Friday, June 27, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 28 & Pics

Chapter 28
October 1997
“Isabella Marie, you’ll sit back down and eat your breakfast,” Mom huffed, rolling her eyes, but her smile gave away her amusement.
“But Dad—” I started with a mouthful of eggs.
“Charlie won’t leave you, silly girl. Just eat. He was on the phone in the library, anyway, so you have time,” Chelsea added with a laugh. “And chew, Bella!”
Grinning, I took another big bite…and another, practically shoveling my food into my mouth, regardless of my mother’s protestations. I washed it all down with orange juice, staring at my mother until she finally laughed and waved me away.
“Go grab a jacket, Bella,” she called after me as I flew upstairs and into my room.
After pulling on a Boston PD hoodie, I rolled my eyes at the sixth step that creaked under my sneaker. Dad kept promising he’d fix it, but he never got around to it. My mother was convinced that the board was simply loose.

“Dad, I’m ready!” I announced when I stumbled into the library.
“I completely understand,” he said into the phone, holding up one finger for me to wait, so I sat down at my piano. “No, no…just lock it in my desk, Sylvia. I’ll come by and get it.”
Frowning that he was talking to his secretary, I lightly played my scales, only to pick at the song I was trying to write. I wanted to win the bet that me and my dad had made as to whether I could write my own stuff. I lost myself to the music for a few minutes, smiling when my dad leaned against the side of the piano.
“It’s gettin’ good, Tinkerbells,” he praised, and I stared at the keys. “I may just be losin’ that bet after all.”
“I’ll never finish it,” I told him, shaking my head. “I can’t seem to get the next part right.”
“Ah, you will, kiddo,” he assured me, sitting down next to me. “You’re really talented, Bells. Your Grandma Swan should see you now. She’d be so proud of you. She told me the first time you put your hands on these keys that you had what it took. Me? Well, I couldn’t play Pickup Sticks…”
Smiling, I bit my bottom lip. “It’s Chopsticks, Daddy!”
His laugh was deep, and he tugged me into his arms. I loved the way he smelled, like the leather of his desk chair, the aftershave that he used, and the laundry soap that Chelsea bought all the time.
“See? I don’t know this stuff!” he said with a laugh. “C’mon, Bells, let’s go. We’ve got lots of stops today.”
“Where?” I asked, looking up at his face as he slung a heavy arm around my shoulders.
Everyone said I looked like him, with the same shade hair and dark brown eyes, but he always told me that I got the best parts of him and Mom.
“Well, we have a Halloween costume to find, don’t we?” he teased.
“And I need sheet music,” I reminded him.
“Good. That’s on the way to my office. I need to make a quick stop.”
We told Mom and Chelsea we were leaving, and my mother reminded us that she had her art class that night, to not wait up. My dad shot her a quick glance as he pulled on his jacket, but kissed her as usual before we walked out to the car.
Running errands with my dad was my favorite. He let me pick the music in the car, sometimes we’d go to the movies, and usually we’d stop for ice cream before the day was over. Shopping with Mom was fine for clothes and school stuff, but shopping with Dad was just for us. Since it was too chilly to go fishing, anyway.
We drove through the city, stopping at my favorite music store to see Mr. Bertie. He always carried the newest piano music, the stuff that was still playing on the radio. As I picked out a few new songs, I glanced over at my dad in the store. His focus was outside the glass windows, his face almost angry.
I called him when it was time to pay, and he smiled on his way over, but it didn’t reach his eyes. In fact, he stayed pretty quiet the whole way to the courthouse. He flashed his ID, parked, and led us upstairs to his office. He was supposed to be off for the week, but he still had to check in with Sylvia and pick up his mail.
“Miss Bella,” Sylvia greeted, and I smiled her way when her candy bowl was set down in front of me.
“Bells, stay with Sylvia,” Dad said, opening the door to his office. “I’m just gonna check a few things, and then we can hit the costume place, okay?”
I stayed at the reception desk, talking to Sylvia about school, my next piano recital, and boys, which caused me to scowl.
“Oh, in a few years, Bella, you won’t mind so much,” she teased with a laugh, ruffling my hair when she stood up.
“All boys care about are sports and video games. That’s dumb,” I told her, shaking my head.
“Yes, well, soon enough, all they’ll care about is going out Friday nights, so you just keep that high standard you have. Sweetie, I’ll be right back. If you need anything, go on in.” She pointed to my dad’s door.
Nodding, I took another piece of candy and pushed open my father’s office door. “Daddy, you want a piece? It’s your favorite…the honey ones.”
My dad’s chair was facing the window, and he spun around, slipping some paperwork into a manila envelope. He took a deep breath and smiled, but it didn’t seem real.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothin’, Bells,” he sighed, shaking his head. “C’mere.” He held his arms out for me and then pulled me into his lap with my back to his chest, turning to face out the window again. He held me tight, only to press a heavy kiss to the back of my head. “Let me look at you.” When I stood up, he kept me between his legs. He looked so mad or sad, I couldn’t figure out which. “Isabella, I need you to make me some promises, okay?”
“Sure, Daddy. What?”
“Well, you remember what I told you about our family? That there are traditions and…and…stuff that gets passed down?”
“Mmhm,” I hummed, nodding. “You said that the Swans go way back, that we’re one of the oldest families in Boston.”
“Exactly, Tinkerbells. And there are responsibilities that go along with that, things that you’ll need to remember one day.” He sighed deeply, shaking his head. “I didn’t think I’d be having this chat with you at twelve, but… Bella, one day, you’ll come into a lot of money…”
“Like you did when you went to college.”
“Yes, just like that. What I want you to remember is that there are only so many people in this world you can trust. And you should surround yourself with these people. Whether it’s in business or personal friendships, you need people you can rely on.”
Frowning, I just waited. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
“Bella, I need you to promise me that you’ll be very careful from this point on. We need to tighten up with the alarm at home, and I know that you know the codes and where my gun is should something happen.” When I nodded, he went on. “No more walking to school, no more bus. I’ll take you, or Chelsea will, but I think for now, it would be better if you rode with one of us.”
“Good, ’cause there’s this boy on the bus…” I scowled, shaking my head. “He keeps trying to hold my hand.”
My dad chuckled. “One day, you won’t mind so much. You must forgive us mere mortal men, Tinkerbells. We don’t always know what we’re doing when it comes to pretty girls.”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. He smells funny, like old wet sneakers,” I mumbled, making my dad laugh, but it stopped too quickly.
“Promise me, though.”
“Yeah, I promise.”
He sighed in relief and nodded once. “Next…I want you to go to Chelsea if you need anything. If I’m…not available, just let her know. She’d do anything for you. I hope you know that.” I opened my mouth to speak, but he held up his hand. “Your mother loves you, kiddo. That’s a true fact. But she’s easily distracted and doesn’t always see through to the truth, so you trust Chelsea. Am I clear?”
My brow furrowed, but I nodded.
He swallowed nervously, his mouth twitching behind his thick mustache and his eyes reddened a little. “One last thing…this is important, Isabella…”
He pulled me closer, cupping my face. “No matter what, I love you, and I want you to be happy. I want you to play the piano until your fingers fall off, finish school, go to college, and get married to someone that truly worships the ground you walk on. Understand me? Live your life to its fullest. Never let anyone tell you different, that you can’t do something. Prove them all wrong. You’re a Swan, Bella, which means you’re strong and there’s nothing you can’t do. Okay?”
I nodded fervently.
“Promise!” he said, almost sounding urgent.
He was scaring me a little, but I nodded again. “I promise, Daddy!”
June 2002
Coming up out of that dream was like swimming through ice water – the more I fought it, the harder it was to wake up. Darkness gave way to way too bright, and the noises around me were loud and jumbled up.
Before opening my eyes, I breathed deeply, letting myself feel. My head throbbed a little, my throat was dry, and the skin on my wrist stung a bit. However, voices grew louder, adding to the beeps and noises already nearby. My eyelids felt heavy when I cracked them open to the bright room, my gaze taking in the hospital room.
“I thought she was getting better. I thought we were past this!” my mother hissed, her heated glare on someone in the corridor, someone I couldn’t see. “That’s it! I’m bringing her regular doctor in.”
My mother turned to walk back into the room, but the person who followed her in made me sigh in relief. Carlisle looked patient and calm in the face of my mother’s erratic rant. He noticed me watching him and shot me a wink.
“Mrs. Dwyer, I can assure you that I’ve been working with Bella for about a year. She’s not suicidal,” he stated. “She’s been through a violent tragedy, she came really close to losing her life, and she probably has a slight case of post-traumatic stress disorder, but she’s not suicidal. She does, however, have trust issues. It’s taken me several months to earn that trust, and to rip that away from her now would be detrimental.”
Mom rounded on him, but stopped when she saw my eyes open. “Jesus, Bella…” she sighed, rushing to me. “You’re awake.”
I nodded, glancing between her and Carlisle, who busied himself with my chart, but I knew him well enough to know he was paying attention to everything.
“What were you thinking?” she asked me, almost in hysterics. “Why would you take those pills, Bella? Now they’re going to put you in—”
“Mrs. Dwyer,” Carlisle stated, his voice almost coming across as a warning. “I need a moment alone with her, please. You can come back in once I’ve checked on her.”
“I’m still calling Dr. Gerandy,” she huffed, pulling out her cell phone.
“Don’t.” My voice came out raspy from being asleep, and it burned like fire, but I glared at her. “Dr. Cullen is my doctor. I won’t see anyone else.” My mother’s face went ashen, but she nodded. “And I didn’t take your pills, Mother.”
I turned away from her, focusing on Carlisle instead. Her attitude meant that Phil had gotten to her before I could say anything. He’d lied to her their whole marriage, so I could almost understand it, and I realized she was about to have a rude awakening. In fact, one glance at her told me she was already starting to question…everything.
I shook my head, but rubbed my face wearily, trying to shake the rest of the fog out of my brain. Once the door closed behind her, I looked up at Carlisle. My first question was where Edward was, but he seemed to know that, speaking before I could.
“Let me check you over, and then we’ll talk. Okay?” he asked gently, and I nodded as he raised the head of my hospital bed.
He checked my pulse, my breathing, my heart. He flashed a light in my eyes, all while noting it in my chart. Once he set the chart down, he dragged a chair over to my bedside.
“About an hour before you awoke, I had them draw more blood. I’m waiting on your tox results,” he stated, leaning his elbows on his knees. A disgusted look graced his normally handsome, serene face. “I…I… Bella, I need to know what happened – your version – because your stepfather has told anyone who will listen his version. And his version paints you—”
“As suicidal.” I concluded, nodding when he locked gazes with me. “Can I have something to drink?”
“Yes, of course,” he said, pouring some water into a cup with a straw.
I held on to the cup as I started to talk. I told him everything, from Alice’s texts to Jacob’s frantic worry. I explained that I’d wanted to simply leave the house secretly and face the consequences later, but Phil had heard me come down the stairs. I told him about Alec and the threats, about Phil telling me that something had happened to Chelsea’s son and that I wasn’t to leave, but I was going to anyway. I gave him every detail.
“Yes, Chelsea’s son is on another floor. He was mugged, it seems,” he told me, and something about his expression told me that he thought that was connected to this whole thing.
“Will he be okay?”
“Yes, just some minor cuts and bruises.”
I sagged in relief, falling back to my pillow. “Where’s Edward?”
Carlisle picked up my hand, squeezing it gently. “He’s…um…not fit to be here right now, sweetheart. He’s with Jasper, who’s trying to calm him, but nothing seems to be working.”
“Can he hear you?” I asked, tears welling up in my eyes at the thought of my distraught Edward. I could well imagine that he was beyond control.
“I don’t know, but when I see him, I can show him anything you say to me,” he said, smiling a little.
“Tell him not to be mad at Jacob. That he tried really hard to help me. Tell him I need him. Here. Please?” I whispered, fighting my emotions. “You have to stop him! I know what he’s thinking…he’ll hunt down Phil and Alec…he’ll kill them, and he…”
“Shh, Bella. Jasper’s keeping him in control. We’ve told him that if he reacts now, things will get suspicious.” Carlisle leaned over and kissed my forehead. “I will tell him, sweetheart. I promise you. And I told him that very thing concerning Jake.” He sat back down in his chair. “Jacob was so worried that he almost lost control of his phasing, which would’ve resulted in anarchy had he burst into your house in his wolf form.”
“Oh, God.”
“Right. Luckily, Harry Clearwater had been tailing your stepdad, per Edward’s request, and he saw that Jacob was on the phone with emergency services and then Edward. He offered to step up to the plate for him, especially when he heard some raised voices and crashes…and the sirens.”
“Yeah, I remember him. He came in with the police.”
“He did.” Carlisle rested his elbows on the side of the bed, looking at me. “He had the glass of milk tested, Bella. There was enough sedative residue in there to have killed you. I don’t understand how you’re still here.”
Frowning, I lifted my hand to see that my charm bracelet was missing. “Where’s my bracelet?”
Carlisle stood up and walked to the cabinet in the corner of my room. He came back with my bracelet in his hand.
I showed him Leah’s charm, then the matching burn on my skin. “I…I…can’t explain it. This burned me. Almost from the second I poured the milk. When I started getting dizzy, it burned hotter. I…I threw up.”
Carlisle eyebrows raised up as he ran a cool, gentle finger over the charm and then the matching burn on my skin. It was on the inside of my wrist.
“What’d she say about this?”
“That it would repel anything that was plotting against me, turn it back on the person.”
He set the bracelet back into my hand, closing my fingers around it. “Keep it. I’ve lived a very long life and seen a lot of strange things I don’t quite believe, but I’ve learned when it comes to the Blacks not to question much. Whatever that did, it saved your life. You rid yourself of most of the drugs in your system, and when you should’ve passed out, it kept you conscious until you got to me.”
He stepped to a drawer and pulled out a few things, sitting back down in the chair and pulling my hand to him. He applied some slick ointment to the small burn, then wrapped my wrist lightly in gauze.
“That should keep down the scarring,” he said softly. He sat back, his face fierce. “Well, we now have a problem, Bella. Because you’re a minor and because Phil reported this whole thing as attempted suicide, you have to be held for observation. He’s convinced that you won’t speak on your own behalf, that you’re a threat to yourself…”
“Everything we were afraid he’d do,” I muttered, nodding.
“Now that you’re coherent, and once I let them know that the toxins are out of your system, you’ll be moved up to the seventh floor for seventy-two hours. I’ll still be your physician, but you’ll have to see the hospital’s psychiatrist.”
My gaze snapped to his. “No!”
“I’m afraid so, Bella,” he sighed deeply. “We have to follow procedure, and Phil has gotten a lawyer involved. He basically painted a picture of a melodramatic teen who overreacted when she was restricted from seeing her boyfriend.”
Hatred and anger flared hot and heavy in my chest as I shook my head back and forth. My dream/memory came back to me, my dad’s words making my next decision extremely easy.
What I want you to remember is that there are only so many people in this world you can trust. And you should surround yourself with these people. Whether it’s in business or personal friendships, you need people you can rely on.”
I looked up at Carlisle. “How long?” When he frowned, I clarified. “How long until I’m taken upstairs?”
“I can stretch it, keep you here for as long as I can. Why?”
“I was supposed to see the detectives today.”
“Yesterday,” he corrected. “Today’s Tuesday. You’ve been out for two days.”
I groaned, shaking my head and sighing deeply. Tears ran down my face, hot and salty.
“Bella, calm down. We won’t let anything happen to you.”
“I know,” I sniffled, swiping angrily at my tears and glaring up at him.
“Tell me what you need,” he said, cupping my face. “Not as your doctor, but as a friend. Tell me, Bella.”
I swallowed thickly, taking a deep breath and letting it out. “I need Edward and Chelsea, and I think…” I locked gazes with him. “I think I need a lawyer of my own.”
Carlisle grinned, and it was slightly evil and secretive. “I have just the person. He’ll be here within the hour. Anything else?”
“Yeah, two things,” I said, sitting up straighter. “Call those detectives…and my mother. It’s time everyone knew the truth.”
“Move, Jasper!”
“Now, dammit!”
“No, brother. I can’t let you do this. It’s not the right time.”
My nostrils flared, my temper practically exploding out of me, only to be squashed immediately by my smirking brother. I lunged for him, my growl echoing in the abandoned warehouse he’d forced me into after having seen the destruction of Bella’s home, after the frantic phone call from Jacob. I’d started for Brown’s auto shop, but Jasper had stopped me.
He allowed me to tackle him, the dusty concrete beneath us cracking with the attack. Only he countered my move, pinning me down.
“Edward, stop! You have to get yourself under control. Believe me, I get it, but what you’re planning could ruin us, not to mention it would destroy Bella.”
I shoved him off of me, sitting up and sinking my fingers into my hair. “I want them dead. I want them found.” My hands curled into claws in front of me. “I want blood!”
“And you’ll probably get it,” he sighed, holding out his hand to help me up. I didn’t need it; it was a sign that there was no ill will between us. “But not today.” He tugged me to my feet, gripping my shoulders. “You didn’t let me kill those two idiot kids at Masen, and I’m not gonna let you fuck this up. You kill those men right now, and you’ll have to go into hiding. And that leaves Bella without you.”
Frowning, I shoved my hands into the front pockets of my jeans, glaring at the dirt-covered floor. I knew he was right, and the mere mention of my girl had my temper flaring again…and my chest aching. They’d tried to kill her, poison her, take her from me. She was still unconscious in the hospital, her body weak with what they’d done. They’d pay with their lives, I vowed to myself. No one touched her and lived to brag about it.
My lip twitched in hatred as I locked gazes with my brother.
“I will help you, but you need to calm down, Edward,” he stated firmly, typing into his phone.
“You should be with Alice.” I started to pace, my hands gripping my hair again.
“Esme’s got Alice. She’s fine. It’s Bella we need to concern ourselves with,” he argued, folding his arms across his chest. “You know she needs you, brother. You need to calm yourself enough to get up there.” His voice was gentle, his talent pushing all the calm and determination he could muster at me.
I felt torn. My instincts were split. Two sides of me waged war – one wanting blood and revenge, the other needing to see my mate. I couldn’t control any of it.
I took a deep breath and let it out, nodding his way. “Thanks.”
The sound of metal screeching against metal caused both of us to look up toward the warehouse door. Carlisle stepped into the filthy place, looking pristine in his work clothes. The stale stench of the hospital met my nose, but along with it came the beautiful scent of Bella. I searched his thoughts, but he was blocking me with inane lists of medical supplies he had in his bag in the car.
I was shaking my head as I walked toward him. “Don’t! Don’t block me. Not about her. Not about this!” I snarled, pointing to the ground.
“Easy, son,” he soothed, not even flinching when I stepped up in his face.
“Tell me,” I begged. “Please, Carlisle.”
“She’s awake,” he stated, mentally showing me her medical chart, that she’d be okay. “And she’s asking for you.” When I started to walk past him, he placed a hand in the middle of my chest. “Wait, Edward,” he growled low, his mind opening up to me.
I saw everything. He’d argued with several doctors and Renee concerning Bella’s welfare, he’d taken Renee’s threat of another doctor with a grain of salt, but it was the big brown eyes that were finally open that I needed to see more than anything. Something was different about her, I noted, my brow furrowing.
“She’s pissed,” Carlisle said with a slight chuckle. “She’s more than pissed… She’s determined. Look.”
He showed me their talk, her description of the events, and the unusual burn from Leah’s charm. I vowed to kiss that old woman for whatever it was that she’d done to that charm. My heart broke when she begged for me, to stop me from what she knew I’d do. Without Alice, who’d only seen the very second Phil had made his decision to trap Bella in her house, we wouldn’t have been called as soon as we had been, which wasn’t soon enough. I wasn’t mad at Jake. He’d done all he could to keep himself in his human form. Had he phased in front of the police and the neighborhood, the consequences would’ve been unimaginable. But my Bella was spot-on about Phil and Alec. I wanted blood, the sound of bones breaking in my hands, and screams of fear in my ears. I hung my head in shame, but it snapped up to meet an amused expression on Carlisle’s face.
“She’s not.”
“She is.”
“And Jenks is coming?” I asked, my mouth hanging open.
“She’s already met with him. He’s hers to use, and he’s been aware of her situation already. I had a feeling this day would come, so I kept him abreast of the situation. He brought in her accountant, too.”
“Oh my damn…someone speak!” Jasper growled, but his voice sounded exasperated.
“Bella’s asked for a lawyer. She’s changing the beneficiary of her trust fund…to Chelsea,” I told him, suddenly so damned proud of my girl, I could barely stand still.
“Oh shit,” he breathed, glancing between us. “She just took all the power away from Phil.”
“Yes,” Carlisle and I said together.
Jasper’s phone rang, and he smirked, answering it on speakerphone. “Yes, Alice darlin’.”
“Okay, so…now you can go to Brown’s Auto Repair. Together. Today. Now.”
We all looked down at the phone in Jasper’s hand.
“You have enough ammunition to use against him. If you use it right, then Patrick Brown will call in Phil Dwyer’s debt. Starting immediately,” she went on. “I’ve seen it. Jasper, you and Edward show up just before closing. The sun has already set, and he’ll be alone. And Edward? He has no idea what his sons are guilty of…you need to know this. He also has no idea that Alec Brown’s girlfriend and son are in protective custody. His son hasn’t told him she’s missing. Use it.”
My brow furrowed, but I looked at Carlisle and then to Jasper. “If Brown calls in that debt, then Phil will panic. He’ll run.”
“If Bella changes her beneficiary, then he’ll snap,” Alice countered. “And she can’t be touched for the next seventy-two hours.”
I snarled, looking to Carlisle. “You’re really putting her in observation, Carlisle? What the hell?”
“I have no choice, son. And after discussing everything with her today, it’s actually perfect. She’ll be under guard and monitored. By the time she speaks with the detectives, she’ll be free to go, and she really needs you there for that, Edward. She wanted to see you before they moved her. I can only hold them off for so long.”
I bit down hard on my bottom lip, thinking I needed the briefcase in the safe at my house before I walked into Brown’s garage.
“You don’t need to go home, Edward. I took the liberty of calling Carlisle. He has what you need,” Alice chirped over the phone, making every last one of us grin.
“Oh, Alice,” I sighed, shaking my head. “You are a welcome new member of this family, little sister.”
Her giggle was happy and almost evil. “You just take care of Bella. That’s the most important thing. Brown’s first, then the hospital before she’s moved.”
I sniffed, looking to Carlisle and then Jasper, the latter wearing a smug, crooked smile. “Okay, I’m trusting you, Alice.”
“Good, ’cause if you do what I tell you, Edward, you’ll get what you want,” she said cryptically. “Go…and kiss Bella for me when you see her.”
“I will,” I vowed, turning to Carlisle. “I need that briefcase.”
Brown’s Auto Repair was closed, though the light was on inside the office in the front. All three bay doors were down, and Patrick Brown was slowly smoking a cigarette under the awning as the sun slowly set. If he were any other human, I’d say it was dangerous to be alone when closing up shop at night, but I had a feeling he was the meanest thing in the neighborhood.
The phone rang inside, and Jasper and I got out of the car, but I sensed a human almost too close, so I spun around, smirking at the large man behind me.
“Harry,” I greeted with a nod.
“Ah, Cullen… What’cha plannin’ to do?” he asked, jerking a chin toward the shop.
Smiling, I shrugged a shoulder. “Just talk.”
Harry tilted his head at me, chuckling lightly. “Perhaps. But it’ll be a chat that’ll set a lotta shit in motion.”
I neither confirmed, nor denied that. I was damn certain this would open up hell.
He sniffed, gazing around the neighborhood before leveling me with his glare. His mind was on what he’d seen at Bella’s home, on the sweet girl who had been through too much, and his good friend Charlie, whom he missed terribly. That last thought hurt a little. Charlie may have had enemies, but those who were his friends simply adored him. I was sorry not to have met him.
Brother, Jasper thought to me. That’s one trustworthy man right there.
I nodded once, but turned to Harry. “It’s time this ended. Bella and her father deserve justice.”
“I was hoping you’d say that…justice. Revenge is completely different.” He sighed deeply, folding his arms across his chest. “Charlie… That man believed in the system. He did. I sometimes thought he was a fool, which was why I never stayed on the police force. And had this just happened to him, he’d say let the evidence prove it all. But with Bella involved? He’d set this whole city on fire just to remove the bastards who did what they did to her.”
I huffed a laugh, and so did Jasper. Neither of us could think less of Charlie for that.
“I think you’re gonna need some help, son,” he suggested. “There’s more to you than meets the eye, but you’ll have a bitch of a time getting that leathery old fart to take two boys seriously.” He reached back to his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “I was told by your uncle to give you this. He said it would help you.”
I skimmed over the paperwork, smiled to myself, and handed it to Jasper. He huffed a laugh and gave it back to me. I tucked it into the back pocket of my jeans.
“Before we go, there’s someone I want you to meet,” he stated, waving a hand behind him.
My first instinct was to worry, until I read Harry’s mind, and then I could only chuckle.
A tall young man stepped out of the car parked four down from us. He had the same dark complexion as Harry, with dark hair and eyes. His face was somber, but his thoughts were on who we were…to his father.
“Edward, meet Detective Seth Clearwater, my youngest son,” he stated, smirking at my chuckle. “I told you I had connections in the police department, but not until recently. Seth just got promoted. He’s the one who helped reopen Charlie’s case.”
We shook hands all around, and I introduced Jasper as my brother.
“I wanted to talk to you before you went inside,” Seth said, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his pants. “As of right now, I have enough to start obtaining warrants on Alec and Demetri Brown for the murder of Charlie Swan and the attempted murder of his daughter. I’ve taken Alec’s girlfriend and son into protective custody, and she’s willing to testify against him if we hide her. The best part? Alec gave her the stolen jewelry from the Swan burglary. The TV and stuff are long gone, but Heidi was wearing the stolen earrings, and she had no clue where he’d gotten them from. Poor thing couldn’t get them off quickly enough.”
“Oh damn,” Jasper sighed, shaking his head.
“My problem is Phil Dwyer. I know that bastard is so deep in this shit that his breath stinks, but I can’t prove it. The fact that he’d been in Charlie’s court before is circumstantial as far as the law is concerned. He knows his wife can’t say a damn thing against him if she doesn’t want to, but I hope to change her mind when I finally sit down with Bella, which will be after she’s cleared from the hospital. And that’s her doing,” he said, shaking his head a little. “She told her doctor – your uncle – that it would hold more weight if she was cleared of the drugs that Phil gave her and cleared from the psych ward when she talked to me. She wants to let Phil think his plan is working. That’s one smart cookie.”
Grinning in pride, I nodded. “That she is.”
All the men laughed lightly, Harry shaking his head. “You’re so done, boy. Just ruined.”
“Gladly,” I said with a grin. “Okay, so…we’re still going in there. I—”
Seth held up a hand, his mind a calm, organized list of thoughts. “I get it. Totally. And honestly, I’m all for it. Patrick Brown has his fingers in a lot of pots, and not just in this neighborhood. He likes his low profile, though, so if you threaten exposure, threaten the arrest of both his sons, he’s gonna batten down the hatches. And…” He held up a finger. “He’ll put a price on Phil Dwyer’s head so big that he won’t be able to step foot in public without someone going after him, simply because he dragged his sons into it all. I know that’s what you’re hoping.”
I nodded slowly, my lips curling in hatred. I knew that justice was the better way to go, but I wanted Phil dead.
He turned to Harry, handing him a manila envelope. “I don’t wanna know, Dad. Do whatever it takes to bring Dwyer down, because I’m out of options. However, leave Demetri and Alec Brown to me.”
“Got it,” Harry grunted, tucking the package under his arm. “Let’s go boys.”
We walked across the street, stepping under the awning of the auto shop. Harry was just about to knock when the door swung open. Patrick Brown was shocked to see three people standing there – it registered in his heartbeat – but he carefully masked it behind years of keeping a calm façade.
“Get your ass back inside, Brown. We need to talk,” Harry stated firmly, pointing inside the office.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“Someone who’s been watching a shit-ton of your activities. It would be best if you listened to what we tell you,” he replied.
Patrick’s eyes narrowed on all three of us. He didn’t know a single one of us, and that unnerved him. I smirked when we stepped inside the office and his thoughts flickered to the gun he had behind his desk.
“Stay on this side of your desk, Brown,” I stated, jerking a chin to Jasper, who immediately went to the desk.
“What are you…”
Jasper slammed the small revolver down on the desktop, smirking. “Not taking chances, Brown.”
“Sit,” Harry ordered, pointing to the chair in the corner. “I’m not beyond coming to this chat with my own advantages, so just sit.”
With a shift of Harry’s shirt, a .45 peeked out just enough to show Brown that Harry wasn’t playing around.
“Fine, what the fuck do you want, asshole?” Brown growled, his fingers itching to smoke a cigarette, which we’d stopped him from partaking.
“We need to talk to you about Phil Dwyer,” I stated, keeping my face blank when his mind shot off into a million directions.
“Don’t know ’im.”
“Well, that’s not entirely true now, is it?” I asked, shaking my briefcase before setting it down on the desk. I pulled out a few photographs of Phil and his visits to the shop, and it was obvious he wasn’t getting his car fixed. When Brown saw them, he looked up at me, wondering just how old I was and why I gave a shit. I tapped the pictures. “I believe he owes you quite a bit of money.”
Patrick snorted, but decided to go with the truth. “That’s putting it lightly.”
“Mm,” I hummed in agreement. “Five-point-two million, yes?” When he nodded, I went on. “And he’s been feeding you a story about paying you back once he gains control of Isabella Swan’s trust fund, am I correct?”
Patrick’s eyes narrowed at my phrasing, but he didn’t answer.
“I think that’s a yes,” Jasper muttered, smirking my way as he kicked back in Brown’s desk chair.
Harry stepped forward. “Brown, do you know how Dwyer was planning to take that money?” he asked.
“The kid’s sick…crazy,” he replied, flinching back when I stepped forward, almost too quickly. “What? She doesn’t talk…her throat’s cut or some shit.”
My growl was low, though thankfully only Jasper could hear it, and he sent a bit of calm over me.
Harry raised his hand to keep me back, but he stayed locked on Brown. “Careful what you say about the girl, Brown. It may just get you killed,” he warned him. “Now…let me see if I can fill in a few blanks. You provided the steroids to the baseball team a few years ago. Your contact was Dwyer, your sons the dealers, along with a few others. Hmm? How am I doing so far?”
I chuckled at Brown’s wide-eyed shock, but said nothing. Harry was handling this just fine.
“When it all went to hell, when the payment was taken in as evidence and the shit went to trial, you blamed Dwyer…even more when he testified. Charlie Swan couldn’t be bought or persuaded, so that must’ve really pissed you off. And when some of your men served time – are still serving time – you held Dwyer responsible. Yes?”
He nodded, but said nothing. “So the bastard owes me money… What’s that got to do with you?”
I sniffed, pulling out the papers Harry had given me outside. “Dwyer is out of luck. Isabella Swan isn’t silent anymore, and her mother is no longer the beneficiary of her trust fund. Therefore, Phil has no claim to it. None. I think…and really, this is just a suggestion…you should call that debt in, Mr. Brown.”
Brown snatched the paperwork out of my hand, flipping through it. “That lying son of a bitch.”
“What you should also know,” I continued, smiling down at him. “Dwyer dragged not just Alec, but Demetri into this with him. He paid them both to kill Swan and his daughter almost five years ago. When it came to Bella, they failed not once, but twice. They won’t get another chance. I’ll kill them before that happens. Alec was inside the Swan home two days ago when Bella almost overdosed on sedatives. He left fingerprints.”
Harry chuckled. “Both your boys are facing murder charges, they have warrants out for their arrest, and the mother of your grandson is willing to testify against you all before going into witness protection.”
Patrick paled, finally giving in to his desire for a cigarette, despite the fact that he didn’t like to smoke inside. Inhaling deeply, I heard his chest…and his thoughts.
“If you choose to hide your sons, that won’t stop me,” I warned him. “They’re responsible for the death of Charlie Swan and two attacks on Isabella. They won’t live much longer.”
“What do you fucking want?” he yelled, breaking into a rattling cough.
I laughed lightly. “I want Phil Dwyer. I want you to call in his debt, offer a price on his head if you have to. I want you to send him underground so that he panics.”
“And in return?”
“I won’t touch your sons…while you’re still alive.”
That caused the room to go silent, and even Harry looked at me curiously, though Jasper knew the same thing I did. Patrick Brown was dying. I didn’t have any clue as to how long he had left, but it didn’t matter. I could be patient.
“And my grandson?” he asked.
“That’s out of our hands,” Harry answered, shrugging a shoulder. “Look, Brown, Heidi was found with evidence on her from Swan’s murder scene. Your boy’s too stupid to live…he gave her stolen merchandise. It was enough evidence to get warrants issued on your sons. My suggestion is to let your boys face the charges. I’m not quite sure what these two will do.”
He was actually being honest and giving him fair warning. It wouldn’t stop me.
I smiled at Brown, who sucked down another cigarette, his thoughts going quickly. He knew most likely that he’d never recover the money from Dwyer, that he’d actually lose money if he offered a price on his head, but the fact that Dwyer had messed up not once, but twice sealed the deal. He’d brought attention to his illegal dealings, dragged his sons into murder, and caused him to lose his grandson.
“I should kill him myself for what this’ll cost me,” Brown muttered.
“You won’t lose any money, other than Dwyer’s original debt,” I stated, lifting a layer of my briefcase to reveal several stacks of bound hundred dollar bills. “This is for whoever brings him to you. If I find him first, that’s yours to keep.”
“Done,” Brown stated, eyeballing the money and then looking around at all of us. “I’ll call in the debt, offer the reward, and you’ll stay away from Demetri and Alec.”
“For now,” I agreed, nodding slowly. “All agreements are negated upon your death.”
“What? You’re gonna kill me?” he laughed humorlessly.
“No, Brown…we need you,” Harry countered.
“You have our word that we won’t touch your sons until you’re gone,” I vowed, pointing to his hand. “You smoke three packs a day, if I’m guessing correctly, not to mention you drink far too much, so really…I just need to be patient. And it won’t matter to me whether they’re in prison or not, so hide them, let them face trial; either way, I don’t care. Fair enough?”
Harry leaned in closer. “And if you give two shits about that grandson of yours, I’d make your will out stating so. Got me?”
Brown nodded, standing up and reaching for the phone on his desk. He pressed a speed dial number and spoke quickly.
“It’s me. I need Dwyer. I’m calling in his debt, and if he doesn’t have my money, you know what to do.” He waited until the male voice on the other end agreed. “Good. Now…spread the word.”
The hospital was almost at the end of visiting hours as I wound my way through the hallways as quickly as I could without scaring the humans. Carlisle was holding Bella’s transfer to the psych ward until I could see her. I owed him a huge thank you for that.
Her room was down on the end, and Carlisle had told me she was alone. He’d sent Renee home about an hour prior.
Stepping into the room, my chest ached at how small and fragile my girl looked as she was curled up on her side facing away from me.
“It’s about time,” she muttered. “Damn, even the hospital needs better locks.”
Grinning, I walked around to see her face, kneeling down to her level. “I told you, love. No locks can keep me away from you.”
She reached up, trailing a finger over my eyebrow, underneath my eye, and across my lips. “Carlisle said you were upset. I’m sorry.”
A heavy breath escaped me as I leaned in to kiss her forehead. “You have nothing to be sorry for, but…Jesus, Bella, I thought I’d lost you. I’m so damn sorry I couldn’t come straight to you, but I…I…couldn’t control anything for a bit. I owe Jasper a lot.”
Tears welled up hot and heavy as she reached for me. I wrapped myself around her as best I could while she was in the bed. She nuzzled into the crook of my neck, muttering about Jacob and me and Phil, about her mother and Carlisle. I just held her as she let it all go.
Finally, I cupped her face, pulling her back so that I look into her dark eyes. “You are the strongest creature I’ve ever had the honor of knowing, Bella.” I shook my head as I tried to contain my emotions. “And I couldn’t be more proud of you than I am right now. You made some major decisions today.”
“Carlisle helped.”
Chuckling, I nodded. “I know. He’s really good at that.”
She snickered and sniffled at the same time, but her smile fell quickly. “They’re putting me in observation for a few days.”
“I know,” I whispered, kissing her lips. “I don’t like it, but I know.”
She nodded, studying my face. “What did you do?”
“I’ll explain it some other time, love. I swear. Do you trust me?”
“With my life,” she answered immediately, placing her hands gently on either side of my face. Her lips were soft. “Will you stay with me until they move me upstairs?”
I kissed her softly. “Until the last possible moment. And then…I’ll be here when you’re done.”
She tugged at my hand until I opened it. She set her charm bracelet in my palm, closing my fingers around it. “Hold onto that for me, please.”
It hurt to see it off her wrist, but she couldn’t take it with her, so I tucked it into my shirt pocket. “I’ll guard it with my life, my love,” I vowed, burying my face in her hair when she snuggled against me.
“I’m tired of being scared, Edward,” she said so very softly.
Nodding, I cupped her face again. “I know. And you don’t have to be afraid for much longer, love. I promise you that,” I vowed, pressing my forehead to hers. “It’s almost over.”
“I hope so,” she said, snuggling into me.
I dropped a kiss to her cheek, knowing for a fact that the men who had hunted her, who had touched her, who had tried to take her from me, weren’t long for this world. I smiled against her head.
“Oh, sweet girl…I know so.”


aelita48 said...

Bella gets better!
Phil is going to be punished!
It is a good chapter.
Thank you.

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