Wednesday, May 6, 2015 | By: Drotuno

Man Behind the Mask Chapter 22 & Pics

Chapter 22 – One Step Closer to the Edge
I cannot take this anymore
Saying everything I've said before
All these words they make no sense
I find bliss in ignorance
Less I hear the less you'll say
You'll find that out anyway

Just like before…

Everything you say to me
Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I'm about to break
I need a little room to breathe
Cause I'm one step closer to the edge
I'm about to break
“One Step Closer” – Linkin Park
EDWARD
I rubbed my wet hair with a towel at the same time I glared at my phone. “Well, damn…” I sighed, tossing the towel down onto the vanity. “Bella must be busy as hell.”
Emmett smirked but glanced at his watch. “Well, Harry would be on stage about now, so yeah…probably.” He grinned, pointing to my phone. “Call Dad. He should be there by now.”
“Oh, yeah,” I mumbled, shaking my head. “That’s gonna take some getting used to, for real. Dad being in my apartment.”
Emmett laughed but scrolled through his phone, most likely checking our flight information. We were all busting our asses to get to the Miami airport so we could get home, even if it was only for a few days. Home was fucking home, and we were all dying to see Seattle…and our girls. Poor Alec was just about to come out of his own skin with Carrie so close to having that baby. I had a funny feeling he wouldn’t be joining us for the second leg of the tour.
I dialed my dad, not really expecting an answer, but grinned when he answered with a chipper, “Hey, champ. How’s Miami?”
“Fucking hot!” I growled but chuckled at the same time. “Jesus, the air is ninety percent liquid, I swear to God.”
He laughed, and he sounded good.
“Are you at Bella’s?” I asked him.
“I am, and she’s a gracious host already.”
“I’m sure.” I laughed lightly, shaking my head. “I tried to call her, but I know she’s probably slammed. Are you gonna see her?”
“I can…” he hedged but then added. “Actually, I was going to check on her anyway. She’s sort of got her hands full down there. Your record producer’s down there…with James.”
My head snapped around to Emmett, and he looked up curiously from his phone when I asked, “What do you mean? Aro and James are at Charlie’s…like now?”
Emmett shot off the vanity and out of the bathroom, only to drag poor Rose back in with him.
“Dad, I need to talk to Bella. Can you tell her I want to talk to her before I get on the plane?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll go back down there now.” When I thanked him, he simply said, “Don’t thank me, son. I owe you, remember?”
“’Kay,” I sighed, ending the call with him before rounding on my brother and sister-in-law. “What’s Aro playing at?” I snapped. “He just…shows up? And with James? Seriously?”
Rose’s nostrils flared as she shook her head slowly. “Let’s go. Tony’s ready to get us out of here. Keep your time with the backstage-pass holders brief. C’mon.”
We stepped out into the hall, and Jasper read my mood instantly. “What the hell?”
Emmett explained as we worked our way through quick autographs and brief pictures. By the time the guys knew what was going on, we were pretty much running to the tour bus. Mike was pale, pissed, and eerily quiet, but he was leading the way.
“Go. Just fucking floor it, Tony,” Emmett snapped.
“That stupid motherfucker,” Alec hissed, shaking his head slowly and meeting my gaze. “Ed, I know you’re about five seconds from going all Hulk in here, but…try her again.”
I couldn’t even laugh at his jab at me. I tried my dad’s phone, then Bella’s, and then Bella’s again. No answer.
“Now no one’s answering?” I turned to my brother.
“Relax, baby bro. It’s loud in there.”
Nodding, I just sat and stared at my phone. I didn’t try again until Tony pulled up to the airport. Our bags were loaded on a trolley, and we were led through the usual back hallways to a VIP lounge.
Putting the phone to my ear, I paced, gripping my hair as it rang and rang. When someone did finally answer, I had to pull the phone away from my ear. The noise was insane on the other end.
“Bella?”
“No, son…”
My heart sank. “Where is…?”
Over the line I could hear her. I caught words like drugs, rape, and my name…but not Edward…Masen.
My hand balled up into a fist. “What the fuck is going on, Dad?!” I snapped, and instantly, Rose and Emmett were in front of me.
“Edward, I need you to listen to me,” he stated in such a firm tone that my mouth snapped shut with a click of my teeth. “First… Bella’s fine. She’s all right, champ. Okay?”
“Yeah. Okay.”
“Right now, she’s talking to the police.”
I sat down hard on the closest bench, and Rose and Emmett flanked either side of me, but it was Rose who smashed her head close to mine in order to hear over the phone.
“What happened?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“James… He…”
Dad sighed, and voices got louder, and I pretty sure I heard my girl tell someone to go fuck themselves. My eyebrows shot up at that, and I was about to throw my damn phone, but Dad started talking quickly, quietly.
“I came back downstairs to the bar. Bella said to use the back door, so I came in that way. I was gonna give her your message so she’d be ready when you called back. James, he… When I stepped out behind her, she set her mug down to pour him a beer. He leaned over the bar to put something in her cup. I saw him, Edward! I had to stop her, and now…all hell’s kinda broken loose because she’s scared and pissed and…”
“What was it?!”
“If I had to guess…rohypnol…”
I dropped the phone into Rose’s hand – not caring that she almost didn’t catch it – but I had to step away. I walked across the lounge to another bench, gripping it and flipping the son of a bitch over. I heard voices, voices I knew, and I felt hands grabbing at me, but I shrugged them off, reaching for a phone on the wall by the door.
A vise-like grip wrapped around me from behind, essentially trapping my arms.
“Brother, you have to stop!” Emmett hissed in my ear. “You can’t…not here. They’ll lock you up, man. You’ve got to chill the fuck out.”
I shook in my brother’s strong hold, glaring at the floor. “He…James… He tried to drug her?! He… Aro brought him there to…”
“Is she okay?” he asked roughly in my ear, and I nodded. “Then…you have to calm the fuck down. You tear this place apart, and you’ll be arrested. You get arrested, and getting home will be out of the fucking question. Calm your shit, Edward!”
Jasper appeared in front of me, seemingly calm as ever, but I knew him. He was livid. His face reddened when he was pissed; his eyes were narrow and dark.
“Did… Did you say they tried to drug Bella?” he asked, and I nodded. He turned to Alice. “I want a private plane home. Now. Nonstop, straight into Sea-Tac.”
Alice nodded, pulling out her phone. “It’ll probably take about an hour, but…”
“I’ll pay extra if they hurry,” he stated, looking back to me. “We’ll get you home, Edward.”
I glanced over my shoulder to my brother. “I’m okay.”
“No, you aren’t, but at least you won’t rip shit off the walls,” Tanya said from beside me once Emmett let me go, and she cupped my face when I nodded and straightened up. “Sit down. I’ll get you something to drink.”
I did as I was told, looking to Rose when she handed my phone back. She took a seat beside me, taking my hands in hers. “She’s okay. I didn’t talk to her. She’s still with the cops, but her friend Harry is there, along with Garrett and Tori, and your dad…he’s gonna watch over her until we get home. Okay?”
My hands balled up into fists. My jaw rolled with my gritted teeth. “I’m… I’mma kill a motherfucker.”
“No, you aren’t. You’re gonna do exactly as I tell you,” she stated, and there was something about her demeanor that was fucking frightening, so I nodded. “Good. We’ll get home, and we’ll go straight to Bella. You let me worry about Aro and James. Clear?” When I opened my mouth, she shook her head. “I mean it. I will handle it.”
I nodded and then glanced down at my phone when it buzzed in my hand. It was my dad’s phone this time. “Dad, I…”
“You had to calm down. It’s understandable. She’s still with the police, son. But I promise you, she’s okay.”
I needed to talk to her, hear it from her sweet mouth that she was okay, but Alice announced across the room that she’d gotten us a private plane.
“You… Dad, I gotta go. We’re taking a different flight. I’m… Listen, you tell my angel she should’ve kicked his ass, and let her know I’ll be home by sunrise. Okay?”
“I will. I won’t leave her side until you’re home, champ.”
Something about that statement put me at ease and caused a lump to form in my throat. I swallowed around it, whispering, “Thanks.”
My ears were ringing, my head pounding as I was guided through every step to board the plane. I may have calmed down enough to push through the whole process, but my imagination was out of fucking control. The what ifs were making me crazy. What if my dad hadn’t been there? What if my sweet angel had actually taken a sip of whatever James had put in her cup? What if Aro was behind it? What if James had…
Crack!
“Give me that,” Tanya sighed, snatching my phone out of my hand. “You’re lucky it’s just the case you just destroyed and not the screen. You can have it back when we land.” She turned it over in her hands and shook her head at the large crack down the back of the case.
Smirking in spite of it all, I took a seat by a window. My forehead fell to it with a dull thump.
“Edward,” Tanya called, taking the seat beside me, and Kate fell into the one in front of me. “I know you won’t feel okay until you set eyes on her, but your dad’s there, and she didn’t actually…”
“I know!” I snapped, instantly regretting it, but she knew me well enough to realize I couldn’t control my mouth right at that moment. “She’s…” I shook my head slowly. “She’s so fucking strong, but…” I swallowed nervously, gazing back out the window. “What if she hates me for bringing this shit on her?”
There went the motherfucking what ifs again. I squeezed my eyes closed to quiet my head, but they just kept fucking coming.
“Edward, no,” Kate said, sitting forward, cupping my face. “Look at me. No.” She said it so firmly that I wanted to believe her. “That girl loves you.”
I nodded absentmindedly, turning to face the window again. Everyone left me alone after that. It was a long fucking flight but faster than had we taken the airline. Almost seven hours, but with going from the East Coast to the West, we gained time. I fell asleep at one point, simply out of pure exhaustion. The adrenaline from the show, my temper, and all my worries wore off quickly.
I woke up just about the time we touched down in Seattle, and my temper and my worry kicked right back up to the point I could barely see straight. We all separated at the airport, and I was aware that there were conversations around me. Rose was instantly on her phone to her uncle, trying to find out exactly what the police were going to do about James and Aro. She spoke quietly while Emmett guided me through the private hallways and finally out to the car service Rose had ready for us.
The ride was silent, except for the occasional sound of traffic. I could feel Rose’s worried gaze, and Emmett was practically rocking in his seat. I, however, watched the city I loved blur by neighborhood by neighborhood, until we reached the one I needed most.
I didn’t know what to expect so early in the morning…or late at night, depending on how I looked at it. Though, the throng of media was not even close to being on the list. And the very second they saw who pulled up outside the alleyway of Charlie’s Pub, they were on us like white on rice.
Masen! Are you here about James?
James was arrested earlier tonight, Masen… Will you be pressing charges?
Was there an altercation with Bella and James?
“I’m gonna do more than press charges if I get my hands on James,” I muttered under my breath as Emmett guided Rose and me past them to the back of the alley.
At the top of the stairs on Bella’s landing was a giant of a man who rivaled that of my brother’s size. He met us about halfway down, offering his hand to Rose.
“Felix,” she greeted, placing her hand on my shoulder. “This is Masen…and his head of security you already know. Masen, this is the security guard Bella’s hired.”
Felix and I nodded to one another, but he turned to my brother.
“Felix,” Emmett greeted. “What happened?”
The large man recounted the whole night, even Bella’s worry that she should just let James and Aro stay, but my angel had been smart. She’d asked Felix to stay inside for the night, just in case. He told about my father, how he’d come to see my girl, and that Dad had watched over – and was still watching over – Bella through every single bit of it.
“Your dad, man,” Felix huffed through a light laugh and a slow shake of his head. “Boy, he won’t let a soul go near her. Not until you got here. As far as I know, he’s crashed out on her sofa. Anyway, I decided to camp out right here. I don’t think after all this shit that anyone will come near her, but…I wasn’t taking chances.”
“Felix, what were the charges?” Rose asked, and he wrinkled his nose.
“James was taken in, and Aro tried to deny knowing him, but Miss Bella put a stop to that shit. He…he tried to give her a roofie, so…I’m not sure what they’ll charge him with. She didn’t drink it, but it was damned close call.”
I walked back down the stairs to the alley, my hands sinking into my hair. My temper renewed with a vengeance, and the closest thing I could take it out on was a garbage can. With a forceful kick, I sent the bastard into the brick wall of the bar, but it wasn’t enough. I had to get this shit out of my system, or my ass would hunt down James and Aro and the result would be…bad. The sound of glass bottles meeting their demise against the unforgiving brick wasn’t good enough. I kicked it again, only to reach for it with my hands. Before I could even lift it, much less throw it, arms locked around me again. These were different from Emmett but the same height.
“Champ, don’t,” Dad whispered in my ear. “Let go of it.”
“I need—”
“I know, but you’re forgetting who’s watching, and you’ll wake her up. I just got her to settle down.”
“Why?” I spun to face him as Emmett and Felix rushed to the alleyway to stop the paps my noise had drawn in. I didn’t give a damn about what they thought they were seeing.
He smiled sadly. “Because for some reason, she’s worried about you.”
“I need to see her,” I said, pushing off him and brushing by Rose. I took the stairs two or three at a time. When I reached for the door knob, it escaped my grasp, and I was standing face to face with Bella, who had tears streaming down her face. “Angel,” I sighed in relief and heartbreak at that beautiful face in pain. Instantly, I had her in my arms, and I kicked the door closed behind me. Setting her on the kitchen table, I buried my face in the crook of her neck.
“Edward,” she sobbed, her grip on my shirt almost ripping the damn fabric.
“Shh, baby,” I soothed her, pulling back just enough to shrug out of my jacket. “Let me see you.” Cupping her face, my heart broke that she wouldn’t look at me.
“I…I…I messed up, Edward.”
“You did nothing fucking wrong, angel. I promise you,” I vowed.
“Aro and…and…James,” she said through hiccups and sniffles. “They… I…”
I kissed her hard. “Nothing, Bella. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“He’s…so fucking mad, Edward!” she yelled, her face dissolving into tears again. “He’s… You’ve got…months left!”
I laughed almost in giddy relief, shaking my head. I couldn’t help it. “Is that what you’re worried about? Really?” Scooping her up into my arms, I walked her to her sofa and fell down with her cradled on my lap. Just having her in my arms after weeks of missing her like fucking crazy made everything else seem insignificant. “Listen to me, angel,” I whispered against her temple as she snuggled in as close as she could. “Nothing he could do to me could be worse than something happening to you. Do you fucking understand that?”
She nodded, gripping my shirt at the shoulder in her fist.
“Fuck, angel, you’re shaking,” I continued softly against her skin, raking my fingers through her hair. “You’re okay, and you’re right here. If I have to kidnap you and take you with me from this point on, I will.” I smiled against her cheek when a sniffly laugh escaped her. “I’ll do it, too. Don’t think I won’t!” I growled dramatically into her neck just to make her squeak, then squirm.
She finally sat up to look at me, and I couldn’t help but shift us until we were slouched down, stomach to stomach on that sofa. Reaching up, I wiped away her needless tears.
“God, I missed you,” I breathed, shaking my head at the truth, despite all the shit. “Don’t you worry about me, Bella. There’s nothing that could fuck with me except losing you.”
“I love you,” she said, pressing her lips to mine. She placed her hands on either side of my face. “I think… I’m pretty sure they were trying to make me look like I was cheating…with James!”
Nodding, I frowned but kissed her lips. “I think you’re right, but… You’re okay. That’s all I care about. I’ll deal with their shit later…or Rose will. They will regret what they’ve done, angel.”
I swiped my thumbs beneath her eyes. “You look so fucking tired. Please, just…let me hold you. Okay? We’ll do the reunion shit the right way tomorrow.”
She smiled and nodded, settling in on my chest. She was straddling my lap but pressed to me chest to chest, stomach to stomach. My girl was a petite thing, so holding her like that was easy.
I wasn’t sure she took ten breaths before she was out like a damn light. Her face was buried into the crook of my neck like she couldn’t get close enough, and her hands twitched as they clung to me. I heard her door crack open, and I glanced up to see my dad, Emmett, and Rose step into the room. Emmett set my bags down in the kitchen.
“She okay?” Rose asked in a whisper, and I nodded, refusing to get up or move a fucking inch.
Dad took a seat on the coffee table in front of us, his eyes warm but worried. “I tried to tell her you were more worried about her than whatever Aro may do, but…I think she just needed to hear it from you.”
I nodded, pressing a kiss to her hair, but I met his worried gaze. I studied his face. Hell, I studied every bit of him, and he looked like I remembered him as a kid. Actually, he looked better. His skin was clear and not so sallow, and his eyes were sharp, despite the worry he had for the girl in my arms. He’d busted his damn ass to get there, too. It most certainly wouldn’t go unnoted. He kept telling me that he owed me. But as I ran a hand over Bella’s head and down her back, I didn’t give a damn about the past.
“We’re even,” I stated, kissing her hair again when his shocked gaze met mine. I nodded again. “Bella told me you wanted to make it up to me for the accident, but… What you did…for her…for me… We’re even. I’ll gladly carry the DUI for her. I don’t give a shit what’s real or what’s…or what’s what. I… What you did…”
He gripped my shoulder when he stood up, then ruffled my hair before placing a hand on Bella’s back. “I’d do it again. I’ll be upstairs if you need me.”
Nodding, I buried my nose in Bella’s hair.
Rose kissed my forehead, whispering. “Felix will be parked in the alleyway if you need anything. I’ll um… I’ll check in tomorrow with whatever news I find.”
The door clicked closed, and I held Bella right there for a few minutes. The sun would be coming up soon, but I knew my girl needed sleep. Finally, I stood up with her in my arms and tucked her into bed. I locked the door, kicked off my boots and jeans, and then yanked my shirt off over my head. When I crawled into bed beside her, she scooted back into my arms. There was more to deal with come morning, but for now, I had my angel back.
~oOo~
Despite the fact that I’d slept on the plane on the way home, I crashed out holding Bella. The sun was just barely peeking up when my eyes fell closed. It felt like I’d only been asleep for minutes, but I knew it was longer than that. The sunlight beaming in through her windows started to bring me around, and I was aware of the scent that I’d been missing for way too fucking long and the sounds of phones vibrating somewhere I couldn’t quite focus on. Slowly, I became aware of touches to my face, hair, chest, and…lower, which made my whole being come alive when the touches slid beneath the waistband of my underwear.
I hissed when a warm, strong hand wrapped around my cock – which apparently had been seeking out Bella all on his own, not that I could help that.
“Angel…” I groaned, barely able to crack my eyes open enough before my head pressed back into the pillow. “Baby, I… Fuck…”
“Mm, gladly,” I heard in my ear, which made me smile and huff a light laugh, despite how good she was making me feel.
She shifted on the bed, letting go of my dick, which made me almost protest until I actually took a look at her. My girl was ridding herself of the clothes she’d been in – T-shirt, sleep pants, and underwear were all dropped off the side of the bed. She pulled down the covers in order to reach for my underwear, which I gladly helped her with, and I groaned loudly when she straddled me.
There was a desperation in her expression, her movements, and her sounds. To watch her eyes roll back into her head as she took me inside her just about made me come right there.
“Fuck, I missed you,” she breathed, leaning over me as she started to move – up, down…over and over.
“Mm, angel, I can tell,” I grunted with a smile I couldn’t stop, reaching out to touch everywhere – up her sides, across those gloriously pierced nipples, and around to her ass in order to guide her, move with her. Keeping one hand on her ass, I slid the other into her hair, gripping the way she liked it in order to kiss the ever-loving shit out of her.
Her hands groped and gripped almost painfully, and I sat up, wrapping her legs around me. A desperate whimper escaped her, and my brow wrinkled.
Dragging my lips to her neck, up to her ear, I said, “I’ve got you, baby. You know that, right?”
When she didn’t answer me, I brushed my lips against the sensitive skin of her throat, nipping a little. Hands flattened on either side of my face, bringing my gaze to hers and her forehead to meet mine. She was shaky and her eyes fierce, but her hips moved slowly, languidly with mine.
“Edward, I…” A whimper escaped her, and it was soft and tapered off as she continued to move over me, using my shoulders for leverage.
I let go of her ass, holding her face in both hands, and I nipped at her lips as our hips moved in sync. “Just…feel me. Okay?”
“Don’t let go.”
“Never.”
I knew what this was. I could see her fear of the same fucking what ifs I’d been plagued with on the flight home. All sorts of shit could’ve gone wrong. It didn’t, but it could have, and she was consoling herself…in us.
Wrapping an arm around her waist, I rolled us over so we were across her bed, but my girl wrapped everything she had around me as I leaned in to kiss her. I kept my movements slow but deep, letting her feel me and pressing her down into the bed.
“Better?” I whispered against her lips, and she nodded.
“I missed you,” she murmured against my jaw, and I slipped my fingers up her arm to her hand on my face, lacing our fingers together and pressing them into the mattress by her head.
“God, I missed you,” I whispered, dragging my lips down her cheek. “I love you, angel. Nothing will ever change that.”
“Love you,” she whimpered, threading her fingers into my hair. “Edward, please… I’m…”
Biting down on my bottom lip, I thrust harder, my thumb seeking out the spot that I knew would send her over the edge. She fought it and fought it, until I applied just enough pressure to her clit that caused her to spiral out of control. I rode out her orgasm, keeping her hand in mine when she squeezed hard as she came.
Everything about her pulled me in – her gripping hands, her strong legs wrapped around me, and her still-fluttering pussy. It all caused me to lose it sooner than I would’ve liked.
“Fuck,” I panted, my forehead falling to hers, and we locked gazes for a moment. “Angel, look at me,” I begged her, still breathing heavily. Those long eyelashes swept up, and dark, worried brown gazed back at me. “You okay?”
She sighed, her whole body seeming to relax beneath me. “Yeah, I just…needed you.”
Smiling a little at that, I leaned down. “Anytime, anywhere… I’d fly you to the moon and back. You just say the words, okay?”
Bella nodded but pulled me down to kiss me softly, and I could feel a touch of a smile there.
I desperately needed her laugh, though, to know that she was really okay, so I rolled us onto our sides, finally separating us. Groaning, I grimaced a little. “My hand is a poor fucking substitute when I don’t have you.”
Her giggle made my fucking day, considering how frantic she was just a few minutes prior. “No shit,” she said through that adorable laugh.
I pushed up on my hands and loomed over her, but the thought of her…and her own hand. “Jesus, I can’t even with the thought of you…” My forehead fell to her shoulder, and I allowed more of my weight on her, not that it stopped her from laughing at me. “I’d kill some-damn-body to see that.”
She cracked the fuck up, pushing at me until I rolled to the side again. “Shut up, Edward!” she said, still laughing.
“You think I’m kidding,” I mumbled, flinching when a pillow came from nowhere and popped the side of my head. Grinning, I stopped the next assault, pulling her close. We were at the opposite end of the bed now, but I kissed her. “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, I guess.”
She smiled against my lips but pulled back so she could rake her fingers through my hair. “I love you. And I’m… I’m sorry about last night.”
I was shaking my head before she’d even finished that needless apology. “I’m just…” I sighed, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “We need to discuss this, don’t we?” I asked, and when she nodded but pointed toward the bathroom, I sat up, pulling my underwear back on. Something about this conversation required clothing. And I wasn’t the only one who seemed to feel that way; Bella returned with my T-shirt and a pair of underwear on. Leaning against the headboard, I opened my arms for her.
Straddling my lap, she explained everything that had happened, from my dad’s arrival, to Felix’s warning over Aro and James, to me showing up and destroying a garbage can in the alley. All of it. And I could see that today, her mood had shifted from scared to very pissed off. And she should be livid.
“I just… I lost it, Edward!” she told me, looking down at my arms, her fingers trailing along my ink like she did when she was worried or nervous. “I knew when they got there that I should’ve just ignored them, that letting them stay was easier than whatever they could do to you. But…they came there with every intention of making me…of doing… They wanted to show you I was cheating…with James! I just…I snapped because Aro tried to play all innocent, and then…then… He said…”
“What’d he fucking say, angel?”
“He said… That I was just your current toy, that I’d get thrown away for your next…n-next whore.”
“Get up,” I stated, lifting her up off my lap so I could pace. I gripped my hair. “Did you believe him?” I asked slowly, softly.
“No.”
My head spun to meet her honest gaze, and I nodded. “Good, because he’s fucking full of shit!”
“I know. I told him that we’d see about it when you were home.”
Home. Her voice wavered on the word, and I knelt in front of her as she sat on the edge of the bed. “I love you,” I stated firmly, practically shaking her to make sure she understood how serious I was. “And he’s…” My nostrils flared, and I swallowed back the verbal venom I wanted to spew. “I promised Rose I’d stay away from him, and…she said she’d handle it. I want to know what you want.”
“Wait, baby… There’s more.” Her nose wrinkled, and she fidgeted under my gaze. “I also…kinda… I… I may have sort of told him to go fuck himself.”
Grinning, I nodded. “I know. I heard you when I was on the phone with Dad.”
Her wide eyes glanced up at me, and she smirked a little. “You’re really not mad at me?”
“Christ, no,” I soothed her, rubbing the outside of her smooth thighs. “No, angel.” I shook my head. “I told you last night… There’s nothing he can do to me that could be worse than something happening to you, Bella. That’s the truth. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him or James, but I’m telling you right now, there isn’t a rumor he could spread or threat he could make that… Jesus, Bella…I heard you over the phone. I… Do you have any fucking idea what would’ve happened had they succeeded?! Had they actually fucking touched you?!” I yelled, immediately regretting it when she crumbled. “Shit, shit… Shhh, angel. I’m sorry.”
Crawling back up on the bed, I gathered her up in my arms, holding her close. I hated the tears. I hated that my strong girl was so angry, so scared, that she was this emotional. I needed to fix this shit.
The sound of phones vibrating somewhere met my ears again. I pressed kisses to Bella’s forehead. “That’s probably Rose, baby. She’s gonna want to see us today.”
Bella nodded, sitting up a little. “Okay.” She swiped at her face. “When do you… What day is your flight out?”
My brow furrowed. “Tuesday. We have four days.”
Bella’s face darkened, but she nodded again and got up when our phones vibrated again. She grabbed hers from the nightstand, reading the screen.
“You’re right. Rose does want to see us.” She looked to me. “All of us.”
I raked a hand through my hair, nodding, only to fall back to the bed, my legs hanging off the side. “Okay. Ask her when and where.”
“Soon…and my bar. She wants your dad, as well as Tori and Garrett, there. She’s bringing Jenks.”
“Damn, okay. I’ll go see Dad,” I told her, sitting up and grabbing for my jeans from the night before. Yanking up the zipper, I caught Bella’s stare, and I tilted my head. “Angel?” I whispered, walking to her to cup that sweet face. “I also meant something else I said last night. If…” I paused, kissing her lips, which I simply couldn’t resist. “If you want out of here, if you want to come with me, then you are more than welcome, Bella. I said I’d kidnap you, but…” I grinned at her giggle, kissing her again. “Just tell me.”
She nodded but didn’t answer me. “I want to know what Rose found out.”
“Fair enough, baby,” I told her honestly. I didn’t want to force Bella into anything, but I also wanted to make sure no one fucking touched my girl again.
~oOo~
I took a seat at one of the tables in Charlie’s. We’d shoved a few together, simply because it seemed there was a shit-ton of people coming. I sat so I could keep an eye on Bella. She was cleaning up a bit from the night before, where they’d all left shit and closed down after the ugly events.
Bella and Tori were quiet while money was counted, beer mugs were washed and put away, and while we waited for everyone to arrive. Felix paced by the front door until my brother finally set a hand on his broad shoulder.
“Go home, man. I’ve got this. Trust me,” my brother stated firmly, smiling when Felix shot a worried glance toward Bella. His loyalty did not go unnoticed, and I owed him for it. “If she needs you, I’ll call you myself, but you’ve been here all damn night.”
Felix nodded, giving Emmett a weary smile and a wave Bella’s way before walking out the door.
Garrett showed up next, along with Harry Clearwater, which surprised me. What surprised me even more were the marks on their knuckles. Garrett smirked when he caught my stare.
“Aro…may have had himself an accident on the way to his car last night,” he muttered softly on his way by me to join the girls behind the bar.
Harry huffed a humorless laugh, taking a seat by me. “How’s our girl?” he whispered.
“Pissed. Quiet. All over the place.” My answers came readily, but I looked over at him, and he nodded. “What’d you do to Aro?”
His smile was slow, evil. “I know he’s…”
“He’s an asshole, and had I been here, I’d be sitting in a jail cell next to James for completely different fucking reasons, Harry, so… What?”
Harry’s face flashed a quick grin. “Oh, we may have told him he wasn’t really welcome to Charlie’s anymore.”
I could tell he wasn’t going to reveal exactly what had gone down, and he was giving me a look that told me I was probably better off not knowing.
“Charlie…” He huffed a laugh. “That man fucking adored Dizzy Izzy. And I loved him like a brother, so…I don’t particularly feel guilty for anything said or done last night. Let’s put it that way. Hmm?”
The sound of glass breaking made both of us jump, but Bella’s fiery temper was aimed at Garrett, along with what I would’ve sworn was the broken handle of a beer mug. “Have you lost your fucking mind, Gare?! As if I didn’t make shit worse, you go and…and…”
Garrett shrugged and smirked, completely unapologetic. And probably for the first time since I’d met Bella’s ex-boyfriend, we were on the same damn page. Getting up from my chair, I walked to them, giving Garrett a nod of respect, but I wrapped my arms around my girl from behind.
“Drop the weapon, angel. I can’t say that he was wrong.”
“Fuck!” she threw the handle, and it landed perfectly into the large garbage can at the end of the bar. “You… You assholes and your fucking testosterone. The man still owns you, Edward!” she snapped, and despite it all, I snorted.
“You think it’s funny?” She rounded on me, that temper of hers hot and sparking, and fuck, she was gorgeous…but scary.
Suddenly, I sobered up. “No, angel, I don’t. I can’t find a single fucking thing about this entire situation funny! I can’t see that drugging my girlfriend in order to render her helpless has any fucking humor in it at all. I can’t see how anything about you letting this shit break you is funny. I do, however, have no problem – none – with any sort of action taken against the man behind it. Had I been here, he wouldn’t have made it to his precious fucking Aston Martin, much less have had the ability to drive home. So if that makes me an asshole, then so be it. But I’m telling you…nothing Aro can or will do scares me.”
“How can you even say that? You have months left!” she argued, and despite the fact that the bar was filling up with just about everyone we knew, she needed to know.
“What? What’s the worst he can do? I’m his fucking walking, talking, dancing, singing monkey, Bella. I told you that before. I’m his Aston Martin payment, his mansion mortgage, and his personal beautician and masseuse. Without me, those things go away, or he’ll need to find another fucking monkey.
“He can spread all the damn rumors and untruths that he can conjure up beneath that creepy fucking ponytail. What’s the worst he could say? That I’m…I’m sleeping around with every woman in the Pacific Northwest…or the damn world for that matter? That…That…not even a year out of rehab and I’m drinking and partying? Seriously? So what? It’s expected of Masen for all that shit! He can spread whatever, but as long as the people in this room know the truth, the reality, then I couldn’t give a good goddamn!” I gestured behind me, where it seemed the whole band had arrived, along with Tanya, Kate, my father, and Jenks. “I just don’t. I’m done. I’ve been done for ages. I was completely finished the very second he decided to smash my ex-girlfriend into my face simply because I didn’t agree with his creative ideas. But the fact that he walked in here, dared to threaten you, and almost…” My nostrils flared as I shook my head slowly, biting down hard on my bottom lip. “Angel, he’s lucky to still be breathing right now. You have no idea…”
“Edward…” Bella shifted uneasily on her feet, looking apologetic, and I pulled her to me, putting my lips to her ear.
“Don’t. Don’t apologize. Don’t you dare,” I whispered. “We just have to figure out how to get through the next six months, angel. You didn’t mess up, you didn’t make shit any worse than it already was, and you most certainly don’t owe me anything. It’s just…bullshit.” I grinned at the last word when it reminded her of our very first conversation, and I heard a small laugh escape her. “I love you,” I continued softly in her ear. “I love you, and I’m grateful that you’re okay. Anything after that is insignificant, Bella. You wanna be mad, then aim it at someone besides yourself…or the people that came to your defense when I wasn’t here to do it myself. Okay? Please?”
“Okay,” she mumbled into my neck.
“Promise me,” I begged her softly.
She pulled back, but I pressed my forehead to hers when she nodded. “Promise.”
“Thank you. Now…let’s see what they found out, hmm?”
Bella nodded but kissed my lips softly as we turned to face the group of people at the table. It was time to face what we needed to do in order to rid ourselves of Volturi Records for good.





2 comments:

jel said...

I absolutely adore this story. Such great characters! This Edward is just sooo hot and he and Bella are just a perfect match. Glad Aro is getting what he deserves. He was really a horrible, creepy man. I know this story is winding down now and I will be so sad for it to end. It has been really captivating. I really love having pictures to go with each chapter. Makes it so much more real.

jel said...

I absolutely adore this story. Such great characters! This Edward is just sooo hot and he and Bella are just a perfect match. Glad Aro is getting what he deserves. He was really a horrible, creepy man. I know this story is winding down now and I will be so sad for it to end. It has been really captivating. I really love having pictures to go with each chapter. Makes it so much more real.

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