Monday, May 5, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 16 & Pics

Chapter 16
January 2002
EDWARD
As Bella played, I paced the stage, smirking at just how far she’d come in her piece. When she’d first arrived, it had felt about halfway finished, but now, it was almost complete. In fact, with a little bit more work, it would be done.
I leaned against the piano, watching my girl own that instrument. My eyes raked over the beautiful face of concentration, only to fall to the sheet music in front of me. It was good. Really good. When she stopped, I glanced up, shifting aside so she could change notes on the pages, but not enough that I couldn’t inhale the pure scent of her hair, her skin, or feel the warmth of her.
We’d been back at school for a couple of weeks. Her workload had picked right back up the very second classes had started back. It had taken us a little while to find some sort of routine, not only to be able to accommodate her studies, but to find time for us, as well. To those around us, I was still her piano tutor. In the east wing, we were just us – laughing, talking, kissing. It worked, but never seemed enough, though I blamed my instinctual makeup for always wanting more. The only regret that Bella seemed to have was the inability to tell Alice, though the tiny seer seemed content that Bella was happy.

Bella leaned a shoulder against my chest, studying the notes in front of her and flipping pages back and forth. Her brow was furrowed, and the pencil was slowly being gnawed to death.
“What if I…switch this and this?” she asked, bringing me sharply back to the task at hand.
I glanced down at what she was pointing out. “You could. Are you talking all of this section?”
“Yeah,” she sighed, her nose wrinkling adorably. “But…I don’t know.”
Smiling at her, I left her side, sitting down at the piano. “This is just a suggestion, love, but what if you brought it around full circle? You start out like this,” I told her, playing the beginning, which was a much lighter, happier sound. “You have those two other sections, but now you’ve created this sound.” I played the most recent additions. “Bring that key back to this part, and you’ve almost got a sound that ends it.”
Her dark eyes darted between my hands, the piano keys, and then finally the sheet music in front of her. “God, that’s perfect,” she muttered, quickly changing the music on the paper. “Do it again, Edward…”
Grinning, I played it again. I loved her like this. It was all about the music. We worked seamlessly at it. There were no worries in that auditorium. She didn’t think about homework, tests, her mother, her past…none of it. We rarely used the chalkboard for communication anymore, and we did our best to keep our personal feelings in check, though we’d sneak in terms of endearment and the occasional touch. It was all about her music. It was the side of her that I’d fallen in love with first.
She darted around the piano, shooing me over with a giggle. “Let me,” she urged, playing the newest part with a sound that I knew was about me. It was love and happiness and healing, all in music notes. I never wanted to kiss her more than when she’d played that part for me the first time. But as she ended it, her dark eyes were lit up and sparkling with joy. “That’s it!”
Laughing, I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Amazing job, sweetheart. You need to fix that little transition from the fourth section, but it’s otherwise done.”
She nodded, grinning up at me. “I want to kiss you.”
“Me, too.” I chuckled, glancing up at the clock. “I could steal you away for an hour or so before dinner.”
“Yes,” she whispered. “Where?”
I stood up from the bench, glancing around. “What do you say about…outside the castle?”
Nodding vehemently, she stood up and gathered her things. After putting her jacket on, she picked up her backpack, heading toward the stage steps.
“No, Bella.” I stopped her, taking the bag from her. “This way.”
“Ah, yes. Your super-secret bat cave…”
Narrowing my eyes playfully at her, I growled. “That’s another vampire jab, right?”
Her laugh was silly and sweet, but she shook her head. “Actually, it’s a rich boy/living in a castle thing, Bruce Wayne.”
“Mmhm,” I hummed, giving her a side-glare. “And yet, you haven’t seen my batmobile.”
She giggled, but followed me to the costume closet. I shoved back some clothes, glancing back at her.
“It’s dark in here, Bella, but you can hold my hand if you want. It would save us time if I could just carry you,” I told her.
Her eyes widened, but she nodded. “How?”
I knelt down. “Get on,” I told her, pointing to my back. Once her arms and legs were wrapped around me, I stepped into the dark passageway and stopped. “Love, I’ll teach you these hallways, but can you promise me that until you learn them, you won’t try taking them without me?”
“Yeah, sure. Why?”
“They’re dark, and some of the old ones aren’t safe. You could fall, get hurt, and no one would know. Okay?”
She pressed a soft kiss to my cheek. “Okay. Now…show me how fast you are.”
Chuckling, I took off at a run, though not so fast as to scare her. I turned toward the passageway that led out onto the far grounds of the castle, slowing down when we neared the exit. We came out into the woods not far from Leah’s cottage, but instead of turning right, I turned us toward the woods, stopping just inside the tree-line. Bella slid down to the forest floor, looking around.
“Where are we?”
“Still on my property, but the most northern point. Look,” I instructed, placing my hands on her shoulders to guide her. “Over there? That’s where Leah and Jacob live. See the chimney smoke?”
“Yeah. That’s so cute!” she said, grinning up at me.
I turned her again. “That way…that’s the castle. You can just barely make it out across the pond and through the trees.”
“Wow, we came that far?”
“You,” I grunted, tapping her nose. “You said you wanted fast.”
She laughed softly, but took my hand when I offered it. The leftover snow and dead leaves crunched under our feet as I led her a few yards into the woods. The tree trunks seemed black in comparison to the leftover ice on the ground, but there were a few pines that stood out with their sharp green. I led her to a small clearing on a hill, which overlooked just about the entire property.
“Wow,” she breathed, her eyes scanning from the castle all the way over to Leah’s cottage. “That’s so beautiful.”
“Mmhm,” I hummed, but I most certainly wasn’t looking at the grounds I’d had memorized for a hundred years. The stunning girl at my side was much more fascinating.
Bella glanced my way, shaking her head, but she leaned back against the trunk of the tree behind her, pressing back into it when I stepped toward her. She reached out for my hand, linking our fingers together.
Now you can kiss me,” I whispered, touching my forehead to hers.
I had to keep my body in check only because the simplest things drove me crazy when it came to Bella. She was beautiful, but it was her passionate response to me that made me lose track of where we were, what we were supposed to be doing, or who could possibly be listening. But I also kept myself in check out of respect for her. I knew it tested her patience, but it didn’t seem right to take things any further with her at the moment. Despite how far she’d come, she only felt free to speak with me. She was still tentative with Alice, Rose, and my family and still completely silent in class, not to mention that her frustration with her mother and stepfather was a rollercoaster of emotion. And I needed to have a serious talk with her about the latter.
However, when her lips met mine, all thoughts blew away with the cool breeze that was cutting through the trees around us. All I could focus on was the taste of her, the heat radiating off every inch of her, and the pull to my hair that I’d really started to like.
Releasing her hand, I braced myself against the tree trunk above her head, unable to stop the growl that rushed out of me at the feel, the taste of her tongue caressing mine. When her heartbeat shot out of control, I smirked against her lips, slowing us down and finally pulling back. My eyes fell closed as I nuzzled her nose with my own. I never felt more complete than when we were alone like that.
“Love you,” she whispered, brushing her lips across mine.
“Always,” I agreed, smiling when I opened my eyes to see the beautiful chocolate brown.
“Good.”
Grinning, I pulled back from her, trying not to puff up with pride at not only her ruby, kiss-bruised lips, but her disheveled look. Her face changed quickly, though. It went from blissful to serious in a heartbeat.
“Thank you, Edward,” she sighed, hugging me.
“For what, love?”
She pulled back, grimacing a little. “I never thought I’d finish that song. And you’ve been…amazing.”
I pressed my lips to her forehead, linking her fingers with mine. “You did all the work, Bella. You should be proud of that. I just guided you,” I told her, leading her to a dry spot on the ground. I sat down, pulling her between my legs.
She turned sideways, leaning back against my bent leg, which made me smile. I loved how comfortable she was with me.
“I wish my dad could hear it,” she whispered, gazing out over the scenery.
“I’m sure he does, sweetheart.”
“You believe that?”
My nose wrinkled, and I shrugged a shoulder. “I’d like to think so,” I sighed, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear in order to see her face clearly. “I’d like to think that my own father sees what I’ve accomplished, if only to prove him wrong. I’d hope my mother would be proud of what I’ve done, despite what I am.”
Bella shook her head. “What you are…” she murmured, narrowing her eyes at me. “You’re a good person, Edward. Patient and kind and protective of those you care about. What does your…diet have to do with any of that?”
“You sound like Giselle and Leah.” I chuckled a little, feeling a touch embarrassed.
Bella grinned. “Glad to know I’m not the only one who sees it.”
I shook my head, kissing her temple. “As far as your dad goes, Bella, I hope he sees that someone’s looking out for his daughter. He seems like he was an amazing person.”
Bella smiled sadly, nodding in agreement, but her eyes searched my face. “You’ve been holding out on me. Wanna come clean?”
Sniffing once to gather my thoughts, I nodded. “I didn’t want to burden you, love. You came back to school very happy, and I know you and your mother came to some sort of compromise…” My voice trailed off, but she nodded, waiting for me to finish. “I also didn’t want to ruin New Year’s Eve with any of it.”
She smiled at that, kissing my cheek. “So…how about now?”
Her trust in me was unwavering. For a small moment, I wondered if that was because she was my mate, or simply because I’d earned it. I’m not sure I cared either way.
Looking her straight in the eyes, I said, “Bella, I think you have a problem.” I grimaced a little, but went on. “I don’t know if your stepfather was involved with what happened to you and Charlie, but I know his…intentions with you are not those of a caring parent.”
Bella’s nose wrinkled, but she took my hand. “What did you hear? I mean, I know he stares at me, but—”
“No,” I interrupted her. “He doesn’t see you… He’s not attracted to you, Bella. Not sexually. If that were the case, he would no longer be breathing.” I raised a deadly eyebrow at her.
“Okay,” she whispered, her eyes meeting mine. “So…what did you hear?”
Smiling ruefully, I shook my head. “Bella, do you know why you have a trust fund? Do you know the details of it all?”
She took a deep breath and let it out. “I know I don’t take possession of it until I turn eighteen. I know it’s a ridiculous amount of money, but my dad explained that he got his when he turned eighteen, the rest when Grandma Swan died. I know that he made sure that my mom was able to provide for me.”
“Did you know that all funds to your mother stop when you reach eighteen?” I countered, waiting until she shook her head no. “Did you also know that should you be deemed incapacitated, your mother gets it all, which in turn gives Phil access to it?”
Her eyes narrowed, but before she could speak, I went on.
“I honestly think your mother isn’t involved. She’s keeping secrets from Phil. She didn’t tell him you knew about the affair, but she’s also not exactly telling him why she’s insistent on you remaining here at school. Bella, she knows you’ve improved. She saw it over the holidays.”
Bella got up from my lap and started pacing. She rounded on me, her eyes a dark, fiery glare. “But Phil?” she said almost too loudly, but then she dropped in volume. “He’s a different story, isn’t he?”
“Yes. C’mere, love.” I held my arms open, but dropped my leg down. She sat down on my lap, looking as if she were about to cry. “I need you to understand something before I tell you. Okay?” I whispered against the side of her head. “Nothing…and I mean no one will touch you or what’s yours. Am I clear?” I asked her.
She nodded fervently, turning her head my way. “Tell me,” she demanded, but her plea was so very soft.
“Your stepfather is banking on your lack of speech, Bella. He’d been hoping that you’d never really get better. Chelsea was telling you the truth about your mother. She’d backed off your therapy and treatments just to give you a chance to breathe, to do it on your own. She had faith in your strength, love. Your stepfather, however, had encouraged this for his own selfish reasons. He’d pushed your mother to stop your therapy so that you’d remain silent, so that the nightmares would continue. There are reasons he puts his foot down occasionally.”
“Why?”
“Well, you said he didn’t allow you to skip a grade. Skipping a grade would’ve allowed you to graduate early, go to college even earlier, and in reality, you could’ve severed yourself from them…emancipated minor. He didn’t want you to come here, because if you were ready for boarding school, then that meant you were getting better. But now…” I pointed to myself. “Now, you’re not only flourishing at school, but you’ve made friends and you have a boyfriend, whom he really, really doesn’t like, by the way.”
I grinned when she snorted, saying, “Too damn bad,” under her breath.
“Yes, Bella... Too damn bad,” I said with a chuckling kiss to her cheek. “He’s starting to panic. He’s running out of time. You’ll be eighteen this year, and it’s obvious that you’re getting better.”
Bella frowned, gripping my shirt. “Well, what do I do? Edward, I’m not…ready to just start talking to everyone. He can have the damn money…”
“Shh…” I soothed her, kissing her lips. “Relax, love. I told you…you’re safe. I swear it on my life. I won’t let anything or anyone hurt you. I’m also not going to let anyone take from you. Not a chance. Okay?”
She swallowed nervously and nodded when I cupped her face gently.
“Are you going home for spring break?”
“No,” she replied, shaking her head. “I’m not going home until the school year is over.”
“Good, then we have time to prepare, plan, and fight.” I sneered, gazing out over my surroundings. “Unfortunately, Bella, they are well within their rights as your guardians to put you somewhere, have you deemed mentally unstable, simply because of all you’ve been through. They’d use your past against you. They could try, but it probably wouldn’t stick. You’d have to be truly incapacitated – as in unable to speak for yourself or if you were a threat to yourself – for any doctor to approve it. Although, I have a suggestion.”
“What? Anything! Tell me.”
“I think you should talk to Carlisle,” I told her. “You need a doctor on your side, Bella. And he’ll protect you like I will, but seeing him will give you a doctor/patient confidentiality that can’t be touched by anyone, not even a parent. I’ll even go with you, if you need me to.”
“Okay,” she agreed, frowning a little. “Edward…was he… Did he have something to do with my dad? You said my mom was innocent, but if my dad was a judge on a court case that Phil testified in, then he could’ve been a target all along…my mom, too.”
I shook my head, simply because Bella wasn’t stupid by any means. And if she came to that conclusion on her own, then that meant she was prepared for the rest of what I needed to tell her.
“Believe me, I’ve thought about that. And the night before our date, I went to see someone,” I told her. “There were two names in that private investigation envelope that I hadn’t seen before, so I went to talk to one of them, read their mind. Felix Sumner isn’t exactly an upstanding citizen, so I wasn’t particularly gentle when talking to him.”
Bella smirked, shaking her head. “Oh, Edward, what did you do?”
“I asked about Phil…and Alec Brown.” I paused, waiting for her reaction to that last name, and she stiffened in my arms. “They’re still friends, but they’d worked together during that whole steroid case. It’s Brown who provided the drugs to the players. Your dad sent away a bunch of Alec’s men. Some are still serving time. They tried to bribe him, blackmail him, even threaten him, but nothing worked. Your dad held fast.” I kissed her temple when she smiled in pride of Charlie. “I want to talk to this Alec Brown, but I need to ask you something, and if you’re not ready to answer, I’ll understand completely.”
“Go on.”
“Sweetheart, I need you to think, try really hard to remember the men who broke into your home. Do you remember anything that stood out? Um…scars, clothes, tattoos...anything, love. Maybe a bit of their hair was showing, so color or whether it was straight or curly? Smells…cologne, soap, anything different?”
She closed her eyes, but her grip on my shirt didn’t let up. I could imagine that the feel of me in her hands was keeping her grounded, keeping the panic down, so I rubbed them gently, watching her face.
“They…wore black,” she whispered, her voice quivering a little. “The knife...” She touched her throat, but I pulled her hand away to place a long kiss to her scar. “The knife was big, almost like the one my dad used fishing.”
My brow furrowed, but I didn’t remove my lips from her skin. “Go on, sweetheart.”
“Motor oil,” she barely said aloud, her eyes still closed. “I smelled oil, like a car repair shop or gas station. And the one who…the one who hurt my dad… He was tall, almost skinny.”
“Tall like Jacob?” I verified.
“Maybe,” she responded, opening her eyes. “But I don’t think I saw hair color…and everything happened so fast. I think they were wearing gloves.”
“It’s okay. You did a fantastic job, Bella,” I praised her, smiling when she looked up at me. “You gave me more than I expected. Again, love, I don’t want you to worry about any of this. You’re safe here.”
“Was Alec…”
“I don’t know. And I won’t know anything until I can see his mind.”
She nodded. “When are you going?”
“You’ll know when I do, Bella. I promise not to leave the castle without letting you know. Okay?” I vowed to her, placing a hand over my heart.
She nodded, kissing me briefly. “Okay.”
“Good,” I sighed, smiling her way. “I should probably get you back. Alice will be ready for dinner, I suppose.”
Bella smiled, standing up from my lap and holding out her hand for me. Once I was standing, she climbed up on my back, wrapping herself around me like a limpet. I grinned when she kissed my cheek.
“Am I ever gonna see my journal again, Edward?”
Laughing, I nodded. “Tonight, my love. You’ll have it back by morning. My apologies, but it’s just too much fun talking to you.”
She kissed my cheek again, but I felt her smile against my skin as I walked at a human pace toward the passage entrance. “Don’t apologize for that. And thank you.”
“For what, my Bella?”
“For telling me what you know, for not treating me like I’m an invalid, for loving me, for making me feel safe… Should I go on?”
Laughing, I couldn’t help but tease her. “Yes, by all means…”
Her giggle was my reward, but it stopped much too quickly for my taste. Just before I stepped into the dark passageway, I looked back at her.
“Seriously, Edward. I’m really scared, but you…you make everything okay, even when I’m faced with these unknowns. How is that possible?”
“You do the same for me, Bella,” I told her softly, shrugging one shoulder. “Giselle would say it was because we’re halves of the same whole. I’m still learning us, too, sweetheart.”
Bella’s smile was soft and sweet, but she didn’t say anything. She just hugged me closer as I took off down the underground tunnel.
~oOo~
I stepped through the doors of my living quarters, a small smile on my face. Despite the tough subject Bella and I had just discussed, she’d handled it way better than I’d expected, which meant she truly was getting better. To have her talk so openly about the night of her attack, the night her father had been killed, was a huge step forward.
However, she said that she wasn’t ready to speak out loud to just anyone, and I completely understood that, but it made me nervous. I didn’t want to push her, but something had to give when it came to her stepfather.
I sat down at my desk, opening the middle drawer and pulling out Bella’s journal. It was no longer the purple one, which had burned away in my fireplace, but the new blue one I’d left on her nightstand the day she’d left for Christmas break. Her reply to my first entry was the most recent thing in there. I’d had it in my possession since the night she’d unlocked her bedroom window in Boston. Holding her all night had been the most amazing and humbling moment of my entire existence. She’d clung to me fiercely, her nightmares quieting, and she’d slept soundly almost the entire night. Not once did my hard, cool skin bother her, and to see her completely at peace was something I’d never forget. I wished more than anything that I could give her that type of comfort every night.
Opening the notebook, I smiled at the rose petal she’d saved as I reread her last entry.
Edward,
It feels strange not calling you MG on these pages. You’re right, though. I’d like nothing more but honesty here, but I don’t want to technically start over. You said it was a mistake being two people, but I don’t think that’s true. I was shocked and probably a little embarrassed that you…YOU…had read my journal, and not some ghostly entity. I apologize for my reaction, but the more I thought about it, the better it was that you knew. Maybe it was easier that way. I don’t know. What I do know is that I got to know both sides of you, and I don’t regret that.
And now I know everything. I know that’s why you’ve given me time to think, to truly assess what it all means. The first thing Alice said when she read the first note from MG was that he hated what he was – was embarrassed by it. I don’t like that you feel that way. You say you don’t like it when I call myself a freak, so we’re even, Edward. I don’t like that you call yourself a demon. I certainly don’t see you that way. I see the patient person who’s wiped away more tears than I can count, who has stuck by me longer than my family, it seems, and who has ignored what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could do.
I don’t need time to think. I told you that in your hotel room. I felt…off being home and away from you. Even though we’d go just as long inside the castle, I at least knew you were there in some way, but I found myself feeling empty at my house in Boston. Is that…normal? Is it part of what it all means to be with you? Sometimes, it felt hard to even breathe, until I ran to you.
I can’t thank you enough for trying to help find the men that broke into my house. I’m not even sure I want you to find them, but your attempt alone means more than I can tell you. I remember hearing the police in my hospital room telling my mother that they’d reached nothing but dead ends – no fingerprints, no witnesses, and no leads. Everyone was so anxious to hear what I’d seen, but I hadn’t seen anything…just ski masks, knives, and blood. Telling them that wouldn’t have helped, simply because it seemed like they’d given up before they’d even started. But not you.
So…no, I don’t care about what you are, the lies that I have to tell, or the act we have to put on. After all you’ve done for me, none of that matters to me. What matters is that I love you…
Bella
I wasn’t sure that the smile left my face the entire time I wrote back. I hadn’t been lying to her. Hearing her speak was much more important to me than just about anything, but there was a part of me – a part of the man I’d been before I’d changed – that simply loved this way of communicating with her. It was old-fashioned and outdated in terms of the way couples dated. It was a bit like courting her, and I was relishing every word on the page. I could allow my feelings out through my pen, and she could be as honest as she needed and still remain comfortably silent if that’s what she wished.
Once I was finished, I closed the notebook, but looked up when someone stepped into my room. My body tensed when Jacob’s distant howl tore through the night up to my window.
“What is it?” I asked Carlisle.
“Jacob’s caught a scent, someone he doesn’t recognize,” he replied quickly as I stashed the notebook away. I’d drop it off later.
I stood up, leading him through my quarters to the east wing and into the hidden tunnels. “Where’d he catch it?” I asked.
“At the old gate,” he replied, and we both took off at a run.
Frowning, I ran quickly, coming up out of the tunnel at full speed. Passing Leah’s cottage and entering the cluster of trees, I found not only Jacob, hunting, sniffing, and pacing, but Jasper, too. He looked serious, almost deadly.
“It’s no one we know? Not even the Alaska coven?” I asked them.
Jasper shook his head, his thoughts grim. I don’t know this person. They’re immortal. The scent tells me that, but no one I’ve met before.
I looked to Jacob. His hackles were standing up straight, his dark eyes were almost black, and his nose was pressed to the ground, the iron gate covered in dead ivy, and the surrounding area as he paced on the opposite side of the gate.
“Jake?”
He huffed and snorted, lifting his giant head to glare at me. This is a new scent...maybe two. Definitely vampire. The trail takes off into the mountains. You want me to follow it?
“Yes, but take Jasper with you and don’t go too far. If it leads away, then maybe you scared them off. We’ll keep watch here,” I told him.
Jasper nodded once, leaping over the brick wall and landing silently on the other side next to Jacob. They took off in the blink of an eye.
Carlisle and I stepped closer to the gate, the scent assaulting my senses. I didn’t recognize it, but there was something rather familiar to it. Looking to Carlisle, I froze.
“You know them?” I asked.
He seemed unsure, though his mind was an open book. The scent reminded him of something, but slightly different than he’d remembered.
“Who?” I asked, stepping closer.
He turned to me, his mouth turned down in a frown. “If I had to guess, I’d say it was James.”
“James?!” I hissed, shaking my head. “But wouldn’t he smell the same as when you’d gone to look for him?”
“Not necessarily. Your scent changes once the remnants of your own blood are finally gone. Unless this is more than one scent…Your scent changed, so I would assume his did, too, but why wouldn’t he have stayed? You think Jacob scared him?” he rambled, glancing around.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t imagine James coming back to Hunter’s Lake. He hated it here, but…” My voice trailed off. “But until we find him, I want everyone on constant alert. I’m fairly certain his diet isn’t like ours, and until I know for sure, until I know what he wanted, I want constant patrols.”
Carlisle was nodding. “I agree. I’ll have Esme take the castle. You and I can cover the property until the boys get back.” He pointed one way, and I nodded, taking off the other.
~oOo~
BELLA
My dreams were changing. No longer was I forced to take the same steps the night I watched my dad die. Inside my dreams, I was different – I felt different. I also…wasn’t alone.
Cries of pain and fear met my ears, but it wasn’t my own, and it sure as hell wasn’t my dad. I spun around in my parents’ bedroom. A smile curled up the corners of my lips as I took in the sight of a mask-wearing attacker. He was the shorter of the two. His partner didn’t seem to be faring well in some other part of the house.
The knife in his hand glinted in the moonlight, but a shadow appeared behind him at the same time both rushed my way. One form heading my way posed a threat, but the other was the epitome of comfort and safety.
I sat up in my bed, my breathing ragged. A cool hand landed gently on my forehead.
I gasped, but reached out for Edward. I didn’t know why he was in my dorm room, but I didn’t care. I was immediately engulfed in strong arms and the smell that made everything okay.
“Shh, Bella. You’re okay. You’re safe,” he chanted over and over in my ear.
Nodding, I nuzzled closer into the crook of his neck. He smelled like he usually did – sandalwood, home, just pure Edward – but added into that was the sharp smell of pine, winter air, and a touch of smoke.
“Why are you here?” I mumbled against his cool skin.
He chuckled a little, but pulled me back so that he could see my face. He tossed a quick glance over his shoulder, where Alice’s bed stood empty. The early morning light was beaming in through my window, bouncing off his amazing skin and casting tiny rainbows across my bed.
He smiled a small smile. “I just…needed to set eyes on you, love. That’s all,” he murmured.
Something was wrong. His eyes were dark, his hands gripped at me like I’d float away, and his breathing seemed harsh. But when his lips met mine, I forgot that I’d just woken up, that I was in baggy pajama pants and an over-sized T-shirt of my dad’s. Nothing seemed to matter when he kissed me like that, like he needed it more than air. Everything faded away.
I fell back to my pillow, bringing him with me, or maybe he pushed me. I wasn’t sure. But the weight of him, the rumble that vibrated out of his chest, made me moan aloud. My fingers slipped into his hair to hold him close when his sweet tongue claimed my mouth.
He shifted, pressing me down into the mattress, and I gasped when not only did his kisses continue down my throat and along my scar, but I could feel everything about Edward. He was hard muscles and soft lips and wet tongue, but the feel of his want for me made me wrap my legs around his hips.
That seemed to bring him to a stop. “Bella…” he groaned, his forehead falling to my shoulder.
“Don’t move,” I begged him, and I felt his smile against my neck. “I like you right here.”
His chuckle was soft and sweet. “I’m not complaining, sweetheart,” he sighed, but pushed up in order to gaze down at me. He seemed to study every inch of my face.
“You okay?” I whispered, tracing a finger along the wrinkle between his eyebrows.
The frown on his handsome face deepened, and he shook his head, letting out a harsh sigh. “No,” he said, sitting up, and I followed him.
Cupping one side of his face, I forced his gaze to mine. “Tell me.”
“I need… Bella, I need you to stay out of Hunter’s Lake for a while. Unless I can go with you, which won’t be today,” he said with a grimace, pointing toward my window at the sunshine beaming into my room.
My first thought was to argue. I needed a few things from town, but his fear-filled gaze erased that idea completely.
“Will you tell me why?”
“Jacob caught a scent last night…one of my kind, Bella. We think we know who it is, but we lost the trail. I can’t take a chance on anything happening to you, so could you please stay inside the castle, unless you’re with me?”
“What about everyone else?” I asked him.
“They’ll be given strict instructions of sticking together in pairs or groups, but you… Love, please,” he pleaded.
“Okay, okay,” I breathed, kissing his lips to calm him down. Something about this vampire had my Edward on complete edge, and I didn’t like it. “I’ll stay here. Promise. I’ll just have someone pick up what I need—”
“I’ll make sure you have everything you need, but until I know why they were here, it would make me feel better if you were near me. Okay?” he asked, relaxing when I nodded. He bent to kiss me. “And if you could please keep Alice here with you, Jasper would really appreciate it,” he added with a wickedly sexy crooked smile.
Giggling, I nodded. “Of course. I’ll do my best.”
“I know you will, love. Thank you.” He let out a relieved sigh and cupped my face. “I can’t stay in here, no matter how badly I want to. My window of opportunity is limited. Alice was downstairs in the dining hall.”
Smiling, I nodded, but my eyes widened when he reached behind him and pulled my journal from the waistband of his jeans. I giggled, biting my bottom lip when he placed it in my hands.
“All yours, sweet girl.” He winked with a grin, leaning in and kissing my forehead.
He stood up from my bed and started for my closet, and I sat up quickly.
“Seriously? You have a secret door in here?” I asked, almost affronted.
His laugh was evil and completely amused. “In my defense, Bella, this used to be my mother’s sitting room. There was always a passageway to this room.”
Grinning, I shook my head. “Good to know, Edward. One day, you’ll teach me how to use them.”
“I swear on my life, love. Whenever you want,” he said with a hand on his chest and a sweet smile. With a quick, “Love you,” he disappeared into the back of Alice’s and my closet almost at the same time my door opened to let in my bright-eyed roommate.
“So,” she huffed, plopping down onto my bed. “We’re staying here?”
I snorted, looking her way. “Alice, do you trust me?” When she nodded, I smiled. “Good. Then please trust me when I say that Hunter’s Lake is out for a few weekends, okay?”
Alice’s eyes locked onto nothingness off to the side, something I’d learned happened when she was “seeing” something. Her face formed a disappointed expression, but she finally nodded.
“Okay. I can’t see why, but okay.”
I nodded, stashing my journal in my nightstand for the moment. I was disappointed that I couldn’t read Edward’s reply right away, but I’d grab it after my shower. One more glance at Alice, and I saw that she did trust me. By now, I was pretty sure that anything to do with vampires was blurry to her, almost like a blind spot. If that were truly the case, then I wasn’t sure what she could “see” about Jasper. The one thing I knew about Alice was that she was pretty private about personal stuff. I knew she had a tense home life back in Mississippi due to her talent – only her grandmother appreciated her second sight – but she rarely showed it. If she saw a future with Jasper, she hadn’t said anything to me. And I wished I could tell her why we were staying, tell her how things were changing for me, but I couldn’t.
She eyed me for a moment, her brow wrinkling. “It’s not your secret to tell, Bella. I understand.”
My mouth fell open a bit, but I nodded, walking to her and tapping her temple.
“You’re happy, Bella…and then, blurry, which means maybe you’ll see Edward sometime today,” she teased in a sing-song manner because she still didn’t know what was happening with Edward and me.
Smiling, I nodded. “Maybe we’ll both luck out.”
She giggled, pushing me toward the bathroom. “Not if you don’t get dressed. Go! I’ll wait.”
Laughing, I closed the bathroom door and leaned against it, still feeling the kisses on my lips and neck. I hoped she was right. I’d love to see Edward one more time today.




1 comments:

aelita48 said...

Thank you for this new chapter.

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