Monday, July 29, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Pieces of You Chapter 13 & Pics

Chapter 13 – Supremacy
Chicago, IL – February
Edward reached for the doorknob of his bedroom as I straightened my dress one more time. I felt like a live-wire, where his touches, his kisses were still burning my skin, but I took a deep breath and let it out. As much as I wanted him, my nerves were way too on edge for me to let him have his way with me. And he would’ve done just that. In fact, his face was still dark, but it was slowly being replaced by determination.
His hand slipped into mine, guiding me back downstairs. The house was beautiful inside and out. But the people were even more stunning. I’d been prepared for sneers and jibes, but I’d received none of it. It didn’t matter that these people had money, that their cars cost more than my house in Cedar Key, that they were members of the country club around the corner. No, they were just...normal. They laughed and teased and had accepted me with way more civility than I’d assumed.
The one I was expecting to dislike was Tanya. I knew she and Edward had a history, but I’d felt the opposite. I really liked her. She was hilarious and said exactly what she was thinking, which was her total hatred of Jane. She was beautiful, yes, but her relationship with Edward was clearly that of a lighthearted friendship. It was easy to tell that they’d all grown up together.

We hit the landing of the first floor, and Edward led me back through the house, where we ran into Carlisle, who was pouring himself a brandy in the living room.
“Hey, Dad,” Edward called softly. “You got a minute?”
Carlisle looked up, smiled, and swirled the amber colored liquid around in his glass. “Yeah, sure. What can I do for you two?”
I smiled, embarrassed that he was willing to include me, but I merely looked to Edward.
“Actually, I’d like to sit down with you, Emmett...and possibly Garrett, as well,” Edward told him.
His father’s brow wrinkled, but he nodded, his face taking on a somber expression. “Okay,” he agreed with a nod, holding up the glass. “Let me take this to your mother. I’ll get them and meet you in my office.”
“Thanks,” Edward muttered, glancing down at me and squeezing my hand. “Come on, Sunshine,” he urged softly, bringing up my hand to kiss the back of it.
To see Carlisle’s personal office from the door was one thing, but to actually step into it was another. It screamed money and power and knowledge. It smelled of wood varnish and leather, like old books and a slight hint of tobacco. The walls were lined with bookshelves, mostly relating to law, and there were a few oil paintings hanging, but on the desk were several pictures of the people I could now hear laughing – Emmett’s being the loudest, since it was coming from the hallway.
The door filled with three men, the last one being Garrett, who shot me a quick wink and a smile. “There she is. I was wondering if you’d kicked Eddie to the curb.”
Edward snorted and rolled his eyes, but I simply laughed, shaking my head.
“How was your interview?” I asked him.
“Boring,” he stated with a grin. “They never ask the good questions. Just the same old shit – scripts, what other actors are like, next project. Blah, blah, blah. How’d the public fund raiser go?” he asked, but really turned to Edward for that answer.
“Profitable,” Edward answered seriously with a single nod. “And no more Marcus.”
The mention of that name caused Carlisle and Emmett to freeze once they were sitting, staring at the three of us like we were crazy.
“ that’s why I’m in here,” Garrett said with a laugh, waving us on. “Carry on, then.”
Edward nodded and guided me to the leather couch opposite of Carlisle and Emmett. We sat down, but Edward pulled out my storage card from the night before.
He held it up between his thumb and forefinger to his brother and father. “We have a problem,” he stated roughly. “Bella inadvertently caught Marcus with her camera.”
“Doin’ what?” Emmett asked, snatching the card from Edward’s grasp and getting up to grab the laptop that was on Carlisle’s desk.
“More like...who,” Garrett corrected, which sounded like a joke, but his face was serious.
Edward and Garrett quickly explained to Carlisle exactly what had happened the day before at the invitation-only event at the art center. Emmett set the laptop on the coffee table, popping the card into a slot on the side.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Carlisle chanted, holding up his hands. “Slow down. Marcus threatened you?” he asked, narrowing his sharp gaze on me.
Nodding a little, I said, “Yeah, I’m not sure what he would’ve done without Garrett stepping in. And then Felix took my camera, removed the card, and they left.”
“Where the hell were you?” Emmett asked Edward angrily. “And just how the fuck did Marcus get invited?”
“I didn’t know he was there until it was too late. He wasn’t supposed to be on the invitation list, but he slipped through,” Edward explained, almost yelling. “And I didn’t know she’d gone outside!”
“Easy,” Carlisle sighed, shaking his head slowly before starting to pace. “What’s in the picture?”
“Marcus with a young woman,” I answered tentatively.
Emmett snorted, but his eyes were dark as he spun the computer around. On the screen was the photo we were all discussing. I could tell I’d taken it as a filler picture, but it was still clear that Marcus had his hands on the young raven-haired girl in the corner of the room.
“What else did he say to you?” Carlisle asked me, but his eyes were on the computer screen.
I swallowed nervously, frowning. “Um...he basically called me a whore, said that Edward paid for,” I muttered, feeling my cheeks flame with embarrassment.
“Fuckin’ hypocrite,” Emmett snorted, but then looked to me. “Don’t you believe it, Bella. Okay?”
I nodded, feeling my eyes prick with tears when Carlisle suddenly stood up.
“Hey, don’t,” Edward soothed, ignoring his father’s pacing for a moment. He placed a hand on my face and turned my gaze to his. Pressing his forehead to mine, he whispered, “You’re not anything he said you were. You hear me, Sunshine?”
His eyes were dark, but so warm as they made sure I was okay that I believed him. I nodded, but relished his touch when he wiped away my tears.
“You know what? I’m really sick of seeing this asshole win time and fucking time again!” Emmett snapped, pointing to the computer, but looking to Carlisle. “He’s run us all over, practically stole everything from Edward, and he’s only going to keep doing it.”
“He didn’t take everything,” Edward countered, pulling me closer and dropping a kiss to the top of my head. “But he’ll damn well try now. He’s got to know by now that he’s got nothing on that card Felix took.”
Carlisle was quiet, his pacing coming to an end at the fireplace. He leaned an elbow on the mantle, rubbing his jaw much like Edward did when he was stressed. I could see resemblances between father and sons. Emmett looked more like Carlisle as far as wavy hair and eye color, while Edward was almost the spitting image of his mother, but Carlisle and Edward were both built tall and lean.
He finally sighed deeply, facing the rest of us. “I always knew Marcus was ambitious. He always struggled in college, trying to keep up in all aspects of the experience – socially, academically, monetarily. His father, Aro, was a lawyer, and did very well for himself in a small town just outside of Chicago. I thought when Marcus met his wife, May, that he’d get on the right track, and in some ways, he did. He focused more on politics than law school, but when his father died, receiving the inheritance changed him. He became shallow and pompous, even went back to his womanizing ways, though I don’t think May ever knew.” Carlisle was speaking slowly, but his gaze came to rest on Edward.
“When you announced your engagement to Jane, I trusted you to do the right thing. You told me that it was what you wanted, and at the time,” he paused, holding up his hand to stop Edward from arguing, “it was what you wanted. But people change. Obviously. In fact, even Jane changed. I thought my old friend could be reasoned with during the divorce, but I saw that he couldn’t be. He’s too worried about his public image, the voters’ opinion, and what I’d never noticed before, he was too damn mean to see reason. Nothing I said to him got through while we were negotiating. Nothing.”
He stepped away from the fireplace and then sat back down across from us. “I thought – or maybe I depended on it too much – that our long friendship would override whatever our children had done. You see?” he asked, looking to me. “But the minute we stepped into the conference room that last time, I knew our friendship was a matter of convenience.” He locked gazes with Edward. “The day you walked out, I knew he’d used you, me, and Cullen and Denali.”
“Hell, he used Jane, too, but she tends to go along with him on her own,” Garrett growled softly from the chair in the corner.
Carlisle nodded that he’d heard him, but looked to Edward. “I was willing to concede to your wishes during the divorce, to the contracts that you signed prior to getting married, but I can’t... I can’t allow him to touch my son again. I won’t. And I won’t allow him to drag Bella into it, either. He had no right to approach you, much less put his hands on your possessions. He also can’t stop you from doing your job, for what you were hired by Edward and James to do.”
“What are you saying?” Emmett asked, sitting forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
“I’m saying...” Carlisle sat back, glancing over at Garrett. “I’m saying maybe those voters of Marcus’s should know what their golden boy is really like. We can’t go to the Tribune because he has them in his pocket. Who do you know at the Chicago Sun-Times?”
Garrett shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve talked to them.”
“I do,” I said softly, flinching when Carlisle, Emmett, and Garrett all spun their heads to look at me. I swallowed nervously, nodding. “I know someone.”
“Angela,” Edward stated, reaching up to tuck my hair behind my ear.
“Yeah, but I don’t want her to get...I don’t know...wrapped up in anything bad. I just...she protected Edward and me when I left the Tribune, we just found out, and it wouldn’t be fair to...”
Emmett snorted, shaking his head. “You have any idea what this would do for her career? You’d be handing her the keys to her own kingdom, Bella. You’d be giving her the scoop of a lifetime. And there wouldn’t be any retribution toward you, because if she claims it was sent in anonymously, then he can’t say shit about it, especially if we can out it before he can start any sort of preemptive cushion.”
“Yeah, but he’s gonna know it was me,” I argued. “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t want that picture. I didn’t mean to take it in the first place. He could...” I looked to Edward. “No,” I stated, shaking my head. “I can’t let him hurt Edward.”
Edward kissed the side of my head. “Easy, baby. He can’t hurt me anymore.”
“That’s not necessarily true, Eddie,” Garrett countered with a sigh. “If he goes after her, then you’ll lose your fucking mind. That’s what she’s saying.” He stood up, holding up a single finger. “And... If you two come forward with that picture, then they’ll eat you alive over accusations of revenge over the divorce. He is your former father-in-law, after all.”
“So what are you suggesting?” Edward asked, linking our fingers together.
“I’m sayin’...” Garrett grinned. “Let me and James do it.”
“What?” Emmett asked, spinning around to look at him. “How?”
“It was our art center, our function, and our invitation list. Edward’s on the board, yes, but ultimately, James and I make the calls, especially with what pictures we use. See...I despise that he’s an advocate for censorship. I can’t stand it when someone tells me what I can and can’t look at, or listen to, or watch.” His face turned dark, somber. “ know what sets me on fire about that picture? It’s not the cheating by a man that claims that family comes first, or the audacity he had to touch you,” he continued, pointing to me. “It’s where he did it. That was a room full of special kids trying to learn something, showing off the stuff they’ve achieved, and he’s feeling up this chick in the back of the room? Oh, hell no. No, no, no. I’ll call James. You...” He jerked his chin my way at the same time he pulled out his phone. “Bella, you call your friend from the Sun-Times. We’ll give her an interview that will make her a household name.”
Locking gazes with Edward before standing up, I made my way out of Carlisle’s office, down the hall to the foyer where I’d left my purse. Pulling out my phone, I dialed Angela.
“Angela Weber,” she answered.
“Ang, it’s Bella.”
She chuckled lightly. “When I said call me before you leave, I meant before Tuesday.”
I grinned. “No, this, this is business. Do you have time for an interview today?”
“You got me curious, Bells. Interview with whom?”
“Ever met Garrett Fields?” I asked her.
“No, and as hot as he is, I don’t really do the entertainment section,” she chortled. “Sweetie, what’s this about? You You looked happy when I saw you at the art center.”
I thought about it for a moment. “Ang, how do you feel about getting back at Marcus Sterling for losing your job at the Tribune?” The line went so quiet that I pulled my phone back to make sure we were still connected. “You still there?”
“Now you have my attention. What’ve you got for me?”
“No, not on the phone,” I sighed, biting my bottom lip. “I need you to come to Carlisle Cullen’s home.”
“Whoa,” she breathed. “Okay, I’m on my way.”
I stowed my phone back in my purse, only to turn around and see Edward pacing up and down the hallway on his own cell.
“No, bring me everything. How fast can you get it?” he asked, his voice taking on that commanding, in-charge tone. “Excellent. Burn it onto a DVD and get here ASAP. Just tell James I told you to do it. He should be aware by now.” Edward nodded one time to whatever he heard over the line. “Perfect, Laurent. Thanks.”
My brow wrinkled at the name, and then suddenly, I put together what he’d just said. “Security footage?” I asked him as he stepped in front of me.
He nodded, pressed a kiss to my forehead, and hummed, “Mmhm.” He pulled back, brushing my hair from my face. “Dad’s suggestion. We need to be prepared, to be able to hand everything over to Angela if she wants it. Is she coming?”
“Yeah, she’s on her way.”
The fact that we hadn’t rejoined the rest of the family caused them to come seek us out. Carmen and Eleazar had left to attend a ballet they’d had tickets to, but everyone else was let in on what was going on, and everyone now sat in the living room in a rather heated discussion. I thought for sure that they’d change their opinions of me when they found out, but once again, they surprised me. It wasn’t fear or anger that filled the room, but a circling of wagons of sorts. Talk of how to protect Edward and me was the forefront everyone’s suggestions. Even more so, the women rallied around me.
“What I want to know is how Marcus is gotten away with it for so long? All of this...this cheating and throwing threats people’s way,” Esme voiced, looking first to her husband and then around at the rest of us.
“Money,” Edward answered, shrugging a shoulder. “Or positions of power... Or if he had something on them, then blackmail.”
“Does May know?” Rose asked with a disgusted look on her face, glaring at the picture that Emmett had left up on the computer screen.
“Pfft, of course she knows,” Tanya scoffed, rolling her eyes. “That woman is as cold as the Antarctic. There’s a reason he’s going after the young and stupid. He’s definitely not getting his jollies with her.” When I smirked, she turned her gaze to me. “Have you seen her?” she asked, and I shook my head no. “Imagine Jane, but...older and meaner and blonder.”
Kate patted my leg when my eyebrows rose up high. “Think Jane, but going through menopause.”
I snorted, glancing over at Edward when he groaned. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, gripping his hair in frustration.
“Can we please stop talking about my ex-wife?” he begged, which caused a round of laughter through the room.
“You mean, can we please stop talking about your ex-wife in front of your new girlfriend,” Tanya countered sarcastically.
“Yes!” he yelled, grinning when I laughed softly.
The laughter died away when Maggie stepped into the archway of the living room with James and, surprisingly, Sarah. Carlisle quickly turned the computer around in order to hide the picture of the governor when the little girl rushed to her favorite person in the room.
“Mr. Edward. You left early! I...someone...that picture you helped me paint sold for a bunch of money,” she rattled excitedly to Edward, who stayed sitting so he could meet her at eye level. “James said that was the best of”
“Auction,” James provided patiently from behind her.
“Yeah, that!” she chirped with a nod.
Edward grinned at her as if nothing else mattered at the moment. “That’s awesome, pretty girl.”
And just like that, I was swept away with the memories of the first time I’d watched the two of them interact together. I’d been unable to stop myself from taking a shit-load of shots of them. His professional behavior had melted away at the sight of her and allowed his true heart and soul to shine through. I’d never been so attracted to someone in all my life as I had been the day I’d met him.
“Ah, there it is,” Tanya whispered in my ear. “I was wondering what hooked you.”
My cheeks flamed, but I gazed over at her. Her smile was warm, friendly, and totally and unabashedly amused.
“It wasn’t about the sex with him, was it?” she whispered as Esme and Maggie took Sarah into the kitchen for pie and ice cream. When I didn’t say anything, she smirked. “No, it wasn’t. He’s handsome, but handsome married men are a dime a dozen. No, it was about that part of him that he let you see.” I tilted my head at her, but she just went on. “You aren’t the only one in the room that’s been with a married man, but whereas mine was a one-time thing, you went and fell for him.” She pointed a little toward Edward. “That’s the real Edward. Jane stomped that shit down when they got together. It took that sweet little girl to bring it out occasionally, but it took you to free him. We should all thank you. As you know, I hate that bitch. It’s no secret.”
Snorting, I shook my head at her. “Don’t hold back. Tell me how you really feel.”
She grinned. “Fine, I will,” she said a bit louder so that now everyone was listening. “If it were up to me, I’d spread that shit like wildfire,” she stated pointing to the laptop. “If there’s something on the security footage, I’d have Katie send it out and cause it to go viral. I’d flood the media with it. TV, newspaper, internet...hell, Facebook alone would spread it worldwide before we all went to bed tonight.” She shrugged a shoulder toward Edward, James, and Garrett. “I’d make it so that by the time Marcus gets up tomorrow morning, he’s already exposed for the jackass that he is.”
“You may be able to do just that,” we heard from the doorway. Laurent was stepping into the room, holding up a CD case. “Interesting what I found. I took the liberty of splicing it into a separate file for you, Mr. Cullen,” he stated, handing the disc out to Edward.
Emmett took it from his brother, but Edward turned back to Laurent. “Thank you. How’d you know?”
“I didn’t, but your reaction to Sterling’s presence made me curious. I apologize if I’ve overstepped, but once I started putting the DVD together, I caught a few things.” He turned to me. “I saw what happened in the parking lot, Miss Swan. That should’ve never happened.”
“It’s okay,” I told him softly.
“Bella, it’s not okay,” Garrett and Edward practically yelled at the same time.
“I meant it was okay that Laurent couldn’t see all and hear all,” I countered, shaking my head. “The place was full of people. And I only told Sarah I was going outside. So...not his fault.”
Both men looked chastised, but everyone looked to Emmett when he chuckled. He turned the computer so that we could see it. The screen was split into four sections, all clearly different angles. However, it was easy to spot Marcus skulking around the art center. He nodded and smiled, with Felix at his side, until about halfway through the video. Felix was waved away when Marcus approached the young woman in my photograph. Despite his age, he wasn’t altogether an unattractive man, but his demeanor screamed confidence, money, and power. However, knowing what he was capable of just made me grimace at the screen.
Marcus smiled, flirted, and winked. But he allowed the woman to make the first move. At that point, flirty touches began as they slowly made their way around the exhibits at the art center. The angle of the camera missed a few things, but it was obvious when I’d snapped the picture, because I could be seen hurrying toward the hallway, with Marcus following close behind.
The screen switched to the parking lot, where Marcus followed me outside. Garrett groaned when his cigarette smoking was busted in front of his wife.
“You’re in deep trouble, mister,” she threatened with narrowed eyes.
He grinned. “Tease.”
The taunts and laughter started again, but we all shut up when Carlisle said, “Play that again.” By the time we’d watched it three times, he turned to Edward. “Does that look...set up to you?”
“Yeah, a little,” Edward answered him shrugging a shoulder as his eyes stayed on the computer screen. “Almost as if the girl baited him.”
The sound of footsteps made us all look up when Maggie brought Angela into the room. My friend looked nervous at the sight of everyone, Garrett and Carlisle especially. I got up from the sofa to greet her, introducing her to the group in front of me.
“I remember you,” Rose said with a smile. “You covered Edward’s last art show at Sterling.”
Angela smiled and nodded, yet Edward and I locked gazes briefly. When Irina’s grumpy cry sounded from the baby monitor on the coffee table and Sarah joined the room again, Carlisle suggested that a few of us take the conversation back to his office. Angela and I followed all the guys back into the room, taking a seat together on the sofa.
She turned to me. “So who am I interviewing? You said something about Marcus Sterling...?”
James sat forward. “Me...and Garrett,” he stated, pointing to the chair. “I know you and I already talked at the art center, but we’d like to change that up a bit.”
Carlisle had taken a seat at his desk, but spoke up. “Bella explained a little of what happened to you at the Tribune. It’s also no secret that this family is now...umm, at odds with Marcus. However, that being said, he made the unfortunate decision to harass Bella at the art center last night.”
“What?” Angela gasped, spinning to gape at me. “He didn’t! Sweetie, what happened?”
Emmett set the laptop down on the coffee table, and I pointed to the screen. “I accidentally caught him on my camera. He knew it, and he tried to take it from me.”
“What we’d like, Miss Weber,” Garrett started, “is to hand that and the security footage over to you. It’s time Marcus Sterling’s true nature came out to the public.”
“What security footage?” she asked, and Emmett clicked the screen. Her eyes widened as she watched the selected portion that Laurent had put together, though they narrowed when she watched the governor approach me in the parking lot. “Mr. Cullen?”
“Yes?” Carlisle, Edward, and Emmett all answered at the same time, which made Garrett, James, and me crack up.
Angela grinned, pointing to Carlisle. “I meant you.”
“Carlisle,” he stated with a smile, placing a hand on his chest. “Let’s keep it simple.”
“Carlisle, is it true that Cullen and Denali funded Sterling’s campaign last election?” she asked, and he nodded slowly. “But you won’t be doing it this time,” she surmised.
“No, we won’t. Due to...”
“No, I get it,” she interrupted gently, pointing to Edward. “I covered some of the divorce...and Jane’s last art show that failed immeasurably. I was already at the Sun-Times when the coverage got...ugly.” She looked to Edward. “I’m sorry. I tried to be as unbiased as I could be.”
Edward smiled. “No worries. What’s done is done.”
“The reason I’m saying this is... Well, it’s not a secret in this town who Garrett is friends with or who James answers to,” she began, glancing at the computer screen. “If Marcus knows about this picture, he’s going to know Bella gave it to me. He already knows she and I used to work together at the Trib. He’ll come after her. All of you. But...” She held up a finger, smiling a little. “This video footage, on the other hand, could be all you’d need.”
“The problem, Angela, is not what he did, but where he did it,” Garrett stated. “He could mack on a young girl anywhere, but he did it there...where there were a bunch of kids, where we were raising money to help kids that needed it.”
“There’s nothing illegal about what he did, just simply immoral,” she countered. “I’d be glad to do this from the angle in which you’re aiming, but I wonder if there’s not a better way.”
“Ang, what are you thinking?” I asked softly, sitting forward.
She smiled my way. “Ben.”
My eyebrows shot up, but I snorted into a soft laugh. I’d completely forgotten about Ben Cheney. He and his buddy, Eric Yorkie, ran a web site. They’d started it at Northwestern with me. They were conspiracy theorists in a massive way and investigated everything before posting. However, they’d developed a cult, underground following and now had a local cable TV show. I’d met them in college, taken a few pictures for them, and introduce Ben and Angela once I’d started at the Tribune.
“They run The Real Truth on TV and Real Truth dot com. See, they’ve been dying to get their hands on something concerning Marcus,” she explained to the room. “They’ve either run into people that won’t spill or that bodyguard of his or people covering for him. This...” She pointed to the screen. “This he can’t hide.”
“Don’t you want this scoop?” Emmett asked her.
“It’s not that I don’t want it; it’s that I can’t do anything about it. My hands are tied at the Sun-Times. They’d love to take Sterling down, but every time we get anything on him, his lawyers come in and squash it, threatening to sue.” She looked to Carlisle and then finally to Garrett. “If I send it to Ben, it’ll go viral, but it’ll also reach the audience that I think you want. It’s your fans, the art community that hates what he’s done to Sterling Gallery, and the people that voted against him. Once that takes off, the rest of the media will have no choice but to follow suit, because the public will demand answers.”
The room was silent for a moment, the guys all turning to Carlisle, who sat at his desk rubbing his jaw slowly.
“And you can do this without connecting it back to us?” he finally asked.
“Yeah, most definitely,” she stated firmly. “Bella’s picture is nothing compared to watching him in action. Although, I’ll take it with me, because I’ll be the first to offer it up to the Times once Ben has aired it all.”
“Anyone object to doing it this way?” he asked the room. When no one argued, he nodded once. “Okay, do it.”
She reached for her own computer, looking to Emmett. “May I?” she asked, and he smiled, handing her the DVD and the storage card. She thanked him and then turned, only to pause and turn to look back at him. “Are you still working with Jacob Black on the custody case?”
“Yes, actually. We start proceedings next week,” he told her. “Why?”
“You should talk to the ladies at the baby boutique Jane frequents,” she told him cryptically, smirking at him. “They should be able to tell you all kinds of interesting things.”
Emmett grinned, then burst out into a deep, rumbling laugh. “Oh, this is the start of a beautiful friendship, Angie!”
She laughed, shaking her head, and got to work. She edited the video down even more, taking my part of it out, merely showing Marcus’s actions. She copied the picture I’d taken onto her hard drive, password protecting it.
Finally, she looked to me and Edward. “You two are leaving Tuesday, yes?”
Edward nodded. “Yeah, we’ll be packing up my things and leaving before the sun comes up. We have to get back for Bella’s job, and I’ve got a new project I’m working on.”
I smiled over at him, and he kissed my forehead, but the looks of curiosity that we received around the room didn’t go unnoticed. Edward had kept his involvement with Mrs. Cope’s gallery pretty quiet. He let his family think that he was simply taking time to be with me.
“Good. I want you guys gone when this really hits the fan,” she sighed in relief as she typed away on her computer. When she was done, she looked to Garrett and James. “Let’s do that interview anyway, only you’ll be giving it to Ben...not me.” She smiled wickedly and pulled out her phone.
We heard it ring a few times over the line, but she finally said, “I just sent you an e-mail. Go look at it.” She paused for a moment, already typing in a frenzy on her laptop. “No, it’s not fake. And you just received it anonymously, not to mention, the girl needs to be blocked out unless she comes forward. Got it?” she asked him. She laughed softly. “Good. Now...let’s get to work. I’ve got everyone you need right here in front of me.”
“Sunshine?” I heard softly. Gentle touches met my face, arms, and hair. “Bella... Baby, wake up for me.”
I blinked awake, realizing I was still at his parents’ home, almost jerking up straight.
“Easy, sweetheart,” Edward soothed, smiling. “You two fell asleep watching the movie.”
I frowned, glancing down at my lap, where Sarah had her head on a pillow. She was out cold. The interview had gone on longer than anyone expected, which had kept Garrett, James, and Edward pretty busy. Kate, Irina, and Tanya had left not long after they’d started. But Sarah had been bored, so Esme and I had put a movie in for her.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, glancing up at him.
“Don’t be,” he said with a chuckle, but turned his attention to Sarah, who was starting to stir. “Pretty girl, James is ready to go home.”
She sat up, rubbing her eyes and yawning widely. “Mm’kay,” she said, instantly brightening the room with a sleepy smile aimed his way. “When can I see you again, Mr. Edward? Are you coming back?”
His face looked a little heartbroken, but he knelt in front of the two of us. He swallowed nervously, but cupped her face. “Remember when I was really sad?”
She nodded. “Yes, you said you were missing someone.”
My eyes welled up, and I started to leave them to their chat, but his hand reached out to stop me without taking his eyes off Sarah.
“I was. I was missing Bella,” he told her, linking our fingers together. “I’m not missing her anymore, but we’re living kinda far from here. I’ve already talked to James, pretty girl. I’ve told him that you guys can come visit us anytime you want for however long you want. Okay?” he asked her, and she nodded. “It’s pretty and warm there, and you can play on the beach all day if you want.”
She smiled widely, leaning to kiss his cheek. “I can’t wait.” She grasped his face, whispering, but it wasn’t exactly soft. “I’m glad you’re not sad anymore. I like Bella. A lot.”
He chuckled. “Good, ’cause I kinda do, too.”
I laughed at the two of them, but fell even deeper in love with him.
“She told me she loves you,” she whispered secretly to him, but turned to me. “He loves you, too.”
“I know,” I sighed happily, kissing his forehead. “He tells me all the time.”
She giggled, and it was probably the best sound I’d heard since being back in Chicago.
“Go on, pretty girl, before James gets impatient,” Edward told her softly, though his eyes were still a touch sad at his goodbye. “And I promise. We’ll see you soon.”
“Okay,” she chirped, kissing his cheek one more time before standing up and running out of the room.
Dark, heated green eyes landed on me. “Baby, it’s kinda late. Do you wanna stay here? Or go back to the house?”
“We should probably go back. We have to pack you up tomorrow,” I whispered, pressing my forehead to his. “You okay?” I asked, knowing that Sarah was so very important to him. When he nodded and smiled a little, I asked, “What’d I miss?”
He smiled, pulling back and standing up. “It’s done. It’s already gone out over the Internet, and the show will air tomorrow.”
I gasped in shock, standing up in front of him. “What happens now?”
He chuckled softly, shrugging his shoulder. “We wait, we watch as Marcus’s ship sinks, and...” He leaned to my ear. “We pack, Sunshine. I want to go home.”
Giggling at the feel of his stubble on my neck, I sighed, kissing his lips. “Okay, then we’d better get started.”


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