Sunday, August 7, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 5 & Pics

Six – Chapter 5
New York City
Reading early historical accounts, travel narratives, personal memoirs, novels, poems, and plays, we see how Atlantic peoples make sense of their changing worlds and the creative tensions of encounter and come to understand the productive conflicts that ultimately gave rise to an Age of Atlantic Revolutions…
I flicked my finger, watching my pen roll up my notebook and then back down. Over and over, my eyes barely seeing it, but even worse, the drone of my class was adding to the thoughts of the students in the room, and all of it was providing a pounding fucking headache. Cultures and Contexts was normally a subject I enjoyed, but everything lately had become mundane.
Despite the endless mental chatter I could hear from everyone in the room all the way up to the professor, all my head could focus on was scared brown eyes, long brunette hair, and a blush that only seemed to make its presence known around me. I eyed my cell phone sitting silently on the edge of my desk. I’d begged it to ring for the last couple of days, but it stayed as stubbornly quiet as the girl I wanted to call.
Stopping my pen’s last roll down, I gazed slowly around the room as I willed my head to stop pounding…or half these people to just stop thinking. I sighed, rubbing my temple, as thoughts came at me from everywhere.
I need fucking coffee like the air I breathe…
The R downtown into Brooklyn…
Wonder if he has a girlfriend…
I saw my own face in someone else’s thoughts, and it took all I had not to roll my eyes their way. It happened more often than I wished, but I’d learned to ignore it, even when I was scrutinized from my sneakers, over my jeans – and what was in them – up to my hair. The latter got more attention than anything because it stuck up everywhere and not for any other reason than it had a mind of its own. However, the imaginations were much more detailed than the truth. And this girl was no different. Jessica was her name. She’d flirted with me before, but her mind was a scary, obsessive place, not to mention shallow.
My phone flashed to life, and I saw it was a text from Jasper, asking to meet me for a bite to eat just off campus before going home. I quickly answered him back where I’d meet him, sighing with utter relief when class was dismissed. I stood up, stowed my books and notes in my bag, and slung it over my shoulder. Stepping outside, I breathed deeply so my pounding head would ease up a little.
I found Jasper where we usually met before taking the train back to the Upper East Side. He was sitting on the steps just outside the Stern building, and he was on his phone. I could only guess it was my sister.
“Alice, please calm down. He’s right here,” he soothed her over the line. He thrust his phone my way, and I looked at him curiously as I put it to my ear. “I don’t know, Ed. Just talk to her.”
“Alice? What’s wrong?”
“Edward, I saw…I see…” she started, but she trailed off, and I knew better than to interrupt her. She was trying her best to sort out whatever visions she was having. This shit would have been so much easier had I been with her; I would’ve just watched the visions as they came through, but over the years the two of us had learned patience with our talents. “She’ll need Carlisle,” she whispered, almost to herself. “Carlisle first. Then… Edward, you won’t be home right away. And you both need to be careful. Answer your phone.”
The call ended, and I sighed through a soft laugh as I handed Jasper’s phone back to him. “Well, that was cryptic.”
He grinned, getting up from the steps and pocketing the cell.
My own phone started to vibrate in my hand, and I looked down to see an unknown number. My heart pounded in my chest with hope as I swiped my finger across the screen to answer it.
The sound that met my ear was filled with pain, a whimper or a cry.
“Bella?” I asked into the phone, my brother instantly alert beside me. “Is that you, pretty girl?” I asked a bit louder because the sound of pain from the other end was killing me. “Are you okay?”
A sniffle echoed over the line before her words finally started coming out of her at top speed. “Edward,” she sobbed. “They… They were there, a-and they had Mr. J-Jackson, a-and h-he said t-to run. P-Please, help m-me!”
“Shit,” I hissed, barely registering the girl from class who’d wondered if I had a girlfriend. She thought she had her answer. But her mind wasn’t the only one I was hearing. There were too many to think, and my head was pounding even harder now that I was on alert.
I walked away from the crowds a bit. “Bella…talk to me. Are you somewhere safe?”
“Y-Yes. I’m…I… Motel room.” She took a shaky breath and sniffled again. “Brooklyn.”
“Fuck, Brooklyn,” I repeated, glancing around and wondering which would get me to her quicker – the bus or subway – but she had the solution.
“Edward, where are you?”
“I’m on campus, Bella. You want to come to me? You certainly have a faster means,” I said, sort of teasing her, but I was clawing at my hair to figure a way to her.
There was a soft, tentative laugh from the other end. “Greenwich Village…” she said, trailing off. “Edward, there’s a café with a glass sunroom out front. I don’t know the name, but behind it is a clear, empty alley right next to a row of apartments.”
“I know exactly where that’s at. We’re heading there now.” I smacked my hand on Jasper’s shoulder, pointing toward the next block. We started dodging students and cars, taking the sidewalk at a jog, but I kept the phone to my ear. “Bella, talk to me. Stay on the line. Tell me what happened.”
Bella started rambling again. She mentioned leaving the city, laying low, and coming back. She said that she’d wanted to ask her friend, Mr. Jackson, about my father, my family. I caught words like trust, dad, and cemetery, which didn’t make sense, but I let her keep talking. She pushed through telling me about how she’d felt something was off the second she’d jumped to the neighborhood where the soup kitchen was, but she’d been determined to talk to her friend.
“Th-They hurt him, Edward,” she sobbed. “Th-They were p-punching him, and I swear I saw a fucking needle!”
“Mr. Jackson?”
“Yeah, two men,” she whimpered, “and…and I don’t know how they knew… How would they know?!”
“I dunno, Bella, but we’ll figure it out.” I rounded the next corner, seeing the café she’d mentioned. Jasper followed me across the street and into the back alley. “Okay, we’re here,” I told her a little breathlessly from our jog.
“Are you clear?”
I glanced up to the street to see a car roll by, but there wasn’t anyone looking. “Yep, you’re good.”
There was a split second of an electrical current that seemed to skim over my skin, making it prickle with gooseflesh. Even Jasper felt it, because he looked to me curiously as he rubbed the outside of his arm. The brick wall of the apartment building blurred a little, and then a window opened up, showing a typical rundown motel room.
“Step through,” she called.
“Oh, Jesus,” Jasper muttered, shoving me forward. “You first, loverboy.”
It was such a strange, surreal thing. I stepped to the window/portal thing, putting my hand out where there should’ve been a brick wall, but nothing stopped my reach. The tingling over my skin increased when her hand slipped into mine and she tugged a bit. Everything blurred for a second, and I felt the moment that concrete changed to nappy carpet under my sneakers.
Opening my eyes, I glanced around when Jasper called out, and his hands were sticking out of the wall of the motel room. “Uh, guys?”
With a soft snort, I gripped his wrist and yanked him into the room, the window immediately evaporating behind him. Jasper did the same I had to the room, finally turning to face me with wide eyes.
“Seriously? Are we seriously in Brooklyn now?” he asked, rushing so quickly to the window that he was merely a blurring streak across the room.
Not the window, not the window…not supposed to be in here.
Bella’s frantic mental chant caught my attention, and I mentally tugged the curtains out of Jasper’s grasp to keep them shut.
“Leave ’em closed,” I told him, shaking my head when he looked over his shoulder my way.
“Shit, you can hear me,” she breathed aloud but fell down onto the edge of the bed.
I sighed a soft laugh that wasn’t in humor and knelt in front of her. “Yes, and I promise to explain, but…” I reached up to tilt her face so I could look into her eyes. “Are you okay?”
She nodded, gazing back down at her lap. “I’m…I got away, but Mr. Jackson…” When she glanced back up, tears were welling up in her eyes. “I couldn’t help him. I don’t even know…”
Nodding, I stood up and faced Jasper. “Call Rose and Emmett. See if they can meet you down at the soup kitchen. They’ll know where it is, but Em met Mr. Jackson, so he’ll know who to look for.”
“Um,” he started, glaring at me wryly as he pointed over his shoulder to the window with one hand while he pulled his phone out with the other. “Brooklyn, asshole.”
Bella huffed a small, sniffly laugh.
Grinning at that, I pointed to my brother, who was texting quickly. “Jasper Whitlock, meet Bella Swan. Bella, this is my brother.”
“How big is your family?” she asked.
“Seven,” I answered.
“And you’re all…all of you…”
I smiled, nodding again. “We’re all sixxers, Bella.”
“Except for poor Mom. How she puts up with us all, I’ll never know,” Jasper said with a grin, but he pointed to the wall we’d walked through. “Now…if you want me to check on this guy…”
“Oh!” she gasped, standing up from the bed. “I can open a window just two blocks from the soup kitchen.”
“That’ll do, and Alice already sent Rose and Emmett that way. I’ll let you know what we find out.” When the window opened up again on the motel wall, a different alleyway appeared, and Jasper shook his head slowly. “Hot damn, this beats the subway any fucking day. Can we keep her? I could get like an extra hour of sleep before school!”
Smirking at her eye roll, I shoved him through the window, laughing when a single middle finger shot back into the room for one brief moment. Once she closed the window again, she sat back down on the bed. Her mind reeled, unable to grasp how people she didn’t know were willing to help her without question, how she felt guilty for possibly putting us in danger, but she’d panicked, hadn’t known where else to turn. She was sorry for all of it.
“Don’t be sorry,” I whispered, kneeling in front of her again.
She winced, looking at my face. “Christ, how much can you hear?”
“All of it. And I can’t help it, so it’s me who’s sorry.” I grinned but tapped my temple. “Telepath and telekinetic. And to answer your first question… We’ve all been where you are in some way, we all have our stories, and I promise you’ll hear them, but I’d… Bella, I’d like to get us out of here.”
“Where?” she asked in a whisper.
“My home. I think you need to meet Carlisle. And you’ll be safer with us. When Jasper finds out something about your friend, he’ll call immediately. I promise. Okay?” I stood up, gazing around the room, and only saw her backpack that she always had with her. Mentally reaching for it, I pulled it to me. “C’mon, pretty girl.”
New York City
My stomach was in knots, but the sincere look on Edward’s face was enough to have me taking his hand when he held it out for me. My voice was rough with nerves and fear for Mr. Jackson when I asked, “Where to?”
After only a moment’s thought, he nodded decisively and answered, “The alley you…jumped from by Bart’s store. That’s not far from our place.”
It was instinct to picture the back corner of that alley, behind the Dumpster, and then pop up a window to jump through. For a long time after I’d realized what I could do, I’d thought it took intense concentration and effort, and I would make the jump while sweating, my heart pounding with the energy I poured into it. Now, it took no more than a blink.
When we stepped out into the shadowed alley, Edward shook his head. “I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that,” he said with a quiet laugh.
I shrugged, smiling a little, but stayed silent.
He gave my hand a squeeze and then started for the mouth of the alley.
“Wait,” I hissed, stopping in my tracks and glancing around. “What about…” I shifted my eyes toward the brick wall of the bodega.
Tapping his temple, Edward smiled. “He’s busy with customers, and we’re going the other way. Trust me.”
When I nodded, his smile grew and he squeezed my hand. “Now come, Bella. My mother is about to jump out of her skin to meet you.”
I gaped at him as we hurried around the corner, indeed going the opposite way of the store. “You can hear her this far away?”
He chuckled, shaking his head. “No, nothing that exciting. I just know Esme Cullen, and when someone is in need of her help, she wants to do everything she can, and…” A sheepish look spread across his face, the blush turning his cheeks a light pink. “And since I’ve been talking about you nonstop since I first saw you… Well, her interest is definitely piqued.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I bit my lip as I felt my own cheeks warm.
Nearly four blocks later, Edward stopped in front of a luxury apartment building. The butterflies in my stomach were stirred up once again as I stared. Clearly I was out of my league. The place had to be at least twenty stories tall, with a perfect gray stone façade and a doorman out front.
Edward must have seen my apprehension, because he tugged my hand and smiled. “It’s just a building, Bella. I know it seems like a lot, but ignore it. The doorman and security are part of why my parents chose this place. Okay?”
I nodded, swallowing back my nerves, and whispered, “Okay.”
We walked up, and the door was opened before we could even get to it.
“Tyler,” Edward said with a friendly smile and nod the doorman’s way.
“Edward,” the older gentleman said in return. “Your brother and sister tore out of here like their tail feathers were on fire a few minutes ago. I do hope everything is okay.”
“Yes, it’s all good,” Edward said smoothly, putting a hand on my lower back. “Tyler, this is my friend Bella. She’s to be let into the building anytime and treated as if she were a member of the family.”
“Yes, sir,” Tyler said, smiling my way. “I’ll make sure she’s well taken care of, son.”
“I had no doubts,” Edward replied, grinning. “Have a good night.”
“You as well.” Tyler nodded. “It’s good to meet you, Miss Bella.”
“You too,” I said softly, smiling at the twinkle in his eyes.
Tyler was gray-haired, with a wide smile and friendly face. He looked formal in his uniform but not stiff, like he was comfortable with where he was and what he was doing and enjoyed the people he worked for. He waved us in and then closed the door behind us as we stepped into an opulent lobby.
I must have made a sound of disbelief, because Edward chuckled. “I know. It’s a little pretentious-looking, isn’t it?”
Nodding, I continued looking around at the obviously expensive terrazzo floor, beautiful chandeliers, and custom furniture.
“Again, Bella, just a building.”
Scoffing, I allowed him to lead me to the front desk on the left, where a perky blonde was sitting, smiling brightly.
Edward introduced her as Chelsea and explained again about who I was and my access to the building.
“Yes, of course. Welcome to the Eclipse,” Chelsea said to me, smiling.
The entire process was repeated at the desk straight ahead from the front doors, although the man in uniform sitting behind the bank of monitors was clearly security for the building. He stood when we approached, and I might have shrunk back, had it not been for Edward’s hand on my lower back. The man was physically imposing, standing well over six feet, and serious…until he smiled.
“I heard you tellin’ Chelsea. Good to meet you,” he said, reaching out to shake my hand. “Name’s Liam O’Sullivan. Now that Edward’s vouched for you, just check in with the desk when you come in and give us a wave over here before you go up, all right?”
I took my hand back and nodded his way. “Good to meet you, Mr. O’Sullivan. And okay.”
By the time Edward guided me into the empty elevator, put in a key, and pressed the button for the penthouse, I felt faint. I’d had more interaction with people in the last five minutes than I had in what felt like the previous five months. It was dangerous. Too dangerous. Too many people had seen me, now knew my name and where I was. If any word got out to Volterra or their goons, I wouldn’t see them coming. I couldn’t go back there. I wouldn’t. I had to get out of here.
“Breathe, pretty girl,” Edward said, and I gasped, suddenly realizing I’d been holding my breath. My chest ached as I looked into his eyes when he stood up straight from where he’d been almost crouched in front of me. “Too much?”
I nodded. “Too many people. I’m not used to…” Tears welled up. “Edward, I have to go. It isn’t safe, and—”
“Bella,” he said softly but firmly, reaching out to grasp my shoulders. “You’re safe. I promise you that. Here, with my family and me, you’re safe. Between my sister and me, we’d know if anyone were here for you. You can jump out anytime, and once you’ve been upstairs, you can jump in anytime too, okay? That’s why I wanted to get you here. It’s a safe place for you, for all of us. Volterra can’t reach you here, I swear it on my life.”
As he spoke, he’d been moving his hands up and down my arms soothingly, and I realized my breathing was almost back to normal.
“O-Okay,” I whispered, sounding shaky but sure.
“Okay,” he echoed, smiling widely. “Then get ready, because there are three more for you to meet waiting on the other side of this door.” He nodded his head to the elevator door just as we slid to a stop.
I choked out a laugh. “That must come in very handy,” I said, shaking my head and pointing to his.
He smirked, shrugging. “Sometimes.”
“Don’t let him fool you,” a friendly voice said with a laugh. “He uses it to his full advantage whenever he can.”
Startled, I turned and came face to face with three people, all smiling and chuckling. The man was tall, blond, and handsome, with a few lines around his eyes showing his age. The woman beside him was pretty, with caramel-colored hair and brown eyes that were filled with love as she gazed at Edward. I knew immediately that they were his parents – Carlisle and Esme, if I remembered correctly. The younger woman beside them was just about my height, with short, dark-brown hair, kind of a long pixie cut with sweeping bangs, and a cute upturned nose. I couldn’t help but notice her eyes. She wasn’t wearing sunglasses to cover the white, filmy haze that – along with the cane in her left hand – was a clear indication that she was blind. But the most noticeable thing about her was her infectious grin as she looked right at Edward, somehow knowing just where he was standing.
“You must be Bella,” the man said, smiling gently. “I’m Edward’s father, Carlisle. Please, join us in the apartment. I promise you’re safe here.”
When I nodded, Edward guided me out of the elevator and into the entry, where we followed the others through the only doorway. I bit my lip as we stepped into the large penthouse. What could have been cold, with light marble countertops and white cabinets in the kitchen just off to the right and high ceilings – also white – was warmed by the sun streaming through the large windows and soft gray on the walls, along with splashes of color against the dark sofa and loveseat, along the walls in framed art and family pictures, and the general clutter that showed a real family lived there. But it was clean – cleaner than anywhere I’d lived in years – and I suddenly felt even more out of place.
“I… I’m sorry,” I stammered, feeling my face heat. “I don’t want to get your apartment dirty. My things…”
“Are fine, sweetheart,” Esme said, giving me a warm smile. “Believe me, between the three boys, this place is no stranger to a little dust and dirt.”
“And pet hair, when Rose feels like being a cat for any length of time,” Alice chimed in, giggling. She held out her hand. “I’m Alice. It’s so nice to meet you, Bella.”
I blinked as I remembered their sister, who’d appeared as a beautiful white German shepherd when I’d met her. “I thought she was a dog…”
“Dog, cat, man, woman… She’s been that and more,” Alice said with a shrug. “Whatever she feels like at the moment or whatever would be more of a help.”
“Have a seat anywhere, Bella,” Esme instructed as she led us into the living room. “Would you like something to drink? I have soda, tea, milk, water…”
“I-I’m okay,” I answered, shaking my head as I sat gingerly on the edge of the dark-gray sofa and put my bag at my feet. The old red fabric was fraying at a few spots. The backpack had seen better days, but there hadn’t been a lot of options when I’d chosen it. When I escaped from Volterra, one of the first places I’d jumped had been Forks, needing to feel some safety away from Seattle. Being the middle of the night, I’d known the thrift store would be empty, and since I’d been wearing nothing but a hospital gown, I knew the store would be a good choice. I’d grabbed a few shirts and pants, an old pair of blue Chucks, and the backpack.
Esme smiled and sat down on the loveseat beside her husband. “Okay, but let me know if you change your mind.”
“Umm, your family… They were going to check on Mr. Jackson. Have you heard from them yet?” I asked tentatively.
“Not yet, I’m afraid,” Carlisle said, frowning.
I nodded, staring down at my wringing hands in my lap.
“Bella, has Edward told you about our family?”
Looking up, I glanced at Edward and then to his father and nodded. “A little bit. I know he has a g-gift,” I said, stumbling over the word. “He said all of you do but umm…”
Esme laughed softly. “Everyone but me, yes. I’m…I won’t say normal, but I’m not what the family calls a sixxer.”
I looked at Alice, wondering about her “gift” and how she was able to use it with her handicap.
“I see visions,” the young woman herself piped up, grinning. “I figured you wouldn’t want to ask.” She waved her hand at her eyes and explained that her lack of sight had no effect on her gift. “They’re mainly based on decisions, and the more closely tied I am to the person, the stronger the visions are.”
Nodding, I stayed silent as I tried to process what she was saying.
Carlisle took the opportunity to explain about his gift, how he was able to sense “talents,” and about the rest of the family – Emmett and his super strength and soft touch and Jasper and his speed and climbing ability, since I already knew about Edward and Rose.
“Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?” Carlisle asked gently. “Edward said you were running from Volterra Industries, that you’d been with them before?”
“Not with them,” I said sharply – more sharply than I’d intended. “Sorry,” I huffed. “Yes, they kidnapped me a little over a year ago from where I was living in Seattle. They kept me prisoner for three months until I was able to jump out of there with nothing but the hospital gown on my back.”
“How did they manage to hold you?” he asked intently. “Why couldn’t you leave before? What about others? Edward said he saw—”
“Carlisle,” Edward growled softly when I started shaking. “She’s scared. Slow it down a little, wouldja?”
“I-It’s okay,” I managed to say, taking in a deep breath. “Umm, they kept me drugged, asleep or so near to it that I couldn’t open a window and jump. About a year ago, something happened – they had a new capture that was giving them trouble or something – that made them late to give me my next shot of sleepy-time juice. The moment I became aware enough, I threw a window up on the closest wall and jumped. I’ve been on the run since.”
“What about family?” Esme asked. “Your parents?”
Swallowing around a lump in my throat, I shook my head. “M-My dad died a few years ago, and my mom…” I stopped, unable to voice what she’d done.
“Oh damn,” Edward hissed, reaching up to grasp his hair and tugging hard. “She turned you in to Volterra?!”
Numb, I nodded, and in a wooden voice, I said, “When I tried to convince her to get help at a rehab center and wouldn’t give her and her boyfriend money for smack, she called them for the money she would get out of the deal.”
Hissed curses echoed around me, but I couldn’t bear to look up, ashamed of my past, of the fact that the drugs had been more important to my own mother than I’d been.
I finally looked up, startled, when the couch dipped beside me and an arm slid around my shoulder.
Esme had tears shimmering in her eyes as she pulled me into a warm, comforting hug. “Oh, my sweet girl,” she soothed, running a hand up and down my back. “You’re safe now. I promise we won’t let anything or anyone hurt you ever again.”
For some reason, I believed her, and for the first time in years, I let myself completely relax, let myself accept the comfort and love from a mother’s embrace.


Snoopylover said...

Glad she is safe with them. I am wondering about Mr. Jackson.

Looking forward to the next update :D

Melissa S said...

That was another awesome chapter, I get excited when I know Sunday is close because I'll get an email saying the story has a new chapter and I automatically open a new browser to pull up the blog to read the next chapter and read what's happened next. Can't wait for next Sunday to see where this goes. Absolutely love this story!

Cheri said...

You make me love Sundays! Amazing story. Thank you XOXO,Cheri

Kristi said...

Are the people that work in the building aware that the Cullen clan is 'gifted'?
Mr. Jackson is still in every readers thoughts. Will he survive the attack?
Another moving chapter.

Post a Comment