Sunday, February 5, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 9

Chapter 9 – Catastrophe, It Reigns
When you came to me with your bad dreams and your fears
It was easy to see that you'd been crying
Seems like everywhere you turn catastrophe it reigns
But who really profits from the dying
I could hold you in my arms
I could hold you forever
I could hold you in my arms
I could hold you in my arms forever
“Hold You In My Arms” by Ray Lamontagne
My eyes were on my house as Carlisle backed out of my driveway. I wasn’t sure I needed to be driven into work. I’d been going in on my own without any problems, and that was prior to knowing I was being followed by good and bad vampires.
Snorting softly to myself, I let out a sigh when I caught one last glimpse of my wife in the front window, and then she vanished.
“I won’t be your taxi every day,” Carlisle stated, seemingly reading my mind, but he smirked at my soft laugh. “Bella kind of thought we could talk privately in the car.”

“Hmm,” I hummed noncommittally but nodded and stayed quiet as we made our way out of my neighborhood, because even though Carlisle was the only source of information I had, I was still a little prickly about being deceived by him at the hospital.
He’d taken the position at HMC specifically to watch over me, and I knew it was at Bella’s request, but despite how I understood it, I felt a little out of sorts about the things I’d told him when I thought my wife was dead.
“You know, son,” he started softly, not taking his eyes from the road. “Everything you told me in my office has stayed between the two of us. I can’t apologize enough. It was difficult watching you both struggle.” He shook his head a little. “I realize I have to earn your trust back, but please understand the position I was in. I had a newly transformed vampire in my home begging me to keep her human husband safe, and I had that same human breaking in two every day.” He paused a moment. “It’s rare, you know.”
“What’s rare?”
He grinned. “It’s rare that a human couple is so perfectly matched that they’re immortal mates at the same time. I’m not sure it’s ever happened.” He shrugged a shoulder. “Or at the very least, I’ve never witnessed it. Over the centuries, I can imagine there have been others.”
Unable to stop my curiosity, I asked, “What does it mean for us? The mate thing?”
He smiled softly, glancing over my way. “It means you are made for each other, and it sounds like you were before, as well. But you’re Bella’s other half, her perfect immortal partner, if that’s what you choose to be.”
“Choose… Sounds like my options are pretty slim, Carlisle,” I stated, but it wasn’t bitter, simply a statement. “I can’t be without her. And I can’t put her through my growing old. So…what do I have left?”
Carlisle sighed deeply, his brow furrowing a little as he thought it over. “I understand how you can see it that way. It’s not an easy life, Edward. It’s ever so much more with a mate, but the life itself isn’t simple.” He tapped the steering wheel with his fingers for a few irregular beats but went on. “It’s constant moving. It’s sometimes months of dark nights, and it’s long and boring. It’s grim, too, especially if someone slips up.”
His smile was sad. “It happens. It isn’t easy to fight instinct. My entire family works very hard to keep to the diet we’ve chosen. However, there are only two of us who have never killed a human for sustenance. Rosalie and myself. The others have had their mistakes they have to live eternity with, but they do their best to keep going.”
My eyebrows shot up, because we were talking about the taking of a human life without batting an eye, but it seemed to be the facts and something I needed to come to terms with soon. My wife could very well slip up, have an out-of-control moment, and I needed to prepare myself for the aftermath of that.
As if reading my mind again, he added, “Bella is an anomaly, a rare talent, I think. I’m pretty sure she’s a shield, which has allowed her to block the scent that would normally send someone as new to this life as her into an uncontrollable frenzy. She’s been able to push through things it takes a normal newborn months or years to conquer. Which was another reason letting you in on things was necessary, because Bella needs you – human or not. She was always calmer when she could set eyes on you, and that helped her way more than hunting ever did.”
I smiled at that but stayed quiet as he navigated the parking garage of the hospital. Finally, I asked the one question that had been plaguing me concerning my immortality, if that was what Bella and I chose.
“I’d have to stop being a doctor, right?”
“I didn’t, but…I’ve had two centuries to acclimate myself to it.” He parked in his spot and turned off the engine. “At minimum, son, you’d have to step away from practicing until you were ready, but there’s a positive about immortality – you have time. Plenty of it. Too much of it, occasionally. You could essentially reinvent yourself ten, twenty, a hundred years from now.”
A light chuckle escaped me at the idea of it. It was hard to wrap my head around that sort of unlimited time.
“Edward, I promise you… No matter what you decide, my family is there for you and Bella. We understand your need for privacy, and that as husband and wife, you’re used to sorting things out together, but we will never abandon either of you.”
“Beyond Victoria, Edward,” he interrupted abruptly. “She’s bound to make a mistake, and with the help of the wolves, we’ll stop her, but I mean beyond all of these sudden changes.” He laughed a little. “Alice sees you and Bella as a part of my family, which makes my wife extremely happy.”
Shaking my head and smiling, I said, “Esme’s great. She reminds me of my own mother.”
“She’d be happy to know that, too.”
I reached for the car’s door, and he stopped me.
“And Edward,” he started with another smirk on his face. “As much as I’m pleased to see that spending time with Bella was good for the both of you, you need to remember that here…you are still a recent widower. You have to keep that up. You must for all of our sakes.”
That sobered me quickly, and I nodded, trying my best to make my face blank from expression as I stepped out into the garage. He was right; I was ridiculously happy to have Bella back, and with that, I sent her a quick text before I had to focus on my day.
I miss you already, sweetheart. It’s going to be a long day. ;)
She sent back hearts and kisses and a selfie of her leaning against a tree. It was that sweet, beautiful face I needed to see before I had to pretend that nothing had changed. I couldn’t let anyone know that my whole world was realigned again.
“You think it’s unfair, don’t you?” Jacob asked as we both left Charlie’s house. “Lying to him.”
We’d spent the day watching football and gorging ourselves on turkey and all the fixings from Forks Diner. Thanksgiving with three men meant not one of us was going to cook, and I wasn’t going to let the man spend that holiday by himself, considering Bella had been the one to prepare every Thanksgiving meal prior.
I stopped by my car door, gazing over the roof at him. I shrugged. “Yes but no. He’s a good man, and considering he’s been cleaning up messes left by beings he can never know about, it seems wrong that he stays in the dark. However, it’s safer that way.” I walked to him to speak lower. “Charlie lives with the guilt that he lost his baby girl on his watch. That’s… I hate that, because I lived with that same guilt. I still live with it when my wife loses her temper over things she can’t control now that she’s…different. Would all of this have happened had I ridden with her here that day? Would we have both been changed?”
“Or would you both be dead?” Jake countered. He wrinkled his nose a little. “Victoria and her little band of demons were ruthless that day, Edward. Not even exaggerating. And she’s worse now, because nothing has slowed her down from her revenge.”
Sighing, I nodded and shoved my hands into the front pockets of my jeans. It had been a week or so since I’d found out the truth, since I got Bella back, but Victoria had not slowed down in the least. Carlisle was convinced that she was creating an army of newborn vampires. People were disappearing off the streets of Seattle left and right. And while the news reported it as homeless teens and drugs running rampant, we knew better.
“Who’s watching him when we leave?”
“Paul and Embry.”
Nodding, I glanced beyond the house and into the woods. A slow, purposeful shift showed two very large, menacing wolves. If I had to compare them to something, I’d say they were the size of bears. The first time I’d seen one, it had been Jake to shift into his wolf form at the Cullen home outside Seattle. It was unnerving, I hadn’t really liked seeing the shift, but it had been easier knowing it was Jake.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that,” I muttered, smiling when Jacob laughed a little.
“Yet you’re already used to Bella…” He trailed off, breaking out into his usual easy grin, when I raised an eyebrow his way.
“She’s my wife, Jake. Nothing changed about how I feel about her. If anything, it’s stronger,” I explained to him, pulling out my phone to check the time. “Speaking of… I need to get on the road. See you at the Cullens’ this weekend?”
“Sure, sure. I’ll be there with a few of my pack.”
I got into my car with a wave to him. We were trying to come up with a plan against Victoria. Or really, they were. I was the fragile human who had to stay protected, considering it was me for whom she was aiming.
The streets were quiet as I drove away from Charlie’s neighborhood, eventually pulling over at a cluster of trees. I waited until a car passed me by before saying, “You’re all clear, sweetheart,” in a normal tone, knowing she could hear me.
The passenger door opened, and my beautiful girl plopped herself into the seat, smiling sadly over at me.
“I love you, Edward. Thank you for taking care of my dad.”
I kissed her lips before pulling back out onto the road. “He took care of me, too, Bella.”
I parked my car behind Carlisle’s Mercedes at the Cullen home. I’d followed him there after our shifts at the hospital, to spend the weekend. True to his word, he’d made sure that my schedule pretty much mirrored his. I didn’t always carpool with him like that first day, but I noticed I was never really alone.
Bella was with me at our home most of the time, and even then, I’d notice a shift in the empty house behind us or a moving shadow in the small cluster of trees across the street. There was a part of me that understood why, but then the private part of me just wanted a moment alone with my wife, even though she was nowhere near ready for anything more than kissing. And I had a bruise or two to prove it.
Snorting to myself as I got out of my car, I shook my head at that and rubbed my upper arm. My poor Bella had gotten a little carried away a few nights ago and reached for me too quickly, with too much strength. It had taken a lot of talking to calm her down.
I grabbed my bag from the backseat, glancing up to see Jasper and Alice standing there, both with solemn expressions on their faces.
“What? What’s wrong?” I asked, giving the house a look for my Bella.
“Edward,” Alice said so softly, stepping closer. “It’s just…a bad day.”
I looked to Jasper, who I’d come to depend on for assessing Bella’s moods. “What happened?”
He wrinkled his nose a little, shrugging a shoulder. “I’m picking up a lot of self-hate, Edward. Some jealousy and sadness, too. I’d say it started this morning when I took her hunting with Rosalie.”
My nostrils flared at Rose’s name, because we were not exactly friends, even though she tolerated me better now than our first meeting.
“Did they have another fight or something?”
“Not exactly…” he hedged, looking to his wife.
Alice looked sincerely upset as she looked up at me. “You… Your wedding anniversary is soon, yes?” she asked, and when I nodded, she did too. “I think Rose just stated some…some…uncomfortable truths.”
I closed my eyes and sighed deeply to get my temper under control. “Is she here?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“Rose?” Alice asked.
“Hell no! My wife!”
Jasper chuckled. “Yeah, man. She’s upstairs in her room.” He stopped me as I started toward the front door. “Rose, however, isn’t here. Neither is Emmett. They’re actually watching your place. Alice and I are going out for the night. Carlisle and Esme are here if you need anything.”
Nodding as I pushed by, I thanked them both, now on edge to see Bella. I walked through the front door, coming face-to-face with Esme.
“Edward, it’s good to see you. Bella will be happy to know you’re here.” I smirked at her tone, which told me she was worried, but she didn’t elaborate or warn me like the two outside. She merely patted my shoulder gently, saying, “I’ve stocked up the kitchen, so if you get hungry, just let me know. Or help yourself to anything. I have it on good authority that I purchased all your favorites.”
That made me chuckle. “I’m sure you did great, Esme.”
She shot me a wink, again reminding me of my own mother. It was her sweet, wry sense of humor and a warmth that wasn’t a façade. It was real and easy and sincere. It didn’t me take long to see that Carlisle and Esme truly cared about every single individual under their roof. They praised good deeds and chastised bad ones, and the two doted on the people who needed a little attention. Apparently, today it was my Bella.
“Now, I’m going to be putting my husband to work out in the garden at least until the sun goes down. If you need anything, we’ll be outside.”
Grinning, I thanked her and made my way upstairs. The home was ridiculously beautiful and enormous. There were five bedrooms, a theater room, and a small indoor heated pool. It was easily a seven-figure home, and I’d have been willing to bet there was no mortgage payment. The Cullens had money. Lots of it. And they surrounded themselves with comforts that their lack of humanity couldn’t give them. Where a human could nap and escape, they were perpetually awake, so they had to seek different escapes.
Bella’s room was at the top, a smaller room with sloping, beamed ceilings and windows facing the woods outside. It shared a bathroom with a spare room that no one used. It was slightly smaller than our master bedroom at home, and Bella had repeatedly told me that being in that room made her even more homesick for our house…and me. But she’d also said that it was a place she could hole up in when she felt like a fifth wheel in a home filled with couples.
I tapped the door and then pushed it slowly open to see my wife curled up in the chair in the corner of the room. As usual, a book was in her hands, but I could see she was distracted.
“Did you know I can hear your heartbeat before you even get out of the car?” she said instead of greeting me.
“Yeah? And just what does my heartbeat tell you, baby?” I asked, setting my bag down on the poster bed before coming to kneel at her feet.
She fought her smile, set her book down on the table beside her, and sat forward. “That you’re excited or nervous or worried. I can’t quite tell. I haven’t gotten used to reading it yet.”
“About seeing you? Yes, ma’am, to all of those things.” I nodded fervently, just to get a smile out of her. “It’s been a long day. There are only so many stitches and broken bones and runny noses with fevers that I can handle without wanting to see you.”
She cupped my face in her hands. She was getting better and better at controlling the smaller movements. It was the times when she was losing herself just a little that she needed to work on. I wasn’t worried a bit. Bella was nothing if not stubborn about some things, and overcoming this new strength wasn’t going to stop her.
When she stayed quiet, I reached up to touch her face. “Let me hold you, Bella.”
She nodded and stood up, and I took the chair, opening my arms for her to sit with me. She settled onto my lap, curling up. She seemed to breathe deeply as she reached over to take my hand in hers. Dropping kisses to the middle of her forehead, I waited out her silence. The newest parts of Bella had to process, and I was learning to be patient.
My eyes scanned the room, seeing it was spotless – no clutter, no dust, not even a wrinkle in the bed. On the nightstand was a framed picture of the two of us, one she’d taken from our bedroom; it had been missing for weeks, but I could never figure out just what had been removed from our room at the time. Finally, I caught sight of the book she’d been reading, and with my free hand, I picked it up.
Without me having to ask, Bella mumbled into my neck. “That was almost the passage I left you instead of the poem.”
Smiling, I kissed her forehead and read the marked page aloud. “’Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Henry Scott Holland. Oxford.’”
I set the book back down, contemplating the words. “I like the poem better. It painted a prettier picture.”
Bella snorted into a soft yet short laugh. “Esme said the same thing.”
“Hmm,” I hummed in agreement. “Esme is very smart. She reminds me of my own mother so much.”
Bella lifted her head to look me in the eye. “She likes you, you know. She… She helped me watch over you, and she occasionally would go visit Carlisle at the hospital just to check on you…for me.” When I smiled, she kissed my lips and kept going. “She says you’re very patient with people and you’re very kind. She also said you were calm in frantic times and quick-witted in others. She said you’re completely oblivious as to how women view you. She also happened to be nearby when you were talking to Roxy about me.”
“Yeah? And just what was I saying, hmm?” I whispered against her lips. “That socks don’t end up discarded in the sheets? That long, brown hair wasn’t clogging the drain anymore?”
Bella grinned at my teasing, shaking her head. “No, that you’d been a very lucky man for too short of time.”
“I was. I still am, sweetheart. Even more so now.”
Bella was very melancholy. Alice and Jasper had been right about it being a bad day. Normally, when I arrived at the Cullen home, we’d sit and catch up, but today, she was quiet and introspective.
Cupping her face, I pressed my lips to her forehead and then her mouth. “Talk to me. Your eyes are dark and sad today. Why?”
Her lip trembled, which meant my girl was just about to cry.
“Bella? Please…”
“Our anniversary is next week.”
“I know. I have something for you already.” I smiled proudly at that, which caused her to fight her smile.
“It’s our second.”
“I know that, too, Bella.” My brow wrinkled, and I waited until her eyes met mine again. “Why does that make you sad?”
“B-Because we can’t… I’m not… I want… And you… Nothing’s the same!” she finally blurted out.
“C’mere,” I sighed, pulling her back to my chest. “Calm down, sweetheart, please.” I ran my hand flat over her head and down her soft hair with one hand and linked our fingers together with the other. “So let’s see… What did we do last year on our first?”
“You took me to dinner.”
“Mmhmm, can’t do that this time. What else?”
“You rented a hotel room overlooking Puget Sound.”
“Right. We could do that, but I doubt you’re ready for that many humans. What else?”
Her head popped back up from my neck, and she glared at me wryly. “Edward…”
Grinning, I shook my head at her. “Bella, stop.” I kissed her pouting lips to stop her from saying anything else. “You’re right, baby. It’s not going to be the same. It can’t be, but I’m okay with that. I am so very fucking happy that we have the option to celebrate.”
Bella melted a little. “Me, too.”
“And… We’ll come up with something new. Dinner sounds boring anyway. Everyone does dinner for their anniversary. I want something unique.”
A giggle escaped her. “Me, too.”
“Okay, then why all this?” I asked gently, rubbing the wrinkle between her brows.
“I miss touching you without fear.”
“Me, too,” I answered her.
“I’ve already…” She pushed at the sleeve of my shirt, revealing the bruise just the perfect size of her hand.
“Then we’ve got work to do, Bella. I told you that bruise is nothing, no more than what I’d get fighting someone in the ER,” I countered her before she could finish. “Honestly, I can’t think of a worse job than letting you learn to touch me again.”
Her laugh was beautiful and loud, and it changed everything about her gorgeous face. “I need to learn control, though.”
“So…we can work on it. Like physical therapy.”
“Really, Dr. Masen, and just how do you suggest we do that?” she asked sarcastically, folding her arms across her chest.
“By pushing said control,” I told her firmly, standing up from the chair while keeping her in my arms as I walked her into the bathroom. “First things first, baby. How’s your thirst?”
Bella’s eyes widened, but she nodded, touching her throat. “Okay. I hunted today. Too much, but that was because you were coming to stay the weekend.”
“Good. Next… Tell me how you could hurt me.” I set her down and turned on the hot water in the shower.
“I could break you, Edward,” she scolded, frowning my way. “My teeth…they’re sharper, the venom—”
“Okay, then. Anything else?”
She thought for a moment and then shook her head.
“Good. Now, Mrs. Masen, you’re going to get undressed and get in that shower.”
Her eyes widened again, but she nodded, asking, “Is this because of my cold skin?”
“No, this is because I smell like the hospital.” Before she could turn away, I cupped her chin. “Nothing that’s changed about you, Bella, could affect how I feel. Remember that.”
Watching my wife undress was a comforting yet new experience. Her physical changes were from head to toe. Where she used to be soft in some places, she was now firm and toned. There were muscles where there weren’t before, but her whole body was familiar to me. Skin, breasts, hips, thighs, backside – all of it had been touched and/or kissed by me throughout the years. And I’d missed every damn inch of her. I knew no other woman but Bella, and I was her first and only, so there was comfort there, too.
Instead of getting in the shower once she was completely bare, she reached for me.
“No, baby. No touching. This is a lesson in restraint. Get in.” I slid open the shower door, shooing her playfully inside.
Bella’s eyes darkened to pitch, which made me smirk her way as I undressed myself. “I’ve missed looking at you,” she whispered, eyeing me all over as I stepped into the shower with her.
Grinning, I said, “Look all you want, just no touching, Isabella.”
“No buts.” I turned her around so that her back was to my chest, placing her hands on the wall and the shower door and then reaching for the soap.
I touched my wife everywhere, stepping her under the spray. As the water rinsed away suds, I dropped kisses to her shoulder and neck. My hands traveled everywhere – cupped a breast and played with a nipple, teased her between her legs, and pulled hips back so she could feel exactly what she was doing to me.
Her hands flinched, and she started to pull them away from the wall and door, but I stopped her. “No, sweetheart, those hands stay there.” I cupped her between her legs again, a little possessively, but with the sole purpose of causing my wife to fall apart. “Just feel, baby. And leave those hands there.”
Bella started to nod, but her head fell back to my shoulder as I dropped open-mouthed kisses to her neck and the sweet, sensitive spot just below her ear. I was happy to note that some things didn’t change. Her voice was breathy, her hips rolled with the rhythm I was setting, and my name bouncing off the walls of that shower had never sounded so damn good.
I heard a muted crack, and I slowed down. “Easy, my Bella,” I soothed her. “You’re cracking the tile.”
“Better the tile than your skull.”
Grinning, I kissed her skin again. “True, but control it, baby. You can do this, you know.”
I waited until she’d relaxed her hands and then finally gave her the orgasm she’d been racing toward and so desperately needed. Her whole body shook, pulsated, and finally sagged a little.
“Don’t move until you’re in control, Bella,” I warned her but stopped her with a shake of my head when she reached for me. “Not this time, sweetheart. Believe me, I’ve missed your touch, but we’ll build up to that. I needed you to see that you can do this. We can find us again.” I grasped her shoulders gently, bending a little at the knee so that we were eye to eye. “I would happily hold you – just hold you – for the rest of our lives, Bella. Human or immortal. Our anniversary will be perfect because it’ll be us – together. I don’t care if we play lawn darts, for fuck sake; it’ll still be awesome because we are together.”
Bella’s laugh echoed in the shower, but she shook her head. “No pointy objects, Edward.”
Laughing, I kissed her lips. “Fair enough. We’ll figure out a safe and fun activity for the two of us that causes no destruction, blood, or tears. And I am very proud that a small crack is the only thing that resulted in watching you fall apart. We’ve got this, Bella.”
She nodded a little, stepping into my embrace under the shower spray.
“Thank you,” she sighed the words against my chest.
“And stop listening to Rosalie,” I told her in a whisper. “Ignore her, my Bella. I do.”
Her laugh was soft, but she nodded against me. “She pisses me off.”
“She shouldn’t. Her opinion is void here, I think.”
“Me, too.”
I pressed more kisses to her lips. “Good.” I closed my eyes, willing my erection to calm the hell down, because she was beautiful and slippery and moving against me. I was just about to tell her to be still when she pulled away from me in a very non-Bella type way.
Her head tilted a little as she listened to something way out of my hearing range. “Alice and Jasper are back.”
“I thought…” I started but then shook my head and quickly washed up in the shower and turned off the water.
“Victoria broke into our house,” she suddenly growled, yanking back the shower door and causing another crack, this time in the glass.
“Bella,” I called her, but she was already getting dried off and dressed by the time I’d stepped out and grabbed a towel.
“Emmett was tracking her.” She rounded on me, pointing a finger my way. “She was looking for you! I’ll kill her…I swear to God. And if she hurt Steve…”
“Ah, shit. Okay, let me get dressed.”
By the time I’d pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, Bella’s patience was unraveling. We made our way downstairs to see Alice pacing, with Carlisle, Esme, and Jasper watching her quietly. She stopped when she saw us.
“She sent newborns into your house!” she said through gritted teeth. “She’s finished her army, so she’ll be coming for us.”
“Steve?” Bella asked through a whisper but spun when the front door flew open.
I shook my head at Emmett, who was toting the cat carrier from our hall closet. A very puffy, very loud ginger cat was letting it be known he wasn’t happy. But I honestly wasn’t sure there was a better sight, especially for my Bella’s sanity…and mine, too. He was ours, and we loved him.
“Steve,” she sighed in relief, taking the carrier from the big immortal, who was grinning.
“Found him hiding in the backyard tree. He wasn’t happy with me, but at least he knew to run,” Emmett explained.
“Thank you,” I told him, looking to Rose when she came inside the house.
“Victoria is done waiting. I chased her as best I could in the neighborhood, but she got away. She said she’ll see us all soon,” Rose said with a lip curled in hatred.
Carlisle sighed and stood up from his chair in the living room. “Okay, we’ll call Jacob, let him know to get here as soon as possible. We need to be ready for her.”


trbuie said...

So 1 or 2 people with Edward at their house isn't enough. I do like to read about Edward helping Bella with her control. He is so patient.
Why does Rose have to be such a bitch though? I hate how she is acting.

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