Sunday, September 16, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 2

Chapter 2
BELLA
"It doesn't make sense," Edward said softly, his voice almost a threatening growl as his hand clawed at his hair.
I grimaced, picking up his hand and turning his wedding ring slowly as we sat on the back deck steps. I wanted to give him comfort, but it didn't seem to be working. Just like we'd talked about the night before, we took off into the woods together as soon as the sun came up behind thick, gray clouds. We went farther this time, circling the entire perimeter of the house, even going as far as the highway several miles away. The only scents we picked up were of the local wildlife, the most recent passing cars, and a few faded trails of humans that had apparently cut through the property several weeks back. It seemed those humans were making their way toward the main highway, so Edward and I tacked it up to vagrants on the move.
There was nothing to indicate that anyone – immortal or human – had been anywhere near the house the night before.
"Maybe it was just—" I started but flinched a little when his head spun quickly my way. He knew what I'd been about to say.
"No," he countered before I even had a chance to finish. He shook his head slowly. "I've spent a hundred years learning the differences in minds, Bella. I know what I heard. And this was closer than the main road."
"Okay," I said, soothing my fingers through his wrecked hair. Hell, it was only eight in the morning, and it was already showing his stress. "Well, maybe this place is haunted..." I shrugged a shoulder in order to make light of it. "Have you heard ghosts before?"
He scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Bella..."
"It's a legit question, brother," Jasper said with a soft laugh from the door behind us. "Have you?"
"No," Edward replied, his face scowling. "I don't even know if they exist. And if they did...would they have...minds to hear?"
"We exist," I stated. "I've learned to not write off the unusual and the impossible."
That made Edward's grumpy expression fade just a little because we'd had that conversation before, only back then, it was about mummies in Egypt, not ghosts in Maine. It was an honest argument, really. We weren't supposed to exist, and Jake and the pack shouldn't exist, so why not every other legend out there? Ghosts, mummies, mermaids – it could be argued that they were all real.
"Mermaids?" He chuckled, shaking his head, but at least he wasn't growling anymore.
Jasper laughed, slapping his brother's shoulder. "I hear they're hot," he chortled, shooting me a wink.
"It depends on who you read," I countered with a smirk. "The Odyssey, yes, they're supposedly beautiful. In Harry Potter, not so much."
"Which do you believe?" Edward asked, but he was fighting his smile.
"I don't...in mermaids, that is." I cupped his face. "You, however, I believe. And I think maybe it was just a very strong mind you heard." I tapped my temple to remind him that he could hear me up to ten miles away – sometimes farther, if we focused hard enough. "You haven't heard them but the one time, so let's let it go for now. Okay?"
"They heard us talking, Bella," Edward sighed, but I could see he was just about to chalk it all up to the unexplained. "They didn't want more of us here. They were so scared."
Frowning, I looked back at the house. "They heard us..." I mused, biting the inside of my cheek.
"So...let's search the house," Jasper suggested. "Maybe there's something we're missing."
The back door popped open, and Alice stepped out. "We won't find anything," she stated firmly. Her brow was wrinkled, showing not only her faith in her brother, but her frustration at not having heard or seen what he had. They worked so closely together that to remove one of them would have made the other feel blind.
"I don't care," I said, standing up and taking Edward's hand. "We're looking anyway. Come on, baby."
I was willing to do anything to wipe the look of frustration, self-doubt, and irritability off my husband's face. He would've done it for me.
Starting in our attic, we searched every room for scents and signs of someone having been there. Jasper and Alice took the first floor, working their way from what was going to be Carlisle and Esme's room, to the kitchen, to the living room, and the library. By the time all four of us had scoured the basement, Alice's prediction proved right. There was nothing out of the ordinary.
Edward gripped his hair, not saying anything about the search, but he turned to Jasper. "We need to start on the attic, Jasper. I want to get as much done as we can before Rose and Emmett get here tonight. You girls are painting, yes?" he asked, kissing my forehead.
"Yeah," Alice and I both answered slowly and quietly.
"Okay," he sighed, his nose wrinkling when he looked to me. "We'll let this go. Maybe you're right; maybe it was a strong mind. Perhaps I was hearing something out of...I don't know...context." He shrugged, but I could tell he didn't quite believe what he was saying. Though, there was no other explanation for the thoughts he'd heard.
Jasper sent a wave of something happier, easier into the room before locking gazes with me and then Alice. I could tell that Edward's doubt was bothering the three of us. He was always so very sure of his ability. It had taken him a very long time, he'd told me once, to narrow down from a bunch of voices to one single mind – even longer to pinpoint exactly who the mind belonged to. He said it was like a long hallway where everyone was speaking at one time, so I could imagine how confusing that must've been added to all the extra senses that came with the change. Even Esme had explained that Edward had never really been sure if it was her mind he was hearing or her voice. At the beginning, he'd answer both.
When the boys disappeared upstairs, Alice met my gaze. Shielding us, I made the decision to lighten the house up. It was the only way to break Edward out of his worry. I didn't want for one second to let our guard down because if he heard someone again, we needed to be ready. But I wanted my carefree husband back from a little less than twelve hours ago. A slow smile crept up Alice's face as she nodded slowly.
"Yep, that'll work," she whispered with an impish grin. "We'll start in the kitchen, work our way out to the living room, and finally tackle that library," she added at a normal tone so the boys could hear us.
"I'll get the paint and supplies," I told her.
"I'll get the music." She giggled, raising her eyebrows up and down. "But I'm telling you, Esme's painting her own room. I've already seen it," she growled, pointing a finger at me.
I laughed but nodded acquiescence. "Yes, Alice. Let's go."
We were well into the living room a few hours later. The sounds from the attic were nothing but hammering, sawing, and Jasper's cursing every few minutes. The latter made Alice, Edward, and me chuckle. We'd checked on them once, and they'd already built the frames for mine and Edward's closet and bathroom. They'd even gone so far as getting the wiring and the pipes ready for when Emmett and Rose arrive.
It seemed that with Jasper's influence and losing himself in a project, Edward had shed his former bad mood – something for which I was extremely grateful.
Music blared from the living room mantel as Alice and I danced, painted, and caulked. We kept the music light, fun, and were probably driving the music snobs upstairs crazy, but we didn't care. Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, and Rihanna poured out of the speakers, which only got worse when Alice and I sang along.
"God, I'm begging you!" Jasper finally pleaded from the bottom of the stairs. "Beatles, Stones, Skynyrd – anything other than this pop crap you're blaring. Hell, I'd take anything with a guitar at this point instead of synthesized shit."
"Okay, okay," I sighed, shooting him an eye roll as I walked to my iPod. "What about the maestro up there? Is he with you?"
Edward's laugh was deep and sexy, and I could just imagine the adorably crooked yet patient smile that went along with it. "I'm afraid so, love. Just...change it up for a little while, okay? One more boy band, and Jasper may snap."
Jasper snorted but nodded in agreement.
"For you, the world, Edward," I teased with a laugh. I flipped over to a playlist of songs that the boys had played together. The list was getting longer, but I usually added the original to the iPod when they played something new. "Here, this is fitting," I called up the stairs as I started with the Rolling Stones Paint It Black.
The sitar sound of the Stones and the beat of the drums caused everyone to laugh. With a satisfied smirk and nod, Jasper went back upstairs, leaving us to the new playlist.
"That is sort of fitting," Alice noted with a shrug of one shoulder, "except we're painting it...Cucumber Breeze." She lifted one of the cans to show me where it was clearly marked along with "living room."
I cracked up, shaking my head at her and going back to the roller in my hand. It was a barely-there green, but it was cool, calm, and easy on the eyes – a stark contrast to the yellowing white that we were covering up.
The playlist brought back many, many memories – of nights out, our boys rocking small clubs, and subtle, lyrical serenades by Edward. It made me long for his piano to get here, along with Emmett's drums and Jasper's guitars. It had been a long, long time since the boys had last gone to an open mic night. Hell, it had been months since all three of them sat down to play anything together, even if it was just for the family.
"Soon, sweet girl," I heard from upstairs, my favorite velvet tone laced with an honest vow.
Grinning, I looked up to the ceiling. No rush, Edward. I just missed it. That's all. You're my favorite boy band. I giggled, shrugging a shoulder because I knew he could see through mine and Alice's minds.
The sweet sound of Edward's surprised laugh barked out of him and through the two floors between us. "Groupie," he teased.
"You love it!" I yelled.
"I do," he called back.
"Oh," Alice gasped, gaping over at me. "Oh, hell yes! It's been way too long," she breathed, her eyes wide and her mouth stretching into a big smile. "I don't care if we stay here...just...play!" she shouted, though she didn't have to, really.
The guys' laughter echoed down the stairs, making us smile at one another because music always made Edward a little calmer, a little happier, no matter the circumstances. The Stones gave over to Bon Jovi, which turned into Guns N Roses, Metallica, and Lifehouse. Some songs were heavy, some were just for fun, and then some were blatant reminders of Edward's love for me. They were usually slower, sweeter...and sometimes sad because occasionally, he would remind us of what we'd been through apart just to make sure we never forgot what our love really meant to him.
Alice and I finished the living room, packed up the paint, and pulled up the tarp we'd laid down. We dragged all our supplies into the library, but I froze. Something was different; something had changed, and I couldn't quite figure out what. The smell was the same as when Alice and I had cleaned in there, there was no sign that anyone had touched a single thing, but still...something was off.
My sister moved the iPod back to the mantel, turning to look at me. "What?"
I shook my head and set down my supplies of paint brushes, rollers, and caulk guns, slowly walking around the room.
"Did we leave the windows open in here?" I asked, making my way around the room and studying every bookcase.
"No, I shut them. Why?" she asked.
I stopped in front of the bookcase I'd cleaned the most, the one with the most damaged books. Reaching out, I trailed a finger along old spines and even older titles. I inhaled deeply, searching for a foreign scent, but I only found my own. What I'd also noticed was that a few books were not like I'd left them. Kneeling down, I studied the bottom shelf and poked at a spine that was sticking out farther than the rest. I hadn't left it like that.
Honey and clean linen entered the room, but the owner of that scent stayed at the doorway of the library.
"What's wrong, Bella?"
I shook my head, looking back over my shoulder to him. "Something's...off." I stood up, looking at both Jasper and Edward. "Did you guys come in here? Since Alice and I cleaned, I mean?"
They shook their heads no, but Edward walked slowly in the room. "I don't smell anything but you two," he stated softly.
"Me, either," I sighed, brushing my hands off on my jeans.
"We've been banging around a lot up there," Jasper mused, rubbing his chin as he, too, searched the room. "Maybe it vibrated down the main wall to here."
"Maybe," I agreed, shrugging a shoulder. It was as good of an explanation as any, considering the attic's main wall was connected to this one and the boys were blocking in two corners of it upstairs. I shrugged again but turned toward my supplies.
"You girls want help?" Edward offered, taking the rollers from me. "We're at a stopping point upstairs..."
I looked to Alice and then to Jasper, finally landing back on Edward. "Yeah, definitely. This is the last room we're doing down here. Esme's on her own with their rooms."
Edward smirked, cupping my chin and bringing me in for a brief kiss. "You got it. Where do you want us?"
Deadly question, handsome, I teased him in my thoughts, showing him all sorts of naughty things of where I'd really like him, but I squeaked when he poked my side. "Okay, okay...since you're both so tall, you can start up top," I told them, smacking at Edward's tickling fingers.
The music went back on, the paint came out – this time, English Red, which was a deep, rich shade – and I dropped the tarps on the floor before beginning to caulk the windows. Most likely thanks to Jasper, the work was much more fun in feeling than it had been, but the boys added an element of silly, nonsensical conversations and laughter. They also sang along with the music, which was always so damned beautiful that I could barely contain how it made me feel. Where Edward's voice was soft, smooth, and melodic, Jasper's was soulful, a touch raspy, and added the perfect harmony.
I was also busted more than once for staring at Edward's ass as he stood up on the ladder while he painted the wall where it met the ceiling. Once again, he was wearing older jeans, something that could get messed up without giving Alice a meltdown. They were worn out in the ass and the knees and frayed just a little around the hems and pockets. I licked my lips at just how well they hugged him in all the right places.
A sexy-ass eyebrow raised as he caught my thoughts, but I could only laugh and shrug. What? Sue me, baby. It sits there all perfect and stuff, defying gravity and those beat up jeans – which are very, very sexy, by the way. I should take a picture of it on my phone. You know, for posterior...I mean, posterity.
I grinned at my own inner joke, giggling as Edward fought not to laugh. I was aware that Alice and Jasper were watching us with faces filled with amusement. I wasn't sure what Alice was seeing, but they didn't say anything. However, I knew for a fact that Jasper was feeling my mischief.
"Oh, I don't think so, Isabella," he countered with a chuckle, but it was laced with a warning yet teasing growl as he slowly edged down the ladder.
"Yup," I sang, backing slowly toward the doorway. "In fact...my phone's just in the other room..."
I knew he'd use his speed against me, but I bolted for the living room anyway. Using my shield, I blocked his reach, which caused a laughing growl to bark out of him. I snatched my phone off the mantle as I ran through the room, my husband hot on my trail. I was aiming for the front doors, when they flew open.
"Emmett!" I squealed, diving passed him and using his giant form to hide behind. "Save me." I cracked up, peeking around my largest brother's shoulder.
"Hi, baby girl. Is Eddie up to no good again?" Emmett asked, slamming a heavy hand into the doorjamb to stop Edward from coming near me.
I said, "Yes," with a laugh at the same time Edward scoffed, "No."
Edward rolled his eyes when I stuck my tongue out at him, but I could see the warmth, the humor back in their golden depths, a sharp contrast from that morning. I held up my phone, shaking it a little, and my husband grinned, shooting a wink my way.
Pointing a finger at me and raising his eyebrow again, he said, "Try it, beautiful."
"Okay." I smiled in victory because I damn well was getting my picture, and then I turned to the two siblings I hadn't seen in months.
I hugged Emmett, spinning to see Rose smirking with amusement behind us on the front steps.
"I missed you!" I squealed, hugging her fiercely.
"Me, too," she sighed happily, giving the house an almost scathing look. "What in the blue hell was Esme thinking?"
Edward laughed as he gave Emmett a rough one-armed hug and Rose a gentler one. "You should've seen this place when we got here," he told them as Alice and Jasper joined us in the foyer.
I pushed and shoved at them to go inside. "Come on, we'll show you."
~oOo~
EDWARD
"How's town?" Rose asked, crossing one leg over the other.
"Boring," Alice muttered, rolling her eyes. "It's a small town, not a lot to do, but there's always Canada."
Rose nodded, her mind expecting as much. She then switched to thoughts of the garage outside.
"We haven't been out there," I told her. "We were saving it for last. We needed to get this place at least ready to get the movers in."
Rose nodded. "Okay. Em and I will take a look at it in a bit."
The garage had been the least of my worries when it came to getting the house ready. We were so far out of town, I wasn't worried about anyone messing with our cars, and in all reality, that building needed the most work, if not just completely torn down and rebuilt.
"I talked to the movers once Rosie and I crossed over into New York," Emmett started, settling back against the wall. "They'll be here by morning. They had to stop along the way. Engine troubles or something. I think they had to switch out cabs."
His announcement wasn't a shock, nor did it bother any of us. We knew that the moving company Esme had hired had been given instructions to take their time, that there was no rush. They were pretty booked up, but they came highly recommended because they specialized in large pieces like my piano. We needed time in order to clean up enough to bring our things in. Not to mention, we didn't exactly need furniture for comfort.
We'd all settled along the walls of the living room around the fire after showing Emmett and Rose the house, Bella's iPod playing softly in the background. They weren't surprised at the amount of work we'd gotten done, but offered to help us the following morning. We really just wanted to play catch-up on what we'd all been up to. It had been a few months since we'd seen one another, so the conversation flowed easily. And despite the length of time it had been since I'd had that many minds in one room, the company of my siblings around us was actually really nice.
Bella reclined back against my chest as Alice and Jasper retold their story about Mississippi, about seeing her old house, neighborhood, and the old building that had once been an asylum to the "feeble-minded" – a term that Bella absolutely despised, but it had been the acceptable diagnosis back then. Jasper said they'd even gotten a glimpse of old Miss Addy, who had declined in the last year since her long talk with Charlie about Alice's past.
I'd heard all of it before because Alice had talked nonstop about it after Bella and I had picked them up from the airport, so I let my mind wander farther than the room my family was sitting in. I still wasn't completely convinced that what I'd heard the night before was just some random strong mind passing by in a car, and I damn well didn't think it was a ghost.
Inhaling deeply the scent of my wife's hair, I held back my disappointment when I came up with nothing. Other than the thoughts of my wife and siblings, I couldn't hear a thing, certainly not the disjointed mind that had shocked me before.
"How was Alaska?" Bella piped up, dragging me back into the conversation.
I smiled against the back of her head because that one thought had been all that she could focus on since Emmett and Rose had arrived. She was worried about our extended family since the way things had ended in New York. Tanya had lost her reason, her sanity snapping like a thin string that had been pulled too tightly, and Bella worried that the Denali family blamed us for her death, even though ultimately, it had been Marcus to order Tanya's demise and Esme who had authorized the girls to carry that order out.
"Ah, they're fine," Emmett sighed, though his thoughts and his face revealed his sadness. "They know it was the only way, Bells."
"They said to send their love," Rose added with a small nod. "Kate and Garrett are doing great. They're kinda cute, actually. Whenever he acts like an idiot, she shocks him back down to earth with that talent of hers. He's settled in well for someone that was used to traveling whenever he felt like it. Carmen and Eleazar are the only ones that seemed to have let it all go because all that Tanya did went against everything they believe. They're ashamed of her, I think. However, Irina and Gianna are still together, though they've taken to a new...fetish."
"Ugh," I groaned, burying my face into Bella's shoulder as I saw things no one should really see. It seems the two immortal women had taken to inviting human men into their bed. It also led me to believe that the two were never really mated because no immortal would...share.
Rose laughed, her head falling back. "Right?" she chortled. "It seems Irina hasn't lost her succubus nature."
"Oh," the rest of them murmured at the same time, having caught up quickly. That only made imaginations go wild, adding to my misery.
Bella giggled when I groaned again, turning to nuzzle my jaw and linking our fingers together. "Poor baby," she crooned, kissing my cheek.
"Anyway," Emmett pushed on with a chuckle, "they aren't holding anything against us. If anything, they feel slightly responsible for Tanya. Looking back, they feel they could have been more help to her. You know...seen what she was going through."
I was bracing myself for thoughts of Tanya's infatuation with me for so many years, but they never came. In fact, most thoughts were of pity because Tanya had lived a very long life, essentially alone, and sometimes, loneliness could take its toll on an immortal's sanity. Carlisle had mentioned that same thing more than one time. Loneliness, I could understand, which only caused me to pull my Bella closer, tighter. Without her, I wasn't so sure where I'd be in this life. I certainly wouldn't be the better man that was currently holding the one thing that mattered most to me. She'd changed me, given me the one thing I never thought I'd have – pure, perfect love.
My gaze shot to Emmett because his mind was taking in his surroundings.
"What's the deal with this place? And what the fuck is that smell?" he asked, causing Bella and Jasper to crack up.
"Ghosts," Jasper teased, laughing harder when my growl resounded through the room.
"Spill," Rose commanded, folding her arms across her chest and glancing around at the rest of us.
"It seems..." Bella sighed, shaking her head before kissing me softly, her mind just trying to keep me soothed, calm. "It seems the consensus in town is that this house is haunted. The smell is...age. It's mold and mildew and closed-up spaces for far too long. No one's lived here for about ten years. Damn, you can still smell it?"
"No, not really, but there is this underlying scent..." Emmett said, giving the room another slow glance. "It is musty, but it isn't new scents...except for you guys. But still..."
Emmett's thoughts were along the same lines as Bella's...that there was something not quite right with the place. He spun to face me. "What do we know about this place?"
"Not much," I sighed, running a hand through my hair. "It started construction in 1901. Built by a William Varner for his wife and son. From there, it changed hands several times, the last one being ten years ago. It's been on the market ever since."
"Maybe Esme knows more," Bella mused softly, turning my wedding ring over and over. "We can ask her when they all get here. Their flight leaves Monday."
I chuckled at the little squeals of happiness that the news of Kevin and Adrian joining us brought out in the girls. They'd missed the flamboyant Kevin and his shy mate, Adrian. I had to admit that Kevin had fit into our family flawlessly, even as a strong-willed human. We'd gotten so attached to him that we'd ended up outing our true nature to him. And just like my Bella, he'd accepted us and loved us anyway. That alone endeared him to the family. When he'd gotten hurt by Tanya, we'd all been distraught waiting for Adrian to make a decision to change him. Had he died, every woman in my family would have been completely heartbroken. Instead, he'd taken to his immortality like a fish to water.
More?! There are...can't have... Need... No longer my own...Varner... Monsters...
I froze, my head spinning to stare behind me. The only two that picked up on it were Bella and Jasper. He felt my panic, but not the pure unadulterated fear that seemed to lace every choppy thought, and she felt my rumbling growl.
"You're hearing them again," she barely breathed.
Nodding, I stood up and pointing to Jasper. "Spread out. They're close by."
Jasper quickly instructed Emmett and Rose, and the whole family bolted out of the house. They responded without question, without any explanation whatsoever. Bella shot out the back door, sending a wide range, dome-like shield over several acres of the property, the house and most of the driveway included. Her goal was to catch them inside of it like a net. Scents were our main priority, so we spread out, moving as quickly as we could, but the farther away I got from the actual house, the more I was convinced that I was too far from the source of the mind I'd heard.
There was absolutely nothing. No scent, no trail, no more thoughts. It pissed me off.
Bella slowly pulled her shield back toward her, essentially fishing for something, anything. It came up with no one but family. Alice's visions flipped crazily through every scenario she could come up with. She sought out immediate futures, which showed nothing more than explaining to Emmett and Rose what I'd heard, and she looked a little further down the line where Carlisle was concerned about me.
With a low growl, a hand through my hair, and a defeated sigh, I gave up when no new scent could be found, even directly around the house.
By the time I made it to the back deck, Jasper and Bella were telling Emmett and Rose about the first time this happened. The pity in their voices caused my nostrils to flare, but it was Emmett's thoughts that made me stop just a few yards from the back steps because he was going to ask it no matter what.
"Can you hear ghosts?" he asked, tilting his head at me, his brow furrowing in confusion. He believed me that I'd heard something, but the lack of physical evidence made him think that there was more here than met the eye.
"It's not a damn ghost!" I snarled, slamming my hands into the closest tree. The trunk obliterated on the impact of my hands, the top tumbling down with a loud crashing sound.
Bella was immediately in front of me, grasping my face. "Okay, okay..." she soothed, cupping my face. "Edward, sweetheart. Look at me," she instructed. "We believe you, okay? We just don't know how to help you find it."
I panted in front of her, but she pulled and tugged at me until my forehead rested against hers. I needed to find the source of these thoughts because they seemed to know too much. If they were human, then we needed to move on. If they were immortal, then we needed to speak with them. The fact that I couldn't tell really bothered the hell out of me. And I just couldn't see enough to determine the difference.
"What'd they say...er, think?" she asked so very softly.
"They were scared, calling us monsters again," I whispered, trying to get my temper under control, if only for her sake. She absolutely hated seeing me upset. I repeated what I'd heard, and she simply nodded. "Okay. Do you want to check the house again?"
I nodded silently, and our siblings immediately left us alone to do just that. Emmett and Rose were a little wary of my outburst because they hadn't seen me explode like that since I'd told them we were leaving Forks to keep Bella safe.
"Edward," she whispered, once we were alone. "He didn't mean any harm..."
"I know," I said, cutting her off rudely. "I understand that would be the only explanation, but I just don't think it's possible, Bella."
Her thoughts swirled around different scenarios but finally landed on one. "Maybe we should call Carlisle."
"No," I groaned, pulling away from her and starting to pace. "It can wait."
I was beginning to think two things. One, that I was losing my mind, hearing something that wasn't there. Or two, that there was someone that traveled by with a very strong mind, but only strong enough for me to catch glimpses into their thoughts. The mind I'd heard was jumbled, choppy like static on a radio. It seemed far away, yet at the same time, very close. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced.
Most thoughts were clear, their mind matching the person behind it – human or immortal. Bella's magnificent mind was calm, comforting, like slipping into the softest bed. She had the sweetest, silliest, most loving mind I'd ever had the honor of hearing. Carlisle was almost the same way, calm, compassionate, and with him, Esme, who was the epitome of love and motherly concern at all times. Alice's was complicated, constantly working through visions that bombarded her whether she wanted them or not. In fact, I could've picked out my family in a stadium full of minds. I knew these thoughts like the back of my hand. I knew Jasper's thoughts were layers of emotions that he had to sort through just to find his own feelings. I knew that everything that came out of Emmett's mouth was almost the same thing he was thinking at that moment. And I knew that Rose was a little self-involved, but she loved fiercely.
But this mind... It was jumbled and murky, not even allowing me to see where the owner was. Where normally, I could see their point of view, it wasn't happening this time. All I saw was blackness, gray and cold, like they were blind.
"You're not crazy, baby," Bella suddenly said, and I spun to look at her. "Just because it doesn't make sense doesn't mean it isn't real."
Her thoughts made me slow down, reassess what I was thinking. She was concerned, not by my lack of evidence, but what that lack of proof was doing to me. She recognized the signs of my temper, my self-deprecating mannerisms. It was actions she hadn't seen in years...since she was human. And she hated even more that they'd come on so suddenly.
I groaned, my head falling back. "I'm so sorry, Bella."
"You owe me no apology," she stated firmly, her hand on her hips. She let out a deep breath. "Maybe we should hunt. Hmm?"
Wrinkling my nose, I nodded because it had been two weeks since we'd hunted together in New York.
"Come on." She held out her hand for mine, linking our fingers together. Giving my hand a squeeze, she said, "We'll get away from things for a few hours."
With that said, she led us north toward Canada.
~oOo~
"Better?" Bella asked, dragging her lips down my neck to my collarbone.
"Mmhm," was all the reply I could give her because she was still wrapped around me, perfectly bare and sated and happy.
I was still inside her as my hands continued their endless circuit of light touches through her hair, down her back, her bottom, and her thighs. She smelled like me, the two moose she'd taken down, and the several colors of paint that were smudged on her fingers and elbows. My head felt clearer after hunting, but my soul felt calmer after she'd launched herself at me. My wife in control was extremely sexy.
Bella giggled when I stirred inside of her, which caused me to smile against her neck. "What are you thinking?" she asked in a sexy sing-song way, pulling back to cup either side of my face.
"You, love. Always you," I answered honestly and with the answer I always gave her, brushing my lips across hers as she smirked at me.
"I know we should get back soon, but do you want to talk about it?" Her voice was soft, sweet, but there was a tenor to it that told me that I really didn't have a choice in the matter. In all reality, she could hold my ass right there until I gave in...not that I'd complain.
Leaning forward, I pressed my lips to her forehead, gazing out over the top of her head at our surroundings. We were just over the Canada border, deep in the middle of the woods. By human standards, it was cold, but as it was, we were naked, leaning up against a fir tree. I let out a slow breath, pulling back to lock eyes with warm, calm brown. I loved that her shield allowed me to keep the chocolate depths I'd completely fallen for back in Forks.
I opened my mouth to speak, but shut it, brushing her hair away from her face. I didn't know if I could explain it well enough, but I was going to try.
"I have to watch out for us. You know that, right?" I asked her, frowning a little, but she nodded as she ran her fingers through my hair. I nodded, too, and went on. "I've been listening to thoughts for so long, waiting for that one time when someone sees us for what we are. I've heard when Carlisle's nurses start to second guess his age, when Emmett does something in school that showed off his strength a little too much, and times when our lack of eating has been noted. It's those times when I'd let the family know it was time to move on."
Bella nodded. She knew these things, of course. She knew about them when we met and even more now that she was a member of the family. She knew that I'd listen for thoughts of curiosity, and Alice would watch for decisions all concerning who and what we were. It was the only way we could stay ahead of the humans and maintain the carefully-constructed facade that we needed in order to live somewhat normal lives. Bella was aware of all of this.
"But this mind...these thoughts know what we are. And not only do they not want us here, but they are so very scared, Bella." I sighed because the next sentence out of my mouth was going to sound pompous, but it was the truth. "I've never been wrong. Ever."
My sweet girl frowned, tracing my eyebrows with a single finger, rubbing at the wrinkle between them. She was so beautiful, and her mind was closed to me.
"You were wrong once," she said suddenly, smirking a little. "I knew what you were."
Grinning, I kissed her nose. "You trumped my talent, sweet girl. And dear God, I wanted you to know." We were quiet for a moment, but I added, "I can't afford to be wrong, Bella. I have to protect us...and if this person knows what we are..." I trailed off a little, switching gears. "We can't be exposed."
She let out a long exhale and nodded. "You know I believe you, right? No matter what. I know that...evidence is evading us, but I trust you. If you say you're hearing this mind, then I believe you."
"Who's biased now?" I teased, smiling at her soft laugh, because she was always telling me that I was biased and blind when I tell her she's the most perfect thing in the world.
"Maybe," she conceded with a shrug of one smooth shoulder that I couldn't resist kissing. She stiffened a little in my arms before asking her next question. "Want to tell me why the thought of a ghost sets you off, Edward?"
"Because I've never heard or seen one or ever believed that they exist, Bella," I grumbled, trying to maintain my temper. The thought of ghosts seemed ridiculous. "I've lived a long time, witnessed some really strange things, and that is one thing I haven't seen. I just don't see how it's possible."
"There are studies that say differently...TV shows, movies, books," she countered, not arguing but simply stating what she knew.
"I know." I allowed my eyes to drink her naked body in, my hands rubbing softly up and down her sides. "Which would mean they were human...they died. And if they were human, then they still shouldn't know we were monsters." It was a lame argument, but what I'd heard had been too close for comfort.
"I hate it when you call us that," she sighed, frowning and looking past me over the forest. "It's derogatory when you use it. A self-deprecating thing. You're no more a monster than me...or Esme and Carlisle." She raised an eyebrow in challenge, but I remained quiet, thoroughly chastised. "Let's say...for argument's sake...that it's a ghost you're hearing." She held a hand up when I opened my mouth. "Just in theory, baby. That's all. What would we do?"
I grimaced, shrugging a shoulder. "No clue."
"Then I want to talk to Carlisle," she stated firmly. Once again, it wasn't up for argument. "He's got two hundred years on you. He may have seen something you haven't." She folded her arms across her chest and raised her eyebrow at me in challenge.
I laughed, conceding to her simply because I couldn't not give her whatever it was that popped into that gorgeous head of hers. "Fine, sweet girl. But save it until he gets here, okay?"
"Sure, baby. No problem." Her teeth nipped at her bottom lip, and then she added, "I'm not giving this...this ghost business any credit, Edward. I just want to find out what you're hearing. You know that, right? I just..."
"You're looking out for me, Bella. I totally understand. And thank you," I finished for her, meaning my gratefulness sincerely. "I'm sorry...about before."
"You have every right to be freaked out," she told me, smiling at my chuckle and starting to extricate herself from my arms.
Before she could peel herself off of my lap, I stopped her. "Since we're talking theories, love... Why..." I paused, not knowing how to ask the next question without sounding stupid. But one look at her face told me I could ask anything of her, and she'd never think less of me. "Why would some spirits stay and not all? How could we not see everyone after they're gone?"
Without saying a word, she allowed me back into her mind, asking if I was thinking of my parents.
"Yes."
My voice barely made a sound, but she heard me and reached up to brush my hair off my forehead, only to place a long, slow kiss there. She cupped my face, and in her mind, she ached for me. She also wondered if that was part of the reason I wouldn't hear of the subject.
"Maybe," I allowed, looking away from her loving eyes.
She forced my eyes back to hers gently, saying, "I don't know, baby. I wish I did. I've heard things about 'unfinished business.' Well, maybe your parents didn't have any. Maybe when your mom turned you over to Carlisle, that was the last thing she needed to do...to take care of her son."
I nodded again, not having a single thing to say to that, so I changed the subject. "We should get back."
"Okay," she said, finally getting up off my lap, and I felt exposed without her. Once we were redressed, she took my hand in hers. "We'll figure it out, Edward. I promise. You're not going crazy. I don't believe that at all. Just...keep doing what you're doing."
Smiling, I wrapped an arm around her shoulders so I could kiss the top of her head. She always knew what I needed to hear, even when I didn't. "Thanks, my love."
"Mmhm," she hummed haughtily, causing me to shoot her a wink. "Now...let's hope that the truck is there. God, I miss your piano. And your guitars."
Rolling my eyes at her teasingly, I muttered, "Groupie," before taking off at a run.
Her growl was mixed with an adorable laugh as she chased after me.
~oOo~
It took an extremely large tip to the movers to keep them from unloading the whole trailer into the allotted rooms. It also took Rose's flirtatious mannerisms to get them to unhook the cab, leaving said trailer for us to unload. We told them that they could pick it up later that evening. With the six of us and no human there to see us, we would have the truck unloaded in a fraction of the time. And the drivers got paid the same. It was a win-win for everyone.
By the time the sun had set that day, the trailer was empty and gone, the house was filled with boxes and furniture – all in their appropriate rooms – and the library was filled with musical instruments...and more books. Jasper and I owned several guitars – some that we shared and some specifically ours alone – and Emmett owned a massive drum set, though he didn't always set all of them up. And then there was my piano. I chuckled at it, shaking my head a bit as I checked it over to make sure that it had survived yet another move. My sweet girl couldn't bear to leave it behind, even with promises of new ones. No, it had to be that piano – the piano that I'd had when I met her.
Finding it only a touch out of tune, I rendered that problem quickly – a benefit of perfect hearing and memory. I sat down at on the bench, running my fingers up the scales, testing, listening, but it seemed that the move had been kind. I started softly, slipping into "Claire de Lune" without even thinking about it as I listened to my family and my wife chatter nonstop, laugh, and tease one another in different parts of the house.
Emmett and Jasper were in mine and Bella's room, contemplating the construction on our bathroom and closet. The girls were catching up on music, movies, and the latest who's-doing-who in Hollywood. Some beloved couple had broken up, and it was a heartbreaking shame and tragedy. The question was posed more than once, "What was she thinking? He's so cute!"
Huffing a single laugh, I lost myself in the music, barely noticing when Jasper joined me. He picked up the closest guitar and fiddled with the strings as he perched himself on a stack of boxes. I switched over from classical to Paul McCartney, smiling at him when he joined me in the song "My Love."
He sang softly to himself simply because we weren't taking it seriously. It was just a way for us to settle down after a stressful move and a few really strange days. The conversation upstairs slowed to a stop, and a mental collective sigh echoed through all of them. They'd missed this, the sound of us playing. To us all, it was soothing.
The scent of freesias and strawberry wafted around me, and I smiled at my Bella entering the library, the girls and Emmett right behind her. She sat with me, leaning over to kiss my cheek, her thoughts plainly happy. She didn't even care what we played as long as we continued because she'd been looking for her iPod all damn day.
When I looked over at her, she just shrugged a shoulder. "It's around somewhere among all of these boxes," she said softly, nudging me to keep playing and wearing the most adorable smile.
I knew the song she wanted, so when I started "Wild Horses," she practically melted to my side. Jasper never missed a note, catching up quickly. Emmett grinned at us, spending his time shifting things around in the room to find the best place for his drums. The girls sang softly to themselves, mostly, sounding more like the Sundays version of the song than the Rolling Stones. It was haunting and beautiful.
No more...no more...Monsters! I...must... Need to stop... Blood...
My playing faltered, but I continued because I just didn't see the point in searching for that mind anymore, but it was Jasper that slammed his hand down onto the top of the piano.
"You want to tell me what fuck that was?" he asked, looking wild-eyed around at everyone in the room.
I stopped playing, narrowing my eyes at him, and the room came to a standstill. "You felt that." I stated it more than asked because the whole room suddenly felt it through him. He'd had no choice but to push it out and away from him.
"Pure terror," he breathed, his mouth hanging open. "And it won't do any good to look, will it?"
I shook my head. "I don't think so," I admitted softly. "Where?"
"No idea, man, but I felt it. It was everywhere and then nowhere," he murmured, setting the guitar down and giving the room a long glance.
"Yeah, that's how it is for me, too."
A box dropped heavily to the floor, making the girls jump, and I could see that Emmett's face was no longer the jovial brother we saw on a normal basis. "Okay," he grunted with a nod. "Now both of you?" he growled, folding his large arms across his chest when we nodded. "And you can't tell what or who the fuck it is?"
"No," we both answered.
"You don't want to look?" Bella asked me, tugging my shirt sleeve.
"We won't find anything...again," Alice stated, her nostrils flaring as she locked gazes with me. You and now Jasper... Why the hell can't I see this shit?
"I don't know, Alice," I sighed, running a hand through my hair.
Bella suddenly stood up, her face unreadable. "I think it's time to find out about this house. Maybe there's a reason the town thinks it's haunted."
Before anyone else could argue, Emmett piped in. "I agree. Bells, get your laptop. And tomorrow...we hit this town's library and newspaper." He pointed to Alice, who was already pulling out her phone. "And call the parental units. I wanna know what they know." My largest brother turned to me. "We'll figure it out, Ed. You're hearing shit, and now Jasper feels it, too? Nah, man...it's not just you two. Something's up in this place."
"Bella said the same thing yesterday," Jasper added, still trying to shake off the fear.
Bella came back into the room with her laptop in hand, giving it to Emmett. But we all turned to Alice when Carlisle's voice sounded over the speakerphone.
"Alice," he greeted. "Everything okay?"
"Hey, Carlisle. No, not really," she hedged, giving the room a glance.
"What's going on, sweetheart? Is everyone all right?"
Alice locked gazes with me as visions of different ways this conversation could go split several ways in her mind. She went with the bluntest option. "Do you believe in ghosts?"
"Wait... What?" he sputtered, almost laughing, but he maintained it. "There are plenty of research results that prove both sides of that argument, Alice."
Standing up from the piano bench and holding my hand out for the phone, I turned it off speaker and said, "Carlisle..."
"Edward, what's this all about?"
I sighed, walking away a little and starting to explain everything – from the smell of the house when we walked in the first time, to every thought I'd heard, to the lack of proof that anyone was around. I added in the little things, too, like moved books in the library. And I finished with the most recent event with Jasper. He only stopped me to clarify something, but otherwise, he let me spill it all. When I was done, Carlisle was quiet for a moment.
"I can understand why you're unnerved, Edward," he said softly. "Let me see if I can change flights. I'll get back to you as soon as I know. Hang in there, son. Okay?"
"Yes, sir."
"And perhaps Bella and Emmett are right. It wouldn't hurt to find out the history of that house. Maybe it's something you're just simply overlooking."
I snorted when Bella and Emmett bumped fists and turned back to the computer in front of them wearing smug grins.
"Okay, Carlisle. We'll let you know what we find out."

2 comments:

Debbie Hannon said...

This is my first Angel story. I would love to read the rest of them. (No, it doesnt bother me to read out of order... sometimes. I couldn't stop reading this if I had to! I am addicted!)

Is all your other Angel stories in PDF?

Love it! Update soon :~)

Jenny said...

Yeah, the other Angel stories are in PDF. :) They are also posted on here & FFn. I'm re-editing them, slowly making my way through the first one, if you want to read them on the blog or FFn instead of the PDF. :) Enjoy, regardless! They are so great!

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