Sunday, January 29, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 24

Chapter 24
New York City
A touch of guilt came over me as I completely hid my thoughts from Bella while we were in Forks. If I hadn’t been surrounded by four other sixxers and an entire diner full of innocent people, I might have really taught that asshole a lesson in just what a “freak” could do. As it was, he’d caused my patience to snap. He’d reminded me so much of the kids at the mental hospital, Jasper’s mother, Aro, the small-minded, small-town people where Rose and Emmett had come from – he was hateful but scared. That was usually the case when someone doesn’t quite understand something or someone: they feared it.
There had been too many people around in that diner, and I couldn’t let Bella know exactly what her ex thought of her, of what we all were. My mind reading was a blessing and a curse, one I’d learned to deal with since I was little kid, but not everyone could handle the mental assault of opinions and nastiness that humans thought every damn day.

Jacob Black was a backwoods, misogynistic piece of shit. And he was riddled with jealousy. He thought his ex was hotter than ever, and his mind shot back to high school, where he’d “hit that” as much as she’d let him. Sadly, I knew my Bella; I knew if she went that far with him, then she felt something for him to some degree. And it was that point that made me hide his thoughts and mine from her. While he still considered her the “best piece of ass” he’d ever had, he still hated what she was, what she could do, despite the fact that she hadn’t asked for it.
The fucker had zero shame in showing me. Once Claire had let it out that I could read minds, he began remembering all the history between himself and Bella. He tested me, trying to push me the entire time we were in that diner. It was then that I knew I was dealing with an immature child. He was still the same idiot from when they’d dated.
Despite how I knew just how much Bella loved me, how low a human being he was, and how childish I was about to act, I couldn’t stop myself. As I told everyone to go outside while I paid for our lunch, I sent that asshole everything. I sent him the thoughts of the people around him; it seemed he wasn’t well liked at all. I sent him what Bella had looked like when I’d found her on the streets, what Renee looked like through my girl’s mind, and finally, I sent him what real, true loyalty, love, and dedication looked like on the face of the most beautiful girl either of us had ever seen. And just for shits and giggles, I pushed his glass of water into his lap, tipping the waitress extra before leaving the diner. But I kept that all to myself.
Once we’d spent a few more minutes with Sam, Emily, and little Claire and jumped home, I felt a tug on my sleeve as the window closed behind us, sealing off Forks. When I turned to face Bella, her expression was contrite and worried. I teasingly raised an eyebrow at her, and she cracked that beautiful smile for just a moment before she spoke.
“I know I’ve been putting it off, that I wasn’t ready, but I am now. If you want to set it up with Benjamin for us to visit my mom, I’m ready.”
That wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from her. I actually thought she’d ask why she couldn’t hear me, which caused a bit more guilt to come over me.
Reaching up, I cupped her face and kissed her softly. “Then let’s talk about it, pretty girl.”
She nodded and followed me into my room, and I closed the door with my mind, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“W-Wait, Edward…” she sputtered a little, fidgeting in front of me. “I…I can’t hear you. Did I… Was there…”
“C’mere,” I called her, pulling her between my legs. “You did nothing wrong, Bella. I was…” I sighed, shaking my head. “I was protecting you from Jake’s thoughts, which meant I needed to protect you from mine.”
A small, slow grin spread over her face. “Oh damn, really? You think I care what he thinks of me, Edward Cullen?”
“It was insulting.”
“I’m sure. So was I the last time we talked,” she said through a laugh. “And I dropped him into the middle of a half-frozen puddle.”
Grinning, I reached out to bring her in for a kiss. “Well, that sort of matches the glass of ice water I dumped in his lap, and that was after I showed him a bunch of shit.”
She gasped, but I took advantage of it and kissed her. I kissed her soundly, deeply, thoroughly. I kissed her until we forgot we were supposed to be talking, until she was suddenly astride my lap, then we were on my bed, and finally I was looming over her. Smirking down at her, I dropped a light kiss to her lips.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it. He was a jackass.”
“He is that,” she sighed sweetly, reaching up to rake her fingers through my hair. “I still think he and Tanya would be besties.”
Snorting, I buried it into the crook of her neck. “I bet,” I mumbled around kisses to her soft skin. “But enough about him. Let’s discuss what we came in here for, Bella.”
I felt her nod, and I rolled onto my side, as did she. Pulling her flush to my front, I pressed a kiss to her forehead, finally opening my mind to hers.
How do you want to do this, pretty girl? I thought to her, brushing her hair from her face.
She shrugged a shoulder, focusing on the collar of my shirt more than my face. My sweet, brave Bella was nervous about seeing her mother. She wasn’t sure she really wanted to see her, but she knew that Benjamin wanted to speak with her about how Bella ended up turned over to VI. Legally, there wasn’t much he could do without exposing sixxers to the public, but he wanted to know just how low Aro had stooped to acquire sixxers for his experiments. I was pretty sure he was considering creating a sixxer government, of sorts. It would be a type of justice system in place, in case something or someone like Aro ever decided to try something shady again.
If it were me, I’d set the elder sixxers we knew as some sort of committee – my dad, Eleazar, Rae, and even that awesomely talented Randall. All of them had been around long enough to have seen some shit.
Bella smiled up at me. “Interesting.”
“I think so, but first things first, baby… Your mom. We won’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, Bella. That’s a fact, so tell me what you want us to do,” I vowed to her firmly.
Her nose wrinkled a little, and she looked a little pained. “I guess we should talk to Benjamin.”
“Okay,” I said, sitting up in the bed and pulling out my phone.
Palm Island, Florida
Leaving the chilly weather of Manhattan and stepping into warm, humid, sunny Florida was almost a shock to the system, but we were greeted by friends we hadn’t seen in some time.
“Edward! Bella!” Maggie and Makenna squealed, racing across the pool deck to hug us, while shy Bree hung back a little.
I couldn’t help but grin at them as their thoughts rushed at me. Makenna had befriended just about every animal on the island, and she couldn’t wait to show us. From raccoons and possums, to squirrels and turtles, she loved them all. And the baby brown and white rabbit in her arms was her personal favorite.
Maggie, on the other hand, eyed us both after a round of hugs just to make sure we were perfectly healthy. When she was satisfied, she gave me a small smile and a shrug. She couldn’t help it. I ruffled her hair and shot her a wink.
We greeted Rae and Liam, but Benjamin stepped forward, shaking my hand before hugging Bella.
“Sorry you had to come down here first, but I’d just taken a few days off to check on Mom,” he told us.
“Well, the travel is cheap,” I said with a laugh, giving my Bella’s side a tickle.
I was trying my best to keep her spirits up, keep her brave, but I knew this would be a shitty trip, no matter what. There had been a time in my life when I’d wanted my birth parents’ approval so fucking badly. They were all I’d had, until Carlisle found Alice and me. The things they’d said to me, taught me, despite how selfish and unethical it had been, were all I’d had in this life until they’d pushed me too far.
Once Carlisle and Esme had taken us in, even after the adoption, they’d told me I was free to see my parents, but I’d never wanted it. Not a fucking bit of it. They’d used me, and when I wasn’t willing to help them anymore, they were done with me, so I washed my hands of them. It was a decision I never regretted, especially when Alice saw it never would’ve worked out civilly. Once they got themselves arrested again, I knew I’d made the right decision, and I moved on with a family who meant more to me than anything.
Bella, however, had it different than I did. Her mother was an addict, manipulated and abused by the guy she was with. My girl had lost her father at a young age, and her mother was all she had left in the world. To be betrayed by that woman – to me – was the worst, most shittiest thing I’d ever heard. I knew there was a part of Bella that had moved on from her mother. She could probably go the rest of her life just fine without Renee, but Bella would always wonder about her. And there was a part of Bella that blamed Phil more than she blamed her mother. She blamed the man for introducing drugs, for slowly pushing Bella out of her mother’s life, and for taking control of the situation.
My hope, beyond anything, was that Bella got closure with her mother. I wasn’t expecting a happy reunion. And it was that thought that made me keep Bella close, with kisses and whispered jokes.
Benjamin stood in front of Bella, his eyes warm, but he was dressed the part of FBI agent today – badge looped through his belt, sidearm in a shoulder holster, button-down shirt with a tie. And beneath that shirt was a Kevlar vest. His intention was to scare the ever-loving shit out of the couple.
“Bella, I’ve had an agent from the Seattle office drive by your mother’s place every now and then. No contact, and they weren’t seen. I wanted to make sure she’d be there,” he explained to her gently.
What he didn’t say out loud was he was making sure the woman was still alive and hadn’t overdosed.
Wrinkling my nose at that, I turned to Bella. “We’re on your pace today, pretty girl. We’ll go when you say so.”
Bella’s big brown eyes looked from me to Benjamin and back to me again. “What if I don’t want to talk to her?”
“Then you don’t have to,” Benjamin conceded firmly. “Edward and I will go in and ask them questions, and you can stay here, outside, whatever you want.” He reached for another Kevlar vest and handed it to me.  “You will wear this, just in case.”
I took it, strapped it on, and we both looked to Bella.
Bella took a deep breath, focusing her eyes on the wall of the closest bungalow, and the dreary, overcast of Seattle open up in front of us. We were facing the house from the backyard. Bella used the wood fence to sneak in without being seen. Before we stepped through, Maggie grunted, lurching forward out of her control.
“Maggie?” her father asked, looking to me.
There was an enormous beacon of need pulling Maggie through that window. Something or someone was sick, and it was tugging on the little girl hard.
“Bella, I want to go. I need to go,” she said, shaking her head to clear it.
We looked to her father, who simply stepped forward to go with us. His mind showed me that he accepted his daughter’s talent and he trusted us completely.
We stepped through Bella’s window into a messy backyard of her mother’s home.
The neighborhood was eerily quiet in the middle of the afternoon, but after making sure Bella wanted to stay outside, I gave her a quick kiss.
I’ll let you listen through me. Okay, pretty girl? I thought to her, and she nodded nervously.
Liam stepped forward, placing a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be with her, Edward.”
“Thanks, Liam,” I told him, looking to Benjamin and giving him a nod that I was ready to go.
The two of us walked quietly along the side of the house and up to the front door. Benjamin gave me one more look when he raised a fist to knock.
When I gave him a nod to go ahead, he pounded on the door loudly. It was the kind of knock that only a law enforcement officer could do.
I grinned, asking, “Do they teach you that in Virginia? Like is there a class cops take for how to knock on doors to scare the ever-loving piss out of people?”
“Shut up, Edward,” he replied with a laugh and an eye roll. “Renee and Phil Dwyer! FBI! Open up,” he stated loudly at the door.
Even Bella jumped a little through my mind, but we all heard shuffling and steps being made through the small dingy house. There was a turn of a deadbolt and the sliding of a chain, and then the door opened. The woman on the other side of the door looked – as Jasper would’ve put it – rode hard and hung up wet.
I could see my sweet Bella in the woman’s face. Dark hair, dark eyes, and they were about the same height. But Renee was too thin and completely wasted.
“Phil’s not here,” she mumbled, rubbing her face. “What do you want?”
“Mrs. Dwyer, I need to ask you a few questions. May we come in?” Benjamin asked firmly, like he wasn’t giving her much choice.
“About what?” she asked, shifting nervously on her feet as she held the door.
“Isabella Swan.”
I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be, but Renee’s panic was palpable and thick. Guilt and self-hate were set deep inside her mind and heart. It was a vicious cycle. She’d fucked up her whole life, including her daughter’s, and in order to live with it, she needed to get high. In fact, she was pretty twitchy right then as it was.
“I don’t know where my daughter is,” she said softly, and that was somewhat the truth, because apparently, when Bella had escaped VI, Demetri and Felix had shown up looking for her.
She’s being honest…out of fear, I told Benjamin silently.
He pointed inside the house. “Let’s talk, Mrs. Dwyer.”
She looked around the street but finally stepped back from the door and let us in.
The house was wrecked. I’d seen through Bella’s mind how many times she’d come to visit her mother, just to end up cleaning the place. She’d cook, she’d clean, and she’d stock the fridge, but by the next visit, it was back to the disaster that surrounded me, only now, it was a thousand times worse because no one gave a shit.
Renee looked worriedly around the room, and she was trying to remember where her stash was, but when Benjamin took a seat in the living room, she nervously sat down on the edge of the chair. I, however, remained standing…and away from her, because it was all I could do not to shake her for all she’d done – addiction or no addiction. Standing just outside in the backyard, there was a beautiful woman who’d had her whole life ahead of her, and the woman in front of me had snatched it all away.
Edward, Bella thought to me gently. We wouldn’t have met, you know…without all of that stuff.
I knew she was right, but it didn’t make her mother any less of a hot mess.
“My name’s Benjamin, and my friend here is Edward. We just wanted to talk to you about Isabella…and Volturi Industries.”
“Actually, I want to know where your husband is first, Renee,” I interrupted shamelessly.
Renee’s eyes widened at the two of us. “Um, he’s gone. He’s been gone for weeks. I don’t know where he is, and his phone is one of those pay-as-you-go ones… It’s off.”
Through her mind, I saw that she assumed he’d either gotten arrested, overdosed somewhere, or ran off with someone else. And she wasn’t quite sure she cared if he came back – and that moved her up a notch or two on the likeable scale. However, she had a fucking long way to go, in my opinion.
She fidgeted a little, something very similar to Bella. “M-My daughter… She… I don’t know where she is.”
“You know where you sent her, though, right?” I asked harshly, ignoring Benjamin’s grin when I was essentially stealing his interview, but I had a personal agenda.
“Bella was… She could…”
“Try again, Renee. You sold your daughter for drugs,” I accused, pointing around the house, but my temper was on edge, and when the piled-high garbage in the kitchen toppled to the floor, I took a breath and let it out slowly, nodding to Benjamin ask the questions.
“Bella needed help!” she snapped at me. “The men at Volterra said they could help her, and they said she’d be helping others – a research of sorts.”
I snorted, rolling my eyes. “You saying she needed help is fucking rich.”
Renee’s pout was just about identical to her daughter’s, and if I wasn’t so damned irritated with her, I’d have laughed. As Benjamin pushed on, asking her how she’d come to find out about VI, I checked on Bella, Liam, and Maggie outside. Poor Liam was trying his best to keep two sixxers in check out there. Maggie was practically shaking with the need to heal, and it was Renee who was calling her. Bella, however, was worried – about me, about her mother, about whether or not to come in – and she fidgeted and shifted from one foot to the other as she listened through me.
Focusing back on Benjamin and Renee, I had to give the woman one thing – she never once, not a single time, mentioned exactly what Bella could do. No matter how Benjamin asked her, she avoided the truth about her daughter’s sixth sense. And to me, that was pretty damned big.
“So VI approached you?” Benjamin asked her. “Did they bring a contract with them? Or was it a verbal one?”
“They showed up one day,” she answered. “They told me that… They knew…”
My head tilted as I listened to her mind. As I put together what I knew about VI now and what she was saying, I realized that VI had used James’s talent to locate Bella. They obviously had mapped a pattern for my girl – school, work, her mother’s place. Instead of trapping her in public, they’d used the shot-out parents, the need for money – of which Aro had plenty – and they played into the “we can get your daughter some help” mentality. And the assholes they’d sent to deliver the message were none other than Demetri, Felix, and Jane.
I sighed, shaking my head. They were intimidating to sixxers who could defend themselves, so I couldn’t imagine just how scared two high, paranoid addicts in need of a fix would feel in their presence. Jane alone could have pushed their pain up to the point of snapping.
I met Benjamin’s gaze, saying, “Jane. Along with Demetri and Felix.” When Renee gasped, looking to me, I relented, despite what we’d planned. “Your daughter isn’t alone in the world, Mrs. Dwyer. There are many of us out there who have special…talents. But despite what those monsters told you, it doesn’t need to be ‘cured.’”
For the first time in probably years, Renee had hope. I saw it in the eyes that matched my beautiful Bella’s. I saw it when the woman sat up taller. And truly saw it in her mind. She wanted badly to rectify the mistakes she’d made with her daughter and with her own life.
“What can you do?” she asked in almost a whisper.
Smirking, I tapped my temple. “I can see your mind.”
“Is it as messed up as it feels some days?”
Wincing at that and Maggie’s sharp need to help from outside, I shrugged. “No more than others. If it makes you feel better, I’ve seen worse.” She snorted, which caused me to smile a little. I took a seat on the sofa. “Benjamin, they approached her and Phil. Not the other way around. And knowing Jane, she pushed the pain.”
Benjamin nodded in understanding, but it was my Bella whose shock was palpable. She’d come to terms with her mother’s addictions and even had decided to live with it for the rest of her life had Renee been the one to sell out her talent to VI, but from what I could see in the life-worn woman’s mind, VI had come to them and it was Phil who had immediately given up Bella’s strange ability for the money. In all reality, the Dwyers would have had no choice whatsoever; VI would’ve taken Bella no matter what. Knowing that made her next question to me heartbreaking.
Finally, Renee found her voice. “You know where Bella is, don’t you?” she asked me specifically.
I glanced to Benjamin, who shrugged, and then I listened to my pretty girl’s mind. She wasn’t quite ready yet to step through the door again. There was a part of me that wanted to soothe Renee, but the other part of me remembered exactly what Bella had looked like when I’d first set eyes on her. The girl was starving, scared, callous to living on the streets. She could barely look someone in the eye.
Finally, I decided to go with the truth. “VI is no more.” When her eyes widened with hope and curiosity, I continued. “They weren’t looking for a cure, Renee. They were looking to harvest what makes us tick, wanted to reproduce it, sell it…make it a weapon. They duped you. They duped a lot of people into allowing family or friends to be put into a coma and hooked up to machines.”
Renee gasped, covering her mouth. “I didn’t know!”
“No one did, Mrs. Dwyer,” Benjamin stated.
“And Bella?”
I was still a little pissed at the woman, because I couldn’t fathom Esme ratting me out to someone, no matter who the fuck it was. My birth mother? Abso-fucking-lutely, but my adopted mother, not an ice cube’s chance in hell.
“There’s a part of me that wants to tell you exactly what your daughter went through, but I think I’d rather show you.” With that, I pushed my own memories of meeting my Bella, and I added Bella’s memories into it. I showed Renee her daughter’s escape, her year-long run from VI’s men, and her struggle on the streets of just about everywhere.
Tears were streaming down her face when I was done, but the front door opened, and Bella’s mind met my own.
Edward, baby… That’s enough.
I frowned, shaking my head a little. It wasn’t enough to me. My Bella never deserved any of what she’d gone through.
“Edward,” she stated loudly, ignoring her mother, who had stood up at the sight of her daughter in the room after being gone for well over a year and a half. “Please,” she begged. Smirking my way, she added silently, I know you love me. I know you would do anything for me, but she’s seen enough.
Locking gazes with Bella for just a moment, I slowly pulled my mind from her mother’s. She needed to know, I thought to her.
Bella’s mind was a mixture of things. She loved how protective I was over her, but she saw a bit of my own parental issues in there somewhere, which made me smirk, and she hadn’t even glanced her mother’s way yet. Fear, despite how brave she was, was overriding things at the moment.
I could see her gathering her thoughts, feelings, and courage, trying to make sense of what she’d seen versus what she’d assumed. She, too, had noticed that not once had her mother relented on what Bella was capable of doing, which meant the person who’d let her talent slip the day they’d turned her over was her stepfather.
She finally let my gaze go and faced her mother, who was a mess of tears, cravings, and self-hatred. Renee tried her damnedest to see all the changes a year and a half could make on the beautiful woman standing in front of her. And above all of those changes, she saw Bella’s father, Charlie. She saw fearlessness, a fighter of what was right and good, and she saw the love that created Bella in the first place.
“Bella, I’m sorry,” Renee whispered, and to an outsider, it would’ve sounded weak, but it was as sincere as I’d ever heard.
“Where is he?” Bella asked, not exactly ignoring the apology but saving it for later because she’d heard more apologies from that woman than she could count. “You have to know something.”
“He ran,” Renee answered, looking to Benjamin. “He started to get really scared when cop cars started to patrol the neighborhood.”
Benjamin smiled a little but shrugged. “My men didn’t pick him up, but I can make some calls, see if SPD scooped him up for something.”
I felt Bella’s temper before it even registered on her beautiful face. She rounded on her mother.
“He just left you?” she asked slowly. “He just left you behind to get arrested? Granted, it was Benjamin watching you, but still… He just ran?” That last question came out with a slightly menacing laugh and a shake of her head.
Renee started to fidget and shake a little. Honestly, she was in a bad way, and she was trying mentally to calculate just how long it had been since her last hit. She was trying to figure out which was better – Phil gone or Bella coming back. Guilt then took over because she couldn’t comprehend the reality of it all; she barely felt human anymore, and she couldn’t figure out how to even begin to fix her life or even if she could fix it. Renee didn’t know how to be without Phil and the drugs to numb it all.
As she was rubbing her arm over and over, contemplating ending it, the door opened again. A flushed Maggie burst through the door, having run around the house with her father on her heels.
Before she allowed her talent to completely engulf her, Maggie rushed to Bella. “I can help her, Bella,” she pleaded. “Please…”
The beacon that called Maggie to heal was bright and almost painful in this case. When Bella didn’t answer, Renee looked to me.
“Maggie has a special talent, too,” I explained. “Where Bella can go anywhere and I can read minds, Miss Maggie here can heal the sick and injured. You could say she needs to help. She’s wicked powerful.” I said that last thing to Maggie herself, giving her a wink.
Maggie finally directed her question to Renee. “I can help it. Okay?” She held out her hand as an offering.
Renee looked to me and then to her daughter, who finally said, “It’s up to you, Mom. She can make you better, clean…if that’s what you want.”
My girl had tacked that last thing on as a test, and I watched the two women, who shared so many of the same features, battle it out in the stubborn department.
Finally, I pushed my mind back to Renee’s, thinking, If you want your daughter back, if you want out of this bullshit, then let Maggie help you. If you invite Phil back in here with his drugs and abuse, then she’ll never visit again. I know her. She accepted the loss of you months ago.
He loves her. It was a simple thought, one not meant for me, obviously, but it made me smile.
“Yes, ma’am. Very much. And more than anything.”
Renee blushed, very similarly to Bella, but looked to the pretty little girl in front of her; she held out her hand. Maggie took a seat next to me on the sofa, pulling Renee’s arm a bit closer. The little girl’s talent would never cease to amaze me. It was a blind faith thing at the same time it was a direct hit to the problem. Power surged through the two of them, and Benjamin got up, pulling his phone out and stepping out onto the front step.
Maggie’s healing started through Renee’s body, pulling all the poison in her system to one place – her arm. The endless and deep track marks began to shift beneath the skin. A liquid the color of apple juice started to seep out of the most recent puncture. Before Maggie could ask for a towel, Liam produced a handkerchief, which Bella took and gently set over the leaking drugs coming out of her mother.
When there was no more poison to remove from her veins, Maggie’s talent soothed Renee’s mind, healed it, clearing out all the things that made her feel insane, feel the need to get high, or to end her life.
There was a physical change through the woman as well as a lightening of her eyes. Even her thoughts were clear, more precise and sharper.
“Mom?” Bella called, having knelt beside her. “How do you feel?”
Renee laughed a little, shaking her head. “Like a boulder has been lifted off me.” She looked around her home, wrinkling her nose at it. She looked to me, Bella, Maggie, and finally down at her own hands. “How did I let things get so bad?”
“Mags, let’s take a walk, baby,” Liam suggested softly to his daughter.
“Okay, Daddy.” She started to get up, and I gave her shoulder a squeeze.
“You did good, kiddo,” I praised her.
Her smile lit up the dingy room. “Thanks, Edward.”
When it was just the three of us, I started to stand up. “I think you two should talk.”
“Please stay,” Bella said, taking Maggie’s spot beside me.
Renee looked between us, and her thoughts were curious. She wanted to know where we met, how we knew about sixth senses, and where we lived now, though she assumed here in Seattle.
“No, we live in New York – Manhattan to be exact,” I answered her, holding out my hand. “I’m Edward Cullen.”
“He’s…” Bella started, glancing to me and then back to her mother. “He’s the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Grinning, I sighed, thinking the same, but I pressed a kiss to her temple.
For the next several minutes, Bella told her mother all that had transpired since she’d been taken away to VI. Renee cried and apologized again – this time Bella accepted it – when she heard about her daughter’s running, living on the streets. She became angry when Bella explained how relentless Demetri and Felix were, but she looked to me like a fucking hero when Bella laughingly told her mother just how we’d met – from the bodega and the peanut butter, to Central Park, to the ending of VI. Renee listened to every word, only interrupting to clarify something.
“What do we do now?” Renee finally asked when it was all over as she wiped more tears from her face. “You’re all the way across the country…” She trailed off when Bella’s eyebrow raised. “Yes, baby, I know you can come and go as you please, but still…”
“Actually, I think you’d be safer if you came with us back to New York,” I suggested, looking between the two. “Not knowing where Aro is, and with Phil possibly…”
The front door opened, and Benjamin stepped back inside the house. “I’m not particularly sure Phil Dwyer will be a problem, Edward,” he said with a confusing expression. “Right now, he’s in King County Jail on charges of possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, as well as trespassing. He’s had first appearance, but they’re keeping him – no bond, no bail. Apparently he was caught up in a raid of a drug house on the other side of town. Unless he pleas out, then he won’t be released for quite some time. They’ll hold him until the state makes their case.”
“Well, good,” Renee said standing up. “Then I know where to send the divorce papers.”
Bella smirked up at her mother, leaning into my arm when I wrapped it around her shoulders, but I still repeated my first suggestion. “Phil may not be an issue, but Aro still is, and I wouldn’t put it past him to come looking for information on Bella. I think you need to come to New York with us.”
Renee wavered a little, knowing about the penthouse in Manhattan, and Bella sighed in understanding. It was hard to accept help, and apparently these two women shared that trait. But Bella also understood that Renee didn’t want to impose on the two of us, and she saw it through my mind.
My girl looked to Benjamin. “Is there room with your mother?”
He nodded, smiling a little. “Oh, I think she’d make room.”
Bella turned to Renee. “How about Florida, Mom? There’s a place right on the beach, and it’s warm and beautiful. And you’ll be perfectly safe.”
Renee glanced around the place, grimacing a little. “What about my things?”
“We’ll get your stuff,” I told her, knowing Jasper and Emmett would help without question.
She paused for a moment, and suddenly she was ready to start over somewhere. Earlier she couldn’t even fathom how to fix her life, and now she had the chance for a fresh start. She wasn’t going to let it slide by her, either.
Smiling her way, I nodded. “Okay, Florida it is.” I offered Bella my hand when I stood, adding, “Pretty girl, it’s all on you.”
Benjamin nodded, thanked Renee for answering his questions, and stuck his head out the door to call for Liam and Maggie. Once everyone was ready, Bella opened the window to the pool deck of Rae’s beach motel.
Maggie, Liam, Benjamin, and Renee all stepped through her window, but I stopped Bella, whispering in her ear. “Is it time for that deserted island yet, baby?”
Bella laughed, looking up at me. “We’ll figure something out, Edward. I promise.”


Anonymous said...

So just Phil was an asshole... He took advantage of Renee and Bella. Just like all those VI scum bags, he is too.

Moltz said...

Your little Maggie is precious.
Let's hope Phil meets a different end. Will the divorce papers give Aro the lead on Bella that he believes will lead him straight to her and Edward.

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