Sunday, January 22, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 7

Chapter 7 – Ordinary World
Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk

And I don't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
“Ordinary World” by Duran Duran
EDWARD
Bella and I watched as Alice walked back inside the house, but I glanced down at the feel of my wife’s hand slipping into mine. Since the very beginning of our relationship, that had always felt just perfect to me. And her sweet, soft giggle told me that she felt it, too.
However, that sound, that sweet, gorgeous sound of laughter caused tears to well up in my eyes. “Jesus, sweetheart, I never thought I’d hear that sound again,” I whispered, bringing her hand up to kiss her fingers.
“I know… I’m—”

My raised eyebrow and smirk her way made her apology fizzle out midway. Kneeling down a bit, I met her gaze – those eyes slowly growing on me. “Baby, I don’t want your apologies, because you have no damn idea how happy I am that I got you back.” I shot a quick glance over toward the back door of the house. “Plus, I’m not sure it’s your place to be apologizing. I mean that.”
“Edward…”
I shook my head. “To know that you asked for me, and they denied you? Bella…” I stood up straight and sighed deeply to control my temper. “They want my trust…now. But I don’t know just how much I can give them. And no, baby…I don’t care that they can hear me.”
“We need their help, Edward,” she countered, grimacing a little. “Some of them have been through this.” She gestured between us. “Carlisle and Esme. Rose and Emmett. They’ve been here…immortal and human, though Emmett was dying, but still…”
“So was I, Bella-love,” I heard from the doorway.
I glanced up to see Esme watching and waiting patiently for us. Of all of the Cullens, she seemed the most sincere, and that included my opinion of the good doctor. Though, I suspected my opinion of him was tainted by his lies. And that was a bit painful, because I really had enjoyed getting to know him at the hospital. Esme, however, reminded me of my own mother – calm, gentle, caring – so I wondered if that made a difference.
Esme walked to us, then reached out to cup Bella’s face and smiled up at me. “Listen, I know you’re upset with us. I know you’re a little overwhelmed at everything, but I promised Bella, and I’ll promise you… We will help you. When we realized that you were not only her husband, but her mate, we made the effort to help you figure it out so that no one broke any treaties.” She rolled her eyes uncharacteristically back toward the house, and I swear I heard Jake bark out a laugh. “The clues were my idea.” She waited until I nodded in acknowledgement before going on. “It was never our intention for any of this to happen, so we tried our best to ease Bella into it.”
I sighed deeply as Bella shifted closer to me, and I wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I understand. Truly. But it seems everyone around me knew except for me. Bella is the most important thing in the world to me, so it’s hard for me to just accept ‘I’m sorry’ from the people who not only put her in danger but kept her from me when she needed me.” I tried to keep my voice calm, but I failed, sagging a little. “I’ll try, Esme.”
“That’s more than we could ask for, son.”
Bella and I followed Esme in through the back door, and I shook my head at the opulence around me. I’d grown up with money, inherited it from my parents and my grandmother when they died, but this was a completely different level of wealth. This was high ceilings and expensive wood floors. Long tables, large sofas, and enormous lit fireplaces gave off the feeling of a hunting lodge more than a home.
The smell of the room was almost too sweet and floral, with the burning-wood scent of the fire added to it. There was a slight feeling of hostility coming from a few of Carlisle’s family members. Rosalie and Jasper didn’t exactly look welcoming, but Alice and Emmett seemed overly accepting. Jake simply looked tired but tense and at the ready. The only people at ease with the entire situation were Carlisle and Esme.
We took the empty spot on the loveseat, and Carlisle sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he faced us. He smiled sadly my way.
“You’re right, son. It’s me who should be making the apology, not Bella,” he stated sincerely.
I heard a derisive snort from across the room, and I turned my head to see Rosalie rolling her eyes dramatically. From the reactions of everyone else, she was the only one with a problem. Emmett frowned her way, tapping her shoulder a bit. Alice glared hard with darkening eyes. Jasper, however, turned her way and spoke softly enough I couldn’t hear him. She waved them all away, and I got the impression that the blonde immortal was all about herself. She came across as cold and standoffish. In fact, I could imagine that the only person who meant anything to her was the reflection in mirror…maybe the big guy whispering in her ear, but he was probably a far second.
Jacob, however, grinned. “Sometimes, sunshine, we have to talk about things other than you. Suck it up.” Jake turned to me, ignoring Rose’s middle finger. “We all owe the apology, man. All of us were caught up in the chase before we realized Bella was in the path of those assholes. They did exactly what we were trying to stop them from doing, which was hurt someone in the area.”
“So you explained already.” I glanced back to Carlisle. “I guess what I need to know is…where do we go from here?”
Carlisle nodded and sighed deeply before getting up to pace. “I suppose that’s up to the two of you.” He stopped and smiled a little my way. “But honestly, the both of you are still in a considerable amount of danger. Victoria is still out there as a threat. We think she’s building a newborn army in order to come for us. She blames us all for the deaths of her mate and friend. She blames Bella specifically for surviving when James did not. Her vendetta of a ‘mate for a mate’ is totally and completely aimed at you, Edward.”
Bella growled low, and I gazed down at her, linking our fingers together, before directing my attention back to Carlisle. “She approached me this morning.”
“She wouldn’t have touched you,” Bella muttered low and threatening, shaking her head and looking toward Jacob.
“Hmm, yes, like I told you back at your home, Edward, we’ve been protecting you since Victoria has made her intentions known. We planned to continue to do so until she’s stopped.” He stated that last thing with a touch more malice than I was used to hearing from him, but he paced a little more before facing the room again. “Victoria’s smart, if not talented, but she won’t approach you unless you’re alone, which we haven’t allowed. Jacob and Bella watch you when you’re home. You’re with me at the hospital. When you travel to see Charlie, you’re guarded there as well.” He gestured to Emmett and Jasper, who nodded once.
“Charlie’s under the protection of my pack,” Jacob added. “Not that she’s set sights on him yet, but we’re watching over him just to be safe.”
“Why?” I asked, shaking my head, and gesturing to the whole room. “Why go to all this trouble?”
Bella’s head snapped around to face me. “Because I asked them to, Edward.”
“Yes, yes…we owe her,” Rosalie finally spoke aloud with a sarcastic drawl. “Not that I understand what all the fuss is about.” She turned to Carlisle. “Aren’t we going to address the real problem here?” she sneered, pointing my way. “We have a human here who knows exactly what we are, with the Volturi watching us like hawks because of that redheaded demon. All this shit is gonna get us killed because the newbie can’t face reality. We should’ve moved her to Denali the day she woke up. But no, we have to invite the human husband into it all. None of us got to keep our human family. Why should she?”
Bella moved before I could retort. All I could see were flashes of brunette and blonde hair, growling ringing loud in the large room. I stood up, but Jasper stepped in front of me.
“Trust me, Bella can handle herself just fine. She’s stronger than Rose right now. In fact, I wouldn’t blame her if she ripped an arm off and beat her with it,” he stated firmly, aiming that last portion toward the two fighting. “Rose!” he snapped, and all fighting came to an end when Emmett wrenched the two apart. “Christ, I’ve tried to tell you… He’s trustworthy. He’s Bella’s mate. No one stopped you when you brought Emmett home, so…please, just stop.”
A sense of lethargy came over me, making me sit down hard on the edge of the loveseat. Jasper patted my shoulder.
“Sorry about that. Had to calm them down somehow.”
The dragging feeling left as quickly as it came, and I nodded, remembering that Jake said Jasper could control emotions. “Impressive,” I mumbled, smirking at Jasper’s wry smile.
“Well, it comes in handy, I suppose.”
“I tried to warn you, Rose,” Alice said haughtily; she hadn’t even flinched throughout the entire exchange. “One day, he’ll be an equal. I’ve seen it. I’d make peace now.” She paused a bit, her head tilting, but her grin was slow and slightly evil. She looked to me. “Looks like you’ll be talented, Edward. Another freak in the family.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Emmett groaned. “That’s just what we need.” He grinned light-heartedly but shrugged a shoulder. “Another talent up in here. We don’t even know what Bella is…”
“He would never betray me,” Bella warned Rose; the two were still glaring daggers at each other during all of this. “And what hypocritical bullshit, Rosalie! You killed all the humans you knew, so why don’t you go preach your sanctimonious fuckery somewhere else!”
“Bella,” I huffed through a shocked laugh, shaking my head a little. I wasn’t sure the last time I’d seen my wife that mad, much less use that harsh of language. “Sweetheart, c’mere.”
Bella walked to me, her eyes barely breaking from Rose, who had Emmett to sooth her. When my wife was in front of me, I cupped her beautiful pouting face. “She doesn’t know me, baby. That’s all. She doesn’t understand I’d do anything for you. She doesn’t know that none of this makes a difference to me.” I shrugged a shoulder. I didn’t care who was listening, because my temper spurred hers, and she apparently could cause way more damage than I could. “I’m not here to expose anyone or anything. I’m here for you.”
“It won’t matter if you expose us!” Rose snapped. “You just knowing could get us killed.”
“Then you go away, go to Denali or wherever it is you want, but I’m not leaving her,” I stated firmly, meeting her black gaze as she stared at me with disdain. “I’ve found out what life is like without her, and it’s a half life, so do whatever it is you feel you need to do, but I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here. I don’t care what it takes, so if you don’t like me, then stay away from me.” Setting my gaze back on my still very prickly girl, I smiled. “I’m okay, and so are you. We’ll come up with a way to keep everyone safe, not just the ones who are worried about their own necks. Hmm?”
Bella nodded, her gaze only on me. “I can’t let anything happen to you. I can’t let Victoria hurt you. You have no idea how much power, how much strength… It wouldn’t take much, Edward.”
“If you say so, then I believe you. We just have to be careful, Bella. That’s all.” I said all that gently as I tugged her to the cushion beside mine. She sat next to me, giving Rose one last glare, only this time it was an I-told-you-so type of expression.
Esme finally spoke when Rose opened her mouth. “Rosalie, if you can’t act civilized, then please just go. I won’t have it. There is enough going on that’s aimed our way, so I won’t have it inside my house.”
Rose spun on her heel, walking heavy-footed out of the room. The front door slammed hard behind her. Emmett sighed deeply, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “For what it’s worth? She doesn’t mean it, really. She…doesn’t take to change very well. Honestly, she’s just worried, but it doesn’t come out right. Anyway…good to meet you, Edward. I’m actually glad it worked out the way it did. Bella was havin’ an awful hard time adjusting. You calm her better than we do, so I’m all for havin’ a human around. Let me know if you need us. Rose’ll cool down in a few.”
With that said, he followed Rose out the front door. The sound of an engine starting in the driveway met my ears, but I turned to Carlisle when he sat down in front of us.
“For all of Rose’s faults, she’s completely loyal to this family, Edward.”
“She really is all bark,” Jake added with a laugh.
Carlisle ignored his jibe and pointed to the rest of his family. “I trust them with my life. I’m willing to trust them with yours…and Bella’s.” When I nodded in agreement, he went on. “Son, we can continue like we were, only this time, you’ll be aware that you’re under protection. You can continue your work at the hospital with me, and we’ll still keep up the pretenses everywhere else. My biggest concern is that Bella’s still learning, still adjusting to this life. She has to maintain a rigid hunting schedule, which she’s been following well. She’s extraordinarily strong, so she’s relearning how to slow down, move with precision and gentleness. She’s occasionally overwhelmed with senses that are more intense than they were when she was human. Sight, sound, scent… They’re all way stronger, and it can become too much. It’s best if she stays close to the woods so she can hunt when needed. Her emotional well-being will most likely improve with you in the picture.”
I smiled when Bella nodded. “I missed you, too, sweetheart.”
She curled into me on that loveseat, and I relished the ability to wrap my arm around her. Pressing my lips to the crown of her head, I asked, “So she needs to stay here?”
“I’d prefer it, but I know keeping you apart would be difficult. You’re welcome here anytime. We have plenty of room. I can make arrangements where you and I can work close to the same shifts. I have that pull, you know.”
Chuckling, I nodded, but I pressed my nose to my wife’s hair, whispering, “Sweetheart, what do you want to do? Tell me what you need.” When she sat up, I reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear out of pure habit, and she closed her eyes at the feel of it. I’d do whatever she wanted, be her biggest support if she needed it, or she could take time to learn from them. I just couldn’t be away from her again. “Look at me, beautiful,” I whispered, smiling when those strange, dark eyes opened. “If you need time, you can have it. If you want me to visit, I will all the time, as much as you wish. You tell me what you need. I just…I can’t be without you. Even if you go someplace to adjust, I only ask that you stay in touch. My lips are sealed when it comes to all of this. Who would I tell? Roxy? Charlie? I go to work, I come home, and that’s the extent of it. If keeping secrets means I get to keep you, then I’m okay. So…”
“You can’t stay here all the time. You have to take care of Steve,” she started, fidgeting a bit next to me. She glanced down at her hands, at her wedding rings specifically.
“Yes, that’s true. Though, I’m beginning to think he’s smart enough to drive and get a job.”
Bella giggled, nodding a little. That sound lightened the room significantly, and Jasper smirked my way. Alice, though, sat forward her eyes glazing over.
“Ah, hell, Alice. What?” Bella sighed wearily.
“Shh!” she hushed her, holding up a single finger. “Gimme a second…”
Bella rolled her eyes up to mine. “You have to maintain a façade now, Edward. You have to pretend you know nothing. No one can see me come into our house or see me leaving. I’m dead to the world. There are rules to follow. I can’t go out in sunlight. And it’s not like Dracula; I won’t burst into flames. I just…”
Jacob snorted. “They look like disco balls in the sun, dude. It’s so weird. But it’s their skin. It hardens into something like a diamond-hard substance. And it…it…glitters.”
“Okay,” I said, dragging it out a little, but then I looked to Bella again. “I can keep going the way I was, baby. I promise.” I figured not much would change except that Bella could sneak in our house when no one was looking. I’d stay here with her when she needed me.
Alice gasped. “We can’t separate you again. It doesn’t work out very well.” She shook her head, looking sadly my way. “No, no…can’t do that.” She looked to Carlisle. “Bella’s fine if she’s hunted well. She could essentially go home with him, like she has been, but without hiding in the empty house behind theirs. But she still needs to work with Emmett and Jasper…and you. No Denali. Nope. We lose them both. It doesn’t work. Victoria will play one against the other.”
Everyone went quiet for a moment, but Alice was still hazy eyes and worried expression. It was Jasper who explained what she was doing.
“Alice sees decided futures,” he started, raising his eyebrows a little, and I nodded in understanding when Alice’s eyes slipped closed. “Some visions can be countered if she makes her own decision, something different. Sometimes it’s subtle; sometimes it’s huge. She plays out different scenarios to see every single possibility. So if she sees that if we separate you and something tragic happens, she’ll add different players into the game. She’ll make the decision to keep you two together, with all of us watching out, and that usually results in another vision.” He smiled a little. “Honestly, it’s her vision that allowed you here. She saw that if you knew about us, about Bella, that you’d accept things just fine. She sees all of us as a family eventually. She told Bella and Esme where and when to leave the clues for you.”
Alice opened her eyes to mine, and I wanted to thank her, but she beat me to it. “You’re welcome.”
Chuckling a little, I nodded and gazed down at Bella, who seemed to be completely content and at ease with my arm around her. Her head was on my chest, her eyes closed, and it seemed she was just soaking in my presence. If Alice saw us all as a family, then that meant that I became one of them, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that…until I realized that it meant I would never lose Bella again. However, the reality of that was I would “die” in the eyes of everyone I knew. I would have to hide like Bella now did, have to live on a diet of animal blood. And my medical career would be put on hold, if not shelved completely.
Glancing over at Carlisle, I wondered how he did it, how he worked day in and day out around humans and blood. Jake had said blood caused them to go crazy, but so far, none of the vampires around me – my wife included – seemed to be uncomfortable. She’d said the “burn wasn’t that bad.”
“Okay,” Alice piped up, standing in front of us. “Edward, you absolutely have to keep to your schedule for now. So home, work, home. You come here on your days off. Bella, you’ll keep watch with one of us nearby when he’s home, but you’ll hunt daily, no excuses. When you leave him, one of us will stay. If Jake helps, then my visions get all fuzzy.” She waved a hand around her head like she was swatting at flies. “Though, even if the pack is involved, I see an okay future. Carlisle, he’ll be with you at the hospital. Your morning runs are over, buddy!” she said forcefully, pointing at me. “Get a treadmill or something.”
Grinning, I said, “I have one. I’ll have to get it out of storage.”
“I don’t care what you do. Just no more running in the woods like this morning. That was too close.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Bella sat up. “What about Victoria?”
“She’s yet to make a tangible decision,” Alice said angrily. “She’s pissing me off is what she’s doing.”
“Man, oh man,” Jake sighed, shaking his head. “Boy, would I love to get her back on the Forks/La Push turf. That would make it so much easier to finish what we started.”
“I agree, but until she makes a solid decision as to how she plans to come at us, then I can’t say for sure exactly when or where it all takes place,” Alice replied, putting her hands on her hips.
“What if we decided to move Edward and Bella to our house in Forks, darlin’?” Jasper asked carefully. “We make a show of moving Edward. You know she’s either watching or has someone watching. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have known where he’d be this morning. She’s tracked Bella to their house, followed him to the hospital. She knows where we all are, which was how she was able to approach him on the trail this morning. Bella and Jake were close but not close enough to be seen. Now…they can be by his side. Now…we could move him to Forks to draw her out.”
“You’re not using him as bait!” Bella growled at Jasper. “That’s stupid and dangerous.”
“You’re bait, too, Bella.”
“Yes, but she’ll have a helluva lot harder time hurting me. She could break his neck with a flick of her wrist.”
“That’s true, but he’d never be alone.”
“What if…” I started, grimacing when everyone turned my way. “What if we let her only think I’m alone? No show of moving me. No show of anyone around me. If she thinks I’ve been left unprotected, then she’ll try again like this morning.”
“Edward…baby, no.” Bella’s pleading was as close to crying as she could get. She shook her head profusely.
“Hey, hey,” I soothed her, reaching over to trail the backs of my fingers across her smooth cheek. “I didn’t say I’d be alone, just that my protection is clearly hidden.”
“It’s definitely something to consider,” Carlisle interjected. “The vampire senses are keen, Edward. Keeping us hidden from her would be a difficult task. And the wolves are potent to our kind, so she’d sense them immediately.” He sighed, rubbing his face a bit. “I’m with Jacob on this one. I’d really like to draw her away from Seattle and into the woods of Forks. It’s easier, a larger space to fight. Plus, I honestly think she’s building an army of newborns, and if that’s the case, then drawing her away from the city would put an end to the killing.”
“We could lead her here,” Jacob suggested. “I mean, it’s not home-field advantage, but those woods out there go all the way north up to Canada and south down to Portland. That’s a lot of room to take care of business.”
“Plus, it keeps the fight away from Charlie,” I added, shrugging a shoulder. “No need to put him in danger.”
Cool lips pressed to my temple, and Bella whispered, “Thank you.”
“And you can continue to work,” Carlisle added. “So…you’ll split your time between this house and your own. She’ll only see what we allow her to see. Jake, how many of your pack are willing to patrol the woods?”
Jacob shrugged but sat forward. “I can leave some of the younger members on the reservation to protect my people. The rest could come this way, so five or six, depending on Leah, if she wants to stay behind or protect the leeches she hates so much,” he said, winking at Bella. “She loves you, but she hates what you are, so I’ll give her the choice.”
“Fine,” I sighed wearily, standing up and offering Bella my hand. “Tonight, I’m going home.”
“You’re welcome to stay here anytime, Edward,” Esme offered.
Smiling her way, I nodded. “I appreciate that, and from the sound of it, I’m sure I’ll be taking you up on that offer, but not tonight. I’ve spent over two months thinking my wife is gone, so I’d like to take the opportunity to talk to her. Alone.”
Bella’s hand turned my face toward hers. “Hey, I’ll meet you there. I need to hunt before we catch up. Okay?”
“Okay.” Leaning in, I pressed my lips to the middle of her forehead. I noted the difference, but it didn’t seem to bother me. “Then I’ll see you at home, sweetheart.” The simplicity of that statement was almost knee-buckling, because I had thought I’d never say those words again.
“I’ll ride with you,” Jacob said, getting up from his chair. “My car is a few streets away from your house.”
“Fair enough,” I told him, giving Bella one more glance. She looked like she was nervous and happy and worried all at the same time, but we’d address all of that when we were alone.
When I started for the door, Carlisle stopped me. “Edward, I’d… On a personal note, I’d like to apologize for deceiving you at the hospital. I hope you can understand my reasons.”
“I can,” I stated with a nod, glancing toward my wife. “I’ve never been able to tell her no either.”
He chuckled. “Yes, I can understand why.”
“Hey!” Bella called out, sounding falsely affronted, which caused everyone to laugh. “Home, Edward. See you ’round?”

Grinning and nodding, I shot her a wink, elated for the opportunity to spend time with her. “Yes, ma’am.”

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