Sunday, May 5, 2013 | By: Drotuno

In Pursuit Chapter 6

Chapter 6
Bella POV
Pull your legs up and hold it for a count of
I listened to the perky, disgustingly fit woman on the TV count down as we held the pose that was supposed to work our core and strengthen our abs. I was sitting on my tailbone, and my hands were holding my legs up at a ninety-degree angle.
Now straighten, and up. Straighten, and up.
The woman’s voice chirped on as I tried to remain in time with her movements.
“Why the hell are we doing this again today?” I asked Mar—Alice through gritted teeth. It was Thursday, and we’d been doing yoga every other day for the last couple of weeks...but we’d done it yesterday, so today was an off day.
Alice groaned after the woman on the TV told us to relax. “Because—”
“Never mind. I know why,” I interrupted with a sigh. We wouldn’t have time tomorrow because of our meeting with the attorney from the DOJ and we’d both needed to do something today to take our minds off it. Jasper had quickly suggested yoga, saying that an extra-long session of it should do wonders.
Why we chose to do it first thing in the morning, I didn’t know, but that had become routine. It wasn’t like we needed to do it early to keep our schedules free for the rest of the day. Being stuck here in the house had gotten quite...monotonous – even for my sister, whose personality seemed stuck on bright and cheerful.
Over the noise from the television, I heard the sound of the only thing that made being cooped up days and weeks on end better: Edward’s keys in the lock.
He had been running like he’d done every morning since shortly after we arrived in Southampton, and when he came through the door, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek. He was wearing black athletic shorts, sneakers, and a light gray T-shirt, which was soaked through with sweat in several places. It clung to him like a second skin. His hair was a mess, damp from sweat but still standing on end, like he’d raked a hand through it multiple times. He looked...delicious, and I wanted to lap him up, sweat and all.
As if he heard my inner thoughts, he suddenly glanced up and met my eyes before I could avert my gaze.
“Morning, Bella. Alice,” he said, and for a moment, it looked like his eyes were trained on my legs as I held the pose the yoga lady had shown us.
Before we could say our own good mornings, he was gone. I heard him mumble something to Jasper, who laughed and yelled something after him.
“I want breakfast when you finish in the shower, man. You lost, remember?”
I grinned, remembering the game of poker we’d played with the boys the night before. We’d figured out that they would bet on any and everything, given the opportunity...but never for money. Laundry, cooking, and other household duties were fair game. Edward had lost last night, meaning he was cooking breakfast for a week – which was okay by me. So far, I hadn’t been disappointed.
After another pose, I was done, and I said so to Alice. “I’m out. I’m going to go take my shower and get dressed.”
I left her to it and waved to Jasper as I passed him in the kitchen, where he was working on his crossword puzzle, same as he did almost every morning.
The room I was sharing with Alice was at the end of the hall, right across from Edward’s. When I got to my doorway, I heard a noise and turned to see what it was.
Edward was in the middle of exercising, apparently. He was currently doing sit-ups, with his feet hooked under the bed. His back was to me, but there was a large mirror on the other side of the room, so I was able to see his profile. His eyes were closed, so I was able to stand there for a minute and admire the way his muscles flexed and rolled under his skin every time he pulled himself up.
He had discarded his shirt, so it was the first time I’d see his bare back, and the sight of the tattoo stretched across his upper back and shoulders nearly made me weak in the knees. It was some sort of tribal design or something, in green and black, with swirls and angles and knots. I’d seen the angel on his forearm before, of course – when he wore just a T-shirt, it showed. But this was the first time I was able to completely see the second tatt on his upper arm. Most of it was usually covered by his sleeve. In the reflection of the mirror, I saw enough to tell it was the scales of justice with some blade-looking things surrounding it.
Before he could catch me staring, I turned and continued on to my bedroom, grabbing the stuff I needed for my shower. If I was lucky, by the time I came out to the kitchen, no one would be able to tell how much the sight of him had affected me.
When I got to the kitchen, Edward was already there, clean in jeans and a T-shirt, his feet bare. I could hear the TV on in the living room, some dry voice talking about World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, so I knew Jasper was in there alone, since Alice was in our bedroom getting ready to shower. I slipped to the fridge, grabbing a bottled water before moving up to the counter, where Edward was cracking eggs into a bowl.
“Can I help?” I asked, careful to keep my eyes on the food, rather than him. If I didn’t watch myself, I would be caught staring at his arms and back, searching for the tattoos.
Edward nudged the can of biscuits with his elbow. “You can pop these open and put them out on the tray if you’d like.”
I nodded and set down my water before grabbing the blue can and trying to find the corner of the paper that I could use to open the thing. Finally finding it, I scratched at it with my fingernail until I was able to loosen it, and then I pulled, tearing it away slowly.
When the can popped open, I squeaked with surprise, even though I’d been prepared.
Edward chuckled. “Gets me every time, too. Even when I think I’m ready for it.”
“Yeah,” I murmured, pulling the doughy biscuits out one by one and putting them on the cookie sheet to go into the oven.
We continued to cook breakfast together, slicing cantaloupe, frying bacon, but through it all, I stayed silent, unable to keep myself from stealing glances at the man beside me.
I must have taken it too far, because Edward suddenly asked, “Everything okay? You worried about tomorrow?”
“No,” I answered quickly. “I mean, yeah, of course I am. But I’m okay. Just thinking.”
He nodded and turned back to the bacon in the skillet on the stove.
Before I could stop myself, my mouth opened again. “I saw you,” I blurted. “I mean, when I went to take my shower. I saw your tattoos. They’re pretty.”
Shit, I felt like an idiot. Pretty, Mar—Bella? Really?
“I mean, they look cool. When did you get them?”
That was better, but only marginally.
Edward was quiet for a minute, long enough that I was sure he wasn’t going to answer. Then he said, “I kind of hung out with the wrong crowd when I first got to college. I got my first one done when I was drunk, but I liked it, so it wasn’t long before I started working on the idea for the second one.”
“Which was first?” I couldn’t help but ask.
He rolled the sleeve of his T-shirt up to expose the scales of justice on his bicep. “This one.”
I reached out to trace the pattern and quickly pulled my hand back, not wanting to overstep. “Did you always want to be in law enforcement? Is that why the scales of justice?”
Shaking his head, Edward said, “No. I mean, yeah, but I got it, and the angel, to represent, to honor, birth father.”
I blinked, having not expected that. “The man you showed me in the picture...he’s not your father?”
Edward was quick to disagree. “He’s my father.” His voice was hard, but then it softened when he continued. “He’s been my father since I was three, when he married my mom. I didn’t know until high school that we weren’t blood related.”
God, I couldn’t even imagine finding out suddenly that my dad wasn’t my biological father. “That...must have sucked,” I finally said.
He huffed a laugh. “Actually, it made me feel... Things kind of made more sense after that. I was so different from my dad growing up. He’s always been so serious, so into being a doctor. He doesn’t like playing sports – he’s more content to read than be outside. And even from when I was little, I always felt like something was missing. I couldn’t put it into words – can’t really even now – but sometimes, it felt like I just didn’
“Anyway, we were doing blood typing in biology my junior year of high school, and when Rose and I compared our results, we realized there was no way we could be blood related. So we confronted our parents.”
Edward didn’t say anything for a minute, and I bit my lip, wondering if I should just stay quiet, but my curiosity got the better of me. “What’d they say?”
Running a hand over his head, Edward gripped his hair and tugged before speaking, as if centering himself. “My parents met when I was two years old; Rose was almost three. It was about six months after my birth father had been killed.”
As he continued telling me the story of his birth father, whom he’d been named after, I realized that in a way, we had something in common. Both our lives had been affected irreparably by organized crime – his father had been killed, and now I was witness to a crime that was changing my entire life.
“So the angel is the same as the one on my birth father’s tombstone, a visual reminder that he was a part of me, even if Carlisle truly became my dad,” Edward continued. “The scales of justice are to represent him as a lawyer, but also the calling I’ve had since high school to work for justice and the law in my own way.”
Nodding, I glanced at his back as he turned away to pour the eggs into the skillet.
“And the...tribal design or whatever it is on your back?” I couldn’t help but ask, wondering why he hadn’t mentioned it yet.
There was a pause before he finally said, “It’s a Celtic knot.”
“When did you—”
“I don’t talk about that one,” Edward said, his tone biting.
“Is it for your—”
“I said I don’t talk about it,” he growled, slamming the spatula down on the stove top. “Tell the others breakfast is ready.”
I woke up Friday feeling more nervous than I had at any point during this process so far. Today was the day we were going to be speaking to the attorney from the Department of Justice about our future.
The rest of the day yesterday had been tense, and by the time I’d gone to bed, things hadn’t been any better. It had been one of the most uncomfortable days we’d spent with the two men protecting us. Jasper had tried to lighten things up a bit, telling us jokes, funny stories about some of the fugitives they’d had to capture, and about growing up on a ranch in Texas. Alice had listened with rapt attention, but I’d only had half a mind on Jasper, while the other half was constantly thinking about Edward.
He had spent a lot of the day outside smoking – a habit which I thought was disgusting, even if he did look fuck-hot sometimes, like he was posed for one of those old-fashioned cigarette ads. When he wasn’t outside, he was in the living room with his eyes glued to the TV or in his bedroom, lifting weights with a set of dumbbells he’d found in the closet of the master bedroom. He’d barely said two words to Alice or me the entire day.
Breakfast was a quick affair of cereal and fresh fruit. Jasper had finally sent Edward to the store the day before when he’d snapped at Alice after she asked him what his problem was. He’d come back with grapes, oranges, and several kinds of berries.
Once we were finished eating, I took my shower and got dressed, telling Alice I’d wait for her in the living room while she showered.
When I walked in, Edward was the only one in there. I immediately turned around, intending to go back to the bedroom to wait, but stopped when he spoke.
“I’m sorry.”
Slowly, I turned back and looked at him, feeling the emotions I’d felt the day before – confusion, anger, and hurt – come back to me at those two little words. Raising an eyebrow, I waited for him to continue.
“I shouldn’t have snapped,” he finally said, letting out a deep breath. “That tattoo is a reminder of... Well... Just know I was being truthful when I said I understand why some pictures have to be deleted or burned. You aren’t the only one with a Mike in your past.”
I could see the pain and anger as they flitted through his eyes before he locked them down again. I wanted to take that away, if only for a minute.
Smirking, I said, “You never told us you were gay, Edward. I mean, it’s okay, really. I’m just sorry Mike apparently gets around.”
He barked out a laugh and shook his head. “Not gay... Fuck. Her name doesn’t matter, but now you know why I don’t like to talk about that one.” He pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “Anyway, I shouldn’t have snapped like I did, and I shouldn’t have been such an ass all day. So...”
I smiled, feeling the last of my anger melt away, and I nodded. “Okay. Thank you for...explaining.”
He shrugged just as Alice and Jasper came into the living room.
“You kids make nice?” Jasper teased.
I laughed as Edward lunged for him, punching him hard on the bicep.
“Ow, damn! Touchy, touchy!”
Edward rolled his eyes and grinned, but then turned to my sister. “Sorry I snapped at you yesterday,” he said firmly.
“No worries!” Alice smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “Even guys get PMS. I get it.”
Edward looked stunned, which made the rest of us laugh, and then he shook his head and looked at the clock. “Let’s go before I turn into even more of a woman. And I’m driving,” he told Jasper, grabbing the keys from the other man’s hand.
Before opening the garage door, they gave us last-minute instructions about keeping our heads down until they gave the okay, and then we were off.
The drive to the motel took about an hour and a half because Edward wanted to make sure we weren’t tailed from the house and wanted to park down the street and go check it out on foot before taking us in. When we finally checked in to the room, we realized why Edward had described it the way he had. It was even worse than the first motel we’d stayed at. There were people hanging around outside some of the rooms – although, from what I could tell, most of them were prostitutes.
Ten minutes after we got situated inside, there was a knock on the door and Edward and Jasper made us go into the bathroom while they drew their guns to answer.
“Come on out, ladies,” Jasper finally drawled. “It’s just the DOJ attorney.”
Alice and I walked out to see a gorgeous redhead in a perfectly neat, perfectly professional-looking suit. The skirt showed off an impressive set of long legs, and while I wanted to hate her for being so beautiful, the smile she gave us was warm and genuine. She held her hand out as we walked up.
“Victoria James. It’s nice to meet you, although I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances.”
“Marie,” I said, pointing to myself. “Or rather, Isabella, I guess now.”
Victoria smiled and nodded before looking at Alice. “And that must make you Mary.”
Alice nodded. “Yes, now Alice.”
“Good, good. Have a seat, ladies.” Victoria took the third seat, leaving the guys to stand against the wall, watching over the three of us.
Before she could say more, Edward spoke again. “You aren’t who I expected they’d send.” There was a touch of wariness to his voice.
She smiled and glanced at us before turning her attention back to him. “I thought they would be more comfortable with a woman.”
“Been at the job long?” He was still brusque-sounding, like he wasn’t sure he trusted her.
Nodding, she answered, “I’ve been with the DOJ for over five years. This is my first big Witness Security case, but I’m prepared to handle it. Peter trained us himself.”
Finally, Edward gave a nod, and Victoria turned back to Alice and me.
“I have here all the information for your new lives. We’ll go over it now, and then you can take the paperwork with you to memorize your new information, all right?” At our nods, she said, “Your new last name will be Swan. Isabella and Alice Swan. You will remain twins, but your birthday is now April tenth of the same year. After the trial, you’ll be moved to Seattle, where we’ll help set you up with a house and the means to get you started.”
Victoria continued to spout off information about our new lives – social security numbers, family history, living and work histories – I felt my head swimming. It was a lot of information, and it meant our old lives as Marie and Mary Brandon were gone. Our parents were no longer Charles and Renee Brandon, our grandmother no longer Isabella Renee Higgenbotham.
I was pulled out of my thoughts as Victoria asked, “Any questions?”
Alice shook her head, and I copied that, knowing I could ask her or the guys about anything I’d missed.
“Great,” she chirped, flashing a smile. “I’ll just gather up everything for you and then head out.”
I watched as she flirted with Edward, reaching out to trace the tattoo visible on his forearm. The way she was tossing her hair over her shoulder and smiling at him made her look way too...friendly. And I noticed her brown eyes, making me think the red of her hair wasn’t natural.
“Call me sometime after this case wraps up, Edward, okay?” She batted long, but overly made up eyelashes at him after tucking the papers into a folder and handing it to him. “My number’s on the card there.”
Edward made a non-committal sound without actually agreeing to anything, and for some reason, I felt the knot in my chest ease slightly, knowing he didn’t seem interested in her long legs, big chest, and pretty red hair.
“Let me walk you out, Ms. James,” Jasper drawled, rolling his eyes behind her back before plastering on a smile when she turned.
She threw out goodbyes to us, giving Edward one last vampy smile before Jasper opened the door and hustled her out.
He came back in a couple of minutes later and said, “All clear. I didn’t see anyone suspicious hanging around – or no more than usual for this place – and no strange vehicles in the lot.”
“Okay, ladies,” Edward said, placing a hand on my lower back and moving us toward the door. “Keep your heads down, walk straight to the car, and climb in as fast as you can without attracting any more attention than is necessary. Stay down until we tell you, and we’ll get back to the house safely. Any questions?”
Alice and I shook our heads no and followed Jasper as he led the way to the car.
Edward POV
I was drowning in silken skin and dark brown hair. Limber legs wrapped around me while small hands gripped and pulled and pushed. My name had never sounded so good; it was a plea, a command, and a claim of ownership all rolled into a simple two syllable word.
I surrendered to it because I couldn’t resist. It wasn’t about getting laid; it was about touching, pleasing, and the curiosity of what that beautiful face would look like letting go of just...everything. But it absolutely had to be my touch, my hands that gave her the escape. Bracing myself over her, I looked into those fathomless eyes, and gone was the wall that always surrounded her. There was trust and something I couldn’t quite name. But fuck, if she wasn’t wet and warm and smelled so damned good.
A wicked gleam sparked through her eyes as her hand reached for my dick – my fucking aching dick.
My eyes snapped open, my body giving an involuntary shudder, and I groaned at my own hand in my shorts and the sweat beading on my forehead. My bedroom was dark, with only a small light leaking in from underneath the door. The sound of light footsteps padding down the hallway and the bathroom door closing made me pull my hand away from my twitching cock. It protested with a dull, painful throb, but I sat up and tilted my head at the sounds in the house – clock ticking, crickets outside the window, and the soft rumble of Jasper’s snore from the living room, where he’d most likely just crashed out in front of the TV.
I heard the toilet flush, the water run, and the sound of the bathroom door opening. The girls tended to use the hall bathroom in the middle of the night so as to not wake each other. I was just about to lie back down into the sheets when I heard something I’d been hoping to never hear – the beep of one of the windows being opened.
“Shit,” I hissed, leaping as quietly from the bed as I could and grabbing my gun off the nightstand.
The sound of running in the hall met my ears, and I plastered myself against the wall on the opposite side of my door. I was just about to reach for the doorknob when my door silently flew open.
The night light from the outlet just outside my room illuminated her perfectly, but she didn’t see me. Wrapping my hand around her mouth, I pulled her away from the now-open door and back against my bare chest.
“Mmm!” she squeaked, the heat of her searing my skin.
“Shh, shh, shh, Bella,” I whispered ever-so-quietly in her ear. “It’s just me. Okay?” When she nodded, I turned her to face me, her body shaking under my hands on her shoulders. “In my closet, stay down, don’t move. No matter what you hear. Got me?”
She nodded fervently but gripped my wrist. “Jasper’s room. Shadows.”
Nodding, I pointed to my closet once more, making sure she was in and tucked back into the dark before stepping out into the hall. Looking across the way, I saw wide, scared eyes staring at me. Waving Alice forward, I pointed to my room, and with silent steps, she dove behind me, and I smiled that she had that nine millimeter in her hand. With my own gun raised, I slipped down the hall to Jasper’s room, nodding at the fact that his snore was no longer resounding through the house. He was wide awake...and stepping lightly into the hallway, his eyes on me. I pointed to his room, giving a signal to watch my back.
Carefully and slowly, I poked my head into the room. The lights were off, but I could see that the window was merely cracked, the curtains open just a little. Running to the window, I saw a figure darting across the backyard, and I slammed the window shut to stop the beeping alarm.
“We got a runner!” I snapped. “I’m going after him. Don’t you leave this fucking house!” I pointed my thumb at my bedroom so he’d know the girls were in there.
He gave a quick nod and moved past me. “On it, Ed.”
I rushed out of the room and through the dining room and kitchen. Throwing open the back deck door, I launched barefoot into the yard at a full-on run. The asshole’s shadow was just diving behind the shed in the corner. He was a slow-moving bastard, that was for sure. Pouring all the speed I had into my legs, I ran full force across the yard, plastering my back against the side of the shed. Grinning to myself, I shook my head when I could hear his breathing just around the corner.
I looked back at the house as a car cranked up and tires peeled out, but the asshole waiting for me decided he needed to move. With a grunt, he ran for the trees, which ultimately would’ve led him straight to the main street, but I was faster, stronger, diving for him and tackling him to the ground.
Pinning him beneath me, I held his neck. “You should trade in a few canolis for a salad every now and then, motherfucker,” I taunted him, turning him to his back. “You know, ease up on the pasta.”
“Fuck you!” he grunted, trying for his gun that was just mere inches from his fingertips, but my reach was longer.
I tucked it into the back of my shorts, shaking my head. “You picked the wrong girls to fuck with.”
“They’re as good as dead, asshole. Face it. Save yourself some time and effort,” he grunted while struggling beneath me.
He was short, a little too heavy, and old enough to know better. Old enough that he should have been receiving a pension somewhere, not running around as a do-boy for a mob goon. I ignored the sound of squealing tires, but neither of us were prepared for the light suddenly shining down on us from the headlights on the main road. Shots opened up on us, zinging past my face and shoulder so close that it made the hairs move and the air sing. I ducked just in time for Chubby to snatch up a rock and slam it into the side of my head.
“Fuck!” I grunted, seeing stars momentarily, but it gave the asshole enough leverage to push me off and make for his buddies.
I let them go. They outnumbered and out-gunned me. And they weren’t my first fucking priority. Shaking my head to clear it, I snatched up my gun and double-timed it back to the kitchen door.
“Jesus, Edward!” Bella gasped, rushing to me with Alice on her heels. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I growled, shaking my head and touching my temple where it was really starting to sting. My fingers came away with blood on their tips. “Fucker. Lucky goddamn hit.” I glanced up to see Jasper darting in from the garage. “We gotta go. Now!”
“I know,” he gasped, panting like he’d run a mile. “I just tore that fucking car apart.” He dropped a small square object onto the countertop, taking the hand-grip of his sidearm and smashing it into fucking pieces. “They tracked us.”
Bella dove under the sink of the kitchen, coming up with a First Aid kit, but I waved her off.
“We don’t have time,” I told her.
“Let her at least stop the blood, Ed,” Jasper said, jerking his thumb behind him. “I’ll pack your shit, okay?”
“Sit, Edward,” Bella whispered, gazing up at me but more at my temple.
I tugged out a kitchen chair, and fell wearily down into it. “You should be packing, Bella.”
“We never really unpacked,” she countered softly as she practically stood between my legs, and the warmth of her radiated off her sweet-smelling skin.
The smell of something medicinal met my nose, but I watched her face as she gently dabbed at my wound. When I flinched at the sting, she apologized but never wavered.
“You’ve done this before?” I asked her sarcastically.
“You think the dancer in there hasn’t fallen?” she argued back, smirking a little. “But I’ve cleaned my share of scrapes and cuts, yeah.”
Her face was so beautiful as she concentrated on applying a bandage. Those deep brown eyes held a touch more guilt, and I hated that she felt that way – like everything was her fault. It wasn’t; it was that motherfucker, Volturi.
“Why’d you come to my room?” I asked her as Jasper and Alice hustled up and down the hallway gathering shit together.
Bella shrugged, locking gazes with me. “You were the closest door. You said for me to hide if ever I heard the window. I saw the shadow from Jasper’s room and couldn’t go down to the living room to get him unless I passed by his window. And I didn’t think I had time to get to my gun. Your room seemed...the safest, the closest.”
I tried to nod, but she held my face still.
“I also didn’t know if you were awake,” she continued softly, smoothing out the tape onto my forehead.
“Light sleeper,” I told her, smirking at her small smile.
She stepped back away from me. “There. It wasn’t a bad cut, but head wounds bleed pretty badly, so...” She shrugged, now looking sheepish.
“Thanks.” I stood up, squeezing my eyes closed. “Asshole got in a cheap shot when the guns went off.” I turned her around. “Go get your stuff. We’ve got to go – before the cops show up or the goons call for backup.”
I stepped into the hallway, catching a T-shirt that Jasper tossed my way and tugging it on, careful of my new bandage. He then handed me a pair of sneakers, but my duffel bag was packed and slung over his shoulder.
“We gotta ditch the car,” he stated, shrugging a little as I pulled my shoes on without bothering to tie them. “And you gotta call Al.”
“I know. Once we’re on the road, I’ll call him.” I turned down the hallway. “Ladies! Let’s go!”
Bella and Alice flew out of their room and down the hallway.
“Get in the back seat, don’t open the garage, and get low. Understand?” I ordered, and they both nodded without a word. Once they were gone, I turned to Jasper, shaking my head. “What are you...”
He grinned shamelessly, pulling out his wallet and tossing a hundred dollar bill onto the coffee table before snatching up the yoga DVDs from the shelf underneath the TV.
“Best money I’ve ever spent,” he said with a chuckle. “Come on. We still have to switch cars.”
The girls stayed cramped behind the front seats just about the whole way out of Southampton. As Jasper watched for tails, taking a round-about way, I pulled out the cell phone Uncle Al had given me. It rang several times before his sleepy, raspy voice came on the line.
“We’ve been compromised. Someone put a tracker on us at the motel,” I explained quickly. “We have to move quick, Al.”
“Okay, okay,” he rushed, sounding like he was running through his house. “Hang tight, kid. We’ll get you a new location.”
“I need a car, Al,” Jasper yelled over from the driver’s seat.
“I’ll get that, too. Just keep driving. The girls okay?”
“Yeah, they’re fine,” I sighed, peering into the back seat. Alice was curled around herself on the floorboard, gazing up at me with a begging expression. “Hang in there,” I told her, and she nodded.
“Who the fuck did the DOJ send to you?” he asked, typing furiously on his computer. “Not Peter Odom?”
“No, no...some crazy redhead...Victoria James,” I told him, grimacing at the memory of her flirtatious behavior. “She said that being a woman would put the girls at ease, and it wasn’t like she didn’t know what she was doing.”
“Gotcha, gotcha,” he sighed, still typing. “First things first... Let’s get you a new ride, son. Hang on the line.”
“’Kay,” I sighed, giving the mirror to my side a quick glance.
“We were being followed. I lost ’em,” Jasper advised, but I held up a hand when I could hear my uncle giving someone hell on another phone line.
And you thought it would be a fucking brilliant idea to send someone green, Pete? She didn’t know to watch for tails? Seriously? That’s my family you fucked with!” he yelled, but then his voice got quiet and he came back on the line. “Ed, I got you an untraceable car. Write this address down.” I did as he asked, but he continued. “It’ll be parked on the street, and the keys will be under the driver’s seat. Dark green minivan. It’s clear and tracker-free. Just transfer to it. Make sure you’re not followed. By the time you call me back, I’ll have you someplace to stay. Got me?”
“Sir.” I closed the phone, handing Jasper the address. “Go here.”
Jasper typed the address into the GPS, following it step by step.
I turned around to see the girls. “I think you’re okay to crawl into the seats, but stay as low as you can for me. Okay?” I asked, and they nodded, doing as I’d said, staying slouched down in the seats while putting on their seat belts. I sighed at the sight of their terrified faces. “I know you’re scared, but hang in there. This’ll take a bit to sort out. I can’t take the chance of someone identifying this car, so we need a different one. And then we have to find a new safe house. All right?”
Alice nodded, but Bella surveyed my temple. “How’s your head?”
“Good as new, so don’t sweat it,” I told her, facing the front when Jasper turned down a street filled with brownstones.
The dark green minivan was about halfway up the street. Jasper pulled up next to it, and I was grateful for the early morning hour because he could stay parked next to it as we not only moved all our shit into it, but we could guard the girls as they dove into the back.
“Ed, I’m gonna dump this car. Meet me two blocks over,” he said, pointing to the right.
I nodded, got into the driver’s seat, and cranked it up. Before I’d even pulled away from the curb, Jasper was already turning at the end of the street. I found him two blocks up, just like he’d said, standing on the sidewalk like he’d been walking all damn night. A quick glance down the alleyway, and I could see the Taurus abandoned in the shadows.
I pulled to the curb, smirking at him. “Want a date?”
He snorted, rolling his eyes at the girls once he was in the passenger seat. “He fucking wishes. He so couldn’t handle all of this...” He gestured up and down his body.
If anything, that relaxed the girls a bit. They laughed softy at him and settled down low in the captain’s seats behind us. I was grateful for the dark tinted windows.
Pulling out my phone once more, I dialed Al, who answered immediately. “Tell me you’ve got me something, Al. I gotta get these girls off the street. And preferably out of this fucking city,” I told him, because being back in Manhattan was making me way too edgy.
“ both. Head north. Get to I-95. Here’s your address,” he said and then rattled off an address in Connecticut. “That will take you about an hour out of the city and about two from where you were.”
“What is this place?” I asked him, eyeballing my six, but it seemed that we’d lost all tails.
“A federal safe house.”
“Perfect. Thanks, Uncle Al,” I sighed into the phone at the same time I merged onto the highway.
“No problem, kid. Just glad you’re okay.” He was quiet for a moment. “I want you to drop the phone you’re using once we’re through and pick up a new burner phone tomorrow. Once you do that, call me. I should have some information for you.”
“Sir,” I grunted.
“And Edward?”
“Good job, son. Just keep doing what you’re doing. And for fuck’s sake, be careful.”
I smiled a little. “Sir.” I handed Jasper the phone. “Tear that apart and get rid of it.”
Jasper dropped the broken pieces of that phone onto the interstate for the next thirty miles and along two highways. It was still dark by the time I drove through the streets of Fairfield, Connecticut, the size and grandeur of the houses causing me to shake my head.
Jasper and I stayed quiet because the girls had fallen asleep in their seats. Something about that made me smile. They trusted us enough to let their guard down. Considering all they’d been through the last few weeks, that was a big deal.
The house was a simple pale yellow, two-story home in the middle of a fairly quiet neighborhood. I parked around at the back, allowing Jasper to scope it out as I stayed in the van guarding the girls.
“All clear,” he stated, stepping out the back door and walking to me. “Though we’ll need to fill it up with supplies.”
“I’ll do it in the morning. I’ve got to get another phone anyway,” I told him, sliding the van’s side door open as quietly as possible. “Let’s just...” I ran a hand through my hair and then along the back of my neck, hating the thought of disturbing them because they looked so fucking peaceful. “We’ll get them in and then come back out for our shit, yeah?” I asked, and he nodded in agreement.
“Up the stairs and the second door on the right,” Jasper said, and I nodded. “We’ll surround ’em that way.”
Bella was the closest to me, so I carefully slipped my arms around her shoulders and beneath her legs. She curled into me with the softest of sighs, one small hand gripping a fistful of my T-shirt at my shoulder, and I tried my damnedest to not give a shit, but it was impossible. It was also impossible to ignore the sweet smell of her hair, the heat of her pressed against my chest, and even more, the feel of her face now buried in my neck as I climbed the steps into the house.
I carried her upstairs and into the middle bedroom, which would put Jasper and me on either side of the girls. When I set her down onto the right side of the bed at the same time Jasper settled Alice on the left, Bella gasped awake, still gripping my shirt.
“Hey, hey,” I soothed her, pushing her back down onto the pillow and prying those tenacious fingers off my clothes. “It’s okay.”
“Where are we?” she mumbled, rolling to her side at the same time as she was trying to kick off her sneakers.
Giving her a break, I pulled them off and tossed them to the floor, tugging the covers up over her. “You’re safe, Bella. I promise. Go back to sleep.”
Her softly muttered, “Mkay,” came at the same time as Alice’s to Jasper, and with a smile, the two of us headed for the door.


cah said...

I am on the edge of my seat! I can't wait for more.

Evelyne-raconte said...

ACTION ! We had a lot of action in that chapter. It was very good. The feelings are growing. Thank you for sharing.

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