Chapter 10 – Together We’re Invincible
Make your dreams come true
Don't give up the fight
You will be alright
'Cause there's no one like you in the universe
Don't be afraid
What your mind conceives
You should make a stand
Stand up for what you believe
We can truly say
Together we're invincible
Make your dreams come true
Don't give up the fight
You will be alright
'Cause there's no one like you in the universe
Don't be afraid
What your mind conceives
You should make a stand
Stand up for what you believe
We can truly say
Together we're invincible
“Invincible” by Muse
A low, rumbling growl emanated from Steve as he stayed perched on my chest. His eyes were dark, his ears back, but his paws gripped my sweatshirt fiercely as we sat around in the Cullen’s living room.
“Easy, buddy,” I whispered to him. When he spun his yellow-green gaze my way, a purr starting up softly. He’d had the shit scared out of him, and since I was the only one in the room he could rely upon, he was clingy.
That last thing bothered Bella a bit, but she understood it. She gazed worriedly at the two of us from across the room, but her eyes were warm, lighter. Even her mood was a bit more controlled since our shower upstairs, and a part of me was proud that I could merely help her in some way. It was hard watching my strong, smart wife second-guess herself over just about every-damn-thing. Before, she would make decisions and never look back, but now she was unsure over her own thought processes. Carlisle said hunting helped her but that I helped her more. I hoped that was true, because as out of my element as I felt, I needed to do something for my Bella. And if touching her, giving her pleasure helped, then I couldn’t exactly complain.
“Hmm, pride,” Jasper noted with narrowed eyes and a smirk. When Steve growled his way, adding a hiss onto it for good measure, he chuckled, holding his hands up in a surrendering gesture. “Okay, okay,” he sang through a laugh. “Trust me, Steve, you’re barely a snack around here.”
Grinning, I ran a hand over Steve’s head as I shook mine. The more I was around the Cullens, the more they relaxed – even Rose, though she rarely addressed me. Alice had told me that it was easier for them that I knew, which went beyond Bella. She said it could be tedious pretending to be human, slowing down every movement. So having me know, having me accept what they were was nice for them. They could be themselves.
We were waiting for Jacob to arrive with a few members of his pack. It was Bella who’d called him, telling him exactly what had transpired at our house while we weren’t there. Jake had let out a string of curses and told her he’d be there in a few hours.
The sun had set, and my eyes drifted around the room, inevitably landing on Bella again. Remembering our time in the shower upstairs was probably dangerous and stupid, considering Jasper could feel every emotion and Alice could see every decision, but I couldn’t help it. There had been something so comforting about being able to touch my wife again, even without any reciprocation from her. Some things had been exactly the same – her breathing, her words, her utter surrender to me – but what had been different was knowing that she was now extraordinarily powerful, feeling that power beneath my fingers, but seeing she was still my same, loving Bella.
Her burnt-umber eyes met mine across the room as she worked in the kitchen to cook for not only me but also for Jake and the pack for when they arrived. She and Esme were working flawlessly together in there, and I could see how everyone used every little thing Bella did as a newborn life lesson. While the shower was a test of controlling her strength with me, chopping vegetables and stirring a pot on the stove was a way to let her slow down, focus on the tasks that, at one time, she could do without thinking.
I mouthed, I love you, to her, laughing softly when she smiled, looked back down at the counter, and shook her head. Before, my Bella would’ve been blushing, with sweet pink cheeks, but now her eyes darkened when she glanced back up.
Carlisle paced while on the phone. He’d decided to call some other immortals he knew, the ones in Denali. He wasn’t sure if he needed the help, but apparently they were considered family of sorts, because they shared the same diet as the Cullens.
“Eleazar, I’m afraid I don’t have much of a choice,” he stated as he stalked through the room. “The fight is coming to me whether I want it or not. Victoria is unstable and a threat to my family. I explained to you the circumstances surrounding Bella, and I’m aware that we are essentially responsible for the whole thing, so I must end this. However, Victoria’s activities in Seattle are drawing Volturi attention, and I need to stop this quickly. I’m hoping she makes a move soon.”
He wandered back out of the room, still carrying on his conversation, and I worried for all of them, not to mention myself and the now calming cat on my chest. Alice sat down in the chair across from me, her face solemn.
“They’re debating on coming to help us. The more we have, the quicker and quieter we can shut Victoria down,” she stated, nodding once. “They haven’t made a solid decision yet, but they will. Eleazar and Carlisle have known each other for a very, very long time.” She smirked a little. “Back when they were both in Volterra. The two of them will do anything to keep their families safe and away from the Volturi.” Her eyes glazed over as she paused for a moment. “They’re coming. Good. That will give us the numbers we need.” Before I could ask how many, she smiled. “Five more. And with the wolves, we’ll have plenty to work with, not to mention, Jasper has experience with newborn armies.”
“I thought the wolves made your visions iffy,” I said, petting Steve to keep him calm.
“They do, but I’ve figured out a way to work around it. I search the outcomes of distant futures, checking to see where everyone is and if they’re safe. However, when it comes to a fight, we have experience and strength, so I don’t need to check as much. What I’m watching is you.”
Grinning, I shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t think I’m going to be much help.”
“Not in the fight, but with…” Her eyes drifted to Bella, and she smirked when I chuckled. “We won’t leave you alone, and we can’t spare more than two, so you’ll most likely stay here. However, Jake may want to take you to the reservation. I’ve seen that conversation.”
The rest of the family, including Bella, came into the room to gather around us. When Bella sat beside me, she pressed a kiss to my lips. Steve gave her a short growl but then relaxed when he smelled her hand, finally allowing her to touch him.
“That’s too far away,” I stated, glancing to Carlisle. “And you’re not allowed across the treaty line. I thought you were luring her here.” I gestured to the woods outside, because Jacob wanted to use the forest for cover.
“We are.” Carlisle nodded. “I think it’s best you stay here. I also think it’s best that Bella stay with you, along with someone else.”
“I’ll stay with them, sweetheart,” Esme volunteered. “Between Bella and myself, we can handle anything.” She shot my girl a wink and a smile my way. “If any of them wander here, we’ll be fine.”
“I think we need to discuss newborns with the pack, Carlisle,” Jasper stated gravely, his face stone-like in its seriousness. “No offense to Bella,” he said, giving her a crooked, teasing smile, “but she’s not a normal newborn. What’s heading our way will be violent and uncontrollable. I also think – simply from experience – that she broke into Edward’s home to have the newborns catch his scent. We could use that. We could create a trail of his scent in order to put them where we want them.”
Bella’s eyes blackened to pitch as she glared at Jasper, but he came to kneel in front of her. “Jasper, no! Please, please don’t do this. Please don’t use him as bait. I’m…”
He sighed deeply. “He’s bait whether we want it or not, but if we control the situation, Bella, then we’ll be able to manipulate Victoria into a false sense of the upper hand, then we can lay a nice, outnumbered trap.”
I turned to Bella, gently urging her to look my way with my fingers beneath her chin. “He’s right, sweetheart. I’m who she’s after, and that gives us – or you guys, really – a leg up.” I shrugged a shoulder because all of this was out of my hands, and I was completely out of my league; I had to help in some way, because if we didn’t fight now, Victoria could very well get the jump on us. “We can use what we know. She wants me because she lost James to you. As crazy as all that sounds, we can use it to lead her to where she needs to be.”
She frowned but nodded, pointing a finger my way. “You don’t leave my sight.”
That caused a few chuckles around the room, but I looked to Carlisle. “My scent… What would you need from me?”
He smiled slowly, almost evilly, but tilted his head a bit. “Feel like donating some blood, son?”
“Feel okay?” Carlisle asked, breaking my gaze from his home office window where the pack and the rest of the Cullens were sitting around the table on the back deck.
Steve was now upstairs safely hidden in Bella’s room away from animal-hunting vampires and shape-shifting wolves. He’d had enough superhuman activities for the day. Outside, the weather was getting cold and snowy, and not one of them out there needed a coat, but I knew I’d be freezing my ass off even with jackets and hats and scarves, all of which were draped across the chair beside mine for the moment.
“Hmm?” I asked, looking down at where he had the vial filling with my blood. “Oh, yeah, fine.”
He filled two of them before removing the needle and wrapping my arm tightly with gauze and tape. He caught my inability to stop looking at my wife, and instead of walking away, he sat down at his desk, setting the two vials of blood down in front of him.
“Want to talk about it?”
“About what?” I asked with a soft laugh.
“About what we’re doing? About why you look worried?”
Grinning, I shook my head and sighed. “I dunno, Carlisle. Wouldn’t you be worried if you were in my position?” I countered rhetorically. “I mean, I’m aware that she’s quite capable of protecting herself, even before all of this, but…I liked the job. Now, she…”
Carlisle smiled warmly, glancing out the window at his family, who were discussing details of the plan with Jake, Embry, Sam, and Leah. The latter was a shock – and Jacob’s fiancé. We’d been aware of Leah’s disdain for vampires, but her love for Bella seemed to have overridden that hatred. She and Jacob made a good pair, and now I knew why – they’d imprinted. It was something similar to the vampire mating.
“She needs you, Edward. Don’t let what she is now fool you. It goes beyond what she’s become. If anything, she needs you more now than ever, because mates require their other half to complete them.” He stood up from his chair and walked to the window to look out. “I was alone for a hundred years before Esme, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever find my mate, but when I did…” He shook his head and smiled sadly. “She was too young, so I let her be, but those few years without her were the hardest I’d ever known. I waited for her, and eventually, I saw her again. I can’t say the circumstances were ideal, but I have no regrets in changing her.”
Nodding, I stood and joined him at the window, taking in the smile and laugh of my Bella as she teased Jacob and chatted with Leah. My gaze fell to Esme, the epitome of calm, comfort, and ease. She’d once explained her long, sad tale to me, so I understood what Carlisle was saying. She’d tried to move on without him but fell into a not-so-nice relationship that resulted in the loss of an unborn child, something that she couldn’t handle, so she’d tried to end her life. It was then that Carlisle changed her into a vampire. Both spoke of it like it was a necessary act of mercy and salvation.
Carlisle faced me. “Son, Bella needs you because one instinctively understands exactly what the other needs at all times. You two were probably like that before, and it’ll be stronger now, more intuitive.” He set a hand on my shoulder gently. “It has absolutely nothing to do with protection anymore. She can’t be mugged or hurt or even jumped. She doesn’t need you to open the jars in the kitchen, and she doesn’t have to be cautious when using a knife. She does, however, need someone to be there when this life becomes too much or not enough or disturbing. She needs that connection to you in which to anchor herself – a port in the storm, so to speak. And if you two choose to change you, you’ll need it right back.”
I nodded that I’d heard him, letting my gaze drift back to the one person I had left on this planet, the one I thought I’d lost.
“I feel a little weak here,” I admitted softly, wrinkling my nose a little as I shrugged a shoulder and started to put on my coat and hat. “Like I’m useless and in the way, but I…”
“You’re not, Edward. I promise you.” He guided me toward the door after pocketing the vials of my blood so we could join the rest of them outside. “You are in this position because of me, because of Victoria, and honestly, you’re handling it better than I personally expected. Bella and Jake had faith in you, but I didn’t. You’re made of strong stuff, son. Don’t think any different.”
We stepped out onto the back deck, and I laughed when Bella was up and wrapped around me in the blink of an eye. “Sweetheart, I’m fine. I barely felt the needle.”
“I heard you,” she whispered. “I need you, Edward. You have to know that.”
I pressed kisses to her forehead, the tip of her nose, and finally her lips. “I need you, too, Bella. So I suppose we need to be careful, hmm? I think we’d be pretty messed up if something happened.”
“Good,” I told her, whispering the word against her lips. “Now we have a real plan.”
Her giggle was beautiful, and I needed it more than the air around me. However, the air was turning extremely chilly as white, fluffy flakes started to fall around us. I glanced up when Jasper started to instruct the wolves on how to handle newborn vampires.
The fire was warm in the living room as I watched the snow fall outside the next morning. The house was pretty quiet. After the meeting with Jake and the guys, everyone split up to do whatever tasks they needed in order to guard the area, subtly guide Victoria this way, and prepare for a fight.
Leah and Jacob were patrolling the grounds somewhere out there in the cold, although their thick fur coats kept them from freezing, and two more wolves – Paul and Quil – had joined Sam and Embry in the woods to sniff out vampire trails, because Victoria had to be using more than the city to get around in the daytime. Jasper, Bella, and Alice were at my house, making it look like I was leaving it – which I was, until this was all over – so they were packing for me. Emmett and Carlisle, however, were in the city looking for trails as well, and that was at Alice’s command. She’d seen where to go in order to push the newborns our way. The goal was to guide them to the woods behind the house where, approximately fifteen miles in, there was an open field. Carlisle and Jasper wanted to lead them there to fight so they could surprise them with the wolves. The newborns wouldn’t know the pack even existed, so that would give us another advantage.
I rubbed my temple and then my eyes. My head pounded with a headache I’d had since I’d awakened that morning. I attributed it to stress and worry and not sleeping at home in my own bed.
Steve bounded into the room, landing on the ottoman in front of me. Smiling, I leaned forward, giving him a scratch on the head. He purred loudly, giving my chin a head-butt before settling down in front of the warmth of the fireplace and cleaning his paws.
“I never understood the whole pet concept,” I heard Rosalie’s voice behind me.
Smiling as I continued to watch Steve bathe, I nodded. “No, I imagine you wouldn’t.” I glanced her way as she sat down with a magazine in hand, adding, “Considering you eat his kind…”
She chuckled a little. “He’s not worth the effort. A big cat, perhaps, but not that thing.”
Smirking, I shook my head. “Well, I’m sure he appreciates your restraint.”
Rose cracked a small smile.
“I get it, though,” I told her, glancing her way, but she was flipping through the magazine. “I mean, I didn’t have a pet growing up. He’s the first one, and it was Bella who brought him home. I said yes because he made her happy.”
Rose’s eyes softened at that for a split second, but she covered it up quickly. “No, I get that. I just… They don’t live very long. And…” She gestured to herself. “That’s not exactly… I dunno, it just seems like you set yourself up for heartbreak.”
“Ah, yeah, I guess.” I sighed, wrinkling my nose as I studied Steve. “He was from a litter of six. Two of those got homes – Steve, and then a little girl in another apartment building down from ours at the time took one. The other four, and the mother, were turned into the pound.” I grimaced, meeting her gaze. “I can’t bear to think what happened after that, so I focus on him. I get the avoidance of heartbreak, but for him…we’re his world. For however short a lifespan he has, we took him in and therefore signed an unwritten contract to take care of him.”
She huffed a laugh at that but waved a hand. “And then there’s the whole litter box thing.”
I barked a laugh. “Yes, well, I can’t imagine you stooping low enough to scoop. I would imagine you’d think it beneath you, Rose.”
Her eyes darkened to black, and Steve paused enough in his bathing to stare her way. However, she paused just a moment and nodded. “It is. It’s disgusting.”
I chuckled, nodding a little. “Sometimes,” I agreed.
Rosalie reminded me of girls I’d known in school, with her vain appearance, but she also reminded me a bit of my grandmother’s friends. They came from a time where image was everything – who you married, what you wore, what type of job you obtained. I also saw a touch of jealousy in Rose. She most likely hadn’t believed Bella when she’d begged and pleaded for me, hadn’t believed her when she’d said her husband would understand all that had happened. When all that came to fruition, I could imagine it pissed her off something fierce. From what I could piece together, Rose didn’t trust a soul outside this family, and even for her to trust me, it would simply take time.
We were both quiet for the moment. I ran a hand over Steve’s head, smiling when his purr was loud but soothing. Rose set her magazine down on the sofa cushion next to her.
“Are you really considering changing into this?” She asked that with a slight derisive tone to her voice, and I glanced over to her to see she truly struggled with all that she was and had endured for however long she’d been alive.
I nodded a little but sat back in the chair. “Bella’s been the center of my universe for six years. I lost my parents when I was young – barely a teen. I lost my grandmother, who raised me, not long ago. The only thing I had wanted when I left Chicago for Seattle was to be a doctor. Until Bella. And right then, everything clicked into place. I wanted it all with her.” I shrugged a shoulder, smiling sadly. “Losing her was devastating, and without Steve to take care of, I’m not quite sure I wouldn’t have tried to follow her, Rose. So… I plan to do whatever it takes to keep her, make her happy, and take care of her…for the rest of our lives.” I leaned on that last part because she needed to understand I wasn’t taking any of the events that brought us to that moment lightly.
Rose’s expression warmed completely, and she toyed with the corner of the magazine beside her. It seemed she had come into the room to test me. And I apparently passed, because she smirked a little and nodded.
“Good answer, Edward.” She stood up, wearing a wry smile, so I knew she was teasing. “But I honestly don’t get what she sees in you…” That last thing was muttered sarcastically and with a wry smirk.
That made me laugh. “Me, either,” I added with a grin, and she smiled my way as she went back upstairs.
Esme came in from the kitchen with a mug, handing it to me. “Here, sweetheart, I made you some coffee,” she said, giving the stairs a glare. “That was a very good answer, Edward. I’d apologize for her, but she’s always sorted things out her own way. She means well, though.”
Chuckling, I took the mug and sipped from it, hoping to hell it would ease my headache.
“You okay?” she asked, tilting her head at me.
Wrinkling my nose, I simply stated, “Headache.”
“Well, if you need anything, I’m sure you or Carlisle are quite capable of sorting out something.”
I smiled her way but turned my head when the front door opened to show Bella, Jasper, and Alice. Jasper was carrying quite the armload of bags and a couple of boxes.
“Really, sweetheart?” I teased my wife, who was across the room and curling up in my lap before I could register the movement. “Did you move us again?”
Bella’s giggle was sweet music, and it was muffled into my neck. “No, I took some of my stuff too, baby.”
Jasper rushed the things upstairs and joined us quickly. “Believe me, she wanted more shit.”
Pressing a chuckling kiss to Bella’s forehead, I said, “Hopefully, it’ll be over soon, my Bella.”
“Yeah,” she sighed, lifting her head to gently place a hand on my face. “You’re a little warm, Edward.”
“I’m okay. It’s from the fire and a bit of a headache. I’ll take something in a minute.”
“I’ll get you something, baby,” Bella offered and was off my lap and up the stairs quickly. She was back down, bottle in hand, before I could’ve even made the first step. “Here you go.”
I had to tease her. I couldn’t resist. “Imagine how fast you could shelve books at the library now.”
My wife let out a silly snort. “Trust me, that’s not what I imagine.”
Grinning, I shook my head, giving her a warning with a raised eyebrow. “Wanna share?”
Esme’s soft, amused laughter met our ears, and I shot her a wink.
“You two,” she sighed, shaking her head.
Bella laughed, kissed my forehead, and frowned. “I don’t think that’s from the fireplace, baby.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m just not used to sleeping somewhere other than home, Bella. That’s all.”
She frowned, eyed me shrewdly for a moment, but turned when Alice came into the room.
“The Denalis are here. They met up with Carlisle and Emmett and followed them here.”
As she said that, Rose descended from upstairs to join us, and the front door opened. Carlisle stepped in, holding the door for four women, followed by a man and finally Emmett. My eyebrows shot up as I took them all in. They reminded me of meeting Alice and Esme that first time – intimidatingly beautiful, honey eyes, and pale skin. Two were blonde, one strawberry blonde, and the last woman had dark hair with an olive complexion that came through her immortal change. The man was similar to the latter, and he was tall with a pleasant expression on his face.
Carlisle faced the room, a hand landing on the man’s shoulder. “Eleazar, let me introduce to you the newest members of my family. This is Bella Masen and her husband, Edward.”
“A shield!” he praised, beaming at my Bella. “No wonder you can maintain control around your human spouse. It’s nice to meet you, Bella.” He focused his attention on me after shaking her hand and paused for a moment, tilting his head a little. “Edward,” he said with a nod but then turned to Carlisle. “Is he to become one of us?”
“That’s his choice. You know how I feel about that, Eleazar,” Carlisle replied gently.
“Well, if you do decide, you will have quite a mental talent, Edward,” he told me. “Alice, what do you see of our dear Edward?”
“That’s like giving away the ending of a movie,” she chastised as she folded her arms across her chest, causing groans and laughter. “I can’t see details, to be honest. I know he’s going to be special, I just can’t tell what he can do. If I had to guess…” She closed her eyes, which meant she was seeing a vision. “Something like me. Or mind reader. Maybe.”
I snorted but shrugged at Bella when she looked my way with raised eyebrows.
“Well, I’m merely curious,” Eleazar finished, gesturing to his family. “This is my wife, Carmen.” He pointed to the dark-haired vampire before introducing the others. “These three are Irina, Kate, and Tanya.”
There were handshakes all around, and Rose hugged all three. Tanya eyed me with a wry smile and shook my hand.
“Nice to meet you, Edward. So you’re the reason for all this drama,” she said teasingly, her voice soft, laced with a slight accent as she gazed up through her eyelashes, wearing a small smile. There was a touch of predator in her demeanor, something that was supposed to be alluring but simply came off as silly to me.
“No, I’m afraid that responsibility rests with me,” Carlisle stated. “Chasing those nomads unleashed a chain of events that I need to finish in order to correct. Bella was innocently caught in the line of fire, and now the remaining member of that coven is seeking revenge. Unfortunately, Edward became the target.”
“She wants a mate for a mate,” Bella stated rather harshly, but she slipped her hand into mine.
The look on my wife’s face was confusingly angry, but she seemed to be glaring Tanya’s way.
Jasper chuckled and stepped closer, and I felt a calm spread over me, which seemed to affect the entire room. “Our wolf friends should be here any moment. They need to meet you, and then we’ll see if Victoria takes the bait we’ve been setting for the last twenty-four hours.”
“Edward,” Bella called softly, “would you please take Steve upstairs? He’ll stay calmer up there.”
“Yeah, sure.” I turned to the ottoman, where my ginger buddy was black eyed and sitting rigid with his tail wrapped around his feet. “C’mere, Steve.”
He allowed me to scoop him up, and I toted him upstairs, where he had everything he needed – litter in the bathroom, food by the door, and the bed where I set him down so he could sleep. The bedroom door opened and closed behind me, and I turned to see Bella black-eyed and pissed.
“She’s… Tanya is…”
“No concern of mine, sweetheart,” I stated, sitting down on the edge of the bed and trying to ignore the pounding of my headache. “C’mere, beautiful.”
Bella walked to me to stand between my legs. “You are so oblivious, Edward Masen.”
Grinning, I shrugged. “No, ma’am, I’m completely taken. There’s a difference, you know.”
There it was, the calming effect she needed, the one Carlisle had spoken of in his office the night before. The darkness in her eyes started to dissipate, warming into the burnt umber that was slowly turning honey like the rest of them.
My heart sputtered at the sight of her, because I sometimes couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have her. Human, immortal – it didn’t matter to me. As long as the sweet, loving woman in front of me continued to exist, I was completely happy.
Bella heard the change, placing her hand gently on my chest. “What was that? Tell me so I can learn it.”
“I love you. That’s what that is, my Bella.”
“I love you, too,” she whispered, and her lip trembled as her hands cupped either side of my face gently. “When this shit starts, Edward, I need you to do exactly what we tell you – run, hide, freeze – whatever. But please, promise me you’ll listen. I…I can’t have anything happen to you. I can’t, baby. Just…please.”
I was getting used to these sudden bursts of emotion from her, but I understood it. All of them had explained or showed just how strong they were, so it wouldn’t take much for any one of them to snap my neck, not that the Cullens would – I knew that much. I trusted them because without them, I wouldn’t have my Bella back. They’d proven time and time again that they were loyal and protective, making the best of a situation that was exactly how Carlisle described it to the Denalis – an unfortunate chain of events.
“Bella, look at me,” I said softly, and when her worried gaze met mine, I brought her down for a soft kiss. “I will do whatever it takes so that we can move on – together. When this is over, I want to learn and make plans and figure out how we can continue our lives together.”
“I want to discuss the future of us.”
“I want many more showers, Mrs. Masen.”
Her face broke into the most beautifully sexy smile. “Mmm… Me, too.”
“We’re good, then.”
“Yeah, we are,” she sighed, leaning into me.
When she raked her fingers through my hair, I closed my eyes at how that eased the headache a little but not completely. Out of nowhere, I was racked with four harsh sneezes, making the throbbing hurt more, and my sinuses gave a twinge.
“Edward, why don’t you rest? Sleep that headache off, and I’ll make you some soup. Maybe you’ve caught something from the hospital. Hmm?”
“Fuck, I can’t be sick, Bella,” I groaned, shaking my head, but I glanced over to Steve, who had curled up on the bed by the pillows. Nodding, I finally conceded, “Okay. But wake me if anything changes.”“I promise.”