Friday, June 29, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Sin & Innocence Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2
BELLA
"Ali's Den of Iniquity," Alice said, answering her phone, causing the whole car to laugh.
I snorted, rolling my eyes. "Honestly, Alice," I sighed. "We're at the warehouse. I need you to take a look at it. Is there power? Security?"
"No security that I can see, but that doesn't mean there isn't some sort of old school bell system," she mumbled over my speaker phone. "There is power, but the bill has been the same for years. It's paid out of Simon Parker's office...every month...on time."
"Which means no one has turned even a light bulb on in this place in like a decade," Mickey concluded with a nod. "I'm going to make one trek around this building...look for the best entrance. I don't want to pick the wrong one and set off an old ass fire alarm or some shit."
"Well, you're lucky, because the surrounding warehouses are abandoned and up for auction next month," Alice stated. "That will give you an extra few minutes to get in, and then out again if you do happen to set something off. I could kill the grid, if you want..."
"No, Alice," Edward said, stopping her. "Not necessary. I can't imagine this will take long. Tell me where the office is, while Mick does a prelim check." He turned to Mickey. "Radio open," he commanded, and we all tucked an earpiece in.
With that said, Mickey left the car, closing the back door behind her.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Sin & Innocence Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1
EDWARD
"Edward, it's almost time for the toast," Rose said from the balcony doorway.
I nodded at the poor thing as she held her lower back while she waddled back inside. She was due within weeks. In fact, getting her there, in a dress that fit, not to mention maintaining her disposition, had been a daunting fucking task for everyone involved – especially for Emmett and Bella.
I snickered to myself as I walked back into the reception for my dad's wedding. It had been a beautiful, but very fucking large event – a far cry from what the rest of us had done. Bella and I had gotten married in San Francisco, with just my father and Esme in attendance at the courthouse. Emmett and Rose had gotten married in Vegas, right after the huge events took place in Seattle, and Jasper and Alice had thrown a small party, invited just close friends, and hired a Notary to say their vows. All simple, all private.
My father, on the other hand, who was getting married for his second time, decided to go all out. I knew most of it was for the public, because he was still very much involved in Twi Tech; once the media got a hold of the information that he was engaged, it all got fucking out of hand – including the fact that his first wife had died from cancer. But more than that, he wanted to hand my now new step-mother, Esme, the world. And that I fucking understood, because she was an amazing woman.

Saturday, June 2, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Fate Interrupted Chapter 1

MedusaInNY was kind enough to make this BEAUTIFUL banner for my story.
~oOo~
Chapter 1

EDWARD
I heard the door slam to the apartment across the street, and I looked up from my perch on the roof. I thickly swallowed back the venom that just this girl's mere presence could evoke from me – never mind her scent. She was all things delicious and intoxicating. She was freesia and orange blossoms, sex and golden-eyed innocence.
She was also my target. My last target.
I'd been watching her for three days, and despite her beauty and who she was, she opted to live alone, away from everyone, away from the others that she knew.
I was supposed to take her – the sweet little immortal that Aro wanted so badly. I was supposed to bring her to him, because it was rumored that she possessed the most amazing of talents, but I'd stopped that nonsense the second my eyes fell on her, because she was too good for him. Hell, I was too good for him, but...not anymore. I wouldn't be his puppet any longer. I was done. I was in America, not Italy. I was out of his grasp, and what he was asking of me was too much.
I knew of the family that Isabella belonged to, and I envied them. Carlisle Cullen was an ancient, living a life that was totally different than that of normal immortals. He didn't dine on humans, and he taught that a human's life was good, that we should live among them, not treat them as cattle. He was an honorable man, a good man, and I hated that he had a family, and not a coven. It bothered me that he'd just...moved on from me.
I snorted, shaking my head as jealousy wracked my frame. It was Carlisle Cullen that had changed me well over ninety years ago. He'd wanted companionship, and he'd found it in me, but I'd thought I was smarter than he was. I thought with my gift, my talent for reading minds, that we could still be vampires, only feasting on the evil of the world.
I'd been so fucking wrong.
I'd left him, dropping the diet he'd worked so hard to teach me. I'd left him with his newly found mate, Esme, and a just recently turned newborn, Rosalie. And I'd left him, thinking I'd come back one day, proving my theory was right, that I knew better.
I'd eventually been caught feeding on the criminals of London by the Volturi, the law of our kind. Even though I was ridding the world of rapists, murderers, and child molesters, I was causing what Aro called "a scene." The most wanted men in criminal history were turning up dead, and no one knew why – but I did. I'd take the police's lists of the most heinous criminal minds and hunt them, stalk them, even toy with them, before finally dining on them.
The humans had called me a vigilante. Aro had called me a nuisance and had ordered my death, until he'd read my mind and seen my gift. I'd traded my life – whatever life it could be considered – for servitude to the Volturi. I was to bring him talented immortals, immortals that were causing problems, and report back if covens were becoming too large. I was to read the minds of people that the council didn't trust, because I, unlike Aro, I didn't need to touch someone to hear their thoughts.
It had taken decades for me to earn Aro's trust enough to go out on my own, to travel to other countries without a babysitter. Felix had watched my every move for years, until I'd proved my loyalty, and I'd brought them amazing talents. Jane, who was as tiny as a child, but could wreck an immortal with pain more intense than the change we went through. Heidi, a beautiful immortal that could draw humans to her like the pied piper could mice. And James, a tracking talent like we'd never seen before, with a deadly mind that liked to play with his victims, but who'd proven most useful, because for every immortal that tried to run from the Volturi, James could find them.
When I'd brought him the last vampire, Renata, it had been over fifty years since I'd been caught in London, so I'd asked for my release. I'd approached the council – Aro, Marcus, and Caius – and pleaded my case. I'd pointed out everything that I'd done for them, explained that I was ready to permanently return to the States. I'd told them that I'd been a young, foolish immortal, that I'd proven my loyalty to them, but I was ready to face my own fate.
"Fine, then. One last mission, Edward," Aro had stated with an imperious nod. "Your old sire has among him...true talents now. The newest one, Isabella Swan. I want her, Edward. Bring her to me, and freedom is yours."
Unthinkingly, I'd agreed and left straight away, but I hadn't given my plan any thought. As much as I wanted my freedom, something about betraying my sire didn't sit well with me. Carlisle had shown nothing but compassion and patience towards me from the moment I'd opened my newborn eyes, and as I studied his newest addition, I realized that he was fastidious when it came to changing a human, and just what kind of ungrateful creature did that make me?
My eyes fell to the girl I was supposed to take, and I hopped down from my perch, landing silently in the alleyway behind her as she made her way down the street, my long, black leather overcoat flying out behind me as my boots made contact with the asphalt.
She was chatting on a cell phone, a smile playing on her lips. "I'm leaving now, Alice," she laughed, though her speech was quiet. "What's the freakin' hurry?"
I tried in vain to read Isabella's mind, but no matter how close I got, all I heard was silence. Deafening silence. It was the first mind I'd ever come across that I couldn't read, and I wondered for just a moment what exactly the talent was that this vampire possessed.
"Just...trust me, Bella," a laugh like tinkling bells said on the other end of the phone. "I think you'll enjoy this...club."
"I hate the club, pixie," she growled, "and you know it. I'm only doing this for you...because you said I had to be there. What the hell have you seen now?"
I smiled at her threatening tone, because despite the fact that she was probably damned powerful, she still came across as a hissing kitten. She was petite and beautiful, wearing a wry smile that told me she wasn't exactly stupid, either.
"I promise, Bella, you'll thank me," the girl on the phone replied. "Maybe you'll stop bitchin' about being the fifth wheel all the time."
"You are so...frustrating, Alice," Isabella sighed. "I don't care what visions you've had, there's nothing at a human club for me. And even if there was, exactly what kind of creature would he be?"
"Not human. Trust me!" Alice sang over the phone, and the call was ended.
I could have taken her then...right then. Isabella and I could have been well on our way to the airport, and she would have come, because they all came to me without question, but my curiosity – most likely due to her silent mind – got the better of me.
The music was thumping outside of the club as we approached, and I recognized the place instantly. Pulse was a Goth bar, a place where the humans pretended to be vampires, and the vampires really were vampires, but everyone just...blended. Ignorance was bliss on the humans' part, and for the immortals, well, it was feeding time – though I highly doubted Isabella strayed from Carlisle's diet. It was amazing no one caught on, or that the Volturi wasn't involved yet.
I stayed along the side of the bar, just watching my target. She made her way through the crowd, completely oblivious to the gape-mouthed stares the human men gave her. She wove around the dance floor, finally meeting up with four other immortals. Their golden eyes glimmered with happiness at the sight of her in the flickering lights that swiveled overhead, and I suddenly regretted losing mine. A quick glance at the mirror behind the bar confirmed my garnet eyes... a monster's eyes – a killer's eyes, according to my old sire.
I recognized Rosalie as one of the four, and she was still just as stunning as ever, though the smile she gave to the big guy beside her made her once angry features ever so much softer. I sighed, taking the drink that was set down in front of me and stirring it slowly as I watched them all. I felt like an intruder, which I was, but I felt like I was missing out on some cosmic joke, because I was looking at what could have been my family, had I stayed.
But it was the brunette that I was supposed to take to Aro that my eyes kept falling to. The more I watched her, studied her, the more I wanted – no needed – to know her mind. I could hear every sexual thought in the place, every drink consideration, and every dance step counted in every mind, and it was a cacophony of noise and chaos, but the one interesting person in the room was fucking silent.
The more the hours ticked by as I sat there, the more I debated. I watched the group dance, but when a tall human boy set his hands on Isabella, my whole body tensed inexplicably. The confusion with what I should do, which was walk away, telling Aro that I was unsuccessful, battled with what I wanted to do, which was walk to the girl and snatch her out of the grips of a measly weak, insignificant human boy.
My mind warred within, venom flooded my mouth the more someone touched my...target, and I fought the desire to drain the human behind the bar, because she kept thinking about the most obscene things each time she passed me by. I needed my freedom, but I wanted to run away. I respected what Carlisle had built, I was drawn to the girl that I was supposed to just treat as an acquisition, and I was ashamed of what I'd become as I listened to the immortals that were laughing with Isabella. It was that last thought that made me stand up from the bar and make my way towards the door.
"Don't change your mind," I heard beside me, and I looked down at a tiny immortal. "I'm Alice...Alice Cullen," she stated, holding out her hand. "Don't change your mind, Edward. You were going to do the right thing. Running isn't the right thing."
"How do you..." I started, but stopped when she opened her mind to me, showing me her talent and her family.
Carlisle still spoke of me, still hung pictures of me in his home. She showed me countless conversations of how he'd wished that I'd just...come home. And then her mind's theatre changed. I watched as I stole Isabella away to Italy, as I handed her over to Aro, and then as he used her to destroy my old sire, my old friend. And my still heart cracked wide open as I watched as Isabella was shattered into a thousand pieces when it was all over, only to be set on fire, ending her existence in a flash.
"If you take her, that's what happens," Alice stated sadly, looking up at me with wise golden eyes, but fearful, because she loved Isabella like a sister. "If you stay, if you accept what you are..." Her voice trailed off as she tried to show me other things.
"I'm a pawn, nothing more," I growled, turning from the little seer, but froze when her mind assaulted mine. I was about to accept my life with the Volturi, because I wouldn't allow her visions to come true, even if it meant staying in Italy. Isabella was too beautiful a creature to be destroyed, and no matter where I stood with Carlisle, he didn't deserve that fate, either. "My freedom is forfeit."
"It's not, Edward," Alice urged, grabbing my arm with both hands. "I've seen you coming. I've been watching Italy for you, and Aro wants to destroy us. I haven't told all of them, but your return to Carlisle will change...everything." She tugged my arm, keeping me from leaving as she looked up at me. "Bella is your mate, Edward...and Carlisle wants you home."
"I have no home," I grunted, jerking out of her grasp and stepping back out into the night air.
Her thoughts rushed through my mind when I heard the door close behind me. Don't bet against me, Edward. I'm very rarely wrong.
~oOo~
"Edward, my dear boy, how's your progress?" Aro asked on the phone.
"Slow going, Aro," I lied smoothly, again perched on the roof across from Isabella's apartment. "Carlisle is smart. He's not always so easily found, despite his unusual attraction to humans."
I found that the next three nights after following Isabella to the club, I was completely unable to not see her again. I couldn't take her, but I couldn't stay away from her, either. The very second the tiny little seer stated that Bella was my mate, I'd been stunned.
I'd always been alone, first with Carlisle, and no woman – mortal or immortal – was worth my time. Most female immortals were feral, shallow creatures, and human women could hardly see past our looks to have any real sort of relationship, not to mention I could break them with one touch. We are by nature frozen at the ages and in the times in which we were turned, so I didn't find the sexual freedom that most of my associates did. I'd seen mated vampires, but never thought it would be me, because I couldn't imagine hearing the same innocuous mind, the same inane thoughts, from one person for eternity, so I considered my non-pairing to be my damnation and a blessing in this life.
I monitored closely as Bella moved around in her apartment, but I didn't tell Aro that.
"As soon as I know something, you will," I told him.
"You aren't trying to back out of our deal, are you, son?" he asked, but I could hear a menacing accusation to his voice.
"Now, why would I do that, when you've treated me so well all these years, Aro?" I asked, trying to keep the sarcasm from my voice and standing up straight when I saw Isabella tug on a jacket to leave.
"Try to keep that in mind while you're over there," he uttered, before ending the call.
I smiled wryly, looking down at the street level. I wanted to follow Isabella undetected, but she never came out. I sat on the edge of the building, my eyes glancing back and forth from the front door to the window that gave a view of her apartment, but I saw no movement, until a soft thump landed behind me.
I spun to look, catching a mere glimpse of the small brunette, before finding the top half of my body hanging over the edge of the building.
"Oh shit," I hissed, trying to struggle against...what? I felt no hands on me, no actual grip that was pushing at me.
"What do you want?" she growled, not coming any closer. "Answer me, or I will make sure you land in Mr. Harvey's furnace down below. He's been roasting a pig all day for his customers tomorrow at the deli downstairs."
"No wait, please," I grunted, realizing that she wasn't holding me, but then again...she was. "I'm not going to hurt you..."
"You've been following me for days, so you're either a coward, or you're up to no good. Which is it?"
"Please, just let me up, and I'll explain...or try to, anyway," I grunted, and I suddenly found myself righted and almost face to face with her. It was when I reached out to her, but couldn't touch, that I realized what she was: a shield, and a damned powerful one, at that.
"Yeah, a shield," she sighed, folding her arms across her chest when I'd said the word out loud. "Talk, Edward, or I'm about to stoke that fire down there. I don't care what you are to Carlisle."
My mouth fell open at the fact that she knew my name, but I felt her shield shift around me, and not only did it knock me back a little, it also opened her mind up to me.
I don't know what Alice was thinking...this guy's out for Carlisle...for all of us.
"No, I'm not, I swear," I answered her thoughts unthinkingly. "I was, but now I'm not...it's really difficult to explain..."
"Try," she growled, suddenly in my face and her hands at my throat.
I was truly at her mercy, because her shield was still holding my body, and without my strength, I didn't stand a chance against her. She could literally snap me apart, and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
Quickly, I explained my predicament to her, wincing as she pushed me closer and closer to the edge of the building, her eyes on fire when I told her her about Aro's plans. The only thing I didn't mention was my conversation with Alice a few nights ago.
"I'm not a bargaining chip," she growled. "I don't care what kind of trouble you're in. Why don't you just go to Carlisle?"
I shook my head slowly, my shame making my gaze break away from her fierce tawny eyes and across the skyline of the city.
"I know who you are, you know," she stated, her eyebrow raising up sexily. "And you're wrong about him...he would welcome you back, no matter what you've done. That's just...Carlisle. I've heard him and Esme talk about you. They want to see you..."
I shook my head again, nervously swallowing back the venom that flooded my mouth, because her scent was surrounding me, infusing itself in my very pores...and she was still holding me over the edge of the building.
She sighed, clearly out of frustration, and I felt the second her shield lifted from around me, but it was when her hand touched mine to pull me away from the ledge that we both gasped. The warmth, the electricity, the vibrating jolt that shook me felt like our hands had suddenly fused together.
"Isabella..." I started, when she jerked her hand from mine, but two things interrupted me.
Big, fat drops of rain began to fall heavily down on and around us, and the rooftop doors burst open, as a laughing couple stumbled their way outside. They were wrapped lovingly around each other, their lips hardly breaking away. A low, deep growl escaped me, because they both smelled...delicious.
"Not in my neighborhood, Edward," Isabella warned, grabbing my jacket. "I live around these people. They aren't for consumption, jackass. And you can't hunt in Carlisle's territory."
I grunted, but allowed her to pull me to the rooftop door, down the stairs, and across the street to her apartment building. We shook the rain off of us, and she let me into her home. She closed the door and leaned up against it, folding her arms across her chest.
"I'm not going to Italy with you," she stated, her eyes darkening.
I shook my head. "I know," I sighed, glancing at my damp coat that was dripping onto her carpet.
"Then why are you still here? Why didn't you talk to me the first night you followed me to the club?" she asked, her brow furrowing. "I'm not stupid, and despite how Alice hides shit from me, I damn well know when she's up to something. I saw her talking to you at Pulse. For over the last ten years, the mere mention of your name has sent her into a vision," she huffed rolling her eyes. "I get the feeling she knows more about you than she's told me."
"Isabella, I should go..."
"Bella...just Bella, and do you really think I can let you leave, knowing you're a threat to my family?" she growled, the tawny color in her eyes completely disappearing into blackness as I moved closer to her, closer to the door.
That same warm, vibrating electricity zinged between us again as I loomed over her. Despite the fact that neither of us really needed air, our panting did not go unnoticed. I tried to ignore that her scent was just about to push me over the edge and the fact that I wanted her more than I'd ever wanted blood, but even more that her mind had briefly opened up to me. She was comparing pictures that Carlisle had to what I looked like in person. The vision shut down in an instant. She knew of my talent, and was well prepared for it.
"I'm not a threat...I'm a walking dead man, because I can't..." I growled low, not understanding the feelings that were coursing through me. It was as if she was pulling me to her, and it was unnerving. "Are you doing that?" I whispered to her, trying to step back, but found that I couldn't.
"No." She shook her head slowly. "Are you?"
I shook my head no, as well. "Bella, let me go. It's for the best. I'm not like you..."
"You were once," she countered bravely, her chin jutting out in defiance, which only brought her face closer to mine, making my instinctual response of grabbing her almost impossible to harness. "Carlisle told me..."
Her shield slipped again, and I saw her memories of discussions with my – our – sire. In her mind, he couldn't answer enough questions about me for her, and she didn't understand how I could just leave them all behind, never to look back.
"It wasn't like that, Bella," I sighed, shaking my head. "By the time I wanted to come back, I'd been caught by the Volturi. I'd made too many mistakes to be forgiven, and in order to live, I traded my freedom."
"Tell him that," she urged in a whisper, reaching up and brushing my damp hair from my forehead. "He still loves you. Esme, too. Let me call him, Edward."
"I'm not worth it," I growled, frowning down at her, but she shoved me back in anger.
"Then he was wrong about you!" she snapped, her eyes blazing, but she blocked my path to the door, with not only her small frame, but her shield, too. "He said you were honorable and brave, that you were just misguided. He spoke of your brilliant mind and talent. He told me that without you, he would have never found Esme! He feared every day that you'd gotten killed, and he said you were the closest thing to a real son he'd ever had!" These things flew at me from her mouth, wounding me with their truthfulness, as her fists clenched at her side. "He believes he doesn't have a soul, yet he prayed to God every day that you'd come home, that if you'd gotten into trouble, no matter the length of time, he hoped you'd come to him. You were the reason..."
Her voice broke off, and she suddenly looked away from me, her arms folding across her chest again. I'd been immortal long enough to know when tears were implied, but she didn't make a sound. However, her mind filled with a blurry human memory. Through Bella's eyes, I saw my sire – my father – kneeling before her as she studied a picture of me.
~oOo~
"He's lost his way, Bella," he said softly, eying the picture, and then meeting her gaze. "You two have so much in common. It's my hope that you meet some day."
"You haven't seen him in decades, Carlisle," she snorted, shaking her head. "How can you be so sure?"
"Alice sees him coming back, but not when," he answered her. "When it comes to Edward, patience has always been the key..."
~oOo~
Her memory shifted again, but this time, it was disturbing flashes of a van skidding towards her. Alice didn't make it to her in time, and blood poured down Bella's leg as chaos ensued around her, in what looked to be a high school parking lot.
Then I heard muffled voices in her mind when the scene changed quickly as she laid in a bright white room, a discussion about Dr. Cullen arriving, and suddenly, he appeared in Bella's fuzzy memory. His face was intense with worry, and the fact that Alice was there in the room pacing back and forth – hissing just loud enough for Bella's human ears to catch words like "change," and "mate," and "no choice" – was not helping the situation. And I could have sworn that I heard my name, or rather, Bella could've sworn she heard my name, just before Carlisle bent to her neck.
The memories disappeared, and Bella stared up at me, wide-eyed.
"What was that?" I barked, stepping towards her, and surprisingly enough, she let me. Bella didn't say anything, just pulled her phone out of her pocket, and I caught her wrist. "Tell me!" I growled, taking the phone from her and tossing it to her couch. "Is Alice right? Did she see me coming? Are we..."
"Mates," Bella breathed, and to the average human ears, it would have been silent, but I heard her loud and clear. She looked away from me. "She saw it the minute she met me..."
"When you were human," I concluded for her incredulously. "And Carlisle changed you...for me?"
"Ultimately, yes, but I did get hurt."
My mind reeled with this news, and I ran a hand through my damp hair, before turning back to her. She looked embarrassed and frightened, but she still stood firm in front of her door.
"How does she see this ending?" I asked, despite what Alice had shown me the night she approached me at the club. I wanted to know what Bella knew.
"It's up to you," she stated, looking down at her feet. "If you turn me over to the Volturi, then you kill me and my entire family, including Carlisle."
"And if I don't?"
"That part is...fragmented," she said cryptically. "Alice says she can't say for sure, because it requires decisions from both of us. She says the possibilities are infinite..." Bella frowned, looking away from me.
"Why aren't you with them?" I blurted out, and before I could help myself, I was touching her face with the backs of my fingers that were tingling with every caress. "Carlisle used to like everyone under one roof."
"I got tired of waiting," she grumped, scowling up at me and brushing my hand away. "I lived for my first few years with them, but it's hard being around three couples that are perfectly mated, perfectly happy, perfectly...freakin' perfect!"
She snorted, rolling her eyes, and I couldn't help but smirk at her. She truly was beautiful.
"They don't live far, but I just couldn't..." She looked away again, taking a deep breath.
"And you waited...for me?"
Her little nose wrinkled adorably as she nodded slowly, but she fidgeted, almost like a human, under my gaze. "I can't explain it, Edward," she said, her voice filled with frustration. "It didn't make sense then, and hell, I still don't understand it. But I love and trust my sister, Alice. She's my best friend."
"Try," I ordered softly, using the same command she'd used on me when we were on the roof.
"Just...watch," she huffed, and her mind completely opened to me.
Not only did she show me meeting immortals for the first time as a human in some sort of school setting, but she showed me the first time they'd brought her home to Carlisle and Esme, both of whom welcomed her with open arms. The more important of her memories was the very first time she saw a picture of me in Carlisle's study and Alice freezing into some sort of trance.
Bella didn't understand why just my picture made her obsessed, why Alice suddenly became so secretive with Carlisle, and why she felt she fit in with a group of people that were clearly not...normal.
But all those things aside, she loved and trusted Alice, and when the best friends finally sat down to talk about it and Alice explained what they truly were, the visions were revealed, as well. Alice told her that I was coming back to Carlisle, but that the time was undetermined. She told Bella that she saw the two of us together, mated, and that Bella would eventually be changed.
"So I waited," she whispered, finally stepping away from the door and away from me. Pacing in her living room, she said, "I loved them all instantly, and they accepted me, despite my...fragile state."
I snorted, shaking my head at her phrasing.
"We like to stay long periods in the same place, so they were posing as high school students when we met. About a year after we'd become friends, a van lost control on the icy parking lot at school. Alice saw it, but not quickly enough. The bumper clipped my leg, knocking me back into my truck and giving me a serious concussion. It sliced open my femoral artery, and I was dying by the time they got me to Carlisle's office. The big argument was to let me die or change me. Alice finally won Carlisle over when she said that if I was immortal, you would finally come home. If I didn't exist, you'd just disappear forever. Alice swears our lives are intertwined like that."
I didn't move as I absorbed this information. My mind reeled as I realized that not only had my fate never been mine to control, but the girl currently pacing in front of me was stronger than I'd ever been, or ever would be.
She picked her phone up from where I'd tossed it to the couch, touching the screen with swift movements. She snorted, rolling her eyes, before looking back up at me.
"Alice already called Carlisle. He'll be here after his overnight shift ends," she stated, holding it up so that I could read the screen. "That's about four hours..."
"He won't understand," I sighed, watching as she shirked out of her jacket and draped it across the arm of the chair next to her.
"That's where you're wrong, Edward," she sighed, sounding weary, even though we never needed sleep. "He's forgiven all of us for many, many terrible mistakes."
"I've lived a lifetime of mistakes," I mumbled, taking my own coat off and hanging it on the back of her door.
She chuckled softly. "I can't wait for you to meet Jasper," she snickered, shaking her head. "You two can compare lifetimes...and mistakes. Emmett, too; he's no saint."
"How old are you?" I asked suddenly, sitting on the edge of the sofa next to her.
"Seventeen," she said wryly, a gorgeous smirk playing on her face. "Same as you."
I smiled – a real, true smile – for what seemed like the first time in decades. "Of course you are," I chuckled, shaking my head and finally holding my hand out to her. "Edward Anthony Masen..."
She giggled, rolling her eyes. "Isabella Marie Swan...Cullen." She took my hand, and that zap of tingly electricity shot up my arm, causing both of us to inhale sharply. "Guess that means something," she mumbled, pulling her hand back. "Rose said she felt that sensation when she saved Emmett..."
Her voice trailed off, but I found that her silence wasn't all that uncomfortable. I also noticed that when I was near her, the other minds – the humans in the surrounding apartments – were silent, as well, and that was utterly amazing and so very comforting. I almost felt...normal, like the buzzing in my head had stopped completely.
"What do I do?" I finally asked in a groan, burying my fingers in my hair, because I suddenly wanted this comforting silence all the time, and if Bella was my mate, then my whole life needed to change.
The harsh reality was that I was embarrassed to see my old sire, and my new feelings towards the girl at my side were just about to drive me insane. I couldn't turn her over to Aro, because to do so would ruin me. In just the short time that I'd been watching her, and with the new knowledge that she was my mate, not to mention this amazing conversation with her, to end Bella would end me. But if I didn't give Aro what he wanted, I wasn't free; I still belonged to the Volturi.
She sniffed, tugging on my arm so that she could see my face. "It's up to you," she said softly, "but my suggestion is to wait for Carlisle. He may know what to do."
I nodded slowly, but that wasn't my problem. I'd concede any decision to Carlisle at this point, but my concern was with the girl sitting next to me. I looked up at her, our eyes locking.
"You really are beautiful," I sighed, shocked that I'd said that aloud, but she smiled.
"Thank you," she muttered, tilting her head at me. "I'm not used to seeing your face with red eyes. In all your pictures, even though they're black and white, I can tell your eyes are amber."
I grimaced, but said nothing, because for the first time in decades, I was ashamed that I was no longer on the right diet.
"And I'm not sure this is how I thought we'd meet," she snickered, shaking her head, and I couldn't help but smile with her. "I just thought you'd just..."
"Come home," I finished for her, and she nodded. "I probably would have, but... How do I do that when my freedom comes with such a...high price? I can't destroy the vampire that made me, and I can't...hurt you. Alice showed me what they do to you... Bella, I won't...I can't let that happen."
"Then you'll have to leave again," she whispered, her brow furrowing.
"I honestly don't know," I admitted softly, shrugging one shoulder.
"Please, please talk to Carlisle," she suddenly gushed, picking up my hand. "He knows more about Alice's visions than I do. I asked them ages ago to stop telling me, because you just...never showed up. Maybe he can help. Maybe he knows more. Okay?"
I studied her worried face, but her tension was rubbing off on me, and so was her panic. We'd just found each other, and there was a possibility that my life still wasn't my own to guide. And not knowing where that left things between us was making us nervous.
"Okay," I finally agreed, grasping her by the shoulders and making her look at me. "Okay," I said again with a nod. "I'll wait."
The power surged between us even stronger than before, and my hands shook as they rested on her shoulders. I'd read the minds of mated couples and knew for a fact that the attraction, the draw to each other, was so very strong that most of the time, the animalistic instincts took over, but the boy born in 1901 was unsure as to what to do about that, because Bella and I had only just met. It seemed wrong to want to maul her, though it was all I could do to not touch her...everywhere.
"Well, then, can I just ask one thing?" she whispered, her breathing a little ragged as she looked up at me, her eyes turning a deep amber, and then almost black. "If you leave...I just..."
"What, Bella?"
"Kiss me?"
I knew what would happen if I did, but it didn't stop me. Cupping her face, I caressed her cheeks with my thumbs. I wasn't sure I could stop if I wanted to, but the very second that my lips touched hers, it was all over. There was no more fighting the draw that I had towards her, there was no more holding back, and I knew there was no way in hell I'd ever be able to stop or leave her behind. I'd sealed my fate with just one kiss.
~oOo~
BELLA
"Kiss me?" I asked, because I couldn't let him just leave again. I'd waited so long for him, but even more than that, he was just beautiful – more beautiful than any picture Carlisle had, that was for sure.
If he was pompous and snarky, or even callous and mean, I could maybe put some distance between us, but at the very mention of Carlisle, I saw the remorse Edward had written all over his angelic face. He hadn't meant to lose himself in the world; it just...happened. Edward had survived the only way he knew how, and that was to sacrifice himself to the Volturi in order to live.
Two days before I heard the soft thump of Edward's boots behind me in the alleyway as I made my way to the club, Alice had practically been flying around Carlisle and Esme's house. She was so very happy, and poor Jasper's empathic personality could barely contain his mate. I knew then that something was up, but when I felt something shift inside of my chest in that dark alley, I realized that Edward had returned and that he was right behind me. My still heart could've exploded out of me the first time I saw him in person at Pulse, and when I saw Alice try to stop him. I felt his closeness the next few days, but I was so afraid that he'd really do what he came there to do, or that he'd run, and we'd never have the conversation we'd just had – a conversation that changed everything. He wasn't as bad of a person that he thought he was; he was just a man, just trying to survive, just trying to figure out how to fix a mistake he'd made so very long ago.
And now that he was in front of me, making me feel so much more than I'd ever thought he would, my mind snapped. I didn't want to see the heartbreak on Carlisle's face if his son took off again. I wanted to figure out how to keep Edward, how to help him, because I'd been biding my time for ten long years – from the very second my eyes had first landed on his picture.
Our eyes locked as he cupped my face, amber to crimson, both darkening to black. Edward leaned in, both of us practically holding our breath, and his lips finally touched mine. It was the softest of kisses, only to pull back just a bit, and we took shaky breaths, before doing it again. His forehead pressed to mine and his eyes closed tightly, before he took my top lip between his, only to switch to my bottom.
I leaned in closer, my hands gliding up his arms to his face, and a sound rushed from the two of us as my fingers wove into his hair. I pulled back, sitting up on my knees to look at him, and his gaze was locked onto mine, his mouth slightly open, as if he were in shock. I felt his hands shift to my ribs as I kissed him again, only this time, allowing my tongue to glide across his bottom lip.
That's when things shifted from two people testing a first kiss, to two immortals with instincts kicking in. I whimpered when Edward let a low, rumbling growl loose, and I finally pressed my body to his, my elbows resting on his shoulders as the kiss...changed.
I felt strong fingers gripping my shirt between my shoulder blades as we finally opened our mouths to each other. I tugged on his hair and turned my head as my tongue swirled with his. Edward's other hand splayed open on my waist, pulling me to his lap, and I lightly dragged my teeth across his bottom lip. I pulled back for a brief moment as we panted heavily, locking eyes with him again, and suddenly, I found myself on my back along my sofa, with a looming Edward braced above me.
The kissing resumed, hands roamed, and then we were tangled together on my couch, with Edward settling between my legs. When his hips thrust forward, my breath caught in my throat, and Edward froze, his head falling to my shoulder, because I could feel his arousal pressing me just where I needed most, despite the denim that we were wearing.
My fingers found bare skin just below the bottom of his t-shirt and above the waistband of his jeans, and I couldn't help but roll my hips up to find some sort of friction.
"Bella," he growled sexily, but turned his head, opening his mouth to the flesh of my neck and swirling his tongue where my pulse point once throbbed. "If we do this..."
"I know," I whimpered, my head pressing into the cushions of my couch as he nipped, licked, and sucked up to my ear, "but don't you feel it?"
I gasped when his tongue flicked my earlobe, only to be replaced with his teeth, and my hands flattened against his back underneath his shirt. I didn't want him to stop, and I damn well didn't know if I could let him go.
"Yes," he panted, ghosting his lips along my cheek and pressing his forehead to mine. "If we give in, I'm bound to you, Bella...by more than just...mating. I won't be able to let go..."
"Don't, then," I whispered, looking up at him, begging him with my eyes to give into us. I trusted Alice's visions, but even more, I trusted the feelings that were taking over me.
I knew from listening to my siblings and Carlisle and Esme that it was impossible to fight the mating process anyway, that to do so could cause damage to the couple, despite their immortality.
"We will help you, Edward," I vowed to him, because I knew my family; we would do anything for each other – especially when it came to our mates. In fact, Alice's theory was that Edward should've been there all along, that he was supposed to have saved me from the van, and not her. That our paths would have lead in a completely different direction.
Edward's head snapped up, and I realized that my thoughts were open to him, so I let him have them. All of them. Every dream of him I'd had as a human, every talk with Alice about him, every debate with Carlisle concerning souls and lost children, even some of Jasper's history about making up for terrible mistakes.
But it was Emmett's immature but spot-on theory about our lives that made Edward really just stop and listen...
Just because we were made into something of nightmares, doesn't mean we have to act that way, and hell, because I've found true, perfect, forever kind of love along the way, then how can it be all that bad? There's not much we can't either live through, or sort out... At least I'm not dead...
"Emmett has a tendency to simplify things," I muttered, shrugging one shoulder.
"Will you tell me about them?" he asked softly, nipping at my lips between each word and his body shifting over mine. He grabbed the arm of the sofa with one hand to brace himself over me. "Before Carlisle gets here..."
I nodded, reaching for his shirt, and with one swift tug, it was in a tattered heap on the floor. I was licking my lips at the one sight I'd never had a picture of – Edward's body. He was glorious. He was lean and strong, like the statue of David. He was smooth under my fingers, and he was...
"Mine," I growled low, glaring up at him and trying not to see his smirk, but it was nearly impossible.
"Indeed, beautiful," he purred, shaking his head as his free hand trailed down the front of my blouse lightly. "My turn..."
"No," I said, grabbing at his wrists before he could rip my shirt. "I don't want this...here. My bed..."
Edward nodded, standing up from the couch, but instead of letting me walk, he scooped me up into his arms. "We don't sleep, you know," he teased, and I snickered at him.
"I have human friends, you know," I countered, kissing his strong jaw as he carried me into my bedroom, "and a little old landlady. It's best to keep up the faƧade."
He set me on my feet at the foot of my bed, but his brow was wrinkled.
"What?"
"I don't know if I can do it again," he sighed, gliding his thumb across my bottom lip, and I didn't need him to elaborate on what he meant. I knew he meant going back to the vegetarian diet, living among humans, even interacting with them. I also knew he meant facing Carlisle, too, but I knew the man that I now called father, and he would forgive Edward anything.
"I think you can." I traced my finger under one of his red eyes. "I'm not saying it will be easy, but you won't be alone, Edward."
He nodded, but grasped my face, kissing me roughly, only to kiss down the side of my neck. "Is it still my turn?" he asked, gabbing the front of my shirt again.
I nodded, gasping when the sound of ripping fabric echoed through my room. I was only wearing a tank top underneath, and my nipples hardened to sensitive peaks. Edward fell to his knees in front of me, his hands pushing up my tank top. His thumbs brushed across my nipples as he tugged my tank off over my head, and I gasped at the sensation.
"Fuck, so beautiful," he breathed, leaning in just to trace his nose around my nipple. My fingers threaded back into his hair when he did it to the other one. "Bella, tell me now, because I don't think I can stop..." he begged, dropping warm, wet kisses across my chest and down to my stomach, but his black eyes never left mine.
"I c-can't," I sputtered, squeezing my eyes closed when his tongue dove into my bellybutton at the same time my jeans were torn from my body. I cupped his face, making him look up at me, and I could see him fighting desire and instinct, but the most prominent was the fear he was fighting. "Trust me...trust someone besides yourself, Edward. I'll be just as bound to you," I told him, "and I won't let anything happen to you, I swear it."
He launched himself at me, and we landed in the middle of my bed in a tangle of arms and legs, my own hands unable to resist shredding his jeans in the process. I felt my instinct take over once there was no material between us, and the first thing I did was submit to my mate. He gathered my hands into one of his, pinning them above my head. A low, rumbling purr escaped him as his nose inhaled my skin from my ear, down to my nipples, his tongue flickering out for the occasional taste.
Edward sat back on his knees, gazing down at me, and my hands gripped my headboard so hard, trying to refrain from touching him, that the metal bent under my grasp. His eyes were black as pitch as they took in every inch of my body. Writhing under his gaze, I felt my thighs press together as I did the same.
"Let me hear your mind," he requested, tapping his temple. "I need to know I'm not just...claiming you, Bella."
"'Kay," I agreed, removing my shield, but in all reality, I wanted to claim and be claimed.
I'd wanted to be his since the first time I saw his crooked smile in an old black and white photo on Carlisle's bookshelf. I'd wanted to know everything about him – his taste, his smell, even the sound of his voice. I'd wanted to know what books he liked, and music he listened to. I'd wanted to know what over a hundred years of living had taught him, but more than anything, I'd wanted Alice's prediction to be true. I'd wanted him to come home, complete the family – complete me – and I hadn't understood it at all as a human – probably less as a vampire.
"I don't, either, beautiful," he answered my mind, leaning over me with every muscle he owned rippling with the motion. "But I want to try...and I want you...badly. I just don't..."
I pulled him to me, our bodies lining up with perfection, and I felt his arousal, hard and trapped between us. I pushed at him until he rolled over, and I linked our fingers together, bracing them on either side of his head as I kissed him like crazy, like it was an addiction and I needed it more than blood. Visions of his mouth on other places flooded my mind, and he saw it all, rolling us back over.
He sat back on his heels again, but this time, he picked up one of my legs, dragging his lips slowly up the inside of my thigh. "You want me to taste you, Bella?" he asked in a ghosting whisper against my skin, inhaling deeply as he got closer to where I wanted him. "I can...smell that you're wet for me. Is that what you want?"
"Yes," I breathed, moaning when both of his hands cupped my ass, lifting me up to his face, like I was on a serving tray.
"Then open up wider, beautiful," he purred, twirling his tongue over my clit and giving me just the mere hint of what he could do. "Show me how much you want this..."
When his tongue met my center, swirling and tasting every inch of me from one end to the other, I cried out, completely shredding the covers at my side as my shoulders were the only thing bracing me on the bed. And as he sucked my clit hard into his mouth, I came instantly.
~oOo~
EDWARD
I'd never wanted anything more than I wanted Bella, and that included blood – human or animal. I'd never wanted to melt into someone as much I did the girl calling my name as I lost myself in the flavor of her. She was flowers and salt, pure sex and comfort, all at the same time. She was more than I'd ever expected, and I knew that I'd never need anything else for the rest of my existence.
I needed to mark her, claim her, bury myself inside of her and never come out. I needed her in ways that I didn't even understand, and she was right there with me, mentally fighting the instinct to do those same things.
"I can't fight the pull to you anymore," I growled at her, pinning her down. "I want this. Do you?"
"Yes, Edward," she purred back, writhing under me and causing my cock to slip through her warm, wet folds. "So much."
With one swift move, I sheathed myself inside of her completely, crying out as her teeth sank into my shoulder, marking me as hers. I could feel the sting of her venom, but it was a good pain, and I knew that the only thing that left a scar on an immortal was another immortal's bite. She'd forever marked me. This was not gentle, or love making. This was mating. I'd seen it in the minds of others, but I had no sense of reality. It was beyond us, it was feral, and there was no stopping it.
I froze as we stared into each other's eyes, our fingers entwining above her head. A low, deep rumble echoed through the room from us as the electricity surged to an all time high, and despite how I knew differently, I felt like I couldn't breathe, as something shifted in my chest. I felt something I'd never, ever felt before. Love. It was consuming and made me feel vulnerable and possessive.
"Edward, please..." Bella whispered, trying to remove one of her hands from mine at the same time she bucked her hips underneath me.
I released her hand so that she could grip my back, my own fingers skimming down her side to lift her leg between us. I needed deeper, closer...more. My cock protested the loss of her when I pulled slowly back, only to thrust back in, starting a deep, but slow rhythm, because if I didn't take it slow, the room around us would not survive it.
Bella's hand grabbed my ass, pulling at me as a beautiful and sexy keening sound escaped her. I could hear her every thought, because she let me and because I'd asked her to. She also wanted more and deeper, and the strangest sensation wrapped around me as she used her shield to roll us.
"Shit, Bella," I gasped, squeezing my eyes closed, because her graceful, amazing body rolling over mine was almost too much to look at.
She looked wild and ethereal, confident and lost in the sensation of our connection, and my hands had to reach out and just...touch. Her mouth gaped slightly with every brush of my fingers across her nipples, every grip and grind of her hips, and finally, the pressure I applied to her most sensitive spot right where we were joined as one.
I sat up, pressing my thumb to her clit and smiling when her breath caught and her head fell back. Kissing up her neck and sliding my fingers into her hair at the base of her neck, I gripped hard.
"Come for me," I growled low, needing to feel her climax around me. I needed to know that it wasn't just me, that we were both lost to these feelings. I needed to know that I wasn't alone anymore.
As soon as I felt her squeeze around me and my name ghost across my ear, I couldn't hold back anymore. My hand was still gripping her hair, and I wrenched it to the side, burying my teeth in the spot where her neck melted into a graceful slope to her shoulder and marking her as mine.
Bella gasped, her fingers digging into my back as her whole body shuddered into another climax. A small dry sob escaped her as her forehead finally fell to my shoulder, and I licked the bite mark closed, my venom sealing the wound, but ensuring that it stayed forever there on her skin.
Her arms and legs wrapped around me completely as we sat, still connected, in the middle of her now very rumpled and ripped bed.
I softly kissed the spot below her ear. "You are my life now," I whispered, practically shaking with what that meant, because my life was still not my own to dedicate to her.
She pulled back, grasping my face and kissing me hard. "We'll fix this, I swear, Edward. I can't..." she huffed, kissing my lips again. "I can't wait without you anymore..."
I sighed, cupping her face and gazing up into her eyes that were back to a beautiful amber again. I was going to tell her that I needed clear my debt with Aro before anything, but her phone beeped from the living room. Bella glanced up at the clock, her nose wrinkling adorably.
"Carlisle," she sighed, looking back at me. "I don't even have to look. I know he's leaving the hospital now. He'll be here in like thirty minutes."
I nodded, swallowing thickly with nerves and shame. "Okay."
I knew that I needed to talk to him, if only for Bella's sake, but I wasn't sure what he could do against the Volturi. I'd basically signed my life away to them, and my own means to freedom was currently sitting in my lap, running her fingers gently through my hair.
My target, my release from Aro, was now my mate. I could no more turn her over to him than cut my own heart out. My heart didn't even belong to me; it was hers.
Bella glanced around the room, taking a deep breath. "Shower, and then we'll see if I can't find you something to wear," she snickered, her eyes dancing with mischief and happiness.
I chuckled and shrugged, ogling every inch of her as she removed herself from my lap and crawled off the bed. Instantly, I was hard for her again, and I wasn't sure I'd ever not be hard for her. It just might be a condition I'd have to get used to.
"My coat is still in one piece," I told her.
She grinned and rolled her eyes. "At least there's that. You'll look like a flasher." She held her hand out to me, tugging me to the bathroom. "There's one thing you should know. When it comes to Alice...no one worries about clothes, Edward."
~oOo~
BELLA
My forehead met the cool glass of the shower door with a dull thump as steel and warmth surrounded me from behind. We had mere minutes before I was sure Carlisle would be knocking on my door, but there wasn't a force on the planet that could stop us from touching.
I'd started telling him about my family, about Rose and Emmett, Alice and Jasper. I tried to keep the shower mainly about getting clean and giving him the information he'd asked for earlier, but it was impossible.
He was so beautiful, and so very unnecessarily nervous about Carlisle's visit that it was practically palpable in the steamy bathroom air.
"How long would you have waited for me, Bella?" he asked, his entire body lining up behind mine. Soap and water coated our bodies, which only added to the erotic feel of him pressed against me.
"Always," I sighed, closing my eyes as his lips grazed against my shoulder and glided up to my ear, opening warm and wet against my flesh. I gasped as his arousal slipped between my legs, and I knew we weren't going to fight this much longer. "I would've just...waited..."
He grunted softly, his hands skimming down my body with palms flat as he pulled my hips back towards him. "Would you have come for me?" he purred in my ear as his hips began a rhythm between my legs that had the tip of his cock pressing just right against my clit. Wetness flooded down my thighs, coating him in the process.
"We...We didn't know where you were, Edward," I said, and unfortunately, a small sob escaped me with that truth, because I'd begged and begged Alice to try and see where he was about two years after my change, so that we could go to him, but she said he had to come to us. He had to want to come home, or the vision faded away. It was one of my lowest points during my long wait for him.
I'd rebelled against the family, stopped talking to Alice for months, and went off into the woods alone. I hunted in anger, and eventually ended up killing a young mountain climber that was hiking alone in the forest in my frenzy. I'd made no decision to actually kill the young man, so Alice didn't see it happening until it was way too late. Emmett showed up within hours, helping me hide my mistake and guiding me back to Carlisle, needlessly guilt-ridden. He, of course, welcomed me back with open arms.
I knew Edward could still hear my thoughts, because his touches became more comforting, less aggressive as he still continued to grind against me. With a firm grip, he lifted my leg to the edge of the tub and slowly entered me.
"I'm here now," he soothed, holding me closer by wrapping an arm around my waist, but his breathing was ragged in my ear. "I'm not leaving you," he whispered. "I can't..."
For a moment, for just a split second, I wondered what was worse...knowing he existed and what we were meant to be, or not knowing anything for so long and having it thrown at him. I couldn't imagine what he was thinking or feeling with all that he'd been through and was still facing, nor could I even conceive of what he'd done, had the roles been reversed.
"I would've waited, too, beautiful," he answered my internal question. "I would've waited lifetimes," he whispered, but held me up when I could no longer hold back my need for him, for more, for deeper.
Knowing fingers slipped between my legs, rubbing furiously as he bent me slightly forward. He pounded furiously into me, my climax causing me to slam my hands flat against the glass doors. They splintered and cracked, the spiderweb effect starting from where my hands were still planted.
Edward's forehead fell between my shoulder blades, his heavy breathing, though unnecessary, blew against my wet skin, causing a shiver to wrack my frame.
I stood up straight, eying the damage and groaning. "Oh hell, Miss Esther's gonna kill me," I sighed, shaking my head at the shattered glass of my shower door.
Edward chuckled softly behind me, but his smile fell when we both heard the knock on my door. I shut the shower off, carefully opening the door.
"I'll give you a minute," I told him, tilting my head at him. "There are some sweat pants on the vanity. It was all I could find. They're Jasper's, so they should fit you." I handed him a towel, but he seemed frozen. "Hey," I said softly, and his eyes snapped to mine. "He's so not mad at you, Edward. I swear it."
He nodded, swallowing thickly, and I left the room, quickly tugging on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, before yanking open my front door.
Carlisle stood in front of me, still dressed for work in dress pants, a button-down, and a tie. His blond hair never out of place, but his sweet smile greeted me warmly.
"Carlisle," I sighed, rushing to his arms.
He hugged me back tightly, whispering in my ear, "He's here?"
I nodded, pulling back and biting on my bottom lip. "He's nervous...and he's in a terrible situation. I fear I've only made it worse."
Carlisle beamed, snickering to himself. "You are his mate, then?"
"Yeah." I chuckled at the pure happiness rolling off of the man that had been my father for the last ten years.
"Alice was right," we laughed softly together.
"Come in," I told him, closing the door behind us.
"Esme misses you," he chided, giving me a pointed look. "You have to come rescue her soon, because the boys have trapped her into some sort of poker marathon."
I laughed, loving my family immensely and hoping to God and all that was holy that Edward fell in love with them, too.
"All she has to do is win a few hands, and then they won't want to play with her anymore," I snorted, rolling my eyes. "Hasn't she figure that out yet?"
"Alice keeps winning," he laughed, but we both looked up when my bedroom door opened.
The emotions that flickered over both men's faces were as easy to read as a book. Edward radiated guilt and sorrow, not to mention fear and determination. Carlisle looked upon his "firstborn" with an unconditional love that made my eyes sting with the need to shed tears I could no longer cry. They began a conversation that was silent.
"I know," Edward answered him, his eyes flickering to me. "I won't. I can't, Carlisle. I just don't know how to fix it."
"I can leave you two..." I offered, but both of them stopped me.
"No, Bells, stay," Carlisle requested.
"Please?" Edward said at the same time.
I nodded, curling up in my chair in the corner as Carlisle turned to Edward.
"Son, why don't you tell me what happened, and then we'll see if all hope is lost, okay?"
Edward sat on the edge of the sofa, his elbows resting on his knees as he spoke mainly to his feet. He told us in complete detail exactly what had happened from the moment he'd left Carlisle over sixty years ago, to just up until a few days ago. He spoke of the Volturi, and his plea for release. He told Carlisle about Aro's ultimatum, and that was when our father stood up abruptly from the chair.
Edward didn't flinch, but stared wide-eyed at Carlisle.
"I do believe Aro forgets himself," Carlisle growled, pulling out his phone.
Edward looked to me curiously, and I shrugged. We both watched as Carlisle spoke flawless Italian into the phone, asking to speak with Aro.
"Carlisle, my old friend," Aro sang over the phone, and Edward snorted, rolling his eyes. "What do I owe the pleasure of a phone call from you?"
"My son is telling me interesting things, Aro," Carlisle answered, gazing down at Edward.
"Son? Do you mean Edward?" Aro asked, but I could hear a slight growl to his tone. "His life belongs to me... He owes me one last...mission."
"His life is his own, and I do believe he's...mated with that last mission, Aro," Carlisle said smoothly. "You know the law as well as I do. You can not take a mate away from another. It goes against everything we stand for...never mind what diet we choose. I believe you and Marcus wrote that law when you found your wives. Am I correct...old friend?"
There was a hint of a threat in there, I was sure of it, but Carlisle wasn't finished.
"I believe you also owe me a favor, Aro, and I'm going to collect on it now. I'm pretty sure you remember that incident in Rome. I do believe that mob would have lynched you for killing the butcher's daughter. Good thing I was there..."
"Yes, yes, Rome," Aro snapped, clearly up against the wall now. "What do you want, Carlisle?"
"My son's freedom, his debt cleared, and his life his own to live with his newly found mate, Isabella," Carlisle stated, his eyes never leaving Edward's. "However, if it's a fight over the size of my...family, Aro, I can give you one. I'll see you coming, of course, and my family is strong – even stronger now that my son is home. Is that what you want?"
"No, no, of course not!" Aro scoffed. "Whatever gave Edward the idea that I was out for war..."
"Right," I snorted, and Carlisle shot me a wink, because we both knew that Alice had seen the coming fight.
"What will it be...old friend?" Carlisle asked, practically sneering into the phone.
"I will not break the law," Aro huffed. "If Edward has mated with Isabella, then they are bound to each other. And he's your responsibility, Carlisle. If he steps one toe out of line again, though...he'll answer to us again. Are we clear?"
"Crystal," Carlisle said, a smirk playing on his face. "It was nice speaking with you again, Aro."
And with that said, the call was ended, but Carlisle turned to face Edward, who was already nodding and standing, and he offered a hand to his father. Carlisle tugged him, pulling him into a hug and patting him on the back.
"Thank you," Edward mumbled, his voice full of emotion. "I'm so sorry, Father."
Carlisle pulled back, his hands on Edward's shoulders. "You're home safely, son...that's the most important thing." He studied his face as another silent conversation took place, and Edward nodded slowly, looking down in shame, but Carlisle turned to me. "Bella, make sure he hunts, and then bring him by the house. It's time he met everyone officially."
"Sure, no problem," I said, smiling at Edward.
"And Edward, your mother's missed you and your playing," he chuckled, giving a smirking Edward a wink. "I believe your old piano is still in tune. Esme has someone come out every ten years or so..."
"Yes, sir," Edward chuckled, and I'd swear that if he were human, he'd be blushing.
Hearing that thought, my handsome mate spun his head to glare at me, but I could only giggle and shrug at him. "Just wait until you meet everyone," I sang, waving a hand at him.
"Oh! Which reminds me," Carlisle chuckled, picking up a bag that he'd set by my door. "Alice said Edward would be needing clothes..."
I laughed harder, raising an eyebrow at Edward. "Told you!"
Edward grinned a stunning smile, taking the bag from him with a chuckle. "Thanks," he snorted, setting it on the chair.
Carlisle walked to me, kissing my forehead. "Love you, Bella. See you at the house soon."
"Love you, too." I smiled up at him, knowing he'd want to talk later, but it would have to wait.
Once Carlisle had gone, Edward was instantly on his knees in front of me. "Would it be too soon if I told you I love you, too?" he asked, but I was already shaking my head no as I brushed his hair from his forehead.
"No. I think I loved you before I met you," I told him, leaning in to kiss his forehead. "I know that sounds crazy, but..." I shrugged, tracing his face with my fingertip, reveling that he was finally there, finally in my life.
"And never leaving," he finished for me. "I suppose I should hunt, huh?" he asked, his nose wrinkling a bit. "Get back on the right diet?"
I smiled, tilting my head at him. "Yeah, I think so. Are you ready?"
He leaned in, kissing me softly. "I've never been more ready. Show me, beautiful..."