Sunday, October 16, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 15

Six – Chapter 15
Denali, Alaska
“I can’t do this,” I growled, trying to keep from sounding like I was whining – which I was.
We’d been testing my power for a couple of hours, and I’d yet to open a window into anywhere I’d never been to personally. It didn’t help that I was still exhausted from our time in Seattle and stressed that when they needed me now, I wasn’t able to get a handle on my power. I felt like I was letting them down, and after everything the family – both families – had done for me, that was stressing me out more than anything.
“No,” I interrupted. “It isn’t working, Eleazar. I’m sorry.”
“C’mon, pretty girl,” Edward said gently. “Let’s take a break. Jump us to the cabin, yeah?”
I nodded wearily. “Yeah… That I can do,” I said with a frustrated laugh.

As soon as it was just the two of us alone, Edward pulled me into his arms, allowing my head to fall to the crook of his neck. I breathed deeply, inhaling the comforting mixture of spring-scented soap he’d used this morning in the shower and just…Edward.
After a minute, he guided me to the couch and sat, pulling me onto his lap. “I know you’re frustrated, Bella, but trust me when I tell you that you aren’t letting anyone down.”
“Freakin’ mind-reader,” I teased in a low voice.
He chuckled, making his chest vibrate against my shoulder, before sobering. “Seriously, though. No one is upset with you. If anything, they’re worried about you. They know how hard you’re trying, and we can all see how tired you are.”
Without saying it aloud, I asked the question I was most worried about. What if I can’t do it? What’ll we do?
Shrugging, he answered, “We’ll figure something out. We’ll have you jump us as close as we can get to Florida and go from there. Maybe buy a couple of cheap used cars to drive the rest of the way, or if we have to, we can take the bus since we wouldn’t need to show ID, which means Volterra wouldn’t be able to track us that way.”
“I want to keep trying,” I said, reaching to my lap to fiddle nervously with the hem of my T-shirt, “but there’s just so much pressure.” And having Eleazar and Carlisle watching me wasn’t helping, I added in my head.
“So, let’s try it from here,” Edward replied with a shrug. “They don’t have to be with you.”
“I don’t have the—”
“Got ’em,” he said, holding up a couple of photos. “El gave them to me before we stepped through the window, just in case.”
I took the pictures from him and looked down at them. The first was a small motel or set of apartments. The building was a pretty pale yellow, and I could see at least three doors for separate rooms, all opening onto a large patio with a couple of deck tables and chairs, as well as an outdoor pool. Eleazar had explained that Renata was a sixxer but that she was untraceable and alone in the house on Palm Island, so it would be safe for us there. He hadn’t gone into more details but had assured us that he would once we got there.
The second photo was of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World in Orlando, about two hours from Renata’s house. Eleazar had thought that I might have enough knowledge about it, might have seen it enough times, that opening a window there would be easier. I’d never been to Disney World, but I’d been to Disneyland. Unfortunately, I was five at the time, so I didn’t remember much.
Running my finger over the photo, I studied the castle. The archway in the middle seemed like a specific-enough spot to give me something to concentrate on. Closing my eyes, I tried to remember far back to how it felt to step into the castle as a little girl, my parents each holding one of my hands. The sights, sounds, smells… Similar enough to where I needed to go that I could imagine all those things coming to life with the photo in my hands.
A memory suddenly sparked, and I let myself get swept away for a moment.
Tugging on Mommy’s and Daddy’s hands, I begged, “C’mon! I wanna see Sweeping Beauty!”
Daddy held tight and didn’t let go. “Bells, stay with us. We’ll get there, princess.”
But I didn’t want to wait. I’d never seen a real castle before. I want to touch it, to make sure it was real. Twisting away, I pulled away from their hands and raced ahead to the big opening with the round top. Ignoring Mommy and Daddy calling my name, I reached out and slowly pressed my hand against the wall. It was hard and cold, all made of big, smooth rocks.
“It’s weal, Daddy!” I gasped as he stepped up beside me. “It’s a weal castle!”
Opening my suddenly misty eyes, I kept that memory of the smooth, cold, hard stones in my head as I gazed at the picture of Cinderella’s Castle. I imagined a window opening against the wall of that archway, knowing it would feel the same to my hands as Sleeping Beauty’s had felt all those years ago.
Before I took another blink, Edward made a satisfied noise of appreciation, and when I looked up from the picture, I saw the window I’d made appear on the wall across from me.
I grinned, pointing at the window, as if he hadn’t noticed it. “I did it!”
Laughing, he nodded. “You did. I knew you could. Now, close it before the cameras notice something amiss.”
“Oh, shit,” I said, cringing as I let the window fade away. It was the middle of the night, so the park was closed, but I knew Disney probably had security cameras and even guards to keep the place secure at night.
“No worries,” he said with a shrug. “I doubt anyone would notice, and if they did, they wouldn’t know what it was – especially since if they went to check it out, it’s gone now.”
After setting the pictures in my lap, I shook out the tension in my arms and hands, taking a few long, deep breaths. Edward was rubbing soothing circles on my back, not saying anything, just giving me the time and space I needed to gear back up to try again to reach the house on Palm Island. Finally, I let out a breath and then picked up the picture of the yellow building, trying once more to commit every inch of the photo to memory.
I closed my eyes and tried to picture the patio with the little umbrella-covered tables. I could see them, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a window to pop up. My muscles were tightening, and my head was starting to pound again with the effort. I opened my eyes and started to speak, but Edward spoke first.
“Relax, pretty girl,” he said in a soft voice. “Let me help you, okay?”
At my nod, he said, “Close your eyes again.” Once I’d complied, he continued. “Picture a map of the US. Got it?”
I nodded slowly, imagining a large map opened across the big table in the big house where Eleazar’s family lived.
“Find Seattle on the map and then trail your finger all the way across the country to Florida. Picture in your head the distance it is between them, all the different parts of the country you’d have to go through to get to it. The wide, open plains of Montana. Fields of cotton in Missouri and peach tree farms in Georgia.”
Unbelievably, I could imagine it just like he was saying. It was a movie playing in my head as my finger moved across the map in my mind.
“Then you get to Florida… You’ve been to the ocean, Bella. Listen to the sound of the waves. Take a deep breath and smell the saltwater. Imagine the sun on your face, the sand under your feet… See the palm trees, tall overhead, their branches swaying in the breeze coming off the ocean.”
With my eyes closed, it was easy to picture in my head, and I nodded.
“Now open your eyes and look at the picture. Imagine all those things – the sun and sand and trees – as you’re standing on that patio, looking out over the ocean…”
I followed Edward’s quiet instructions and pictured myself there, listening to the waves and smelling the saltwater as the breeze moved it our way. I wanted to be there, and the only way to do that was to jump. With little effort, that window I’d been trying so hard to open earlier slid into existence, and I found myself looking through to dark skies, lush trees, and plenty of greenery. I glanced at Edward, who was grinning.
“I knew you could do it, Bella,” he said before he slid his hand to cup the back of my neck and pulled me to him for a kiss.
Once we’d jumped back to the main house with all our things, everyone kicked it into high gear. The Cullen family didn’t have a lot of stuff to pack, so while Edward and I had been working on getting my window to Florida to open, the others had begun to help Eleazar, Carmen, and their family to pack up things they wanted to take. They’d also taken a bunch of stuff to a storage unit they rented, in case VI decided to ransack their home like they had the Cullens’ apartment in New York. With that many people helping, by the time we jumped in, they were almost ready to go.
“Start stacking anything you’re taking in the living room,” Eleazar called up the stairs.
“We might as well take it all,” Esme said from the kitchen. “Who knows when you’ll be back here.”
I looked over and saw her helping Carmen fill up boxes from the cabinets, pantry, and fridge. Squeezing Edward’s hand, I left him and headed into the other room to offer my help.
“Anything I can do?”
Carmen and Esme smiled, and Carmen handed me a box. “There’s one cabinet left, if you’d like to fill this box, sweetheart. Thank you.”
Nodding, I moved over the cabinet on the far side of the kitchen and opened it to find several boxes of cereal, some oatmeal, crackers, and other snack items in various bags and boxes. It didn’t take long before the cabinet was empty and the box was full. I closed the flaps, tucking them into each other so they’d stay closed, and then followed Esme and Carmen back into the living room to stack them by the wall.
Not five minutes later, everyone was assembled in the living room. With sixteen people, twenty duffel bags and suitcases, five backpacks, six purses, and eight boxes, it seemed like the room had shrunk by half or more. I wasn’t sure we needed all this.
Dad and Eleazar aren’t sure when it’ll be safe to come back here.
I startled when Edward pushed the thought into my head, but I nodded with a frown. Makes sense, I guess. I hate it, but it makes sense, I thought back to him.
“Before we go, I’d like to explain a little about where we’re going and why,” Eleazar said as he stood at the front of the room beside Carlisle. When everyone was quiet, he continued, “The woman we’re going to stay with, Renata Amici – she goes by Rae – is a sixxer. She is terrified of Volterra and of humans finding out about sixxers. And when I say terrified, I don’t mean that lightly. Before she moved across the country and basically went into hiding, she was having panic attacks to the point that she would pass out. It was making her physically ill. She worked for VI many years ago, but when she realized how cures become weapons, she’d had enough. Because of her ability, she’s hidden for years now in Florida.”
“What’s her ability?” Rose asked, and Edward froze beside me, watching Eleazar with a raised eyebrow.
“Rae is a shield,” Eleazar answered Rose, holding out his hand to stop further questions when several people began to speak. “Basically her shield makes her un-trackable. Carlisle can’t sense her ability—”
“And neither can Demetri,” Edward murmured aloud, to which Eleazar nodded.
“Right. And it means that as long as we’re there with her, we’ll be under her shield as well, which means he won’t be able to track any of us, including Maggie and Liam,” Eleazar explained, pointing toward the still sleeping child who’d been transferred to the sofa.
“Is there anything else we need to know about her or where we’ll be staying?” Esme asked him.
“Rae lives in what used to be a hotel. It was owned by her husband, Arturo, whom she met after moving to Florida. Before they married, she told him about her ability, about sixxers and VI. He knew someone who was able to get her fake papers that changed her name from Renata Puccia, which was what VI knew her as, to Rae Donato. Then Donato became Amici when she married Arturo, which means Renata Puccia has never been associated with the hotel and therefore remains well hidden from Volterra. She told me years ago that her door was always open for my family and me should I ever need a place away from prying eyes.” He smiled sadly. “I’d say this qualifies.”
When everyone nodded but no one spoke, he asked, “Any more questions?” No one said anything, so he smiled my way. “Then Bella, it’s on you. Once you have a window open, I’ll go through first, and then everyone else can follow.”
Grasping Edward’s hand, I closed my eyes and went back to that place of warm sand and sun, palm trees swaying in the breeze blowing in from the ocean, and the scent of saltwater hanging in the air. I pictured the hotel with the private patio and pool and then opened my eyes as a window on the far wall opened to show the same view we’d had before…only this time, there was an older, olive-skinned woman standing in the doorway to the hotel, watching us with both fear and determination on her lined face.
Palm Island, Florida
Heat and humidity hit me before the smell of salt and sand and ocean. Due to the time difference, Florida was reaching dawn, so the dark sky I’d glimpsed when Bella finally succeeded in opening her window was now paling, giving off an almost eerie glow of grayish-blue over the light yellow of the motel.
Eleazar gave Bella’s shoulder a proud squeeze before he stepped through the window. The older woman standing by the motel’s office wrapped her robe tighter around herself. Her fear and nerves were palpable, and I didn’t have to read her mind to know that this whole thing was pushing her a little bit. However, the sight of Eleazar calmed her down.
El’s sixth sense drew him to other sixxers. He’d always been that way, so throughout his whole life, whether he was in school, college, or traveling with his old career as a journalist, he’d made it his goal to meet as many of us out there as he could. Rae was no different. He’d known her while working out of Seattle. In fact, she’d been the one to inform him about VI and exactly what they’d been up to inside that building. Eleazar had helped her run.
And that alone was why we were all stepping through Bella’s window. She was paying him back without even asking why, in spite of her nerves. The fact that most of us were like her was much more acceptable than had we been normal human beings. Sixxers had to stick together, as far as she was concerned. We all had a secret to keep, which put us in the same ballpark.
Her dark eyes raked over every last one of us as she shook Eleazar’s hand. Young ones, she thought to herself. Strapping, handsome boys…pretty girls. I ain’t got time for no foolishness.
Her thoughts made me smile, bringing Bella close to my side.
She then calculated people versus rooms, looking to Eleazar. “Some of these people will have to bunk up. I only got eight rooms.”
“That’s perfectly fine, Rae,” Eleazar soothed her calmly, turning toward the rest of us. “We want to thank you for letting us come here. There have been some…ugly events as of late.”
Rae snorted, her eyes narrowing on him, thinking he always had a way of putting things lightly. “Lemme guess… Aro is kidnapping us, draining us of what makes us tick, yeah?” she snarked, pursing her lips together when we all answered her in some way. “Horse’s ass. That’s what he is.”
“Yeah, well, that horse’s ass is going to be pretty riled up soon,” Jasper piped up, smirking her way. “We just stole back something he thought he’d rightfully taken. Tsk…” He shook his head. “And we left him quite the mess to clean up.”
Her dark eyes crinkled with mirth at that news. “Really? How on earth did you do that?”
Eleazar chuckled at her bit of joy. Anything that brought Aro trouble made Rae extremely happy. “Let me introduce everyone – and what they can do – so you’ll know exactly who and what you’re hiding.” He walked to the far end of the line of us. “This is Rosalie, a mimic, and Emmett, who could probably lift one of these bungalows with one hand. There’s Jasper, who has the speed and agility of a reptile – including climbing walls. Little Alice over there… She may be unable to see you, but she can visualize decided futures.” Eleazar stepped to Bella and me. “This here is Edward. Careful what you think,” he teased her with a wink. “He’s telepathic and telekinetic – powerful stuff, Rae. Aro would sell his soul for this one. This small thing by his side is Bella – she’s our wonderfully talented teleporter. This, Rae, was how she got away from Aro all on her own. She’s been dodging his men ever since…until now.”
He gestured to the window Bella was still keeping open because we still needed to move stuff over, and he saw her struggle, her weariness. “Hang in there, kiddo. We’re almost done,” he whispered into her ear before moving on down the line.
El introduced his own family and Carlisle and Esme. When he got to Liam, who was cradling Maggie in his arms, he faced Rae again. “Rae, this is who we stole back. Maggie here was taken right out of Liam’s arms. She’s a healer, and from what I can gather, she’s only gotten stronger since I first met her. She’s still coming off the drugs they had her on. Carlisle has checked her over and seems to think she’s just fine. However, he’s got some work to do that you may be able to help him with concerning what they were, indeed, draining from her.”
Rae snorted but nodded. “You all look dead on your feet, and if you don’t let the little one close that window soon, she’s gonna fall into the damn pool.”
My head snapped around to Bella. Her weary gaze met mine, but her smile was small and weak.
“Okay, okay…” Jasper started to move quickly, so quickly that he was a blur through Bella’s window.
Box by box, bag after bag, he moved everything through Bella’s window and onto the wooden deck of Rae’s motel.
Emmett took over then, picking up several items all at once. “We got this. Bella, you can let it close now.”
Bella’s amusement at how my brothers had just saved her a long time of holding that window open was in her thoughts and all over her beautiful face as the window to Alaska slipped out of sight. There was a moment of sadness from the Rios family; the idea of never being able to go home again was hard to swallow, but they understood it. They understood what Alice had told them, that without all this running, Aro would’ve come for them, no matter what. They would’ve been a target eventually, just like the rest of us. It wouldn’t have mattered that they’d hidden us; VI would have shown up eventually.
“Keys,” Rae offered to Eleazar. In her hand were eight rings with numbers on big, plastic tags. She gestured around the pool deck area to each bungalow. “Take your pick, but like I said…some of you will have to bunk up together.”
Only two are bunking up, Tanya’s thoughts grumbled, shooting a glare around the deck to find her room that she’d be sharing with her sister, Irina. Everyone else is happily shacking up.
Ignoring my face in her mind, I turned to Bella. “C’mon. You’re about to fall down, pretty girl.”
Bella was quiet as I led her by Eleazar, who handed us the key to Room 8. His pride in Bella for overcoming her self-imposed glitch in her talent was radiating out of him, but he didn’t say anything. He could see she was exhausted.
Our bungalow was on the end at the far end of the pool and closest to the beach. I could hear the waves and seagulls as I opened our door. I hadn’t given much thought to the sleeping arrangements until I caught sight of only one large bed in the room. There was no sofa, and the floors were hardwood.
My hesitation caused a sleepy Bella to look up to the room and then at me. “What?” she asked through a wide yawn.
“There’s only one bed.” My statement took a second for her to register in her tired mind, and then her eyes widened.
“If you—” she started, but I cut her off with a kiss because I saw where her mind went with my hesitation.
“I don’t want to push you, Bella. That’s all.”
Her smile was warm and sleepy. “I’m too tired for pushy, Edward,” she retorted with a soft laugh. “Just get in.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I chuckled as she pretty much fell into bed fully clothed.
By the time I’d brought in our bags, kicked off my shoes, stripped off my shirt, and changed into shorts, Bella was out completely. She was beautiful and peaceful at the moment, and I didn’t want to disturb her, but I tugged her sneakers off before pulling the covers up around her. The very second I slid into the bed on the other side, our bodies were like magnets. Bella rolled to me, and I wrapped my arms around her. The feel of my pretty girl in my arms and the soft sound of waves immediately had my body relaxing faster than anything before. I could barely hear the minds of my family and friends around us.
I wasn’t sure what time it was when the feel of fingers through my hair and hands on my chest, not to mention the sound of noisy minds woke me. My eyes opened to see warm brown gazing back at me. I knew I should probably get up and see what everyone was doing, but I couldn’t for the life of me find the will to leave the heavenly bubble I’d just found myself in, and Bella’s thoughts were way more important.
Never felt… Just…more. I love him. And I know you can hear this, Edward Cullen.
That last thing should’ve made me laugh, but it didn’t. She’d said before that we could skip all the awkward stages of new relationships because I’d just know. My hands caressed her back, up her side, and into her hair as I pulled her flush to me. Sometime while I slept, she’d taken her jeans off, so bare legs tangled with mine.
Bringing her forehead to mine, I opened my own thoughts to hers. To sully the moment right then with the sound of voices would’ve ruined it, so I let her see where Alice had already seen my love for Bella, that I’d pretty much been in love with her since her first night in the penthouse in New York. I wanted her to understand that it was more than anything I’d ever felt before – more attraction, more love, more everything. My need to protect, to touch, to kiss…all of it was overwhelming and perfect. I let her see it all.
Now you know, I thought to her, meeting her gaze that was welling up with tears. That’s how someone like me can love someone like you. Never doubt it, pretty girl.
She nodded vehemently, following my need to keep it quiet, to keep silent, but her lips met mine roughly. Instead of losing control of our sixth senses like we usually did, this built slowly and evenly. The energy was there, of course, causing the pictures on the wall to vibrate, but there was no sudden burst, nothing shattering to the floor. This was warm and crackling. And I felt it more between us than pushing out into the room.
Clothes were pushed and shoved and gripped in tight fists. Bella rolled, pulling me with her and settling me between her legs.
I knew that we needed to join the rest of them out on the deck, because they were getting louder, and I knew we needed to eat, because we hadn’t before arriving in Florida. But it was fucking impossible to pry myself away from my girl at the moment. I was hard, and she felt way too good grinding against me. There were bare legs wrapped around my waist, and there were tongues and lips and moans for more. Fingers were in my hair and raking down my back, and despite all that was going on outside on the pool deck, I wanted one damn thing.
Dragging my lips from Bella’s and down her cheek, I opened my mouth to the soft spot by her ear. “Do you want to come this way, pretty girl?” I whispered against her skin.
So close already.
Smirking, I pushed up onto my hands and loomed over her, but I didn’t stop the rhythm we’d started. I knew once she let go, I’d follow, because there wasn’t a sight sexier than Bella beneath me lost to the feel of us.
Her hair was spread out on the pillow, and one hand cupped my face to bring me down for a kiss while the other hand gripped my ass in order to push and pull against each other just a touch harder. When her legs pulled me in and her arms started to shake, I knew she was just about tipped over the edge. Slipping my hand between us, I cupped her possessively, applying pressure right where she was hot and swollen.
“I want to feel you,” I whispered, but she was already losing it. Her pussy pulsed against my hand, her head fell back to the pillows, and her neck arched up beautifully. Placing my lips against her pounding pulse, I kissed her softly. “That’s my girl. Let it all go.”
Her thoughts evaporated for a split second, the only word in her mind being my name and her love. A few more thrusts against her, and I followed right behind her, my head burrowing into her neck as I tried to see straight and catch my breath.
Voices raised outside, and my sister’s was the loudest of them, telling someone to leave us alone. Even Bella heard it, and her soft laugh was breathless against me, causing me to smile into the crook of her neck.
“Alice is trying her damnedest to leave us alone, but…” I mumbled, pulling back to look at Bella, who smiled and nodded. She stretched languidly beneath me, looking completely sated and happy, making me wonder what she’d look like after more than just dry humping. “You’re beautiful, and I love you, but there’s something happening out there we should hear.”
Bella froze in her usual fear. “What?”
“Hey, hey…we’re safe. No one can find us here. Rae’s talent makes this place completely invisible to trackers…to sixxers like Demetri.” I brushed her hair from her face, nodding a little when her furrowed brows relaxed a little. “No, there’s news about VI and Seattle and…” I trailed off, tilting my head toward the door. “And Rae’s son? Hmm… Yeah, maybe we need to get out there, Bella.”
“Okay,” she whispered back, smiling up at me. “Love you, too, Edward.”
Grinning, I sat up on the bed, nodding and tapping my temple. “I know,” I taunted her, shooting her a wink. I ducked the pillow she threw at me, and when I grabbed it to throw it back, it didn’t hit her but fell into one of her windows, only to smack me right back from behind. “Damn…not fair, Bella,” I called out when the bathroom door slammed closed.
My amusement was cut short when I caught the plethora of thoughts from the pool deck. There was a new mind out there; little Maggie was awake. But she wasn’t the only new mind I was hearing. Apparently our activities at VI had allowed a few sixxers to escape, and someone out there knew all about it.


Kristi said...

Are the additional freed Sixxers wanting to join forces with the rescue squad? Or looking to retaliate for being held captive and bled dry of their abilities?

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