Sunday, June 8, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 24 & Pics

Chapter 24
April 2002
I stepped out of my bathroom fresher, cleaner, though feeling a touch guilty from how I’d basically manhandled Bella against my door. I glanced toward the door, shaking my head at her spilled sheet music and the journal that had been dropped to the rug in surprise.
The scent of Bella still called to me; it was everywhere around me, clinging to my skin, and I smiled at the sight of her petite frame sitting in the middle of my old bed, hugging a pillow.
Crawling up the bed to lie beside her, I sighed when her fingers instantly raked through my hair, pushing it off my forehead. “I’m sorry about before. I shouldn’t have…”
Her giggle was sweet, like a music box. “Do I look – how’d you put it? – mauled to you?”
Grinning, I nodded as I reached up to brush her hair from her face. “Deliciously so, but I—”
She cut me off with a kiss. “Hush, Edward. I wouldn’t change a thing. Didn’t you miss me?”

“You know I did.”
“Well, I missed you just as much.” She sat up straight, eying me with a narrowed gaze. “You said the last time we were apart not to fight what I was feeling. That was only two days apart. It’s been almost three weeks. If I can’t fight it, neither can you,” she stated, her brow furrowing.
“It’s different for me, love. I could hurt you when we’re out of control like that,” I countered.
She shook her head. “I understand that, but you can talk to me, you know. If we’re it – permanently together – then wouldn’t it make sense to just…” She shrugged a shoulder, tilting that beautiful head my way. “I don’t know…let things happen as they happen?” She pointed toward the door. “At no point was I worried, okay? I’m not sorry.”
Reaching up, I slipped my fingers into her hair, pulling her down for a kiss. “I love you,” I whispered against her lips, but pulled her back just enough to look her in the eyes. “And that’s a fair point, Miss Swan,” I concurred, smirking when she raised a sexy eyebrow up at me. “However, I need you to tell me the very second something I do or say or anything makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable or hurts you or…”
“I promise,” she vowed solemnly, only to roll her eyes when her stomach growled forcefully.
Chuckling, I stood up from the bed, dragging her to the end by her foot, only to bend down and kiss her stomach over her sweater. “Okay, okay…I’ll feed you,” I growled teasingly, which only made my girl writhe beneath me in hysterics. It was the best sound I’d heard in weeks.
I helped her to her feet as she laughingly said, “I’m sorry! I was too nervous to eat lunch!”
“Well, let’s solve that problem, shall we?” I asked her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders to guide her toward the door. “You can raid Esme’s fridge.”
Bella giggled, but looked up at me. “I don’t have to do that. I can grab something quick in the dining hall and take it with me to see her.” When my nose wrinkled, she added, “You don’t have to come in there. Just let me run in for a sandwich. I’ll meet you at her door.”
Frowning at the thought of being away from her for even those few minutes made my chest ache, and I shook my head. “No, love. Lead the way.”
We took the back hallways down to the first floor, and I listened at the door of the storage closet to make sure the coast was clear, telling her I’d stay right there. She kissed my lips quickly and darted out to the dining hall as I leaned against the wall.
Loud greetings met my ears, as did thoughts from everyone all at once when Bella walked into the room. She stayed silent, except for a brief exchange with Rosalie Hale and Emmett McCarty. They’d become good friends to my Bella, something I wouldn’t forget. The big guy looked at her as a little sister, but Rose saw her as another survivor from hell, someone with whom she shared quite a bit in common. Rose respected Bella, even though they came through their battles in different ways.
There were other thoughts that weren’t so respectful, and I growled low in the small space. I thought we’d removed the trouble from the school, but it seemed there were others. Although, I had to be grateful they weren’t as vile as Mike Newton and Jessica Stanley. It was what they were thinking that had me opening the door and stepping out into the hall.
My appearance in the dining hall brought a few conversations to a halt and an explosion of thoughts. Bella was waving to Angela Weber when she finally turned to leave, but she caught sight of me.
“How bad are they?” I asked, her narrowing my eyes around the room. “The rumors, Bella. How bad?”
“Oh, umm,” she muttered so low that even my ears barely caught it. “Idiotic.”
Snorting, I gestured to an empty table. “I see that. Want to end some of them?”
My beautiful girl smirked, but her cheeks bloomed a sweet pink. “Esme?”
“She can wait for a few minutes. Eat, sweetheart,” I stated, flinching at the thoughts coming from the table off to the side. Bella and I sat down, and I leaned forward. “So…I hate you, huh?”
Bella’s snort and eye roll were adorable and ungraceful. “Only after I hit on you…or so they say,” she whispered against the lip of her water bottle.
Laughing out loud, I garnered a few glances, but I couldn’t help but tease her. “You did. Shameless thing. But I most definitely don’t hate you for it.”
“Yeah,” she chortled, grinning up at me.
Mr. Harris got up from the teachers’ table and walked to me. “Edward, it’s good to see you. I didn’t think you were coming,” he said with a smile and a handshake.
“I can’t stay. I have to get back to my cousins in Alaska,” I told him. “I just wanted to see Bella play. I knew she’d do well.”
“Very well, indeed,” he agreed. “Outstanding, in fact,” he added with a grin, turning his attention to the blushing girl across from me. “Your hard work paid off. Both of you. I believe I’ll have my work cut out for me next year to top that.”
Smiling sadly, I nodded. “Yes, I’m sorry about that. I’ll be attending classes again next year. My hope is that Bella will apply to Harvard, so we can work together again.”
When Bella’s wide, shocked eyes locked with mine, I shot her a quick wink as I toyed with the bottle cap from her water in order to maintain the pretenses of a fidgeting human.
The entire exchange was loud enough to squash a great many rumors, but mostly, it shut Lauren Mallory’s trap. She’d been thinking way too many detailed thoughts about me, along with the girl next to her, Rachel. While Rachel had always had a crush, Lauren was merely a shallow, jealous girl who could barely see past the surface of things. She had no sympathy or patience for things she couldn’t understand. She didn’t hate Bella, like Jessica and Mike; she merely couldn’t see why my girl didn’t talk or why it was a big deal. I immediately tuned her out and focused on Mr. Harris.
“Well, any college would certainly do well to listen to her original composition, that’s for sure,” he tacked on. “I’ll let you resume your celebrations with your student, Edward.”
“Ah, but Bella’s not my student anymore. And I was never a paid teacher. We’re…friends. I just wanted to be here for her today,” I countered with a smile, especially when that statement caused even more thoughts to explode in my mind.
Bella’s big brown eyes glanced between me and Mr. Harris as she slowly ate her sandwich. I wanted to kiss her adorably shocked face, but I didn’t. However, two sweet, calm minds met mine, and I glanced over at Rosalie. She was ridiculously happy for Bella. She’d assumed that I was someone Bella could talk to – really talk to – and she’d also thought Bella was feeling more for me than friendship. Now, she suspected there was more, but she’d never say a word. She knew what it meant to have someone that you could trust, someone that made all the bad stuff…better. She’d really been worried for Bella after Alice’s disappearance.
Angela Weber was the other kind mind I heard. Her only concern was shutting up the rumors around her. She knew Bella was struggling with the loss of Alice, so anything that made Bella smile like she was right then was a damn good thing.
The older music teacher walked back to his seat, and I turned to Bella. “What?”
“Why’d you do that?” she asked in a whisper.
I chuckled softly, spinning the cap of the bottle still in my fingers. “If we’re squashing rumors, let’s kill them all, love,” I whispered back, grinning when she snorted into a giggle and shook her head at me.
She wadded up her garbage, standing up and throwing it away on her way out of the dining hall, and I followed her lead. Once we were away from prying ears, she turned to me, her face serious.
“You…you…didn’t get paid to teach me?” she asked, looking confused.
Smiling, I cupped her face. “No, not at all. I knew what you were to me before we even met, Bella, and I most certainly don’t need the paycheck. Teaching you was an honor and way too much fun to require a salary.”
Bella’s giggle was sweet and light and happy, but with even pinker cheeks than before, she turned around without saying anything, making her way to Esme’s door.
“What?” I asked, gripping my hair. “Sometimes, I really do wish I could read your mind,” I mumbled in a pout.
“Well, you can’t,” she tossed back over her shoulder with a laugh.
The door opened before Bella could knock, showing quite the amused Esme standing there. “What I think she means is…suck it up, buttercup,” she snarked, grinning when Bella laughed and stepped inside the living room. “It’s good to see you, Edward. I’ve missed you,” she told me as I kissed her cheek.
What she didn’t say aloud was that she was really glad to see the smile on Bella’s face, and I nodded that I’d heard her.
“I wanted to talk to you – both of you – about Alice, give you an update,” I explained, taking a seat by Bella on Esme’s sofa. “She wanted me to explain a few things to Bella, apologize to her.”
Bella frowned, looking up at me. “Whatever for?”
“For causing you worry, for scaring you, for a handful of things that I’ll explain,” I answered, smiling sadly, but I leaned in to kiss Bella’s forehead. “You asked me over and over why she went into Hunter’s Lake… I have that answer.”
“Okay,” she said, dragging the word out.
I looked to Esme and then back to Bella. They both wanted to know.
“Alice – as a human – figured out that her blurry visions centered around us…our kind. She just wasn’t ever sure what we truly were,” I said, gesturing between myself and Esme. “She didn’t say anything to you because it was a theory she was testing toward the end. In fact, that day was the test. She saw herself going into town, despite you and Jasper telling her not to. She saw herself going, and then the vision went blurry. She assumed she’d run into Jasper. When she saw James, he moved so quickly, she was sure that she’d been correct. With his blond hair and lean form, she couldn’t see who it was. She also saw that if she didn’t follow, a woman with red hair – Victoria – would make her way to the castle…to you. So many unseen things made her nervous. She had no choice but to trust her visions. Only when she woke up from her change did she truly know what we were. We think the visions were blurry because she was human…as in, she had to become one of us for them to clear up. Apparently, she can only see what she truly knows.”
Bella sighed, shaking her head. “I wish she’d said something.”
“We all do,” I agreed.
“Is she… How’s she handling it, son?” Esme asked.
“She’s…” I hesitated, finally just shrugging a shoulder and laughing lightly. “She’s just Alice,” I chortled. “She’s feisty and smart, but does an amazing job at finding the good in it all. She and I argue daily,” I said, grinning when both women chuckled. “We do. She loves and hates that I can see her mind. She was completely overwhelmed at first, and she didn’t take the news very well that she’d never see her family again. But…now she’s just Alice. She’s ridiculously happy with Jasper, which drives me insane most days. The lust he pushes is disturbing,” I groaned, rubbing my face with my hands and sitting forward. “Once she gets past this newborn phase, she’ll be…a force to be reckoned with, honestly. The combination of Jasper, Alice, and myself…we’ll always be able to protect the family.”
Esme nodded, smiling a little.
I turned to Bella. “Love, she really wanted me to make sure you knew how sorry she was. She feels absolutely awful about what her disappearance and ‘death’ caused you.” I sighed, shaking my head. “She said she should’ve known better, but…she has no excuse. With what you’ve been through and all the times she’d protected you, she feels terrible that you had to go through that.”
“I’m just glad she isn’t gone…forever,” Bella murmured, toying with her charm bracelet. “It hurts that I won’t see her for a while, but… Someday, right?” she asked hopefully, meeting my gaze with watery dark eyes.
“Yes, sweetheart,” I said, taking her hands and kissing her fingers. “And God, she misses you, too. You have no idea. If she has one goal, it’s to get to the point so that she can see you again. She never wants to slip up, especially with you. And she’s constantly flipping through her visions for you, checking on you…though that may be for my benefit so I can see you.”
Bella smiled and nodded.
“Soon, she’ll be able to talk to you on the phone. Right now, she’s got to relearn how to adjust to her strength. She’s destroyed a few things by accident – doorknobs, clothes, poor Tanya’s remote control for her TV. If I hand her a phone, she’ll crush it. Plus, her moods swing violently. That’ll all calm down eventually, and I promise to have her call you.”
“Speakerphone,” Esme suggested, winking Bella’s way.
“True,” I mused, rubbing my jaw. “We’ll try it when I get back, okay?”
“If there’s a signal,” Bella countered.
“I’ll do what I can, love,” I vowed, leaning to her cheek to brush a kiss there. “Believe me, it’s just as frustrating for me.”
“I know,” she sighed, leaning against me. “I just…”
“There’s no need to explain, Bella,” I whispered into her hair.
“How is Tanya?” my girl asked, and Esme’s thoughts turned amused, so I narrowed my eyes at my mother-figure.
“She’s the one that shoved me into the car, drove me to the airport, and told me to go see my girl,” I explained, grinning into sweet-smelling brunette hair when Bella laughed. “Actually, I’m pretty sure she didn’t slow the car down to let me out.”
Esme laughed. “Were you driving them crazy, son?”
“Yes, pretty much. I’ve been rather…short-tempered. And most nights, I have to leave the house.”
Esme’s thoughts were kind and gentle. Then get out of my room. Go spend time with her. Lord, son, she’s missed you so much. Her nightmares are back worse than ever, so her sleep is… Well, look at her…
Nodding, I pulled Bella closer, leaving my lips against her hair as she curled against me. It seemed every muscle in my girl was slowly relaxing.
“Bella, before you fall asleep, let’s go, love,” I urged her, nudging her a bit.
Bella sat up and nodded, adorably bleary-eyed. “Okay,” she said with a yawn. “I’ll have to meet you there. Make it look like I’m going to my dorm room. Esme’s rule,” she said, snickering sweetly.
“I’ll see you there,” I told her, smiling when she hugged Esme before she left through the door.
Before I could exit Esme’s living quarters through the back passageway, she stopped me. “Edward, school’s almost out… What are you going to do?”
“Jasper and Carlisle are aware that I’ll be leaving the second Bella is on the train home. I’ll get with Jacob, see what he wants to do, but I could use him in Boston. It’s Leah that concerns me. We won’t leave her alone here. With you two most likely going to Denali and Jacob coming with me, then…she’ll be alone. That’s… That can’t happen. She’s getting weaker, though she’ll never admit it. If she’s amenable, I could bring her with us, put her in my house for the summer.”
“Hmm, she might be. I’ll get with her and Jacob, let you know. For now, Bella is your only priority. Just make sure to let her be seen by the other students this weekend.”
Grinning, I glanced down at my sneakers. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll try to share her.”
Esme laughed. “Liar. Get out of here.”
With a chuckle, I disappeared down the hidden hall toward Bella’s dorm room.
The sound of breaking glass made my whole body twitch. I felt weary, but a slow gaze around told me that I was in my bedroom in Boston. The shadows were a bluish-black, stretching across the floor and partially up the wall.
I could almost count the ticks on the clock to when the creak of the sixth step echoed up the staircase. My heartbeat thundered in my chest until another creaking noise made me look away from the bedroom door toward my window.
Comfort, calm, and love enveloped me like a hug as Edward’s long, lean form unfolded itself into my room. His gaze was sharp, piercing, and angry. Not toward me, but toward the door. He moved in a flash, barely making a sound as he crossed my room and opened my door, disappearing out into the hallway.
Cries of anguish and pain rang out, but were silenced quickly. When Edward reappeared in my doorway, he seemed to have grown larger, his hands clenched into fists at his side, but his eyes glowed blood red.
Snapping awake, I sat up, gasping for breath.
“Easy, love. You’re okay,” Edward soothed, cupping my face and forcing me to see him.
Taking his face in my hands, I studied him, but through the moonlight shining in through the window, I could see only warm, sweet honey gazing worriedly back at me. I sagged in relief, kissing him before pressing my heated forehead to his cheek.
“You want to talk about it?” he asked, raking his fingers through my hair and trailing them down my arm. “You say they’re memories?”
Nodding, I pulled back and glanced around the room, but one hand gripped his soft T-shirt. The same bluish-black shadows like from my dream were stretched across the wood floors of Edward’s living quarters. They weren’t as ominous as the ones from my dream; they were beautiful thanks to the bright moon outside.
“They are when you’re not here…or they seem to be,” I told him, folding my legs beneath me and hugging a pillow. “When you’re here, they change, and they’re never the same. You’re in them. You keep me safe, protect me. I…I think you kill them.”
Edward’s eyebrows shot up on his forehead. “I kill them every time?”
Smirking his way, I shook my head. “No… One time, I did.”
“Bella…” he groaned, wrapping his arms around me from the side. “I’ll never put you in that position, sweetheart. Ever. I’ll always place myself between you and danger. Okay?”
Nodding that I’d heard him, I let out a sigh. “I think everything’s mixing up in my head,” I said, snorting softly to myself. “Past, present, future…it’s all jumbled up. Not to mention you’re leaving tomorrow.”
We’d spent all of Saturday locked away in the east wing just catching up. I’d done as he’d asked and told him everything he’d missed while he’d been away. I’d gone down to the dining hall for my meals, but pretended to lock myself in my dorm room the rest of the time. Today was Sunday, so he’d be in the air back to Alaska before I was in my second class the next day. The thought was killing me.
He smiled sweetly against my cheek. “Understandable, love. You woke up looking at me like I was a ghost. What was that?”
“You are…MG,” I said with a grin, giggling when he chuckled. “I don’t know. You had red eyes… Maybe I was thinking of Alice or something.”
“Maybe. That’s quite possible,” he agreed in a whisper. When I turned to face him, he smiled and brushed my hair from my face. “Red eyes are hard to forget. They’re also in Leah’s prediction. I’ve worked very hard to keep mine this color.”
Smiling, I kissed him. “Have you ever slipped?”
He grimaced, his nose wrinkling adorably, but his glance away told me he was ashamed.
“I’m sorry. It’s none—”
“It’s every bit your business, Bella,” he interrupted gently, bringing my head down to kiss my forehead. “You should know everything about me. Even my worst mistakes.” He looked out the window, steeling himself a little before meeting my gaze. “I was very much like Alice. Once I realized there was another way to live, I was determined to stay on the right diet. Carlisle was very patient, but it’s not easy. I never wanted to be a killer… I was about two years into this life. We were hunting in Montana when I caught the scent of a mountain lion, but as I stalked him, another scent overpowered him. It was unlike anything I’d ever known, and it was completely and utterly irresistible.”
He gazed down at his hands, shaking his head slowly. Licking his lips, he went on. “He was hunting in the same woods. He was alone and tired and a little drunk from the whiskey he’d had to keep warm while camping. I was on him before Carlisle could stop me.”
“Oh, Edward…” I groaned, cupping his face.
He scowled, but leaned into my touch. “It didn’t even register in my mind what I’d done until I heard his last thoughts. His only concern was the family back at his cabin. I’d taken away a husband…a father of four children. I’d never felt more like a demon than I did that day,” he murmured, looking to me. “I know you hate that word, but that day…I was one.
“Carlisle sought them out, told them there had been an accident with a mountain lion. He helped them as best he could get back east. The man…I’ll never forget his name…Ezra Clemmons. He’d just moved his family out west for a new start. They didn’t get one.”
“I’m sorry…”
“It’s okay,” he said with a smile. “I’ve come to terms with what I did. The Clemmons family hasn’t wanted for anything for several generations. It’s all I could do. Though, I know money doesn’t bring him back. I was determined to never slip again…and I haven’t.” He trailed a finger down my face. “Only Carlisle has a clean record. You know Jasper’s history, and Esme had her own slipup, but we’ll all do our best to keep Alice’s record clean.”
“And mine…when the time comes,” I added, smiling at the hope he tried to hide away.
“There’s no hurry for that, you know,” he reminded me with a light laugh to his velvet tone. “None. I’ll wait forever for you.”
“I know.”
“Besides, with how feisty Alice is, I can’t fathom what you’ll be like,” he teased, giving me my favorite grin and a wink. “I’ll have my hands full, for sure.”
I giggled. “You two really argue every day?”
“Every damn day,” he concurred, nodding his head. “She trusts her visions, but she needs to learn to trust her other senses, too. It’s a constant battle. She hates that I can see her doing it. Even more, Jasper can feel her deception when she tries it. She can’t win. And her newborn temper blows all to hell. Carlisle should be having a fun time right about now. Let him deal with Jasper’s talent when everyone pairs off at night…”
Giggling, I leaned against him. “Aww, it’s that bad?”
Poor Edward’s handsome face melted into something akin to pure pain and torture, which made me laugh even harder and kiss him.
“Oh, God…you have no idea, Bella. It’s awful and embarrassing and…” His voice trailed off. “You’ve felt what he can do…and that’s when he’s controlling it. Imagine when he loses that control. It’s like a freight train of…of…want. And it’s when…they’re… It’s just…ugh…” He rubbed his face roughly, even though my laugh was causing a smile to quirk up on his lips. “I can hear everything, see everything…feel everything.” His gaze landed on me as he cupped my face. “I don’t want to see anyone but you, and feeling that way when you’re not around... It feels so wrong and disgusting, but it makes me miss you all the more. I have to get out into the mountains.”
A part of me was happy for Alice and Jasper that they were together, able to be that unrestrained, but another part of me ached for Edward. He was so very proper and polite in some ways that I knew he hated experiencing all of that. He was also so very loving, so missing me would’ve made all that worse.
“What do you do when you leave?” I asked him.
He chuckled, looking away from me, and I saw my shy Edward emerge. “Mostly get as far away from minds as I can and then think of you…miss you.” He glanced toward the window and slipped off the bed. “C’mere, love. I’ll show you something.”
He stood in the tallest window facing the back courtyard of the castle. His eyes searched the sky, a small smile playing on his lips as he tugged me to stand in front of him. When he spoke, his voice was soft, reverent, and right at my ear.
“See that bright star, Bella? It stands out brighter than any other?” he asked, kissing my ear when I nodded. “I look there. Our times are different, but there…in Alaska…you can see just about every star in the sky. That one is still the brightest. I look up at it, wishing on it that you’re okay, that you’re safe, that one day I can show those stars to you. I wish for time to fly so I can follow you to Boston.”
My eyes welled up with how sweet that was, and I turned in his arms. “Me, too. These next few weeks will drag so slowly. It’s bad enough that it’s the end of school, but I’ll want you back more.”
Edward’s forehead fell to mine before he turned his head to kiss me softly, slowly, deeply. One of his hands cupped my face, the other was flat on the small of my back, though both moved, skimming down in order to cup my bottom to lift me into his arms. When I squeaked, his smile was shy but a touch naughty.
“Bed, love. I know you aren’t sleeping well. At least catch up before I leave, okay?”
“Hold me?” I asked as he gently set me in bed.
He smiled and nodded. “Always, Bella. For as long as you wish…”
I slept deeply, dreamless for the remainder of the night, waking up to bright sunlight and the smell of food in Edward’s room. I rolled over to see him sitting at his desk; a wrapped plate sat on the corner. I recognized that it was from Esme’s kitchen.
Edward was beautiful as he studied the computer in front of him. Glints of rainbows shot off from the exposed skin of his arms and neck as the sun beamed in on him. His brow was furrowed, and he rubbed his clenching jaw over and over. That stressed-filled expression melted away when he caught sight of me sitting up.
“Morning, love. I brought you breakfast since you slept in,” he said with a grin.
“M-Morning,” I yawned back, stumbling from the bed to the bathroom, and I heard his chuckle from the other side of the door.
I freshened up, pulling my hair back into a ponytail. When I stepped back out into the room, he was waiting for me by the couch, plate in hand and a worried look back on his handsome face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, taking the plate and sitting down.
“I want us to talk, Bella…before I leave tomorrow,” he said, taking the seat next to mine, but he didn’t sit back. He rested his elbows on his knees.
“Okay. Sounds serious.”
“It is, but…eat, sweetheart.”
I glanced down at the plate of fruit and a bagel with cream cheese, opting for the bagel first. I chewed as I waited patiently, but my heart was pounding. He looked so serious, which scared me. Suddenly, his gaze shot to mine.
“No, Bella, relax,” he whispered, sitting closer. “God, your heart, love…”
“Just…spill, Edward,” I begged, poking at the cream cheese and avoiding his gaze, but he lifted my face with his fingers beneath my chin. “You’re still coming this summer, right?” I blurted out without thinking. It was my only fear.
He smiled, his face relaxing completely. “The same day you set foot on the train, I’ll be in the air. Okay?” He brought my forehead to his lips. “Nothing can stop me.”
I nodded, taking a bite of the bagel that felt like it had turned to sand in my mouth, but I let out a relieved sigh.
He sat back a little. “This conversation is about Boston, though, love. There are a few things I want to go over with you before you get home. And since I’m meeting you there, there won’t be time for this later. We have privacy here, and I want you to be able to speak freely, which I know you will when it’s just the two of us. Make sense?”
“Yeah, okay.” I smiled down at my plate, falling just a bit deeper in love with him for knowing me that well. Even more for not judging me on it.
“There are a few things I want you to do when you’re home, Bella.” He grimaced. “I hate sounding like your father with this, but I need you safe. I need to protect you.”
“No, I get it. What do I need to do? I’m not…”
“I know you’re probably not going to be very vocal in your home, though you’ve started to talk to your mom and Chelsea a bit more, and that’s good. I’m going to stay as close to you as I can, and if I’m not, Jacob has agreed to take my place on days I can’t move about so easily. Understand?” he asked, nodding when I did. “I’d like you to always keep your bedroom door locked, and I’d like you to tell Chelsea about your new doctor…just in case, Bella. Give her Carlisle’s card. She’s absolutely trustworthy. She loves you as much as she loves her own son, and everything she’s said to you has been completely truthful.” He handed me another of Carlisle’s business cards, and I took it.
“Not my mother?”
“No, but only because she may discuss it with Phil, and I don’t want him to know. By the time you get home, you’ll be about four months from turning eighteen. He has zero legal hold over you, but that doesn’t mean he won’t try something.”
I popped the last of my bagel in my mouth, thinking that over. “I wish I didn’t have to go home.”
“You have to, my love,” he sighed, setting the plate on the coffee table and pulling me close. “You have no choice. You aren’t a legal adult yet. Again, keeping up with pretenses. You don’t go home, they’ll come looking for you,” he explained, smiling sadly. “Not that they’d find us, but it would cause big trouble.”
“We could hide away forever,” I teased him, crawling into his lap. “Just you and me.”
He grinned up at me as he fell back into the sofa. “Do not tempt me, my Bella.”
Giggling, I bit my bottom lip. “Damn. Okay, what else?”
He studied my face, his eyes warm as he trailed fingers across my cheek. “You need to know… The police have reopened your father’s cold case. They’ve started asking questions again, and they may come see you.”
My smile fell, and my heart hammered in my chest. “I can’t… What do I do?”
“Tell them the truth, however you wish to tell it, and whatever you remember. Write it down, if you must. They should’ve made you do that the first time,” he said, a light growl to his tone, but I was shaking my head.
“I’d have panicked,” I whispered, wrinkling my nose. “Like beyond anything you’ve seen. And some of the policemen knew my dad, so they didn’t push.”
Edward sighed, kissing my lips. “What about now? Could you handle it?”
I shrugged a shoulder. “Maybe. Could you be there?”
“Come hell or high water, Bella. I’d try,” he vowed, placing a hand on his chest. “You’ll never be alone in this, I swear it.”
Leaning forward, I kissed his lips. “Thank you.”
“Mm,” he hummed happily against my mouth, kissing me back briefly. “Last thing, my love… You remember where my place is?” he asked, and I nodded. “Good. Should you need out of your house or a place to escape, then you go there. Leah and Jacob will be taking the spare rooms for the summer. Well, he’s taking the sofa in the office. She’ll always be home…and posing as my great aunt.” He grinned, shaking his head. “It gives me an excuse to be in Boston with you and gives you a ‘chaperone’ of sorts when you come over, because believe me, my sweet girl, I will be making my presence known in your house. I’ll be that ever-present boyfriend who’s picking you up for dates on a constant basis,” he said with the most adorably smug, yet shy grin.
Laughing, I shook my head at him. “Excellent. I like that plan.”
Edward cupped my face and kissed me. “I just need you safe, Bella. If I can get you to your next birthday, there won’t be so many threats against you. No one can touch you.” He kissed me again before I could say anything. “And no, love…it’s not about the money. It’s about your father’s wishes. Understand?”
My eyes blurred a little, but I nodded. “Yes. Thank you.”
“Now, enough of the heavy… Go get dressed. We’re spending the whole day together.” He chuckled when I scrambled off his lap.
“It’s sunny,” I countered, pointing out the window.
“We’ll go to our hill, and maybe Leah’s, so it won’t matter.”
His smile was sweet and happy, and I leaned down to kiss him before I went to grab my clothes.
My dreams Sunday night were different. They were still set in my childhood bedroom, but instead of shattering glass, creaky steps, and screams, they were filled with touches and kisses. There was a panicky feel to them as well, like there would never be enough, that time was escaping us.
In my dream, I clung to Edward like a lifeline, and I woke up to that reality, sweating and shaking.
“Easy, Bella,” he soothed, brushing a cool hand across my brow. It only served to inflame my already heated skin. “I’m here, love.”
Nodding, I nuzzled into his neck, gripping his shirt at his waist. “What time is it?”
I pulled back, leaning over him to see the clock. It was a little before three in the morning, but it was the sight of his packed bag by the door that caused all my bravery to fly out the window. I knew Alice needed him, I knew that I’d see him in a few weeks, but my heart hurt at the thought of being apart.
“I don’t want you to go,” I panicked, burying my face back in his neck. “I’ve changed my mind. Alice can’t have you.”
Edward laughed softly, but urged me back to my pillow. “She doesn’t have me, my love,” he said softly, bracing an elbow by my head, but his free hand brushed the hair from my face. “But I do have to help her. It won’t be for long; just a few more weeks, and I’m yours for the entire summer…and beyond. When I leave Alaska, Carlisle and Esme can take over with her and Jasper. We just have to get through these few very long weeks.” He leaned down to kiss my lips softly. “But she doesn’t have me. You have me. You always will. I’ve waited a hundred long years for you, Miss Swan. You think I could so easily give you up?”
I smiled through my tears, but shook my head no, and he kissed me for my answer.
“Now…your dream… Was it bad?”
Staring up at him, I shook my head no again, my fingers raking through his hair. “No,” I whispered, still feeling every touch from my dream. “We were… It was…a good dream.”
Edward’s sharp gaze caught my blush, and he smiled a little. “I do wish I could read your mind.”
With my fingers still in his hair, I pulled his lips to mine. I needed the reality, not the dream. I needed to feel him before he disappeared. I wanted as much as he’d give me.
We kissed until I was breathless, and he lavished my neck with more. His body surged forward at the same time that his hand gripped my hip to pull me closer.
“Bella…” he growled in a warning against my collarbone as I wrapped a leg around his thigh.
My fingers were in a fist in his hair as I tugged at him at the same time I pushed up his T-shirt. “Please, Edward…don’t stop.”
His forehead fell to mine, his eyes squeezing closed. When they opened again, they were black as pitch and wanting. They were fiery and filled with love…and worry.
“God, Bella…your touch…it’s like flames licking at my skin,” he growled low, his breathing heavy, but he reached to stop my hand. “I’m not… We can’t… As badly as I want you, I don’t want to m-make love to you and then leave you. That’s not happening. It’s wrong on so many levels. I’d never be able to pry myself from this room. Understand?”
Feeling defeated and dejected, I nodded, but instead of pulling himself away, he rolled us and sat up. A steel-strong arm wrapped around my waist to keep me astride his lap as he stared up at me.
“Bella, look at me,” he ordered gently. When I met his dark eyes, all I saw was love and insecurity and want, all of which matched my own. “The timing isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I want these things to the point that it seems disrespectful and foul – things that I can’t do with you until you’re like me, things that…would’ve been deemed disgraceful when I was a human to even consider about the woman I love.”
A part of me rejoiced that he thought those things. Another part wanted him to know he wasn’t alone.
“Well, then I’ve been disrespecting you for a long time, Edward Cullen,” I told him, gripping the hem of his shirt and pulling. “Do you feel disrespected?”
His grin was sexy and hilarious at the same time, and once he relented and let me yank the shirt completely off, he looked ridiculously adorable as his hair stuck up every which way.
“Terribly so, Isabella. I’m shocked.”
“You should be,” I told him, placing my hands flat on his chest. “Be grateful you can’t read my mind…”
He laughed lightly, but sobered quickly. “I want…”
“Tell me.”
He swallowed nervously as he lightly touched his fingertips to my face, my hair, down the front of the Boston PD shirt I was wearing. “I want to see you come again, Bella,” he stated so softly, I thought I’d imagined it. “You were…stunning. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, but I want to see it again.”
My face flamed with his raw honesty, and my breath caught when he shifted beneath me. Through his cotton sleep pants and my own pajama bottoms, I could feel him. When he shifted again, I moved with him, and we both moaned. We moved in sync, like magnets. Lips and tongues danced, hips rose and fell, and hands sought out every inch of skin.
“Closer,” I begged, kissing down his jaw to his ear.
He unfolded my legs so that I was wrapped around him completely, but that brought us flush together with better friction.
“Unngh,” I moaned, my head falling back.
Cool lips met my exposed throat, but it all exploded into fire when his hands slipped beneath my shirt. I couldn’t take it anymore. My shirt felt in the way and cumbersome, so I reached down to pull it off.
If I thought Edward’s gaze was dark before, it was absolutely ravenous as he set eyes on my bare skin.
“God, you’re perfect,” he said, a rumbling growl only adding to the feelings around us. “And…mine.” His voice was raspy, sexy as he bent me back a little in order to trail his nose along my skin. “I want to taste every inch of you… One day, I will.” That last statement seemed to be a promise to himself more than me.
With his hands flat on my back, he arched me up, dropping kisses to everywhere but my nipples, which were peaked high and tight.
“You smell amazing, love,” he breathed against my breast, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply.
My stomach was tingling as I grew closer and closer to the edge, and my mouth fell open when his fingers tentatively touched me. He brushed his thumbs around and across my nipples, watching my face as I started to shake.
But it was all over when our bare chests met as he wrapped his arms around me. The feel of skin on skin was too much and everything all at once. Grasping either side of his face, I held his forehead to mine as I fell into the abyss. My head fell to his shoulder as I continued to move, because I could feel him still hard. Opening my mouth to his neck, I relished the flavor of his skin, sweet and musky and all Edward.
“No teeth, Bella… I can’t…” he growled, gripping my hips as he pulled me almost roughly down against him.
Pulling back, I held his face. “I love you, Edward.”
“I…” was all he said before everything in him let go, his head falling to my shoulder.
The room was so quiet for a few moments. I could feel my heart pounding, his breathing pushing out against my now-sweaty skin. I shivered once, my muscles feeling like goo, and he reached over to help me back into my shirt.
“C’mere,” he said, laying me back down on my pillow, but gathered me close face to face. His hand slipped into my hair as he held my gaze. “You okay? Did I hurt you?”
I shook my head. “Never.”
He smiled. “I love you, and your faith in me is overwhelming, Bella. I never want to break that. It scares me that I’ll mess up.”
“I’ll tell you if you do,” I vowed, smiling when he chuckled. “Still feel disrespected?”
Edward’s laugh was beautiful and light. “I feel…wanted…and loved. It’s a powerful, yet humbling feeling to see you that way. And I feel I’ll be an ass by the time I get to Alaska because I’ll miss you, your touch, your kisses.”
I frowned. “I’ll miss you, too.” I looked up at his face, which was etched with sadness, before burying my face in his neck. “You’ll be gone when I wake up, won’t you?”
He nodded, kissing my lips and then my wrist where my charm bracelet was. “Yes, I’m afraid so, but…my heart will stay with you.”
“You have mine,” I told him, and he kissed me softly with a whispered thank you.
“Sleep, love, and know when you wake up that this separation is only temporary. I’ll meet you in Boston when school is over,” he vowed, raking his fingers through my hair when tears fell from my eyes. “I’ll call you when I can, and we’ll write. I’ll even let Alice talk to you…maybe. I might be selfish.”
I sniffled and laughed softly. “Hold me until you leave,” I begged him, but my body was tired and relaxed, which caused a yawn to escape me.
“Until the last possible second, my Bella,” he vowed solemnly, and then he started to hum something beautiful and soft. I didn’t recognize it, but soon, I drifted off.


aelita48 said...

I like this chapter.
I adore them.

LittleBella13 said...

Awesome Chapter!!!! Can't wait for the next one!!

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