Sunday, September 30, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 6

Chapter 6
"Take a left up here on this main road," I told Edward from the back seat as I studied the directions on my phone to the closest electronics store.
"Thank you, Bella," he answered softly, his long fingers flipping down the turn signal in the Volvo.
There were just five of us in the car – Edward, Alice, Jasper, Kevin, and myself. The rest had stayed back at home to continue the search for my box of Edward's letters and to sort out exactly where we were going to be setting up the cameras.
Kevin suddenly snatched my phone from my lap, his laugh coming out in a snort. "Oh ho! Is that Heavy E's sweet ass as a wallpaper?"
I laughed, especially when Edward groaned. "Why, yes…yes, it is," I told Kevin smugly. "I have a whole file of those. Wanna see?"
"Isabella," Edward grumbled with a shake of his head.
Jasper laughed and gave his brother a light punch to his arm. "She finally got you, didn't she?"
"She did," I answered for him with a grin, nodding like a child. "I got him while he was hanging pictures in our room."
Kevin chuckled, flipping through a handful of pictures of Edward's butt that I'd taken in the last several months – in jeans, dress pants, and sweats. "Nice, Goddess."
"I'm thinking a collage wallpaper for my laptop. What'cha think?" I teased, just to hear Edward's sigh of defeat as he pulled into a parking space.
From the back seat, I couldn't tell whether he was rolling his eyes or not, but I was pretty sure he was. Alice laughed softly from the other side of Kevin, but Jasper seemed to be filling the whole car with mischief, which was helping take my mind off the fact that Edward's letters were missing. It wasn't the letters themselves – especially since my sweet husband had said he'd rewrite every last one – it was the memories attached to them. He'd passed them to me in our many shared classes, left them for me in our combined lockers, and the most important ones were the letters he'd written to me while he was away – ones he'd never sent. I cherished each beautifully-written word, each carefully-folded piece of paper.
Edward shut off the car and turned to me, his eyes a sweet, golden honey. "I know, Bella. We're going to do our best, okay?" he assured me, and once I nodded, he turned his attention to Kevin.
"How's your control in public, Kevin?"
"Okay, I think." He shrugged a shoulder. "I promise to say something. Though I can't imagine that I'd possibly lower myself to drink from someone wearing overalls," he said jokingly with a snobby tone to his voice. "They must at least be in Prada or Gucci."
Edward studied his face for a moment, ignoring the jibe as the rest of us laughed, but he was most likely reading the truth in Kevin's mind. He nodded once before opening his door and then mine, holding his hand out for me. His lips pressed to the side of my head, a small chuckle pushing against my hair.
"Let me see your phone," he commanded with a smirk.
"No!" I swiftly tucked it into my pocket. "You'll delete them or something."
He and Jasper laughed as we made our way through the parking lot, but Edward shot Alice a growl.
"Actually, he was," she said knowingly, wearing a big grin and ducking Edward's reach for her.
I gasped, my mouth hanging open as I glared up at him. Really, Edward? I thought to him, because I knew for a fact that there were a few hidden files on his phone, too. Shall we go through the pictures on your phone? Hmm?
He cracked a sexy, crooked smile, dragging his tongue along his bottom lip. "Okay, okay," he conceded, holding up a hand in a surrendering gesture.
Alice paused just before we reached the door of the store, her eyes glazing over briefly. "Brace yourselves," she stated. "We're going to be…noticed."
Once we walked in, I saw what she meant. The store was busy. Really busy. People were everywhere, and they ranged from all ages, but most noticeably, they were young. Noisy video games, movies, and music blared from different parts of the store. The scent of humans surrounded us, and multiple heavy heartbeats thumped in our ears. For Edward, this meant several minds converging on him at one time.
"I'm okay," he told me in my ear, linking our fingers together.
This was the first time in quite a while that we'd been on display as a group. It had the same feeling of walking through a school for the first time. The whispers, the recognition, and the stares would be something I'd probably never get used to. However, this wasn't my first time. Kevin, on the other hand, flinched when he heard it all.
"That's them – the new family living in the old Varner place."
"I hear they're all adopted or foster kids or somethin'."
"Damn, they're all so…gorgeous."
"Are they going to Caribou High?"
"No, no…I hear they get taught at home or some shit."
"My mom thinks they're together…like couples."
"Who fucking gives a shit about some uptight, rich family?"
That last question caused Edward to glance to his right to the music section. His eyes narrowed in on a young teen couple. The girl was petite, with dark hair and hazel eyes, and she was openly ogling Jasper, Edward, and Kevin. The boy, however, glared right back at my husband, though his sweaty palms and increasing heartbeat gave away his fear. He was tall, skinny, wearing jeans that dropped too low and an oversized T-shirt. His close-cropped hair and pierced eyebrow gave him a look of danger, but it was all false bravado because he eventually broke his gaze away.
Edward huffed a single laugh through his nose, turning to the rest of us. "That would be Mrs. Delap's daughter and her…boyfriend." That last word came out wryly, though with a little bit of a sneer to it.
"Oh," I said with a laugh, remembering the nice realtor that had shown us around the house. "No wonder she liked your manners better."
Edward smiled and nodded as he continued to guide us back to the computer area, where he and Jasper immediately started debating over what we needed with the sales clerk. Talk of security and modems and cables started, and it all sounded complicated to me, so I wandered away to the movies and music.
"Is it always like that?" Kevin asked in a whisper.
I glanced up at his face. He seemed to be holding his own, but he looked a little unnerved.
"Pretty much, yeah," I told him with a nod, but I leaned in closer. "Just be glad we aren't starting you off at school yet."
"Oh, God…like it wasn't hellfire and brimstone the first time," he muttered with an eye roll.
I leaned against the rack we were standing next to. "No kidding, but it's not so bad now. I mean, you can take it for what it is. You know the truth, and the talk is meaningless. And there's no one that will pick on you. Their self-preservation won't really let them. They know, but they don't know."
"They want to believe what we tell them, so they don't really look too closely," Alice added, joining us. "We chose not to attend here simply for you and Adrian."
Kevin smiled and nodded. "I suppose I should thank you, though it would be interesting to see the stir Diva and Heavy E get in the hallway."
Alice and I laughed. "You have no idea," we said at the same time, which caused us all to laugh that much harder and draw a little attention our way. We ignored it.
Edward and Jasper were debating infrared versus night vision versus high definition, which just caused Alice to roll her eyes.
"They'll go with night vision," she stated.
While the boys made their purchase, the three of us continued to look around, trying to ignore the stares and the whispers. Due to it being a small town, word had moved along about the rather large, rather well-off family that had moved in. Edward and I had been spotted at the library and the hardware store – though the latter was the where most of the people had seen us all at one point or another.
Alice and Kevin went off to look at cell phones while I meandered around the movies and games. My attention was ripped away from the shelves when I heard a woman approach Jasper and Edward. I shook my head at the shameless way the young assistant manager wormed her way into the poor clerk's sale. Even he was looking at her like she was crazy. She was pretty, blonde, and all smiles as she offered warranties, credit cards...anything to keep the boys' attention.
My thoughts – probably louder than anyone else's to him – caught Edward's mind. He slowly turned to shoot me an expression that screamed, "Don't even say a word."
I snorted into a giggle, having to cover it with my hand.God, Edward. They can't help it. Do I need to play the hyper, touchy girlfriend?
His grin was beautiful and silly, taking over his whole face for a moment before he fought it. His brow furrowed, and he shook his head no as he turned back to swipe his credit card.
I found a few classic movies and a new release that I wanted. I was studying the horror section when the scent of honey and linen wafted around me just before lips pressed to the back of my head.
"Hey, handsome," I sighed happily.
"Sweet girl, while we're here, do you want to replace your iPod?" Edward's voice was smooth and soft, like warm caramel.
I smiled at the fact that he spoiled me rotten and then turned to face him, shaking my head no with a wrinkle to my nose. "No, baby," I told him. "Mine is probably reading your letters to Emmett's drill somewhere in the house."
Edward laughed, kissing my forehead. "If you say so, love."
Once everyone had finished their shopping and we were back in the Volvo, Jasper said, "Well, that was interesting."
Kevin grinned and nodded, but when his head shot up and his mouth opened to say something, Edward interrupted him.
"I don't know why you're bothering to ask, Kevin," he said with a chuckle.
"What?" I asked, looking between the two.
"Kevin wants to know what we're going to do while the cameras are recording," Alice supplied, beaming like a sunny day. She bounced in the seat once or twice but finally leaned forward to kiss Jasper's cheek and ruffle Edward's hair. "Thank you, thank you!" She turned to me, grinning widely. "Open mic night!"
Edward ran a hand through his hair, turning to me with a sweet smile. "We figured that would make all of you happy."
Kevin and I nodded fervently.
"We'll do it in New Brunswick. That'll give us enough time for the cameras to do their job before coming home," Jasper explained.
"I'm in!" Kevin gushed, poking a laughing Edward's shoulder. "Get to crankin', Heavy E! We've got cameras to put up and songs to pick!"
It didn't surprise me that my box of letters – or my iPod and Emmett's drill, for that matter – were still missing by the time we got back home, but everyone got to work. A few hours later, cameras were up, software was loaded, and Emmett called us to watch what he'd set up.
"Okay, everyone come take a look," Emmett boomed from the dining room where he had two laptops – mine and Jasper's – opened up in front of him. Once we were all gathered around him, he explained the multiple squares on the screens. "Okay, so every camera on the first floor is being recorded to this computer," he said, tapping the top of my laptop, "and the rest are going to this one." He pointed to Jasper's computer before quickly typing on the keyboards.
He briefly brought each angle to the forefront, zooming in, zooming out, focusing, and finally getting it to the position that he wanted it in, only to move on to the next camera. There were cameras in the living room, dining room, library, and kitchen. The guys had also set one up at the cellar doors outside and one aiming for the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. Both the second floor and third floor hallways were covered...and finally, there was the basement, where there were two – one pointing toward the back, near the secret brick entryway, and one where the steps led up to the kitchen.
"The cameras you guys got are perfect," he praised, giving Edward and Jasper, who wore proud smiles, a fist bump. "They are exactly what we needed. And I was able to download software very similar to what they use on that TV show. Watch." He glanced around and looked to Esme. "Mom, walk toward the kitchen."
She nodded and did as he asked, but the rest of us kept our eyes on the computer screen. Two cameras picked up her short walk, but the really cool thing was that every movement was hightlighted by a thin, white box. It flickered around her feet, her legs, and her hands when she lifted them. It even caught the swish of her hair.
Emmett spun to face us. "If something moves in here, whether we can see what causes it or not, the movement will get caught on camera – an open door, an object that moves, even the turn of a doorknob."
I smiled, tilting my head at the vase at the other side of the room. I manipulated my shield carefully, giving it a gentle nudge. When the screen in front of me flickered with the movement, my eyebrows shot up.
"Cool," I breathed, smiling a little and leaning into Edward's kiss to my head.
"Testing it, sweet girl?" he asked, kissing my head again when I nodded.
"What? You don't believe me?" Emmett teased with a grin. "Do it again, only this time…" He gazed around the room. "Push open that door."
Nodding, I used my shield again and slammed open the door to Carlisle and Esme's room. A giggle escaped me when it all showed up on the computer screen.
"See?" Emmett beamed, causing the rest of us to chuckle. "So when we finally leave, we'll set these to record all night. And they'll catch more because these are night vision cameras."
I didn't think it was possible, but his smile grew wider, his dimples more prominent in his sweet cheeks.
He clapped his hands once, rubbing them together. "Now…what are we singing? I mean, we've got an extra guitarist now, so…"
The girls and I squealed in happiness, but Kevin simply shook his head. "I'm not ready. Seriously," he argued.
Edward, Emmett, and Jasper all scoffed, waving it off, not saying anything.
"You're perfectly ready, Kev," I countered. "You played all day yesterday without any problems."
An evil, wicked smile crept up his handsome face, and suddenly, Alice and Edward started to laugh.
"Good luck with that," Edward murmured, glancing between us.
"Fine, I'll play," Kevin stated, folding his arms across his chest. "On one condition…"
Adrian chuckled softly, saying, "Oh, boy. Here we go…"
Kevin seemed to have set his sights on me, so my eyes narrowed on him, my own arms matching his stance.
"What?" I asked.
"Sing." When my mouth fell open and Edward laughed again, Kevin kept going. "One song. That's it. I'll even sing with you. But you can really sing…especially where we're going."
I was shaking my head the entire time he was talking, and when he was done, I huffed a heavy exhale through my nose. My eyes met Edward's, and I knew I'd never get any sympathy from him. He loved it when I joined them on these open mic nights.
He grinned, shoving his hands in his pockets and glancing down at the floor briefly. "I really do, Bella. But you don't have to. No one's making you."
Smirking at him, I rolled my eyes, finally landing my gaze back on Kevin. "And just where are we going?"
"Leather and Lace, a bar in New Brunswick," Emmett answered instead, grinning like a fool. "Rock-n-roll, baby girl! It was that or some wussy piano bar."
Edward's head fell back with his laugh, but he said nothing. Whether they wanted to admit it or not, the playing of rock music in front of humans was some sort of release for them. It was a chance to excel in something, a chance to draw attention to themselves without it being for the wrong reasons. And they were so very good at it. From the audience's perspective, they were three – now four – very talented teen boys. From the stage, it was a chance to work off aggressions and stress…and play for their mates, who loved every second of it.
"Aw, Kevin," I whined. I knew Edward would kill to watch me on stage, but I hated the attention.
"Please, my beautiful Goddess," he pleaded.
I looked to Alice, who was practically bouncing on her toes. She glanced between me and Kevin and finally to Edward, who raised his hands in surrender and backed away until he was leaning against the far dining room wall. Apparently, nothing could be seen because I hadn't made a decision yet.
"Come on, baby sis," Jasper drawled, smiling crookedly as his heavy arm draped around my shoulders. "It's a helluva lot of fun. You know that!"
Shielding just me and Alice, I made a choice, grinning when she nodded frantically.
"Do it!" she hissed.
The one person I didn't think would have an opinion sidled up next to me, saying, "I love watching my boys, but you have a beautiful voice, Bella." Esme gave me a wink and a sweet smile that no one on Earth could've resisted. "You say the boys haven't played in a long time, but it's been even longer since you joined them," she reminded me, wearing a face of pure – and utterly put-on – innocence.
"Not fair," I growled at her. "Mom," I added for emphasis, which caused Carlisle, who was watching his family with a blissful face, to chuckle. My eyes narrowed again, only this time to my ever-so-quiet husband, who was still leaning against the wall. "You have an opinion you'd like to share with the class, Edward?"
"Not a chance," he said with a laugh and a shake of his head. "I'm crazy about you…and your singing…but I'm not stupid."
That made Esme and me giggle, but I finally faced an anxious Kevin again. "I have my own condition, boys." Once I had their attention, I said, "I'll sing one song. Just one. But I get to pick everything you play tonight." I raised an eyebrow at them.
There was a brief moment of silence before four male voices shouted, "Deal!"
Rolling my eyes, I nodded. "Okay, then, let's pick," I sighed, trying to ignore the cheers behind me as I walked into the library.
"I think Bella should go last," Jasper said as he unloaded our equipment into the space behind the stage. "With that crowd, how can we not?"
"That's what I'm afraid of," Edward said with a touch of a growl to his voice.
Emmett chuckled, gripping his shoulder. "Relax, Ed. They'll love her."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Edward said again, grinning and sending a wink my way when I laughed.
It seemed Saturday night at Leather and Lace was a rough night as far as patrons went. Emmett had booked us for three songs, but what we hadn't known was that the bar was in a seedier part of town. Not that we were worried about getting mugged or hurt, but the humans sitting at the tables inside the bar were a little…vocal. The poor band before us was good – really good – and the audience let them know it. However, when they first stepped on stage, you could practically feel the room tell them they needed to prove themselves.
"Look at it this way," Kevin started with a snicker. "If they hate us on the first two songs, then we'll redeem ourselves with the Goddess here."
"They won't hate you," I argued with a laugh and a shake of my head. "You're a thousand times better than the first band. And they were good."
I checked my makeup in the mirror, making sure I looked flushed, like a young teen girl should, while the boys set up the stage. There was already a piano up there, but the owner wasn't sure whether or not it was in tune, so with a quick check, Edward had it sounding the way that he wanted.
The side stage door slammed open, and the bar's owner, Dwayne, stomped in. He was a burly, sweaty man that couldn't quite keep his eyes from roaming over me, which only made Edward – and the rest of the boys, for that matter – step closer. Edward's finger hooked into the back belt loop of my jeans in a possessive way, but his eyes darkened on the large man.
"You guys are on in five," Dwayne said in a gruff voice. "And sweet cheeks, if I were you…don't step near the edge of that stage. I'd hate to have to bust out my baseball bat tonight. For real."
I snorted softly to myself, thinking I could definitely do more damage than any flimsy baseball bat, but I simply nodded. "Got it. Thanks."
"Ugh," Kevin groaned to himself, wearing a disgusted look on his face as he spoke just low enough that Dwayne couldn't hear him. "If all humans smelled like that, I'd have no problems whatsoever. He smells like sweat, grease, and old fish."
My giggle was loud, and I buried it into Edward's chest, because Kevin was right. Dwayne smelled just…awful. Edward covered my faux pas by kissing the side of my neck and lifting me up on an unused amp. His amusement was all over his handsome face as he stepped between my legs, ignoring Dwayne as he explained the sound system to Emmett. He cupped my face, kissing my lips softly.
"Sorry," I whispered.
"Don't be," he countered, grinning at me. "I love that sound. It's my…second favorite sound in the world."
He'd said it that way just to crank up my curiosity, I was well aware, so I couldn't help but ask, "So what's your favorite?"
"This one," he murmured just before kissing me.
A little whimper mixed in with a purr pushed out of me and against his cheek. I smiled into the kiss because I'd never noticed it. It was a combination of a want for more and frustration that it would never be enough.
Edward chuckled. "Exactly, my sweet, beautiful girl."
He dropped a heavy kiss to my forehead as I straightened his clothes. He looked absolutely delicious in dark jeans, a black T-shirt, and his mono-black Chucks.
Running my fingers through his hair, I said, "You'd better get going."
"I want you right at the side of the stage until your song, love. Okay?" he asked, waiting until I agreed. "No need to put you out there. Carlisle and Adrian are handling their table, but it's a rough crowd."
"It's time, kids. Good luck," Dwayne called before walking out the door.
I gave Edward one more kiss and the boys a fist bump before they walked onto the stage. I followed them as far as the side curtain, my microphone in hand. As I glanced out over the audience, I shook my head. It made me glad I'd picked the songs that I had because the one the boys were going to open with would not only grab humans' attention, but it would earn them instant respect with this crowd. How could it not? In fact, one of the guys at the front table was wearing the band's T-shirt.
Edward strapped on the very first guitar I'd ever bought him – a sunburst Ibenez. Jasper was taking bass this time, and Kevin was going to be rhythm guitar. However, this song was all on Emmett as far as singing went, something he was rather proud of. My biggest brother loved that I'd picked this song in light of the situation at home, and he adored his heavy metal.
I smiled when Jasper's heavy bass started at the same time as Emmett's drums. But Edward's growling guitar kicked in, leading Kevin, and it was all over. The crowd's mouths fell open when they recognized "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.
I giggled when the boys enjoyed singing about things in the dark, sleeping with one eye open, and things that would bite. Edward's lead was insane and just about identical to the original song as he, Jasper, and Kevin planted themselves at the front of the stage. Emmett's drums were heavy as they rumbled so loudly that I could feel each beat in my chest. It was incredible to watch them lose themselves to the music, the stress practically melting out of their shoulders as the crowd cheered and sang with them. They wore smug, crooked smiles as they sang, wrinkled brows as they concentrated, and nodding heads as they read each other like books.
Edward shot me a wink when it came time for the prayer in the middle of the song. He chanted it softly, sexily, as Kevin repeated it as the haunting echo.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake,
Pray the Lord my soul to take.
Emmett took back over lead vocals, never missing a beat and grinning as he finished out the song.
I clapped along with the audience and my family, shaking my head as the boys changed up quickly. Kevin was taking bass on the next song because Edward and Jasper were going to play together – Jasper on an electric acoustic. The energy that infused the crowd only increased due to Jasper's talent. He sent it right back out to them, most likely without even thinking about it.
The next song I'd picked was something they'd never have been able to play without Kevin. Boston's "More Than a Feeling" was beautiful, but that band had a thick, full sound. Edward explained that the reason for that was the bass played the same as the lead, so the sound was bigger. But they needed two lead guitars – one acoustic and one electric.
Jasper started with a light sound, but it was Kevin that started singing. The song billowed out into a large sound that seemed to encompass all of us, Kevin's and Edward's voices blending beautifully, but it was Edward that took the second verse, his eyes on me.
So many people have come and gone,
Their faces fade as the years go by.
Yet I still recall as I wander on,
As clear as the sun in the summer sky.
It's more than a feeling,
When I hear that old song they used to play.
I begin dreaming
More than a feeling…
Jasper and Edward leaned shoulder to shoulder, playing with smug smiles on their faces, making sure to meet each note. Kevin took back over the singing, the boys on backup, and it was driving the crowd crazy. More than one voice met my ears, asking how boys so young could play the classics with such…feeling.
When the song was over, Edward removed his guitar, setting it gently in its stand. Emmett, though, addressed the crowd.
"We've got one more for you guys tonight," he told them, chuckling when the crowd cheered, "but for this next song, we called in some help. Ready, baby girl?"
Edward stepped toward me, holding out his hand. I walked to him, and he gave my fingers a gentle squeeze as he led me to the mic stand.
"You'll be perfect. You always are, love," he whispered before backing away to take his seat at the piano.
The whoops and hollers that met my ears were encouraging, not rude in the way that I'd expected, though I was pretty sure Jasper was controlling them at this point. A wolf whistle echoed through the bar, and I smiled, giving Edward a nod.
There were no words for how I felt about sharing the stage with Bella. Playing music had always been an escape, a way for me to bury the bad things, take the edge off tough times. But playing with my brothers was just fun and easy and something I'd never even conceived of doing – especially in front of a crowd of overzealous humans. Adding Bella into it, though, made my chest swell with pride, my love for her grow, and my soul feel even more connected to her.
She gave me a quick nod, but I took her in just for a split second. Tight, faded jeans, knee-high black boots, a form-fitting white T-shirt, and a short black leather jacket made her look so very sexy, so very beautiful. Every curve was highlighted, and her hair fell down around her shoulders.
She didn't think she had talent, but she did. And she was going to floor the men in the audience…and some of the women, too, if I was reading them correctly. Her sweet, innocent face gave them the impression of a young girl, but her voice… Her voice was going to blow them away.
I shot her a wink, starting the song that she had agonized over more than the others we'd played tonight. And only I knew the reason behind her choice. Bella had picked "Alone" by Heart because it reminded her of when we first met – the tentativeness, the nerves, the want that we couldn't express. So with a small, secretive smile, I watched her as I played.
For the first few lines of the song, it was just Bella and me. Piano and voice. And the second she opened her mouth, the crowd was in awe. It was a moment of complete and utter silence – both audibly and mentally. All that changed when drums and guitars entered the picture. Bella's voice rang out solid and stunning, bringing the crowd to their feet as Kevin sang harmony with her.
She pulled the mic from the stand, walking from one end of the stage to the other and carefully avoiding the edge like she'd been warned, though I was pretty sure she was safe.
Til now, I always got by on my own.
I never really cared until I met you.
And now it chills me to the bone.
How do I get you alone?
How do I get you alone?
She walked to me, still facing the crowd as the song quieted again. It was just the two of us, and my eyes never left deep, soulful brown as she sang. For me. Her forehead pressed to mine as she sang, her mind teasing and sweet.
You don't know how long I've wanted
To touch your lips and hold you tight.
You don't know how long I've waited
And I was gonna tell you tonight.
But the secret is still my own,
And my love for you is still unknown.
I smirked when she backed away, placing her hand over her heart as she sang about secrets. She shot me a wink, and I grinned, shaking my head as she turned her attention back to the crowd and Jasper's guitar solo. She leaned with him and Kevin as they finished out the song, her voice holding the notes with strength and perfection. The last piano notes fell away, and suddenly, the place went crazy.
Told you they'd love her, Jasper's laughing thoughts hit me as we stood and bowed, though his hand was placed protectively on her shoulder because the crowd was pushing toward the stage.
Different thoughts hit me all at once, but those of my family were the strongest. Carlisle and Esme were proud and happy. Rose, Alice, and Adrian were in a quiet yet heated discussion on whether this was the best open mic night we'd ever done, and Emmett and Jasper were really ecstatic about how the addition of Kevin – and Bella, for that matter – made us sound so much better.
But my sweet, sweet girl was just glad it was over. With that last thought, I laughed, taking her hand and raising it above her head to allow the crowd to cheer some more, but then led us all off the stage.
Dwayne was waiting for us when we stepped through the curtain, his large, hairy arms folded across his chest. His thoughts were good for the most part, though he couldn't help but to give Bella a long, slow, appraising look. In his mind, she might've been young, but she was "easy on the eyes." I sighed because in all reality, I had to give him that one. But as Bella leaned back into me, wrapping my arms around her waist from behind, he saw who she wanted. In fact, he'd known it as he watched us on stage. And that made me smile and kiss the back of her head.
"Not bad, kids," he praised gruffly with a single nod of his head.
"Thank you, sir," I said, giving him a small smile.
He thought we were good kids, having spoken with Carlisle during the show. He liked that we weren't loud, obnoxious teenagers, like he was used to seeing, even though we made him slightly uncomfortable. And he thought we had tons of talent. In fact, he was seeing dollar signs at the sight of us. He knew word would get around about us, bringing him more business.
"Can you do it again? You got more songs than that?" he asked, looking between us all.
Jasper laughed softly. "Yes, sir, but we only do this every once in a while. It's not a full-time thing for us."
"I get it. School and shit," he said with a chuckle, waving a hand at us. "Well, call me when you want to come back. The stage is yours."
"Thanks, dude," Emmett told him, watching Dwayne leave us to pack up.
Once he was gone, I spun Bella to face me. "Amazing job, baby," I told her. "Just…perfect!"
I grinned when my shy girl came flying to the surface. Had she still been human, her cheeks would've flushed a brilliant pink as she looked away from me when our brothers chimed in with their own praises.
Tilting her face back up to mine with my fingers under her chin, I asked, "Do you want to watch the last band?"
She smiled. "Yeah," she said softly. "I'll help you guys pack up first."
"Okay, sweet girl," I whispered, kissing her lips softly.
She helped Emmett pack up his drum kit and store it in the back of the Volvo. Jasper, Kevin, and I slid the guitar cases in along with it, and we made our way back into the bar. We were met with cheers and offers to buy us drinks, until Dwayne's heavy voice boomed from behind the bar.
"They're underage, dammit!" he yelled, grinning at some of his regulars. "Leave them be!"
Bella chuckled, giving him a last glance before taking her seat on my lap. She took the praise from the rest of the family, though she couldn't say whether or not the girls and Adrian were right. She wasn't sure what her favorite open mic night was.
The next band was good. They were led by a woman with a strong voice as they sang some original songs as well as a few covers. The band was pretty close to Joan Jett – if I had to compare them to anyone – but the lead singer had a trained voice. The crowd seemed to like them, having seen them plenty of times.
Mentally smiling when the piano player noted that the piano was now tuned, I suddenly froze when she started a song that I hadn't heard in quite some time. Memories flashed to the surface of my mind, but they weren't just mine; they were my Bella's and the family's, as well.
It had been several years since I'd actually listened to "My Immortal" by Evanescence – the last time being when my sweet girl was still human and still healing from our time apart. I physically flinched when the singer started to sing, because the words seemed to describe the pain and heartache that Bella had gone through in the two years I was gone to absolute perfection. The mental worry surrounding us swirled away so that I was only left with the comfort of Bella's mind.
"Should we go?" I whispered to her, nuzzling her cheek with my nose.
Instead of answering me vocally, she used her mind to maintain our privacy.
No, Edward. I'm okay. It doesn't…hurt anymore. You know that, right? She turned just a little in my lap so that she could see my face. Small fingers toyed with my wedding ring as she continued to think to me. Listen, my sweet man…these are the words you really need to hear.
These wounds won't seem to heal,
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase.
When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of you fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me
My chest hurt with what she was trying to tell me – that she was mine even when I hadn't completely wrapped my stubborn head around it. She was mine when it hurt, when I'd rejected it all, and when I'd walked right back into her life. Nothing could've change it – pain, time, distance, stubborn and selfish decisions, and even mistrust that I'd just walk away again.
And now… Now, she was telling me that a mere song couldn't touch what we had, that the happiness she reveled in daily overshadowed every bit of those two very hard years.
"Bella," I barely breathed, looking longingly at the side door of the bar.
I wanted out, I wanted away, and I wanted to breathe in deeply only the scent of her, not the smell of humans and leather and stale beer. The memory of holding Bella the last time we'd heard this song in public was too much. Her heavy tears, her hiccupping sobs, and her strong grip of my shirt – it was all right there.
She kept me shielded from everyone as she simply nodded and said, "Okay," when she slipped down from my lap.
Plans to meet up later were quickly discussed around me, but I paid no attention; my eyes were glued to the exit. Bella linked her fingers with mine, tugging me through the bar, out the door, and down the street. Night had completely fallen, and the neighborhood was quiet except for a few cheers coming from the building we'd just left.
She found a small children's park, leading me to the far corner, where a bench was hidden in shadows. No streetlamp's beam reached it. She pushed me down gently, crawling into my lap.
"Edward? Look at me." Cupping either side of my face, she smiled softly when I finally did as she asked. "New rule. That song's forbidden."
I shook my head but didn't say anything for a moment. It wasn't the song, really. It was the memories attached to it, I was pretty sure. It was the realization of just what my leaving had truly done to her – to us both. I merely gripped her jacket and pulled her closer, which she allowed without a word.
I swallowed nervously before asking, "It doesn't bother you anymore?"
"Nah," she scoffed, still grinning like the sweetest of visions.
My smile couldn't be helped when she showed me why. Her memory of that night was different than my own. She remembered it being the first time she'd gone out with the whole family. It was the first time that she'd ever felt like she truly belonged with us…with me, but mostly, she remembered winning at pool and my brothers and I having to sing karaoke.
Her giggle broke through her lips as her fuzzy human memory of Jasper, Emmett, and me singing "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi came to the forefront of her mind. Even funnier was when we'd point to Carlisle just to embarrass him when we sang the part about a doctor.
A laugh that I wasn't expecting barked out of me. "Yeah," I said with a chuckle and a slow nod. "That was fun. And that was a helluva game of pool, sweet girl."
"Thank you, thank you," she said haughtily, brushing the hair from my forehead before placing a long, slow kiss there.
I took advantage of her close proximity, turning my head just enough to inhale the scent of her. The skin of her throat was like silk, smelling like flowers and fruit and me. The latter part made me smile because I tended to mark her as mine multiple times a day – a kiss, a nuzzle, even just a brush of my all stayed with her, and I honestly couldn't help it.
Opening my mouth to her neck, I tasted her, which was probably a mistake, given where we were. The sweet sound I lived to hear pushed out against my ear. It was such a longing, hopeful sound from her that I couldn't help but pull back to gaze up at her.
"We've come a long way, haven't we, baby?" I asked her softly, brushing my lips across hers.
"I love you," she simply replied, smiling a little. "That hasn't changed."
"Good," I whispered, giving in to kissing her fully and grateful that she'd always love me, that our immortality cemented that love in stone.
Hands gripped and caressed – over clothes and under. Lips swept languidly over lips, and tongues tasted, claimed. If anyone could see us, I had no idea, but they'd merely see a young couple making out on a dark park bench. Cupping her ass, I squeezed, my eyes rolling back when it caused her hips to roll heavily against me.
"Baby, I can't hear if someone's coming," I told her, practically shaking with my need for her.
She giggled, pressing her forehead to mine. "That just means that we could get caught, Edward."
"No, I don't think so, my sexy girl," I chided with a short laugh. "I'm not risking anyone seeing you. Not here."
"Fine," she huffed with a smirk getting up from my lap, and my dick throbbed in protest. "Then I'll take care of you."
She tugged me up, positioned me on the other side of the bench, and sank to her knees, her shield pinning me there. Before I could tell her to stop, my fly was undone, and her tongue rendered me absolutely useless.
"Oh, Christ," I hissed, my head falling back as hands and lips and tongue started their magic.
I wouldn't last long. That was a fact. I could hear no minds but hers, and she was determined to make me come, and come hard.
"I don't think—" I started, but my head fell back when she took me completely into her mouth, a low, rumbling growl erupting from me.
"So don't think, baby," she purred, licking around the tip, only to sink right back down over me.
She was right about one thing. The idea that we could be caught at any time added to the lust that was swirling around us. The crackling spark that stayed between us only kicked up that much more because I couldn't monitor our surroundings. I had to rely on her, trust her to pay attention.
I knew if I looked down at her, I'd be done. Shattered. There was something so innocent about the way those deep brown eyes gazed up at me while her mouth did not-so-innocent things to my cock. It was love and lust and heat, but it was pure enjoyment over watching me fall apart. It was heady – something I knew from experience – to have the control, the power to cause your mate to lose all coherent thought. Not to mention swear in several different languages, which was what I was doing.
I looked anyway, locking with eyes that were fathomless in depth and love, and hissing curses I couldn't stop came flying out of my mouth as I came hard down her throat. Before she could completely stand up, I had her pinned to the fence behind her.
"I meant what I said, love," I purred, kissing her briefly just to taste myself on her tongue. "I'm not exposing you here."
"Then I guess you'll just have to owe me one, Mr. Cullen," she growled back, wearing a smug smile. It was familiar and not unlike my own that I'd flashed at her a million times. "Right?" she verified, raising a sexy eyebrow up at me.
"Mmm, yes, ma'am," I whispered against her lips. "But lift that shield, love. I need to hear again."
She nodded, wrapping her arms around my neck when I flinched at the rush of minds that hit me, our family included. They were close by, but Alice was keeping them at bay.
I looked back to Bella, lifting her up into my arms. "We should go. We have to get back."
"'Kay," she said, smiling against my cheek. "Tonight was fun. Thank you for suggesting it. It's been too long."
Flipping her around so that I was carrying her bridal-style, I kissed the tip of her nose. "It has. We won't wait so long next time. I promise, my beautiful girl," I vowed, smiling when she nodded happily as I toted her across the park to catch up with the rest of the family.
It was time to go home.


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