Friday, July 4, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 30 & Pics

Chapter 30
June 2002
“Love…you do exactly as Alice tells you, and nothing else, no matter what you hear. Bulletproof, remember? It’s almost over…”
I stared up at him for a second, watching as my sweet, cuddly Edward who had been teasing me and kissing me suddenly lost every bit of his humanity. He was rigid and angry and black-eyed. His movements went from graceful and smooth, to calculating and alien. He was all immortal, every inch the vampire he truly was, and he wasn’t hiding any of it from me. Nothing could stop him; I could see it in the clench of his jaw, the flare of his nostrils, and even in the vein that popped out on his forehead. He was a killing machine, and Phil had no idea what was coming.
I nodded at him at the same time I put his phone to my ear. “Alice?”
Alice’s voice was sharp, commanding. “Bella, you’re gonna run to the hallway to the electrical box and shut off the power. Next, you’re gonna kill the alarm. When you’re done, you go straight to your mom’s room and pull down the attic ladder. Go!”

Edward was gone in a blink, and Alice called my name to get me to move. I tried my best not to feel a touch of déjà vu, but the fear hit me hard as I ran out of my room toward the end of the hallway. I pulled open the breaker box.
“All of them, Bella. Flip them all off!” Alice stated softly.
Flattening my hand on the first row, I pushed all the switches to the left with a loud click. I did the same to the second row, and the house went dark. The alarm panel on the wall started to bleep, and I disengaged it.
“Master bedroom, sweetie…use the light on the phone to see,” Alice instructed.
Steeling myself, I pushed my mother’s bedroom door open, my breathing coming out in shallow pants. I hated her room. I rarely went in it, not only because it had been Phil’s room, too, but because despite the new carpet and paint on the walls, I could still remember where every drop of blood had been the night my dad died.
I froze, squeezing my eyes shut against the onslaught of memories – masked men, sharp knives, evil laughter. It hit me so hard, my breathing faltered.
“Bella, listen to my voice. You can’t stop. You need to hide. Please, please trust me on this. The attic, sweetie.” Her voice was a smooth chant, soothing.
I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me, and walked to the corner of the bedroom, looking up. The attic door had a thin rope that hung down, and I stepped up on the bed to grab it. The panel was hinged with a spring, and the ladder folded down to the carpet without a sound.
“Now, get up there, and pull the ladder up behind you,” she told me.
I did as she said, listening intently to the house, but I couldn’t hear anything until the sound of glass breaking shocked me into action. I quickly folded up the ladder and pulled the panel closed, sealing me in darkness and the warm musty smell of the attic.
“He’s gonna kill him,” I whispered, leaning back against a box and wrapping my arm around my knees.
“Yes.” Alice’s voice was just as soft as mine. “It has to happen, Bella. For several reasons.”
I jumped when I heard a few thumps downstairs and a muffled cry, but Alice kept talking, most likely to distract me.
“The decisions surrounding you led to several different scenarios, and none of them good. Even if Edward kept you with him twenty-four-seven, Phil would go after Chelsea and your mom. If Edward turns you, it destroys your mother. You need more time. You don’t become one of us for a while.
“However, every time Edward made the decision to kill Phil, you find peace, you move on. And Edward needs the relief that you’re safe from that man. Edward also can’t stop himself. His hate, his need for revenge for Phil ever touching you – for attempting to kill you – is too great, so he has to do this. He doesn’t even know he needs it. It was the one secret I was able to keep from everyone, Bella.” Alice sighed deeply. “Despite how everyone was pushing for justice, for Phil’s arrest, Edward and I were the only ones who knew that killing him was the only way.
“The other two men don’t matter – they get theirs in the end – but Phil… His only want was money, and he’s kind of snapped since you started getting better. I saw that in bits and pieces when Edward was here in Alaska, but I didn’t really get the full picture until you two were together in Boston. And when he tried to kill you… Bella, that man has to die.”
I heard more thumps and thuds, but only Phil’s voice cried out. Edward was remaining silent. I leaned forward toward the attic panel, but I could only hear the ringing in my own ears. The sound of the creak of the sixth step caused a sob to escape me because it came out of nowhere. I flew back to the box I’d been leaning against, almost forgetting that I had the phone to my ear. Edward’s low snarl only made it worse.
“Shh, shh, shh, Bella,” Alice soothed. “It’s okay. You’re not alone. Not this time. But you have to be quiet, and no matter what you hear, you can’t leave the attic until I tell you to.”
“He doesn’t have to do this, Alice,” I barely said aloud through my tears, but she heard me anyway. “He’s tried so hard to—”
“He does. And he will. He needs this closure to your past as much as you do…” Her voice trailed off for a second. “Bella, hang on, I need to see… Don’t move from where you are.”
A loud, rumbling growl pierced through the ceiling from down below. It wasn’t in my mother’s room, but it was close.
“Bella, I need you to crawl away from the attic panel toward the vent. Jasper’s sending Jacob to get you out, but you tell them both not to take you from the house. You can’t leave Edward. You…and only you have to be there when it’s all over. Understand?”
“Yes,” I whispered, glancing around until I saw the peek of light coming in through the vent a few feet away. Just as I reached it, fingers slipped in, wrenching it off.
“C’mere, Bella,” Jacob urged me, and when I crawled through, he set me on the roof. “I’m gonna get you out of here. There’s no stopping Edward at this point.”
“I’m not leaving him,” I sobbed, shaking my head. “Alice said I needed to stay.”
“Bella, he’s…” Jacob sighed, grimacing at something I couldn’t hear. “He’s in full bloodlust. I’ve seen Jasper that way, but never Edward. I don’t know when he’ll snap out of it. Please, come with me. I don’t know what he’s capable of now. Not even Jasper can get through to him.”
I shook my head. “Take me down, but I’m not leaving him. He wouldn’t leave me.” I handed him the phone, and he put it to his ear.
“Alice… I know…but…” His shoulders sagged, but he nodded and reached for me after pocketing the phone. “Let me at least get you off this fucking roof.”
Jacob walked us across the roof toward the back of my house. He set me down on the edge, hopping effortlessly down to the grass. He was tall enough that I could slip part of the way off, and he grabbed my waist, taking me the rest of the way down.
Jasper rushed out of the house, but his eyes were black, a predator’s eyes when he caught sight of me. In the blink of an eye, Jacob was no longer the tall, tanned man, but a whirl of fur and teeth as he placed himself between Jasper and me. His fur stood on end, and his growl was a low, yet sharp warning.
“I’m okay, Jake!” Jasper snapped, gripping at his hair in a way that was eerily familiar. “Everyone needs to calm the hell down! I can’t stop him. He’s…”
I started for the door, but Jacob’s large furry head stopped me with a gruff-sounding sound. It was a grunt or a growl, but he shook his head before pushing me back a little. There was a loud cry from upstairs. All three of us glanced up before everything went completely silent.
Jasper’s phone rang, and he answered it without even looking. “Alice…” He took a deep breath and let it out, his head falling forward and his eyes closing. “Okay. I will. I promise. No, no…I understand it, darlin’. Are you sure? I mean…what I feel coming from him…” He sighed again and nodded, lifting his head to Jacob. “Let her go.”
I darted around Jacob’s large form, but stopped in front of Jasper, who placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Alice says only you can get through to him, but Bella…you need to… I’ll be right behind you, okay?”
I nodded, a sob escaping me, because it sounded like my Edward had completely unraveled. I was inside the house before anyone could change their mind.
A glance out the window told me I had a few spare seconds to save the officers at the front door. Alice had said they wouldn’t make it, but they were good men, their minds on their jobs and their families at home. It didn’t make sense to allow anything to happen to them when they’d put their lives on the line to keep the Swan household safe.
One last glance out into the backyard, and I saw that Phil was hedging his way along the side of the fence. I moved in a blur, keeping silent as I went out the side door. Coming up behind the two officers who were wondering why the lights had gone out, I steeled myself. Using all my control to temper my strength, I knocked them both out, quickly pulling them into the shadows along the side of the house. They’d wake up with a terrible headache, but at least they’d wake up. Alice had seen them not survive at all. The only one who would die tonight would be the man slowly climbing the back porch steps.
His mind was filled with hate and hope. He’d seen Chelsea’s car in the driveway, so he assumed that the house was filled with all three women, and he was going to kill them all. His thoughts were centered around every lie, every manipulation, and all the things he’d failed to accomplish. He’d succeeded in duping Renee, and he’d thought with everything he’d said and done to Bella – from scaring her, to pushing her too hard to be something she wasn’t, to ignoring her altogether – that she’d have snapped by now. My nostrils flared at the anger that pumped through me. He had indeed planned on killing the policemen out front, but he’d wanted to get inside the house first.
My eyes drifted to the ceiling when I heard Bella’s footsteps pound from the hallway into her mother’s room. I never wanted her near this man again. I wanted her away, hidden when I did what I was about to do.
The smashing of the glass in the back door caused Bella’s heartbeat to race and me to smile. I knew I’d left my girl in good hands with Alice. We both loved her, so her survival was Alice’s and my top priority. Revenge was a shared desire between us that only the two of us had planned.
Phil’s sweat and alcohol-laden breath met the air. His thoughts were on the alarm, which didn’t go off. He also wondered why the lights were off, but he was hoping to use that to his advantage. He stumbled around the dining room, ignorant of my close proximity. He carefully checked the front door, smiling when there were no guards there.
He thought he’d won, and his liquid courage only urged him on. He thought he had the advantage, that he’d waited just long enough for everyone to let their guard down. He’d apparently driven by at some point earlier and seen everyone home. He assumed that was still the case.
He was so very wrong.
Concealing myself in the shadows of the library, I let him pass by on his way to the stairs. The bastard crept along up each step, but he specifically stepped on the sixth step with a maniacal chuckle escaping him. It was that moment, that deliberate act of malice and sadism that made everything in me completely come undone.
He knew what that sound did to Bella, that the mere idea alone could send her into a panic, even wake her out of a dead sleep. He’d tested it time and time again, and my poor, sweet girl had never even known it. She never knew that he’d added to her fears, fed them, ramped them up into something she thought was her fault. And to hear that fear pounding in my head from her hiding place in the attic, to smell the salt from her tears, the begging of Alice for Bella to calm down, stay quiet…
I saw red; I inhaled deeply, allowing the scent of his blood to assault my burning throat as my growl started low. My century-long habit of control slipped away like a mask, letting my instinct take over. The need to avenge my mate, protect her, kill for her was all I could see, feel…taste. I barely knew my own name as I stepped out of the library to the bottom of the stairs.
My hands balled into fists as he climbed to the second floor. Using my speed and my ability to stay silent, I ran by him, shoving him the rest of the way until he was sprawled across the landing.
“Did you really think I’d let you touch her again? Touch any of them?” I asked, my voice laced with so much hate that Phil didn’t recognize it at first, but his shock at being touched caused adrenaline to mix with the scent of his blood. It was so sweet, making me lick my lips.
I shoved Bella’s bedroom door on my way by, making him think someone was in there. He pushed himself up, pulling out the gun from his waistband. Narrowing my eyes at it, I smirked as I realized just what had happened to Charlie’s gun after he was killed.
The scent of my girl saturated her room. It was her, me…us. It only caused my thirst for blood to kick into overdrive.
Phil couldn’t see me as he glared into her room. When he realized she wasn’t in there, his temper was quick, but he was still scared.
“Come out, you coward!” he said, raising the gun. “Who the fuck are you?”
Before he could even register it, the gun was gone from his grip – bent and twisted into a useless lump – and his neck was in my hands. Tossing him like a ragdoll, I ejected him from Bella’s room and into the hall. I didn’t want his foul stench to sully the perfect smell that we’d created, that belonged to the one person in the world who mattered to me the most.
Phil’s fear skyrocketed, and he pushed himself backwards with his legs until his back met the door frame of the room he’d once shared with Renee. Another sharp feeling of hatred stabbed at me, if only for how he’d used Bella’s mother. How a man could do that to a woman… It was beyond my comprehension.
I stepped slowly out of the room as he blubbered and tried to stand. A glint from the street lamp out the window highlighted my face, and he scowled.
“You little shit,” he snapped, but for the first time, it registered that I wasn’t normal, that there was a reason behind the unease I caused in him. “I…I’m unarmed,” he stammered, finally getting to his feet by using the door jamb.
I laughed, low and evil, just enough to unnerve him that much more. “So am I,” I chortled, moving across the hallway in a blur.
Grabbing his shirt, I spun him around to face his former bedroom, bending his arm behind his back. The shoulder gave a wet popping sound as he cried out. The bones beneath my grip on his forearm started to shatter, so I let up just a little, because he needed to hear what I had to say.
“Imagine, Phil,” I growled low in his ear as he tried uselessly to fight my grip. “Imagine a scared thirteen-year-old little girl. All she wanted was her dad, and what she found was your two paid hitmen. As if that wasn’t enough…no, no, no…” I tsked in his ear, gripping his neck and forcing him forward a step or two. “Your two weasels made it a game.”
We both heard the thumps and thuds in the attic, and I saw Jacob’s mind pulling Bella to safety. I bit my bottom lip at someone else touching her, but I knew he was only thinking of me. He wasn’t quite sure what I was capable of at the moment. I turned my head toward the hallway when Jasper’s mind met mine. He was trying his damnedest to calm me, but I was way too far gone.
“Get out, Jasper!” I snarled just low enough that Phil only registered a growl, not words.
Edward, you can’t… he’s not worth… Jasper’s mind pleaded, but I could see my bloodlust was overriding anything he was trying to push at me. He stumbled back at the power of it, and it caused his own thirst to scorch his throat. He ran out the back door in order to clear his head.
I pulled Phil’s head back, forcing him to expose his neck. “She was so scared…just about as scared as you are…right now. Her father wanted her safe, told her to scream, and he died trying to protect her, but she couldn’t scream, because you can’t make a sound when your throat’s been sliced,” I explained to him slowly, like he had some mental deficiency. “In fact,” I sang in false cheerfulness, placing my thumbnail at his neck, “let’s see if you can do any better than she did…”
My nail pierced his flesh, and with a slow, deliberate cut, I opened his skin. The sweet scent of blood hit the air like a siren’s call. My throat was aflame with it, my growl only caused his heart to beat harder, and I licked my lips.
“Scream, Phil… Go ahead.” I let him go, spinning him around so that he could face me. He held his neck, opening and closing his mouth as blood soaked the top of his shirt. “What? I can’t hear you? Did you say something?” I asked, stepping closer. When he tried to back away, I grasped the front of his shirt, bringing his face to mine. “Should I laugh at you like they laughed at her? Should I let you drain all over this floor like she did?”
His hand went to his throat, covering his fingers in delicious, thick red. I hadn’t cut him as deeply as they’d cut Bella, but the smell of his blood was a haze in the room…and in my senses. I bent his head back a little more, opening the wound a little wider.
“Beg for death. She did. Tell me to end it, and I will.” It was lies. All of it. I just wanted his fear at an all-time high before I ended him.
His mind reeled, still filled with hatred, with revenge. He’d never learn, no matter what punishment was exacted on him. However, as he focused on my face, his last thoughts were muddled – a mix of fear and anger, a prayer for death, and a question of what I was.
Smiling, I said, “I’m no one, Phil. A ghost. Her ghost.”
My teeth sank into his neck, and my eyes rolled back into my head at the sweet, thick, warm nectar that hit the back of my throat. I purred at the feeling of finally being completely sated for the second time in a hundred years. I knew nothing outside of each pull, each draw his heart pumped into me. When his body could give me no more, I dropped him to the floor, causing a dull, lifeless thud to echo in the room as his body collapsed into a heap.
My breathing was in pants, my body shook, and I fell to my knees next to him, a long, loud snarl erupting from me. A hundred years of control tossed out the window, but there was a part of me that wasn’t sorry. The demon inside relished it all – the strength the human blood sent through me, the sweet taste that was still on my lips, and the knowledge that my mate was safe.
The Brown brothers were no threat. They weren’t smart enough or brave enough to come anywhere near the target they had been hired to kill. It wasn’t personal to them, but for Phil, it was every bit personal. And no matter how Alice had tried to spin it, her visions had only showed her that his death was the only way to keep Bella safe…and in turn, Renee and Chelsea.
I gazed down at Phil’s lifeless body, shaking my head. Bella’s scent and heartbeats drew closer, and I blinked at the burning in my eyes from tears I couldn’t shed. Suddenly, I was ashamed. I’d let the bastard get the better of me, let him manipulate me into unleashing the demon I’d tried so hard to keep contained. And I knew if I got up and looked in the mirror, my eyes would be as red as rubies.
Groaning, I fell forward, allowing my forehead to thump to the floor. Ruby eyes. Leah had predicted them as far back as Bella’s first day of school. They’d held steady in every prediction since, and they’d been my own eyes all along.
“Edward!” I heard her sweet voice calling me, and I sat up straight.
“Don’t!” I growled, holding a hand up when she’d appeared at the door, but it was too late.
Her sharp intake of breath told me she’d seen him already. Her heartbeat held a steady beat – heavier than usual, but not out of control. Though, I still couldn’t look up at her.
Brother, let me take out the garbage. Jasper’s thoughts were warm and understanding, and I nodded. And she’s not scared of you. She’s just worried. She needs you, Edward. Alice says you have to let Bella take care of you.
I gave him a side-glance, but kept my gaze low and said nothing.
“Edward, look at me,” Bella ordered softly, and instinctually, it was almost impossible to ignore.
“I can’t…”
She stepped fully into the room, her heartbeat racing a little faster, but Jasper moved quickly around her and picked up Phil. It was effortless and so fast that Bella probably didn’t even get a glimpse of what I’d truly done to him.
Bella came to stand in front of me as I knelt on the floor. My focus was on her stomach, but my eyes slipped closed when her fingers raked through my hair.
“Was it the only way?” she asked in a whisper.
I nodded, my forehead thumping to her torso. Her arms wound around my head, and I inhaled deeply the scent that I needed so badly. Flowers, fruit, and me, scents that soothed my very soul. But I was afraid to touch her with the extra strength running through my veins, afraid to look at her for fear that she’d be scared of what she’d see. The last time she’d seen red eyes had been with Alice, who’d been out of control and almost savage.
Warm, soft hands cupped either side of my face, forcing me to look up, but I closed my eyes.
“Edward…” she said, almost in a warning. “Edward, if you love me, then you’ll open your eyes and look at me.”
It was a sweet, adorable threat coming from her, but almost unfair, though I did as she asked. I flinched when a gasp escaped her.
Edward immediately looked away at my reaction, but I stopped him. Or really, he allowed me to stop him. I could feel the shaking, the strength that hummed just beneath the surface of his cool, hard skin. He was nervous, scared.
“Was he going to kill me?”
“All three of you,” he replied softly, lifting his shaking hands to my waist. He gently pulled me down to his lap, but he was having a hard time looking me in the eye. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have… I could’ve…”
“Shhh,” I hushed him. “You saved me. What have you told me from the beginning?”
He shrugged, his expression completely lost at what I was asking him. He’d told me a million things. He’d promised me the world. I smirked at his belligerence, but trailed my fingers across his eyebrow, down his sharp jaw, to his chin and lifted his gaze back to mine.
“You said he’d never touch me. He didn’t.”
“He did. He almost killed you,” he argued, a growl causing his words to come out raspy. “Again!”
“But he didn’t this time.” I studied his face, but I only saw my Edward, the beautiful man I loved, despite the red in his eyes. “Was it the only way?” I asked again…this time, emphatically.
“Yes.” He swallowed nervously and nodded. “I couldn’t let him. And he…his thoughts… Bella, he would’ve…” Edward sighed deeply, his forehead falling to my shoulder. “He took so much joy in scaring you, Bella. I…I snapped. I stopped thinking…”
“Then I don’t think you did anything wrong.”
That answer caused him to pop back up and finally, truly meet my eyes. “Sweetheart, I killed a man!”
“You defended me,” I stated firmly in argument. “You saved Chelsea and my mother from him… Things would’ve ended no differently had the cops done it. He probably would’ve gotten killed by them, too, Edward, with the way he broke in.” I scowled at him for his continuing to argue, so I finally placed my fingers over his lips. “Thank you.”
Edward said nothing for a moment, his face emotionless as his hands grasped either side of my face, bringing my forehead to his. “Don’t thank me, love. It was an ugly, selfish thing to do.”
“And from what Jasper said, you couldn’t help it, so…” I sighed deeply. “Edward…you know I love every part of you. Even these,” I whispered, trailing a finger beneath his red eyes. “You’ve loved every part of me, even when you couldn’t show it, even when I couldn’t say it out loud. It’s no different.”
A harsh gasp escaped him, one I’d learned was the sound of his crying. I found myself wrapped in strong arms and whispers against my neck that I couldn’t quite make out. I caught words of love and apology, some promises of forever, and I felt heavy kisses just beneath my ear.
I pushed him back, smiling up at him before kissing his lips briefly. My eyes were drawn to the sharp color of his. I already missed the warm honey, but his love was still right there as he looked at me like he always did, with a touch of fear that I wasn’t real.
“They’ll change back,” he whispered contritely, and long, beautiful eyelashes swept up to gaze at me with those piercing red eyes.
I chuckled, knowing that already, but he seemed to have this need to explain. “How long?”
He shrugged a shoulder. “A month or two.”
“Okay,” I conceded, smirking at him.
I heard the sound of the boys downstairs, but it was Jasper who peeked in on us. He seemed to communicate with Edward silently, receiving a nod in response.
“What now?” I asked.
Edward sighed, kissed my cheek. “We need to…clean up.”
Wrinkling my nose, I spun to look around my mother’s room. Not a thing was out of place. In fact, there wasn’t even a drop of blood from Phil.
“Not that kind of cleanup, Bella,” Edward murmured, sounding ashamed. “We have to make him disappear. Close this place up like we’d left. In order to save the two officers at the door, I had to knock them out, so…”
“So…they won’t stay knocked out,” I surmised, nodding when he did. I stood up from his lap, pressing his shoulders for him to stay where he was. “So…that’s two more lives you saved tonight,” I told him, raising an eyebrow at him.
Jasper barked a laugh from somewhere in the hallway, but Edward finally cracked a smile, opening and closing his mouth a couple of times before saying, “I…I guess so, Bella.”
“Good. Remember that,” I urged him, kissing his forehead. “And Leah was right, Edward.”
His brow wrinkled, and he tilted his head at me a little. “About what, love?”
“The ruby eyes?” I asked him, and he nodded as I kissed each one. “They are filled with love.”
Edward grinned, shook his head, and glanced down at the floor before looking back up at me. “They won’t always be this color, but they’ll always look at you that way.”
Chuckling, I grabbed his face. “They’d better.”
July 2002
Groaning at the sun beaming in through Edward’s bedroom window, I rolled over and buried my face into his side of the bed. It smelled like him, though it was no longer occupied. Faint noises from downstairs wafted up, along with the smell of bacon and something sweet. Despite the grumble in my stomach for whatever Leah was making in the kitchen, I didn’t want to get up. I was happy right where I was. I knew today was a big day, but I was too comfortable.
Chelsea and my mother were due back from New Hampshire sometime later today, and Leah and Jacob were getting ready to head back to Masen Manor. Carlisle and Esme had already come and gone twice since June, and Jasper had left a few days after Phil had made the unfortunate decision to break into my house. Edward was the only one who was staying in Boston for the remainder of my summer vacation. Though, now…things could go back to normal. I just had to figure out what normal was.
I heard the bedroom door open and close again, and I stayed wrapped around Edward’s pillow, but the pure source of the scent was slowly enveloping me. Cool lips trailed fire up my shoulder blade, beautiful hands braced on either side of my head, and Edward’s chuckle was deep and sexy.
“Faker,” he teased softly in my ear. “I can tell when you’re awake, sweet girl.”
Giggling, I tried to pull the covers over my head, but squealed when they were all yanked back.
“Edward,” I whined, hitting him with a pillow. “Unfair hearing…and lightning speed…” I grumbled, rolling onto my back in the cage of his arms.
His eyes were an amber, almost burnt orange now, slowly making their way back to their golden color, but they were still framed by his long eyelashes and filled with mirth at the moment as he loomed over me. It was completely unfair that he could make a plain white T-shirt and jeans look so good. I’d complain that I looked like a train wreck, but the way he was licking his lips told me he didn’t see the sleep-mussed hair or the creases in my skin left by the sheets.
Leaving himself braced on one hand, he pushed at my tank top, pressing a soft kiss to my stomach.
“I heard your stomach all the way downstairs, Bella,” he chortled, glancing up as his tongue teased my bellybutton.
“I’ll live. Leah hasn’t let me starve yet since I’ve been here,” I told him, smiling when he settled down on me, his chin now resting where his tongue once was as his arms snaked around me. I raked my fingers through his hair. It was still damp from a recent shower. “You hunted.”
He smiled. “I did. I didn’t go far. It was faster to run once I was out of the city.”
There was something different about him, a lightness to him. I’d been afraid that his decimation of Phil would’ve changed him, would’ve made him change his diet – it was something Carlisle had been extremely concerned about when he and Esme had shown up the next day – but he’d vowed to all of us that he’d go right back to hunting the way he’d hunted for a century. The removal of Phil had allowed Edward to relax, even more when the Brown brothers had finally been found and arrested, currently in jail without bond.
It didn’t matter that Alec and Demetri had squealed on Phil. They were still charged with murder and attempted murder. And two days after they’d been arrested in Florida, Phil’s body had been found floating in the bay, which covered up his loss of blood and made it seem like his illegal dealings had finally caught up with him. Without evidence or prints, his case went cold, but no one cared. Jasper and Jacob had set it all up to look like Phil had broken into my house when no one was home, knocked out the two guards, and ran when he found the place empty.
A gentle hand brushed my hair away from my face.
“Bella, where’d you go?” he asked, partially teasing, but honestly curious.
I huffed a light laugh and shrugged a shoulder, only to break into a long, needed stretch. Edward’s eyes drank in every inch of me, and he shook his head slowly.
“I’ll miss you in my bed,” he murmured, slipping up my body in order to press his lips to mine.
“You mean the bed that’s never been slept in?” I said with a giggle. “Besides me, of course.”
His smile was crooked and sweet. “Of course.”
“Well, didn’t you say something about not sleeping in the dorms when I go back to school?” I asked him, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Or were you teasing me?”
He shook his head slowly again, and this time, his eyes blackened to pitch. “No, I really want you there.”
The way he’d just said that made everything inside of me set on fire. The butterflies in my stomach not only donned their armor, but immediately went into battle. He said it like it had more than one meaning, more than just where I was supposed to sleep.
“Edward,” I breathed, finally giving in and capturing his lips with mine.
It had been hard to stop ourselves the last few weeks I’d been staying in his brownstone. The first few nights after Phil, my nightmares had been atrocious, and Edward held me through every last one. One night, I begged for him, and we’d almost lost control. It was the first time I’d ever touched him intimately, and watching him lose a touch of his stern control had been breathtaking. However, with the human blood in his system, he’d become slightly stronger, which caused a few harmless bruises that night. After that, Edward slowed us down, stating he needed to allow for his diet to set him back to normal. He’d almost been inconsolable at the sight of two small bruises – one on my thigh, the other on my arm. They’d already faded away, but he wasn’t taking any other chances, though sometimes, we couldn’t stop the heavy making out.
My fingers slipped beneath his shirt as his hand cupped my thigh, lifting my leg around his waist.
“God, Bella…you’re so warm when you first wake up,” he moaned in my ear, but smiled against it when my stomach had something to say, and he stopped, his laughter shaking us both.
I groaned, my head falling back to the pillow. “Get off me, you tease.”
He tried to look hurt, but failed adorably, slipping off the end of the bed. “Breakfast, love, and then Leah wants to see us.”
My nose wrinkled, but I nodded. Leah had begged us to let her give us a reading, but I’d declined over and over…or maybe procrastinated. I wasn’t sure I was ready for what she had for us, but since she was leaving Boston today, time had run out.
I stood up, rubbing my face, and started for the bathroom, but Edward stopped me.
“No matter what she says, Bella, we’ll deal with it,” he stated firmly, and the dark, sexy look had evaporated, only to be replaced by serious honesty. “Plus, Alice is watching, as well.”
Smiling, I nodded. That was true. Alice had become an integral part of the family, and it didn’t matter that she was all the way in Alaska. She called frequently, and I noticed that everyone had started to lean on her predictions, especially after the way she’d kept me safe the night Phil had broken into my house.
I kissed him, whispering that I loved him, and then made my way to the bathroom. I grinned and shook my head behind the closed door when he mumbled something about not being able to listen to the water and naked skin and meeting me downstairs.
When I was finally showered and dressed, I stepped into the kitchen to see Edward sitting with Leah and Jacob at the table. He was the only one not eating, of course, but he never complained, even though I knew that the smell of human food sometimes disgusted him – some foods more than others. Dairy products were high on his hate list.
I ate in silence, listening to Jacob and Edward discuss things that needed to be done at Masen before the start of the next school year. Leah was quiet, as well, refilling her son’s plate and reading his tea leaves. Whatever she saw in them made her smile, but she said nothing, not even when Edward stopped mid-sentence to laugh at her, though he kept her secret between them.
Jacob cleared the table and cleaned the kitchen, leaving us to our reading. When it was just the three of us, Leah smiled, pushing the tarot cards forward.
Her brow furrowed, but she hummed the most recent song that Edward and I had been working on. It made him smile. She cut the deck, shuffled them in her usual manner, only to set them out. She read Edward first, setting them out one by one. This time, they were different.
“Hmm,” she hummed, her lips twitching a little in the corners. “Well, now…”
Edward’s eyes darted from the cards to her face and back again. “Seriously?”
I giggled, rolling my eyes, simply because his patience tended to fly out the window when she read him. He used his mind reading to try to pick it all up before she could say a word. He shut up when she glared at him.
“I swear to God, Edward,” she sighed, shaking her head, but she shot me a wink. “You next.”
She went through the same motions, finally sitting back in her chair a little. She tapped the crystal ball, smirking my way.
“Lots of changes,” she stated softly. “This stays true, a constant.” She pushed the Love card toward us with a smile. “But so does this…for both of you, so I’m thinking it’s Bella’s eventual change. You started with three almost a year ago, but you’re down to one.” The Death card was slid forward next to the first one. “Those are shared by the two of you…and they seem to be intertwined together.” She tapped the crystal ball again, glancing between us.
She sat forward, resting her elbows on the table. “Bella, you still have Strength and Justice, which is understandable now with those two men in jail. Plus, you’ve been working on speaking more and more in public, so…yes, Strength is most fitting.”
I leaned into Edward’s kiss to the side of my head, and he linked our fingers together.
“Edward, you have some changes,” she said with a somber tone. She pushed a card I’d never seen forward. “Chariot…it’s control, willpower, a strength of sorts. You stay true to your diet, despite your slip, but I think your vision seer has told you that.”
Edward chuckled. “Yes, Alice has been watching for me…and for herself, as well. She means to see Bella as soon as her visions show her it’s safe.”
Leah smiled at him lovingly. “I see no problems, but she may see more than me.” She pushed another new card to the forefront. “The World card,” she stated, but her eyes locked onto Edward, who swallowed nervously.
“Completion,” he whispered, gazing at the card for a second. “Accomplishment.”
“Mmhm,” she hummed and nodded. “Combined with the Love card… I see you two as one.”
Edward’s eyes darkened a little as he glanced over at me, and I realized what she was telling us. While we were soul mates, while I was Edward’s eternal other half, we weren’t truly mated until we were one…until we’d made love. It was the reason behind the constant pull to one another and the heat that exploded when we touched. However, since I’d met him, the timing had simply never been right, and neither of us had been ready. But we were getting closer and closer every time we were alone.
I felt my heart race and my cheeks heat, but Edward placed his hands gently on either side of my face.
“There’s no rush, my love. Ever. No pressure,” he whispered, making sure I was looking him in the eyes.
“Of course not,” Leah scoffed. “Despite all of this,” she huffed, waving a hand at the cards, the tea leaves, and her crystal ball, “you’ll know when it’s right. You’re young... Yes, you, too, Edward. When it comes to this, you are.”
He grinned and glanced down and away for a second. “I suppose that’s true.”
“Trust me, you’ll know,” she stated, patting his hand before standing up. “Now, come give me hugs,” she said as Jacob rumbled down the stairs, laden with their bags. “I’ll see you two in a month.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Edward said, kissing her cheek before walking upstairs with Jacob to carry more stuff down.
“Bella,” Leah said, hugging me fiercely and then cupping my face. “I know what you want, but it’s not time yet,” she whispered cryptically. “You think you’re the weak one surrounded by immortals, but really, you’re their strength.” When I grimaced a little, she hugged me again. “You’re also your mother’s strength, sweet one. She needs you… She needs her little girl just a bit longer, especially now. She doesn’t know how to be alone just yet. Understand?”
Taking a deep breath, I let it out slowly, but I nodded. Alice had pretty much told me the same thing, that it wasn’t time for me to become like them. Not yet. She’d also told me that it could stir up way too many questions should it happen too soon.
“I get it,” I told her.
“Good,” she said, kissing my cheek before looking me in the eyes again. “And you are his strength, Bella. You make him the man he’s always wanted to be, needed so badly to be. My grandmother told him in her first prediction that he’d become someone else. I used to think that was his change into immortality, but I was wrong. It’s who he was meant to be with you.
Smiling at that, I kissed her cheek. “Thank you, Leah.”
“No thanks needed,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ll see you back at home.”
My heartbeat fluttered at that word. Home. And I realized that Masen Manor had become where I truly belonged. It was where I’d learned to be me again, where I’d met the best thing that ever happened to me, and as Edward’s steel-strong arms wrapped around me from behind, I smiled at her.
“Yep, we’ll see you in a few weeks.”


aelita48 said...

Edward killed Phil, it is a good thing.
Thank you.

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