Sunday, September 4, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 9

Six – Chapter 9
New York City
I raked a hand through my still damp hair, rolling my eyes at it in the mirror. Really there was nothing to be done with it. I’d given up long ago. No matter how long or short it was, it did what it damn well pleased. There was a tentative knock on my bedroom door as I reached for my T-shirt draped on the back of my desk chair.
“Yes, Bella,” I answered, smiling at the soft giggle from the other side before she cracked it open.
“There’s no sneaking up on you, is there?” she shot back when she stepped into the room.
“No, not really.” I chuckled, shaking my head a bit.

I tried my damnedest not to notice those beautiful, dark eyes when they traveled away from my face and down my bare torso. I didn’t spend much time in the gym of the apartment building, though occasionally I’d run on the treadmill downstairs, but I was in okay shape. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with living in the city and walking most places, but I never gave it much thought. However, the way Bella was looking at me made me want to tease her.
Kneeling down just a bit, I caught her eyes again. “Did you want to sneak up on me, pretty girl?”
She laughed. “No, no…” She shook her head as those cheeks heated, just how I’d hoped. “Esme sent me for your laundry basket.”
“Mom’s put you to work, huh?” I asked, tugging on my T-shirt and reaching for my hoodie.
“I offered. I wanted to…to… I don’t know. Pull my weight, I guess.”
I studied her face, but even more, I heard her thoughts. She wasn’t lying. She was very grateful for a full stomach and a safe place to sleep. Never mind all that my dad was doing for her friend, Mr. Jackson. She was hoping to earn her keep, which was probably more than the rest of us did because we’d become spoiled to it all. The biggest thought she was mulling over was whether or not to offer up her cooking experience. Knowing my mother, she’d love it, but she’d rather hear it from Bella than her mind-reading son, so I kept that shit to myself.
“It’s right there by the closet.” I pointed toward the corner. “Watch that red hoodie; it still bleeds. Jasper has pink underwear now because of it.”
Grinning, she said, “Somehow you don’t seem sorry about that.”
Brothers. Her thought made me chuckle and nod, but she held up the book she’d been reading.
“Help yourself, beautiful. What does one read after Edmund Dantes gets his satisfying revenge on all who wronged him?” I asked her, unable to keep my eyes from taking in every inch of her as she studied my bookshelves.
She had a shit-ton of clothes now, and they fit like sin, hugging each and every curve that was starting to show now that she was eating on a normal schedule. She was starting to look healthy, and damn, healthy looked good. The tired, dark circles under her eyes had started to fade, her skin was smooth and looked so soft, and her wariness of us all had started to dissipate. It hadn’t taken long, either. She’d been here almost a week. Which made me wonder just how much more those jeans she was wearing would fill out once she was truly back to normal.
“Fuck,” I hissed under my breath, rubbing my face and focusing on packing up my school stuff.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever been as attracted to a girl as I was the one currently thumbing through a Stephen King novel. I’d been comfortable with Tanya, having known her for a long time, and she wasn’t exactly unattractive, but the way I was truly starting to feel about Bella was almost overwhelming with how fast it had happened, with how intense it was, and just how I was about five seconds from kissing the ever-loving shit out of her.
“This looks good,” she said softly.
“Yeah, it does,” I answered without thinking. “Uh, what?”
She held up the Stephen King book Rose Madder, saying, “Have you read it?”
I shook my head to clear it. “Uh, yeah. You’ll like it. It’s about a woman running from a nasty relationship, and she discovers that she can escape into a painting she finds at like a thrift store.”
Bella’s giggle was just about the best thing. “Does she, now?”
“Yup. It’s got some creepy parts, but it’s good. She meets a whole new group of friends who protect her from this asshole cop husband who’s stalking her. And she meets this new guy…who’d do anything for her.”
The room suddenly felt too small and electric, and my nerves got the better of me for a split second, making the bookshelves shake just a bit. When a baseball I’d caught at a Chicago Cubs game with Carlisle rolled off and thumped to the floor, I laughed a little.
“Sold,” Bella sang cheerfully, grinning up at me, but she was trying her best not to notice what had just happened.
“Ed! Let’s go!” Jasper called, running into the room so fast that Bella didn’t see him until my blur of a brother was standing next to me, pushing and shoving. “We’re gonna be late for class. Unless you want to skip?” he asked hopefully.
“No skipping!” Esme yelled down the hall. “Both of you get out and go learn something! It’s Friday. Surely you can survive one more day of classes before the damn weekend!”
Bella giggled at our defeated faces, dropping her new book onto my pile of laundry and picking up the whole basket. For a split second, she envied us – the ability to go to school, the freedom of just being college students, or even just doing normal shit. She even envied Alice, who was taking her classes online. At least she’d had the option. Bella felt she didn’t have a choice but to run and hide.
I was almost out of the room, and when I caught that thought, I spun around to face her. “One day, Bella. I promise,” I vowed, not knowing how or when I could fulfill that promise, but Volterra couldn’t hunt her forever. Could they?
Her smile was warm but sad at the same time. “I hope so. You guys have fun.” That last statement was a taunt, which made me smirk her way.
“Wanna go with us?” I offered. “You can chill in the library, audit classes… No one would even bat an eye.”
She blushed, grinning up at me. “Maybe eventually, Edward. Thank you.”
“’Kay. We’ll be back this afternoon. Text me if you’re bored.”
She nodded and laughed, carrying the basket to the laundry room.
Once Jasper and I had said bye to Esme and Alice, we stepped out of the apartment and into the elevator.
My brother looked to me. “Were you offering for her benefit or yours?”
“Both.” I laughed, shrugging my shoulder. My laugh died quickly, though. “She wants normal so badly.”
“We’re sixxers, Ed. There is no ‘normal.’”
I sighed. “I know.”
Stepping out of the classroom, I glanced down at my phone when it vibrated.
Is it normal for Alice to zone out in the middle of a conversation? Bella texted.
Instead of texting back, I called her.
“Absolutely, it’s normal,” I said with a chuckle. “Just wait until she tells you some weird prediction, like not to pick the grape soda because it falls off the coaster and onto the floor, but if you pick the orange soda, you’ll be fine.”
Bella’s laugh was beautiful. “Fair enough.”
“Why? Is she freaking you out?”
“No, no! She’s just…intense about something today. I’ll catch her whispering about all of you who aren’t home – Edward’s in class, Jasper’s getting coffee, Carlisle’s with a patient, Esme’s talking to Bart…on and on.”
I sat down on the steps of the Stern building to wait for Jasper, saying, “It doesn’t surprise me. She’s been watching for something, anything since you’ve been in the house. She feels responsible for Mr. Jackson, but she honestly wouldn’t have known what was going to happen since she hadn’t met you or him.”
“That’s sweet, but it’s not her fault.”
“That’s my sister.”
“Your mom is back from the store. I should go—”
Bella was cut off when a slamming sound echoed over the line.
“Tell Edward to get Jasper and go to Carlisle! Tell him!” Alice’s voice was harsh and scared over the line.
I was on my feet, turning to track Jasper to his last class for the day when he stepped out into the courtyard, and I waved him to me.
“Edward?” Bella’s voice wavered over the line.
“I heard her, pretty girl.” I tried to stay as calm as I could for everyone’s benefit, including my own. I turned to Jasper. “Try Dad’s cell. Now! Do it!”
Jasper did as I asked, putting his phone to his ear. “Hey, Carlisle. Alice said—” He thrust his phone my way. “He wants you.”
Trading him phones, I told him to stay on the line with the girls. “Yeah, Dad?”
“Son, I have sixxers here. If my guess is correct, they’re the ones Bella described, the Volterra guys.”
“Fuck,” I hissed, pulling Jasper’s sleeve to get us on the move. “We’ll come to you. No wonder Alice’s is…” I stopped, both walking and talking, a realization almost knocking the wind right out of me. “Oh shit, oh shit… Your card! Dad, you gave Mr. Jackson your business card, and there was nothing on his person when they called the cops. Which means—”
“They’ve figured out who has Bella,” my father finished for me. “Or at the very least who to question next.”
“Yeah, but…they don’t just question!” Jasper snapped, putting my phone to his ear again. “Alice, Bella…get Emmett on the phone now! If they found Dad at work, they’ll find the apartment.”
“Edward, we should leave the city,” my dad’s voice met my ear.
“Okay, well…one thing at a fucking time. Can you hide? Stay low? At least until Jasper and I can get to the hospital?”
“Good. You stay on the phone with Jasper. I need the girls.” I held out my hand for my phone. “Bella? Alice?”
“Edward, let me help,” Bella’s nervous voice offered. “Emmett and Rose are here. I can put them, Esme, and Alice somewhere safe and come to you. Then we’ll get Carlisle.”
“Bella…” I groaned, raking a hand through my hair. “That’s bringing you closer to the men we’re trying to keep you away from!” I turned down the next block, with Jasper still talking to Carlisle on his phone. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted her with me. No one could touch her if she were with me.
“I can do this. I’ve done this a thousand times, just not with so many people.”
When I saw the café with the sunroom, I caved. “Okay, so you know your café in Greenwich Village? Once you put everyone somewhere safe, you come to me. I’m there now.”
“Okay, I’ve got to hang up, but I’ll be there in sixty seconds,” she promised, and the line went dead.
I turned down the same alleyway as before, panting in exertion and adrenaline. Jasper stayed quiet as he kept his phone to his ear at the same time he watched the end of the alley. I paced while waiting for her, worried this would be a mistake or, if we waited too long, that we’d be too late for Carlisle.
When the hairs on my arms started to prickle, I came to a standstill, facing the brick wall of the apartment building. Not one but two people stepped from the window that Bella opened up.
“That’s badass,” Emmett muttered, shivering a little as he watched the window close up.
But it was the brunette I focused on. She rushed to me, taking my hand. “Bellevue, right?” she asked, and I nodded.
She turned back to the wall, sending another window up.  All I could see were bricks and concrete and some metal stairs. Bella tugged my hand and pulled me through. Jasper and Emmett followed right behind us.
“Oh my damn, I swear… No more subway,” Jasper stated like it was biblical truth.
Bella snorted a little, giving me a quick glance, but she kept her hand in mine and tugged me along. “C’mon.”
We rounded a corner, coming out onto the sidewalk. Bella was leading us to the front doors of the hospital; it was the only way she knew, because when Mr. Jackson had been hurt, she’d visited him once.
“Dad, we’re here,” Jasper stated over the phone softly. “Where are you? Where can we meet you?” Jasper listened for a second but shook his head. “No, you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter what floor you’re on. Bella’s with us, so we just need to get to you.” Jasper came to a stop just before we reached the front entrance, looking up to me. “He’s using his talent to avoid them, but he’s also having to do his job, so…he’s making his way down. Third floor, west wing.”
“Tell him to stay on that floor, that we’ll come to him. He should feel us soon anyway.”
Jasper relayed what I’d said, and I opened the door. Keeping Bella’s hand in mine, I led the way, with Jasper and Emmett behind us. We rarely visited Carlisle at work, except for the normal childhood emergencies. It was here that Emmett had come when he was sixteen, having been shot protecting Rosalie. Jasper had come here when he’d broken an arm playing football. Alice had tripped, resulting in stitches to her knee. And I’d had a sprained ankle from running in high school. All of it was normal, but none of us besides Esme ever really came to him on any regular basis. Which meant, none of us were even noticed as we hurried our way through the front lobby, passing the information desk.
Bella’s hand started to shake in mine as we aimed for the elevators. I slapped my free hand on the Up button, tugging her to me.
“You’re okay. You’re safe with me. With all of us,” I whispered in her ear, but Emmett had heard me, nodding a little and placing his hand gently on her shoulder.
An elevator car slid open, letting off a handful of people, and we slipped quickly inside. Just as the doors were about to close, a rugged, thick-fingered hand shot inside. It was Bella’s squeak of surprise and the hard look in the eyes that belonged to that hand that made all of us react.
“Felix,” Bella breathed, and without even thinking twice, Emmett shifted, drew his fist back, and punched between the door this Felix was trying to pry open. The sound of fist meeting face was loud and bone-crunching, followed by a grunting groan of pain.
When the doors finally closed, I hit the second-floor button and then the fifth. “We’ll throw them off, take the stairs up to three.”
“It won’t work. They can…sense me,” Bella started, but I nodded.
“I know, but we can at least buy a few seconds.” I tapped my temple, telling her I knew what she meant. Felix’s surprise at seeing her was overridden by his need to do his job, which all went away with the painful punch Emmett had given him.
The doors opened to the second floor, and we turned, aiming for the stairs. Once inside the stairwell, Jasper turned to me, silently asking if he were clear to use his speed.
“Yeah, go!”
With a push of wind and a blur of blond hair, he was up the stairs and at the third-floor door, watching through the rectangle of glass.
Edward, I think we’ve got more than just the two goons. I think we got double that, he thought to me. He showed me two large men, military-style haircuts, walking down the long corridor that led to the west side of the hospital. Once we made it to Jasper on the landing, I peeked out the window myself.
Bringing Bella to the window, I showed her the two men. “Know them?” I whispered, and she shook her head. “Well, I don’t trust them. Can you get us behind them?”
“Yeah, yeah…definitely.” She opened a window right beside the door, and it put us out right behind the guys walking toward the stairs, and we all took off at a fast walk.
All of it was for nothing, because as soon as we reached the long corridor of the west wing, with patient rooms on either side of us, there were three men between us and who we’d come to get. Carlisle was being held at gunpoint by one man, and three men aimed weapons our way. Felix, who was nursing a broken nose, stepped forward.
“Give us Isabella, and we’ll let the old man go,” he stated, but it was the other man, the one with the gun pointed at my father, who caught my attention.
I listened to his thoughts, knowing for a fact that Felix was lying. They were here for Bella, yes, but they wanted all of us. They knew about all of us. They weren’t quite aware of what we could do, but they knew Carlisle Cullen. They’d been warned that he had a talented family full of sixxers.
Carlisle’s thoughts were the loudest. Get her and your brothers out of here! Take care of Esme for me.
“No!” I snapped, shaking my head. Felix thought I was answering him, but my dad knew the answer was aimed his way.
It was when Felix’s attention was centered on Bella that I felt my control slipping. He’d gotten into trouble when she’d escaped. If he didn’t bring her back soon, the punishment would be severe. And he was told he didn’t have to bring her back alive. It was her blood they needed, not the living, beautiful girl. He was about to tell Demetri to pull the trigger, despite the full wing of nurses, patients, and visitors. It wouldn’t matter. The police wouldn’t get here in time to do anything.
A rolling tray that was pushed against a wall started to vibrate, the things on top rattling softly. My temples throbbed with the voices in my head. Words like mafia and terrorist hit me. Nurses ran away. Visitors hid in patients’ rooms. The nurses’ station began to shake, and monitors and computer screens started to blank out or malfunction. One or two fell to the floor with a crash.
I let go of Bella’s hand, despite her whispered protest of my name.
“I’ll shoot him. Give up the girl, and everyone walks away, kid.” Demetri pulled back the hammer of the gun, and I shook my head, stepping forward. Three more guns aimed my way, and Felix stepped in front of me.
“You can’t have either of them. And you won’t pull that trigger.” I forced that thought into Felix’s simple mind, but my talent was now fully released into the small space we were all in.
The glass windows lining the hallway splintered into spider webs. I heard Bella’s worry, Emmett’s urging to give him an opening, and Jasper was simply waiting. He knew that if he moved quickly enough, he could be down at the other end of the corridor before Demetri could blink.
The guns were my biggest concern, especially the one aimed at Carlisle’s temple. The rolling cart rolled away from the wall without a soul touching it. The rattling increased until the instruments started to jump on the top. Four guns. Four bullets aimed at me and my family. My temples throbbed again when the bullets from Demetri’s gun tumbled out the bottom of the grip, followed by three more clips spilling out onto the hospital’s shiny laminate floor with several pings as bullets fell and ricocheted everywhere.
With a wave of my hand, four guns were snatched from the grips of their owners and thrown upward, sticking to the ceiling tiles like glue. The three assholes in the middle had no fucking clue what to do, but when I slammed them to the wall, pinning them there with my mind, Jasper and Emmett moved. Scissors, pens, and pencils shot up off the rolling cart and into the wall beside the struggling men’s faces.
Jasper moved so fast, up the wall, and across the ceiling, no one even saw him. He not only pocketed the guns, but he landed silently right behind Demetri and Carlisle. Emmett, however, was smiling smugly at Felix as he lifted the huge man by the throat with one hand, giving a slow squeeze at the same time. My brother wasn’t even straining. Jasper stepped forward, pushing Dad back just enough so the threat was less.
The splintered glass windows that lined the hallway gave way under my temper. Pops and the sound of pebbles hitting the floor ran down that corridor like timed explosions.
“Edward,” Bella whispered. He’s gonna hurt someone.
“The only person I’ll hurt is someone who touches you or my family.” I walked to Demetri, who shifted to reach for my dad, but he found his arms pinned to his sides, not to mention Jasper with an arm at his throat. “You tell those bastards you work for that the Cullens are off limits. Bella is off fucking limits. Got me? You tell them if they try again, if you try again, I’ll kill you all. I’ll kill anyone who comes near us.”
“Her life is under contract, asshole.”
I narrowed my eyes at just what the contract entailed, who would be responsible, and I kept my face blank because that shit was another problem for another day. Right now, I needed my dad out of this fucking hospital and my whole family, including Bella, out of the city.
“You think I care? That’s not my problem.”
The fluorescent lights started to flicker, and one by one they went out, sending small sparks with each tube that gave way to the pressure I was building in that corridor.
Smiling at Demetri’s fearful thoughts, I gave him another warning. “I know what you can do. I see how that talent works.” I tapped my temple. “See, we work similarly. You may know Bella’s location, but now… Now…I’ll hear you coming. And you won’t touch her. Fuck your contract.”
I reached back with one hand, smiling when Bella’s hand slipped into mine. With a mental shove, I pushed Demetri up into the nurses’ station. Files, papers, and computer keyboards all spilled to the floor.
“Edward, son…let’s go.” Dad’s voice was shaky, but I heard his command. His thoughts were more nervous. He hadn’t seen me lose this much control since the Chicago McDonald’s. However, it was the oxygen and the sparks from the lights that were making him nervous. The whole wing would blow if I kept going, kept pushing my talent.
I nodded curtly, my head throbbing with all the pressure I was pushing out to keep these goons pressed to the wall. Jasper walked with Carlisle, and Bella stayed with me, but Emmett wasn’t letting go of Felix, who was now a decent shade of purple.
“Next time I see you, I’ll break every bone you have,” Emmett stated firmly and quietly. It was scarier than if he’d yelled it, more terrifying, because he said it like he couldn’t wait.
Felix’s mind reeled. The fear of punishment didn’t come from being fired or docked pay. No, he was frightened of who looked to be children – or, at the very oldest, high school aged kids – a boy, Alec, and a girl, Jane. Sixxers with a talent used for punishment. Blinding, white-fire pain, screaming, fears, darkness…all from two teenage kids.
I also saw more of Volterra than I needed to see. It looked like a space program warehouse but with rows upon rows of patients in beds. There were other areas – labs, gyms, padded cells. And the place was a fucking fortress. What made my skin crawl was that it wasn’t just grown sixxers. I saw children, toddlers, even infants. Women and men, every race, every age. All sixxers being tested, manipulated, tortured, or trained. I’d seen visions in Alice’s mind. I’d seen what little Bella could remember, but seeing that shit in the mind of someone who worked there made me lose the last bit of control I was barely clinging to.
Mentally ripping Felix from my brother, I tossed him down the corridor and into Demetri. The nurses’ station shattered – wood, dust, and computers collapsed to the floor under their weight.
“Edward,” Bella said, pulling my face and making me look into her eyes. “Hey, Carlisle’s okay. I’m okay. Let’s go before you…before they…”
Feeling her hands on my face calmed me like nothing ever before. Not even Esme could get through like that when I was in a red haze of temper.
“Okay.” I let her pull me.
Jasper and Carlisle were behind us, and Emmett took the back. As soon as we reached the stairs, Bella opened a window. We were out of the hospital and back at the penthouse. Home was just as we left it that morning, most likely just as the girls had left it when Alice had gotten her vision.
“Bella?” I whispered, falling to my knees and holding my head. “Where’s… Where are…”
“Hey, Edward,” she pleaded in a whisper, taking my face in her hands again. “They’re safe. Esme told me to bring you guys here to grab some things before I took you to them. She mentioned emergency stuff and the safe?” She looked to Carlisle for that last part.
“Okay, boys…you heard her. Pack quickly, take only what you need,” Carlisle said, but before he walked away from us, he knelt beside us. “Thank you…both of you.” He kissed Bella’s temple, giving my shoulder a squeeze at the same time. Before he stood up, he told her softly, “Help him. He’ll be out of it for a few.”
“Yes, sir,” she whispered back, standing in front of me. “C’mon, Edward. To your room, and then I’ll help you, okay?”
I stood on shaky legs, and she wrapped my arm around her shoulders, guiding me to my bedroom.
“Sit. I’ll grab my stuff and then help you.”
Nodding was all I could accomplish at the moment as I sat down hard on the edge of my bed. Bracing my elbows on my knees, I dropped my head into my hands. I wasn’t sure Bella was gone for two minutes before I heard her back in my room. Glancing up, I noted she’d packed her new backpack already and was searching my closet for a bag.
“Top shelf. Duffel.”
Bella nodded, jumped up, and grabbed the black bag from the top shelf.
My eyes drifted back to her backpack. “You were packed, weren’t you?”
“No, Edward,” she said, laughing a little. “I’m just an expert on packing on the fly.”
Groaning, I rubbed my temples. “Fuck, and now you’re running again. I promised you we’d keep you protected.”
She huffed a laugh, and she was suddenly standing in front of me. Warm, gentle hands cupped my face again. “You did. No one has ever protected me like that. No one makes me feel safe like you do, Edward. This whole family. I’m just glad I could help.”
I trailed my fingers down the side of her beautiful face. If my head wasn’t throbbing, I might’ve kissed her right there. I nodded again, frowning when her touch left me.
“Tell me what you want packed,” she called from my closet.
“I’ll help you,” I said, getting up.
With Bella’s help, it didn’t take long to pack the basics – jeans, shirts, socks, undies. Adding my laptop, I zipped up my bag. We met my brothers and Carlisle in the kitchen.
“We’ll need to move soon. They’ll try to come here,” I told them. “Building security or not.”
“They can try,” Jasper said, holding up one of the guns and grinning like a lunatic.
“Um, Bella?” Carlisle started, looking a little nervous, and his mind was on Esme and my sisters.
She smiled sweetly, opening a window behind him. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the place. Bella thought about it all the time. Only this time, the sun wasn’t setting; it was a little more cloudy. There was a small cottage-type cabin sitting in the middle of a meadow filled with wildflowers.
“We can’t stay, but I knew they’d be safe here for a few hours,” Bella said softly and apologetically. “It’s still in my dad’s name, so they know to look here. They can’t exactly get to Montana as quickly as I can.”
My dad and brothers chuckled, and Emmett ruffled her hair gently. “You make one awesome addition to the family, Bella.”
Jasper nodded and started picking up bags and boxes. “Hell yeah, she does! No more subway, no more moving vans, no more airplanes… You’re my new best friend.”
Her cheeks blushed at that, but she looked to me when I wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
“C’mon, pretty girl… We have to figure out where we’re going next.”


trbuie said...

Holy hell! So more scumbags are getting in on the chase. I'm worried for the whole family now. And I am so sad about Edward's visions of helpless people and children. :( Hopefully they can free them all eventually.

lilypad said...

Omg! They have no souls those monsters. They have imprisoned so many innocent people. Thank God for Bella's gift

Snoopylover said...

Loved that Emmett hit Felix right in the face! Good Job Emmett!

I am glad they were able to get out of the hospital and to safety even for a little while.
Loving this Deb!

Kristi said...

The additional gifts Bella brings to the Cullen clan makes them an unstoppable force. The VI won't know what hit them when the time comes to free the others.
Just wondering what kind of exposure the general public has of Sixxers and or what the VI is really doing?
Exposing any sort of government involvement might buy Carlisle and his family more time.
What is Edward's recovery time after such and outburst? Bella's a soothing presence that he has never experienced before.

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