Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 3

Chapter 3
BELLA
"I think we should hit the newspaper first," I suggested, climbing into the passenger side of Emmett's pickup truck – because we needed to stop at the hardware store, we couldn't bring Edward's Volvo. "There wasn't much online, except to say that the office was open to browse microfiche. Jasper called, and it seemed the server crashed a few years back. They just never uploaded again."
"And then the library?" Edward verified, cranking the engine. When I nodded, so did he, saying, "Okay, we'll stop at the hardware store last to pick up the bathroom stuff I ordered. It's in."
He grinned, all sweet and proud of himself, which caused me to laugh a little. Sometimes, he was too cute to even look at. It didn't help that today, he was dressed to look like the seventeen-year-old in which he was frozen. Black jeans, sneakers, leather jacket, and a gray button-down that he'd left untucked reminded me of the mysterious yet beautiful boy I'd met in Forks so long ago. Because Alice said we had to play the part of students doing a history project, I'd had to dress young, as well. Dressed for cooler weather in jeans, a hoodie, and my own leather jacket, I'd tossed my hair up into a ponytail.
Another thing that helped Edward to look relaxed was that a little of his worry had ebbed away now that not only was the whole family trying to help him, but that Jasper had been witness to what he'd been going through – though, my true theory was that telling Carlisle everything took away his burden just a bit. It always did. Without Carlisle around, most of the responsibilities of the family fell on Edward's shoulders, so adding the strange mind that he'd been hearing was causing him to stress the hell out. At least now, he didn't feel quite so alone in it all.
There was little to be found online the night before about the small town. In exchange for our siblings unpacking, Edward and I volunteered to go into Caribou, but we'd had to wait until morning. Instead, we'd spoken to Carlisle a few times about his flight changes. Esme had gotten on the phone once to explain that she'd been unaware of the haunted house rumors, but she'd be contacting Mrs. Delap as soon as she arrived. The fierce Momma Bear in her was in full swing. No one messed with her children – not even the strange happenings at a rundown house.
Edward turned the radio on, trying to find something local, but finally settled for whatever Emmett and Rose had been listening to in the CD player. I grinned when it was the Neon Trees. "Everybody Talks" was a fast, fun song, so he left it on as we traveled into town.
Caribou reminded me a lot of Forks, simply because of the long stretches of back roads, the endless amounts of trees, and the people. In the brief glimpses I'd seen, I noticed that the residents of Caribou were hardworking and friendly. The night we'd all gone out together, we'd been welcomed, treated kindly, and given little bits of information on the town, little secrets being passed on – like the best pies were at Sophie's downtown, but the best burger was at Carl's Cafe. Apparently, Carl never cleaned the grill, so the burgers there had an unbelievable flavor. Despite the fact that some were naturally nervous at the sight of us, they didn't waver in their friendliness.
We pulled into a tiny parking lot beside a small storefront-like office. The sign on the outside was clearly marked with Caribou Constitution. After a little research, we found out that the local newspaper was only printed once a week. The bigger news came daily from Bangor. We were starting locally because we needed to know if there was any crime attached to the house.
Edward took my notebook from me, kissed the side of my head, and asked, "What are we hoping to find here?"
"Um, anything on the last owners," I stated with a shrug. "I think the library will give us the history on William Varner."
He nodded, but by the slight tilt of his head, I could see that he was already listening to the person inside as we walked to the door. A bell chimed overhead when we stepped in, and a woman glanced up at us. In a way, she reminded me of Mrs. Cope from Forks High. She was older, with kind hazel eyes and dark hair that was cut short. Her face was round, pleasant, and expectant as we walked to the counter.
"Hi there. Welcome in," she said, leaning her elbows on the counter. There was a nameplate on the wall that said her name was Doris Chambers, Editor in Chief. "What can I do for you two?"
Edward smiled that charming, irresistible crooked grin of his, saying, "Hello, my name's Edward, and this is Bella, and we have a homework project due. I was wondering if you might be able to help us."
Her speech sputtered for just a moment, and I turned away as I rolled my eyes so hard that I was pretty sure I saw my brain. No matter the age, women couldn't resist him. I could hear her heart speed up, smell the scent of sweat in her palms increase, and of course, feel the poke to my side from Edward that she didn't catch.
"Well, I'm Doris," she finally said, pulling a scrap of paper her way, along with a pen. "What's your project on? I'll see if I can't pull you the articles on it."
"The Varner House," Edward answered smoothly, but the way he was looking at her, I knew he was not only reading her outward reactions, but her mental ones, as well.
Her eyebrows shot up high into her hairline, but she nodded. "You must be that new family that moved in. Collins? Carson?"
"Cullen," we both answered together.
"Ah, yes." She chuckled a little, eying us both. "My apologies. News travels fast around here."
"No problem," I said with a shrug of one shoulder. My shield shifted just a little, and I smiled up at her because sometimes, my talent worked all on its own. It was like I could sense the good in people...and the bad, but my shield had a tendency to shun those.
"Now, my archives only go back to 1973," she said, tapping her pen on the counter. "That house is a lot older than that. For the real history, you'll want to go see Bob at the library."
"We planned on it," Edward told her. "But we wanted to start with the most recent history. I was hoping for anything on the last owners – Timothy and Lisa Dixon. From what we can figure, that was about ten years ago."
That made her heart speed up even more, and it didn't go unnoticed between Edward and me, but she leaned closer. "Is it true? Is it haunted?" she asked, looking almost childlike in her curiosity.
Giggling, I said, "Oh, I don't think so. At least, we haven't seen anything." The lie was smooth, but it satisfied her in some way.
"It's just an older house. Kinda creepy," Edward said, sounding so out of character for him that I laughed softly.
"Gotcha." She stood up straight, gesturing to a corner where two microfiche machines sat on a table. "Pick a machine, kids. I'll pull the archives from ten years back...and I'll see what else I can find."
Edward and I did as she asked, but he spoke quickly and quietly so that she couldn't hear him. "Her reaction to the name Dixon was interesting," he whispered, reaching up to tuck a stray lock of my hair behind my ear. "Her memory flashed to a missing persons sign. Apparently, Lisa Dixon disappeared not long after they moved in."
"Oh damn," I breathed but nodded in acceptance of what he'd heard.
"It seems that Doris's husband helped in the search for her," he continued, his brow wrinkling. "He's a park ranger...or was, at least. Her mind circled around to him because he passed away five years ago, so I couldn't see what became of the search."
"Oh," I crooned, frowning at the thought of her missing her husband.
Edward smiled softly yet sadly and kissed my forehead. "My sweet girl," was all he murmured before Doris returned with a few file folders in her hand.
With a few instructions on how to work the machine, she left us to answer and make a few phone calls.
Flipping through a year's worth of small town news wasn't exactly stimulating. There were: classified ads; birth, death, and engagement announcements; articles on skiing and new businesses; reports on small, petty crimes; and pieces on local sports and politics. None of it mattered to us until the headline we'd been looking for popped up on the screen.
Local Resident Goes Missing Out of Own Home
"Here we go," I sang softly, pulling out my notebook as Edward read the article.
"Lisa Dixon was reported missing by her husband of eight years last Tuesday night. Local authorities have conducted several searches of the surrounding area, only to come up empty handed," Edward read, looking over at me with an unreadable expression before he continued on. "Timothy Dixon, a local construction worker, came home from picking up Caroline, their six-year-old daughter, from school, only to find that his wife wasn't home. He told the sheriff that her car was still in the driveway, as well as all of her personal things. No bags were packed, and her purse, wallet, and keys were still on the dresser in the bedroom. According to the police report, there were no signs of foul play. There was, however, one single drop of blood found on the kitchen counter next to where it looked like Lisa Dixon was preparing dinner."
"You know, that sounds like—" I started, but Edward interrupted me.
"I know, but hold that thought, love," he said softly, skimming through the rest of the article. "According to this, they'd only just moved in. They were originally from Ohio, but Timothy Dixon took an offer for a new job. It was supposedly better pay, better benefits." He flipped through the next several weeks of articles but found nothing more, except one small article on the Varner House. It was written almost a year later, and it simply said that it was back on the market. The bank had taken it over.
My eyebrows shot up, and I sighed sadly. "Damn, he left...everything. Didn't he?"
"Let's find out," he whispered before standing up to walk back to the counter. "Mrs. Chambers?" he called softly and politely.
"Please, call me Doris," she told him, getting up from behind her desk. "Is there a problem, sweetie?"
He smiled at the term of endearment but shook his head. "Well, I was wondering... Do you know anything about this missing woman? Lisa Dixon?"
Doris took a deep breath and let it out. "Sad thing, that situation. No one knows what happened to her. She just up and disappeared one day. She left everything behind, too." She paused for a moment, her brow wrinkling. "Oh, there were rumors that she left with another man or that she went back to wherever they came from – Illinois, I think it was."
"Ohio," Edward corrected gently.
"Right, right. Ohio." Doris nodded, but her eyes glanced over at me. "There's not much I can tell you. Her husband was adamant that she didn't run away, that something went...wrong. He screamed that she was taken, even though there weren't any signs of forced entry – no broken windows, no jimmied locks, that sort of thing. My husband helped in the search for her. All those woods around that house...she could've been anywhere."
"Is Mr. Dixon still in town?" I asked, joining the two of them at the counter.
"No, no..." She shook her head, waving a hand. "He and his daughter moved away about a year after his wife disappeared. They say he let the house go back to the bank – he even left furniture behind – but he never stopped searching for his wife." She sat up straight, her hands flat on the counter. "He moved clear across the country...California, I think." She grimaced a little, looking between Edward and me. "Small towns sometimes come with small minds," she said sadly. "There were a few that assumed he'd done something to her himself, and the story was him trying to cover it up. Nothing was ever proven. I just don't think he could handle the rumors, the whispers, or the accusations that his wife just...left him – or worse."
Something about that last statement broke my heart a little. Edward's pinky hooked mine below the counter, giving it a sweet, soothing tug, but his attention was on the woman behind the counter.
"Thank you for your help," he told her, giving her a small smile. "I think we got what we needed, and we still need to hit the library."
She grinned at him and nodded. "Glad I could help, kids."
I handed her back the files she'd given us, thanking her, as well.
"Not a problem. You go see old Bob Lewis. He's got most of Caribou's history down in the basement, and that includes the Varner House. Tell him I sent you," she told us, pointing a finger at us and shooting us a wink.
Edward chuckled, opening the door for me. "Thank you again."
We were quiet until the doors to the truck closed, and then we glanced up at each other.
"Okay, so Tim Dixon either killed his wife and tried to cover it up..." I started, grimacing at the mere idea.
"Or Lisa Dixon left her family high and dry, not even bothering to take her car," he finished.
But I could tell we were leading up to the same conclusion.
"Or..." he mused aloud, dragging the word out. "Or she really did go missing – she was killed or whatever – completely vanishing, the only thing left behind being a speck of blood." Edward's face was fierce at that theory, his eyes clouding over for a brief moment, and then he let out a deep breath. Cupping my cheek, he asked, "Library?"
When I nodded, he cranked the engine before picking up my hand and kissing the back of it. "Why do I have a funny feeling we won't like what we find out about Varner?"
I snorted and nodded. "Yeah, you're not the only one."
~oOo~
Groaning out of sheer frustration at yet another book giving me nothing, I pushed it away, grabbing the next. The basement of the library was also Bob Lewis's tiny museum dedicated to Caribou. There wasn't much – just enough to fill a room about the size of a small hotel room.
We'd been at this research for almost an hour and a half. William Varner, it seemed, was a rather important figure in the establishment of Caribou. Bob, who had responded better to me than Edward, had told us what he knew off the top of his head, but directed us to the basement to search through the rest of his collection. Not only did everyone in town think that the Varner place was haunted, but Edward and I had started to notice a pattern, and after having heard William Varner's story, we were now searching through every previous owner of our house that we could find.
William Varner came to northern Maine in 1900. He, his wife Elaine, and his six-month-old son Archie moved into a small place just inside town. They were originally from Maryland – or Washington D.C., really. He purchased and started construction on the house we were living in shortly after his arrival. William was responsible for bringing in "big city ideas" to Caribou. He helped start a modern schooling system, established a sheriff's office, and even encouraged a friend of his to open a bank in town. Varner was an even bigger deal than we'd first thought because besides being a teacher at the school, he'd also worked on developing the radio, something that became extremely important by 1917, when the U.S. joined in on WWI.
That little tidbit of information had me asking a million questions of Edward, who answered as much as he could remember from his human days. It shocked me that the radio – something almost insignificant now and technically obsolete – would make such a difference in a war. And the fact that William's son, Archie, was born the year before Edward was not lost on me whatsoever. I wondered if Archie had wanted to join the army like my Edward had.
But by 1918 – the same year of Edward's change – things for the Varner family started to go downhill. Elaine and Archie were out on their widespread property, supposedly checking Archie's rabbit traps, when a blizzard blew in. Elaine, a somewhat larger woman, fell, breaking her leg, and Archie was unable to get her back home. They'd been too far out. Doing the best he could, he tried to keep her warm, but by the time William and a few men found them two days later, Elaine was already falling ill...and Archie right behind her.
Elaine Varner died within the week of pneumonia, but Archie pulled through. However, the tragedy for William wasn't over, and it seemed this was where the pattern for the Varner house began. In the summer of 1920, no one had seen nor heard from either Archie or William in several weeks. When someone decided to pay a visit to the house, it seemed that the place had been abandoned – much like when Lisa Dixon disappeared – and that's where the history of the Varners ended.
Bob was able to fill in some blanks, but really, no one knew what had truly happened. It seemed that the two Varner men had disappeared, leaving everything behind – furniture in every room, clothes in both closets, horses in the back field and barn, even rotting food in the kitchen. After several years, the house was finally auctioned off to the highest bidder.
"Thank you, Mr. Lewis," Edward said, rumbling down the stairs of the library's basement.
I glanced up from the book on the table in front of me and chuckled at not only him using unnecessary noise – most likely for Bob's benefit – but at the disgruntled look on his face.
"Why are you running like hell itself is on your tail?" I asked him in a whisper as he breezed by me toward the back bookshelves.
"Never mind," he grumped once he was back, setting a rather large annal down and taking the seat next to mine.
"Edward," I chided, brushing his hair from his forehead. "You look...scared."
The most adorable look crossed his face, making him look like a pouting child. He huffed a rough exhale out through his nose, casting a scathing look to the ceiling.
"There's a book club convening upstairs," he stated, like that answered everything.
"And?" I asked with a laugh. "What? You don't like their reading material?"
"No, no," he scoffed, waving it off. "Though it sounds like a God-awful book they're about to start. But the... I mean... The members of the club all think..."
Grinning, I cupped his endearingly grumpy face. "Is this a bunch of bored housewives that are cougar-drooling over you?"
The scowl that Edward shot me made me laugh, burying it in his shoulder in order to maintain the library's quiet.
"No, smart ass... Well, okay, yes," he rambled, rolling his eyes when I laughed again. "But guess what book they just finished and now think I look just like the main character." His deadly-sexy raised eyebrow made my laugh catch in my throat.
"They were reading Forever?" I gasped, which started my giggles all over again.
"Why, yes, Marie Anthony," he growled playfully, leaning on my old pen name, though his amusement at my giggle-fit was plain as day on his beautiful face.
I snorted, trying to get my laughter under control. I'd written Edward's and my story years ago, after graduating from Dartmouth. Edward had begged me to do it, and I had, but only for him. Once the family had gotten ahold of it, they'd all encouraged me to publish it. It had done extraordinarily well – so well, in fact, that we'd had no other alternative but to fake Marie Anthony's death because the book had drawn so much attention. Despite the fact that she was a middle-aged woman living in Iowa, she'd really been me, and we just couldn't have me sought out.
"Aw," I purred, kissing his cheek. "That only means I described you well."
Edward harrumphed in reply but leaned into my kisses. "Just...tell me what you've found, Bella," he sighed, though he was smirking. "I'm willing to wait out the book club for my own sanity, but I'd like to get home sometime today."
Rolling my eyes at him because I could see his eyes darkening with every kiss I dropped to his cheek, neck, and jaw, I tugged the book I'd been flipping through closer. "Not much. From what I can figure, after the house was auctioned off, the next owner was a single man by the name of...Shepherd. Robert Shepherd. He owned the house from 1925 until 1930. However, he never really lived there. He lived in Portland full-time. It was supposed to be turned into some sort of resort or hotel or something, but the plans and, from what I can tell, the money all fell through. He sold the house in 1931 to some sort of church?" I said, though I ended it in a question because I wasn't quite sure. "Well, it was a church type organization, but it still sat empty for the next few years. Here...look."
Edward pulled the book to him, scanning over the pages. When he reached the bottom of the page, he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "An orphanage," he stated softly, shaking his head. "But there's not much on it."
"I know." I closed that book and picked it up. "I'll go get the next one."
By the time we'd gone through all that Bob's collection had to offer, the only thing we knew was that the Varner house had changed hands at least eleven times before the Dixons bought it. And anytime that anyone actually moved in, someone went missing. Because it was spread out over a century, no one saw the pattern, though that may have been where the haunted house rumors had originated. A hundred and sixteen years, twelve owners, six missing persons.
We were lucky number thirteen. But we were also a house full of vampires – beings that couldn't exactly be sneaked up on.
I shook my head slowly as I toted all the books back to their original shelves. I could see how the ghost explanation made sense, but then...it didn't. Even if it were true, despite what Hollywood had done to make ghosts scary, we were physically impenetrable. We couldn't be taken against our will. It would be impossible. We also didn't scare easily because in all essence, we were the top of the food chain.
Giving the bookshelf one last glance, I made a mental note to really, truly go through the library at home because it was quite possible that some of the books belonged to some of the owners throughout the years. Some of them were even old enough to have belonged to the Varners.
"You ready, sweet girl?" Edward asked softly from behind me.
"Yeah," I sighed, turning to face him and leaning back against the shelves behind me. "Though, I'm concerned about going back into that house...and what you'll hear." Reaching out, I tugged him closer and wrapped my arms around his waist. "With what we've found, it kinda sounds like the place is haunted or cursed or something. I just think we're missing some major part somewhere."
Edward nodded, leaning into me and pressing his forehead to mine. "You're worried for me, love. I know. But it's okay."
"Yes, I'm worried," I stated adamantly. "That was some hellified fear Jasper pushed out last night. I can't imagine what the mind sounded like."
He smirked a little, kissing my forehead, and I could see that he was avoiding this particular topic. In fact, he seemed to be searching out a distraction – any distraction.
"Then I'm glad you've got my back, baby," he crooned, leaning into my neck to leave a long, slow, open-mouthed kiss to my skin. "Knowing that you believed me helped, Bella. Thank you." He inhaled deeply right behind my ear, chuckling when I shivered. "You smell like old books."
I grinned. "I bet."
"It's kinda fitting for you...and sexy, if I'm to be honest." He snickered, pulling back to glance around us and then back to my face. "I always wanted you in a library..."
My mouth fell open with that admission. "I know we don't have time for that, Edward Cullen," I chided, but despite my protestations, my arms wound themselves around his neck, my hips pressed into his, and my leg snaked around his calf.
My body never answered to me because he owned it.
"Mm, indeed, love," he purred at what he heard in my mind, brushing the most teasing kiss across my lips. "I do own it..."
The kiss he laid on me would've most likely killed me as a human – not because it was harsh but because my heart would've exploded in my chest. It was hands gripping and groping at my ass, my waist, my breasts – both over and under my shirt. It was long, languid sweeps of his tongue that felt possessive and yet surrendering at the same time. And it was my favorite sound in the world – the long, rumbling, deep moan laced with a touch of a growl – that escaped him into the small silent space in which we were hidden.
Even as my fingers threaded into his hair, my legs secured themselves around his waist, and my lips barely left his, I was still trying to tell him this wasn't such a good idea.
"Baby, someone will come down here," I whispered, sweeping my lips over his, down his jaw, and finally latching onto his earlobe.
"Bob is on a break and smoking a cigarette outside. And the book club is gone," he stated firmly, dragging his teeth across my throat and leaving a nipping sting.
"As much as I'd love you to take me against these shelves, Edward, we still have to hit the hardware store on the way home," I told him, and once again, my body betrayed me because my hips rolled over his now very prominent, very hard erection.
"Yeah?" he asked, giving me that sexy crooked grin of his as he pressed me harder into the shelf behind me, grinding shamelessly into me.
"Yes, bathroom stuff," I reminded him.
"No, not that. You'd let me take you? Right here, love?" he asked in a voice so dangerous, it should've been deemed a lethal weapon.
I gave him a look that was probably a mix between incredulous and a great big, "Duh!"
Edward chuckled darkly, kissing me sweetly, but we both froze at the sounds we heard upstairs in the main part of the library. Kids. Lots of them, from what I could tell. It sounded like a classroom because a teacher told them to be quiet, find a table, and work on their projects.
Someone might as well have thrown a bucket of cold water on us because it seemed all kinds of wrong to continue our debauchery with little kids so close.
Edward's head fell to my shoulder as he got himself under control, but he huffed a small laugh. "Is it debauchery if we're married?"
Giggling, I smothered it into his neck. "It's in public, and we're supposed to be sixteen...and living under the same roof. And poor Bob couldn't handle it."
Edward chuckled softly, pressing a kiss to my neck before pulling back to gaze at me with sweet, honey eyes. "Bob liked you...thinks you're so very pretty and polite," he teased.
"Of course he does," I scoffed back with an eye roll, finally extricating myself from his embrace, but he didn't let me get far. "I'm a young, sixteen-year-old girl. You are a big, ole scary vampire..."
"Yes, that may be true." He laughed, kissing my temple. "But he really thinks I'm just the protective sibling."
"Good, then we did our job right," I told him with a nod of my head. "We should go, baby. I'd like to take a bath with you sometime this week. I miss it."
Edward gave into the panty-dropping, eye-crinkling, breathtaking, All-American smile that sometimes took over his face. He nodded once, shoving his hands into his front pockets, finally gazing up at me through his very long, very dark eyelashes. When an errant curl fell to the middle of his forehead, it was all I could do not to kiss him stupid. That look was his most powerful weapon – not speed, or venom, or mind-reading. Nope, the innocent way he looked at me when he couldn't think of anything to say was utterly deadly.
And it felt like ages since I'd seen it – or at least since we'd been in that strange house...which led me to the next question that popped out of my mouth.
"Will you be okay at home?" I asked, kissing his cheek.
His nose wrinkled a little, but he nodded. "I'm okay. It's unnerving, but I promise to tell you if I hear anything."
"Okay," I said, simply accepting that vow from him.
There wasn't much we could do about it. It bothered me to no end that there was no scent, no physical proof that what he was hearing really existed. But I knew my Edward, and he would never be this worried, this freaked out over something inane. My goal now was to find out what was plaguing him, even if it was a spirit or something. If this ghost had unfinished business, then I'd make sure we finished it for them.
~oOo~
"Baby girl!" Emmett's voice boomed from my attic bedroom. "Get your smelly ass up here!"
I laughed, climbing down from the ladder in the quiet library – too quiet, because I'd yet to find my iPod, which was irritating as hell. I could only assume that my big brother was about to show off his amazing plumbing skills. Between Rose and the boys, Edward's and my bathroom was just about complete when we'd returned from town. They'd put off working on the garage to help us get our room usable.
I, however, had still been in research mode by the time we'd pulled into the driveway, so as the guys unloaded tubs, toilets, and sinks, I'd started going through the bookshelves book by book, checking to see if any were something other than published works. I was looking for notes, journals, diaries...whatever I could find. And there were so many books. I'd worked my way through one side of the room well into the night and had just started the other side.
As I made my way through the house, I noticed Alice had stayed busy, as well. Esme's order of curtains and window treatments must've arrived because the living room was now framed by a soft, tan material. Alice had also unpacked her and Jasper's room, arranged Emmett and Rose's room, and apparently, decorated mine and Edward's, as well, because when I stepped in, I hardly recognized it.
"Whoa," I breathed, taking in red and gold and black. It was a sharp contrast to the blues that Esme always used for us, but I liked it. A lot. "Alice, did you—"
"Yep!" she chirped, tossing a pillow onto my bed. "But I was merely going by Esme's plan."
Giggling once, I shook my head a little. My bed seemed to be sitting on a pedestal in the round part of the room, because it was two steps above the rest of the room. A deep red, sheer material flowed from the ceiling to the floor behind it, catching the color that seemed to be prominent in the bedspread and covering the harsh brick. Two wall sconces cast a soft glow on either side of the black, metal headboard and over two nightstands, and the walls were a soft, warm creamy peanut butter. All of Edward's and my clothes were now hung up in some sort of color coordinated order in my new closet that Alice was closing. My dresser was placed next to it, already filled and decorated. Across from that and underneath the windows was a chaise in black leather, and behind it were the same sheer red curtains flowing to the floor.
"The only thing I didn't do was hang your pictures," she stated, pointing to two boxes tucked away in the corner. "I know you two like to do that."
I smiled and hugged her. "Thank you, Alice."
"Mmhm," she hummed, spinning me around to face the bathroom, where the guys and Rose were waiting patiently.
It was stark white, modern, with splashes of stainless steel everywhere, not to mention frosted glass. It was perfect and clean and finished. I couldn't wait to use it, but when I caught sight of my brothers, I cracked up because Emmett and Jasper were sitting fully clothed in my bathtub. Their backs were on either end, and long legs were everywhere. Both Rose and Edward were rolling their eyes but smiling at them as they leaned against the vanity. Damn, I loved my family with a sickness sometimes.
Edward's gaze snapped up to mine, and he laughed. "Sometimes, love?"
I nodded and stepped into the overly crowded bathroom. "Wow, lack of sleep really does come in handy, huh?"
"Well, Bells," Emmett said haughtily, trying to sound serious but failing miserably, "I figure I can't share a bathroom with you. What if I walk in on you...? Tsk, tsk, tsk," he scoffed, hopping up out of the tub. "First, Eddie would kick my ass. Then Rose would kick my ass. And we can't have two ass-kickings in one day. So the only solution...the way I saw it...was to get this shit done as soon as fucking possible."
"Umm, thanks?" I said, and it came out more like a question because sometimes, Emmett was just...Emmett.
"Sometimes?" Edward asked again, smirking when I laughed at him.
Jasper grinned, also standing up out of the tub. "You're welcome, baby girl," he said, obviously feeling my gratitude.
"Thank you," I said aloud for those in the room without some sort of talent.
Rose laughed softly, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. "You're welcome, but there's a price. I may need your help in the garage. I checked it out, and there's a shitload of books boxed up in there."
"Yeah, sure. No problem," I told her. "But when are Carlisle and everyone due in?"
"Mid-afternoon, love," Edward answered. "Their flight lands in a few hours, and then they'll drive here from Portland."
"Which reminds me," Jasper added, looking to Edward, who was already nodding, "Carlisle asked us to hunt, to be ready for when he and Esme arrive with Kevin and Adrian. He's not sure what the travel will be like for the two of them, so he wants us sharp. You and Bells have already hunted, so we're going to go now."
Edward nodded silently to Jasper again, answering some silent question, but if I was picking up on what Jasper was emitting, then it was a touch of worry. My brother wasn't sure if he should leave Edward with the possibility of hearing another strange thought.
But of course, Emmett had to open his big mouth.
"Yo, Ed, if you happened to hear your ghost again, don't panic. Just tell him to walk toward the light," he guffawed, pointing away from him. "You know...yonder!"
The snarl that Edward let loose was frightening, loud, and a complete change from the calm mood he'd been in when I'd stepped into the bathroom. Two hands – Rose's and Jasper's – reached out and smacked the back of Emmett's head. Hard.
"Get out, Emmett," I seethed, shaking my head as I watched Jasper grumpily manhandle a sheepish Emmett out of our room and down the stairs.
I knew Emmett didn't mean to set his brother off, but this seemed to be a close-to-the-surface issue with Edward. With a deep sigh, I looked to my husband. He was still so pissed, bracing his strong arms on the vanity. He'd shatter everything in the mood he was now in, I knew without a doubt. Maneuvering my body between his and the bathroom counter, I popped up between his braced arms. Hopping up on the counter, I sat in order to see him face to face, but he wouldn't look at me.
"I wish you wouldn't get so mad, baby," I whispered, running my fingers through his hair. "We're all just trying to help...and that includes Em. He's just trying to lighten stuff up. It's what we've always done."
Edward nodded infinitesimally, but he continued to glare at my lap. "He's not sure he believes me," he said so softly that, had I been human, I wouldn't have heard it.
My nostrils flared as I huffed a frustrated breath, and I made a mental note to kick my largest brother's ass when he got home.
"He thinks hearing minds for so long has...broken something in me," he continued, still in the very quiet voice he'd been using.
It took a bit of struggling, but I forced Edward's gaze to mine, and his eyes were black as pitch. "I believe you. Jasper believes you. Alice believes you. Does Emmett really think that? Or are you letting a fleeting thought rule your feelings?"
When he shrugged and looked away, I knew I'd hit the nail on the head. I was damn sure when Emmett first heard what was going on, he'd doubted it all because not a bit of it made any sense. But I couldn't imagine he'd really think Edward was making it up or thought him to be...broken.
Edward's gaze snapped up to meet mine. "You...don't think I'm crazy?"
I grinned, shaking my head slowly. "Crazy about me, maybe."
His lips twitched a little, but he immediately frowned again. "Don't do that. Don't change the subject. What if... I mean... Tanya went insane."
I closed my eyes, wishing tears could fall at such a worry coming from my beautiful Edward. God, was that what he'd been worried about all this time? Why his temper was so sharp these days?
"Baby, no," I soothed, shaking my head fervently as I cupped his handsome yet distraught face. "I don't think that at all. Just because this...this thing is going on here doesn't mean it's not real. You functioned perfectly in town today. Just like always. You aren't crazy, Edward. Please don't think that."
Edward tried to touch me over my jeans and on the outside of my thighs, but his hands just ended back up in fists on top. I rubbed them profusely, but he didn't relent.
"Edward, you know that Tanya wasn't all that stable to begin with," I told him, my voice harsher than I'd intended it to be. "Carlisle has told you that. And she was living an extremely long unfulfilled life. She was lonely, delusional. You..." I exhaled, squeezing the still-clenched fists on my lap because the thought of Tanya still made me irrationally angry. "You, my sweet, sweet man, are none of those things. You, if anything, are the epitome of stable, reliable, and courageous. Are you even listening to me?"
He nodded, trying once again to touch me, but this time, he pulled completely away, taking two steps back from me. "I feel so... I'm not..." He started to pace, which was kind of impossible in the small space of the bathroom. His face was fierce, a pure predator when he finally looked up at me. "I just... I want to fucking break something, Bella."
I flinched at his language because he rarely used it outside of our bedroom, and it was never said with such ire, but I nodded in acquiescence. I could see that he was barely hanging onto his composure.
"Not my new bathroom, Edward Cullen," I told him, hopping down from the vanity, but I grabbed his hand – or his still-clenched fist, really – and tugged him along behind me. "Not only will you regret it, but I still have plans to get you in here."
I led him down the stairs, through the living room, finally ending up in the library. It was the only room left to be unpacked.
"Here," I said, pushing him into the room. "Take it out on these boxes. Make a ginormous pile of books, and I'll clean it up later. You'll be helping me out. Just...don't break my piano," I warned him.
His head spun around to look at me, and I shrugged, folding my arms across my chest. There were wooden crates, metal containers, and cardboard boxes everywhere. And they were all his for destruction. We could get new boxes whenever we moved again, but I refused to let my husband suffer.
Edward's movement was a blur. One strong fist slammed down on the closest wooden crate, shattering it into oblivion. Large books spilled out over the floor, but he'd already moved on to the next and the next and the next. I could feel every punch, every rip, every spilled book rumble through the floor. But my heart could feel every growl, every grunt, and every hissed curse word.
He hadn't been this upset since he'd learned of our connection. Marcus had researched why we ached so badly when we were apart, finally finding evidence of a rare mating situation called completi l'anima. Complete soul. It was beautiful and amazing because we were connected like no other. The electricity that sizzled around us almost on a constant basis bound our souls together as one. The downfall – and the reason Edward had lost his temper – was that time apart was physically detrimental to our lives. And Edward blamed himself for it all because of when he'd left me for two years.
Another poor box met its demise, and I shielded the piano and Emmett's drums from the aftermath. The pile of books was growing, and the remaining crates were dwindling. I wasn't really sure what Edward would do once he ran out of things to break.
I couldn't watch anymore, so I turned to gaze out the window. The night was dark, every star in the sky twinkling like diamonds on black velvet. A raccoon waddled his way across the backyard, disappearing into the underbrush. An owl glided silently across the sky just above the tops of the trees. But the room behind me had come to a standstill.
"I'm sorry," I heard behind me. His voice was so soft, so contrite, but I could still hear his anger.
"Don't be."
"No, love...I'm..." he started but was suddenly right behind me, his hands on my waist and his lips on the back of my head.
Spinning to face him, I leaned back against the window. I met a weary, still angry, but very beautiful face. "You know that thing you always tell me? You know, how you'd do anything for me? Give me the world?" I asked him, and he nodded. "Well, Mr. Cullen, that goes both ways, you know. So don't apologize for taking a little bit of selfish time."
I refused to look at the room behind him, afraid of what I'd see, but I was also afraid to look away from his dark eyes. I was terrified of him losing himself to whatever this was.
"I'm sorry," he whispered again, closing his eyes as he listened to my thoughts.
"Don't apologize to me, Edward. Just...talk to me. What do you need?" I finally growled at him, gripping the front of his shirt.
Fiery eyes locked with mine, and I was pulled closer by his gripping hands. "You," he practically snarled. "I feel so...out of control, Bella. And the only thing keeping me sane is you..."
Something about the raspy growl of his voice, the sensual tenor of his statement, and the deadly look in his eye that was begging me to help made me narrow my eyes at him.
"Oh, damn," I breathed, cupping his face.
I should've recognized the signs back at the library in town. I should've known that he wasn't distracted. Not at all. My sweet Edward had been in what we called a moment – an overwhelming feeling of need and desire that couldn't be helped. But now... Now, adding in his temper, this was something completely different. And I wasn't really sure how to handle it.
"Jesus, Edward. I'm sorry," I said softly. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I don't know," he whispered back, shaking his head and pulling me even closer. "The kids...and we had to get back...and... I don't know, Bella," he said again, though this time through clenched teeth. His long fingers threaded into my hair at the base of my skull, exposing my neck. Edward's low growl vibrated against my skin as his nose trailed along my throat and up to my ear. "But fuck, I need you, love," he purred, and it was laced with a menacing tone.
A shudder ran through me at how he sounded – like pure sex, completely dominant, and totally out of control. The moment combined with that feeling of instability meant there was only one way for Edward to calm down. And that was to lose himself in me – in us.
"I'm yours, baby," I stated, unable to keep the purr of want from my voice because, despite his temper, he would never hurt me. It was impossible. And dear God, I wanted him, if only to assuage the disbelief in himself, because my faith in him was unwavering.
The sexiest, almost evil smile curled up the corners of his mouth as he looked up at me through his long eyelashes. Dragging his tongue slowly across his bottom lip, he finally bit down for a moment, like he was fighting a war inside of himself to hold back. Stepping closer, he pressed me into the window, looming over me.
"Mine," he growled softly, pressing his forehead to mine as I nodded a little.
If I'd thought the kiss in the public library was heated, I was so very wrong. Nothing prepared me for the one he landed on me against that window. It was all-consuming, claiming, and rough, and its accompaniment of grinding hips and strong grasps caused a desperate whimper to escape me as I practically climbed Edward's long, lean body. With sure hands, he cupped my bottom, picking me up so that I could wrap my legs around his waist.
I felt myself being tugged away from the cold glass, but I didn't open my eyes until I felt the hard line of a bookshelf press against my back. My eyes snapped open, and I pulled back to see heated mixed with evil gazing back at me wearing a slightly crooked smile.
"I told you I wanted to fuck you in a library. I'm not sure I care which one...this one or the one in town. I haven't changed my mind, my sweet, beautiful girl," he rasped, tilting his head as he watched his own hand tear my shirt away in the blink of an eye. The material fluttered to the library floor, landing atop books and debris, and my jeans and underwear met the same fate.
Reaching for his shirt, I ripped it open, sending buttons flying through the room. They pinged everywhere, landing with the rest of the destruction, and the shirt lay open to reveal skin and abs and that little trail of hair that always made my mouth water. Gliding my hands over his glorious chest, up his neck, and into his hair, I yanked his mouth back to mine, and he let me, though I was pretty sure my control was about to be pretty damn limited.
My breathing stopped altogether when Edward's hands gripped my ass, spreading me open just a little, but when his fingers slipped closer to where I was already aching for him, his teeth nipped at my bottom lip. He teased both entrances and my clit, not really giving me any sort of relief, but he pulled back to watch me writhe under his touch.
"Look at you," he crooned, though the deep tenor was still there. "So wet for me, baby. Always ready..." he breathed, arching me back so that his lips could capture my now tightly-peaked nipple. "You want this, don't you?" he asked, gazing up at me as he switched to my other breast. "You want me to take you hard...right here."
I wasn't sure if he meant his fingers, his mouth, or the hard cock that was practically bursting through the denim of his jeans as he found a little friction against me, but the answer was a resounding, "Yes!"
Long fingers delved into my core from behind, his thumb applying enough pressure to my ass to make me cry out his name and grip the tattered remains of his shirt. The soft material shredded under my fingers by accident, so I latched onto his broad shoulders once it had hit the floor.
"Don't come, baby," he warned in my ear. "Wait."
It was an almost impossible command to follow because he knew just how to curl his fingers, just how much pressure to apply to my other entrance and to my clit, and just how to kiss my neck right below my ear to make me lose it. My whole body ached to come as he drove me closer and closer.
"Edward, please," I begged, my head falling back to the books behind me with a dull thump as my hips rolled to seek my release. "I can't..."
"You will," he growled, and he stopped everything he was doing to me. With a flat hand that was drenched in my arousal, he slipped up my stomach, between my breasts, and into my hair, bringing my forehead roughly to his. "When you come, I want it on my cock, Bella – and when I tell you to. I promise you... It'll be worth it."
Panting in pure, unadulterated want of him, I nodded, because this was what he needed. I'd always teased Edward by allotting names to the different moods he had, but this was different – and I was pretty sure the moment earlier had everything to do with it. But this was Possessive Edward, Dirty Edward, and Dominate Edward all rolled into one, with a dash of Needy Edward on the side. It was not only a heady combination on him, but unbelievably sexy. He was sure of himself, sure of us, and he was asserting his control over the one thing he knew he could. Me. And I wanted him to.
I had no alternative but to submit to him and to whatever he was thinking – if he was thinking at all. It seemed that he was being driven by some sort of instinct.
I love you. I trust you, I thought to him, but my mouth dropped open a little when he reached between us to rid himself of his jeans.
Since he never wore underwear, his thick, heavy cock landed between our stomachs. Unable to help myself, I reached for him, licking my lips at the same time, but I suddenly found both my hands captured in one of his and pressed into the shelf above my head.
"No, love," he crooned dangerously, shaking his head slowly and licking his lips. "Not yet, baby. You said you wanted me to take you like this. I'm going to take you."
"Please, Edward," I begged in a whisper, because it was all a little too much and he'd brought me so close to climax with his hand that I was just about to lose my mind. I was swollen and ready and throbbing to the point that it was almost painful.
Whether he was waiting for me to beg him or he just couldn't wait anymore, he finally lined up with my entrance, sheathing himself completely. Our sounds echoed through the room – a long, low snarling growl from him, and a gasping cry from me. Fuck, he felt good.
"Jesus, fuck...yes," he hissed, burying his face into my neck.
Gripping his hand that was still holding mine above my head, I was almost shaking with need. He didn't want me to come, but damn, just the feel of him inside me was shoving me back to the precipice in which I'd been teetering. Everything about him was made for me – his voice of velvet and warm silk, his smell of honey and clean linen, and his hard-as-steel cock that stroked the spot deep inside of me that always made me lose control.
"Oh, no, Isabella," he chided sexily, nipping at my jaw. "Not until I tell you. I feel how close you are. This beautiful pussy can't help it when I'm inside of her. I know. But just wait."
I huffed a breath through my nose, my head falling back to the books again. My eyes rolled back at not only his words, but how true they really were. My hands struggled against his as he took me with long, deep, angling strokes. I wanted to touch him. I needed to come. But his chanting warning was a constant whisper in my ear.
"Not yet...not yet... Baby, wait..."
"Edward," I begged, though it sort of sounded like a dry sob.
Wet lips brushed across my own, and black eyes locked with mine. "I want to watch you fall apart for me, Bella. Now, love. Come hard," he commanded, his thumb seeking out my clit and applying just enough pressure to cause my tenuous hold to completely unravel.
Blinding white spots exploded behind my eyelids as my mouth fell open in a silent scream. My whole body shook with the force of my orgasm, and another sob escaped me because it was overwhelming and completely out of control.
I found myself pressed into the soft cushions of the couch, my body and my core still wrapped around Edward.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he chanted in a whisper as he dropped sweet, soft kisses to my eyes, my nose, and finally, my lips.
"I'm not," I breathed, happy that I was able to touch him, hold his face to mine.
Edward braced his hands on the arm of the sofa, but his gaze, though still very dark and very heated, was much warmer. He began to move in me again, and this time, it was slow, loving, and the epitome of my Sweet Edward back in my arms. I knew him, and I knew this was his way of making up for being so rough, but it wasn't needed. I loved every aspect of my beautiful Edward.
"No, Edward," I soothed, leaning up to kiss his lips, his jaw, and his neck. "Come, baby. Let it go."
I didn't know if I meant his needless apology or his worry about me or his fear of what this house was doing to him – maybe it was all of the above – but I shifted my legs higher around his waist, urging him to come. He buried his face in my neck, my name a constant chant in my ear as he finally spilled heavily inside me. Wrapping his arms around me, he allowed all of his weight to rest on my body. It was a comfortable weight, heavy and warm.
Closing my eyes, I played with his hair, trying to calm myself down, as well as Edward.
"I love you," he mumbled into my neck, and I grinned, kissing the side of his head.
"Love you, too, baby."
I sighed in relief and contentment. My body felt like jello, my muscles loose from how sated I felt, and maybe from the stress of seeing him so angry, as well.
Edward exhaled roughly, pulling back to finally lock eyes with mine.
"Don't you dare apologize, Edward Cullen," I said with a kiss to his lips to shut him up, giggling when he huffed a soft laugh.
"Yes, ma'am," he conceded, kissing my forehead. His brow furrowed a little, but I waited until he finally found words. "I should've told you...what I was feeling. That snowballed," he stated, his nose wrinkling in a sheepish gesture.
"Maybe," I allowed, shrugging a shoulder, and he placed a kiss to it. "You're not crazy, Edward. You're not out of control or losing it. And you're definitely not fucking broken," I growled, shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the absurdity of that idea. "We will figure what you're hearing. Even if I have to get a priest in here to perform an exorcism. Hmm?"
He grinned, but it faded away just as quickly as it showed up. "Thank you," he simply said, reaching up to tuck my now unruly hair behind my ear. "Not unruly..." He snorted, fighting his smile. "Umm...disheveled."
"Just-been-thoroughly-fucked hair, Edward," I corrected with a laugh.
"Yeah, that." He laughed, kissing my lips lightly. "Best. Hairstyle. Ever."
I giggled, wrapping my arms around him. As much as I loved all my Edwards, Sweet Edward was my favorite, and I was glad he was back. I gave the room around us a quick glance and groaned. Garbage, books, ruined clothes, shredded boxes – it was everywhere. Luckily, the piano, Emmett's drums, and the few guitars that were laying around were left unscathed.
"I'll help, I swear," he vowed, looking contrite and sheepish again.
Nodding, I pushed and shoved at him until we were sitting up. "Well, good," I told him in a singing manner, "because I wasn't quite done researching in here. Keep me company?"
He smiled, looking like the young boy in which he was frozen, and nodded. "Absolutely," he stated, scooping me up into his arms and rushing us upstairs so we could get redressed.
I started for the closet, but his strong hand wrapped around my forearm. I turned to face him, my brow wrinkling at the unsure and slightly nervous face he was sporting. He gave our new bathroom a quick glance, swallowing thickly.
"You... I mean, you still want that bath?" he asked, trying to fight his smile as he played with my hair.
Grinning, I nodded. "Yeah, Edward. You start the water. I'll get the towels."
"I've already got them, love," he stated with his trademark crooked grin, and my head fell back with my laughter when I was suddenly scooped up again and toted into the bright new bathroom.
Messes, books, and possible ghosts were all going to have to wait just a little longer.

1 comments:

Debbie Hannon said...

Sex in a libary with Edward....where do I sign up? ;)

This whole haunted house/ghost business is really tearing Edward up. He is so afraid that he is losing his grip on reality. I feel bad for him.

So looking forward to the next update. Such a wonderful story! (as always,from a talented author!)

Update soon Please :~)

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