Sunday, May 11, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 18 & Pics

Chapter 18
January 2002
EDWARD
Ignoring the sounds and smells of every student and staff member on the other side of the hidden passage walls, I made my way toward the auditorium as quickly as possible. I’d been back in Hunter’s Lake since really early this morning, but I’d had to avoid seeing my Bella. I knew the second I set eyes on her, I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I needed to touch her, kiss her, drown in the essence of her, but I couldn’t. I knew she had classes and tests.
I’d hunted instead of stalking the halls, taking down a few lynx and a couple of deer. I’d need to sate my thirst, if only to calm my temper concerning Demetri Brown. I needed to get control of myself before I saw Bella, or my instinct to claim her would overtake me. I’d been able to feel it building inside of me the whole drive back to Masen Manor from Boston.
Carlisle had joined me in the Adirondack Mountains for a few hours for the hunt. I’d given him the knife Tanya had absconded from Brown. We’d discussed all I’d discovered, and he’d told me that there had been no sign of James – or any other immortal – around the castle grounds while I was away.

I burst through the costume closet, smiling at the fact that Bella had beaten me to the auditorium. She spun almost too quickly at my appearance, but she was practically shaking out of her own skin. Her breathing was shallow, her hands fidgeted and twisted in front of her, and her eyes looked so damned tired. But my God, she was a sight for sore eyes.
“Edward.” Her brow furrowed with her soft plea, and she shifted from one foot to the other as I walked closer.
“Oh, love…” I groaned, shaking my head. “Don’t fight it.”
That seemed to snap her out of it, and she began running across the stage. She was in my arms and wrapped around me before I could take my next breath. She was heat and soft skin and strong legs and the epitome of love all wound around me.
I pressed her gently back into the side of the piano, brushing her hair back. “Never, ever fight what you’re feeling. Understand?” I whispered, my eyes scanning over her beautiful face.
She nodded, frowning a little. “It’s overwhelming to miss you this much.”
“I know. For me, as well,” I replied as I leaned closer.
My mouth claimed hers with long, slow sweeps of my tongue. My fingers slipped into her hair to hold her to me, but my other slapped down onto the piano behind her, if only to stop myself from gripping, touching, feeling her everywhere. She was temptation and sin and all things deadly as the only thing separating us were my pants and whatever she was wearing underneath her uniform. The heat was searing, but the slow, grinding roll of her hips was delicious torture.
However, when the pure scent of her hit the air so intense that I could taste it on my tongue, I let loose a low growl, breaking from her lips and trailing kisses down her throat and across her neck, giving her scar just a little bit more attention than the perfectly smooth skin around it.
“Jesus, Bella…you…your scent…the heat,” I groaned, my forehead falling to her shoulder.
“Sorry…” she gasped, and I could feel her cheeks heat even more with embarrassment.
Lifting my head, I cupped her chin. “Look at me,” I whispered, brushing my lips across hers. When worried, anxious eyes met mine, I kissed her lips again. “I said don’t fight it…I meant every part of you.” When she nodded reluctantly, I kissed her again, only to press my forehead to hers. “Don’t be sorry… I’m not hating it, love. That has to be obvious.”
I grinned when she smiled a wicked, crooked smile. She held onto my shoulder with one hand while she reached out and lovingly raked through my hair and down my face with the other.
“I don’t know how Carlisle deals with Esme leaving for student recruits,” I sighed, drowning in touches to my face and the feel of long, bare legs wrapped around my waist.
“Lots of phone calls,” Bella whispered against my jaw, smiling when I chuckled. “She told me at breakfast this morning.”
Chuckling, I pulled back to look at her again. “I love you.”
“Always,” she replied back, leaning into my hand that cupped her face, but I dragged my thumb beneath her eyes. There were dark circles there where they hadn’t been before I left.
“Sweetheart, didn’t you sleep?”
She nodded, but sighed deeply. “Nightmares. They were pretty bad while you were gone.”
I frowned, kissing her briefly. “I’m sorry,” I stated honestly, wondering if somehow my presence truly kept them at bay, simply by being in the castle.
“You’re back. That’s what matters,” she sighed contentedly, laying her head on my shoulder and burrowing into my neck, but her lips opened to my skin, causing a moan to erupt from me.
The loud sound of someone’s thoughts hit me full force, and I was brought back to reality of where we really were. Anyone could walk in to find us in the position we were in, and it would not be a good thing.
“Bella,” I whispered, pulling her away from the piano. Walking toward the bench, I groaned. “We need…to stop. Not only could someone walk in, but I don’t know if you should test the gentleman in me much longer.”
She giggled, but squeaked in surprise when I set her down on the cold leather of the piano bench. She didn’t let go of me, so I knelt down in front of her.
Cupping her face, I sighed contentedly. “I missed this pretty face.” She blushed again, causing me to chuckle. “What happened around here?”
She snorted, rolling her eyes. “Nothing. It was boring.” When I grinned, she asked, “How’d it go with you?”
Grimacing a little, I breathed deeply and let it out slowly. “Are you sure you want to talk about that now?” I asked, pointing toward the piano.
“Yeah. My song is pretty much done, Edward, and the recital isn’t for a couple of months. Can’t you just tell me?” she begged, though her expression looked tentative.
Glancing around, I thought it over and then nodded. “Fine, but not here, love.” Standing up, I shouldered her backpack and then offered her my hand. “C’mon, Bella. We’ll go where we can’t be overheard.”
I guided her through the back passageway toward the east wing. As we neared my door, my eyes narrowed, and I shook my head when I led us inside to see Jasper and Jacob playing video games on my TV.
“Come on in. Make yourselves at home, jackasses,” I growled at them, which only earned me grins and laughs, including Bella’s.
“We were waiting for you. What? No piano lessons?” Jacob asked, but stopped when he looked back over his shoulder.
When they caught sight of her, Jasper stood up, grinning like a damn fool. “Aw, you two need a chaperone?”
I could tell by their thoughts that they were too engrossed in the game to have heard her.
“You need a busted face?” I countered, but then shooed them off my sofa so Bella could sit down.
Jake shoved my brother out of the way in order to walk to Bella. “He’ll do it, too. My money’s on Edward.” He tapped his temple with a grin, indicating my ability to read minds. “Too damn bad they can’t get black eyes and shit. That would be worth it,” he whispered to her conspiratorially. “They got into a scuffle once…tore up like fifty yards of forest. Not a damn scratch. Bastards dragged me into it, and I ended up with a broken leg for about four hours.”
Bella giggled, looking between all three of us. “Only four hours?” she asked in a whisper.
Grinning, I said, “Jacob heals very quickly. It’s a perk to his…condition.”
Jacob laughed, nodding fervently, not a bit worried that Bella knew what he was. He liked her, so he was pretty happy she knew and wanted to show off a bit, but I’d told him to wait. I just wasn’t sure how my girl would react to the big jovial guy suddenly bursting into his large wolf form.
I glanced up when his thoughts hit me. “No, you might as well stay and hear what I found out in Boston.”
That sobered the entire room. Jasper’s eyes darkened as they flickered to Bella. Jacob frowned, sitting down on the edge of the chair. I took the cushion next to Bella, glancing between Jasper and Jake.
“First… Anything here?” I asked them, and both shook their heads. I could see by their thoughts that they’d run several patrols that took them well into the Adirondacks, but they’d come up empty. “Good.”
“There was nothing, brother. I could’ve gone with you,” Jasper stated, folding his arms across his chest. Did you kill the bastards? he asked me in his mind.
“No,” I said, answering his silent query, but it came out as a growl. “Not that I didn’t want to, but I had…help.”
“Who?” Jacob asked.
“Tanya was nearby in New York. She kept me from…” I trailed off, eying Bella, who was frowning my way.
Oh ho, jealousy is pounding out of her, brother. Jasper’s warning was filled with amusement, but he was itching to find out what had happened.
I’d have to deal with Bella’s unnecessary jealousy when my brothers left us.
“I found Demetri Brown,” I started simply, my lip curling in hatred as I shook my head slowly.
I told them about Jenks having spoken to Harry Clearwater, about tracking down Demetri, and how Tanya had used her ancient skills to get him to talk.
I sat forward, gripping my hair in both hands. “His mind…it was just so damn foul,” I whispered, looking to Bella. “Your description helped. He was tall and thin, just like you said. He admitted to having been hired to break into your home, along with his brother, Alec. He… He was the one…”
“Who killed my dad,” Bella finished for me in a whisper, tears welling up in her sweet brown eyes. “And you let him live?” she asked, almost accusingly.
I shook my head. “I… Bella, until I know everything, this isn’t finished. But I need every single fact before I can… It was all I could do not to kill him on the spot, but if I’d done that, then it would’ve alerted his brother, who’s already wondering where his weed dealer, Felix, has disappeared to.”
Jacob snorted. “That bastard ran like the wind with the money you tossed his way. Took his mom, too.”
I smirked, but turned back to Bella. “Don’t you dare worry that they’re still out there. What have I told you?”
“That no one will touch me,” she answered softly, gazing up at me worriedly.
“Damn straight,” Jacob agreed, giving her a grin and wink. “Don’t you sweat it. Ed’s doing everything to get to the bottom of this, but he’s right. If everyone involved in this thing starts disappearing, it’ll set off red flags.”
Bella nodded, swallowing nervously. “I know… I’m sorry. I’m just…”
“Scared,” Jasper concluded, smiling sadly. “It’s understandable, but you needn’t be, darlin’. It’s just that…we’ve tried very hard all these years not to kill humans, no matter how evil they are, so I understand why Edward’s biding his time.” When Bella nodded in understanding and smiled gratefully, my brother looked to me. “There must be more. Who hired these guys?”
“Phil Dwyer.”
The name fell like a stone to the floor. The only sound heard was Bella’s frantic heartbeat and heavy breathing.
Turning her way, I cupped her face. “Breathe, love. Look at me,” I said, tilting her face until her eyes met mine. “Your mother’s safe. Chelsea’s safe. I promise you. Harry Clearwater has a guy watching your house. And come summer break, you will not be alone in this, but we have to be careful. These are dangerous men with deadly friends, and if they feel that someone’s figured out what they’ve done, then they could react poorly. You come first, and I…”
Bella nodded, squeezing my hand. “Okay…just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“The keystone to all of this is the stepdad,” Jacob stated solemnly, getting up and starting to pace, “but as long as she’s here, we can keep her safe.”
“I agree,” I sighed, gathering Bella to my side and kissing the top of her head. “It’s the summer we’ve got to consider.”
“We all go,” Jasper suggested, shrugging a shoulder.
“That would work, except for Leah.” I looked to Jacob. “She could stay in my brownstone with me for the summer.”
Jacob grinned. “She’d love that.”
Bella sat up, glancing around at all of us, before setting her eyes on me. “You’d…you’d do that? All of you? You’d just pick up for three months and…and…”
“Yes,” we all answered her in unison.
Jacob came closer and sat down on the coffee table in front of her. “That’s what we do. We watch over our own, Bella. You should know that now.” He pointed to me. “If not for Edward here…and Carlisle, I’m not sure I’d be alive today. And my mom would probably be reading palms in a touristy place somewhere just to make ends meet. So don’t you sweat us taking a little summer vacation…that just happens to be in your neighborhood.” He grinned and winked at her again, patting her hand gently. “And this is the first time you’ve talked to me… I kinda like it.”
She blushed adorably, looking down at her hands. “Thanks.”
Leaning over, I kissed the side of her head with a soft laugh. My smile fell at Jasper’s thoughts, but I waited until he organized them into something he could say aloud.
He locked eyes with me. “Like wolf-boy said, the key is the stepdad,” he said, repeating what Jacob had already voiced. “If you want this Alec Brown, then you’ve probably got to break Dwyer. And in order to catch them, turn them over to the police, then you’ve got to be careful, stay behind the scenes. If you’re going to…exterminate them, then you’ve got to be even more careful, do it invisibly. What’s Carlisle say?”
“He’s keeping in touch with Clearwater and Jenks,” I answered. “They’re working to get the case reopened, get new detectives to look into it. Clearwater has friends on the force who he trusts, and he’s going to give them the knife Tanya took from Demetri. Carlisle and Clearwater are trying to convince them that the first investigation was a half-ass job. Carlisle and Jenks are also up to something else, but I can’t tell what; he’s blocking those thoughts from me.”
Jasper snorted, smiling a half-smile. “There’s no tellin’.”
I waved him away. “Doesn’t matter,” I muttered, looking to Bella. “My only concern is Bella’s safety.” I smiled when she looked up at me. “Anything above that is not important. How they’re stopped is inconsequential.”
“Definitely,” Jacob agreed. “And we’ve got time. It’s only the beginning of the year. We’ve got a few months before school is out. She’s safe here.”
I glanced up at him and nodded. “Which means we need to keep up the patrols. If James comes back, I’d like to talk to him, but his running away concerns me.”
“Yeah, we got this,” Jasper said firmly, and he stood up. He turned to Bella. “I’d…I’d like to thank you, Bella…for keeping Alice out of Hunter’s Lake. It’s…”
Bella smiled. “I love her. I want her safe, too, but she’s getting terribly curious, Jasper. It wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t have her own theories.” She glanced to me. “She can’t…see you guys. Jacob, maybe – I’ve never asked. But you, your family? Not at all. Her visions blur when it comes to you. What she sees about herself, I have no idea. She’s pretty private about certain things.”
“I know,” I sighed, nodding once. “I’ve seen her mind. She’s so used to the blurry visions that they don’t really concern her. She checks on you repeatedly, only to see if you’re okay. Other than that, she lives with the little visions she gets all the time. I’ve never seen visions concerning herself, but I’m not around her as much as you.”
Bella smiled sweetly, but looked to Jasper. “I’ll do my best to keep her here,” she vowed. “Rose has been nice enough to pick up anything we need, but she’s getting a little suspicious, too. We blame homework or whatever, so…” She shrugged a shoulder. “You know, you could just tell Alice…”
The room stopped, waiting for Jasper’s temper, which never came. He studied my girl for a long, silent moment, his thoughts racing through his head. He knew Bella was only protecting Alice, only wanted her best friend happy, and he most certainly couldn’t be upset with her for that. In fact, he respected Bella a great bit for it.
“I…I can’t, Bella,” he said softly, and then he felt a wave of sadness sweep over him from Bella, who glanced my way and then back to him.
I didn’t need to read her mind. Her sweet face said it all. She was so very sad that Jasper and Alice may never know what she knew. She wanted her friend to know pure love.
Bella nodded in acceptance, but said nothing.
“I’m not my brother, Bella. The things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done… I’m not…worthy,” he said, begging her in his mind to let it go, to understand.
She nodded again. “Yeah, I felt that way once, too.”
Smiling sadly, I ran a hand down her head and through her hair, kissing her temple.
If anything ever got through to Jasper, it was that. After all he’d felt, seen, and uncovered about Bella, he truly was in awe of her strength. To hear her admit that she was unworthy didn’t quite make sense to him.
Jacob raised an eyebrow at me. Now I understand the wings-wrapped-around-you thing my mom went on and on about. She’s pretty damn protective, yeah?
Smirking, I nodded once in his direction, but turned back to Jasper when he knelt in front of Bella.
His emotions were swirling in every way inside. He was doing his best to contain them instead of pushing them out into the room. It was sadness, worry, fear, but most of all…hope. It was the last one that scared him to the point of wanting to run from the room, but he faced my brave, honest girl.
“Do you know what I feel when I’m near Alice?” he asked her. When she shook her head, he smiled sadly. “Pure joy. I’m not a fool. I know her extra sight makes her feel like an outcast, that things at her home aren’t perfect, but despite all of that, Alice radiates happiness. It practically oozes out of her very pores, darlin’. She’s happy to simply be. She finds the good in just about everything around her.” He sighed deeply, glancing to the floor and back up. “How… How can I sully that? You know my history. Edward told you where I came from. How could I possibly tarnish all that joy with…me?”
Bella tilted her head at him, her brow furrowing. “What if it worked the other way around? What if she made you shine?” she countered. “What if you stopped pushing her away and allowed her happiness to change you? What if the situation was reversed, Jasper, how would you feel? You should try it. Once. Let her feel what she feels, instead of manipulating it.”
Jasper smiled. “Fair point, Bella.” He locked gazes with her. “I’ll try, okay? Try.”
Bella’s smile lit my entire suite, causing all of us to chuckle. It was triumphant and silly and filled with pride, and for me, it was dead-sexy.
“Oh, hell. You are a welcomed new member to this strange-ass family,” Jacob chortled, shaking his head. He reached for her hand, kissing the back of it.
My girl blushed, but giggled a little. “Thanks.”
Jacob popped Jasper upside the head. “Let’s go. We’ve got shit to do, and I need to check on Mom before we go.”
Jasper nodded and gave Bella a smirk, but his eyes locked with mine. You might be the luckiest son of a bitch I’ve ever met.
Grinning, I shrugged. “Maybe.” Once they left us alone, I turned to Bella, tucking her hair behind her ear so I could see her face. “You okay?”
She nodded, looking to me. “Think he’ll do it?”
Snickering, I nodded. “For you? Yeah, probably. You wrecked him when you said you’d once felt unworthy. He didn’t understand it.”
“He’s a good person,” she stated, frowning a little. “He’s just…sad. I feel it around him. And it’s not…”
“It’s not your own sadness. Yes, I see it in his mind,” I told her, kissing her temple.
She curled into me, sighing deeply, but her fingers toyed with the buttons of my shirt. “Edward?”
“Hmm?” I hummed against the top of her head, inhaling deeply the scent that I’d missed so much while I was away.
“Why…” she started, but sat up straight, shaking her head. “Never mind…”
My brow furrowed, and I cupped her face. “Why…what? Sweetheart, never feel you can’t ask me something. I’m an open book.”
Her sweet little nose wrinkled, but her cheeks heated. Her dark eyes locked with mine. “Why Tanya?”
I snorted, having forgotten about the jealousy that Jasper had felt at the mention of my cousin. I turned to face her fully, slipping my fingers through her hair.
“Tanya was close – in New York. Her sisters are picky about certain things: clothes, jewelry, shoes… She’d called Esme to join her, but Esme had declined. She also told Tanya about us, about me and you. And Tanya called me, offered her help. She…she kept me from killing that man last night, Bella.”
My girl nodded, but didn’t look convinced. “But…you said… You said she…”
Grinning, I kissed her lips roughly. “She’s family, my love. Nothing more. She’s very…mentally visual and has teased me from day one, but that’s it. You own my heart. No one else. She told me to give you a message.”
“What’s that?”
“She said to tell you that you’re a lucky, lucky girl. I, personally, think it’s me who’s the lucky one, but arguing with her has never gotten me very far.”
Bella giggled, kissing me quickly. “She really said that?”
“She really did, love. And when I told her about you, told her your story, she didn’t even think twice about helping.”
Bella blushed, but scooted closer, finally just crawling into my lap. I wanted to groan at the feel of her surrounding me, straddling me, but it was cut off with a kiss. My eyes rolled back at just how good she felt, tasted, smelled as I tried to keep her hips still. If she kept moving like she was, I was going to have a problem that only a shower could fix, which had started to become a habit since Bella had walked into the castle.
We kissed for what seemed like days. When Bella needed to breathe, I’d lavish her neck with licks, sucking lightly on skin I couldn’t get enough of, but I knew if we didn’t stop, we’d do something for which neither of us was ready.
Slowing us down, I finally cupped her face. “Bella, please…we have to…”
Her breathing was heavy when she pulled back, her dark eyes filled with such desire that it almost hurt to look at her. Her want for me made her even more beautiful.
“I liked this piano lesson,” she said with a sweet giggle.
I groaned, my head falling back to the sofa, which made her kiss my chin. “You’re gonna be the death of me, love. I swear.”
“Yeah,” she chortled sweetly. “I know the feeling.”
My head shot up, and I smiled up at her as her stomach grumbled. I patted the side of her bare thigh. “Dining hall, sweet girl. I’ll see you soon.”
She smiled, kissed me briefly. “If not sooner…”
~oOo~
BELLA
Authorities state that the search for the missing New York woman will continue throughout today and into the night…”
Alice and I looked to each other and then back to our lunch. The dining hall was quiet, except for the news that was playing on the television in the upper corner. Most of the students were in Hunter’s Lake for the weekend visit. The latest hot topic was a young woman in her early twenties who had disappeared about fifty miles from the school. She’d taken her dog for a walk two nights ago and was never heard from again.
I glanced over to Rose, whose face was a little pinched and ashen at the news report. I could only imagine what she was feeling. Where most students didn’t pay much attention, she and I were practically queasy at the thought of the poor missing girl. I caught Emmett’s eye, and he grimaced a little. He’d opted to keep them at school today, simply because he wanted to watch over Rose.
His large hand landed gently on her shoulder, giving her a squeeze. Rose’s gaze broke away from the news, and a small smile flickered over her pretty features.
The table behind them was loud, and I looked around them to see Mike and Jessica huddled up with their friends. Why they’d chosen to stay behind on a Sunday was beyond me, but they’d been pretty loud since they’d set foot in the dining hall.
Alice watched them through narrowed eyes, her nostrils flaring a little every now and then, which made me wonder what the two of them were up to. I nudged her with my shoulder, giving her a questioning look.
She sneered. “They are so plotting revenge on us, and it’s not even our fault they got busted. They just happened to be too damn loud when Rose and Mrs. C were walking by. Hell, I didn’t even see that happening.”
Emmett frowned, glancing over his shoulder and then back to her. “Revenge? Like what, Alice?”
“That’s the problem… They can’t decide. It’s either going to be one or both of us. Mike really wants to make Bella talk in public. Jessica wants us humiliated. They know that if they do it on school grounds, the possibility of being expelled increases. However, they’ve noticed that Bella and I aren’t really going into town lately, so they’re stuck.”
“What could they do in town?” Rose asked as her lip curled in hatred.
“Cause a scene at the diner, set us up for shoplifting at the book store, or trick us into meeting up where no one will see,” Alice rattled off nonchalantly, shrugging a shoulder. “I’ve seen all of those things, but they haven’t narrowed it down to one yet.”
“You will,” I stated softly, nodding once before taking a sip of my water.
Alice grinned. “Of course I will!” she sang, nudging me back. “Hell, I saw Messica earn her true name on Friday night! God, I wish you’d have been there. I know you were in piano, but sweet Jesus, that was some funny shit!”
Emmett laughed, his head falling back with his boisterous laugh. “Oh damn, Bella,” he wheezed, wiping the tears away. “You should’ve seen it! She was working in the kitchen for her in-school detention, and Mrs. Odom sent her out with this ginormous pan of mashed potatoes. You know, to put on the line up there,” he continued, jerking a thumb behind him toward the food line. “Alice here starts to laugh, and all she could say was ‘Messica’ before this loud clanging and then screaming came from up there.”
Alice snorted into laughter, followed by Rose, but I looked to Emmett for the rest of the story.
“Just as Messica is about to go back into the kitchen, the swinging doors fly open and she and Mrs. Odom crash into each other. Gravy, green beans, and shit go flying everywhere. Mrs. Odom was so pissed that she started yelling. Both of them were just covered in food!”
The whole table exploded in laughter, causing a few heads to turn. The girl in question gave us a scowling glare, starting to get up from the table.
I sighed deeply, looking to Alice, whose eyes had glazed over for just a moment. When she snapped out of it, she took a small French fry, thumping it off the edge of the table and onto the floor. Everything happened in slow motion.
Mrs. C, Jasper, and Edward all walked into the dining hall to look up at the TV just as Jessica strode across the floor. However, her shoe caught the bit of potato, smashed it, and it sent her skidding onto her butt in the middle of the cafeteria.
Our table broke into laughter again, as did the small table next to us and the kitchen staff behind the serving line. Jessica’s face turned a puce color as she stood up from the floor.
“You did that shit on purpose, psycho!” she snarled rushing to our table.
Alice leaned forward. “Prove it, Messica,” she whispered. “That really is a fitting name…”
I snorted, shaking my head, but stopped when Mike joined the table.
“Freak, you got something to add?” he asked me.
“Enough!” I heard behind me, which caused me to flinch.
I’d seen and heard Edward in various moods, but I could tell when he was pissed off. He hated when I called myself a freak, so I couldn’t imagine what he’d do to Mike. Turning my head, I locked gazes with pure hate and fury, which was beautiful and scary at the same time, shaking my head once at him. For one moment, I wished he could read my mind, though he saw my face and sagged a little next to Esme and Jasper.
Mrs. C stepped forward, eying us all. She looked to Mike and Jessica with barely held in disdain, but her look to Alice was different, slightly disappointed.
“I’m afraid she doesn’t have to prove it,” she sighed wearily. “I saw it all. Alice, you caused her to slip on purpose. You and Miss Stanley will go with Jasper to the greenhouse, where I’m sure he can keep you busy for the next few hours.”
I wanted to laugh, and from the look on Edward’s face, he did, too. I couldn’t imagine the thoughts he was hearing. The expression on Jasper’s face was pure panic and fear as his head spun to glare at Esme. Alice, however, looked like she’d won the lottery, but it was Jessica’s pout that topped it all off.
“I didn’t do anything!” she argued loudly.
“Oh, I’m sure you were up to something. Call it intuition,” Mrs. C countered, rolling her eyes and waving her away. “No arguments. Go! All of you.”
Rose, Emmett, and I were watching them all with open mouths and barely contained snickers. But I saw my Edward’s beautiful face darken and his fists ball up before he quickly shoved them into the front pockets of his jeans.
“Newton, you got something to add?” he asked him, his voice low and deadly as he posed the same question Mike had of me.
Mike paled, shaking his head vehemently. “N-No.” He backed slowly away from the table, his hands raised in surrender.
“Wise choice,” Edward murmured, his lip twitching.
Alice stood up from the table, gathering her things. Jessica stomped away to do the same. Jasper looked like a beaten man as he led the two from the dining hall.
Mrs. C and Edward followed them, but went a different direction. After throwing my garbage away, I made my way upstairs to the dorm room. I wasn’t sure what I’d do all day without Alice around. We usually kept each other company on the weekends when everyone spent their day in town.
I walked into my room, snorting into a giggle when the prettiest of sights met my eyes. Edward was waiting patiently on the edge of my bed.
“I really need better locks,” I teased him.
He grinned, shaking his head and holding his arms out for me. “No, you don’t. Besides, locks can’t stop me from getting to you.”
I tossed my backpack onto the bed behind him with a giggle, stepping into his embrace. Strong arms wrapped all the way around me as he buried his face into my neck. I inhaled deeply the scent of him, my fingers raking gently through his hair.
“Thank you,” he murmured against my skin, leaving a sweet kiss there.
“For what?” I asked, pulling back just to be able to see his face.
“For stopping me with Newton,” he answered softly, his brow furrowed. “One day, those two are really going to mess up.”
“Oh, probably,” I agreed. “But they’ll sink their own ship, Edward.”
He smiled crookedly up at me. “Maybe.”
“Now,” I said, crawling the rest of the way into his lap, and he chuckled sweetly. “Just why are you sneaking into my room, Mr. Cullen?”
He glanced down, still grinning, and I wondered if human Edward Masen would have been blushing right then. When his gaze met mine, I was willing to bet the answer was yes. There were times when he was shy and nervous, which was utterly adorable.
“Well, since your partner in crime is…”
“Doing time?” I offered with a laugh.
“Yeah, that. I was wondering if you’d like to go with me.” His voice was soft, tentative.
“Where?”
“Leah’s.” He locked gazes with me. “I was going to check in on her today. And she’s been begging to see you, really meet you. I just… I mean, with all that we’ve discovered, maybe it’s time for her to read you, read us…together.”
“You’re sure? Last time we talked about this, you said—”
“I know,” he interrupted, kissing my lips in apology. “I said she was easily misinterpreted and that she spoke of harsh things, but…I’d like to see what she says. Things are changing, love, and I want to be prepared.”
Edward had told me about Leah’s last prediction for him just about the time I’d come to Masen Manor. He’d explained what she’d seen – three death cards, red vampire eyes, and secrets revealed. We assumed the latter was me knowing what Edward truly was, but I knew he fretted over the other two things every now and then.
Tilting my head a little, I leaned in slowly, pressing my lips to his. The first touch was always cool, but then bloomed into heat and fire and those tingles I felt from head to toe. I pushed at him until he fell back onto my bed, taking me with him. Giggling, I loomed over him, my hair framing us in a curtain of dark curls.
“So, let me get this straight,” I teased him, making him laugh and bite on his bottom lip. “You’d rather go get your palms read than to take advantage of my empty room.”
His chuckle was amusement and nerves wrapped together, but he cupped my face, bringing my face down so that he could kiss me. “No. Not at all.” When I raised an eyebrow at him, he laughed even harder. “God, Bella…” he sighed happily, toying with a lock of my hair. “You have no idea how badly I want to simply…run away with you. Just us, no one else. Always.” His face softened, his golden eyes a warm, sweet caramel. “I don’t…trust myself when it comes you, love. I want and need you all the time, and you’re tempting enough in a room full of people. Alone, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want and may not be able to stop. I just don’t think either of us is ready. There’s so much we have to consider.”
He stated that so carefully, like a perfect gentleman, that I smiled at him. He was sexy and confident and talented, but the side of him that was soft and sweet and noble was almost as irresistible. He rolled us until we were face to face on our sides. Our eyes locked when his hand drifted down my arm to my fingers, where he linked ours together, only to bring them up and kiss them.
“And your dorm room isn’t exactly where I had in mind,” he said with a light laugh, kissing each finger. “I can hear…everyone just outside this room. It’s way too distracting.”
Groaning, I grimaced in sympathy. “Ugh…that must be awful.”
He laughed, kissing my forehead. “It can be.”
I smiled at him, tracing every beautiful feature of his face with my fingertips, from his masculine eyebrows and jawline, to his perfect lips. “I want…that with you,” I admitted softly, closing my eyes when he pressed his forehead to mine, and the bed practically vibrated with the purring rumble from his chest. “Sometimes, when we’re alone like this…it’s a little overwhelming. Perfect and amazing, but like a runaway train.”
Edward smiled, his eyes closing briefly. “I know, sweetheart. That’s why I want us to take our time, wait for the right moment. There’s no rush. I’m yours forever.”
Tears stung my eyes at how sweet that sounded to my ears.
He cupped my face, his thumbs gently catching the tears. “I suppose if I were human, I’d opt to wait for marriage, but what we have is so much more than conventional relationships. Plus, I could never hurt you, Bella, so I have to be absolutely sure I can control every single thing I do. Does that make sense?”
“Yes.” I sniffled, but smiled at him, kissing him once more. “Marriage?”
He chuckled nervously, but he stiffened in my arms, like he was preparing for rejection. “Isn’t that something…”
“Eventually, Edward. Sure, yeah,” I said with a giggle. “Not now. That’s like a shotgun wedding.”
He laughed, kissing me roughly. He sat us up on the bed, but he brushed my hair from my face. “Yeah, times have changed from when I was human, but lives were shorter back then. We have however long you wish to be with me, love.”
Rolling my eyes, I smiled at him. “Forever’s good, Edward.”
His smile was heartbreaking and brilliant, and it was sexy and sweet with its intensity. “Yes, ma’am.”
I crawled on the bed, wrapping myself around him from behind and kissing his cheek when he glanced over his shoulder with amusement. “Okay, come on, then. We’ll go see Leah.”
I felt his laugh more than heard it, but he was up and through my closet and into the hidden passage before my eyes could totally adjust to the darkness. Wind blew through my hair, telling me we were going pretty fast, but I could barely feel us moving.
A crack of light shown up ahead, and we emerged out into the overcast day. We came out at the same place Edward had taken me before, only this time, he turned the opposite direction. Edward slowed down, but then stopped altogether. When I peeked over his shoulder, my breath caught in my throat.
Standing there as large as a bear was a wolf. The fur was a russet-red, the feet were enormous, and his head was tilted a little as he glared our way.
“Dammit, Jacob,” Edward grumbled. “You’re scaring her!”
“Oh…” I gasped, smiling a little. “Hi, Jacob.”
I couldn’t help but giggle when the large animal bowed down on his front paws, his tail wagging in the air behind him. He then rolled onto his back like a puppy asking for a tummy rub.
“Oh, for the love of all that’s holy,” Edward muttered through his chuckle. “Would you get up?”
Jacob snorted, shook all over, and then sat down on his haunches. Edward’s face tilted a little as he set me down onto the ground. He turned to look at me, offering me his hand, though his face was much more somber.
“What?” I whispered, worried that maybe something was wrong.
“Leah’s expecting us. She saw us coming.”
He led me up to the door of the most adorable cottage I’d ever seen. But standing in the doorway was the old woman I’d only met once in the diner of Hunter’s Lake. Her face was wrinkled, her posture a little stooped, but she eyed us sharply.
“Get inside, my loves,” she said, stepping aside. “We need to talk.”




1 comments:

aelita48 said...

I liked this chapter!
I wonder what Leah is going to say...
This big wolf does not frighten Bella.
Thank you.

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