Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 15

Chapter 15
BELLA
I felt raw and ragged around the edges as Edward led me out of the library. The talk with Archie, while beneficial for him, had left me feeling everything on the surface. Edward had to have been feeling the same because his grip on my hand was unrelenting.
He paused in the doorway, turning to face Archie. "No, I didn't. Jake is still alive," he stated without any emotion. "Though, it wasn't for lack of trying...twice."
My nose wrinkled, knowing that Archie had just mentally asked Edward if he'd killed the man that had harmed me.
Turning to face Archie, I said, "Jacob redeemed himself, Archie. I promise. In fact, he spent quite a few years trying to make up for all that he did. He's now an extremely loyal friend."
Edward nodded in agreement, but squeezed my hand. His thumb rubbed my knuckles over and over, but he chuckled softly. A small, almost evil smile curled up on Archie's face, giving him the look of a slightly mischievous little boy.
"Yes, I'd like to see him try to slap her now, as well," he stated with a grin. "He wouldn't survive it."
"No, he probably wouldn't," Archie concurred with a slow shake of his head.
Rolling my eyes at the two of them – they were more alike than I'd realized – I turned to head upstairs. Once we were in our room, I was instantly scooped up into very strong arms, and my body immediately wrapped around Edward – my arms around his head as he buried his face into my neck and my legs around his waist.
The ache in my chest gave a heavy lurch before finally settling down as I inhaled the only scent that could calm it. I didn't want apologies for the things we'd just dredged up – though the way he was holding me was one all on its own.
Edward sat down on the chaise in our room, hugging me tightly. We were quiet for a moment, and the sound of his breathing, the scent of just...home, and the feel of his arms wrapped all the way around me settled me down, grounded me in a way that no spoken words could. No matter how many times we'd gone over our time apart, my relationship with Jake, or even how Edward had left me, it still left us a little edgy, a touch desperate, and a whole lot clingy. Sometimes, the past had to be brought up, and sometimes, memories just...happened. We tried our best to accept it for what it was: just us.
"I love you...so much," he murmured against my ear softly.
I smiled and let out a deep breath. I'd needed to hear that more than anything. Pulling back, I cupped either side of his handsome face.
"I love you, too, Edward," I responded almost in a reflex action, but I brushed his hair from his forehead to place a long, slow kiss to his wrinkled brow. "Stop with the worry wrinkles," I said, smiling against his brow that smoothed out underneath my lips.
He chuckled a little, dragging his fingertips up and down my spine. His laugh didn't last long, and he sighed deeply, saying, "I can't help it, love. You handled that better than I did."
I didn't say anything, but I did lean in to kiss him. What started out as something that was comforting and soothing soon skyrocketed into something heated and needy. Fingers wove into hair and gripped clothing, heavy breaths mingled together, teeth scraped across wet lips, and tongues swirled together to claim, taste, and imitate actions other parts of our bodies wanted. Edward fisted my hair, turning my head to deepen the kiss at the same time that my hips rolled heavy against his. Denim rubbed denim, causing a vibrating feeling that seemed to only spur us on. I whimpered like a child when Edward stilled my movements, pulling back, only to press his forehead to mine.
"Edward," I breathed.
"Shh, baby," he soothed, locking gazes with me. His eyes were pitch black, his breathing heavy. "As much as I wish we could continue this... We can't." My pout merely caused him to smile sweetly. "Believe me, I want to, but Alice is requesting that the girls get ready together. They're almost home, sweetheart."
I nodded, frowning a little. Edward's fingers glided down my cheek, but he smiled softly.
"Where do you want to go after tonight, Bella?" he asked.
I shrugged, because in all reality, I just didn't care. I wanted him alone – just the two of us – and I didn't even care if we stayed in the woods, a cheap motel, or even broke into someplace for the night. It really didn't matter to me. Edward chuckled at my rambling thoughts that even to me sound like a pouting, selfish child because I just wanted him all to myself. Hell, I'd be happy to watch movies all night somewhere curled up with him.
He grinned, kissed my face all over, and then held either side of it to make sure I was listening. "No breaking in anywhere...and no woods. Do you trust me?"
Rolling my eyes, I scoffed. "Of course."
"Good," he grunted dramatically before dropping a long kiss to my neck. "Then I'll figure something out, my sweet girl. Okay?"
"'Kay," I agreed, kissing him again, and before it could go too far, the sounds of our siblings came crashing in the front door.
"Come...we'll grab a shower, and then the girls can have you. Deal?" he asked, though I was pretty sure he was saying that more for Alice's benefit than mine.
"Deal," I said, squealing into a giggle when he grabbed me roughly and tore into the bathroom.
Our touches in the bathroom were a combination of helpful and naughty, mixed with a few silly smiles just to help push away the long, emotional afternoon. It was soapy touches, slippery kisses, and teasing, but we took it no further than that. By the time I'd toweled off and donned a robe, Alice was there to yank me from the room, giving Edward a cheesy smile, which merely made him roll his eyes and wave us away.
I was rather happy that my costume was a simple dress. I'd worn complicated and sexy, silly and cheesy. This was a simple sequined dress, low-cut, with long tassels and a matching wrap to go with it. My hair, on the other hand, had to be smoothed into a specific style to match the 1920s time. Technically, it would've been too long for that era, but Rose was doing her best to curl it into soft, smooth waves.
I could hear the boys' laughter throughout the house, taunting one another about their costumes, but Emmett's excitement over the coming festival overrode the constant complaining about his outfit. He'd accepted his hippy costume and was now ready to take on the rides, music, and fun of the fair.
The girls made no mention of the conversation that I'd had earlier with Archie, and I was pretty sure Alice knew that Edward and I would be staying out for the night, but instead of asking me about it, they rambled on about different topics to help keep my mood up. If anyone understood what it was like talking about their past, it was Rose, so she calmly got to work on my hair immediately.
My makeup was kept simple, except for my eyes. They were smoky, dark, and accentuated with heavy mascara. Blush and lipstick were added, if only to give my face the appearance of human-like color.
Once we were all dressed, I had to giggle. Alice looked adorable, all tiny in a big red dress that swirled out around her like a dome. She looked the part of the Southern Belle – fan and all. Dressed in a flowy, floral skirt and a shirt that showed off just a bit of her stomach, Rose stood tall, looking like she'd just stepped onto the fair grounds at Woodstock in 1969. She wore beads around her neck and wrists, and her hair was parted down the middle, having been meticulously ironed flat. All that was missing was the joint and the mud – a thought that unfortunately escaped me, sending Edward into hysterics downstairs in the living room.
I rolled my eyes at his laughter, but in all reality, it was him that I couldn't wait to see. I really, really just needed to see my husband dressed in the era from which he came. Although, Jasper had me pretty damn curious, too. I was fairly certain it was just because I appreciated their history so much.
"Okay, okay," Alice said with a laugh. "Let's go."
Rose and I followed her down the stairs, but I had to make sure my shield was down over my mind because my thoughts flew way out of my control. Jasper met his wife at the bottom most step, taking her hand and kissing the top of it. He was straight out of the Civil War, looking chivalrous, handsome, and slightly cocky with a crooked smile. I was afraid to ask if the gun strapped at his hip was the real damn thing.
Edward was leaning against the wall, the modern phone in his hand contrasting so very sharply with the rest of his attire. I couldn't see his face because his riot of hair was covered by the fedora. His thumb swept over the screen once, twice, three times, and when he finally pocketed it and glanced up, he looked much older than the seventeen in which he was frozen. At that moment, he could've easily passed for twenty-five. A black overcoat shielded most of the pinstripe suit, his white tie was knotted perfectly at his throat, and his legs uncrossed before he made his way to me.
I huffed an incredulous laugh because nothing could have prepared me for that serious amount of handsome, especially when he gazed up at me through his long eyelashes with a fire that made me lick my lips.
Who tied your tie, handsome? I asked him silently, which made him smile, because despite his long years on this planet, my sweet Edward couldn't get a tie straight to save his immortal life.
He grinned, and a hand went to the knot absentmindedly. "Esme." Those same fingers shot out to toy with the long tassels of my dress along my side. "You look..."
"Stunning?" Rose offered with a laugh.
"Perfect?" Alice giggled because I couldn't imagine what Edward was deciding over and over at that moment.
"Yes...exactly," he whispered, taking my hand and raising it above my head so he could twirl me around.
When I was facing him again, he kissed the top of my hand, and I swear to God, I tried not to swoon, but it was nearly impossible as I watched his head bow with that hat on. However, he smiled against my skin.
"Shut up, Edward." I laughed, looking away from him, but he merely tugged me to his side, kissing my temple as he chuckled at my inability to barely look at him. Patting his coat, I couldn't help but tease him. "Where's your gun?" I asked, having put it with his suit once it had arrived.
He gestured over to the table by the door where the toy machine gun was sitting, but he sighed and rolled his eyes when Kevin, Adrian, and Emmett walked into the room.
"If you don't know where to find Heavy E's...ahem...gun, then you've got bigger problems than I thought," Kevin snorted, giving me a wink.
I opened my mouth to counter with facts of just where and how big said...gun was, but Edward growled, "Don't even think about it, Isabella."
I sighed in mock defeat, but I had to grin at my brothers. Kevin and Adrian looked like they'd stepped right out of the movie Grease. Their hair was slicked back, their jeans rolled up at the cuff, and their white T-shirts accentuated their physiques.
"Nice," I told Kevin, gesturing between them.
"You sure?" he asked, spinning in front of me. "I still have the bustier and the fishnets upstairs..."
Adrian glared at Kevin with narrowed eyes, shaking his head profusely behind his back.
"Nope...I think you're good." I chuckled, shaking my head at poor Adrian's sigh of relief.
But it was Emmett my eyes fell to. My laughter burst out of me, and the rest of my siblings and Edward joined me. Wearing faded bell-bottom jeans and the denim jacket that Rose had sewn patches onto, he stood there larger than life and shirtless underneath. And it only made it funnier as I took in hand-painted peace signs, hearts, and flowers that were all over his chest and face.
"Don't hate," he said with a pout before grinning his usual boyish smile. "I'm rockin' this, and you fuckin' know it!"
"Emmett!" Esme sighed exasperatedly as she and Carlisle walked into the room. They were dressed in their normal clothes, looking like the parents they were about to pose as.
As we got coats and purses together, Archie leaned in the doorway of the library to watch us.
"You'll be okay alone?" Esme asked him – probably for the hundredth time.
"Yes," he said with a slight nod, but a small smile curled the corners of his mouth.
Edward chuckled. "Because occasionally we have to make appearances in the towns we live in, Archie. It keeps up the pretenses."
"And we might as well have fun doing it," Alice added with a grin, shrugging her shoulder that was now draped with a black shawl.
"Okay." He snickered a little, shaking his head.
"Well," Emmett huffed dramatically. "Rules for staying home by yourself: No loud parties, no drinking, and no girls." He ticked these things off on his large fingers, the last thing making Archie glance down at his feet shyly.
"Those are just your rules," Rose chortled, playfully shoving Emmett toward the front door.
"Yeah, everyone else can handle being alone. You need a babysitter," Kevin piped up, bolting out into the front yard when Emmett gave chase.
"Idiots," Edward sighed, fighting his smile but turning back to Archie. "You'll be fine, Archie. Ignore them. Alice sees you having no problems while we're gone."
"Exactly," Esme crooned to him. "We'll only be a few hours, so we'll see you soon. Okay?"
Archie smiled and nodded at her, looking almost like a little boy. "Okay," he said, giving us all a shy wave as we left the house.
Edward held the passenger side door for me, holding my hand as I got in. I smiled up at him before he closed the door. Leaning in, he kissed my lips gently.
"I've plans for you when we're done with this fair, my sweet, gorgeous girl," he whispered, gazing once again through his long eyelashes. "But I'd like to surprise you, if that's all right with you."
Grinning, I nodded, because he knew I wasn't a huge fan of surprises, but in this case, I had given him permission. And as he stood there looking like sex incarnate dressed the way he was, there wasn't anything he'd offer that I'd decline.
"Good," he gushed, kissing me one more time.
Unable to resist it, I reached up and trailed a finger around the brim of his hat, and his eyes followed the movement before locking back with my own.
"I knew you'd look good, but you really are handsome..."
He grinned shyly, glancing down briefly before chuckling once. "I'm glad you think so, Bella. Your opinion is the only one that counts. Shall we?" he asked, gesturing to the rest of the family, who were already pulling out of the driveway.
When I nodded, he smiled again, closing the passenger side door.
~oOo~
EDWARD
Grimacing as I parked next to Carlisle, I had to shake my head. It had been a few weeks since I'd been near the town, so the all-out assault of a couple of hundred minds hitting me at one time was just a bit overwhelming. It was all ages, hyped up on too much food, drink, and adrenaline.
The scents were no better once I opened the door. I laughed and groaned at the same time because we'd been living sequestered for so long. The nauseating stench of humans, their food, and their blood slammed into me. It was grease, sweat, cologne, sugar, hay, exhaust, and barnyard animals all rolled into one giant pile, not to mention blood, arousal, and menstruation cycles two cars over, where a group of six teenagers were roughhousing in the parking lot.
Bella gazed worriedly up at me, her nose wrinkling at the same time. "You okay?"
"Yes," I said with a chuckle. "I just have to get used to sorting through all these minds. It's been a few weeks." She opened her mouth to ask a question, but I cut her off with a kiss. "And no, I don't need your shield, sweet girl, but thank you."
Her eyes narrowed on me, but I could see that all I'd have to do was say the word, and every mind would blissfully disappear. However, in situations like these, I needed to hear them, needed to make sure that the facade was accepted. If I was unable to hear, it would make me uncomfortable, despite having Alice there.
"Okay," she huffed, taking my hand as I helped her out of the Volvo. "If you're sure..."
"I am. Promise," I vowed, glancing up when the entire family joined us.
Kevin grinned, giving the blinking lights and bustle of the fair a long, slow gaze. "Ten vamps...and well over two hundred humans..." he mused, chuckling a little. "We could devastate the entire town right here."
Emmett cracked up, but Jasper and I actually were calculating those odds. In all reality, we could clear the entire fair of all human life without even a second thought. A single vampire could cause a lot of damage alone, but ten was almost the size of a newborn army. And the talents that we had in our midst would only add to our advantage.
With smiles at each other, we said, "Yes, in less than fifteen minutes."
"Edward!" Bella gasped, but broke into the sweetest of giggles.
"What?" I asked innocently, grinning down at her. "You have no idea what I almost did to get to you that first day of school. This..." I waved a hand around. "This is nothing."
Carlisle chuckled, shaking his head. "All my teaching...gone... Poof!"
"Oh, damn, Heavy E, you so almost annihilated the school, didn't you?" Kevin asked with a laugh.
"Just one classroom," I defended, kissing Bella's temple when she groaned. "So, yeah, Kevin, we have the ability to wipe out an entire town."
"Don't let it go to your head, Kev," Adrian snorted, rolling his eyes. "Okay?"
"Fine, fine... So what's first?" Kevin asked, still grinning over that last conversation. "The live music isn't for an hour or so."
"Rides!" Bella and Emmett stated at the same time, giving each other a fist bump.
"Rides it is," Carlisle said, leading us all toward the entry gate.
Because we weren't as prominent in Caribou as we had been other towns, the spectacle of our arrival was a little ridiculous. The townspeople knew who we were, even if they'd only heard about us through the rumor mill. And we fit exactly with what they'd expected, though our looks took them slightly aback. They registered our money, looks, and confidence as we walked the main fairway.
Ghosts, goblins, superheroes, zombies, and of course, vampires surrounded us all in every age. It seemed that in addition to the kids, most of the adults enjoyed dressing up, as well. From what I gathered from their minds, it was a tradition.
And then there was the opposite and darker problem.
Drunken lust swarmed over Jasper, causing him to growl, because mixed in with that was seedier feelings, like control, want, and deception. My eyes scanned around us, only to find a group of men sitting at a table with beers in their hands. From what I could gather – and smell – they worked at a local junk yard. Their ages ranged from mid-twenties, to late forties, and they weren't exactly hiding the way that they were staring that the girls – all of them. Some of the men were already imagining themselves in various situations, what the girls looked like bare, and exactly where they'd accomplish this act.
When the smallest of the group envisioned tearing my wife's dress, my almost feral glare his way stopped him short. His heart rate picked up in fear, and his brow broke out in a sweat. Giving his drink his attention, his thoughts turned to something else, rather than my mate.
Granted, I could understand. Bella was a vision dressed in sequins, tassels, and long, chestnut hair. It took all I had not to kiss her into oblivion when she first descended the stairs at home because it was better than any fantasy I'd ever had about my girl dressed in clothes from my time. The old-fashioned part of me had always wondered what it would've been like had I met her then – not that I would've been in any control around her as a two-year-old immortal.
I turned to Carlisle. "We may have...problems if their alcohol consumption continues," I told him low enough that only my family could hear it above the din of the fair.
He sighed but nodded. "Liquid courage..." he muttered, but in his mind, he promised to keep a close watch, as well.
We arrived to some sort of ride most of my siblings wanted to ride, and Bella turned to me.
"Going?" she asked, and her beautiful shoes made her tall enough that she didn't have to stand on her toes to kiss me.
"Not yet, sweet girl," I told her. "I will, but I need to listen for just a few, okay?"
She nodded, kissed me again, and followed after Rose, Emmett, Kevin, Alice, and Jasper over to something called "The Zipper." I had to chuckle at them all playing around in line, simply because the minds around them weren't second guessing their ages at the moment. Plus, my sweet girl looked much happier than she had earlier in the day.
"Edward?" I heard behind me, and spun to see Mrs. Delap walking my way. "It is Edward, right?" she verified.
"Yes, ma'am." I smiled politely, holding out my hand to shake hers, but I turned to Carlisle next to me. "Mrs. Delap, this is my father and my mother, Carlisle and Esme Cullen," I introduced with a smile and a hand on Adrian's shoulder. "And my foster brother, Adrian."
"Ah, the realtor!" Esme gushed with a smile, shaking the woman's hand. "It's nice to finally meet you face to face."
Fighting my smile, I shook my head a little at Mrs. Delap's assessment of my parents. She noted that they seemed young for the ages of children they had, but then she remembered that we were all adopted or foster kids. She was absolutely floored at Esme's beauty as they discussed the house and past communications, but mentally noted Carlisle's looks, too...from head to toe. Over and over.
Is she mackin' on Dad? Adrian asked me silently, which caused me to spin my head to grin at him.
"Yes," I said with a low chuckle.
Carlisle gave us both a raised eyebrow in warning, but we merely smiled innocently at him. Shut up, son.
I had to focus elsewhere, lest I laugh out loud, so I turned to watch my siblings and Bella on the ride, and then I gave the fair a long, slow appraisal. There were rides I knew my girl would want to ride, games she'd want to play, and suddenly, I realized someone was staring at me.
Mrs. Delap was joined by her daughter, the same girl we'd seen in town the night we went to buy the video cameras. Right behind her was a small group of her friends, including the boyfriend that Mrs. Delap didn't particularly care for. There were three girls dressed up for the holiday and two boys, who were wearing jeans, T-shirts, and jackets. Two of the girls were some sort of combination zombie and cheerleader, the other one dressed as a pirate wench. It was one of the former that approached the woman talking with my mother.
"Mom, we need money," she whispered, but her eyes raked over me and Adrian before locking back onto her mother.
"Story of your life, Tara," Mrs. Delap stated wryly, but placed a hand on eye-rolling Tara's shoulder. "Sweetie, these are the Cullens. They moved into the old Varner home. Carlisle, Esme, Adrian, and Edward."
A derisive snort came from the back of the group, and I locked eyes with the young man that had been with Tara the last time I'd seen her. He didn't like us, but it may have had something to do with our money, just because we were new, or even our looks, but really, he didn't like that Tara had chattered non-stop about us to her friends after seeing us the first time.
"Hi," Tara said shyly, giving us all a wave, and we returned the gesture.
"These are the rest of her clan," Mrs. Delap continued.
She introduced her daughter's friends. The other zombie was Faith, and the pirate was Lacey. Dustin was way too interested in the corndog he was eating to notice anything, but the final boy was Ronnie. His thoughts were hateful and rude, but he waved anyway because he really didn't want to piss off his girlfriend's mother.
The rest of my siblings joined us, and more introductions were made. I wanted to groan when Mrs. Delap suggested we all continue together down the fairway, but I forced my attention to Bella.
"You have to ride that," she said with a giggle, giving the human teenagers a side glance.
"Really?" I gushed right back at her. "Why's that?"
"'Cause it's fast," she told me, laughing when I raised an eyebrow at her. Okay, so not as fast as you, but you'd like it, silly ass. Her teasing made me chuckle, but she switched gears on me. You and Adrian are being crushed on, she thought with a warning.
"I know," I muttered back, but shrugged a shoulder because there wasn't much I could do about it.
And...the two boys have seemed to have picked up on Kevin, she said, her eyes narrowing on their childish laughter.
This added a new element to things that I wasn't prepared for. Small towns – like the lady at the newspaper had told us – can, in fact, have small minds. Dustin and Ronnie were making fun of Kevin's sexuality, because Kevin didn't always hide it. It was something we'd immediately accepted about our youngest brother but hadn't given much thought to how the humans would perceive him. Who knew that I'd have to worry about that more than our immortality at the moment.
I huffed a humorless laugh, shaking my head, but truly, my anger was getting the better of me. I locked eyes with Emmett, who was asking what the problem was, but for now, I simply shook my head. However, my largest brother wasn't stupid, nor was he or anyone else in my family deaf. The two boys weren't exactly being quiet about it, either.
"Fuckin' fruitcake," Ronnie muttered, but everyone turned on him at one time.
"Ronnie!" Tara gasped, her face reddening in embarrassment.
"Ronnie, if you can't behave, I will call your mother to come pick you up." Mrs. Delap's voice was cold, filled with a tone that said her patience with him had long ago faded away.
But it was Jasper, Emmett, and myself that Ronnie's worried gaze fell to because we'd taken three steps toward the boy before Carlisle had intervened.
Edward, don't, Carlisle warned, but he placed his hand on Emmett's chest.
"Yo, dude. Not cool," Emmett said, trying his best to keep the growl out of his voice. "Talk like that will get you severely injured, my friend."
Kevin, who'd remained pretty quiet, smiled evilly and tilted his head. He chuckled and then spoke softly. "Homophobic, are we?" he asked, and Ronnie looked a mix between shameful at having been caught and belligerent. "Don't flatter yourself, sweet cheeks," Kevin scoffed, rolling his eyes. "You aren't all that to look at. That underwear-showing, ratty old T-shirt, neo-Nazi hair thing you have going on is so played out, honey. You really aren't my type."
"Oh, hell," Bella murmured under her breath, but her hand slipped into mine and tugged lightly.
Alice giggled, but her mind showed Tara and her friends splitting off from us before the next ride. I gave her a side glance, and she nodded fervently.
Ronnie was pissed at the fact that a few chuckles were aimed his way. He took a step forward, but Emmett stopped him.
"I wouldn't," he simply said, raising an eyebrow at him. "I'd really hate to embarrass you in front of your girl and all."
Ronnie sniffed, biting his tongue around the adults. Had Tara's mother and our parents not been there, he would have considered testing that warning from Emmett. But his thoughts betrayed him because, despite the bravado he was showing and trying to muster mentally, he was frightened of us.
My brothers and I didn't move, but Tara did.
"Ronnie, let's go," she huffed, giving us an apologetic glance. "Come on. I'm hungry..."
Dustin smacked his chest with the back of his hand. "Yeah, man...I want another dog."
Mrs. Delap huffed, shaking her head. "Ronnie, we'll be talking about this in the car," she warned him, but she handed her daughter a few twenty dollar bills. "Go. All of you, get out of my sight."
Jasper stood his ground, but Alice softly pushed at him to move along. Emmett was no better. But we all relaxed a little when the five teens had walked away.
Mrs. Delap turned to Esme. "My apologies," she sighed, shaking her head. "Tara's convinced she loves him. Otherwise, I'd forbid her from seeing him. They'd just sneak around behind my back."
Esme smiled, sweeping her eyes down the line of her children. "Believe me, I understand."
Bella smirked but tugged my hand again. "Come, Edward," she urged softly and sweetly. "Let's go play..."
Grinning at the fact that I could deny her nothing, I offered her my arm. "Yes, ma'am."
~oOo~
"Who are we waiting for?" Bella asked, sitting down next to me on the bench after playing a game of darts.
Wrapping my arm around her shoulders, I dropped a heavy kiss to her temple. "Everyone. Carlisle and Esme are walking through the exhibits in the large building over there. The rest are playing games."
We were all meeting up in a little while so we could head over to the small stage to watch a few local bands.
"You're not playing?" she asked, biting her bottom lip.
Chuckling and reaching inside my coat, I pulled out a small stuffed lion. "I already did."
She giggled, twirling the lion's mane around her finger. "You know, a hundred years from now, I'll have a million of these and won't know where to store them."
"A hundred years from now, I'll buy you a warehouse just to keep them," I countered with a smug smile, kissing her smiling lips.
"Somehow, I don't think you're kidding," she muttered wryly. "But thank you, baby."
I laughed and nodded. "Anything for you, Bella."
"Speaking of..." she started, linking our fingers together. "When are we leaving?"
"Whenever you're ready," I said, shocked that she was asking, but her thoughts were shielded from me at the moment. "You don't want to stay for the music?"
Her face scrunched up adorably as she thought about it, but she shrugged one creamy shoulder, adjusting the wrap around them. "Maybe a few songs, but not the whole thing."
"You just tell me when, love," I told her, and she nodded, but we both looked up when a boy of about five or six ran our way. Unfortunately, he lost his footing and fell hard down onto his hands and knees right in front of us.
"Uh oh," Bella sang soothingly, getting up from the bench to help the little guy to his feet. "You okay?"
He nodded, brushing off his costume. He was wearing the stripes of a prisoner, something that made me smile. He had light brown hair and a spattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks. His hands were dirty from his fall and most likely from all the candy he'd consumed.
"Were you escaping jail, buddy?" Bella asked with a chuckle, and he grinned, his eyes widening at the sight of her.
"No, just my big sister," he told her, jerking a thumb behind him, but his thoughts were consumed with just how pretty the woman kneeling in front of him was.
I laughed, both at his thoughts and his answer, which caused him to look my way. At first, his fear kicked in, but like most children, his curiosity got the better of his judgment. He eyed me from head to toe, noting I was a "mafia guy." But his eyes landed on the toy gun in my lap that I'd had hanging off my shoulder all night.
"Is that a real gun?" he asked in awe, and I grinned, picking up the toy and turning it over in my hands.
I'd forgotten the ease that a child's thoughts brought to my mind. They were filterless, in all reality. Everything they felt, thought, or decided all came pouring out of their mouths with a simple honesty. They were filled with hope and happiness. The simplest of things could bring them to laughter – or to tears. They were fragile and resilient, non-judgmental and curious.
They also didn't quite see through the facade of what we were trying to be, but they were overrun with a million other things in their minds, so they didn't have time, nor the inclination to be afraid of me – something I noted when the little guy stepped closer.
I leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees, but the gun was in my hand. "No, it's not real," I told him, smiling a little when large blue eyes gazed up at me. "Looks like it, though. Right?" I asked him, and he nodded. "I'd say you could have it, but we'd have to ask her." I pointed to Bella. "She's the one who bought it."
Bella giggled, rolling her eyes and shaking her head as she took her seat next to me again. "Edward... Don't tease him."
Huffing a short laugh, I looked back at the little guy. "Besides, what are you in prison for?"
"I'm not!" he countered in an explosion of giggles, holding his stomach. "I'm only in kindergarten! It's Halloween!"
He said this as if I had no clue, and I couldn't help but chuckle.
"What's your name, prisoner?" I asked him, still laughing.
"Jeremy Thomas George Jr., but everyone calls me JT," he answered.
"Where's your sister, JT?" I asked him, and he pointed over by a concession stand selling funnel cake.
"Which one, sweetie?" Bella asked.
"She's in the orange shirt," he told her, and Bella got up to go get her.
The girl couldn't have been more than eighteen, but she looked exasperated as she walked with my Bella.
"JT, Mom's gonna kill me if I lose you, but some days..." she threatened him teasingly, and he merely smiled up at her. The love she had for the little guy was big – almost as if he were her own. "Thank you," she said to me and then glanced at Bella. "If he hadn't stopped for you, he'd be halfway across the fair by now."
Grinning, I looked back at JT. "Hey, pal, I got an deal for you." I held out the gun to him. "You can have this, but..." I held up a finger, and his hands stopped in mid-reach. "You must stick by your sister. You can't go running off, okay?"
Maybe it was because I knew there were bigger, nastier monsters – human monsters – out there other than me. I'd seen them first hand, knew what wicked things of which they were capable. The close-knit small town wouldn't have mattered; JT could disappear as quickly as a puff of smoke when no one was looking.
"Okay," he whispered, gazing up at me with wide eyes.
"Promise?" I asked him.
"Promise," he vowed, nodding fervently.
"Then, it's yours," I said, finally handing over the toy weapon.
He immediately pulled the trigger, aiming at everyone and everything around him.
"JT! What do you say?" his sister chided.
"Oh!" he gasped, spinning to face Bella and me. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," the two of us chanted at the same time.
JT's sister mouthed her thanks and then walked back to the line that Bella had pulled her from. I felt Bella's eyes on me, her mind still closed.
"You miss working with them?"
"Sometimes," I answered truthfully, shrugging a shoulder and taking off my hat so that I could claw at my hair. "I don't miss losing one to disease or trauma. And I don't miss working with other doctors who can't take me seriously because I look too young."
Bella nodded and reached up to run her fingers through my hair. "It's sticking up everywhere..." she said, smiling when I set my hat on her head. "You miss their minds, though, don't you?"
"Yes," I said with a nod. "It's pure and freeing. I don't have to muddle through everything else to get to the heart of things."
She smiled again, looking absolutely adorable with my hat on. "I bet," she sighed softly, only to lean in and kiss me. "Some days, Edward... You make me love you all the more."
~oOo~
The shrieks of terror tore through the fair, causing my siblings, Bella, and me to burst into hysterics. It was so wrong, but so damn funny at the same time. Jasper's wry grin widened, but he did it again, sending wave upon wave of pure fear into the haunted house.
We were supposed to be meeting Carlisle and Esme over at the stage, but Emmett had begged Jasper to terrorize the haunted house, and since Adrian and Kevin had never seen him do it, we ended up stopping at the closest set of benches to watch.
"Oh, you know what would be even funnier?" Emmett asked, rubbing his hands together. "If Bells went in there...using that shield to slightly touch people. You know, tap them on the shoulder, touch a leg...that sort of shit."
We all groaned, because again...it was so wrong.
"They'll pee their pants, Em," Adrian said with a laugh, "but damn, that would be funny."
Another scream – this time, a man – and we collapsed into laughter again. Bella leaned into me, her thoughts open, and she was wondering why it amused us so.
"Because it's harmless," I whispered in her ear. "And because humans like the thrill of it. Jasper's not sending enough fear to stop their hearts, just enough to give them the rush their seeking."
Jasper grinned, shrugging a shoulder. "I could cause them to piss themselves, but..."
"Eeew!" the girls all sqeaked.
"Exactly." He chuckled, glancing over at the next set of humans walking in.
Fuck, he's hot...
Maybe they should've kicked Ronnie's ass...
They all look...together, though...
"That's a...close family," I heard not far from us, and my eyes found Tara and her friends waiting in line for the haunted house. However, the undertone in which Faith had said that did not go unnoticed.
And neither did their silly giggles, because Ronnie and Dustin stepped up in line behind them.
"You wanna stop staring at that fucking family, Tara?" he said, looming over his eye-rolling girlfriend. "Jesus, you'd think they were some movie stars or something..."
Tara sighed, giving Ronnie an impatient look. "I can look, you know."
"Yeah, well, it's not like you stand a chance with one of those pretty boys. Looks like they're all taken up, and they'd never give you a second glance," he sneered, smiling to himself that he kept Tara under his control.
"You need more than a second glance at some of them... That's a sweet ass on that one on the end," Lacey muttered with a grin.
When the girls all laughed again, Ronnie lost his temper, snatching Tara up by the arm in a move that was kept hidden from their friends. It was a practiced and seemingly habitual move. "Keep lookin', bitch... See what it gets you," he threatened her in a whisper.
Bella and Rose reacted immediately, stepping forward, but Emmett and I caught them.
"Don't you dare, sweet girl," I warned her in her ear, giving my brothers a side glance. "Let us handle it the right way. Hmm?" I hummed, grinning evilly when they both glared at me. "Trust me?"
"Yeah," they both answered slowly.
"Good. Jasper, Emmett, Kevin..." I started.
"And me," Bella sneered, watching how deflated Tara looked now.
"Actually, we're all going," Alice piped up wearing a small smile.
Grinning, I nodded at what she'd seen. "That's perfect. I think we need to take in the haunted house, don't you?"
The haunted house was one of the few exhibits of the fair that wasn't portable. It had been created in one of the buildings on the fair ground by the townspeople, so it was rather large. What was even better was that it would be easy to split up inside. And that's what Alice saw us doing.
We took our place in line a few people back from Ronnie. Once we were inside, hidden in the darkness, I gestured for everyone to split up, though I kept Bella with me. We were going to corral Ronnie, give him a little more than a few scarily dressed people and some black lights. Edging our way behind the scenes silently, I came up on his side, shaking my head as he tried to scoff his way through the maze.
"Now, beautiful," I whispered, grinning as I watched through her mind.
Her shield shot out, poking him in the center of his back, making him jump and spin around. When he didn't see anything, he immediately blamed his buddy, Dustin.
"Not funny, asshole," he growled, shoving him.
"I didn't do nothin'!" Dustin argued, giving Ronnie a foul look before surging on ahead.
"Perfect," I muttered with a smile. "Now, Kevin!" I ordered softly, knowing every last member of my family could hear me, but not the humans.
A white arm shot out of the darkness right around Ronnie's thigh. With a swift tug, Ronnie's jeans hit the floor, and the white arm disappeared. Bella giggled as the boy just about fell on his ass as he freaked out in the dark. By now, he was alone.
But the best was what Jasper and Emmett were planning. Jasper stood in the shadows, but Emmett was behind a black curtain. As soon as Ronnie was near him, Emmett wrapped up the boy in unrelenting strong arms, with the curtains between them.
Ronnie screamed like a girl, which made us all laugh, but Jasper hit him with the most fear yet. Pure terror. His heart rate shot out of control, and I murmured for my brother to tone it down just a little. With speed no human could catch, Alice and Rose ran past Ronnie over and over, poking him, shredding his T-shirt, and stealing his baseball cap when it fell to the floor.
"Enough," I said with a soft laugh, and Emmett let him go.
Ronnie ran the rest of the way through the haunted house, almost stumbling out onto the dirt when he finally made it to his friends.
"Let me," Emmett said, holding out his hand for Ronnie's hat.
Rose handed it over with a smug smile because we all knew what he was about to do. Walking out as a family and acting as if there wasn't much scary about the maze, we saw Ronnie brow-beating his friends and girlfriend.
"What the hell? Why aren't you all torn the fuck up?!" he shouted.
Before they could formulate an answer because they couldn't rectify how he'd gotten so messed up, we approached the group, Emmett taking the lead.
"This belong to you?" Emmett asked innocently, twirling the baseball cap around his finger, though his smile didn't reach his eyes. They were hard, dark, and lacking in his usual sense of humor. "The fuck happened to you?" he asked, eying the boy from head to toe.
"That fuckin' haunted house," was all Ronnie would say through gritted teeth, because he wasn't quite sure what he was facing at the moment with all of us standing in front of him, not to mention he didn't like that his own friends didn't seem concerned. They weren't even stepping up to face us with him because we were intimidating them just a little.
"Karma's a bitch like that, dude," Emmett stated like it was fact. When Ronnie reached for his hat, Emmett snatched it back. "Nah uh uh," he chided like he was speaking to a small child. "You really should take better care of your..." His eyes swept beyond Ronnie to Tara, who was watching everything raptly. "Belongings," he finally finished. "You know, 'cause you wouldn't want to lose them. Like I said, karma's a bitch like that."
He allowed Ronnie to reach for the hat again, only this time, Emmett caught the boy's arm in the exact same place Ronnie had gripped Tara.
"You know what I'm sayin'?" he asked, his voice laced with a threat as he squeezed Ronnie's upper arm to the point of pain. "If you take better care of your...possessions, then they won't...disappear on you. Got me?" Again, Emmett's eyes slipped to Tara and back.
Ronnie caught the movement, his own eyes narrowing as he was face to face with Emmett. He was still pretty damn scared from the haunted house, but Emmett was scaring him even more. All thoughts of taking on my brother flew out the window as he realized he was busted.
"Yeah, I got it," he mumbled.
"Good." Emmett grinned, all dimples and teeth, letting the boy go as he brushed him off dramatically. However, he still had a grip on the hat. "It's too nice for you...this...hat," he said, leaning on certain words. "One day...someone might steal it, you know. Someone who'll take better care of it."
Emmett slammed the hat into Ronnie's chest, but gripped his shoulder.
"Oh yeah, and I think you owe my brother an apology for bein' a shit earlier," he told him, pointing toward Kevin.
Emmett reveled in being a bully when times called for it. He was eating this whole situation up.
"Sorry," Ronnie muttered, looking like a beaten dog.
"No worries, Eminem," Kevin taunted. "I'm pretty sure you can't help it."
"Good boy," Emmett crooned, patting Ronnie's back way too hard and sending him stumbling into his friends. My brother brushed off his hands, grinning like a kid. "Guess that's that. We'd better go. Mom and Dad will be wondering where we are," he stated, reaching for Rose's hand. "See you around," he warned Ronnie before leading us all away.
"That was awesome!" Adrian gushed once we were far enough away. "If that's what school is like, we're so going the next time."
"It's not always," Bella said with a giggle. "But that did rock!"
Chuckling at her fist bump to Emmett, I wrapped an arm around her, guiding her toward the stage area where the music had already started.
~oOo~
BELLA
The music was good. A touch more country than we normally listened to, but still, the singer was good. Carlisle and Esme had saved us a place along the side – we practically took up a whole row to ourselves. We were in front of a metal barrier, and luckily, and there weren't that many humans around us. We were all coupled off, just enjoying the music and leaning into each other. Though, Edward was wrapped around me from behind, simply resting his chin on my shoulder.
I'd been enjoying the family. We were just being ourselves – well, as much of ourselves as we could be out in front of a bunch of humans – but I was almost ready to be alone with my husband. As such a private couple, it was something we craved occasionally. And tonight, I was craving it badly.
The band shifted around on the stage, the lead singer sitting down at a beautiful white piano and the guitarist taking a stool. Edward's arm tightened around me, only to turn me around when the music started to a slow ballad.
"Dance with me, my beautiful girl," he whispered, taking his hat off and setting it on my head like he'd done earlier in the evening.
"Okay," I said with a smile because there was just something about his sweet face whenever he asked that of me.
Running my fingers through his hair, I finally rested my arms around his neck, but my eyes snapped to his at the sound of the words to the song that was now playing.
You know I'd fall apart without you
I don't know how you do what you do
'Cause everything that don't make sense about me,
Makes sense with I'm with you.
Like everything that's green, girl, I need you.
But it's more than one and one makes two.
Put aside the math and the logic of it.
You gotta know you're wanted, too.
'Cause I wanna wrap you up
Wanna kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
And I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
Never let you forget it.
Yeah, I wanna make you feel wanted.
"Edward," I barely breathed, pulling myself closer to him as he took that hat off and tossed it to the seat behind us.
A sweep of his lips over mine was a way of gently shushing me, to listen, to feel the words he wanted me to hear. I didn't know the song, but apparently, Edward did, and the lyrics seemed to fit us – fit Edward – so damn well. It was the perfect balm to soothe me after having talked about our past earlier in the day.
When his forehead met mine, his darkening eyes locked with my own, and he sang the next verse with a small smile on his face.
Anyone can tell you you're pretty
You get that all the time, I know you do.
But your beauty's deeper than the makeup
And I wanna show you what I see tonight.
When I wrap you up
When I kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
And I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
Never let you forget it.
'Cause baby, I wanna make you feel wanted
I wanted to kiss him stupid, and he let me briefly, until he decided to drag his softly singing lips across my cheek and down to my ear. The sweet words of the song were slowly killing me, but Edward's smooth, soulful voice was completely my undoing.
As good as you make me feel
I wanna make you feel better
Better than your fairy tales
Better than your best dreams
You're more than everything I need
You're all I ever wanted
All I ever wanted
When the song was over, the crowd cheering loudly around us, breaking me out of my Edward-induced bubble. Our eyes were locked, our breathing heavy, and the crackling spark of electricity that always surrounded us picked up in its intensity, causing a moan to escape the two of us.
"We... Edward, we need to go," I whispered, begging, pleading with him to get me out of there before I lost control over my need for him.
Edward swallowed thickly, his eyes squeezing closed briefly before his bit down harshly on his bottom lip. It seemed I wasn't the only one that was having trouble controlling myself. The words, the dance, it had all been too much, too close to the truth of things.
Inhaling slowly and letting it out, he finally nodded, keeping me close as he shot a look to Carlisle – not that our family was paying much attention to us. With carefully controlled hands, Edward adjusted my wrap around me, bent to pick up his hat, and set it on my head one more time before we left our family behind.
By the time we'd walked out of the small stadium-like seating area, through the fair grounds, and reached the car, there was no stopping us. Pressing me into the passenger side door, Edward was a looming tower of need and kisses and groping hands. And I wasn't much better off, practically climbing his long, lean body.
"God, Bella," he panted, placing his hands on either side of my head. "We really have to go...or I'm gonna take you right here. You have no idea what you do to me, what you mean to me."
My brow furrowed as I gave his face the once-over, thinking my sweet Edward was having himself a moment, but he was shaking his head no as he heard the thought.
"No...no, I swear I'm not... I just..." He huffed frustratedly through his nose. "I need you alone, too, love. More than I realized."
I nodded, trailing my fingers over his face to help calm him. Otherwise, he wouldn't make it into the driver's seat. "Well, you said you were planning something..." I prompted him.
He smiled at that, locking gazes with me before kissing me senseless one more time. "I did. And I can't wait to show you."
It was absolutely painful to force him back and extricate myself from his embrace, but if I didn't, then we'd destroy the inside of the Volvo without shame and right there in that parking lot, no matter who or what was around us. I knew us well enough to know that much.
"Then show me, Edward," I said, opening my own door.
He closed the car door and took his time walking around to the driver's side. By the time he sat down, his eyes were a touch lighter and his face was little calmer. He shot me a soft, sweet smile before picking up my hand and kissing the back of it, his eyes raking over my whole body and back up to my eyes.
"You look amazing, by the way," he stated softly. "Had I seen you like this back then..." He grinned, shaking his head a little. "Well, perhaps my gentlemanly upbringing would've been shot to hell."
I giggled. "Drive, Edward. And leave the gentleman behind...okay?"
He laughed, cranking the car. "Yes, ma'am."

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