Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death Chapter 20 & Pics

Chapter 20 – We’ll Carry On
Though the sea will be strong
I know we'll carry on
Cos if there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one

When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
You're smiling
“She’s the One” by Robbie Williams
EDWARD
I sat down on some rocks by the small lake, waiting for the others to finish their hunt. The water was still, the mountain in the distance loomed over its surroundings, and there wasn’t a sound of civilization to be heard. No planes, no cars, no noise. Nothing. Just a slight breeze that stirred the tall grasses around me and a few small creatures off in the distance.
However, it was the sight above that was breathtaking. Without street lights and car headlights and buildings to get in the way, to dull it all, every star in the sky glowed brightly overhead. It was truly magnificent. I wasn’t sure if it was my enhanced sight or if the stars just were better over Alaska, but I took them all in.
He picked a nice spot.
I smiled over my shoulder at Esme, who was taking in the view like I had. “I thought you’d be used to it,” I said softly.
Her smile was warm and sweet as she shook her head slowly. “No. No, that’s something I never want to get used to,” she stated, sitting down next to me and gesturing to the sky. “Once that no longer holds an awe-inspiring beauty, then I’m way too distracted. It’s time to reassess myself, reorganize my priorities.”
Smiling, I nodded.
“This is stunning every time I see it. It makes me see just how small I am in the great big picture.”

We stayed quiet as we waited for Carlisle and Bella to join us. Try as I might, I couldn’t give Esme the mental privacy she deserved, which meant I could hear every train of thought she took. Her mind reminisced about the past, how she and Carlisle met, how he changed her, how her small dysfunctional family started with Rosalie and Emmett and continued to grow when Jasper and Alice showed up. When her memories of Forks and Bella and nomads with no respect came to the forefront of her mind, I turned to watch her face. There was sadness at the fight that ensued, worry about a young human woman they’d known in the small town, and the utter heartbreak of that same girl begging for me by name.
Esme’s eyes met my own. “Sorry, Edward.”
“Don’t be,” I reassured her. “I’ve seen it through everyone’s minds by now.” I tried to smile her way, but she reached over and squeezed my shoulder. “I’ve seen way more than that, but that’s usually a big memory for everyone.”
Esme chuckled, but it didn’t last long, and she sighed deeply. “I’ve seen death in my long life, Edward. I’ve seen wars and disease. I’ve seen families shattered with loss. I’ve never in my life seen a heart break, or really, I’ve never been the one to break a heart. Telling Bella what she was when she woke up, telling her that everything she’d come to know and love had to be erased like chalk on a blackboard…” She scoffed, wearing a pained expression, but she changed direction a little. “I adore my family. I know they’re a collection of vast personality differences,” she said, grinning when I laughed. “Every one of them, whether Carlisle changed them or not, came with emotional baggage when their heart stopped beating, but Bella… I’m fairly certain that Bella’s heart was left with you when she was away from you. And changing her only made her more…”
“Mine,” I finished for her, nodding at the same time she did. “I know you guys only did what you thought was best, and I know I blamed all of you for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you, Esme. For helping her, for giving her back to me, for being there for both of us.”
Esme’s smile wavered, her chin trembling as she reached up to cup my face. Her mind wandered a bit because something about me in particular reminded her of her past. A brief “what-if” moment flickered through her mind, and she wondered if the son she’d lost so long ago would have grown up to be someone like me – she considered me kind and gentle, honorable and loyal. She thought I carried an old soul and an old set of morals and manners.
All of that made me smile sadly her way. “My Grandmother Masen would be proud someone noticed.”
Esme grinned. “Maybe,” she conceded a little. “Or maybe it’s just you.”
“Maybe.”
She thought about what tomorrow would bring, and I glanced up when I could smell Bella’s beautiful scent at the same time Carlisle’s mind became stronger and louder. The two were walking together this way.
“Does it bother you?” I asked her. “If Charlie knows?”
Her brow furrowed, but a smile graced her features. “Times are changing, Edward. It’s not always a good thing to blindly follow that thing of ‘we’ve always done it this way.’ Over the decades, over centuries, really, our kind has had to adapt to change and new technologies and more aware humans. Now we’ll adapt to sharing our secret with another group of beings that also need to stay hidden. Jacob Black is young, but he’s not careless. He recently took the position as Alpha of his pack, a position he was born to take, and he’s got the perfect personality to protect his people, his friends and family. He’s not stupid, by any means, and he’s just young enough to understand that you can live and let live without prejudice. Sam, the one before him, wasn’t always as kind.
“So, to answer your question, Edward,” she continued. “No, it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it doesn’t bother any of us.”
Nodding, I thanked her, turning toward the west. “They’re close.”
She merely smiled, opting to stay quiet. As they drew closer, it seemed that Steve was the topic of conversation between Bella and Carlisle.
“I trust Jasper to watch him while we’re gone,” Bella said with a grin. “He and Steve have come to some sort of growly understanding.”
Carlisle chuckled, shaking his head at her. “I’ve never seen an animal – domestic or otherwise – take to us so quickly and easily.” He wondered silently if it was because he was ours while we were human or if it was because he’d had no choice but to adjust, and there was a slight thought of whether it was because Steve had refused to be removed from my chest while I changed.
When Bella walked into my arms, I gazed over at him. “My theory is it’s all of the above.”
Carlisle laughed, taking a seat across from us, and Esme got up and joined him. My eyes drifted to my Bella, who was looming over me from between my legs. She seemed well fed and more at ease than before we’d left the cabin, and I couldn’t help but kiss her lips softly. Seeing Esme’s memories of her made me want to cling to my wife, wrap her up, and not let go for a while. And it didn’t help that we were leaving in a few hours to head to Forks – the place where my heart had been shattered all to hell over a year ago. The reunion with Charlie aside, going back to that place made me want to keep my hands on Bella at all times, to touch and feel the tangible reality that she was okay, that she was mine, that she wasn’t gone.
Tunnel vision, Edward. It was a sing-song, teasing thought she’d sent my way after quickly dropping that shield around me.
Grinning, I nodded. “Can’t help it, Bella,” I sang right back, which made her giggle adorably.
Bella silently told me she loved me and then sat down next to me, our fingers immediately linking together. Carlisle had wanted all of us to hunt before we left for Forks. We would be there a few days prior to Charlie’s wedding day, and we’d be staying at the Cullen home there on the outskirts of town.
“I wanted us to talk before we left for Washington,” Carlisle started in a soothing, calm voice. “Edward, you’ve acclimated very well to being around people, with and without Bella’s shield. My concern is the stress of the situation. You’ll have to go into it all still as the young widower.”
The reminder wasn’t needed, but I appreciated it. The people who attended Bella’s memorial service or helped us search for her would most likely be the same who attended her father’s wedding.
“I’m aware,” I replied with a nod.
Carlisle sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “I know you’ve spoken to Jacob several times over the last couple of months, and he’s still unsure as to what Charlie has figured out.” He smirked over at my Bella. “Considering he’s your father, I’m pretty positive he’s not stupid, just merely reserved enough not to say anything out loud.”
Bella laughed and nodded. “No, he’s not dumb. Just quiet. Introspective.”
Her voice was soft, a touch sad. But there was so much hope in her mind that she didn’t say aloud, and it made me pull her fingers up to my lips and kiss them. The fact that she didn’t voice her hope while we were talking about how her father was quiet would’ve been humorous if it weren’t such an important subject. As if to prove that point, Bella’s thoughts evaporated; she’d removed her shield.
And that’s where Bella gets it. Esme’s thought was kind and loving, and I smiled a little her way.
“That’s the reason we’re going a few days early. I’d like to see Charlie before the wedding; there won’t be time to see him alone after his wedding day. He knows you’re coming?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I called to congratulate him and RSVP. I told him I was traveling with you and Esme. I didn’t say anything about coming early, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
“Okay, good.” He nodded, gazing down at the ground between us.
His thoughts were worried. He was prepared for Charlie seeing me to end badly, as in he rejected me in some way. He was also prepared to have my father-in-law ignore all the signs and treat us as he normally did. What he wasn’t sure of was what we’d say should Charlie put all the pieces together and come out with the truth.
“Your house or his?” I asked Carlisle. “He might be more comfortable in his own home. And Jake said he’d be there when we visit, so… Just a suggestion.”
“Okay, get with Jake. Have him set up a good time,” he said, and I nodded. “Last thing… Are the two of you absolutely certain you’re okay to fly? It’s not too late. The drive is somewhere around forty-three hours, but I usually cut that a little.” He smiled when I laughed, because the Cullen family drove like they ran – like it was a damned race.
“I’m okay, I think,” I told him. “Bella’s shield will be in place, so…” I shrugged a shoulder, looking to my wife. “Sweetheart, would you rather drive?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Her voice was firm, her mind now closed to me, but I knew my Bella; if she were nervous about being trapped for three and a half hours in a metal tube with several humans, then she’d say so. We were flying overnight, so we hoped the flight would have fewer people.
“Just making sure,” Carlisle said, standing up. “Then it’s time to head to the airport.”
~o~EID~o~
I gazed out the window of Carlisle’s rental car as Forks drew closer. The flight had been fine. I’d over-hunted before we left Alaska, so my thirst was fine. The minds on the plane had been loud at first – worried thoughts of air travel in general, sadness at leaving someone behind, weariness of a vacation now over. All of it fairly normal. Due to the late hour, most of the people on the plane fell asleep. Bella’s shield was hardly needed.
However, now that we were nearing her old hometown, my nerves were a bit on edge. I tried not to see it as a bad memory, but it was difficult. I wasn’t sure I’d ever forget the feeling of complete and utter loss when I’d received the call from Charlie that Bella had been in an accident. I know for a damned fact that the anger and hopelessness I’d felt when the search for her turned up nothing – not her phone, a piece of her clothes, a drop of blood other than around the car – made it the darkest day of my life.
A hand touched my face, turning me away from the window. Bella’s beautiful face zoomed into focus, and she kept her comments silent for me only.
I’m okay. I’m right here. When my brow furrowed in question, she held up our linked fingers, where I was practically breaking her hand.
“Shit,” I breathed against her knuckles. “Sorry, sweetheart.” I loosened my hold, rubbing her hand between mine gently.
I’m indestructible, remember? she teased, grinning my way as she bit down on her bottom lip. Relax, Edward. Whatever happens is okay. My dad may be smarter than all of us and know everything, or he’ll get grumpy for a moment.
Or he’d shun us all, I thought. That was my concern. Bella had been through so much; we both had. Hell, we all had suffered the day Bella had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the Cullens and Jake had gone out of their way to make it all better. Not a bit of it had been easy.
As we drove through Forks slowly, my eyes latched on to familiar landmarks, buildings, and streets. I also caught sight of movement in the trees keeping up with us as Carlisle turned down an overgrown driveway.
After a few curves, we came through the trees into a sprawling lawn. The house up ahead put the Cullens’ cabin-like home in North Bend to shame. And that was saying something. They were completely different in design. The North Bend home was rustic, classic, but this home was sharp edges, modern lines, and large floor-to-ceiling windows, which at the moment were covered up with metal shutters.
This is where I changed, Bella thought to me, and my head spun to her. She nodded a little. It was the quickest place they could take me, and it’s far enough away from the next home to hide it.
Carlisle parked the car just outside the garage, and we all followed his lead and got out.
“Give me just a moment,” he stated, walking in the side door.
I heard the beep of a security system, more beeps of it being disengaged, and finally, the hum and churn of the metal shutters rolling up. Lights came on all over the home, and my eyes widened as Esme led us inside. Despite the furniture being covered, the house was stunning. My enhanced sense of smell caught traces of all the Cullens, but it also caught something faint, something human, and my brow furrowed when I realized I was smelling the scent of human Bella.
“Wow,” I breathed, looking to her.
It had been over a year since any of them had set foot in this home, but her scent was intense, floral, delicious. My venom burned harshly at the back of my throat. I had to shake my head to clear it. Esme gazed at me curiously, Bella slipped her hand into mine, but Carlisle was the one to actually voice what I was sensing.
“You can still smell her,” he stated, and it wasn’t a question. When I nodded, he went on. “Her blood was strong, which was why James couldn’t stop himself. Once we got Bella here, I had to send everyone from the house.”
I swallowed thickly again, letting out a deep breath. “That’s umm… Wow.” I grinned at Bella’s soft snort into a laugh. “Okay, kinda glad things worked out the way they did. You… And this is an old scent!”
Bella hugged me, still laughing. “Damn. Are you saying you’d have drained me, Edward?”
“I honestly don’t ever want to know how intense that scent was at full strength. Let’s just put it that way.”
Everyone chuckled, but Esme suggested we open the windows to air out the place. We all pitched in to at least uncover the living room furniture. Esme told Bella to open the windows of the room she’d changed in before I went up. Apparently, there was a third-floor spare room at the top of the stairs we were going to use while we were here for a few days.
The scent of wolf met my nose at the same time Jake’s mind came into range, and I walked to the front door to smile at him.
“You’re up early. Or is it late?”
“Yeah, both probably,” he mumbled as he walked by me. “I opted to run patrols tonight, figuring you guys would make it before dawn.”
“Jake!” Bella greeted happily, running to hug him.
When Esme and Carlisle gave him a handshake, he smiled up at me. “So, we’re set for tomorrow night at Charlie’s. He refused a bachelor party, saying he’s too old for such nonsense. He did, however, like the idea of football and beer for ‘old time’s sake’ with you and me. And he extended that offer to Carlisle, as well.”
Carlisle smiled kindly, looking to me. He was thinking that was perfect. He also thought should things go okay, that Bella and Esme could be close by just in case.
Nodding to Jake, I said, “Fine, we’ll be there.”
Jake smiled, shaking his head. “This shit will be interesting, for sure. My guess? He’s figured it all out, but he’s waiting for you, Ed. I honestly think he’s waiting to set eyes on you before he says a damn thing.”
In Jake’s mind, I could see that Charlie had received the books I’d sent him. They sat on the table next to his recliner. The bookmarks were still in them. Jake raised an eyebrow up at me to let me know just how important those books were to Charlie.
“Got it,” I said through a deep sigh. “Well, this will either end badly, or Charlie will get one hell of a wedding present.” I pointed to Bella, who shifted nervously from one foot to the other, so I wrapped an arm around her.
“I still think he’ll surprise us all,” Jake guessed. “I need to finish up my rounds, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Be careful,” Esme told him.
He blushed a little at her concern but nodded. “Sure, sure.”
Once he was gone, Bella tugged me gently toward the stairs. I picked up our bags and followed her up to the top floor. Thankfully, the scent of human Bella had started to air out, but the sight of the bed in the room made my brow furrow.
It was in this place, it was in this bed, that my beautiful girl begged for me. She burned for three days, and after my own change, I realized how scary that must have been for her. I’d had her voice in my ear while I burned. She’d had the voices of people she didn’t know. I’d woken up to love and familiarity, where she’d woken up to strangers and a harsh new reality.
There was a leather sofa along the wall of windows, and I dropped our bags down on it, slowly taking in the room. Bookcases covered the opposite wall, and they were filled with every book imaginable, along with music of every form – CDs, records, even cassette tapes. I smirked at the stereo system that seemed to be at least two decades old. But again, my gaze fell to the bed.
She’d called for me from right there. She’d begged for me, cried and suffered, all with my name on her lips. While I was grieving the loss of her, she was fighting for me. Bella had been my whole world from the moment her sweet voice had greeted me at the UW library. Everything I did from that moment on had revolved around the girl I’d pretty much fallen for at first sight. Protecting her, loving her, spoiling her – it all came so easily. And I wondered if I’d always feel guilty for the one time I wasn’t there.
“Hey, hey!” Bella called to me, pushing at me until I sat down on the edge of the bed that had changed my girl and my mood. “Look at me,” she whispered, cupping my face as she stood between my legs. “Is the scent too much?”
Smiling, I shook my head. “The scent is almost gone, sweetheart,” I said through a deep sigh. “Though, holy shit, Bella!” I grinned, reveling in the giggly kiss she pressed to the middle of my forehead. “No, I was just thinking I wish I could’ve been here for you then. To know you called for me, I just… I hate that you were alone. I was lucky.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah.”
“You’re here now, baby.”
“I know. I’m really happy, sweetheart. You should know that.”
“Me, too.”
“I miss medicine, but I’m sure I’ll get back to it. Getting you out of all of it is better than being a doctor any day.”
Her smile was warm and sweet. “I’m glad you think so, Edward.”
“I do. I wouldn’t change anything about my life right now.” I shook my head, pulling her closer by her waist. “If I never practiced medicine again but I got to keep you, then my life is complete, Bella. Being back here, being back where my whole world ended for a short time—”
Bella’s lips met mine to shut me up. I love you. I love that you’re happy. I love that you’re fighting for my dad. I love everything about you, Edward Masen. Don’t you ever forget that.
Her thoughts were beautiful and sweet and maybe a touch frantic.
I want to kiss you silly.
I chuckled. “Me, too.”
I want to change what this bed has seen, what it means.
That sobered me up quickly. “Me, too.”
I want to do really naughty things to you right here, right where I thought I’d lost you forever.
“Bella,” I gasped, gaping up at her, but she practically tackled me to my back on that bed.
My mood caught up with hers quickly, and I rolled us over, looming over her as her mind was everywhere.
Smirking down at her, I let out a chuckle as I leaned in to kiss her. Dragging my lips down her cheek to her ear, I whispered, “Is that what you want, sweetheart? You want me to make you call my name a different way?”
“Mmhmm,” she hummed against my neck, opening her mouth to my skin.
Pulling back from her ear, I pressed my forehead to hers, smiling down at her. “Well, what the lady wants…”
~o~EID~o~
“You must be in town for Charlie’s wedding,” the woman at the cash register said with a smile, but her thoughts were sad. The sight of me – no matter how long it had been – reminded her of Charlie’s daughter. “It’s good the chief is finding some happiness.”
I smiled, though I kept it subdued, nodding slightly. “I am, and it is. I’m on my way to see him now,” I told her, holding out my credit card to pay for the beer I used to drink, the beer I’d never taste again.
If she noticed anything different about me, she didn’t think it. I made her nervous, but she shrugged it off due to how handsome she’d always thought I was. The last thought that flickered through her mind as I picked up the beer was the curiosity as to whether I had moved on after Charlie’s daughter had died.
For a split second, I almost answered her, but I focused on getting back out to the car where Carlisle was waiting. My answer would’ve been slightly rude – that there would be no moving on from Bella in any way.
He snorted, looking my way. “You look…confused.”
Grinning, I shook my head. “I’ve gotten so used to just answering all of your mental questions, I almost slipped up in there.”
“Oh!” Carlisle chuckled. “Damn, I bet that’ll take lots of practice.”
“Yeah,” I said through a deep sigh, explaining the cashier’s errant thought. “Sadly, it’ll be a thought a lot of people will have when we attend the wedding. I just have to focus, I think.”
“Some may voice it. What will you tell them?” he asked as he pulled back out on the road.
I held up my left hand. “Do I look moved on to you?” When he laughed, I shook my head. “She’s technically been gone over a year. I’m still wearing my wedding band. People will just feel pity. This is one of those times where the whole world can think whatever they want, because the truth is…amazing.”
Carlisle’s smile was warm. “I’m glad you think so, Edward. I’m proud of your progress. I’m not arrogant to think it worked out for the best – the whole thing was a mess – but I am really glad you and Bella are happy, together.”
He pulled into Charlie’s driveway, and before he opened his door, I stopped him.
“Before we do this,” I started, glancing up at the flicker of the curtain in the kitchen, “I thanked Esme, and I wanted to thank you for everything – for saving Bella, for giving her back to me, for helping us. We’re about to do for Charlie what you did for me, despite all the treaties and rules, and no matter how it goes, I just wanted you to know I appreciate it.”
Carlisle glanced at the house for a second and then back to me. “I rarely ask Alice to specifically check the future – she has enough to deal with – but I’ve asked her to look at our family. You know what she sees, Edward?” he asked, and when I shook my head, he smiled. “She sees a thriving family. She sees us all adjusting to a new way of living – new roles to play, new places to live, and sometimes the others go back to the high school façade, but what’s a constant is that we are all happy, protecting each other, and learning to find a way to fit in.” He sighed deeply. “I told you once that this can be a long life, trying at times, but it can be an amazing life as well, Edward. I know that you and Bella look forward to making your own way in the future, but I am honored to have you as new members of my family, should you choose to stay with us.”
Smiling down at the beer in my hands, I nodded. “Thank you.” Glancing back up at the house, I said, “We should go. He’s watching for us.”
With a quick glance toward the woods alongside Charlie’s house, I checked for Bella and Esme. Bella’s shield sealed me off from her thoughts, but Esme’s mind was all love, encouragement, and hope. She also promised to watch over my Bella while we finally saw Charlie. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the car door.



1 comments:

trbuie said...

I hope Charlie has it figured out and gets to re-meet Bella as well. I also can't wait for Edward and Bella to live away from the Cullens.

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