Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 6 & Pics

Chapter 6
BELLA
“Guys, you’re getting close to the coordinates El gave us,” Alice stated over the headsets.
“Ten-four, Alice,” Edward stated wearily.
He was the only one that answered her. We were all a little tired of being in the chopper. It was cramped due to how many of us there were, not to mention supplies, and most of us were just quietly taking in the scenery we could see from our windows.
Technically, what Americans considered to be all of Russia was mostly Siberian territory. The upper portion of Asia that stretched from Alaska all the way to Ukraine was what we’d been taught was the USSR. However, the Soviet Union didn’t exist anymore. According to the maps Alice had uploaded onto our tablets, we would be landing somewhere in the middle of the Central Siberian Plateau. That plopped us down a few hundred miles south from Norilsk, the mine that Carlisle owned, and several hundred miles north of MCC, the uranium and plutonium processing combine that he’d requested to visit, which was also the last place his buddy Boris had been seen. It also dropped us around a thousand miles east of Moscow, the last place Carlisle’s GPS signal had bleeped.

The ground below us had ranged from wild and natural, like Alaska, to scarred and ruined due to mining. Of course, every girl had eyeballed the diamond mine we’d flown over – not only Mickey and me in the chopper, but also the girls back at home through the cameras – almost ravenously. The boys had been highly amused.
There were thick forests, barren plains, and mountains that stretched on for days it seemed. Despite the fact that it was summer, it was still chilly, which was understandable, considering we were a hop, skip, and jump south of the Arctic Circle, according to Alice. It didn’t help that Edward flew at a rather high altitude to not only avoid being seen, but to stay above mountain ranges.
We’d stopped four times for fuel along the way. Once was needed to give Edward a break. He’d been flying for hours, but had needed to rest his eyes. We’d found a small city, landed, and crashed for a few hours at a small motel, only to start back again. We’d changed time zones twice already, and I was having a bitch of a time keeping up. All I knew was that it was almost sunset, I was damned tired of being cramped up, and I was starving. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted more – food or sleep.
Below us, there was nothing for miles: just a river, a couple of small mountains, and land...lots and lots of land. But Alec’s voice over the headsets snapped my attention back inside the chopper.
“Well, he wasn’t fucking kidding,” he muttered to Edward, glancing over at him. “El said they’d be waiting for us.”
Mickey and I glanced at each other, only to shift forward to see out the front. The property was enormous. But what Alec was talking about was the large lighted area down below. They’d lit up a landing pad for us. It sat off to the edge of several buildings – an enormous barn-like structure, a rather large house, and several fenced-in paddocks. There were a few smaller huts along the edge of the property. Everything was lit up and welcoming, but it was the blonde woman waving to us that my eyes fell to as we set down.
It seemed Edward couldn’t shut down the chopper quickly enough before we were all barreling our way out of the side door. But Emmett stopped us.
“I vote we stay armed,” he suggested, checking his nine mil before tucking it away in the waistband of his black jeans. “Just to be on the safe side. El may know these people, but we don’t.”
“I agree,” Edward concurred softly with a nod.
“You think she speaks English?” Kurt asked, eyeing the woman that I could now see was pretty and young. Being the youngest of us, not to mention less experienced, Kurt was rather nervous.
“Guess we’ll find out,” Mickey stated with a grin, smacking his shoulder before hopping down to the ground. “Don’t flirt with her just yet. Okay, Mack Daddy?” she teased him.
Grinning, I shook my head. It was no secret that Kurt had become a ladies’ man. He was young, good-looking, and extremely sweet. It worked not only in his personal life, but in the work he did for me…in spades. He could charm info out of women, melt the panties off girls with a smile, and the guys egged him on to no end. All the married men surrounding Kurt lived vicariously through him. It was hilarious to watch, simply because they’d all been there and done that.
Once the chopper blades had come to a stop, the blonde woman stepped closer. Her smile was warm and appeared kind, but her eyes raked over the lot of us, including the weapons we all carried. She wasn’t stupid, but she wasn’t scared, either. She stepped forward, holding out her hand.
“Ah, right on time. Eleazar said you’d come along about now. You must be Edward,” she said without a hint of an accent, which caused everyone to come to a standstill.
My husband nodded, smiling as he shook her hand. “I am, and this is Mickey, Alec, Jasper, Emmett, Kurt, and my wife, Bella,” he introduced, gesturing to each of us.
“It’s nice to meet all of you. I’m Irina Rowan.”
“You, too. American?” Edward asked, his brow wrinkling a little.
She laughed. “Technically, no. I was born here, but grew up in New York. I came back about ten years ago. I’ll explain more when we get inside. I imagine you guys are tired. Come on. I’ll get you something to eat and a place to rest. El wanted me to tell you he’s about eight hours behind you. He also said to remind you not to leave before he arrives.”
“Fair enough,” Edward sighed wearily, reaching back for my hand as we followed Irina to the house. “I’m too tired to argue,” he mumbled against my temple.
Irina led us up the front porch steps and into the house. The inside was warm compared to the sharp breeze outside, and there was a fire burning in the fireplace. The kitchen was to the left just inside the door, and it looked like she’d prepared to feed an army.
“Help yourselves. There’s plenty,” she offered, smiling as we thanked her.
Fresh baked bread and a homemade stew assaulted our senses almost to the point of madness. The bunch of us filled bowls and sat down around her at the large table.
I honestly couldn’t help myself, so the questions poured out of me undeterred. “How do you know Eleazar? Do you live alone out here? And what is this place?”
She smiled, chuckling softly. “El was a friend of my father’s. They worked together on several things. My father retired, moved back here, and built this place. Just before he died, he made Eleazar promise to watch over me. Once in the CIA, always in the CIA. Even though my father didn’t work in the field, he still was kept inside some of the movements. He declared this place a safe house and an information hub, a stopping point from the Middle East to Moscow, essentially. The agency doesn’t know about this place, but my father’s and Eleazar’s friends do. And no, I’m not alone. My brother, Peter, his family, and our grandmother all live here.” She smiled, looking down at the floor. “Oh, and Mr. Rogers, too.”
We all chuckled when a large orange tabby cat leapt into her lap. His purr was happy, loud, and raspy, but his sharp green eyes took in everyone at the table.
“Mr. Rogers…like the TV show?” Emmett asked with a grin.
“Yeah,” she said, snickering a little. “It was a favorite of mine as a kid.” She set the cat down and then glanced around the table. “Anyway, you’re safe here. When you’ve eaten, I’ll show you where you can get some rest.”
We ate quietly after that. I could tell Irina was curious as to why there were a bunch of us in her home, but she never asked. Knowing Eleazar the way that I did, it was most likely habit to simply accept what was. Due to his vocation, he was extremely secretive, but he was also very smart and meticulously careful. I could tell that Irina was the same way.
She told us not to clean up, but we did anyway. It was habit with our crew, no matter where we were. Once everything was put away, she led us back outside toward the large barn. And it turned out that it wasn’t a barn at all, but some sort of military cache.
“Whoa,” Mickey breathed, taking in what was the size of a small hangar.
Irina smiled. “The plane is my brother’s, but everything else belongs to El. It’s probably why he brought you here.” She swept an arm to her left, gesturing to the vehicles parked along the side.
The plane was small, maybe a two- or four-seater at max. The Jeeps, trucks, and a few motorcycles lined the wall, but it was the far back area that she was leading us to. A handful of doors stood open to what seemed like very small bedrooms. If I had to guess, I would’ve said they were about the size of the sleeping rooms on a train…or prison cells, but there were enough for each of us to have a bed.
“Make yourselves comfortable. I imagine Eleazar will wake you when he arrives,” Irina said, pointing toward a bathroom at the end of the building. “If you need anything, just let me know. I’ll be up for a few hours.”
Edward eyed the entire building, each bunk, and finally moved toward Irina. “Thank you, Irina,” he stated sincerely.
“No need to thank me,” she replied, smiling at him as they shook hands. “Something tells me this is just the start of your journey. However, you’re welcome to stay as long as you need.”
She left the hangar, and Edward spun to face us. “Safe house rules apply here,” he stated, his face a mask of weariness, but still controlled. “I need us to take shifts, keeping watch.”
“I got first shift,” Jasper murmured, eyeing the place with a grin. “I wanna check this shit out.” Before leaving us in the back of the building, he said, “I’ll make a walk around outside, too.”
Edward nodded, turning to me. “Any signal here?”
As the rest of the crew settled into their rooms, I set my backpack down, took out a tablet, and nodded. “She’s got satellite, I’m willing to bet.”
“Good,” he huffed, leading me to the end room. “Send Alice a message that we’re okay, that we’ll check in when El gets here. We’ll need someone in the computer room when we go over everything with him.”
I sat down on the edge of a cot, doing as he asked, only to look up when he closed the door. With a grin, I said, “Guess there’ll be no cuddling,” as I pointed to the other small bed across from me.
“Fuck that shit.” He chuckled, crawling in behind me and pulling me to him. “I’m exhausted, and you aren’t going anywhere, sweetness.”
Giggling, I melted against him. “Is that a Glock in your pocket, Edward, or are you just happy to see me?”
“Both.”
I laughed, leaning into his kiss to my neck, but pulled away from him. “As much as I love you armed and dangerous, gimme a break, okay?”
His smile was wicked and amused, but I could tell he was simply worn out from having flown almost a full day and a half. He stood up, and we undressed partially. Edward stripped off his shirt, kicked out of his boots, but left on his pants. I did the opposite, leaving my shirt on, but both of us used the other cot to store our weapons and discarded clothes.
I snatched up a thick blanket from the foot of the bed, yanking it up over us as Edward wrapped himself around me again. I fell asleep to his heavy heartbeat and the comfort of his arms holding me close.
~oOo~
EDWARD
Slipping carefully out from behind Bella, I stood up off the cot. My muscles protested the stretching, my bones a little achy from having slept in such a tight space, but I’d been too tired. I’d needed Bella’s calm, the sweet ease that came with sleeping wrapped around my wife. She was still out cold, curled up in a tight little ball. I adjusted the tiny heater in the corner and then pulled on my boots, my T-shirt, and a black hoodie.
My boots echoed throughout the hangar, and a glance over to my right showed that Emmett was on guard, but he was sitting a table off to the side. He shot me a wave before I trekked into the bathroom. When I joined him, he offered me a cup of coffee.
“Thanks,” I sighed, sipping it slowly. “Irina?”
“Actually, no, another woman. The brother’s wife? Maybe?” he guessed, shrugging a large shoulder. “She didn’t speak English, but she was cool enough to leave us all that.” He pointed to a tray full of food.
“Seen El yet?” I asked, rubbing my face roughly.
“Not yet. I think he’s here, though, because there’s a new SUV parked in front of the house,” he stated. “I just got up, actually. Kurt had last shift.”
Nodding, I stepped away from him toward the hangar door. The air was cool, almost chilly, the sun barely up. A plateau was silhouetted against a pale sky off in the distance. To my left, the smaller house showed that someone was up, most likely the brother’s family. But Emmett was right; there was a new vehicle parked in front of the main house.
My eyes landed on my chopper, and I was just about to walk out to grab a few things for when we talked to Eleazar, but Emmett’s voice stopped me cold.
“Ed!” he whisper-yelled across the hangar. “Get over here.”
As I walked back to him, the look on his face screamed worry, and I could hear why he’d called me back.
Bella.
“Shit,” I sighed, setting my coffee down with a thud. “Nightmare.”
“Can she do this?” he asked before I walked away.
I nodded. “Yeah. She’ll be fine. She’s better with us than if I’d left her behind.” Pointing toward the hangar door, I said, “Go grab the info equipment. I wanna be ready to go over everything when El gets out here.”
“On it,” he agreed, and I turned back before he could leave through the large hanger door.
Walking quietly into the tiny-ass room, I shut the door behind me, immediately kneeling down beside the cot. Sweat beaded on my girl’s brow, her hands fisted the blanket, holding on for dear life, and her feet kicked almost violently at the end of the bed.
“Sweetness,” I whispered, brushing her hair from her dream-tortured face. “Look at me, love. Open your eyes.”
She struggled for a few more seconds, but watery brown eyes finally opened to gaze unseeingly up at me.
“Hey,” I whispered, dropping a kiss to her forehead. “Okay?”
She nodded, but stayed quiet, sliding as far to the other side as the little bed would allow. When she held her arms out for me, I didn’t resist. I shrugged out of my hoodie and slipped in beside her, pulling her as close as I could. She snuggled her face into my neck, which made me jump.
“Damn, your nose is as cold as the dogs’.”
Her giggle was short-lived and soft.
“Want me to turn up the heat, baby?” I asked her in a whisper, pulling at her until I could see her face.
She shook her head no, pressing her forehead to mine. “No, you’re warm enough.”
I waited patiently for her to tell me the dream, but she didn’t. She seemed to be simply soaking my presence in, so I let her. Sometimes, she’d get it off her chest, and then there were times when talking about it only reminded her of why she had them in the first place. I was used to it, and I followed her lead. Always. It was how we’d worked from the very fucking second I’d picked her up off the table in Miller’s dungeon.
Her eyes closed briefly, and a long, sexy bare leg wrapped around my thigh, bringing me closer to her. I couldn’t help but reach out and touch a flat hand to it, my thumb dragging along the scar of her thigh. But it was the arms snaking around my neck and the soft brush of lips against mine that made me moan out loud.
“Bella…” I tried to warn her, but she did it again, only this time, I could feel the heat from between her legs searing the outside of my black cargos.
“Please, Edward.”
My resolve flew out the fucking window. It was simply gone, never to be seen again. She needed to forget, and I needed her just as badly. As much as I wanted to focus on where we were, the task at hand, there was just something centering about being with Bella.
Threading my fingers into her hair, I brought her lips to mine almost harshly. My tongue claimed her, my body rolling and bringing her with me. With a grip to her thighs, I spread them so that she straddled me. I sucked her bottom lip, only to pop off, my eyes meeting dark and needy.
“Oh fuck, sweetness. You have to be so, so fucking quiet. Everything echoes out there,” I warned her in a desperate whisper.
Her breathing was heavy as her eyes closed, and she nodded fervently. “’Kay. Just don’t stop,” she commanded, reaching almost frantically between us to undo my belt, button, and zipper.
I lifted us both slightly to shove my pants and underwear down just enough that I could feel her. The second her hand wrapped around my dick, my head fell back and another moan erupted out of me.
“Shh,” she hissed against my lips, smiling a little.
My hands were everywhere on her – under her shirt, slipping beneath her sexy black underwear, tugging the cups of her bra down in order to really feel her. There was some sense of urgency, and it seemed neither of us wanted to be completely undressed, but I wanted to make sure she was ready for me. Gliding a finger under the edge of her panties, I grinned with satisfaction that she was so very wet.
“Here, love?” I barely breathed, raising an eyebrow at her. “You want me here, baby?”
She nodded, pushing herself up and bracing her hands on my stomach as I toyed with her for just a moment. Yanking her underwear to the side and gathering up a little of her slickness, I rolled my fingers around her clit, making her hips surge forward and her eyes to roll back, but my girl was gripping the front of my shirt like a lifeline.
“Bella, up a little,” I ordered softly, popping her butt cheek lightly. “You ready?” I asked her, dragging my tongue along my bottom lip and guiding myself to her entrance.
There really wasn’t anything that felt as good or fucking looked as good as my Bella sinking down over me. The heat – the slick, wet heat – was so damn good. We just…fit. We’d always fit so perfectly. My mouth fell open as she enveloped me, my hands gripping at her hips to hold her still for just a second.
We weren’t going to keep quiet in this position. With a grin, I sat up, keeping her astride my lap.
“I’m gonna kiss the shit out of you if you get too loud, sweetness,” I explained with a brush of my lips across her cheek to her ear, “but fuck me, baby. C’mon. It’s just you and me. Nothing else matters right this second. Got me?”
Her head bobbed in a nod, but her hands flattened on either side of my face. Using her knees, she started to move, still holding my face to hers.
I kissed her when she got too loud, but my hands wouldn’t stop touching. I rolled a peaked nipple with one hand while guiding her hips with the other, occasionally squeezing her ass to urge her on. But my eyes stayed locked on to her face. She was so fucking beautiful, especially when she was lost to us like she was right then.
“Unngh,” she moaned, and I drank it in with a kiss. “Edward,” she whispered, her brow furrowing a little.
“I know,” I breathed back, my thumb finding that sweet, swollen part of her where we were connected that sent her over the edge every fucking time. “Let it go.”
The orgasm hit her like a freight train. It vibrated over every inch of her, including the shaky grip she had on my shoulders. A smile curled up one corner of my mouth, because damn it all, I loved being the one to make her come that fucking hard. Her breathing stopped for a moment, but her body quaked around me, bringing me right along with her.
Bella’s elbows rested on my shoulders, and her arms wrapped around my head as I buried my face in her neck. Our heartbeats were frantic, but at least we’d kept the shit quiet.
“I love you,” she whispered in my ear.
“Love you, too,” I panted, pressing my lips to her neck before pulling back to look at her face.
She looked contrite, like she’d be in trouble. “I’m sorry.”
“Why? I’m not.”
Bella smiled, a breathy laugh huffing from her. “We should be focused on your dad, not…”
Grinning at her needless guilt, I shrugged a shoulder. “You needed me, and I’m okay with that, sweetness. Maybe I needed this too, love.”
“I just…I don’t want to be a distraction, Edward,” she stated with a sigh, wrinkling her nose, her gaze falling somewhere over my shoulders. “My dreams are just… Shit, I’m just worried, ya know?” she asked, raking her fingers deliciously through my hair as I nodded. “So just…ignore them.”
“I-I c-can’t, B-Bella.” I shrugged again, tilting my head. “I-It’s a-a p-part o-of m-me t-to t-take c-care o-of y-you. That won’t change, so you can fucking forget about it.”
She giggled softly, smiling down at me. “Well, try, sweetheart. They’re just because I’m scared for him.”
We both jumped when the loud sound of metal doors echoed throughout the hangar.
A laugh barked out of me. “We keep acting like we’re busted, sexy girl. You’d think what we were doing was wrong.”
Her soft, secret little giggle was the best thing I’d heard in the last twenty-four hours. But she kissed me roughly, finally getting up off my lap.
“El must be here,” she surmised, snatching up her clothes. “I’ll clean up a little, and we’ll catch him up, okay?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I righted my clothes and pulled my hoodie back on, waiting for her to get dressed before reaching for the door.
I could see that everyone was starting to come around. Alec and Emmett were at the table with El, who shot me a wave, and Mickey stepped out of her room with a yawn, her curly hair gathered up in a ponytail.
“Besides, I wanna know what he knows,” she stated, locking gazes with me.
“Bathroom, love.” I pointed to the left. “We’ll start when you’re ready.”
As Bella walked away, I made my way toward the table, where everyone was gathered. Eleazar smiled, stood up, and shook my hand.
“Hey, kid, how’re you holding up?” he asked me.
“Okay. I’ll feel better if we could just fucking get somewhere,” I stated truthfully. I turned to Kurt, handing him Bella’s tablet. “Sync up a video chat with Alaska. Someone should be up.”
Kurt nodded, set the tablet on a keyboard, and started typing away. I poured myself another cup of coffee, knowing Bella would share mine. I fell down in a chair next to Mickey, who looked like she’d rather have her cup of coffee hooked up as an IV.
Eleazar sat down across from me, his expression serious. “I need to thank you…for Esme, Edward. She told me what you did. How you helped her get away.”
I frowned, my gaze falling to the cup in front of me, but I glanced up when Bella slipped into the empty chair to my right.
Swallowing thickly, I said, “I had no choice. They’d have used her against him, I think. And my dad…he threw himself in front of her in order for her to be able to run. You’ve talked to her?”
El nodded. “Yeah, on my way here.” He gave everyone at the table a long, slow glance. “What I’d like to hear is what you guys know. Then I’ll tell you what I’ve found out so far.”
Gesturing to the tablet, I said, “We need Alice in on this, so go ahead, Kurt.”
Kurt touched the screen, bringing up the video chat. I had to smile, because all the kids were crammed into the shot – Bethy, Sammy, Caleb, Abby, and Kaitlyn.
“Aunt Alice’s Bar and Grill,” they all sang.
“You kill ’em, we grill ’em,” Sammy tacked on with a silly grin.
The whole table cracked the fuck up.
Bella leaned into my shoulder with a chuckle, saying, “Hey guys! Are you my info team now?”
“Nah, Mommy,” Bethy answered first with a giggle. “We’re just answerin’ the calls.”
“Yeah,” Sammy added slowly. “Aunt Alice said you’d wanna see us.”
“We do, buddy.” I smiled at the sight of their happy faces. “You guys are being good for Aunt Kate?”
“Yes,” they all answered in unison.
“Oh! But Mommy, Daddy, guess what?” Bethy gushed excitedly.
“What, pretty girl?” Bella asked, her eyes drinking in the sight of our kids on the screen.
“Look who’s here!” she said, tugging the rest of the kids out of the way.
“Esme,” Bella and Mickey sighed in relief.
She looked weary and heartbroken, but much more in control than when I’d talked to her last, which was just before she’d gotten on the plane in Moscow.
“Hey, guys…El,” she greeted, smiling at us all.
“Es, we’re about to go over everything, compare notes, if you will. Can you sit in with Alice?” Eleazar asked her. “If there’s something you know, something you’ve seen, you need to speak up.”
“Okay,” she agreed, turning her head to the side. “Kids, come say bye.”
Several hyper, happy faces crammed around Esme, chatter booming out at us nonstop. I chuckled again, shaking my head, but damn, if they weren’t the cure for everything.
Bethy shoved her way forward. “Bye, Mommy and Daddy. Be safe! Love you.”
“Bye, little sweetness,” I told her as Bella blew kisses.
Once Caleb and Abby had talked to Emmett and Alec, not to mention a few adorable babbles from Kaitlyn to Mickey, Sammy was left front and center on the screen.
His deep brown eyes seemed to flicker from me to his mother. “I miss you. When you comin’ home?” he asked, his tone accusatory and serious.
“Handsome, I miss you, too, but look at me,” Bella told him, and when he seemed to have his eyes concentrated on her, she went on. “We will do our absolute best to hurry. I promise, Sammy. Okay?”
“’Kay,” he sighed. “I don’t like it.”
“Me, either, pal. Trust me,” I concurred, shaking my head, especially when we both clawed at our hair at the same time, causing snorts around the table. “You gotta hang in there for me, Sammy. Be brave. You’re a strong boy, ” I told him, and I flinched at the sound of my own dad’s words coming back to bite me in the ass. For a split second, I wondered just how many times he’d said that to me as a kid.
Glancing over at Bella, I could see that she was curious as to why I’d reacted that way, but I turned back to the computer before Sammy got down from the table.
“Sam, wait!” I called, swallowing nervously and shaking my head. “Forget what I said, okay? You don’t have to be brave. I know it’s tough. And…and…I know you don’t like it, but if you’re feeling sad, go to Gamma, okay? Don’t…” I sighed, shaking my head, because I wasn’t going to force my son to bottle shit up like I’d had to as a kid. “Just tell her, and I’d be willing to bet she’d make it better.”
He smiled and nodded. “She promised cookies!” he whispered, as if Esme wasn’t standing right behind him wearing a silly smirk.
Grinning, I nodded. “Good. Eat a few for Mommy and me, yeah?”
“Yeah,” he said slowly, looking up when Alice walked by him. “Love you. Be safe.”
As he slipped down off the chair, Bella’s hand slid into mine under the table, giving it a squeeze. I leaned over and kissed her temple, knowing for a fucking fact that she’d be asking about that later.
Alice loomed into the screen, picking up her laptop and moving it. “Okay, let’s get started.”
We brought Eleazar up to speed on everything we’d found out up until we’d left. Alice sent several files his way, including the background checks she’d done on everyone that my dad had been dealing with so far. We told him about Nicholas Gruber, the only man we’d been able to identify in my dad’s kidnapping, about how Sergei Maslov’s background was squeaky clean, but he’d been the one that had kept changing plans on my father, and finally about Boris Zukov, my dad’s old mercenary friend that still had not popped up anywhere, even though Alice was watching.
“Before we get to Eleazar,” Alice stated once we were all on the same page, “I want you to know that I’ve hooked Carlisle’s laptop up to Igor and I’m running a system scan now. I’ve also done the same with his phone. I hope to know something before bed tonight. It takes a bit, simply because it’ll tell me every single keystroke on the damn things.”
We all nodded, Bella thanking Alice aloud.
Eleazar sat forward, resting his elbows on the table. “Okay, so Felix arrived in Moscow late last night. He’s going to check out the hotel, and then he’s gonna make contact with the police. Once he’s done that, he’s going to call me with what he knows. Now…Norilsk.” He smiled ruefully, glancing up at me. “Back in the eighties, the Cold War was in full swing. America was the good guys, Russia the bad guys…well, depending on who you were. Everyone was making nuclear bombs, everyone was spying on everyone else, and around every corner, there was someone selling information, weapons, secrets, what have you.”
He stood up and started pacing. “Norilsk is responsible for providing several countries the metal to make coins. It’s big business, but it’s nasty business – environmentally and contractually. When the Moscow bank took over Norilsk, it was after the management had completely fallen apart. There were employees there who had been involved in underhanded shit. They’re now either imprisoned, or dead.”
Those words fell heavily into the room, but he kept going.
“Twi Tech – Charlie Swan, actually – bought out the bank, and along with it, Norilsk. It continued to run as it always had, but no one paid it much attention, really. The mines run deep there. Really deep. And it wasn’t uncommon for shady deals to be made out the back door, so to speak.” Eleazar looked to me. “Several of those deals were stopped by the CIA, though you’d never hear about them or read about them in the paper.”
“What sort of shady deals?” Bella asked.
“Some of it was simply information,” he answered, sitting back down. “Not everyone was gung-ho about the ending of the Cold War. Some didn’t trust anyone – not the U.S., not their own government, no one. They felt the surrendering of nuclear weapons was scary, that it left everyone open to attack. So some squirreled them away or sold them behind closed doors.”
He turned to me. “Your father and his crew took care of one such individual – Alexander Gunter. That asshole killed hundreds of people, uprooted families from their homes, and almost caused a fucking global disaster with Chernobyl.”
Bella gasped, looking up at me. “Holy shit…the story you told me.”
I nodded, looking around the table. “I remember that job. I was fourteen when Garrett told me about that mission. My dad flew over here to take care of this guy ten years after the meltdown. Apparently, he’d planned to do it again somewhere else, but never got the chance.”
“Exactly,” El agreed with a nod. “We couldn’t do it,” he said, pointing to himself, “but your dad could. It was much appreciated.” He smirked, but took a deep breath. “Gunter used Norilsk as a cover for his work – nuclear physics. He’d sell plans or designs to other countries – countries without weapons.”
“Sweet Christ, you mean Chernobyl wasn’t a practice accident?” Jasper asked, his mouth hanging open when Eleazar and I shook our heads no. “Oh damn…”
“Anyway, we thought Norilsk had been emptied of those types of people, that it’s simply hard-working miners, scientists, and employees. Your dad would’ve known its history, and I’d be willing to bet he kept an eye on it. Selling it would’ve been easy, due to the profit margin and the fact that nickel is a precious metal, but to whom?” he posed, holding up a finger.
That caused us all to shrug. None of us knew.
“Exactly. To sell it to the wrong people could mean trouble. And knowing Carlisle like I do, he’d be very fucking selective as to who gets it.” Eleazar looked to the screen where Alice and now Rose were listening raptly. “Ladies, when you finish that scan of Carlisle’s computer, you’ll want to look for everything having to do with Norilsk. Everything.”
“Yes, sir,” they answered him.
El flipped through the intel Alice had sent him. “This Nicholas Gruber looks familiar, but I’m not sure where. MI-6, maybe? He’s British, yeah?”
“Yes, but he’s been incarcerated.”
“Right. Incarcerated in a prison that sits in the same damn town as a huge uranium processing combine…MCC,” Eleazar countered. “We may need to check in at the prison at some point, not to mention MCC,” he mumbled to himself.
“What about Boris Zukov?” Bella asked. “Carlisle’s friend. He’d been working at MCC, but now is nowhere to be found.”
El smiled again, though it wasn’t in humor. “There’s a huge fucking underground market for uranium-235, which is weapons-grade. Just because Carlisle is on the up and up, it doesn’t mean all his friends are.”
“True,” Emmett stated, nodding a little. “So what now? I mean, we’re a day away from Moscow, and we’ve lost Carlisle’s signal. If we wait too much longer, the trail will either run cold, or it’s possible that we’ll find him in a ditch somewhere.”
Emmett’s temper was barely under control, much like my own. And what we had in common was the inability to sit patiently while shit went to hell. We were better on the move, in action…doing something.
“El,” Esme piped up on the video chat, and when we all turned our attention to her, she continued. “Carlisle trusts Boris Zukov. Adamantly. His theory was that Boris disappeared for safety reasons after they spoke on the phone. Boris must’ve asked him three times if he was really in Moscow.”
Eleazar’s brow wrinkled, but he nodded. “Fair enough. Let’s hope his trust isn’t misplaced.”
“My vote is Moscow next,” Alec spoke up, looking to me. “I say fly into that airfield that his signal last stopped, ask some questions, jog some memories. We may have to grease some palms…” His voice trailed off, but he raised an eyebrow at me.
“I have to agree with Alec on that one. It’s where I’d start,” Bella piped up.
Mickey nodded. “As much as I hate to say it… We have to treat this like any other missing person. Sorry, pretty boy.”
“No, no…you guys are right,” I sighed, raking a hand through my hair. “If we don’t think that way, this becomes personal.”
“Personal means possible mistakes,” Jasper added with a nod. “My only reservation is to wait on Felix. I wanna know what he finds out before we take off.”
Nodding in agreement, I turned to Eleazar. “Are you in on this?”
“Oh, yeah,” he snorted, standing up. He waved a hand around him. “And anything I have is at your disposal.”
Jasper grinned like it was fucking Christmas, smacking Emmett’s shoulder as they got up from the table to rummage around El’s stores. There were weapons lined along the far back wall where the Jeeps and motorcycles were parked.
“Besides, if I don’t help my sister, she’ll kick my ass,” he teased, giving the camera on the computer a wink.
Esme smiled, but shook her head. “No, but I can’t thank you all enough. I want you all to be careful, watch each other’s backs. Okay?”
“Hooah,” Jasper and Emmett replied from across the hangar.
Kurt was reaching for the tablet just as a shrill ring echoed loudly from Eleazar’s pocket. He pulled it out, holding up a finger.
“Boys!” he yelled, and Jasper and Emmett double-timed it back to the table. “Ladies, listen in. This is Felix,” he told the girls on the video chat. Swiping a finger across the screen, he said, “Talk to me.”
“Oh, boy,” Felix sighed over the speakerphone. “I’ve got info. Who’s listening?”
“Everybody, so go,” Eleazar ordered.
“I went to the hotel under the guise of picking up Carlisle’s things as a member of the family,” he started. “The hotel management practically left hickeys on my ass to apologize for what happened. It seemed they reviewed the security footage. Anyway, nothing’s left. Someone ransacked the room, tore up all the shit that was left, and hauled ass.”
“That’s not surprising,” El stated. “Keep going.”
“Next, they put me in touch with the Moscow police,” he went on. “It seems they lost the van, but it was so nondescript that no one was shocked. However, Carlisle and Esme received a visitor not five minutes after all that shit went down.”
“Who?” I snarled, my fists balling up on the table.
“Sergei Maslov,” he answered. “The police took him in for questioning. In fact, he’s still there. Apparently, Carlisle’s disappearance has now gone public. Twi Tech – specifically Jacob Black – has reported him missing.”
“Yeah, we knew that much,” Alice stated. “We called to tell him. Eleazar said to make it known.”
“Yeah, well…now someone somewhere is starting to sweat. And they’ve sent a puppet to deliver a message.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I asked, locking gazes with Eleazar.
“I’m talking about Sergei Maslov. He absolutely refuses to speak to anyone, with the exception of one person,” Felix stated.
“Who?” Bella, Mickey, and Eleazar all asked at the same time.
He cleared his throat. “He’s being held inside the police station, but he says he has a message…for Edward Cullen.”
The room froze, but I looked to Eleazar. “You said they’d make demands.”
“Mm, I did,” he concurred.
“What do ya wanna do, kid?” Alec asked, looking like he was about to jump up from the table.
Turning to Bella, I saw unwavering support, but it wasn’t just her. It was everyone at the table and on the computer.
I inhaled sharply and stood up. “Fine,” I practically growled, nodding once. “The motherfucker wants to see me, then I’ll get in his fucking face. Everyone, on me. Fuel up, gear up, and load up. Let’s go!”




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