Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 7

Chapter 7
BELLA
The long ride home from New Brunswick was torture. I was ravenous for my husband, but then, I always was after an open mic night. The fooling around that we'd done in the park near the bar wasn't enough. I was wound tight like a spring, and I had to shield my thoughts and my emotions in the car, or the whole family would've been in trouble.
I wanted to be home. Immediately. I wanted to climb Edward like he was an unexplored mountain. I wanted to crawl into his lap and kiss him stupid, despite the fact that he was driving. He was good at multitasking, but it was quite possible he'd wreck. I wanted us buried deep under the covers of our bed with nothing between us. But the reality of the situation was that I couldn't. We had to get home to beat the sun and to check the cameras that we'd left recording all night.
A gentle hand landed on my thigh, and I instantly picked it up, playing with long, slender, talented fingers as I continued to gaze, unseeing, out the window because I couldn't look at him. He knew. He could read me like no one else, even without my thoughts available to him. My fidgeting in the passenger seat, my teeth gnawing on my bottom lip, and my eyes, which had to have been black as pitch, were all right there.
Those same fingers extricated themselves from my relentless grip, only to reach for my chin to turn my head. I closed my eyes, swallowing thickly back the venom that pooled in my mouth. When I finally opened them, my gaze met warm, sympathetic, and sweet. Edward said nothing, but simply caressed my face with the backs of his fingers, his thumb gliding underneath my eye. Yeah, the brown must have been completely gone, and that was his way of telling me without alerting my…condition to Alice and Jasper, who were riding in the back seat – though they probably knew. I was just grateful that Emmett and Kevin were in the car behind us because they wouldn't have just ignored it.
I watched perfect lips mouth the words, "I love you," to me, and it was all I could do to stay in my seat. Not trusting myself, I nodded and turned back toward the window to watch as Maine flew by. My still heart was being tugged toward the man driving, and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
"Yes," Alice broke the silence of the car, answering someone's unasked question. "We do capture something on video."
That seemed to knock my lust down a notch or two, so I turned to glance around the car. It was Edward that was nodding.
"But you can't see what it is?" he verified whatever she was showing him.
"Not clearly. See?"
Jasper and I sighed, rolling our eyes, because these half-assed conversations were lost to us. Our obvious frustration amused Alice and Edward, but at least Alice tried to explain.
"I can only see our reaction to something on the screens, not what we're actually seeing," she said, shrugging a shoulder. "We seemed to be surprised, but at least that's something. I've been forcing these visions all night, and that's the only thing I've been able to decipher."
Edward turned into our driveway and parked the car, but he stopped me when I started to get out. He waited until everyone had made it inside before speaking.
"Look at me, sweet girl," he purred with a voice that was smooth, rich, warm...which wasn't helping my situation. At all.
A sound escaped me when I looked into his beautiful face – a whimper mixed with a growl. My thoughts were still shielded because the things I wanted to do to him would've driven him crazy. I knew better than to bombard him with my mental wishes when there was so much we had to do before we'd get to be alone.
"Bella-love, let me help you," he begged, trying to pull me to his lap, but I fought him.
"Edward, don't," I told him weakly in a whisper, shaking my head profusely. "I won't… If you touch me… I won't stop!" I hissed, begging him with my eyes to understand.
Edward gripped the steering wheel instead, his face a mixture of frustration and sorrow as he stared at the house. He wanted to help, felt it was his duty as my mate, my husband, but he knew I was right. He turned back to me and reached for my face.
Slipping his fingers up my cheek and into my hair, he brought his forehead to mine. "I need to see what you're thinking, Bella. I need to know when this…moment of yours becomes too much for you."
"You don't know what you're asking," I said with a humorless chuckle.
"Yeah?" He huffed a laugh, but the sexy crooked grin told me he was more than curious. "That bad, my sexy girl?"
"Oh," I groaned, my brow wrinkling as I shook my head slowly. "Edward, you really have no idea."
He broke out into a wide, beautiful grin, but he fought it like a champ. "Can you get through this? We're merely going to scan through the video."
"And if we find something on said video, it'll take longer. I know, baby. I just have to force it back. Maybe I need Jasper's help," I sighed, looking forlornly at the house and gesturing to the door when said brother stepped out onto the porch.
"Alice told him to come outside," Edward explained. He stepped out of the car and was instantly at my door.
I slid down from my seat to see Jasper approaching.
"You have to lift your shield, baby girl," he said with a chuckle, and when I did, he stumbled back a step or two. "Damn, okay…" He laughed once but stopped when Edward growled low.
I sighed in relief when he hit me with a combination of a few different emotions. I felt calmer, comforted, and then I felt like he'd dowsed me with a bucket of ice water when he pushed back my lust a bit with a touch of humor. Finally, curiosity wove its way into my thoughts, and that made me nod to him once.
"Thanks," I said, giving Edward a quick glance. My moment was still in full swing, but at least I was able to think about something other than how tight my husband's T-shirt was, or how badly I needed to sink my fingers into his unruly hair and kiss him into oblivion.
"Come on," Jasper said with a chuckle. "You're just lucky they think the two of you are upset over that last song at the bar."
"Now…my turn," Edward told me, his face serious but so very sweet, and I noticed he kept his touches to a minimum. "I want to hear you, love. I'm not kidding. The very minute it becomes too much, I want to know. Okay?"
Swallowing thickly, I nodded and let my thoughts through. He studied my face as he listened to my inner struggle. His brow furrowed, but he nodded, dropping a heavy kiss to my forehead. For a split second, I wondered if the rest of our family experienced these "moments" like we did.
"No, ma'am," he answered as he led me into the house. "Nothing like them. At all. They are…ours," he explained, raising an eyebrow at me.
So Jasper just thinks I'm… I thought, but didn't know how to finish because the word "horny" sounded trite and trivial.
"Yes," Edward said with a laugh. "That's it. Just…yeah." He leaned down to my ear, whispering, "And that is perfectly normal, my beautiful girl."
I couldn't help but giggle, and that improved my mood significantly as we joined the rest of the family, who were standing behind Emmett.
Jasper slid gracefully into a chair in front of his own computer. Emmett was already hard at work on mine. They stopped and started the recordings from the beginning, going through each camera's view individually.
Nothing moved for a few hours after we'd locked up and left, it seemed. It wasn't until Jasper was going through the video of the stairs and Emmett was going through the video of the library that things got…strange. Flashes of little white boxes flickered on Jasper's screen, but we all froze when the library's door opened on its own.
"Fuck me," Emmett barely breathed, rewinding, zooming in, and pausing.
We were all so engrossed in what we were watching that Esme didn't even bother to chastise him for his language.
The timestamp on the screen showed around ten o'clock, which would've put us on stage in New Brunswick. No one seemed to breathe as Emmett replayed it, this time going slower.
The library door opened and stayed open for the next few minutes. No movement was caught again until we glanced over at the stairs on Jasper's screen. A flash of white and one single white box blipped, and a few minutes later, it happened again. Jasper paused it, trying to catch that brief flicker, but it merely came up as a blur, no matter how many times he stopped it, rewound it, and paused it again.
My brothers locked gazes for a split second but suddenly went to work – vampire style. They flew through video from each camera, stopping all of them when they reached around the same time.
"Okay, wait," Edward stated, stepping forward to stand behind his brothers. "Splice it, and then start from the library. Watch…" He pointed to the screen. "The library door opens at ten-thirteen…the flash in the stairs at ten-fourteen. Then watch…"
We collectively stepped closer, and I rested my cheek on Edward's upper arm as I took in what he was trying to show us. Movement occurred all over the house – all after the library door opened. Curtains moved, vases shifted, and more doors opened – one being the basement door in the kitchen. Finally, one of the outside cellar doors flew back to the side. We could see it from both directions – inside the basement and the view from outside. Another flash of grayish-white showed up, a few more white boxes, and finally, things became really still for a bit.
The timers flew through a few hours without a single thing, until a lynx trotted by on the outskirts of the outside video. It sniffed around a few nearby bushes near the open cellar door and then crouched low in a defensive manner with ears laid back and fur raised up in a fierce line along its back. It backed up a few paces, hissed long and forceful, and quickly bolted from the scene. But we all jumped when the cellar door slammed shut, then basement door in the kitchen closed, and then finally, the library door closed. Not long after that, the cameras caught all ten of us traipsing into the house.
We were quiet for a moment, but it was Rose that broke the silence. "That blurry thing… Umm, what in the blue hell is that?" she asked, glancing around the room, but her eyes landed on Carlisle, who was rubbing his chin in thought.
"I'm gonna splice it all together. Hang tight," Jasper stated, clicking furiously on the mouse. "The timeline is easy to follow," he murmured.
While he did that, Emmett picked apart a few frames of one of the grayish-white blurs. He clicked through it tiny bits at a time until what looked like it could be a face was in the center of the computer screen.
"It looks like…a ghost, but then…" he rambled, tilting his head from left to right because the more he zoomed in, the blurrier it became. "But then…it doesn't. It looks like…a skeleton."
Carlisle's phone broke the eerie moment, causing ten vampires to just about jump clean out of their skin.
"Jesus Christ almighty," Kevin gushed, pressing a hand over where his heart was. "This Friday the 13th shit is for the birds. Should we go over the rules for surviving a horror movie like they did in Scream?"
I snorted into a giggle, muffling it into Edward's shirt sleeve. "Don't drink or do drugs," I said with a laugh.
"Never say, 'I'll be right back,'" Kevin added with a grin.
"And never, ever have sex," Emmett piped in with a guffawing laugh. "Well, that means this entire house is doomed."
The whole lot of us cracked the hell up, and I was totally grateful to Emmett and Kevin for cutting the tension a little.
Carlisle sighed, fighting his smile as he finally answered his phone. "Hello, Demitri."
"Hey, Demitri," every woman and Kevin sang loudly, because God, we loved to make him smile.
I scoffed, waving a hand at them all. "It's not as fun if he's not here," I said, grinning as the boys growled low and Carlisle walked away, though we could all hear Demitri's amused laughter ring through the phone.
"Yeah..." Rose chuckled, nodding. "He lives for it, you know."
"It's too bad he can't blush," Alice added with a giggle. "Lord knows, we've come as close to causing one as we possibly could."
"Sweet eye-candy!" Kevin whispered dramatically, grinning when Esme, Alice, Rose, and I all nodded in agreement, even Adrian chuckled a little.
Emmett, Jasper, and Edward all rolled their eyes but ignored our teases as they studied the videos. What had started as a joke from the beginning was now almost a tradition. Our spouses knew we were joking, and poor Demitri ate up the attention. As Carlisle spoke to our good friend of his impending visit, Adrian finally leaned into say something to Esme.
"Should we…I don't know…go check everywhere those blurry things were?" he asked her softly.
Edward cast a glance over to Carlisle, who nodded curtly, and then he said, "Yes. Check for scents and for anything missing. I'll take the outside and cellar doors. I want to track that lynx."
With a sigh of want I couldn't help, I peeled myself off Edward's arm and made my way toward the library. I shook my head to clear it of my husband's fierce face, his commanding tone, and his strong arm as he designated who needed to go where. It was the simplest shit that made me want him, and Jasper's influence had officially worn off because he was concentrating on the computer in front of him. And Edward heard it all in my mind just before I shielded my emotions from Jasper.
"Bella?" Edward called, but I didn't answer him aloud.
Just ignore me, baby, I thought with a wry smirk, still continuing to walk away. I heard him scoff behind me. Okay, so you don't know how to ignore me, but just hurry. Is that better?
He chuckled softly from somewhere in the back of the house, saying, "Yes, ma'am."
The library was in the same disarray as when we'd left it the night before from packing up Emmett's drums and the boys going through which guitars they wanted to take. There was no change in scent, except maybe that the smell that we now associated with the cellar was a little stronger.
I turned to Carlisle when he entered the room behind me, still on the phone. Gesturing to the bookcase door, I silently asked him if I should open it. He held up one finger for me to wait as he continued his conversation.
"No, Demitri," he said softly. "We haven't heard from Bella's father as of yet, but he promised that he'd look into the very last owners of this house. They're the only living ones left."
"I'm with Marcus on this one, Carlisle," I could hear Demitri say. "Knowing Bella's shield and how Edward's talent works, I'm thinking this is something physical. Perhaps it's something we've never seen before?" he suggested in the form of a question.
"Tell D I'm sending him this spliced video. He can check it out himself," Emmett called from the other room.
"Excellent," Demitri replied. "Catherine and Brandon have agreed to join us, and we've already left Colorado. I can't see us taking more than a day to get to you. We'll drive all night, and no one needs to hunt."
"Thank you," Carlisle sighed. "I can't imagine you'll find any more than we have, but we appreciate you trying."
"You know I don't mind," Demitri said with a chuckle. "Besides, I've missed the family. Carina and I talk about you guys daily."
"And they miss you." Carlisle laughed softly. "We'll see you soon." Once he'd pocketed his phone, he met my gaze. "I didn't want you in there alone, sweetheart. Ready?"
I nodded, finding the latch on the top shelf that Kevin and Jasper had discovered the night we'd uncovered Varner's hidden workshop. With a brief click, the door popped open a little, and Carlisle pulled it away from the wall. My nose wrinkled and my growl was low as the scent washed over me. A small staircase descended into the workshop and into shadow.
"Shield us, Bella," Carlisle stated, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I did as he asked, and we went down below. Again, nothing seemed different as I glanced over the wreckage that covered the floor. All was quiet until I hit the bottom step. My shield jerked away from where I'd been holding it around Carlisle and myself, and I hissed, gripping his shoulder in order to maintain my stance.
"Bella?" Carlisle asked worriedly.
I shook my head because I couldn't talk and pull back my shield as it reached, searched, and stretched away from me on its own accord. It felt like it was pulling me down the tunnel that aimed toward the garage. It gave a swift tug, and I fell to my knees. It felt like a good presence, but I had no desire to go to it. I didn't want to, and that seemed to conflict with my talent's desire.
"Bella," Edward called to me, but immediately, he was on his knees in front of me.
"It's pulling me," I whispered through gritted teeth.
"Baby, let me in," he begged, but I shook my head.
The only one that could touch me was Carlisle because he was already under the protection of my shield. I couldn't force it one way or another; it was enough that I was stopping the pull.
"Pick her up, Carlisle," he begged. "Get her up to the library."
I found myself scooped up and instantly deposited onto the sofa. The pull and my shield relaxed as soon as the bookcase door clicked shut. I fell back to the pillows with a sigh of relief.
"Let me see you," Edward stated, kneeling next to me as his gentle fingers touched my face, brushed my hair back from my forehead, and tilted my chin his way. "Look at me, sweet girl."
I opened my eyes to see both Edward and Carlisle next to me. The rest of the family was behind them, looking on with concerned faces. But it was Jasper's face that made me sit up quickly.
"If I felt it, you two did, too. Didn't you?" I asked him and Edward, glancing between them.
When they both nodded, Carlisle asked, "What did you hear, son?"
"'Get out.' Over and over, like it was screaming," Edward said softly, but his eyes never left mine. "Then it started begging. 'Please, please, please…don't.' Jasper just about collapsed under the fear."
I looked to Jasper, and he nodded as he said, "There wasn't enough time for me to counter it. I couldn't calm myself, much less whatever that is."
"Fair enough," Carlisle stated with a single nod to his head. "Demitri will most likely be here by tomorrow, and maybe he'll have some insight on the video we sent him."
Edward scooped me into his arms, cradling me against his chest. With the face he was wearing, no one even dared asked him where we were going. As far as my husband was concerned, we were done for now. The only one that dared stop us was Alice.
"I was wrong," she whispered, glancing between me and Edward. "Your shield…it touched something. It's not a ghost. It can't be, not if I can see it."
"What is it, Alice?" Edward snapped, looking at me when I placed a hand on his face to calm him. I knew he was worried about me, but he didn't need to be. "Sorry," he said contritely, turning to Alice again. "Sorry, Alice. Can you show me?"
"There's nothing to see," she said, grimacing. "But whatever it is has made a decision to stay hidden."
Edward's nostrils flared. "Nothing…just blank space. But in order to make a decision…"
"It must have a mind," Carlisle finished for them, nodding when we all turned to him. He took a deep breath, letting it out as he gazed around at all of us. "Enough for tonight. Take a break from it all. And no one go near that damned basement," he ordered, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "We won't open it again until Demitri gets here."
Edward nodded, pressing his lips to my temple. "Yes, sir," he murmured. "Come, love. We'll go upstairs." He didn't say another word until we reached our room, where he deposited me gently onto our bed. He pointed a finger at me, saying, "Don't move from that spot."
My eyebrows shot up at the order, but I did as he asked, scooting up to the center of our bed. His face clearly showed his patience had run completely out – either with the house or with the night itself, I wasn't quite sure. Probably both. My eyes never left his stalking form as he went around the room. He locked the door, kicked out of his sneakers, lit candles, and rummaged around in the dresser drawer, finally pulling out something I hadn't seen since New York: our bedroom iPod.
"I added to it," I confessed softly, biting my lip when he shot a crooked smile my way.
"So did I," he said with a chuckle, and it was a sweet sound, though his eyes were still carrying the stress of the day. "Now let's see who won…"
I smirked, knowing it was most likely him and loving that some things never changed. They merely just got pushed back every now and then. The iPod that he was currently attaching to our stereo was the exact same iPod that I'd had when he'd returned to me. It was something he'd steal, create the most beautiful playlists, only to hand it back to me. Now it stayed in our bedroom, and we'd add songs to it when the other wasn't looking. We used it to drown out family, say things that only music could say, and make each other laugh with whoever got to it last. It was something that was ours and ours alone, and that was the message he was sending me now. He was taking back "our time."
Edward walked to the bed once the music started. It was "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran, so it was acoustic guitars, stringed instruments, and a soulful voice singing about just wanting to hold the one he loved that filled the room.
"I won," he whispered, bracing a knee on the edge of the mattress and reaching for my foot.
"You did," I agreed, letting him drag me closer in order to tug off my boots and socks before dropping them to the floor. "How many?" I asked in order to distract myself with just how sexy he was still in his dark jeans and T-shirt from open mic night.
"Just one," he replied quietly, shrugging one shoulder as he sat down in front of me. He reached for my face, and I leaned into his hand as his brow furrowed. "Are you okay?"
I nodded vehemently, finally giving into the desire to touch him by crawling into his lap. He welcomed me with strong arms and a deep sigh that pushed out against my cheek as he hugged me tightly. When the scent of sunshine, honey, and linen assaulted my senses directly from the source, my "moment" returned full force…and then some. His gentle caresses to my back and fingers through my hair, his deep hum of approval when I straddled his thighs, and his warm gaze as he held my face so that he could simply look at me – all those things just wrecked me.
I knew he wanted to talk about what happened with Carlisle down in the workshop, but I simply didn't have it in me at the moment.
"I can't…fight it, Edward," I barely breathed, pressing my forehead against his and squeezing my eyes closed. My fingers gripped the shoulders of his shirt as I fought with the last bit of restraint I possessed. The brief brush of his lips across mine set fire to my soul.
"It's okay, my sweet, beautiful girl. You don't have to fight it now," he crooned softly against my lips, his voice laced with understanding and comfort. "Tell me what you need, love. It's yours."
My body trembled, and I let out a rush of air as I finally begged him for what I wanted. "Kiss me. And don't stop…"
Sitting up on my knees, I leaned over him as he did exactly as I asked. He kissed me with a gentle, languid kiss, trying to slow me down, and I let him. He knew what I needed; it was the same thing he needed when he was lost to this feeling. I needed to be touched, kissed, and held closely. In fact, the closer, the better.
Edward's hands held my waist, but they glided up my sides to the inside of my jacket, which he pushed off my shoulders. I let go of him just long enough to shirk out of it, only to reach for his face again, slipping my fingers up into his hair to secure him to me. Firm hands cupped my bottom, giving it a squeeze over the outside of my jeans, tongues danced, swirled, tasted as I loomed over him, and finally, I had the wherewithal to grasp the bottom of his T-shirt.
"Skin," I whispered against his lips. "Now."
He smirked sexily as he licked his lips, pulling back just enough to reach behind him to grasp the material and then wrenching it over his head. Before I could fall back into him, he reached for the hem of my own shirt, gathering it up and tugging it off. I pushed at him until he fell back with his head at the foot of the bed, his fingers meticulously working at the clasp of my bra to quickly remove it. Then he went to work on the button and zipper of my jeans. He loosened them just enough so his hands could slip into the back to really grip my ass, grinding me down over him.
The song changed on the player, and we both paused briefly, our breathing ragged, even though we didn't really need the air. The sweet, talented piano playing of Alicia Keys started, the sound of "If I Ain't Got You" drowning out the rest of the family. We weren't alone, but I didn't care about them. I couldn't focus on the fact that our lust was most likely being forced upon everyone else through Jasper. I could only focus on the man beneath me – skin, muscles, flexing biceps. Wrapping my hand around the latter, I squeezed against the firm, tight bulges, pinning him to the bed.
My hair created a curtain around our faces as Edward stayed quiet. He could hear every thought I was having, and most were almost obscene in need. He cracked a quick smile, his fingers delving deeper into my jeans to find out just how needy I was.
"Jesus, Bella," he whispered, locking gazes with me – black to black. "Sweet girl, let me help you…"
I couldn't answer him aloud. Most likely, it would've come out as a string of nonsensical words, not making a bit of sense to either of us. I knew I was wet and swollen and aching, but it was easier to let my mind guide him because more than the physical ache, my heart yearned for him. So with that thought, our jeans shredded and my underwear was destroyed, all while I sat astride his stomach.
"Come here," he whispered, guiding me up his torso until my knees were planted on either side of his head. My fingers traced his bottom lip as he said, "I love you, my Bella. This'll help, I swear…"
His mouth met my heated center without preamble – tongue, lips, teeth, all working to help at least bring my frantic feelings down a notch or two. My head fell back as the chorus of the song really said more than I was able at the moment because it sang the absolute and utter truth.
Some people want it all
But I don't want nothing at all
If it ain't you baby
If I ain't got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain't got you, yeah
Edward worked thoroughly and quickly to bring me to the peak of ecstasy. He let me ride his face, grip his hair, and cry out his name, all of which earned me the most glorious of growls against my core. Edward let me take, and that was exactly what I needed. But he gripped and kissed and suckled until I thought I'd go mad. My insides wound tighter and tighter until my thighs were practically crushing his poor head, but when the coil finally snapped, my voice rang out with his name being the only thing I could articulate. And I felt bad for being so loud, but it couldn't be helped.
Before I had a chance to calm down, I found myself planted at the head of the bed, my husband bracing himself over me.
"Loud…is good, baby," he praised, licking his lips like he'd just eaten a mountain lion. "I don't care what they hear, love. And you…" He dropped a heavy, deep, toe-curling kiss to my mouth. "You taste infinitely better than a mountain lion."
He kissed me again, and I lost myself to my own flavor and Edward's sweet tongue. I felt I could finally breathe again, or at least see straight, but my moment was far from over. I could feel it in my chest, the grip of my hands as I pulled at his broad, strong back, and the twist of my stomach when his hips pushed forward, gliding his cock through what seemed my never-ending wetness.
Edward lowered himself just a little, allowing a bit more of his weight to lie against me. His cock was hard, heavy as he continued to grind between my folds, but when he slipped just inside my entrance, he stopped.
Holding himself as still as a statue, he gazed down at me, wearing a mixture of emotions all over his face – lust, awe, possessiveness, and sweet, sweet love. My breathing was almost in pants, but at least I could slow down.
The most beautiful of smiles curled at the corners of his mouth. "Good, my love. Now… Now, I can take my time with you…"
With that said, he slipped slowly inside of me, filling me and taking away the ability to think. And just like that, we were lost to each other. The whole world could've ended, and we'd never have known it.
~oOo~
EDWARD
"Edward," my love said with the sweetest of giggles as I bopped her with one of the pillows of our bed.
"What?" I let out dark chuckle, tugging the covers of our bed back just long enough to see if the sun had come up. It had, not that I was getting out of bed anytime soon, despite the sounds of the house coming alive. I whirled the covers back over our heads and pulled Bella closer with a firm arm around her waist. "What?" I asked again, smiling at her.
"Nothing," she sighed contentedly, wriggling that much closer as her fingers trailed up and down my spine.
We were face to face on our sides, our touch having not parted all night long. Looking at her now – sated and sweet and happy – made me proud. She'd had a rough moment the night before, and having to stave it off probably hadn't helped matters any. As much as I wanted to ask her what had happened in that cellar the night before, I couldn't bear to bring it up. She was way too cute and cuddly at the moment. But like usual, she knew me better than I knew myself.
"You can ask, you know," she whispered, dropping a kiss to my chin. "It's okay. I can actually think now."
I laughed, running my fingers through thick brunette locks and nuzzling her nose with my own. "I kind of like you incoherent…"
Smiling a sexy-as-hell smile, she rolled her eyes. "I'm sure, and I'm okay. And I wasn't…hurt, if that's what you were thinking."
I sobered quickly and nodded because that was what had concerned me most when I found her on her knees in that workshop. "Okay…so what happened?"
She showed me the memory. Her shield had jerked her so hard that she'd had a difficult time wrenching it back, and because she'd never really fought it like that and she wasn't used to doing the opposite of what it usually called her to do, it had overpowered her. Until we knew more, she didn't feel comfortable with just letting go of her shield. That had been what caused her fall and her loss of control.
What shocked me most was that it was a good pull – powerful, but good. Mentally, she agreed with Jasper's and my assessment that the things we were hearing and feeling were not menacing in any way…just simply scared.
Tracing her beautiful face with the tips of my fingers, I asked, "And you're okay?"
"I'm fine, baby. I promise," she vowed.
I let out a worried sigh that I didn't realize I'd been holding and nodded once before dropping a kiss to her lips. Her strength awed me sometimes, and I fell just that much more in love with her. I always felt the need to protect her, but really, she didn't need it. Not now that she was immortal.
She smiled, rubbing the away the wrinkle between my brow. "What are you thinking about?"
"You, love. Always you." I grinned when she laughed, rolling her eyes. "Okay, I was thinking that you're beautiful and strong and perfect."
"I'm not perfect, Edward," she scoffed, frowning a little. "And you make me feel those other things."
"Good. I'm glad."
Rolling onto my back, I pulled her atop me, but we stayed closed up under the covers of our bed. It was childish to think that it was some sort of bubble of protection, but when we were there, it felt like it – like nothing could touch us.
Bella rested her cheek on my chest as we both just stayed quiet for a few minutes, though the house was in full swing. They left us alone – even their minds were fairly quiet – though most were excited about our friends' arrival.
The silence of our bedroom was pierced with the shrill sound of a police siren. Bella giggled, slung the covers back, scrambled off me, and grabbed her phone off the nightstand.
"Hi, Daddy!" she sang, wearing the most adorable of smiles on her beautiful face.
Propping myself up on one hand, I used the other to brush her hair from her face as Charlie greeted her.
"Hey, Bells," he said with a low chuckle. "How's the house?"
I smirked when Bella scoffed, a rather loud snort escaping her. "Strange as ever."
"O-Okay," he drawled, dragging out the word, but he didn't ask her to elaborate. "The reason I was calling you was to let you know that I found Tim and Caroline Dixon," he stated, and the sound of rustling papers rang through the phone.
That got not only my attention, but everyone else in the house – they were trying to give Bella some sort of privacy, but it was nearly impossible with our hearing. I sat up straight, leaning against pillows and the headboard of our bed.
"I haven't spoken to them yet," he went on to say, "but I wanted to know how you want me to do it? What you wanted me to say?"
I held my hand out for the phone, and Bella nodded, saying, "Hang on, Dad. Edward wants to go over that with you, I think."
I took the phone, saying, "Hello, Charlie."
"Hey, son," he greeted. "Bella says you're having a rough time with this…this house."
I smiled. "It's interesting, that's for sure, especially when we can't locate the source of what I'm hearing. We appreciate you taking the time for this, but can I ask what you've found?"
Charlie grunted a sound that blew off my thanks and went directly into details of the Dixons. "Okay, so Tim Dixon left Caribou ten years ago. From what I can tell, he went straight back to Ohio for about six months, where he stayed with family. He then acquired a new position at a construction company in San Diego. So you guys were right; he did move to the west coast."
"Are they still there?" I asked.
"On the west coast, yes, but he's since transferred to San Francisco," Charlie explained. "Caroline Dixon is now seventeen...almost eighteen. She's attending a small private school and has just entered her senior year. Tim Dixon is a foreman for the company that originally hired him in San Diego. He's doing really well, financially, but for a bit there, he had some problems. He drank a little, received a DUI, and apparently, his family back in Ohio petitioned to take Caroline away from him. It was at that point that he straightened up and started seeing a grief counselor. He finally went to court to declare Lisa Dixon as deceased."
Bella groaned, her face sad at that last statement, but I could understand why Tim needed to move past it all, if only for the sake of Caroline. Tim had something to live for, but if anything ever happened to the beauty currently sitting in all her naked glory on my bed, there would be nothing for me to hold onto. That thought caused me to pull Bella's lips to mine in a brief but silent kiss.
"He never gave up, Edward," Charlie said softly, and the sound of him tapping away on the computer keyboard came over the line. "He checked in with the Caribou authorities just about every week until he moved to California, and then it became less and less. There's a cold case file on her, but no one's touched it in several years."
"There was no evidence," I countered, shrugging a shoulder. "She simply…disappeared."
"Exactly," he agreed. "Now, I have their contact information. I need to know how you want me to approach him. You're there…I'm here. It's not exactly going to make any sense to him."
"I don't know," I sighed, running a hand through my hair. "I can't exactly ask you to lie, Charlie. It doesn't seem…"
"I know," he said with a laugh. "That's why Anna has offered to do this interview. She's going to say that she's noting the cold case file. You know, updating the information. She's also going to mention that there's someone now living in the house, just to get his reaction. My question is this… Do you want us to email it like we did the Mississippi interviews?"
My eyes shot to Bella, who was already nodding.
"You can, though you're welcome here anytime, Charlie," I told him honestly.
"Maybe after you figure out what's going on in that house, huh?" He laughed once, and I knew him well enough to know that he was shaking his head.
I snorted, but I could understand why he was concerned. "Fair enough, sir."
"Give all my girls my love, and I'll email Bella when we have something," he told me.
"Yes, sir. And tell Anna thank you and good luck," I said, ending the call. I handed Bella back her phone. "What do you think?"
"I think Anna will lie like a rug," she said with a giggle. "And I'm not sure I want to hear what Tim has to say, but I know we need to know."
I nodded in agreement, tilting my head when our largest brother came bounding in from outside. Grinning, I cupped Bella's face, saying, "There is a benefit to this place, it seems. And Emmett has found it."
Her eyebrows shot up high. "Oh yeah, and what's that, handsome?" she asked, leaning forward to kiss my lips.
"We're far enough away from town to mask any…noise. You know, like…football," I said, leaning on the last word because my girl loved to play. "And the backyard is big enough…"
"Come on, baby girl!" Emmett boomed from the bottom of the stairs. "Guys against girls…Kev and Adrian are cheerleaders."
"Oh, that's so wrong," Bella groaned, but laughed at the same time with a slow shake to her head.
"Really, neanderthal?" Kevin growled from somewhere downstairs, but I could see him point a finger at Emmett. "Just for that, I'm playing. And I'm on the girls' side!"
I couldn't help but laugh, my head falling back to the pillow behind me. It was amazing just how well Kevin and Adrian had meshed into the family. They no more put up with Emmett's teasing and taunting than the rest of us.
Bella laughed with me, burying it in my neck. "Come on, my cute quarterback," she said with a sexy smirk. "What's on the line?"
I groaned at the mental assault that hit me, shaking my head. It was the most obscene collection of bets I'd heard yet. Everything from streaking in Caribou, to singing on open mic night, to Halloween pranks all came flying at me from nine different directions.
"Girls…and Kevin!" Alice called loudly. "Meeting outside; we'll discuss the terms. Bella, get your ass dressed."
My sweet girl grumped, folding her arms across her chest. "Fine," she sighed, "though I was happy being naked in here…"
Before she could escape the bed, I grabbed her ankle, tugging her back to me. She squeaked and then cracked up laughing.
Pinning her to the mattress, I growled, "Anytime you want to be naked in here, sweet girl… You just say the word."
Her laugh was like music and chimes, her head falling back to the bed. "Yes, Edward…"
~oOo~
BELLA
The cool, crisp October air felt good, felt cleansing in comparison to being inside. Brushing off my hands, I walked to the huddle of my fellow teammates, giving my smug-ass husband a scathing look for tackling me. The rule of no talents hadn't seemed fair to me when he could hear every thought we had, so we'd managed a compromise – I would shield thoughts, but tackles I'd have to take like everyone else.
"Love you, sweet girl," he sang, wiggling his long fingers in a wave.
"Mmhm," I grumbled, rolling my eyes. "I got your love you right here." I walked to the gathering of girls and Kevin, still complaining. "He's lucky he's fast. That's all I have to say."
"Come on, Bells," Alice said with a laugh, pulling me in closer. "Shield us because I really want to win this," she gushed. "You have no idea the plans they're coming up with!"
I rolled my eyes but did as she asked. The bet on the table was Halloween. The winners picked it all – every costume, which could be the best of revenge, especially since we were attending some fall festival in town in those said costumes. The problem was that the boys tended to get a little…racy when it came to costumes on their mates.
That thought made me groan aloud and shake my head. "Let me guess… Edward's thinking…mermaid," I sneered, giving my husband a glare.
"How'd you know?!" Alice gasped, glancing between us.
I snickered, shaking my head at a now-laughing Edward. "Because…it only makes sense; after all, mythical creatures seem to be the topic lately."
"Please," Kevin scoffed, rolling his eyes. "You could do so much better than that, Heavy E!" he yelled across the yard. "Fins and scales? Please…"
Edward's eyebrows shot up high, and his mouth fell open.
"Jesus," Rose chortled, shaking her head. "What the hell are you showing him?"
"Possibilities, my Diva. That's all." Kevin blew a kiss to the guys and turned back to the huddle.
"Oh, my sweet Kev," Esme whispered with a soft laugh. "You do keep them on their toes."
"Good. Then give the ball…to me," he grumbled.
We broke away from the huddle and lined up across from our mates, trying our damnedest to ignore the trash talk. The score was tied at forty-five, and fifty would end the game. We had the ball, and we wanted to win. Badly.
Glancing down the line of my team, I waited until Rose was in her quarterback position behind Esme. Kevin was off to the left, I was off to the right, and Alice was taking the runningback spot behind Rose.
"Hail Mary…full of grace," Emmett taunted with a guffawing laugh, thinking he knew we were going for it all.
I grinned, dragging my tongue along my bottom lip and locking eyes with the sexy-as-hell man that was guarding me. Edward's hair was in disarray, his T-shirt was filthy, and his jeans were riding low on his hips as he crouched low in front of me, but his face was a combination of smug and happy, his smile nearly blinding. Getting the ball to Kevin would be brilliant because as of that moment, they all assumed it was going to me.
"Come on, love…you'd look good. You know, seashells," he teased, cupping his hands in front of his chest.
I huffed a laugh. "So…that would make you…what? A pirate?"
His grin was hilarious, but we snapped our attention when Rose called out, "On me! Go!"
I darted toward Edward, only to spin to my right to dodge around him. Rose was easily avoiding Emmett's arms, but it was Esme and Alice that cleared the way for Kevin to run a pattern straight up and to the right. Rose faked the throw to me, which got me tackled, but the ball sailed through the air right into Kevin's hands and our designated endzone.
"That, sir…" I grunted, poking the middle of Edward's forehead. "That could've been pass interference." I smiled at his groan of defeat as he rolled onto his back. "Girls win, handsome," I told him, kissing his cheek and getting up to celebrate with my team.
The scent of sandalwood and leather wafted around me, and I spun around to see four immortals standing on the edge of the backyard.
"Well, if I'd have been here, I'd have put my money on the girls anyway," Demitri said with a chuckle.
"Hey, Demitri," every girl chanted, causing a sweet laugh to bark out of him and an indulgent smile to crawl over Carina's sweet features.
We all moved at that point, welcoming in friends we hadn't seen in months – and with Catherine and Brandon, it had been years. Catherine and Carina were still as beautiful as ever – the former with her sharp features and dark hair, and the latter with her olive-toned skin and her soft eyes. Brandon, who always reminded me a bit of Mike Newton in looks, still carried himself like a human – light brown hair with blond highlights, a wry smile, and a calm demeanor. But it was the tall man on the end that scooped me up into a rough hug that I'd missed the most.
"Demitri," I said with a grin, hugging him hard.
"Ah, little one, I've missed you." He chuckled, swinging me around, only to set me back down again.
Dear Lord, he was handsome, and I loved him as much as my own brothers. Tall and broad-shouldered, he stood before me wearing a happy smile. Long, dark, wavy locks fell almost to his shoulders, his olive complexion still came through, despite his immortality, and his sharp, honey eyes surveyed his surroundings quickly.
"I see why you picked this place, Carlisle," he stated, his Italian accent thick. He shook Carlisle's hand. "It's the perfect location."
Hugs and handshakes were exchanged, and I found myself standing in front of Brandon.
"Bells!" he greeted, hugging me briefly. "Oh…I hear I owe you a big one… Tanya," he whispered the last word to me.
I shook my head, rolling my eyes. "No, she was…not right in the end. And you owe Esme. It was her call then."
His eyebrows shot up, and a laugh escaped him. "Fair enough."
I turned to Catherine, who said, "I'm sorry we didn't come to New York." She hugged me tightly. "He wasn't ready," she whispered, smiling when I nodded. "It's good to see you, Bella. All of you."
"So," Demitri said, clapping his hands together once. "What was the bet on the table? There's always a bet."
Emmett laughed, his head falling back. "Halloween, bro. Now the girls and Kevin have won the right to dress us all."
"Oh…double or nothin'?" Brandon asked, grinning from ear to ear. He rubbed his hands together. "We'll replay for Halloween, and we'll add in…losers eat an entire bag of candy…"
We all groaned, wearing looks of disgust. Candy, while an amazing treat for humans, tended to become glue to us. It was sticky, thick, and caramel was just about the hardest thing to not only get down, but get back up when it was all over. To me, it was the worst thing to fake eating.
"And," he said with a laugh, narrowing his eyes onto me, Edward, Jasper, and Alice, "I'll make it an even playing field: no talents. I'll remove them all."
I grinned, spinning to glare at the mind reader, who mouthed the word, "Mermaid," to me. I snorted into a giggle, rolling my eyes. It was a brilliant plan. If Brandon negated every talent on the field, then everyone would be even – no shielding, no mind reading, no messing with emotions, and absolutely no visions. It would be strength, speed, and brains. That's it.
I turned to Carina and Catherine. "Girls versus guys…"
"Girls and Kevin versus guys," Kevin corrected haughtily.
"I'm in," Carina said with a giggle and a shrug of a shoulder as she nudged Demitri a little.
"Me, too," Catherine chimed in.
Rose spun to face our team. "Really? Again?" she asked and then turned to Emmett. "It's a shame I have to kick your ass twice in one day."
"Oh, ho! Woman, you wish," he grunted back, pointing a finger at her. "It's so on."
We all laughed and made our way to the center of the "field." Brandon took a deep breath, smiled a big smile, and I felt my shield leave my control. Edward shook his head a little, trying to get used to the silence, most likely. Alice, who really didn't know how to deal without her visions, grumbled a little at first. But it was Jasper's deep breath that caused us all to freeze.
"I smell…someone," he whispered, his eyes now sharp as he gazed around.
Breathing deeply, a growl escaped me, and I turned around in one spot. It was immortal, it was strong, and it was really, really close.
"Brandon, you have to lift it from me," Edward ordered. "I need to hear."
My eyes glanced over to the house as Carlisle gave the order to spread out and look around. It was in the tiny little window of the basement that I saw it. A white face, black eyes.
"Shit…inside," I said softly but in a panic. "It's in the house. Basement."
The very second the words were out of my mouth, the whole lot of us ran, but the face evaporated. Carlisle took Demitri, Edward, Jasper, and me into the back cellar doors. Emmett took everyone else around to the front. My husband and Carlisle shoved at the brick doorway, pushing it in and opening it. By the time we were inside Varner's workshop, the rest of our family and friends were pouring down the stairs from the library's entry.
Only Carlisle stayed calm, it seemed. "Everyone stop. Just for a moment…"
Edward's jaw clenched and relaxed, over and over. Demitri paced around the room and then down the passageway that led to the garage. Brandon must have lifted his block on us because suddenly, my shield pulled. It pulled so hard that I stumbled forward two steps. I couldn't fight it, but I felt fear as it searched, tugged, and finally stopped somewhere around the pile of blankets in the corner.
"Bella?" Carlisle and Edward asked, both placing a protective hand on my shoulders.
I swallowed thickly, pointing toward the corner.
"It's immortal," Demitri murmured. "It has to be. This scent down here is…foul. Like old fear. And after seeing that video, I think I know why you've been unable to see it." He glanced around the room. "Brandon, focus your talent where Bella is pointing. I have a theory."
"I have to take Bella's away, too," Brandon replied, but he nodded when we waved him on.
It was almost a relief when the pull suddenly stopped, but it was short-lived because what was once a blank space now…wasn't. Sharp intakes of breaths resounded from everyone around me as we took in a huddled mass of grayish-white. It was wrapped around itself in self-preservation, and now I understood my own shield. It was…harmless.
Edward growled, his hand clawing at his hair. Jasper's reaction wasn't much different, sending waves upon waves of fear out to the rest of us as he leaned against the stone wall. Alice's eyes glazed over, and I was pretty sure she was seeing everything that she'd been unable to see with this person.
I could see that it was a man – or at least, it had been a man at some point – wearing tattered pants. The skin was beyond pale, almost translucent, and it was stretched tightly over visible bones and muscles. The hair might've been dark brown, but he was so filthy that it was impossible to tell.
Jasper grunted low, pushing himself away from the wall, his eyes fierce as he desperately forced the fear away and wrapped us all up in a calm, collective feeling. It even worked on the man on the floor because his growls softened and he lifted his head a little from his knees. Black eyes met our own, but it was Esme that said aloud what we were all thinking.
"Oh, my God," Esme breathed, her hand over her mouth. "He's…one of us."

3 comments:

Debbie Hannon said...

Wow, another vamp with a gift. I wondered about that.

Kinda scary. He seems just as terrified if not more so.


Looking forward to the next update.

scarc91989 said...

Please update soon because, seriously, this story ROCKS! All of your stories rock and I always want to just keep reading them.

Rondell Garcia said...

ahahahahaa, thats what I said 3 chapters ago. I knew it was a vamp. Duh!.

Im a dick. A private DICK!. P.I.

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