Wednesday, December 12, 2012 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 26

Chapter 26
Slamming open our hotel room door and stalking in, I held back my growl at the sight of the bright rising sun shining through the windows. I was too pissed off – and completely filthy – to enjoy the amazing view that our suite gave of Washington D.C.
"Just...don't." I held up a hand, not even bothering to look Edward's way. "It was really, really stupid. I know!"
"I would never say that," he muttered softly, sounding offended.
We'd been tracking this Brett vamp for weeks. He and his newborns were proving evasive. Demitri had caught one newborn, and Edward, the other, but it seemed Brett had made a few more. Marcus was now thinking Brett simply wasn't draining them completely, therefore creating these newborns without knowing it.
We'd come close to catching Brett so many times that it was beyond frustrating. It was as if he had a talent to escape – not unlike Victoria. But I'd been so close just a few hours ago that I hadn't stopped the chase. I'd run down practically the entire length of the Potomac River just to catch him, but I'd lost track of the time and my surroundings so I'd almost been caught out in the sunlight when dawn approached. And even worse, I'd almost allowed my speed to be seen in Georgetown Park by a D.C. cop that had been patrolling the last place a body had turned up. Yeah, I was an idiot.
"You're not an idiot, Bella," Edward argued, hearing my thoughts loud and clear.
I sighed heavily through my nose, finally turning to glare at him. "Really?" I asked incredulously. "You're over there yelling for me to let him go...and I didn't listen. I should've listened. But...I didn't."
Edward smirked, shook his head, and shoved his hands into his front pockets. God, we were both disgusting and covered in dirt and river water because Edward had unfortunately had to tackle me to get me to stop, and we'd rolled into the water...and muck. How the hotel employees didn't kick us out was a miracle. And I honestly didn't know what was worse: hanging out in drug neighborhoods all damn night, or falling into a damn river.
"Your instinct to catch him overrode anything else, sweet girl," he explained calmly. "It worked out okay. Alice guided us into the parking garage without any..."
It hadn't worked out okay, because I hadn't caught the asshole that had disappeared into thin air. I growled, spinning around to walk into the bathroom. My clothes, my skin, even my hair reeked of nasty river water. I didn't want to talk about Alice – or anyone else in the family, for that matter. I missed them all like crazy. I missed them to the point of Skyping with them daily, just to see them act like the fools I loved.
We weren't the only ones that had failed at catching Brett. Demitri was so pissed off that he wouldn't discuss his last chase. He could catch the immortal's mind, but he couldn't actually put his hands on him, and the guy knew to keep evading, keep running until the sun came up. And the sunny days...they were every day. They'd been bright every day since the new year – which Edward and I had celebrated in the middle of an abandoned crack house when we'd caught the newborn Edward had killed. That did not go down as one of my favorite holidays.
"I'll make it up to you," I heard behind me as I turned on the shower as hot as it would go.
I fought my smile but didn't turn around. The only absolute bright spot in this whole thing was having Edward all to myself. We treated every sunny day stuck inside the hotel room like it was a mini-vacation.
"Stop being all sweet, Edward. I hate it. I messed up. Just say it!" I yelled, but my puffed-up demeanor deflated at the sight of his face because Edward probably didn't really know how to yell at me – not in anger toward me. He'd raged to me before, but never at me.
His adorable face ran the gamut of emotions – amusement, worry, frustration, and even a little touch of anger. He shook his head, pointing to the shower. "Just...shut up and get in," he sighed.
Nodding, I shed my clothes and tossed them straight into the garbage can. They'd merely be replaced by Alice in a few days. She'd taken it upon herself to keep us in what I'd come to refer to as disposable clothes. I'd laughed when the first box showed up at the front desk of the hotel, filled with black jeans, dark shirts, socks, and sneakers. Five boxes later, it wasn't all that funny.
I stepped under the hot spray, my forehead falling to the tile with a dull thump. I could feel the granules of dirt skate down my sensitive skin, over my feet, down the drain. But I knew I wouldn't stay alone in the shower for long. That simply wasn't Edward's way of handling me when I was pissed off.
"You're mad at yourself, my beautiful girl," he said, stepping in right behind me. He wrapped his arms all the way around me, holding me tightly, but his mouth was right at my ear. "You put in a hell of a chase, Bella. I can't be mad about that. You came damn close, but you just ran out of time."
I let those words sink in as we stood beneath the hot water. Turning around, I wrapped my arms around Edward's waist, burying my nose into the crook of his neck.
"If it makes you feel better, Demitri texted that he caught a newborn," Edward murmured gently against my cheek.
"No," I grumped, "because that simply reminds me that my phone is now water-logged and ruined." I pulled away a little when Edward snorted. "And don't say that we'll get a new one when the sun goes down. I know... I just..."
His eyes suddenly swirled black as he grasped either side of my face. "Stop!" he growled forcefully, his brow furrowing. "I know you hate him. I know you want to catch him, but believe me, things could've gone a lot worse last night than they did. Let it go. You're in one piece, and so am I. This vampire is bound to make a mistake. And when he does, we'll be there. But for now, just let it go!"
My hands curled into fists on his chest, and I glared at his sternum rather than his face. Nodding silently, I stayed quiet, reaching for shampoo. Edward let me have the moment, trying his best to stay calm, but I could tell that I was finally pushing his patience limit. And that wasn't what I wanted, either.
By the time we stepped out and wrapped towels around us, Edward groaned, but he reached for me, slipping his hand into the hair at the base of my neck in a firm grip to tilt my gaze up to his.
"What do I have to do, Bella?" he asked, his voice barely holding back the growl. "You did nothing wrong. The crisis was averted. Tell me. I'll fucking do anything you tell me to assure you that you didn't do a damned thing wrong."
My eyes narrowed at his cursing, not because I was mad, but because he so very rarely just blurted it out like that. I felt my eyes darken, my breathing pick up, but mostly, my entire being reacted to my mate's command.
"Tell me, love," he whispered, his forehead falling to mine.
"I feel like a failure."
"I know. You're not. He's talented."
"I just want this done, Edward," I stated firmly, almost whining.
"I know that too, baby."
"You should totally be pissed off at me," I told him, my brow furrowing.
Edward fought his smile and won. "I should be? But I'm not. As much as I'd like to think that you're perfect, Bella, you aren't. Neither am I. I haven't caught this guy, either, you know. Maybe you should be pissed off at me."
I bit my lip hard in order to not laugh. "Maybe I am pissed at you," I said haughtily, which was a blatant and bold-faced lie.
"Good," he purred, sweeping his lips across mine, and it only caused a fire to light deep inside of me. "Because you're so very fucking sexy when you're mad at me."
That was it. I snapped, taking my complete and utter bad mood out on kissing him. And he caught up to me instantly. Teeth grazed against lips, towels fell away, and tongues fought for dominance, which he wouldn't allow me to have. Even in our kiss, he was fighting me, because I needed it.
I found myself pinned down in the middle of the bed, a looming and slightly dark-looking Edward above me. His breathing was heavy like my own, but his eyes raked across my face, searching, seeking whatever it was that he needed to see.
"Just fucking tell me, Bella," he growled low, gripping fistfuls of the comforter on either side of my head when I leaned up to rake teeth and lips over his throat and collarbone.
"Take it away, Edward."
It was a cryptic statement, and I wasn't sure if it was my foul mood I was talking about or the failure of a night we'd just gone through. Maybe both. I wasn't sure, but what I did know was that I didn't want gentle or sweet or kind. I wanted to be fucked...and hard.
Edward's nostrils flared with the thoughts he saw flashing through my mind, and without any preamble, he turned me over, only to lay his entire body over mine, his lips right at my ear. Once again, long fingers threaded into my hair, and my head was pulled back.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" he crooned low, a rumble vibrating against the skin of my back.
When I nodded, he used a knee to spread my leg out to the side, and my hips raised up off the bed on instinct, but he forced me back down with his own, his thick, hard cock gliding between my folds. He teased, never quite allowing his tip to brush against my clit. He just barely grazed over my entrances.
"Edward," I growled, looking over my shoulder as he inhaled my skin from my shoulder, all the way up to my earlobe.
His black eyes locked with mine, and his smile was evil, carnal, and so very fucking sexy. Swirling his tongue over my shoulder, he then scraped his teeth across my skin. When he latched down in a bite, he sheathed himself deep inside of me.
"Unngh!" I groaned out, my head falling to the bed, but it was wrenched back.
"I'll fuck you hard, Isabella. Anytime." Edward's voice was low, raspy, deadly. "But this..." he said, pulling out, only to thrust so hard back into me that my hips lifted up off the bed and his name to erupt from me. "This is not punishment. Understand?"
I tried to nod because that I was all I was capable of; he'd rendered me completely speechless and at his mercy. His hips pinned my own, his hand was atop one of mine by my head, his other hand left my hair, only to grip my ass, and his teeth held me in submission. It was a sire controlling his creation, a vampire dominating what was his, and an amazing husband that would do anything to take away the bad stuff.
This wasn't making love. This wasn't even fucking. This was mating. And it was...
"So good!" I ground out through gritted teeth when it seemed Edward went deeper, using a swiveling thrust just to hit the spot that made my eyes roll back into my head.
"You mean...this spot?" he asked, letting go of my hip and wrapping a strong arm around my shoulders from behind.
That position arched my body in a way that made everything that much better, deeper, harder. Edward knew exactly how I'd react with every touch, kiss, bite, and word spoken.
"Of course, I do." He nipped at my earlobe, his breathing heavy in my ear. "I know every inch of your body, baby. I own it. Control it. Isn't that what you wanted? To be mine?"
"Oh, God, yes..." I panted, my hands gripping at the comforter at the sound of just how true that was. Possessive Edward did own me.
Edward smiled evilly against my neck, giving it one last hard, sucking kiss before he unwrapped himself from around me. Forcing my shoulders down to the bed, he sat back on his knees, grasping my hips to raise them up, never missing a single stroke. His long fingers ghosted down my spine, around to my breast, cupping it, only to glide down to my ass.
"Oh, sweet, sweet girl," he crooned, slowing down just a little as his hands drove me closer and closer to the edge I needed so badly. One snaked around to my clit, finding me swollen and extra sensitive. The other swirled around my other entrance. "You have no idea how pretty your ass is, all spread open...wet and needy for me."
He drove into me, pulling his hands away, causing my just-about-there moment to slip away. He chuckled darkly once, smacking my right ass cheek. Hard. "If this were punishment, baby, I wouldn't let you come."
My whole body clenched at the sting that just about kicked me over the precipice. He leaned back over me, making sure I was watching when he sucked his own finger in his mouth.
"But I'm a selfish, selfish man, Bella... I love to watch you fall apart when I'm fucking you," he said, dragging his wet middle finger across my bottom lip before sitting back again.
It wasn't expected, it wasn't Edward's usual style, but when he popped my left ass cheek, swirled that now-wet finger around my other entrance, only to slip it in two knuckles deep, and found my clit to give it a hard pinch, my whole world shattered. Completely. Utterly. Just...done.
Bracing his hands on my hips and pressing me down into the bed, he rode out my orgasm with heavy, deep strokes, finally slamming into me as deep as he could go. His forehead fell to my shoulder, his breathing ghosting hotly and heavily across my skin.
Sweet kisses pressed against my shoulder, and I finally met his gaze.
"Are you still pissed at me?" he asked, smiling crookedly.
"About what?" I asked stupidly.
He grinned fully, letting a little laugh out. "Never mind. My job here is done."
Giggling, I muffled it into the bed, but he shifted off me to pull me chest to chest with him.
"Look at me, my beautiful girl," he requested, gently brushing my still-damp hair from my face. When my gaze met his again, it was warm, sweet, worried. "You're doing an amazing job, Bella. Honestly. Don't let any of it frustrate you. I feel sorry for this guy when you finally do catch him."
Smiling a little, I nodded. How Edward knew what I needed was a mystery to me, but I appreciated it all the same.
"I know these things because you have it all wrong, my love. I don't own you. You own me. And I'd do anything to take away whatever it is that's bugging you," he vowed solemnly. His eyes drifted toward the window. "We're stuck inside today. Whatever shall we do?"
I giggled, kissing his lips. "More of this naked thing we have going on."
Edward laughed, pulled me closer, and pressed his lips to my forehead. "Your command, Bella."
"I don't get it, Carlisle," Edward said, glaring at the laptop screen as his hand clawed at his hair. "We've tracked and planned and failed. Repeatedly."
I was sitting on his lap so that I could see and be seen as we Skyped back home. We'd just come in from another long night of nothing, showered, and changed clothes. We were stuck inside for the daylight but thought we'd check in with the family because we were at a loss as to how to finally catch Brett. It had been almost five weeks since we'd left the family in Caribou. February was approaching quickly, and we'd never thought we'd be here this long.
Brett continued to "accidentally" make newborns. Marcus was now offering them a chance to live on because none were as dangerous or as mean as Trina had been. If they showed promise of living a normal life, Marcus allowed Edward to read their mind for information and then handed them over to Agosto, who trained them properly and sent them on their way. However, Brett's fate was sealed. He had to die. It was catching him that was giving us all the trouble, which was why Edward had finally decided to talk to Carlisle about him.
"What's his mind show you, son?" Carlisle responded, using a calm, soothing voice.
"Nothing." Edward sighed, rolling his eyes. "Okay, plenty, but if he's gifted, then he's not aware of it. He only knows he's being hunted, but he also knows that none of us can risk the sunlight so he leads us on and drags out the chase until we can't afford to chase him anymore without revealing ourselves." My sweet husband frowned, tilting his head. "And I swear he's ex-military. He thinks, plans, and reacts like a soldier."
"You are in Washington, Edward. It is quite possible someone changed a soldier," Carlisle guessed.
"That would make sense," I piped up, shrugging a shoulder. "All his training and knowledge would carry over."
Jasper plopped down in the chair next to Carlisle, coming into view of the camera. "Black ops, Ed. Think about it. They're trained to be ghosts. They go in, they do their mission, and they get out. It's like no one was ever there. Navy Seals, Green Berets... Men that are trained to never exist. Maybe that's what you have on your hands there."
Edward looked to me. "It would explain why even your shield can't snag him."
"Don't remind me," I snorted, smiling at Jasper and Carlisle on the screen when they chuckled. "I miss you guys." I sighed. "How is everyone?" I asked, meaning Archie, but I was sure that I'd get the rundown on everyone.
Jasper grinned crookedly, folding his arms across his chest. "Well, let's see..." he drawled, shaking his head. "There was a big to-do about the Christmas tree left in your room, but Esme took it upon herself to throw it out. Don't sweat the ornaments, 'cause she saved them for you. Kevin and Alice have introduced poor Archie to the wonders of reality TV. However, Adrian is doing his best to keep feeding Archie books in your stead. Rose just about killed Emmett two days ago when he took it upon himself to 'fix' a loose section of bricks in the garage, which, unfortunately, caused a small avalanche."
Edward and I groaned at the same time.
"My car," Carlisle growled, pointing to his chest. "My new car...ruined."
"It's not ruined!" Emmett bellowed from somewhere in the background. "It'll be good as new in a few days, Dad. Just in time..."
"Just in time for what?" Edward asked, unable to keep from laughing.
"Guess who finally caved and is going back to work?" Jasper sang, grinning at Carlisle.
"It's simply a few days a week down at the women's clinic," Carlisle rationalized, shoving Jasper out of view of the screen. "They need an on-call doctor."
"Oh, sure!" Edward laughed, shaking his head. "You wait until every bet is over, when no one in the entire family can win. I see how it is."
Carlisle grinned triumphantly. "Sometimes, that's the way it goes." He leaned on his elbows on his desk, his humor falling away. "You two are quite missed," he said seriously. "Are you taking care? Making sure..."
"We're fine," I vowed, and Edward nodded beside me. "We haven't even been separated since we've been gone. We're just frustrated we can't end this."
"Exactly," Edward concurred. "Everyone involved is tired of being here. Catherine and Brandon are ready to go back to Colorado, and Marcus and Demitri are needed in Italy."
Carlisle rubbed his chin in deep thought. "What you need is a rainy day, a cloudy day to keep the pursuit going. He may not know that he can be out in public when it's overcast. And you should surround him."
"Believe me, I know," Edward sighed, shaking his head. "But Alice doesn't see one for a few days."
"Plan for it," Carlisle urged. "Worse case scenario is that the weather doesn't cooperate and you start over, but best case is that it works." He paused, his brow furrowing. "Is he predictable? Is he using some sort of pattern?"
"Actually, yes," Edward replied. "He seems familiar with this one particular neighborhood. It's pretty rundown, but he seems to hunt there quite often. It's like he knows it'll take a few days for a drug addict to be reported missing, but then...he drops them off in a much more secluded spot. Rock Creek Park is rather large."
"We don't think he's draining them completely," I added. "At least, that's what Marcus is theorizing. He's turning some of them, but not all."
"How are the humans not hearing the screaming?" he asked.
"Because where he's depositing them is pretty far from people," Edward explained. "Though, we haven't had to deal with a newborn in two weeks."
Carlisle frowned. "He's improving."
Edward nodded. "We think so."
Carlisle glanced past the camera on the computer and smiled. "There he is. Son, come here."
Archie appeared in the screen as he took the seat Jasper had vacated. He blinked, taking in what I was sure was just a giant picture of Edward's and my faces.
"Hey, Archie," we both said.
"Did you catch him yet?" Archie asked.
"No, not yet," Edward sighed, but his smile was sweet, patient, because it had taken days for Archie to settle down, to come out of a serious funk when Edward and I left.
He'd stayed holed up in his room, simply reading or listening to music. Rose had accused him of being like the old "Emo Edward." Alice saw him being fine, but everyone pushed and poked and prodded at him to get him to participate in family things. It finally took Emmett and Jasper fighting over a chess game to pull him out of his room, though I had my suspicions that they'd staged the whole thing.
He didn't like talking on the phone, but he was okay with Skype. And he'd gotten the hang of texting, much to our surprise, because Emmett had finally showed him that he could send us a message any time of the day. Archie liked that. A lot. It softened our absence just a little.
"What'cha been doing, buddy?" I asked, linking my fingers with Edward's on the desk in front of us.
"Um...Rose is scary when she's mad," Archie whispered but grinned when laughter rang out from us and over the computer speaker.
"Yes, sir," Edward agreed with a laugh. "Very much so. In fact, the only one that doesn't seem to mind is Emmett. Word to the wise, my friend... Just stay out of the way when they fight."
"I did!" he said, his eyes wide as he nodded.
With a crooked grin, Edward added, "You should've seen Rose as a newborn..."
"Edward Cullen, don't you dare!" Rose bellowed over the speaker.
Archie laughed, which I was sure was Edward's intention, and I sighed at just how sweet that truly was.
Archie's happy demeanor carried over when he continued to talk. "Oh! I went into town with Carlisle yesterday. I did okay. I'm better with your shield, Bella, but it wasn't too hard."
Edward's brow furrowed a little, but he smiled. "Good. So how was your thirst?"
"Well, I'd just hunted," he explained softly. "I went by myself the night before, because... Well..."
"Oh... Hmm," I hummed, my nose wrinkling at how embarrassed he looked right then. "Say no more, Archie."
"'Kay," he sighed in relief. There was no need in making him explain that he'd avoided the house due to the coupling off of the family. It simply wasn't necessary.
We spent a few more minutes Skyping with Archie. He told us how Carlisle had taken him into town to the hardware store, simply to get him out of the way of Rose's temper. They'd ordered new bricks for the garage, and then Carlisle had driven to a few local car repair shops to inquire about matching the paint to his Mercedes. Rose could repair it all, but the paint had to be special ordered. All those things Carlisle could've done on the phone or online, but he'd chosen to push Archie's boundaries a little. I didn't know who I wanted to hug more.
"Come on, Archie!" Emmett boomed. "Leave the baby lovebirds alone. I'll show you how to lay brick!"
I wanted to laugh at the wry glare Archie aimed our way, but Edward actually laughed out loud, burying it into my shoulder.
"Bye, Archie," we both said at the same time.
"Bye, guys." Just before he got up, he turned to face the screen. "You'll catch this guy soon. Alice says so."
With that, the screen went black.
Edward sighed, still wearing a small smile when he met my gaze. "I'm really glad the Volvo is parked at the airport."
I laughed, grabbing his face and kissing his lips roughly. "Me, too. I kinda like Emmett. It would be sad to see him go for hurting your car."
I bit my lip at just how sexy my Edward's evil smile was. It curled up the corners of his mouth, making him look dark and deadly, but it was adorable at the same time because he really would've been worse to deal with than Rose.
"You think so, sweet girl?" he asked, grinning that much more.
"Oh, Mr. Cullen. I know so." I laughed, squealing when I was suddenly flown across the room and onto the bed. "You get a little...twitchy about your cars, baby. That's all."
Edward laughed. "Twitchy?"
"Yes, twitchy."
He dragged his tongue across his bottom lip as he gazed down at me like I was his next meal. "Hmm, let's see what else I can make...twitch."
"Edward," my Bella breathed in my ear as I assaulted her neck and that sweet spot just behind her earlobe.
"Hmm?" I hummed, trying to ignore the humans across the small field.
"Shouldn't we be paying attention?" she asked weakly.
"I am," I said with a chuckle, pulling back just enough to sweep my lips across hers. Pressing my forehead to hers, I whispered, "And we have to fit in, beautiful. Look." I nuzzled her cheek to turn her head.
Alice had come through for us with a complete and clear vision. We were to surround Rock Creek Park because she saw us find Brett down there. When one boy wandered off to relieve himself, that was when he'd attack. Not only did she see us stopping him, but she saw that the sun would be hidden by heavy, thick clouds the next day. Currently, it was was just after two in the morning, and I'd yet to hear Brett's mind.
At that very moment, there were eight immortals surrounding a small party of kids ranging from sixteen to nineteen years old. It was a Friday night, and they were getting high, drinking, and making out in various dark corners of the small picnic area that they'd taken over. Seeing as how Bella and I looked the youngest, we were to "crash" the party and keep an eye out. At the moment, I was listening to about thirty minds. The top priority of those minds was sex. In fact, there was hardly a close second. Getting drunk...maybe.
My sweet girl gazed around, and a giggle escaped her as she realized that we weren't the only ones using a picnic table to make out relentlessly. She was sitting on the end of the table with her legs wrapped around my waist as I stood between them. Her head spun back to me, and I laughed at her wry glare and her thoughts.
"Why don't I believe this is all just...duty?" she accused, smirking at me.
I sighed dramatically, shrugging a shoulder. "I can't lie and say I'm not enjoying it, my love. It's a tough job, baby..."
Her head fell back with her laugh, and I took advantage, pressing kisses to her throat. Her mind was a sinful place to be at the moment, but I loved it. I loved that my voice, my lips, and where my hands were gripping made her lose track of everything around her. It was a heady and powerful feeling. And it was fine that she wasn't paying attention, because I was.
Since the moment she'd stumbled into biology that very first day, Bella was – and always would be – the one thing that my mind always kept close watch over. She was in the forefront at all times. I could, in reality, pay attention to every sexy noise, desperate whimper, naughty thought, and beautiful sigh, while at the same time, give my surroundings my sharp attention. My brain didn't know how to function any other way...unless we were completely alone.
Fingers threaded themselves into my hair as she tugged, pulling my mouth from her neck, back to her lips. She kissed me softly at first, but then consumed me. And as much as I hated to do it, I had to pull away because someone was approaching. Unfortunately, I'd lit a fire in my girl, so her lips left mine but attached themselves to my neck when I glared up at the rather inebriated boy that was heading our way.
His liquid bravado failed him as he caught sight of my face, but he pushed on. He was turned on by how my girl was wrapped around me, but he shrugged it off because he was hoping the little blonde back at the main table would be doing the same to him later.
"Do I know you?" he slurred, narrowing his eyes as his body swayed a little. And for whatever drunken reasons, his eyes lit up. "Oh! Yeah! You're Skinny's cousin, right?"
"Yeah, sure," I said with a shrug and barely there patience for being interrupted, swallowing thickly when Bella's teeth nipped at my jaw at the same time she let out a sexy little giggle.
"I love Skinny! He's the fuckin' man!" he declared with a raise of his glass, and he turned and left us, which only caused Bella to giggle a little harder.
"Ah, alcohol," she sighed, ghosting her lips across my throat to give the other side of my jaw the same glorious attention. "That's funny..."
Chuckling, I pulled her away from my skin, turning her head toward a large group. "What's funny... That's Skinny... The one on the edge...with the beer hat on his head."
Bella snorted into hysterics because Skinny didn't quite match his name. He looked like a football player, large, with an enormous head and an even larger school jacket. He had to weigh three hundred pounds if he was an ounce.
"Oh, damn," Bella chortled. "Yeah, you can definitely see that you're cousins."
A laugh barked out of me, but I looked back down at her happy face. "I love you, sweet girl," I said softly but firmly. "Only you could make this whole thing enjoyable."
"I don't know," she sang. "Skinny looks pretty fun..."
As she said that, Skinny downed two beers through straws from their slots on his hat. He then proceeded to burp the alphabet.
"Why does Emmett come to mind?" I murmured, grimacing a little.
"Oh yeah! A human Emmett..."
I buried my face in her neck, still keeping my mind wide open, but smiled when someone turned on a stereo. It wasn't my usual type of music, but Bella and my sisters liked the guy. However, this song held a bit of truth for me, so I couldn't help but sing some of the lyrics of Bruno Mars's "Locked Out of Heaven" against Bella's skin.
You bring me to my knees
You make me testify
You can make a sinner change his ways
Open up your gates cause I can't wait to see the light
And right there is where I wanna stay
'Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows
'Cause you make me feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah, you make me feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long.
Can I just stay here
Spend the rest of my days here...
"Edward, have to stop that," Bella begged as my teeth scraped across her collarbone. "Please?" She grasped either side of my face, her sweet, brown eyes pleading as they swirled a little darker. "You... It's sweet, and damn, really sexy, but you have to stop."
I grinned sheepishly as, internally, she was telling me she would not be held responsible for her actions if I continued. "Sorry, my Bella."
"No, you're not." She laughed, shaking her head. "I see all that smug stuff you're pushing. Just...stop."
I tried like hell to straighten my face, but failed. I had to step back for a moment, shaking my head, and clawed at my hair to give us both a second. It was then that we smelled him, and Brett's mind swirled around a rather small teen boy that was swaying his way into the woods.
"He's here," I breathed, and Bella was off the table and onto her feet within the blink of an eye at the same time texting everyone that was with us. Demitri and Carina were at the north end of the park, Brandon and Catherine on the south, and Marcus and Agosto were monitoring the west side near the parking lot. That left the east for us, but really, that was the center of it all. We'd have to approach slowly, cautiously, but essentially, we had him surrounded.
Demitri, Marcus, and I were all hoping that with the combination of Bella's talent and Brandon's, not to mention the overcast day that was coming, we'd end this all tonight.
"Trees, now," I said, barely letting the sound out.
Bella followed me deftly up the closest pine to use the treetops as our way to monitor the young man relieving himself in the bushes and to scan the surrounding area. I could hear Brett's mind – calculating, devious...thirsty.
I tried to keep us downwind from him, but I knew with the rainy weather that was rolling in, he'd eventually catch the scent of one of us. And he did. Brett's head snapped to his left, and he bolted, leaving the teenage boy to live another day and to wander innocently back to the party.
As we followed him through the treetops, I could hear our entire group converging on him, the closest of which was Demitri. With Demitri's ability to track him, Brandon's ability to shut him down, and my reading of his plans and thoughts, we were all hoping that we could finally allow Bella to wrap that amazing shield around him. And we were all banking that this would be a long and winding chase. With the weather on our side, we weren't stopping this time.
Rock Creek Park was really only about two and a half miles square, so we ran out of trees quickly, which put us dangerously back into the city. Bella and I stuck to the shadows, and I could hear Demitri keeping to the rear of the chase, commanding everyone else through his phone.
Bella was focused, sending her shield out as carefully as she could, but Brett evaded her over and over. The corner of a building cracked and shattered when she missed the last time.
"Dammit!" she hissed.
I didn't have to tell her to be careful. She knew. And in all reality, it wasn't her fault. Her aim had been spot on, but Brett had moved out of the way at the perfect moment. In between buildings and down back alleys, she couldn't just send her shield out in an all encompassing dome. She couldn't risk capturing a human inside of it by accident.
Smaller, more modern buildings gave way to much older-looking buildings, and I knew we were closing in on the historical part of D.C. We had to be careful. Bella, Marcus, and I were adamant that we not destroy, mark, or harm any of the federal buildings or any of the national monuments. And not one of us needed to be seen running at our top immortal speed by any security or residents of D.C.
It was damned tricky getting through the Washington Monument area. The open area with the rather large pool was lit very well at night. Luckily, the trees along the mall's side were hidden in shadows, and we were moving quickly enough that no one could really focus on us.
"Damn," I groaned once we reached Pennsylvania Avenue again. "He's heading back toward that neighborhood."
That's actually helpful, Edward, Marcus thought to me. He was just on the street over as he mirrored our direction. I sent Brandon and Catherine to come at us from the opposite direction.
"Up, baby," I ordered once we were deep inside the rundown section of town. I could see exactly how Marcus was directing this whole thing.
Bella and I hit the side of a large apartment building at a run, scaling up to the rooftop. There were about five buildings total, and when we reached the end of the last one, we stopped and looked down. The playground wasn't quite deserted, but those that were leaning up against the chain-link fence weren't exactly capable of witnessing anything. Well, they wouldn't be able to recount it later, anyway.
I could see movement from every direction. Brett was coming up along the street to our right. Brandon and Catherine were already high in a rather large oak at the top of the small park. Demitri and Carina were coming up a side street on the left, and Marcus and Agosto were converging in on us from the right.
Brett was trapped.
As soon as Brandon's mind shot everything he had at Brett, I nudged Bella.
"Now, love!"
Sometimes, I'd forget just how much power my sweet girl had behind that shield of hers. She rarely put it to any major test, only opting to use it gently most of the time. But in a moment of excitement, she would unleash it, slamming it down around her target with such force that I could hear it, feel it thump to the ground. And this time, a swing set collapsed under its weight.
Without any preamble, she shrank it back, causing Brett to fall to the ground in an unmovable heap. Making sure our surroundings were clear, I took her hand, and we jumped down from the roof to the ground.
"Well, halle-fuckin'-lujah!" Brandon sighed as we all closed in on Brett.
Demitri grinned, slapping his back roughly. "No shit, B. Seriously."
Marcus knelt down next to Brett, who was watching us all in silence. I couldn't see a single thing in his mind due to Bella's shield, but I could see he was scared. But he also looked feral, his eyes wild.
"Bella, let me hear him. Hold just his body," I requested.
She nodded, shifted her shield, which lifted Brett up to pin him to the light post. Frantic, violent thoughts hit me all at once, and I stepped closer to Brett.
"What's your name?" I asked him, just to see what he'd think and say.
"Lieutenant Louis, sir," he answered, and I could see the lights were on, but no one was home.
He was a prime example of the type of immortal that Jasper had unfortunately had to dispose of back when he'd been with Maria. This vampire hadn't taken to his change well. There had been too much damage to him prior to his immortal rebirth and it made for a deadly combination.
Brett Louis was a discharged soldier. He'd seen too much blood and death and had drowned himself with drugs and alcohol right here in this neighborhood. His maker was...familiar.
"Where are you from?" I asked him, but he didn't answer me aloud; he unknowingly showed me.
He'd been stationed not far from here but had run into two very familiar faces, who'd taken advantage of his good looks, his lonely disposition, and his male libido. He'd been drinking in a bar not far from his base in Virginia when two immortal women took to paying him enough attention that he couldn't say no. Especially when he was feeling so down about his dishonorable discharge for character unbecoming an officer. His problems had started right there.
"You have got to be kidding me," I mumbled as I shook my head slowly. I looked to Demitri. "You might want to call Alaska and talk to Irina and Ghianna about their last trip to the east coast."
"What?" Marcus gasped, looking between Demitri and me.
"I don't see that it was done with poor intentions," I told him. "It looks like they stayed with him when Ghianna lost a bit of her control. But I can't tell without hearing their side of it."
Bella's and Brandon's mouths fell open, and they gaped openly at Brett. Suddenly, Bella remembered a conversation with Rose and Emmett when they'd first arrived in Caribou about how Ghianna and Irina had started to invite human men into their bed. I'd been a little disgusted about the topic, but apparently, it was true.
"Ghianna? Irina?" Brett asked, looking to me angrily, but he was blind and unfocused on the reality around him. "You've captured women?!"
"Oh," I sighed, looking to Marcus. "There's nothing you can do. He's not...stable."
Turning to Demitri, who was now on the phone with Irina, I listened as she explained sadly that they'd only tried to help the young man not long after Emmett and Rose had left Alaska, and they'd felt badly for Brett. He'd been suicidal, but once he'd changed, he'd started sneaking off for longer times. Eventually, he'd never returned, and when they'd tried to find him, he'd panicked and fled.
And I could see why; he wasn't sane. All his problems prior to becoming immortal only made for a bad combination. He was angry, paranoid, and still fighting battles within his head. He would forever be stuck in a war in his mind. He would never be controlled, never stop running, no matter who was trying to talk to him, and everyone would be the enemy that was after him. That's all I could see in his head on a continuous loop. In fact, at the moment, he was simply thinking name, rank, and serial number.
Marcus sighed, nodded, and gave our surroundings an assessment. He jerked his chin to four homeless men that had lit a fire in a barrel.
"Catherine," he said, and she nodded sadly and walked to them.
She used her ability to draw people in to keep their attention on her and not on what we were about to do.
"Isabella," Marcus called to her softly, placing a hand on her shoulder and giving her temple a kiss. "Your beautiful sad. But it's unavoidable, amore."
Bella looked to me. "Nothing? We can't do anything?"
"No, baby. He has no idea where he is," I explained as gently as I could, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. "It's not his fault. I know. But he shouldn't have been changed. It was all done with good intentions, but it just didn't work out for the best."
"God, how did Jasper do this shit?" she murmured, wearing a sad yet slightly put-out face. She squeezed her eyes closed, burrowing her face into my arm.
"Now, Bells," Brandon told her.
She wrenched her shield hard, and Brett's suffering was over. While Catherine kept the other four men's attention, we settled Brett's pieces into the fire barrel.
Pulling out my phone, I dialed home.
"Yo, okay?" Jasper answered.
"We're fine. We got him," I sighed, but I felt off. "I need a favor."
"Anything, brother. What'cha need?"
"Find out everything you can about a soldier for me. Lieutenant Brett Louis. If he has family...anything...we need to take care of them. Send them something that says he fought bravely for his country. Just...take care of them."
There was silence on the other end. "Jesus, Edward. What the fuck happened?"
"An innocent mistake that went terribly wrong." My voice was firm as my nose wrinkled at the sweet-burning scent that wafted around us. My arm wrapped around Bella when she hugged my waist. "Can you do that for me, Jasper?"
I could already hear him typing, but he was quiet for a split second. "Already on it. Don't worry about a thing."
"They should totally put an ax in Lincoln's hand," Brandon mused, gazing over at the Lincoln Memorial.
Marcus laughed as we all took a seat on the steps. The dreary day had kept some tourists inside, but we were finally able to relax and wander the area without having an agenda. We'd waited until the fire had died out and walked aimlessly together back into the nicer part of the city. It was giving Brandon and Bella time to see the sights up close and Marcus and Demitri a chance to plan their return to Italy after clearing everything up here.
"I liked that movie," Marcus gushed in an uncharacteristic manner, which made Bella giggle. "Oh, come on, amore. You can't tell me they didn't portray that man as a vicious vampire killer." He jerked a thumb behind him toward the large marble man on his chair.
"He was bad ass," Demitri added with a grin.
"But the vampires were all wrong!" she argued, which made me kiss the top of her head. "Although, I did like the vamp that trained Abe. He was cool."
"He was adorable," Carina said with a laugh.
"He was, right?" Catherine chortled.
"He was kinda cool," Brandon agreed. "And Bells, they always get the vampires wrong. It's supposed to be that way."
"Yeah, little one. The crazier the legend, the further away from the truth they are," Demitri teased her.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm just sayin'," she murmured, smiling when I kissed her cheek.
"Well, except for this one book that's out there," I said with a chuckle against her skin. "Marcus kinda let that one slide. Some silly love story about a vampire and a human girl falling in love."
Marcus grinned but shook his head. "That was too good not to let slide."
My girl looked all kinds of embarrassed, but she nodded and then shrugged. Glancing over when my phone rang. I answered it, thinking it was Jasper; instead, Alice's panicked voice gushed out.
Her voice was a harsh but extremely quiet whisper. "Edward...we need you home. Now!"


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