Wednesday, December 5, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 25

Chapter 25
BELLA
"Bella," Edward said softly as he set our stack of presents on the bed.
"Hmm?" I hummed from deep inside our closet as I tried to decide whether to take a large duffel bag or one big suitcase.
"The duffel," he answered for me, which made me laugh.
I dropped it onto the bed but met his worried gaze.
"We don't have to do this." His voice was soft, tentative.
"What? Christmas?" I asked sarcastically, raising an eyebrow at him and smirking when he huffed a small laugh through his nose.
I knew what he was talking about, but I was playing stupid on purpose. There wasn't a time that Demitri hadn't come to our aid when we'd needed it, so doing this for him and for Marcus wasn't a request that could be so easily turned down. Though, I'd ultimately left the decision up to Edward.
Instead of letting him worry that he'd made a mistake by offering to help, I simply asked, "How long am I packing for, Edward?"
He studied my face, listened to everything going on inside my mind, and eventually nodded in acquiescence. "Alice sees us there for a few weeks."
Nodding, I quickly raided our closet and dresser, packing dark shirts, jeans, and sneakers because if Alice said a few weeks, then we were going for more than just a chance for Edward to read someone's mind. We were going to hunt the streets of Washington D.C.

After I tossed our toiletry bag in on top of our clothes, I stood in front of him with my thoughts shielded. "Phone, Edward. Hand it over."
His eyebrows shot up, but he did as I asked. And something must have dawned on him because he smiled crookedly. "Did you make me another calendar?" he asked, his eyes darkening at the memory of the pictures I'd taken for him one year as a gift.
"No." I laughed and tossed his phone onto the bed, placing every present back into his arms and spinning him around to face the door. "Go. You'll get your Christmas present on the plane."
He groaned like a child, growling when I smacked his ass. He shot me a dark look before reaching for the small gift on the top of the pile in his hands.
"Here, sweet girl," he said, handing the beautifully wrapped present over. "Then, pack that. You'll get your present then, too."
I nodded, setting the gift on top of the duffel bag. Once Edward left the room, I grabbed his phone and went to work. I left it upstairs when I was finished because he didn't need it for anything before we needed to leave with Demitri and Marcus.
Exchanging gifts with my family was always an interesting experience. Alice always knew what she was getting, though it never mattered what it was because she was just in love with the holiday to begin with. Rose loved anything car repair related, so we all tried to get her the latest and greatest tools. Carlisle was easy; he loved books as much as I did, not to mention rare records to add to his collection on the bookshelf. Emmett was the easiest of all because there wasn't a game he wouldn't play or a new percussion instrument he didn't want to add to his kit.
Jasper did, indeed, receive socks for Christmas – along with a lot of new history reading material – and he threw them at me when I mouthed the word, "Stuffing," at him, which caused Edward and Alice to laugh hysterically. I was in love with the new Shakespeare collection that Carlisle and Esme had gotten me, and Alice had taken it upon herself to get me a bunch of really pretty new frames so that Edward and I could add to the pictures we had hanging on the wall of our bedroom.
Since it was Kevin's, Adrian's, and Archie's first Christmas with us, they were spoiled rotten. They got more things than they knew what do with, and Archie had a completely new wardrobe from my sisters.
We usually didn't go crazy, because in all reality, my family bought what they wanted when they wanted it throughout the entire year. In addition to silly or fun gifts to each other, we donated to charity. This year, it was another donation to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Toby's name – Edward's last patient when he'd been working at the hospital in London. We'd also donated to a few local homeless shelters, the SPCA, and a rather large donation to Caribou's library, which we hoped would help Bob the librarian expand his computer section. Edward said he seriously needed to upgrade.
And then there was Esme, who loved anything and everything to do with her family, so we'd documented our clean up, antics, and renovation of the Varner house while she and Carlisle had been in Italy picking up Kevin and Adrian.
"Is that Edward?" she asked with a giggle, pointing to a picture of his paint-splattered, jean-covered ass.
"Yup!" I said with a cheesy grin. "You have no idea what I went through to get that."
Edward snorted, rolling his eyes, and said, "Little coward hid behind Emmett." He elbowed me gently, chuckling when I shrugged.
Em and I bumped fists, grinning over at Mom when she continued to laugh at all our silly pictures. We'd used our phones to take them. It was photos of us painting, scrubbing, and moving boxes. It was the garage before and after, the overflowing dumpster, and the atrocious dance to Bruno Mars that the boys had caught my sisters and me doing in the dining room. Edward's and my room was the biggest transformation because it had gone from a simple empty attic to a fully functioning bedroom – new bathroom and closet included. There were pictures of the boys rough-housing out on the front lawn over the never-ending boxes coming out of the trailer. But my favorite – and finally printed in sexy, beautiful, tangible proof – was the moving of the piano from the truck and into the house. And yes, they were all shirtless, flexing, and filthy by the time Rose had snapped the picture.
But what Esme loved the most was the simple, calm, sweet things we'd caught on camera. There was a quiet moment between Jasper and Alice as he played the guitar for her that I'd taken, a really beautiful one captured by Alice of Emmett and Rose, who were laughing hysterically over something in the garage, and one I hadn't realized that Jasper had taken of Edward and me. I was lying on my stomach atop the piano while Edward played. We were practically nose to nose, both wearing the smallest and sweetest of smiles. It was the way I used to listen to him play at our home in London.
Once we'd all been together, we'd taken pictures of Kevin and Adrian decorating their room, of Carlisle and Esme sitting on the back deck together, and finally, we'd added Archie. We'd put him in at the last minute, but he was still there. It was another round of chess, but this time with Carlisle instead of Edward, with everyone gathered around to watch and place bets. And because he was winning, Archie's face was happy, proud, and free of worry or fear.
Demitri and Marcus watched us all with smiles on their faces. They joined in on the teasing, the laughter, and of course, the Christmas carols that Esme requested that we sing while Edward played the piano.
It was when it came time for Edward and me to leave with Demitri and Marcus that things became...difficult. Carlisle seemed nervous, but he hugged us both, begging us to keep each other safe and to come home soon. Esme was a mess, but she did her best to stay strong. She swore she understood, but she simply hated being separated from her "kids."
Our brothers were different. Jasper and Emmett tossed advice our way, and Kevin and Adrian told Marcus that under no circumstances was anything to happen to us. Alice and Rose hugged me tightly, Alice whispering that we'd be fine but to make sure we made clear decisions so that she could keep a watchful eye on us.
We found Archie in his room, and I sat down on the bottom step that led up to the library as Edward leaned against the wall. Archie was pissed – or hurt; I couldn't quite tell – as he roughly flipped through the book on Maine that I'd given him for Christmas.
"Yes, we will, Archie," Edward said, like he was starting in the middle of an argument.
"No, you won't!" Archie snapped back, and he looked so young at the moment that my heart broke just a little. "You'll go...and you won't come back. Eventually, you'll all leave."
I held back my emotions, because at that moment, I could see that Archie really loved us, truly just loved us, and he felt that we wouldn't return. I asked softly, "Is that what you think? That just because others left, we will, too?"
When he didn't say a word, I knew I had my answer, and my shield lurched hard out of my control, almost pulling me off the step because he needed us so badly. There was a part of me that completely understood the fear and hurt that Archie was feeling. It wasn't that long ago that I'd felt the same way about the man standing beside me and the people in the other room that I now called family.
"Archie, no, sweetie," I groaned, shaking my head. "We will be back."
Edward eyed me for a moment, watching my struggle, but turned to Archie, who was frowning down at the book in his hands as he sat on his bed. My husband sighed, his voice soft, soothing – almost as if he were talking to a child.
"Do you understand why we're going?" Edward asked him, and Archie shook his head no. Edward nodded, shoving his hands into his front pockets. "I didn't think so. Archie, there are plenty of our kind out there that don't care, that terrorize humans, and wouldn't help another person – human or immortal – unless there was something in it for them. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Archie's voice was soft, but he wouldn't look at Edward yet.
"I've told you about my past, and Bella and I have both explained exactly how Demitri and Marcus has helped us over the years," Edward began. "There will be times that we are asked to help out in certain circumstances. It's the dynamic of this family to help others when needed. We don't want to be like everyone else. It isn't about the individual. It's about our kind in general. There is a vampire that is coming dangerously close to revealing what we are, and Marcus needs our help to stop them."
Archie looked up, his brow furrowed.
"No, I don't care about immortal-kind as a whole, but I care about my family," Edward countered whatever silent question he must have heard. "But if this one person continues along this violent path, questions will start to be asked, and we can't be discovered, Archie. If humans knew we existed, it would end us all. It would start a panic. And panicked humans as a mob are dangerous."
"Their request of us isn't out of line, Arch," I added, grimacing a little. "They've always been there for us. And this isn't our first time in a situation like this. Edward and I have fought before. I'm sure this won't be the last time."
Edward snorted, his eyebrows raising up as he nodded in agreement. "We'll be fine."
"Do you both have to go?" he asked us, glancing frantically between us.
"Yes." Our answer was in unison and firm.
"Archie," I sighed, standing up from my seat on the step and walking to sit next to him. "I've explained how our connection works. If Edward was to go without me, I'd collapse under the pain of it the very second he got too far. Edward would hurt so badly that he'd be useless to Marcus by himself. Too long apart, and we start to fail. But together... We can protect each other, work as a team, and possibly come back sooner."
I saw when Archie gave up. He looked completely defeated when he finally nodded.
"Hey," I whispered, making sure he was looking at me before I went on. "We're calling every day to check in." He nodded because I knew he'd heard Esme's request.
"Okay," he sighed, nodding as he picked up his Maine book again. "Thank you for this," he murmured quietly to us.
"You're welcome, Archie," Edward said with a chuckle. "Let us know if you find any interesting places to go in there. We'll check them out when we get back."
That promise, that vow to return, seemed to lighten the load on Archie's shoulders, and he smiled genuinely and nodded. Edward must have heard something in Archie's mind that needed to hear that, and I squeezed my husband's hand before we turned to leave.
"I've always wanted to see the ocean," Archie said softly just as we made it to the stairs.
Edward faced him, his expression solemn yet so very kind. "Then we'll go, Archie."
~oOo~
I fell into the seat of the private plane that Carlisle had secured for us at the last minute. It was his and Esme's way of thanking Demitri and Marcus for letting them spend Christmas Eve with all of their kids. It would also save us time getting to Washington instead of driving.
I gazed out of the window as Edward shook hands with the pilot. As usual, they most likely dismissed any on-board help.
"Amore," Marcus called softly from the seat across from me. "We've secured the two of you a room for the daytime hours. It's been sunny since we've been working in D.C., so we've been hunting mostly at night."
I smiled at him. "Sure, Marcus. Thank you."
"No, thank you, Isabella," he said, his Italian accent leaning on my full name the way it was meant to be said, and it made me smile. "We'll do our best to get you back home to your family. Esme will have my head if one single hair on either of you his harmed."
Laughing, I nodded in agreement. "You should be very afraid."
"Believe me, I am," he said with a wry smile. "And I'm well aware that neither of you have had a chance to really celebrate the holiday together, so once we're in the air, please take the flight together. We'll talk business once we've landed."
I leaned over and kissed Marcus's cheek. "Merry Christmas, Marcus."
"The hell?!" Demitri scoffed. "Where's mine!?"
Edward snorted, rolling his eyes behind our old friend. "I'm telling Carina when we see her," he teased him.
With a giggle, I gave Demitri a kiss on the cheek, as well. "Merry Christmas, you shameless thing," I said, rolling my eyes when Demitri grinned widely Edward's way.
Demitri and Marcus took their seats on the other side of the plane, and Edward fell down into the seat beside mine once he'd rummaged around in our bag for his gift to me. Leaning over, I kissed his lips. When the captain announced that he was preparing for take-off, we buckled in. It wasn't until we were well in the air that Edward took off his seatbelt and lifted the arm between us. We rearranged ourselves so that we were lounging together before he finally placed the small present in my hands.
"There's a story behind that," he said with a soft chuckle against my cheek. "I'll tell you when you open it."
Grinning, I ripped off the wrapping paper to see a small, black box. "Oh, Edward," I barely breathed, because inside was a beautiful diamond and sapphire bracelet.
Once Edward had secured it to my wrist, kissed my palm and then my lips, he spoke softly and quickly. "I knew I was bringing Charlie in for your present, but I wanted to get you something else. Something...tangible. Always," he said snickering a little to himself. "Alice usually leaves me alone for these things because she says I have a knack for knowing what you like. But this year, she practically tackled me in the front yard. She said it had to be sapphires; she just couldn't tell me why," he said, fingering the dark blue gem than now hung around my neck that had belonged to my mother.
I smiled up at him, kissing his lips. "It's perfect...and beautiful. Thank you," I whispered, pulling back to gaze at his handsome face. "I suppose you want your phone back, yeah?" I teased him.
He nodded vehemently like a child, grinning the most adorable smile.
Reaching into my jacket pocket, I pulled out his phone, along with a set of earbuds. Fiddling with the wire, I plugged them in, finally meeting Edward's excited gaze.
"Mine has a story, too," I started, smiling when his honey eyes broke from the phone to meet mine. "You aren't easy to buy for, so I didn't buy anything, really. But I wanted something that you'd carry with you. I put together a playlist for you...but it's a specific playlist."
I wanted to giggle at his bouncing knee because he couldn't see the list in my head. I'd shielded my thoughts from him.
"Alice helped me, too," I told him with a laugh. "She thought my list was missing something, so the first two songs on the playlist are your real present. The rest are just...statements of how much I love you."
Edward's brow furrowed as he reached up to brush the backs of his fingers down my cheek. "I want to hear, my sweet girl..."
Steeling myself against nerves, I placed one earbud in his ear and one in mine. I started the playlist, settling against him as we both listened to the first song. It was Jasper's doing, having recorded me singing "Completely" by Jennifer Day. The words, the message, were everything that I needed to personally tell Edward, and we'd recorded it one day when he'd taken Archie hunting.
You make me want to love you
With every breath I'll love you, endlessly
I'll give my heart, give my soul
I won't hold back, I'll give you everything
All of me, completely
When the song was over, Edward's fingers quickly paused his phone, turning me. "That was...the most beautiful I've ever heard you, Bella," he gushed before kissing me absolutely stupid. An adorable yet curious expression came over his face. "Who... Who played the piano?"
"No one." I laughed, shaking my head. "It was a pre-recorded thing that Jasper found."
Pressing his forehead to mine, he whispered, "Thank you."
Grinning, I said, "You're not done, but you can kiss me like that after every song if you want."
"Mmm," he crooned, raising and eyebrow at me. "How long's this playlist, baby?"
"Long enough for all that kissing to drive us crazy," I murmured wryly.
Edward laughed, kissed me again, and asked, "Shall I continue, then?"
"Yeah, this is my favorite, but you can thank Alice again because she's a sneaky little thing," I told him with a smirk and an eye roll, but I opened my mind to let him see what I was thinking.
Alice was, indeed, sneaky. I was damned certain that she used her future seeing abilities to her own benefit some of the time, but others, she simply did what the visions told her to out of pure blind faith. Apparently, she'd seen herself recording a song or two as the boys played for fun in the library at home. She'd told me that she didn't know why she was doing it until later when she saw me make the decision for Edward's Christmas present.
Our sister had caught a rare moment when Edward and I were singing together. At first, I'd been skeptical about giving it to him, but when I'd listened to it, the song was perfect for us to sing. It was a promise between the two of us to face everything together, which was sort of fitting as we made our way to D.C.
Edward gasped as he caught the first few notes of "Between the Raindrops" by Lifehouse and Natasha Bedingfield. The song had been fun for the boys to play. Edward had been at the piano, Jasper and Kevin on guitars, and Emmett on his drums. But it was Edward's and my voices combined that simply shocked me. We were, in all reality, singing to each other.
Walking between the raindrops
Riding the aftershocks beside you
Off into the sunset
Living like there's nothing left to lose
Chasing after gold mines
Crossing the fine lines we knew
Hold on and take a breath
I'll be here every step
Walking between the raindrops with you
He paused the music again and smiled. He shook his head one time. "I've always wanted to record us. I just didn't think you'd let me." He grinned when I laughed. "Guess Alice knew that."
"I guess so." I giggled, shrugging a shoulder. "The rest is just a regular old playlist, but they are from me to you."
"There's nothing you've ever, ever given me that's just...'regular old' anything, Bella," he countered, waiting for me to nod before hitting play.
We settled into one another's embrace and spent the rest of the flight lost in the music. I had specifically picked songs that said meaningful things, but I'd thrown in a few to make him smile, too.
We made out like teens in a drive-in to "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" by Bryan Adams. It was slow, deep, languid kisses as Edward's fingers danced across my body like he was playing the piano along with the song. If he wasn't attacking my lips, claiming my mouth with stomach-clenching sweeps of his tongue, then he was whispering words of the song against my neck.
But he really laughed with the next song. He laughed so hard that his head fell back and he covered his face, which was beautiful to watch. Shifting us around so that I was cradled in his arms as the song continued to make him chuckle, he kissed me roughly. It was a song I'd added at the last minute, shielded from Alice, and simply wanted to put in there for the sound of the laughter that made it all worthwhile. "Talk Dirty to Me" by Poison was perfect and funny and an inside joke that Edward truly loved.
When the song was over, he grabbed my chin and kissed me again. "The first chance I get, love. I promise," he vowed, smiling beautifully.
There were songs that made his eyes soften to a warm honey as he listened. Another song made him chuckle, but others made him stare at me in wonder or kiss me until I didn't know my own name, which he was quick to remind me was Mrs. Isabella Cullen. It was older songs that we'd danced to, like "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. It was soulful songs that told him he was my Prince Charming, my angel, my king, like "He Is" by Brandy. It was rock, soul, pop, and whatever I could find, but it was all his.
By the time we'd gone through the playlist, we were about to land in D.C. Before we shifted around to sit in our seats correctly, he grabbed my face, looking at me through heated yet loving eyes.
"That was better than anything you could've ever bought me, my sweet, beautiful girl," he said, kissing me briefly. "You say I'm hard to buy for, but I need nothing when you love me that much, when you give me a piece of that exquisite heart of yours. Understand?"
Swallowing back a surge of emotions, I nodded, whispering, "Merry Christmas, Edward."
He smiled, kissing my forehead, my nose, and finally my lips. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Cullen."
~oOo~
EDWARD
"Little one, you're leaving nose prints on the windows," Demitri teased Bella, ducking when she smacked at him blindly.
"Shut it," she huffed, but her eyes barely broke away from the view out her side of the car. "I've only ever seen this on TV."
"Ignore him, Isabella," Agosto crooned from the driver's seat, giving her an adoring look in the rear view mirror. "You stare all you want," he told her because he was specifically taking the route that would drive her by the biggest sights.
Demitri grinned, as did Marcus, but they looked to me. I simply shook my head because watching her mind absorb every detail of Washington's monuments and landmarks was better than looking out the window myself.
We'd already checked into our hotel, The Mayflower, which was located pretty close to everything. It was a beautiful hotel, which Bella fell in love with immediately. Unfortunately, we'd needed to quickly change clothes, check in at home that we'd arrived safely, and jump right back into the car so that Agosto, who had picked us up from the airport, could take us straight to where Brandon, Carina, and Catherine were holding the immortal that needed questioning.
"You brought the clouds with you, Edward," Agosto said. "I was afraid that poor Brandon wouldn't last until sundown."
"Maybe we'll get a head start with whatever you hear from this girl," Demitri mused, looking at his phone. "Tomorrow, the sun will be back, so we'll need to make sure we're out of the public eye by morning."
Marcus nodded that he'd heard Demitri, but he turned to me, his thoughts on the task at hand. "Edward, Bella, depending on what this immortal is concealing, we may need to track the streets tonight. And if Brandon has exerted his talent too much, we'll need you to shield this girl to allow him to rest, Bella," he said, and my girl reluctantly pulled herself away from the window to settle in at my side.
"You say she's powerful," Bella stated, looking between all the nodding heads, but her mind wondered if this immortal worked like Jane, with a harsh feel to her power, or like the giant we'd fought that could manipulate fire. If it was the latter, Bella felt that she had to be careful because she could, in all reality, seal the girl's fate by shielding her. Her own electrical charge would have nowhere to go but to turn in on its master, essentially causing the girl to electrocute herself.
I flinched, gazing at her for a moment.
"I know," she sighed, shrugging a shoulder. "It'll be tricky in order for you to hear her but to protect us at the same time."
"I have faith you can handle her, amore," Marcus told her. "We just need to hold on long enough to ask her who is running this show, because since we've been keeping her hidden, there have been two more deaths."
Shaking my head slowly, I gazed out the window at the Lincoln Memorial as we drove by. "This sounds like newborns."
"I thought so, too, Ed," Demitri concurred. "Not many, but there have to be some roaming these streets. We've tracked everywhere."
"What's her name?" Bella asked as we left the major part of town.
I chuckled when all three men stared at her blankly, their minds at a loss.
My girl laughed, shaking her head. "Really? You didn't even ask this girl her name?"
"She's very stubborn, Bella," Demitri sneered. "And mean."
I wrapped an arm around her shoulders when she scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Easy, love. I know you can out-stubborn her."
Bella grinned but turned to gaze out the window as city fell away to residential. The homes were beautiful, and they became sparser as we drove on, eventually pulling into a long driveway. It looked to be a ranch-style property, with wooden fences and plenty of room.
"We bought it," Demitri answered my unasked question. "We had no choice. We'd been living out of hotel rooms, but we needed to be able to ask questions of these immortals without drawing attention and be close to hunting. This is as rundown as that house you guys just fixed up."
"Fantastic," Bella muttered, smirking when he chuckled. "Any invisible vamps running around in the basement?" she asked, but immediately regretted the joke because Archie's reaction to our leaving had broken my poor, sweet girl's heart.
"No," I whispered against her temple, "and Archie will be just fine, my love. He didn't like it, but he'll survive. He's strong."
I wanted to tell her that the only reason he'd given in was that he never, ever wanted to see us in pain. Bella's description of what happened when she and I separated had been too much for him. But I kept it to myself. She was worried about him enough as it was. If she thought he'd been wrecked when we left, she'd feel worse.
Demitri silently asked me if we'd grown attached to Archie, but he stopped himself. He could see that we had, and it wasn't the time to ask what we were going to do with the strange immortal in the future. We were pulling to a stop outside what looked to be an old, decrepit barn.
The property was pitch black – though we could see just fine – except for a flickering glow from inside the barn. We were met at the car by Carina, who quickly kissed Demitri, but hugged me and then Bella.
"They stole you, didn't they?" Carina asked, shooting a narrowed eyed glance to Marcus and Demitri. "On Christmas!" she huffed, rolling her eyes. "Esme must be thrilled."
Bella giggled and hugged her again. "She wasn't happy, but those two have been thoroughly threatened, so don't worry."
"Edward, Bella," Catherine greeted as she quietly let the barn door close behind her. "It's good to see you both. Sorry those two just couldn't wait."
Demitri scoffed, rolling his eyes to Marcus. "You'd think we'd planned this shit. Believe me, I'd rather be anywhere else than right here for fucking Christmas."
My mind caught Carina's thoughts, and I turned to look at her. "How's Brandon holding up?"
"He needs to hunt, but we can't risk him giving Trina her gift back," she replied, grimacing a little, but she gestured to the arm of her shirt where the material was singed black and shredded. "He'd needed to hunt before we caught her, so he's pushing it."
"So she does have a name," Bella teased with a smirk, which only made Demitri and Marcus chuckle.
"Well, we only know that because we found her phone," Catherine explained, though she was thoroughly enjoying Bella's teasing of the ancient ones. "She's weak, as well, but she's not a fighter. Without her talent, she's pretty useless."
"I knew Bella's gift would come in handy," Marcus mused softly. "Amore, do you think you could hold her?"
Bella simply nodded, and we all followed Demitri into the barn. My eyes widened at the sight before me. The inside was a typical abandoned barn – dirt floors, broken down stalls, and a plethora of scents. Scattered all over the open space were singe marks on the floors, the posts, and the stall gates. Brandon looked exhausted as he leaned against a large post in the center of the barn. Sitting at the post opposite of him was a small girl, but closer inspection showed that she was frozen somewhere in her mid-twenties.
Her eyes were hate-filled, black, and beyond contemptuous, but I couldn't hear a single thought in the room because Brandon's power was everywhere.
"Oh, thank God," Brandon sighed, almost sagging in relief at the sight of Bella. "Bells, you gotta take this bitch."
My girl simply grinned, walking to him and setting a hand on his shoulder. "Missed you, too, B," she teased. "But you're killing this whole room. I can't do anything until you let go."
"Yeah, sorry about that," Brandon told her but looked to me with black, weary eyes. "I lose focus when I need to hunt."
"I understand," I said, walking to him. "We can handle it for now, at least until you go hunt."
"Brace yourselves," Carina muttered, eying Trina, who had been watching our approach.
Brandon locked gazes with Bella, who nodded, but the very second Trina felt her power return, blue lightning shot out from her hands and out around her. Demitri, Marcus, and Carina dived into one of the stalls. Catherine grabbed Brandon and tugged him toward the door. A white-hot, burning sensation hit my upper arm, dropping me to my knees, the smell of my own burned flesh meeting my nose.
"Dammit!" Bella growled, and suddenly, all movement, noise, and electricity came to a complete and utter halt. "Edward?" she asked, immediately at my side.
Glancing up, what I saw made me almost chuckle. Bella had Trina pinned high up on the post that she'd been leaning against, her own hands flat against her thighs, and from what I could tell, Bella was holding her way tighter than necessary – most likely in revenge.
"Let me see, baby," Bella ordered gently, tugging my hand away.
My girl eyed my bicep, fingering the ripped and still-smoking fabric. Looking down, I could see that I was already starting to heal, but I was leaking venom pretty badly. We stood up, but Bella leaned in, giving my upper arm a long, slow, open-mouthed kiss. Her own venom expedited my healing, leaving my skin as good as new.
"Thanks, sweet girl," I whispered, kissing her forehead.
"Mmhm," she hummed, locking angry gazes with me before turning to Demitri, who stepped into the open part of the barn. Her mind was battling with seeking revenge for hurting me or just simply doing what was asked of her, which was hold this immortal until further notice. It was a tough call for her.
"Okay, Ed?" Demitri asked.
I nodded, scowling at my ruined shirt, but shrugged. "I'll live. But she's not Kate," I told him with a grin.
"No shit. Hurts like hell, right?" He laughed, placing a hand on Bella's shoulder. "Little one... Perhaps bring her down a few feet?"
Bella huffed, rolled her eyes, and dropped the girl to the floor harshly, only to slam her back into the post, which gave an eerie crack.
"Easy, amore," Marcus murmured, though he was highly amused at Bella's attitude, as was everyone else in the room, except for Trina.
The girl was glaring at Bella with such hatred that it was probably a good thing I still couldn't hear her thoughts. Trina's face was murderous.
Marcus glanced past me to Catherine and Brandon. "Get him fed. Come right back."
Catherine nodded, and in a flash, the two were out of the barn and running across the field, their thoughts fading into the distance.
"Bella, give Trina here some space," Demitri requested.
Bella loosened her control but didn't relinquish it completely. The results were a giant ball of electricity and a high-pitched scream, because Trina had tested her new boundaries. And that only caused her great pain because Bella's shield rebounded it right back.
"Oh, damn." Demitri chuckled softly, looking to Marcus.
"Bet that hurt," Marcus surmised, fighting his smile as Trina twitched a little after having shocked herself. "I hate to tell you, but you're in a shield's control. Do you know what that is?" he asked, but the girl didn't say anything; she just scowled at all of us, a low growl rumbling throughout the barn. "Hmm... Didn't think so. She's wrapped it around you. Whatever you send out will only ricochet right back to you."
"I'm not fucking telling you anything!" Trina finally spoke, but she gave Bella a wary glance.
"Ah, but see...you will," Demitri said with a dark chuckle, giving us a wink. "Otherwise, I'll have Bella here rip you apart without even touching you."
Bella fought her smile, leaned against a post, and constricted her shield again. Slowly and deliberately, she started to pull at Trina's arms. Trina grunted and winced at the feel, but said nothing. My girl wasn't going to do it, but she could have. Her eyes flickered to Demitri, who gave her the silent signal to pull back. When Bella released her again, another bright flicker of lightning bolts lit up the dark barn.
"Trina," Marcus sighed, shaking his head and walking toward her. "You're only hurting yourself." Marcus gave Bella another signal behind his back – the one that told her to pull her shield completely. But at the same time, he was mentally telling me to be ready to listen. "Young one, we simply need to know who your sire was. Who made you? And where are they?"
He asked specific questions, knowing that her mind would think the answer for me to see. My brow wrinkled at her thoughts. The face of a male vampire was the first thing I saw. He was large – about the size of Emmett – with sharp red eyes and a sneer on his face. I saw a rundown neighborhood, the flash of a street sign, and a barely there thought about another two immortals that seemed out of control. But before I could gather any more from her, she started to lift her hands.
Bella reacted instantly, slamming her shield down around Trina. Her scream made us all flinch, but Bella stepped forward.
"It won't work," she said in a normal tone of voice. "Your powers will only continue to hurt you...no one else in this barn. Keep it up, and I'll just rip off your arms..."
"Fuck you, bitch!" Trina spat, her eyes flickering to me when I stepped forward with a growl.
Demitri's large hand landed smack in the middle of my chest as I stared down the girl. "No," he told me calmly aloud, but his thoughts were much more detailed. Easy, Ed. Did you get anything from her?
I nodded, but sneered, "Not enough."
Bella watched us with a keen eye, thinking, Should we wait for Brandon, baby? Or keep going in spurts?
"Keep doing what you're doing, love," I answered her, backing away a little, but my eyes never were far from Trina. "I suppose you could start with her feet..." I taunted, shrugging dramatically.
Demitri grinned, spinning to Trina. "Excellent...if we lose them, then she'll be shit outta luck."
Bella – God, I loved her with a sickness – bit down hard on her bottom lip to keep from laughing, because she tugged just hard enough on her shield to cause Trina to fall to her ass on the floor. The girl's sneakers started to peel away – first the rubber sole, then the foam stuff underneath, and finally, the shoestrings unraveled.
Trina fought with everything she had as her socks disintegrated. Her knees squirmed, her head fell back to the post behind her, and her hands accidentally shot out a random stream of electricity.
"Stop, stop, stop..."
"Nah, keep going. Bella, take her kneecaps," Demitri ordered.
"Wait, you fuckers!" Trina growled.
We were playing on the girl's survival instincts, and she was falling right into it. Unfortunately, I'd already seen Marcus's mind – she wouldn't live to see another sunrise. She was too powerful, extremely unpredictable, and extraordinarily volatile. With his sight for loyalty, he could tell she'd never be more than a problem – a thought that saddened him, really, because he could appreciate her abilities.
Demitri held a hand up to Bella and knelt beside the girl as much as the shield would allow. "We just wanted to talk, Trina," he lied smoothly, turning on his Italian charm by smiling at her. "You can keep your feet, your kneecaps, and your arms if you'll just behave. Can you do that?"
She collapsed back against the post and nodded.
"We just want to know who made you," Marcus reiterated.
She was weary and scared as she gazed up at him, and when Bella pulled her shield away one more time at the request of Demitri, then I saw much, much more.
Her thoughts were frantic, scared. Her sire, who she thought of as Brett, hadn't told her that there were any rules. She hadn't known that immortals had to answer to anyone, because Brett lived his life the way he wanted. They feasted on the humans they found alone, away from others – joggers at night, the person walking their dog, the late-night commuter. The problem rested with Brett himself. He was arrogant, making another newborn and another. There were three vampires still roaming the streets of D.C., and I groaned at the problem.
Well, hell," I sighed, shaking my head but turning to Marcus. "His name is Brett...her sire. He usually keeps to a pretty rough neighborhood down Pennsylvania Avenue. Their main priority is to take humans that are alone, but Brett's created two newborns that he's not controlling, besides this one. He just set them loose on the streets, telling them that they can take what they want as long as they aren't seen or go out in the daytime. It's a wonder they haven't been spotted."
Trina launched herself at me with a growl, and I could hear the crackling snap from her fingertips, but she was stopped, slammed down to the dirt floor, and enveloped in her own nasty charge before I could blink. Her screams erupted again, only this time, I could smell the singed scent of burned fabric.
"Okay, so we start in this neighborhood you saw," Marcus said, wincing at Trina's useless struggle against Bella's shield.
"It doesn't make sense, though," I told him, my brow furrowing. "You should've have caught a scent of him or something, right?"
"We probably have, Ed," Demitri said with a shrug. "But we didn't question the first two we killed. We just got rid of them. As soon as the killings continued, we realized that we had a problem. And of course, we pick Miss Electric Eel to interview," he muttered sarcastically, gesturing to the growling, snarling girl in front of him.
I smirked, shaking my head, but looked to Marcus when his thoughts were directed to me. "No, Marcus, I don't think so. You can try, but it looks like more trouble than it's worth."
"I figured as much," he sighed, looking to Bella. "Amore, I don't think we need to wait for Brandon any longer. Could you help me out, Isabella? Please?"
"Sure, Marcus," Bella agreed, but her nose wrinkled. With a quick twist of her shield, all screaming, electric sparks, and growling stopped completely, leaving only a heavy thump when Bella let the girl go.
"I got this, Marcus," Agosto said, waving us on as he gathered up the pieces of the girl. "Perhaps you'd like to get started?"
Demitri sighed a breath of relief, opening his arms for Carina when he stood up.
"You okay, Bella?" I asked, making sure the ripping apart of an immortal hadn't bothered her, but I laughed at her scowl my way.
"She...hurt you, burned you! Oh, yeah, Edward, I'm absolutely okay," she grumbled.
"Marcus, you stay here for now," Demitri said, but it was more of a request to keep Marcus safe. "We'll hit the streets now since the day is cloudy. Maybe we'll luck out and locate these immortals."
Marcus nodded and placed a hand Bella's and my shoulders. "Don't take risks. Be extremely careful, and if you don't need them for information, get rid of them. Okay?"
"Sure, Marcus," Bella and I said at the same time.
"Why, yeah, Marcus... We'll be fine, too," Demitri teased, gesturing between himself and Carina, who was giggling.
"Yeah, well... You answer to me." Marcus laughed and then pointed to Bella and me. "Esme will burn me alive if something happens to them."
Bella and I laughed, as did Agosto, Carina, and Demitri.
"Come, guys," Demitri said, still snickering. "I've got something you'll both enjoy."
We followed him out the back of the barn to see two high-end motorcycles sitting side by side – one black, the other, silver. Bella beamed, looking up at me.
"Let's go. And try not to wreck them, okay? They're rentals," Demitri added. "Edward, if you know where you're going, then we'll follow you," he said, getting on the silver bike with Carina on the back.
"I do." I straddled the black bike, helping Bella onto it behind me. "It's not far from the White House area. Ready?" I asked my girl, and she wrapped her arms around my waist.
"Yeah, baby. Go."
I grinned back at her, starting the bike. "Okay. Hold on, sweet girl."

Beta's Note from Jenny: Because Mixpod closed, the playlists on Deb's blog went kapoot. I searched around and found one I thought would work okay for what we needed. As of right now, the playlist for Haunted Angel is up-to-date. It'll be a while, but over time, I'll be going through the other Angelward fics and compiling a list of the music in those, as well, to make playlists on the new site. Just a couple of things about the new one: You can click the X by a song, and it will remove it from the playlist – but only for you and only until the next time you load the page. So if you wanted to listen to the whole playlist, but you don't want to hear one of the songs, click the X, and it'll take it out temporarily. Also, when you click to play the songs, it will default to just audio. At the top of the playlist, though, you have the option to watch the music video, as well. Enjoy!

2 comments:

tracey said...

Trina wasn't very pleasant at all was she? hehe

Rondell Garcia said...

Trina sounds like a hood rat. [im black so its ok]. Too bad thou, like most hood rats, she had waaayyy too much attitude,and backed by a twisted set of loyalties. She was looking out for her 'boo'; instead of trying to figure out the situation she was in, and making sure he was even worth looking out for.

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