We would arrive at Twilight Towers as soon as the business day started. As soon as we arrived, Rose was to call a press conference, announcing the death of Charlie Swan and the return of his daughter. By that time, everyone should be moved into Charlie's apartment, set up in the security rooms, and placed throughout the entire building for the arrival of the press.
It was then that a memorial would be announced because by the time we arrived in Seattle, Royce King would be preparing for his release back onto the streets. We wanted to time his release with the memorial, baiting his ass. We all had a suspicion that someone still inside TT was working for him besides one of the Savage brothers that ran the cell phone division. My father even had a short list he was looking into that he wanted Bella's and Rose's opinions on once we arrived.
But for the moment, we were just enjoying the evening outside as a fire burned, steaks grilled, and conversations ranged from what we were about to partake in, all the way to fucking sports. Bella and I were camped out on a few bails of hay. She had stayed quiet the entire time, staring into the fire, but I knew her well enough by now to know that she was still listening...to everything.
"You have no opinion on this?" I asked her softly in her ear.
"No," she sighed, shaking her head and leaning it back to my chest. "I trust them both with whatever story they come up with."
It was interesting to see the dynamics that everyone now brought to the table, brought to the relationships between my crew, Bella's girls, and now Eleazar and his men. Alec was telling old stories about my father to Rose, Alice, and Makenna, who were eating it up with a fucking spoon. Eleazar, Felix, and Eric were trading stories with Emmett and Jasper concerning all sorts of government secrets. It seemed they didn't care who knew, and in all reality, who were they going to tell?
My father was grateful for Eleazar and welcomed him wholeheartedly. In fact, they were the perfect addition to the mission because they were willing to volunteer for things underground while the rest of us still had to maintain a facade at TT.
I looked around the fire, watching smiles, the trading of funny stories, and for Mickey, a temporary goodbye to Obie. He was livid she was going, but she couldn't be budged. I offered her an out, never wanting to trap a member of my crew in this life if they didn't want to be there, but she said no, that she would see it through to the end, that she would be needed inside that building. She did have plans to come back to Aunt Kate's when it was all over. And as she held his hand, I could see her trying to be strong, encouraging, yet the worry was written all over her face.
How she could plan that far ahead was beyond me. As much as I'd love to plan out mine and Bella's future together to the very minute we died of fucking old age, I swear to God, I couldn't see past Seattle. I knew I was bringing Bella home to Forks with me. That was all I knew, all I could hope for. Anything other than that scared the shit out of me because it was like asking for too fucking much.
I was broken out of my thoughts by Bella turning slightly to look at me, wearing the silliest of smiles.
"Why do you wear a backwards baseball cap?"
I laughed, shaking my head, and pulled her closer so I could whisper in her ear. "It's a secret," I told her with a smirk, but she pouted too adorably not to tell her. "It's a silly reason, really. My hair, love. It's easily seen and pointed out, even if they can't tell the color. It's never sat flat. Ever."
She grinned sweetly, biting her bottom lip and reaching up to run her fingers through it. "You're too handsome to miss...hat or not," she told me softly. "I guarantee it was Tanya that gave out your description to the police..."
I huffed, rolling my eyes and feeling like a jackass for my behavior with the receptionist at Spencer, Wyatt, and Townsend, the law firm that Bella had to turn the pictures of her last case into. I'd been so confused about my feelings for the little brunette in my arms that I'd had no idea what to make of them because we'd only known each other for a few weeks. I'd reacted like an chauvinist asshole.
"I'm sorry about that," I murmured, running a hand through my hair.
She giggled, rolling her eyes. "I wasn't worried about that," she stated with a snort, shaking her head. "I was just curious. Every time we've had to do something, you've put one on, and it's always backwards."
"I aim better without the bill," I explained with a shrug, "but it covers my head, and now it's more like a good luck charm. I started using one when we'd have to navigate jungles and forests. I didn't want bugs and shit in my hair."
Her laugh was contagious, her head falling back. "Big, bad, mean Edward doesn't like bugs?" she teased, writhing and squealing on my lap when I tickled her.
Pulling her ear to my mouth because everyone was watching her with amusement, I whispered, "I can show you...big, sweetness..."
"Mmm," she hummed, still fighting her smile as she licked her lips. Her eyes grew darker in the firelight. "Don't I know it."
I glanced around the fire, noticing that she was getting certain looks, mainly from my crew and her girls, not to mention the amused but proud smiles from Esme and my father. I could almost see what they were thinking. How different she was now, compared to how we'd found her. How open, honest, funny, and brilliant she was when she wasn't full of anger and fear. And there as a part of me that hated to think what this next and final mission would bring. Would she stay strong? Or would something knock her ten steps back to where she was before?
Then there was the pride that welled up within me knowing that I had caused that laugh, that moment of silliness, and that it was me that she trusted and needed and wanted there to protect her because Bella reminded me of those sparrows my mother loved so much. She was wild and free, beautiful and unattainable, fragile and strong, all at the same fucking time, but I was the tree she'd come flying home to. I needed to be that tree for her, needed to be steady for her, just in case something went terribly wrong.
"I need you to promise me something, love," I said softly, cupping her still-smiling face.
"Yeah, sure. Anything," she vowed, her brow wrinkling now in worry.
"I need you to promise me that you'll do what I tell you when it comes to your safety, that you'll work with me, not against me, because I need you, and I couldn't bear it if something happened to you."
She swallowed, nodding, and turned her head to kiss the inside of my hand. "Despite how we butt heads occasionally, we make a fucking good team, baby," she stated, her face completely sincere. "We've disagreed before but never when we were actually out in the field doing it..."
I paused, studying her face, and nodded because she was right. We'd never argued when carrying out a plan, except for the law office thing, but that was all my testosterone-filled, bone-headed fault. I swallowed thickly before making her promise me one more thing.
"I also need you to stay strong, Bella. If something happens—" I faltered because I just couldn't give anything specific; I didn't need that sort of fucking bad luck. "—to any of us, I need you strong."
"Nothing happens to you," she hissed, her eyes lighting on pure fire as she grabbed my face. "Fucking nothing. I'll die before that happens," she vowed, and her honesty scared me because she meant that shit.
"That's what I'm afraid of, baby," I sighed in defeat because I couldn't fault her for thinking the same thing I was, "but I get it." I frowned, leaning in to kiss her lips briefly before pulling back to gaze at her. She was all things good and perfect and beautiful to me, and she'd made me a better person ever since I'd pulled her out of Miller's fucking basement. "Th-Then w-we w-work together on a-all of it. D-Do y-you hear m-me?" I sputtered, not even giving two shits at this point.
"Yeah, I hear you, Edward," she soothed, running her hands through my hair. "Loud and clear. Now it's your turn to make me a promise." She sighed, looking around the fire to make sure we weren't heard. When I nodded, she continued. "I need you focused because even though I'm a target, so is everyone sitting here. I will do what you say, but you need to keep your mind on finishing this, on keeping to the plan. Everyone here needs to be safe, and they need your experience, your strength, and your intelligence, baby. Not just me. Our lives depend on all of us working together, not for just those we can't live without.
"When this is over," she said, grasping my face and pressing her forehead to mine, "you never have to do this again if you don't want to. Hell, you can make tables and chairs the rest of our lives, if that's what you choose."
I grinned up at her, chuckling a bit, because that shit sounded like fucking heaven. "Yes, ma'am."
"Or..." She smirked, pulling back to look at me with a raised eyebrow. "You could always bring that experience and brains over to the dark side. You could work for me..."
I smirked up at her as she shifted in my lap, wriggling closer like she did when she wanted something.
"It's safer work," she went on to elaborate, "and finding a lost kid is damned rewarding, not to mention how funny some cheaters are..."
"We'll see, sweetness," I laughed, cutting her off and kissing her pouting lips. "You plan on reopening Gravity, then?"
"I do," she sighed, looking over at her girls and then back to me. "Would that bother you?"
I was shaking my head before she even finished that question. "Hell, no, but if we live in Forks..." I started, thinking that was a hell of a commute.
"Maybe I'll reopen it there," she said with a shrug. "It's safer than Seattle, and I could move the girls..." She sighed, looking over at them again. "I don't know. I guess you're right; we'll see."
"Where'd the name come from?" I asked, tilting my head at her because it was a question I'd been meaning to ask.
"Gravity?" She giggled, and I nodded, unable to not smile with her. "Something my mother said once... People may not always live by the same creeds or rules, but we all have to follow the law of gravity, because we all fall on our asses when we mess up."
I chuckled, thinking that was fucking perfect considering what my girl did for a living. It also seemed perfect because it was for Renee that Bella wanted vengeance.
Eleazar stood up, checking his watch, and his men followed suit. It was time for the first of us to part ways for now. There were handshakes and goodbyes, not to mention well wishes and hugs from the girls.
"We're starting with the Savage brothers," Eleazar told my father. "We'll clear the way so that you have open communication. One runs a pawn shop, although really, it's an information exchange along with a revolving drug-dealing facility. The other is the cell phone jackass, and he goes first. Your little one over there has already secured a boxful of damn phones, and supposedly, they'll be delivered to Twilight Towers tomorrow. I didn't ask, but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to track those sum-bitches, anyway," he chuckled, rolling his eyes as Alice laughed from beside him.
"You're probably right," my father laughed, squeezing Alice's shoulder. "Jasper, Alice, Esme, and I will leave in the morning, and Mickey and Makenna will follow us. The rest will fly out several hours later," he said, gesturing our way. "Alec is coming with you. He's going to see what information he can drag out of the Savage brothers before they...disappear."
I grinned over at Alec, who looked like he was getting an early Christmas present as he cracked his knuckles and neck, smiling evilly, but he gave all the giggling girls a wink and another round of hugs.
"Let's get this show on the road, shall we?" he asked, pointing to the SUV he'd driven.
After all the bags were loaded and most of the men were seated, Eleazar turned to us. "Don't use a phone until you've heard from us. Once it's clear, you'll be free to start communicating, and that will make this shit fucking easier," he told us all with a snort. He shook my father's hand one more time before climbing into the truck. "We'll see you on point in three days," he said, holding up three fingers. "Everyone be careful."
With that, Alec drove out of the farm, taking the first wave of our offense with him.
That night, Bella's nightmares were at an all-time high, and I wondered if the closer we got to leaving, the worse they would become. Once everyone else left, I begged her to get some rest, but I was right; her nightmares did get worse. Not that mine were any better.
I used to dream about the little girl in Iraq that pulled the grenade on us. Then it changed to always hunting, always chasing Bella. But these were different; these were a combination of the two. The little girl pulled the pin, like so many times before in my dreams, but this time, instead of Mike Newton falling on her, it was my Bella.
I awoke with a start, my whole body shaking with fear and revulsion, looking over at the beautiful girl sleeping in my bed. She was still there, still perfect, still in one piece. I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding.
I leaned over, pressing a kiss to her forehead, inhaling deeply the scent of her and relishing the sound of my name that ghosted from her lips.
"Don't you dare get yourself killed saving me, love," I whispered to her – or maybe it was a prayer to whoever was listening. "I'm not worth it, baby."
"You're everything, Edward," she breathed, turning over in her sleep and curling up into an adorable little ball.
Squeezing my eyes closed to fight the tears as a result of her unexpected answer, I kissed her temple one more time before getting up to grab a shower. She had a few more minutes before I needed to wake her.
~oOo~
BELLA
I ran and ran down the endless corridors of Twilight Tech, looking for something I just couldn't quite wrap my mind around. I had to find this something because there was someone chasing me. I needed to be safe; I had to find shelter.
As I turned another corner, I finally saw what I was looking for – Edward – but the faster I ran, the farther away he seemed to get. He was wearing my favorite crooked smile, running a hand through his hair, and just when it seemed I could almost reach him, a hand grabbed my arm...
"Shit!" I gasped, sitting straight up in bed, looking to the empty spot next to me, but it was then that I heard the sounds of the shower.
I scrambled out of bed, practically tripping myself on the covers that had wrapped themselves around my ankle, and hurried into the bathroom.
I could see him, plain as day, through the frosted shower doors, but I needed to hear him, touch him. I needed to make sure the safety and security I'd been searching for in my dream was attainable in reality – that it was just a fucking dream, and that any time I needed to feel safe, I just had to find Edward, knowing he'd always be there.
Tugging off my clothes – Edward's T-shirt and boxers – and dropping them to the bathroom floor, I couldn't imagine a more gorgeous or sexy silhouette ever created as I ogled him in the shower. It was muscles, a defined ass, and his impeccable cock – all perfectly outlined through the shower door. It didn't help that that he was scrubbing his hair, so everything took on a completely different and flexed look.
Unable to stay away from him any longer, I slid the shower door open.
"I was wondering how long you were gonna stare, love," he chuckled as I wrapped my arms around him from behind him.
"It was a fan-fucking-tastic view," I muttered into the skin of his strong back, smiling when he chuckled again, but my whole body shuddered when I could finally feel him, smell him, touch him.
"Hey," he soothed, pulling me around to his front. "Why are you shaking?" he asked, guiding me under the spray. "Here...get warm."
"Not...cold," I mumbled, blinking water from my eyes and wrapping my arms around him again, this time from the front. Every bit of my skin that touched his lit on fire.
Edward was warm, wet, soapy, and smelled so good as he kissed the top of my head. I was still shaking, still scared from my dream as I pressed a kiss to the center of his chest in return.
As if he knew my thoughts, what I'd dreamed, he whispered, "I'm right here, Bella."
"I know," I whispered against his skin, wishing like hell I could express in words what I was feeling about leaving the farm, starting this next step, even what the dream made me feel, but I was out of words.
I was filled with worry and fear for everyone I knew and loved – especially the man I was desperately clinging to at the moment. I felt his fingertips pulling my chin up so he could look at me, and I locked eyes with his, which were green, warm, and comforting. I couldn't even say his name at this point, but I could kiss him.
Stretching up onto my toes, I pressed my lips to his, trying to calm my heart, my breathing, my nerves. I slipped my hands up and over his shoulders, pulling myself closer, as if it were possible. We kissed under the spray, tasting tongues, water, and lips.
Edward's hands slid over my wet skin with easy, long, deep caresses to my arms, back, and ass. When he finally broke away from my mouth, he took his time with open-mouthed kisses to my neck, seemingly drinking the water from my skin.
"Turn around, Bella," he ordered softly, placing his hands on my waist and spinning me carefully around to face the spray. "Let me make it better..."
With careful but firm hands, Edward proceeded to wash every inch of my back, bottom, and legs, only to turn me around to rinse off. He knelt reverently in front of me, his hands still on my thighs as his darkening eyes raked over every inch of me. It seemed he was looking at every scar I had, even the little ones that had now faded, thanks to time and the scar cream Esme had given me.
"You can barely see them now," he mused, finally looking up at my face.
His finger traced the one along my thigh – which was still the worst – and then both of the burns on my stomach, and finally, the one on my sternum. He lifted my leg, kissing the outside of my ankle where the bullet had ricocheted off of the tree when we were at the mountain cabin. It was a scar I didn't even care about, didn't even bother to put cream on, but he remembered it.
Perhaps Edward was out of words, too, because I wasn't even sure he was aware he'd spoken out loud. After leaning in to place a kiss to my belly, he continued his task of washing me. He was so gentle when he washed between my legs – not sexual, but caring. As much as I wanted him – probably more in that sweetest of moments than ever – I'd never felt more loved, more cherished than I did right then.
When he finally stood up in front of me, he grabbed the shampoo and massaged my hair from scalp to tips, doing the same thing with the conditioner. I smiled when he shut the water off, grabbing a towel to wrap around me. With one swift motion, he set me on the bathmat outside of the tub, securing his own towel around his waist.
"Come here," he finally said, lifting me up onto the vanity counter. He cupped my face, bringing my lips to his for a brief kiss. "I love you so much," he whispered, pressing his forehead to mine and stepping between my legs. "I'm...scared, too, love. More scared than I've ever been on any mission I've ever done because this means too much to fuck up," he confessed softly.
I nodded, tugging open his towel and letting it drop to the floor. The steam from our shower wafted around us as I pulled my own towel open.
"I love you, too," I whispered, wrapping my legs around his waist. "I don't want to leave this room, leave this house without you knowing that."
"I know, baby," he said, practically groaning the words because his arousal was now trapped between us.
I could feel him shift just enough and then slide languidly into me. A whimper escaped my mouth as he completely filled me, his head falling to my shoulder. We clung to each other for just a moment, our breathing ragged, our hands gripping hard onto one another.
Edward's hand drifted down my side, along my thigh, to my knee, where he suddenly lifted it between us, sinking even deeper into me than before. I'd never been in that position, and it was fantastic. I could feel everything inside of me clench down on him.
I gasped when he pulled back, thrusting in with a touch of force. It was a taste of what was to come. He was not going to be gentle; this was something I would be feeling way after we landed in Seattle.
"I want you to come so fucking hard, baby," he growled into my neck, dragging his teeth across my skin. "I want you to feel me into next week. I want you to know that I'll always be...right here," he grunted, thrusting into me again.
Edward began a rhythm that was deep, with swiveling hips and long pushes into me. His forehead pressed to mine as his mouth quirked up into a breathtakingly-sexy smile. I leaned back on my hands, my hips meeting him with every press of his hips, and more than once, I cried out his name, and more than once, his hands gripped too tight at my hips, but it was the kind of pain that felt good, that added to the entire experience.
My first orgasm hit me hard and fast, causing my leg to slip off of his shoulder and down to the countertop.
"One," he growled, suddenly pulling out of me and dropping to his knees.
Before I could say anything else, his mouth was hot and wet on my center, licking, sucking, teasing, and biting. He forced my legs apart, my hips to stay still as his mouth expertly dragged another climax from me, my hands gripping his hair like a lifeline.
"Two," he snickered darkly, licking his lips before wrapping his arms all the way around me.
I found my back pressed into the bathroom door, my head thudding against it when he entered me again with a little less force this time.
"Edward," I hissed, as he drove into me with a delicious rotating of his hips.
"You can fucking do better than that, Bella," he chuckled, as I wrapped my arms and legs around him. "I want more... Don't you want another one, love?"
"Fuck, yes," I growled the truth because I did. I wanted whatever he'd give me at that point. Grabbing his face, I begged, "Together..."
"So close, love...so fucking close," he said with a nod as a drop of water or sweat dripped from his brow to his chin.
My heels dug into his ass, my fingers threaded into his wet hair, and my breathing was erratic, but my whole body just about fell over the edge when I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror.
"Oh, Christ," I panted, my eyes squeezing closed for just a second.
I wasn't sure I'd ever seen anything as fucking phenomenally sexy as what my eyes took in at that moment. I'd watched my share of porn, been with men in front of a mirror, but nothing...nothing came close to what I saw right then.
Every muscle in Edward's back writhed under smooth skin. His ass flexed with every pump into me, and my God, his legs were like cut steel as he braced us against that door. His arms were taut as they gripped my cheeks with every push. Add in my legs wrapped around him and the flushed look of being thoroughly and satisfyingly fucked by the most gorgeous thing I'd ever laid eyes on, and I was done.
"I'm coming, Edward," I breathed in his ear, my teeth locking down onto his neck.
"Fuck, B-Bella," he stuttered before finally pressing me into the door with all of his weight as he came hard inside me. He placed a long, slow kiss to my shoulder, looking up at me through those deadly long eyelashes. "Three," he purred, giving me my favorite crooked smile and a wink when I couldn't stop from laughing.
It wasn't long before we were dressed and packed, carrying our things out to the chopper. Rose and Emmett were loading their things as we approached, with Aunt Kate following.
"Aunt Kate, you really should be in bed," Edward chided, shaking his head as she waved him away.
"Oh, pooh," she scoffed, rolling her eyes at him and pulling me into a hug. "You take care of each other, you hear me?" she whispered in my ear, and I nodded. "He's a good boy, but don't let him frustrate you to death, Bella."
I snorted, pulling back just enough to kiss her cheek. "I won't. I promise," I giggled.
She hugged Rose and Emmett, finally turning her gaze onto her best friend's only son. "Edward Anthony, you come give me a hug, child."
I could tell she was whispering to him, as well, because he nodded, smiled, and kissed her cheek gently.
"Come on, ladies," Emmett said, offering us a hand. "Let's get you buckled in, okay?"
"Thanks, Em," I said as he lifted me and then Rose into the back of the chopper.
"How is it with him flying this thing?" Rose asked, chuckling as we buckled up and watched the boys ready the chopper.
"He's...amazing," I answered with a laugh, feeling proud of Edward. "Like you won't even feel like you're moving."
She snickered and nodded, looking out at the farm. "You scared?"
"Yup." I snorted my answer with a nod. "You?"
"A little," she sighed, turning to me when the boys climbed in the front. "We're in good hands, though," she whispered, giving me a wink.
I looked up front, smiling as the boys put on their headsets and Edward flipped a few switches. We'd told them to dress in all black as our bodyguards, and they had. They looked big and scary and mean to someone that didn't know them, but they were far from it. They'd do anything for us, and we knew it.
We were all about to step into a world of crime and chaos, of death and lies. The two boys up front in that chopper, as well as the ten people that were already on their way, just wanted to help us get our lives back. They'd already given blood, sweat, and tears, and I wasn't sure how they found the strength to give more, but I would be forever grateful to each and every one of them.
I turned back to Rose with a soft laugh. "Yeah...definitely good hands."

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